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The unexpected way some people are helping Ukrainian refugees


Gabriel Preda RO | Shutterstock

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 04/07/22

Many people welcoming refugees have found a practical and ingenious way to make them feel at home.

Countries all over the world are welcoming refugees from Ukraine, as over four million displaced people have left the nation, and many of those welcoming refugees have found a clever way to make the resettlement process easier for everyone.

Poland alone welcomed over 2 million refugees, while 100,000 will come to the U.S. and “tens of thousands” will travel to the United Kingdom, among many other countries.

As people around the world prepare space for Ukrainian refugees in their homes, they’ve found a practical and ingenious way to make the refugees feel welcome and help them settle into their new communities: They’re learning the Ukrainian language.

Duolingo, a free language-learning app, reports an enormous jump in the number of people studying Ukrainian through their program:

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the number of people studying Ukrainian on Duolingo has increased 577% globally. The U.S. has the most learners studying Ukrainian, and the number of U.S. learners studying Ukrainian has increased 554% since the start of the war … The number of people in Poland studying Ukrainian has grown 2677% since the start of the war.

Rather than profiting from the increase, Duolingo is donating the ad revenue from people learning Ukrainian to help Ukraine relief efforts. They’re also working to make it easier for Ukrainians to learn English and for refugees to learn the languages of their new homes:

We have also been in contact with Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science and are discussing additional ways to support their students. For example, the Duolingo English Test will be providing fee waivers to Ukrainian students. The Duolingo English Test is also accelerating plans to launch a Ukrainian language interface.

Hearing someone speak your language when you’re in a foreign country is such a great feeling. It brings relief, comfort, and a sense of home. So learning Ukrainian, even if only a few words are mastered, is a really wonderful way to make Ukrainian refugees feel welcome in their new homes.

Learning Ukrainian is also a commonsense consideration. People will have a much easier time communicating with newcomers from Ukraine if they know a few basic words and phrases in common.

Most of all, it’s heartwarming to see so many people open their hearts and homes to Ukrainians who have been displaced by the war. Learning their language is just one little part of that. It’s inspiring, and brings hope of the goodness in the world.

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