Kyiv Post Ukraine: Cops, Doctors Taking English Lessons for Euro2012 Soccer

Bridget Goodman reisefrau at
Fri Oct 29 15:30:36 UTC 2010

Will Ukrainians, English-speaking soccer fans find common language?

(Photo caption) In order to prepare for an influx of English-speaking tourists expected for soccer matches during the Euro 2012 championship, Kyiv police officers have started English-language classes. With help from European Union money, a three-month program was launched by the Interior Ministry’s academy. (Oleksiy Boyko)

Will Ukrainians, English-speaking soccer fans find common language?
Oct 22 at 00:12 | Svitlana Tuchynska
Cops, doctors, others are taking English lessons.

The rush is on to make Ukraine more of an English-speaking nation ahead of the Euro 2012 football championship. Failing that, visitors will probably settle for a few more cops and doctors who are at least a little more conversant in the international language that most Ukrainians struggle with.

The idea of the European Union-funded program is to make Ukraine more accommodating for the thousands of English-speaking tourists who will descend on the nation for the soccer matches in 2012.

Thousands of police officers, emergency and customs workers, doctors and border and security guards are already attending classes – or will start soon.

    “Around 4,000 policemen will attend classes in Kyiv. These are police officers who will be on duty in the city center and crowded places in Kyiv during the championship – the airport, the city center and the stadium.”

    - Volodymyr Dmytrenko, deputy head of Kyiv’s police information center. 

They are trying to train themselves to respond to likely questions – such as help with directions, requests for documents and explanations of medical problems.

The classes, made possible with money from the European Union, make for an interesting reversal of roles in some cases.

Traffic cops are now sweating over their English skills, rather than making drivers they’ve pulled over sweat over the size of their potential traffic fines.

Most of the student professionals admit that their English lessons in schools or in universities were not very successful.

“Ask me how to get to a subway station and I will explain,” a police officer said to his colleague in Ukrainian.
“How can I get to….to…underground?” his partner stumbles and hesitates in English.

On their left another two officers are struggling with their dialogue:

“How do you say ‘Palats Sportu’?” asks one in Ukrainian.
“Palace Sport,” replies the other.
“I am lost!”
“I am help you!”

The class enjoys a short movie, which shows a British police officer helping a foreigner find a certain street. One scene shows an officer inviting a man into his car to take him to his destination.

“No way!” shouts one sergeant skeptically.

Traffic police officers started their English classes on Sept. 10 at the Interior Academy in Kyiv. Police officers who conduct criminal investigations will start studying in 2011.

“Around 4,000 policemen will attend classes in Kyiv. These are police officers who will be on duty in the city center and crowded places in Kyiv during the championship – the airport, the city center and the stadium,” said Volodymyr Dmytrenko, deputy head of Kyiv’s police information center.
Special attention is paid to good manners.

“If somebody thanks you, you should reply ‘It’s all part of my job!’” the teacher reminds the officers several times during the lesson.

“Can I just say ‘It’s my job’?” asks one sergeant, who glows with pride when the teacher tells him his shorter version is fine. “Why make it harder?” he beams.

Teacher Tetyana Filipovych says she tries not to give homework.

She reveals that some struggle to pick up the language.

“While some memorize words at once, others forget the simplest things all the time,” she says.

Sergeant Ruslan Shevchuk says his small knowledge of English already helps him: “When on duty in city center, foreigners often come up to me and ask for directions. Usually they are trying to find their hotel, restaurant or pub.”

Dmytrenko says several of his colleagues speak conversational English, even before classes: “Mostly they are young people just out of college. It’s a good sign.”

Police officers are also taught at the Linguistic University, as well as emergency workers, doctors and customs and border guards.

“The pilot project started on Sept. 22 and currently we are teaching 105 people,” says Iryna Sieriakova, vice rector for international affairs at the university. They also are preparing a book for students who will start their course in early 2011.

Around 33,000 state employees will take a three-month English course before Euro 2012. “In the summer of 2012 we plan to hold an exam for all of them.

But we have not decided exactly how their knowledge will be tested,” says teacher Vasyl Ivanchuk, who is working on a book for Euro 2012.

Back in class, students from the Emergency Situations Ministry are being tested on their homework – learning 130 words and phrases.

“What does ‘prepare your documents mean?” asks the teacher.
“Show your driving license?” one student hesitatingly responds.

All 15 students are present in the class. Doctors, however, are not as good at attending – only three were present when a Kyiv Post reporter attended class.

The doctors’ morbid sense of humor didn’t leave them even outside the hospital walls. Two doctors are reading their own dialogue:

“My legs are killing me!” complains one, pretending to be a suffering tourist.
“Don’t worry, we will cut them out!” the doctor “consoles” him.
“Both of them!” the other says, as the class erupts in laughter.

The atmosphere is much more serious at a class for state bodyguards, who provide security for homegrown and visiting VIPs. Five serious men in suits sit at their desks.

Three are watching a video on a laptop while the others are reading texts.

“There is a difference in their levels and we aren’t able to hold separate lessons, so I have to make up different tasks for them,” says their teacher, Larysa Ignatenko.

The university says that students attend more or less regularly.

“We keep track of each lesson and send information to each ministry. As for the police, they check on their men regularly themselves,” says Sieriakova, the vice rector.

However, some do skip classes. Teachers complain that students from the prison service have come to classes just twice, and at the last lesson only one person showed up.

Perhaps they’re expecting all the soccer fans to be on their best behavior.

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Kyiv Post staff writer Svitlana Tuchynska can be reached at tuchynska at

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