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Slavic Question...

Thus far, I have been limiting myself to one course per family to avoid confusing myself. For instance, I don't want to learn Spanish and Italian at the same time.

I am obsessively checking the incubation status of the Russian course and I've been disappointed to see that the team keeps pushing the estimated finish date back.

Then there's Ukrainian. I have absolutely nothing against Ukrainian--only that for my circumstances, it would be slightly less useful than Russian.

I don't want to sit around and just NOT take any steps toward learning Russian, and the Mango app fails to hold my attention.

What do you think? Have I made a mistake by adding Ukrainian? Or will it be a good foundation for Russian?

August 18, 2015



Keep in mind that Russian has complex grammar and in order to learn it, it will take a lot of concentration and time. I recommend that you study Russian alone (not studying it with other languages.) Russian is a very deep language and that is why it is said to have some of the best literature in the world. However, it is definitely worth learning with over 200 million speakers, In Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. I found these sites helpful:






Ukrainian and Russian are very similar, when I was on gospeaky most native Ukrainians also spoke Russian. I think learning Ukrainian can help you pronounce words, get used to grammar, etc.


Ukrainian can often help you pronounce words wrong :)


Well, I mean like having to letters together that aren't ever together in English, it could help with the letter х which is a hard letter to pronounce. Learning Ukrainian won't do a lot of course becuase if Ukrainian and Russian were extremely similar Ukrainian would just be a dialect. I guess learning Ukrainian will give the basic idea of Slavic languages even if it is different


A good foundation for Russian for non-Slavic speakers is Russian only. As for the Ukrainian, it is a beautiful language. I love it with all my heart, but if my goal would be to learn Russian I would do Russian only.

[deactivated user]

    For what it's worth- I learnt Russian first, and found Russian much easier than Ukrainian as far as memorizing words and grammar. Ukrainian is helpful to a point, as it's similar to Russian; but, keep in mind, that Ukrainian grammar is different. (And, they sound so similar,it's hard not to switch them up at times!) It does help to know a little Ukrainian, as reading is very similar and the languages do share a common root :)


    I think you should continue learning Ukrainian but if you really want to switch to Russian when it comes out you should because it's your decision. Ukrainian can help with Russian because it will make you familiar to pronunciations, grammar rules, verbs, etc.


    I'm studying both Ukrainian and Russian for almost 2 months now. I'm usually good at keeping languages separate but I found them to be very complimentary. I've been studying polish for almost a decade but I often find rules that apply to all 3. Ukrainian and Russian both use the cyrillic alphabet with only a few letters that are different. If you plan to learn Russian and are just waiting for the Duo course, I suggest you learn the alphabet in the meantime and listen to podcasts like "Russian made easy." They have 30 free videos that'll make learning cases a breeze and natural.


    I'd argue that Ukrainian isn't a good first Slavic language for a new, non-native learner to try studying. Having some kind of grounding in Russian first helps a lot with understanding the phonetic particularities (е --» і for instance) and also the sociolinguistic particularities of many Ukrainian speakers being very bilingual in both Ukrainian and Russian languages. I'm super glad that Duolingo has a Ukrainian course, however, because it is a Slavic language for which there haven't been a lot of learning materials published for native English speaking students.


    This could've been true 10 or 20 years ago when there weren't that many resources as we have now. One could argue that there were books and other material from diaspora 50 or more years ago for a dedicated learner. It really comes down to if you want to learn a certain language or not.


    I think the internet has helped a lot. There are textbooks for Ukrainian, but they are few and kind of bad. In terms of taking actual classes, it's really not as widespread as Russian is in the U.S.. Like, most universities have Russian courses, you can even find them taught at a high school level. But Ukrainian is something you only really find at a few universities. Harvard is coming to mind, but also University of Pittsburgh and University of Washington. It's more common in Canadian institutions because of the large diaspora there.

    Learn Ukrainian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.