Language Virtual supports difficulties in Ukraine with the help of Nova Ukraine



Recently, Language Virtual partnered with Nova Ukraine to connect high school students with Ukrainian children in need of language learning.

Countries apart, two students join a remote video conference. Each week the two connect like clockwork for a grammar, vocabulary or reading lesson.

The Russia-Ukrainian War began in February 2022 when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reported that over two million children were displaced as a result. Lives disrupted, many sought to leave Ukraine.

Senior Anna Lin founded Language Virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program pairs English tutors who are high school students with children ages seven to 16. Currently, Language Virtual has over 700 students and 100 teachers in 15 countries and aims to connect the world through the English language.

After forming a partnership with US-based nonprofit Nova Ukraine, Language Virtual began to virtually teach Ukrainian students who wanted to learn English for the skill or because they moved to English-speaking countries. As of now, Language Virtual has over 10 Ukrainian students.

Sophomore Riley Ament has taught multiple Ukrainian students over the past year. Ament said lessons are sometimes interrupted by the war.

“A week ago, my student didn’t make it to a meeting. She’s in 4th grade. That was the day when Russia started lobbing missiles into Kyiv. My student’s WiFi and all of her internet had been cut off,” Ament said. “On that same day, she moved out to the countryside to live with her grandma. She’s okay now, but it was scary.”

Lin said it is important to foster an understanding between Ukrainian students and instructors, who all have different day-to-day experiences.

“I have no idea what it’s like being uprooted from your own country and then having to be in a new place,” Lin said. “Through our lessons, we want to help the families and especially their kids, feel welcomed in our community and be able to start over, whether it’s in the US or in another place.”

Ament said her goal is to help her students as much as she can while giving them a place to feel confident and practice English.

“I always ask [my student] if she’s safe and if her family is safe. I try not to touch on it too much because I’m hoping that she can have her lessons in a place where she doesn’t have to think about the war,” Ament said.

During lessons, sophomore Pierre Fry teaches his Ukrainian student English through games and other activities.

“It’s fun seeing him enjoy [the lessons]. Sometimes, he has trouble focusing, but usually we’re able to do games. Over a few lessons, he’s remembering the stuff we’ve done before,” Fry said. “It’s also sad [seeing] everything he has to go through.”

Lin said forming relationships through Language Virtual helps Ukrainian students feel more connected to one another and their instructors, supporting them amidst the war and other difficulties they might be facing.

“I believe the friendships our students make in the organization will last,” Lin said. “Through our lessons, we are fostering understanding and respect among all people.”