Heritage Language Programs - Ukrainian

Ukrainian Heritage School

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Address: 700 Cedar Road; Jenkintown, PA 19046

Telephone: (610) 527-6805

Fax: (610) 527-6814

Web address: http://www.ukrheritageschool.com/

Contact person:

Name: Stephen Patrylak

Title: Principal

Email: patrylaks@comcast.net

Languages/dialects taught: Ukrainian

Grades taught: Pre K-K; 1-5/6; 6/7-8; 9-12

Program Description

Purposes and goals of the program: The main objective of the Ukrainian Heritage School is the education of its students in Ukrainian language and culture in order that they may retain their Ukrainian heritage. The school has been able to instill in these students a strong sense of their identity as Americans of Ukrainian descent, and an understanding of their responsibility to carry forward the Ukrainian tradition.

Type of program: Content-based; Saturday academy

Brief explanation of the program: The Ukrainian Heritage School maintains a Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum of ethnic studies in the Ukrainian language, literature, history, geography and culture. All instruction is in Ukrainian.

The Ukrainian language is taught from Pre-K through the twelfth grade. The focus of instruction is on all language skills including listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. Instruction in grammar including phonetics, morphology, and syntax is an integral part of the curriculum.

Literature is taught in grades eight through twelve. The program, which includes the teaching of both poetry and prose, seeks to acquaint the students with major literary works, beginning with the pre-historic oral tradition and continuing through the 21st century.

History, taught in grades five through twelve, covers the Kievan Rus’ era, the Cossack period, and modern history, including the Orange Revolution.

Geography is studied in grades seven through twelve. The topics covered are topography, climate, water systems, natural resources, industry and commerce, flora and fauna, population demographics, political administrative regions, and ecology.

Culture is covered in grades eight through twelve. Students are exposed to various forms of folk art as well as theater, music, dance, architecture, and fine arts—including painting, sculpture, and iconography.

Upon completion of the program, the students undergo rigorous comprehensive written and oral exams in each of the above subjects. The written exams are comparable in form, substance and level of difficulty to the New York State’s Regent Exam in language and to the Advanced Placement exams for other subjects. Exams are prepared and administered nationally by the Educational Council. The oral exams are taken before a Board of Examiners appointed by the same body. Only those students who successfully complete the final examinations receive a graduation diploma.


Parents’ expectations for the program: Parents expect that their children will have continued contact with other Ukrainian children and gain comprehensive knowledge of the language and subject matter.


• First-generation immigrants, 50%
• Second-generation immigrants, 40%
• Third-generation immigrants, 4%
• Children of interethnic marriages, 6%

Countries of origin: Ukraine, United States

Total student enrollment: 300

How the program identifies heritage speakers: Self-selection

How the program determines the language background and language proficiency of students: Oral Interviews: Grade level teachers interview potential students for proper classroom placement.

Percentage of students who complete the program: 70%

Percentage of students who continue to study the heritage language after completing the program: 10%

Possible reasons for student withdrawal: Student who do not complete the program typically drop out in the fifth grade due to the growing difficult of the curriculum or in the ninth grade due to outside academic or athletic commitments.

Students’ attitudes toward the language varieties they speak: First-generation students typically speak better and a more “living” language than their American-born peers. There is usually little or no difficulty integrating these two variations of the language.


Number of instructors in the program: 23 teachers; 6 teaching assistants; 3 administrators

Languages in which instructors are proficient: Ukrainian and English

Proficiency level: Native speakers or equivalent

Credentials: B.A. in elementary or secondary education; M.A.

Professional development opportunities instructors have: Each year there is a two-week seminar in language and subject matter. There are periodic in-service seminars during the school year.


Total contact hours per week: 4.5 hours

Times per week: Once per week

Student grouping: By grade level

Language skills

Skills developed by the program:

Heritage language skills:
• Listening
• Speaking
• Reading
• Writing
• Knowledge of the culture

Levels of language proficiency reached by the end of the program: At a minimum, conversational level is reached. Others are at a native speaker level.


Aspects of culture taught:
• History
• Festivals
• Customs
• Traditions/Beliefs
• Religion
• Folktales
• Arts and crafts
• Dances
• Songs
• Rhymes
• Social and cultural norms
• Cultural appropriateness
• Literature
• Youth organizations
• Community service

Kind of student identity program fosters: We foster an identity of belonging to a common Ukrainian community.


Methodologies and instructional strategies used in the program: All the current pedagogical and methodologies are employed. The program is flexible enough to accommodate audio, visual, and tactile learners. Differential instruction is available.


Textbooks: Textbooks published by The Educational Council of Ukrainian Congress Committee of America are used.

Other materials used for instruction: Maps are an integral part of the instruction.

Technology used for instruction: The Internet is used for research. Computers and projectors are used routinely.


Assessments used to evaluate students’ progress:
• Chapter tests
• Mid-term tests
• Final exams
• Standardized tests, which include comprehensive oral and written exams administered by the Ukrainian Educational Council required for graduation
• Teachers’ observations
• Performance-based tasks or assessments
• Program exit test


Connections with other institutions: The Ukrainian Heritage School operates under the auspices of the Educational Council of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. The Educational Council is the central organ of the network of 35 Ukrainian Saturday schools throughout the United States. It provides curriculum direction, recommends textbooks, sets graduation standards, and conducts matriculation testing for the schools under its jurisdiction. It also provides qualification requirements and training for the faculties of its member schools.

Credit or recognition students receive: Graduating students receive college foreign language credits or satisfy foreign language requirements.

How the program develops home/school connections or promotes parent involvement: Parents who wish to home school are given the curriculum and materials to accomplish the task. Assessments are done by school officials.

Opportunities for using the heritage language and developing cultural knowledge outside the program: Extensive opportunities exist including youth groups, church groups, dancing groups, choirs, and drama groups.

What the program has in place

Financial support the program receives: Tuition of approximately $450 per school year is paid.

Other support the program receives: The local Ukrainian Federal Credit Union is an active financial supporter of our school. Annually, it provides gifts amounting to approximately $5,000 for various projects.

How students graduate and/or how they receive credit: Typically, our students receive a minimum of 6 college credits for the program. On occasion, up to 12 credits are given. However, credits vary from college to college. The foreign language requirement may be waived upon successful completion of the program.

Special challenges

Challenges the program has experienced: Teaching the language to students of such diverse abilities from native speakers to some speaking hardly any Ukrainian at home is difficult, yet manageable.

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