Breaking down language barriers

Ternopil, Ukraine

Challenge team: Ternopil Regional Universal Scientific Library and the Ternopil branch of the Ukrainian Library Association

Population of Ternopil: 225,238

Summary: A library in Ternopil, Ukraine is working with the local community to organise language classes to help refugees fleeing the war to learn Polish – opening up new opportunities for the future.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion have found refuge in the Ternopil region in the west of Ukraine. For many of these people, learning a foreign language – in particular Polish – is vital, for education, employment and future opportunities. However, the infrastructure to support foreign language learning has been severely affected by the war. 

Ternopil Regional Universal Scientific Library is working together with the Ternopil branch of the Ukrainian Library Association to organise hybrid language classes – both offline and online – for people to learn Polish. These intensive classes, some of which are available via YouTube, are aimed at different age groups and are available without charge to both refugees and local residents.

Against a challenging backdrop of electricity blackouts and the threat of shelling, the open educational space is an effective tool to support residents of the Ternopil region and people who have been displaced by the war – helping to develop their language and cultural skills, increase their cultural, linguistic and socio-psychological literacy and in turn leading to increased social activity and helping people to adapt to the new circumstances they find themselves in.

The challenge team said: “By conducting free language courses, we will help Ukrainian citizens who are forced to seek refuge in other European countries to adapt to a foreign cultural environment. Knowledge of Polish as one of the EU’s official languages will open up the new opportunities for them to study, work and live, and it will help EU citizens to find a common language and understand the common roots of our European identity.”

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