The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament ,passed a law regarding the use of the English language in Ukraine on Tuesday, June 4. Yaroslav Zheleznyak, a member of the “Golos” party, reported that bill No. 9432 was approved with 236 votes.

Key Provisions of Law No. 9432

The new law makes several important changes to the role and use of English in Ukraine. It now requires young children to start learning the language in kindergarten.

Additionally, emergency medical services will be required to assist foreigners in English, and government officials will have to be proficient in English too. The main motivation for these changes is to make Ukraine compete better globally.

The law recognizes English as a critical language for international communication within and outside of Ukraine and lays down specific jobs that require English proficiency.

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It details how English should be used in different areas, including government, education, culture, transport, and healthcare.

Who Needs to Know English?

The law specifies several categories of positions that require English proficiency:

Civil Service: If you’re applying for civil service positions in categories “A, B, or C,” then  you must be able to speak English. This includes heads of local state administrations and their deputies.

Military and Police: Military officers serving under contract, mid to senior-ranked police officers, and senior staff in other law enforcement agencies must also be proficient in English.

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Other Roles: Prosecutors, tax collectors, customs officers, and managers of state-owned businesses are required to know English as well.

The exact list of positions will be determined by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Support for English-Language Films

The law also provides financial support for cinemas showing English-language films. If a cinema screens at least 8 English-language movies per month, with at least 2 of those screenings happening each week during prime time (after 6:00 PM), the state will compensate it.

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Cinemas can choose to either adopt these changes and apply for compensation or continue operating as they currently do.

Both public and private cinemas can apply for this funding, although the details on how this will work are still being worked out by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Background

On November 22, 2023, the Verkhovna Rada approved the draft law on the use of the English language in Ukraine in its first reading, in response to President Volodymyr Zelensky's proposal.

Initially, the draft law proposed eliminating Ukrainian dubbing of movies in favor of showing English-language films with subtitles, which sparked significant debate.

However, deputies revised this proposal and decided to maintain Ukrainian dubbing. In the final version of the law, cinemas will continue showing movies in Ukrainian, with a quota allowing up to 10% of sessions in English.

BBC Ukraine, citing Ukrainian MP Yevgenia Kravchuk, explained that cinemas can now choose when and how to schedule English-language screenings.

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