According to a survey conducted by Spilnomova, an NGO focused on studying and changing the language situation in Ukraine, only around 15% of preschoolers in Kiev actively use the Ukrainian language. The survey also found that 20% of preschoolers in the capital city do not speak Ukrainian at all and instead use Russian in their daily lives.
Andrey Kovalyov, the founder of Spilnomova, revealed the survey results in an interview with Texty.org.ua. He stated that the rest of the preschoolers use a mix of Russian and Ukrainian. However, Kovalyov did not provide detailed information about the methodology used in the survey.
The language situation in kindergartens appears to vary depending on whether the institution is actively promoting Ukrainian and the efforts of parents. Kovalyov mentioned that since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine began, more parents have started speaking Ukrainian to their children. Some kindergartens actively remind parents about the importance of Ukrainian language use, resulting in a higher percentage of children using the language. Unfortunately, such institutions are a minority, and most kindergartens do not have a specific policy on this topic.
The situation with teenagers is even worse, according to Kovalyov. Despite schools teaching in Ukrainian, the language policy seems to have little effect on real-life use. Kovalyov highlighted that only 10% of memes used by Kiev teenagers are in Ukrainian, while 90% are in Russian or English. This raises the question of whether a child can be creative in a language that is not dominant for them.
Kovalyov emphasized that Ukrainian schools currently only enable children to learn the language passively, similar to any other language taught in schools. Due to the highly politicized nature of the language issue, education officials appear hesitant to take action and prefer to wait for the situation to resolve itself.
It is important to note that the language situation in Ukraine has been a longstanding issue, with tensions between Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking communities. Efforts to promote the use of Ukrainian have been ongoing, but the significant presence of the Russian language, especially among young children, indicates that more needs to be done to ensure the future dominance of Ukrainian in the country.
As Ukraine continues to navigate its language policies and promote Ukrainian as the national language, it is crucial to address the challenges faced by preschoolers and teenagers in using and embracing Ukrainian. Encouraging the use of Ukrainian in kindergartens and schools, providing resources for language learning, and fostering a positive attitude towards the language can all contribute to a linguistic shift that reflects the country’s national identity.