Ukraine may give English status of business language: Prime Minister

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a meeting with internally displaced people from Mariupol, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine on 5 June 2022Reuters

The Ukrainian government is working on legislation that would designate English as the language of business communication, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said late on Monday.

“English is now used in business communication throughout the civilised world, so giving it such a status in Ukraine will promote business development, attract investment and accelerate Ukraine’s European integration,” Shmyhal wrote on the Telegram messaging app without detailing what the law would entail.

Ukrainian is the sole official language of the country. About a half of the population speaks mostly or only Ukrainian and some 30 per cent speak mostly or only Russian, according to a 2019 survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

English proficiency has been improving in the country, which before the 24 February Russian invasion had a population of 44 million, but Ukraine still trails some of its Eastern European peers.

According to the Sweden-based international education company EF Education First, English proficiency in Ukraine is only “moderate.” In 2021, the country placed 30 out of 35 surveyed countries in Europe, lagging behind Poland and Belarus.

Russian plays a large role in business and the media. And it is still very widely spoken in many cities, including Kyiv, although the use of Russian has been increasingly restricted. Legislation obliges businesses and other institutions to use Ukrainian.