The ecology of language in classrooms at a university in eastern Ukraine

Oleg B. Tarnopolsky, Bridget A. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Using an ecology of language framework, the purpose of this study was to examine the degree to which English as a medium of instruction (EMI) at a private university in eastern Ukraine allows for the use of Ukrainian, the state language, or Russian, the predominantly spoken language, in large cities in eastern Ukraine. Uses of English and Russian or Ukrainian were documented over nine months in the form of ethnographic field notes, audio recording, and video recording. Semi-structured interviews and informal conversations captured student and teacher attitudes towards English and Russian or Ukrainian use. Similar to practices in observed English as a foreign language classes at the same university, the authors found multiple pedagogical purposes for using the predominant native language (L1), Russian. Teachers and students consider the use of the L1 in the classroom to be a natural function of the need for comprehension. Ukrainian appeared in a limited form, but in ways that indexed its position as a national language. Attitudes towards Ukrainian also supported the ideology of Ukrainian's position as a state language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-396
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage and Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Russian
  • Ukrainian
  • ecology of language
  • ethnography
  • language attitudes
  • university

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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