ua en ru

Ukrainian Parliament adopts law on English language: Changes ahead

Ukrainian Parliament adopts law on English language: Changes ahead Draft law 9432 (photo: RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

On June 4, the Verkhovna Rada passed in the second reading draft law 9432 on the functioning of the English language in Ukraine. It was supported by 236 MPs.

RBC-Ukraine tells about the draft law and how it will affect the lives of Ukrainians.


What draft law 9432 proposes

Draft law 9432 was initiated by Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It was registered on June 28, 2023, and passed the first reading last fall.

The draft law proposes to consolidate the status of English as one of the languages of international communication in Ukraine, as Ukraine intends to join the EU, and Ukrainians still have insufficient knowledge of this foreign language.

This draft law defines the categories of positions for which candidates must be proficient in English and regulates the specifics of its use in the work of state and local authorities, emergency assistance units when crossing the state border, and in the fields of education, transport, and healthcare.

The draft law provides for the study of English from kindergartens and at all levels of education. It also proposes to broadcast movies in English in cinemas, and in case of non-revenue, the state will compensate part of the funds to institutions.

During the voting, there was a discussion on amendment No. 336, which was introduced the day before the law was passed. It provides budget support for cinemas to show English-language films. It was supported by 226 MPs.

Ukrainian Parliament adopts law on English language: Changes aheadThe results of the vote (photo: Telegram/Zaliznyi Narodnyi)

How adoption of this draft law will affect Ukrainians

The adoption of the draft law will require English language proficiency for those applying for positions:

  • civil service of category A, civil service of categories B and C, the list of which is established by the Cabinet of Ministers
  • heads of local state administrations and their deputies
  • military officers serving under contract (the list is established by the Cabinet of Ministers)
  • middle and senior police officers, chiefs of other law enforcement agencies and civil defense services (the list is determined by the government), prosecutors, customs and tax officials (the list is determined by the CMU)
  • heads of business entities of the public sector of the economy (the list is determined by the Cabinet of Ministers)

Officials will take the English language exam free of charge, organized by the Ministry of Education and Science. It can be taken no more than once every 4 months, but an unlimited number of times.

The English proficiency requirements for category A civil servants, heads of local state administrations, and their deputies will take effect 2 years after the end of martial law, and for other officials - 4 years later.

In addition to this:

  • learning and use of English will become compulsory at all levels of education, including preschools
  • the military will have to speak English at a sufficient level to communicate for professional purposes, but during martial law and mobilization, the requirement to speak English does not apply to military personnel and law enforcement officers
  • in all types of passenger transport: at railway stations, bus stations, airports, sea and river ports, all information should be duplicated in English
  • during cultural and artistic events, in museums and cinemas, audiovisual information will be required to be dubbed into English
  • emergency assistance will be provided to foreigners in English if they do not speak Ukrainian. Calls should also be received in English (or another language acceptable to the parties)
  • customs and passport control for foreigners at the border will be carried out in English
  • up to 10% (of the total number) of films will be shown in English in cinemas.

Criticism of draft law

The first version of the draft law contained a provision that the number of English-language films with Ukrainian dubbing was to be reduced to 50% starting next year. And by 2027, all English-language films were to be broadcast in their original language. This was supposed to help Ukrainians learn English better. After sharp public criticism, this clause was removed from the law, but they tried to return it in April of this year.

Eventually, on June 3, the relevant committee introduced amendment No. 336, which provides for a limited number of screenings of films in English in cinemas.

This amendment does not pose a direct threat of duplication, and the number of screenings in other languages than Ukrainian, according to the law on the state language, cannot exceed 10% per month,” says the main critic of the draft law, Volodymyr Viatrovych.

He also notes that this provision is still absurd and harmful. Spending budget money to encourage the screening of films in a foreign language instead of Ukrainian during the war is pure madness.

“If the government has extra money, it should be spent either on the army or supporting screenings of Ukrainian, not American films. Especially since American film companies do not ask for this, but rather invest in dubbing and screening films in Ukrainian,” says Viatrovich.

The mechanism of compensation for cinemas for showing films in English is proposed to be introduced within six months after the law comes into force. For the law to come into force, it must be signed by the President and then published on the website of the Verkhovna Rada.

Sources: Draft Law 9432, Volodymyr Viatrovych's Facebook post, Telegram/Zaliznyi Narodnyi.