I learned that it is important to learn Ukrainian on its own terms. Many students come to Ukraine with a knowledge of Polish and Russian, and these languages will give them a leg up with Ukrainian. But thinking in Ukrainian will bring rewarding results for those trying to immerse themselves in the language.
The best part of the program was the excellent language instruction. The teachers at the National University of Ivan Franko taught the grammar and structure of the Ukrainian language clearly and efficiently, so my classmates and I were able to quickly acquire a base for reading texts. The amount of time spent in class was neither too much nor too little for concentrating on, absorbing, and retaining each day's new material. Language learning was the core goal of the program, and I am very glad that it brought such quick results and was so much fun.
My favorite part of the summer Language Institute in L'viv, Ukraine was the daily fusion of academics with cultural experiences. At the beginning of the program I knew no Ukrainian and had to rely on Russian or English to accomplish simple tasks. After six weeks I was able to spend an evening conversing with my host family about Ukrainian society, politics, and culture at some length and with fairly proficient command of the basic grammar of the Ukrainian language. Interacting with Ukrainians on a daily basis gave me a glimpse into not only their daily routines, but their thoughts on life, their country, and the world around them.
The academic side of the program is structured in a manner that allows students to quickly acquire basic understanding and proficiency in Ukrainian. Students are not required to have any prior language study to participate in the program, but, in my opinion, some prior study of a Slavic language will benefit the student, as the summer Language Institute is an accelerated, six-week course meant to provide the equivalent of one year of study at the University of Kansas. Students with prior language experience will be better prepared for the intensive language study that awaits them.