Monthly Archives: October 2014

1,2, 3 … and identity loss ?

When sitting on the bench in the Atrium I talked to a professor visiting a  NU GSE seminar. It has happened that this stranger also deals with second language acquisition. Being interested in my major which is Multilingual Education, the professor kept asking me what were the benefits of proficiency in several languages. I replied in a positive way trying to convey all advantages of multilingualism, however, the interlocutor was sceptic on the real reasons of this new trend in education.

Suddenly he asked me if I knew Koreans and Japanese. ” Yes , I do. They are “Asian tigers” and leaders in high-tech”- I aswered  in a confident way. “It is true but you are far from understanding the mentality of these two nations”- said the professor. After that my level of  self-esteem decreased below the level of the Dead sea.

“The Koreans and the Japanese are mostly monolingual and by doing so they preserve own cultural and linguistic heritage”-told me the professor. “But English is the language of global economy, science and diplomacy”  – I tried to argue. “No, it is only the state that forces the citizens to master equally Kazakh, Russian and English. The authorities take into consideration only the few aspects without touching phychological and mental issues. For instance, how can an individual think efficiently in three languages? Does  it mean that we should have three mini-brains in one? The language and culture are interconnected, thus, being trilingual requires being “tricultural“. How to set up the boundaries between own national roots and languages spoken?”- kept on debating the professor.

Finally, he asserted that “the majority of the youth wants to be multilingual; due to the diversity they become cosmopolitants and deliberately or no, lose own national identity and underestimate the richness of the Kazakh language”.

After the dialogue my mind was full of controversial opinions. Even at 1:25 am, after 12 hours passed, I still think of today happenstance conversation. Will English as a lingua franca impede our emerging revitalisation of Kazakh? The Kazakh Language like a phoenix raises after being neglected in the Soviet time. Thus, trying to chase English we should also support Kazakh and do not leave it behind.

I cannot say that I fully agree or disagree with  that professor’s attitudes but I believe that is a specific issue. No one can control our neurolinguistic processes taking place in a brain. But I assume that everyone should be cautious when dealing with this issue, especially in Kazakhstani multicultural settings.

EFL or ESL: all about context

Kate Bell helps explain the difference between different types of language classrooms. English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL). While both are seeking the same goal–language fluency–the students have different motivations and concerns due to their environment. Read the article here.

How can this distinction can apply to Kazakhstan’s education system, not only for English, but also Russian and Kazakh learning environments?

Is English really a global language?

English isn’t managing to sweep all else before it — and if it ever does become the universal language, many of those who speak it won’t understand one another.

via What Global Language? – 00.11.

Barbara Wallraff wrote this in 2000, claiming that English hasn’t, and perhaps won’t ever, become a truly global language. A lot can change in a decade. How do you see the situation in your part of the world?

Has the expansion of English proven Wallraff wrong? How do you predict the future of language in your country? Will the use of English grow and then fall? Will it slowly increase but never pass the vernacular language?

What are the benefits of inclusion?

As schools get more competitive and parents increasingly want to send their children to the most elite and prestigious schools, it seems that exclusivity is on the rise. It is exclusion that sets one student above another, leading one to get into the best university and on to the best jobs.

Where does inclusive education fit in this modern day competitive model? What benefits do students–both those with disabilities and those without–get from an inclusive education model?

Carpeted Serenity

Here I sit, relishing in the soft warmth of the carpet, feeling minuscule compared to the vast dome stretching above me. Mammoth marble columns mark the outer edges of the main hall, leaving the main space open and flooded with light and color. Teals and blues, golds and greens all merge to form a never-ending mosaic of design and motion. The vastness of the hall and the width and height of the columns draws my eyes up to the intricate ceiling, ornate and complex, every free space covered with a weaving organic design or the fluid and wandering Arabic writings. The main dome seems to stretch through the clouds and the sun’s bright rays glint and dance off the extravagant chandelier. A few visitors sit reading or praying while all the staff work busily in preparation for tomorrow’s holiday. I imagine that even full of people, this impressive mosque would retain its sense of openness and serenity.