Towards a Multilingual Future: The Ecology of Language at a University in Eastern Ukraine

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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bilingualism and multilingualism
Bologna Process
English as a medium of instruction
language policy
Russian and Ukrainian
Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education
Eastern European Studies
European Languages and Societies
Slavic Languages and Societies
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In Ukraine, the Russian and Ukrainian languages have historically alternated in policy and practice in their official status and social prestige. As in many areas of the world, English is emerging in Ukraine as a language of economic value, social prestige, and education though it is not a language of wider communication. The goal of the research was to explore the ecology of language at a university which is implementing English as a medium of instruction in all subjects for multiple groups of students in Dnipropetrovs&rsquok, Ukraine. Ethnographic fieldwork was conducted over the 2010-2011 academic year to answer the following questions: 1) What are the discourses about English language instruction at the university? 2) What is the day-to-day reality of English language instruction at the university? 3) How are English and English-language classroom practices situated in or reflective of the larger language ecology of the university? and 4) How is English language education practically and discursively connected with: Ukrainian language policy, international education policy, and goals of economic development or integration, especially integration with the European Union? Data were interpreted through the lenses of ethnography of communication, discourse analysis, and Conversation Analysis (CA). It was found that English is a source of prestige and achievement for the university, and is an attempt to recruit students by offering a &ldquoEuropean&rdquo level of education. Using English as a medium of instruction poses the challenge of finding teachers and textbooks and requires adjustments to classroom management, but also affords opportunities to learn academic content and language. Russian is the predominant native language used to support learning in EFL and English-medium classes. Ukrainian appears to be most prevalent in the written domains of use regardless of the medium of instruction, and in formal spoken situations. Russian was a predominant spoken language. English occupies spaces that Russian or Ukrainian do not, but is not seen as a threat to Russian or Ukrainian because it is a foreign language. Additional languages are used in and out of class in more limited ways, but are seen as equally important as English, Russian and Ukrainian for securing an economic future.

Nancy H. Hornberger
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