Slavonic languages are usually split up by linguists into three main groups, determined by their geographical position: Western, Southern and Eastern Slavonic. Despite sharing the same ethnical foundation and several linguistic similitudes there are also a number of easily spottable differences between these three main groups. It should be noted though, that regardless of the category their language is set under, Slavonic speakers can, for the most part, understand each other without the need of an interpreter. Even more so, once you’ve learnt a Slavonic language it will be extremely easy to pass onto another and become a true polyglot in no time. That’s why learning Ukrainian is also important if you’re planning on learning another language from the Eastern Slavonic language tree, such as Russian or Belarusian.
Statistics and properties of the Ukrainian language
The number of Ukrainian speakers is somewhere around 51 million people, of which 90% are concentrated in Ukraine. The other 10% make up the Ukrainian Diaspora, which is spread along several countries all across the World, such as Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia and the United States.
From a structural point of view, Ukrainian resembles Russian mostly, from all the other Slavonic languages. Of course, this is also an effect of the Russian dominance over Ukraine as well as the constant influence of the Russian trade and migration in the area. Most linguists will agree that once you know either Russian or Ukrainian, it would only take a couple of months and a solid course to learn the other language. Therefore, it could even pass on as a waste not to learn the “complementary” language once you’ve already studied one of them.
If you’ve decided to start studying Ukrainian on your own, from the warmth of your home instead of taking an organized “Learn Ukrainian” course or something similar, there are a few methods at your disposal that can come in as rather useful. First of all, remember that the Internet is your friend and you can easily find free Ukrainian lessons online, some of which may prove extremely useful while others will prove to be a waste of time. Don’t start one of these lesson courses before you make sure it’s exactly what you’re after and maybe scooping around to see what others have to say about them first.
Your second option is to start learning through some lighthearted vocabulary games. Vocabulary games are a good choice for newcomers to the Ukrainian language that don’t have a basic set of known words already and want to have a foundation to improve vocabulary upon. These games will help you memorize words easier and some of them can help you out with spelling and even pronunciation, so you will hit more than one rabbit from one shot.