Understand spoken language

Call for Ukrainian volunteers to help add Ukrainian language

Submitted by admin on 20 March 2022

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What we're trying to do

We aim to provide a high-quality language resource for people to learn Ukrainian for free. See https://lingopolo.org/ukrainian/ for the where we currently are.

Volunteer now

To join as a content editor there are just a few simple steps to get started:

  1. create an account on the Ukrainian language site https://lingopolo.org/ukrainian/user/register
  2. send a message using the contact form https://lingopolo.org/contact-information letting us know your userid, requesting to be given content editor rights
  3. start adding content! What content? Frankly, you can start wherever you think is likely to be most useful. In The Aim section above is a bunch of the type of vocabulary and phrases which we need. It really doesn't matter in which order you add things; the Lingopolo software will automatically organise it into well-structured lessons.

The Need

At the time of writing, over 3 million people have fled the war in Ukraine. Many of these people will be thrown into situations where language is an immediate problem. For example, in Belgium where I live, people speaking French or Flemish generally speak not a word of Ukrainian, and Ukrainians are generally unlikely to speak even a word of French or Flemish. The lucky ones may at least have some shared language, most likely English, but other than that, the language is likely to be a big problem.

Lingopolo is a non-profit language-learning website. We believe that everyone should have access to quality language education, for free.

That's why, in the current situation, we want to add Ukrainian as quickly as possible to our offered languages.

For this we need the help of Ukrainian volunteers. If you are a native Ukrainian speaker, we need your help.

You can read more about the long-term vision for Lingopolo here. Ironically, the software developer for Lingopolo is in Chernihiv in Ukraine.

The Aim

The aim will be to add to Lingopolo as many Ukrainian words and phrases as possible, with native-speaker audio.

The Lingopolo software will automatically take the added content and turn it into lessons which anybody who speaks English can use to learn to understand spoken Ukrainian and/or to speak key words and phrases in Ukrainian.

The aim will be to focus on first on likely the most useful vocabulary such as:

  • food (bread, meat, fish, chicken, carrot, potato, butter, salt, pepper, apple, orange, cheese...)
  • drinks (water, tea, coffee, juice...)
  • utensils (knife, fork, spoon, glass, plate, bowl...)
  • general items (chair, table, bag, book, toothbrush, toothpaste...)
  • buildings (house, school, shop, church...)
  • transport (car, bus, train, station, airport...)
  • parts of the body (hand, finger, face, ear, head, nose, eye, leg...)
  • numbers
  • days of the week, months of the year

The aim will also to be to focus on the most useful phrases such as:

  • Hello. Good morning/afternoon/evening. 
  • How are you?
  • What would you like to eat/drink?
  • I don't understand.
  • I'm happy/sad/scared.
  • yesterday, tomorrow, next week, the day after tomorrow
  • I will be back soon.
  • I need a doctor.
  • I feel sick.
  • This is my sister/brother/father/mother.
  • I'm hungry/thirsty.
  • I need to make a phone call.
  • How long do we have to wait here?

The Roles Needed

There are a number of different roles which are needed. A person can do more than one role at a time. The main roles are as follows:

  • content editor; someone who enters content (words or phrases) into Lingopolo.
  • recruiter; to begin with at least, it will be important to try and get as many Ukrainian-speaking people as possible to volunteer to help, hence an important job initially will be to try and recruit volunteers.
  • publicist; as soon as there is a useful amount of content, it will be important to try and make as many people as possible aware of what is available
  • coordinator of the Ukrainian effort; the more volunteers there are, the more important it will become for somebody to try coordinate the effort

Role: Content Editor

The name content editor sounds pretty grand, but it's a pretty simple task. If you are comfortable using a program like Microsoft Word on a computer, then you should be able to help on this.

The easiest task is to just add individual words, with the English text and the Ukrainian text, together with some classification information (e.g. noun or verb, and subject type such as food or part of the body). For more information on this, see the help page Creating a word

The next easiest task is just to add phrases, with the English text and the Ukrainian text. For more information on this, see the help page Creating a phrase

Related to the adding of phrases, is linking the individual words in a phrase to the entries for those words. We call this adding the Literal Breakdown. That might sound quite complex, but it isn't really. If you have a sentence like "The coffee is hot" then you link to the words like "coffee" and "hot". For more information on this, see the help page Adding a Literal Breakdown to a phrase.

The trickiest content task is preparing audio files. Fortunately we already have a large amount of native-speaker audio content. What we need is for volunteers to prepare this content for Lingopolo use. If you want to help process audio files (which not every volunteer needs to do), you will need to learn to use Audacity software. For more information on this, see the help page Using Audacity

How much time does it require to be a volunteer? For that see this page

Role: Recruiter

If there are only a handful of volunteers working on this, it will be very slow. If there are many volunteers, it will be able to go extremely fast. That's why, one of the most important jobs to begin with is to recruit other volunteers to be content editors, with the only real requirements for a content editor being:

  • native speaker of Ukrainian
  • reasonably good knowledge of English (to be able to read instruction pages like this)
  • access to a computer and internet (in order to be able to do the work)
  • comfortable with normal computer use, such as using Microsoft Word

Meeting Up

I hope to organise regular face-to-face and/or online meetings to help people get started, learn how to do some of the trickier work and to stay motivated. For now though, this post is long enough, so I will leave that to another post.