Linguists at the German Language Department successfully cooperate with the Austrian Integration Foundation

One of the main areas of activity of Drohobych Ivan Franko State Pedagogical University during the russian aggression against Ukraine is to  help people whose fate was changed by the war. Moreover, the extent of such support covered not only internally displaced persons, but also refugees who fled the country. The most acute problem for many Ukrainians who found themselves in Europe was the language barrier, which made it difficult or even impossible for them to successfully socialize in a new place. The resources of the European countries that accepted a large number of refugees in a short time were not enough to meet the people’s urgent needs.  And if the situation was generally going well with similar Slavic languages, then with Germanic and Romance languages it became almost critical. So, Drohobych University foreign languages teachers stepped on the language front.
For many years, our Alma mater nurtured intensive cooperation with the Republic of Austria, which even reached the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The current situation gave it a new dimension. Already at the end of spring 2022, the Austrian Integration Fund (Österreichischer Integrationsfonds), which is a partner of the Federal Migration Service of Austria and has been dealing with issues of social, economic, legal, linguistic and cultural integration of immigrants into Austrian society since the 1960s, objectively assessing the completeness of the intrastate system,  turned to the Ukrainian side with a request for assistance to temporarily displaced persons from Ukraine to Austria on the language issue. And Drohobych University was arguably the first to respond to this call.
After settling a large number of formalities, to which the head of the Department of German Language Practice, Assoc. Vasyl Lopushanskyi had put the most efforts into, a bilateral agreement was signed in June last year between the Foundation and the University on the first stage of cooperation – conducting an intensive German language course at the A1.1 level with preparation for passing the exam for the corresponding language level. The course lasted during July-August 2022 supervised by assistant professors Oksana Brodska and Halyna Shevtsiv. It was based on the textbook “Schritte international neu Plus Österreich” developed by the Austrian side and provided online classes for the formation of all language competencies in a fixed group of 20 people. Despite the difficulty of the task given the marked heterogeneity of the group, which was made up of people of very different ages and levels of education, our teachers managed to lead all participants to write the test successfully.
The positive experience of cooperation with our university prompted the Foundation to sign a new bilateral agreement at the end of last year (we note that a similar agreement was also extended only with Uzhgorod National University!). Therefore, in the period from January 9 to February 10, 2023, Oleh Radchenko, associate professor at the department of German and French languages, gave 15 open lectures for Ukrainians in Austria with the emphasis being placed on the language training of the listeners with the current development of their country studies competence. Free lectures from Ukraine caused an unexpected stir – the Zoom class was filled with 300 participants, it simply could not accommodate others. In total, almost 120 people listened to all the lectures, and in the final survey, 78% rated the lecturer’s work as “excellent” and all voted to continue the course with him at the next, higher level.
The above testifies to the reliability of the Drohobych Pedagogical University as an international partner, the high professionalism of its teachers, who are ready to take on new challenges and are able to successfully overcome them, and also inspires hope for continued cooperation with the Austrian Integration Foundation for the benefit of both parties and our fellow citizens abroad.