Monthly Archives: February 2016

Write and you’ll get happiness…

As it turned out the writing process was not finished with the end of the first year… At first, it seemed very nice to have a lot of time and not so many tasks, but reality is not so happy as it seems. Understanding that you should write constantly your thesis is spoiled by the constant necessity to do your job; and the challenge of the right choice is  very complicated. What is the most important thing? Work or Study?

I think, people in the same situation can understand the problem. Both things are important and another idea-how to make your time management not perfect, but suitable… So, there is the only way out-to search and find time at work and in the evenings, when you are not able to do anything…

Despite all of the issues and obstacles, the writing is moving ahead step be step. One of my own problems is proof-reading: I do not like re-read, because every time I have to change something and every time the work seems to be endless. One more problem is the usage of citation: which one to choose, how to apply it in the writing, following the APA-style and so on. Sometimes, it seems that to use my thoughts will be enough to express the ideas, but not enough to support the work with quotes of well-known researchers…

In conclusion, I would like to say: it is important in any case of writing of any tasks to read the rubrics before starting your work. Then it is necessary to re-read your writing, it will help to see drawbacks and improve the style as well as develop ideas. Every time doing this you will be successful and you will have feeling of happiness because of well-done work!

 

My interviewing experience

In this post I would like to share my experience of data collection by interviewing. According to my research design I was supposed to interview teachers and students of secondary schools. I will highlight for the future researchers that conversation with grown-ups and conversation with children are absolutely two different things. In this post I will focus on my experience of communicating with children since I found it really interesting and challenging.

To start with, dealing with psychology of communication in theory is different from what happens in practice. According to my plan I was going to have a focus-group interview where each participant would have a chance to speak one by one. I started the interview in a friendly way, explained what was going to happen, and asked to answer the questions in turns. In fact, it was not easy to make children take turns, as sometimes one student would jump up and start answering instead of the student whose turn it was to speak. Consequently, the student who failed to answer when it was his turn, refused to answer later because he/she felt offended. Then I had to be more persistent and when asking a question I would name the person I wanted to answer.

Another issue I did not know about is that students may repeat each other’s answer. For example, after somebody’s answer a student would say ” I also like to play…”. In such cases I had to ask specifying questions like: What exactly do you like to play? When?, etc.

Another issue that turned to be a problem is that it mattered when I had a conversation: in the morning the students were sleepy, before physical education they were too excited and could not concentrate on the questions, if there was a sofa in the room some of them would lie on it and distract the others.

Besides, in my consent form I planned to give students incentives in the form of sweets. In reality, teachers recommended not to bring any sweets, and, thus, I brought some small gifts to the participants.

Overall, after this funny and challenging experience, I should say, that even though I prepared well for the interviews and piloted the questions, when it came to reality, with children you can not plan a 100% perfect plan of an interview. Be ready for spontaneous things.

Almost there, but not yet…

Three semesters at NUGSE are over for me. Now I am in the process of working on my final project – master thesis. It was not easy for me to choose the topic of my dissertation. While attending lectures by NU GSE professors every semester, I kept changing my mind about what I want to explore in my research study. Finally, during the fall semester of 2015, I decided to work on the issue of mentoring beginning and newly appointed teachers in Kazakhstani schools. The topic of my dissertation is “Mentoring experience: beginning teachers’ and mentors’ perspective”.

I ended up having a very strict supervisor, which I find useful since she pushes me in the process of writing the thesis. By the end of November, we were supposed to have written first three chapters of the dissertation: Introduction, Literature Review and Methodology. The main challenge for me was the Literature Review chapter. I have read a number of articles on mentoring, tried to analyze them and then put it all into a fifteen-page chapter. It is not difficult to organize the literature, the main issue is the ability to analyze it critically. I still do not understand how to make the literature review not a descriptive narration but a critically analyzed argumentation. I hope that by the time I am to finish writing my thesis, I will have a decent literature review chapter.

In December, I went “to the field” for data collection. I found interviewing quite interesting this time. All of my respondents were so eager to participate in my study and gave me extended answers to the interview questions. Now I have enough data to analyze for the Findings and Discussion chapters of the thesis. Right now, I am in the process of transcribing the interviews, which is not an easy thing to do. It is time-consuming and requires a lot of patience to re-play the recording over and over again. By the end of March, I am expected to start writing the Findings chapter. Until then, I plan to work on “polishing” the first three chapters of my thesis.

Revealing the secret of hyperpolyglottism

tower-of-babel

Living in multilingual and multicultural societies, many people meet the demand of knowing several languages with high enthusiasm. However, still many of them tend to stop with two or four excusing themselves that it is enough, or they do not have time, or they do not possess propensity to learning languages, or even that they are too old to learn. Looking at the next two persons, one can confidently argue that everything people find for their apology is no more than a bedtime story.

fazah_2

 

This is Ziad Fazah, a hyperpolyglot – which is the term for those who can speak 12 or more languages (Smallwood, 2013) –  from Lebanon. Currently he is a holder of the Guinness World Record for knowing the largest number of languages, and, as he claims, he is proficient in almost 60 (Williams, 2012).

 

Sir_John_Bowring_by_John_King

 

Even more striking example is Sir John Bowring, the 4th leader of Hong Kong, who is considered the speaker of the greatest number of languages ever known by history. Fairly, he was able to understand 200 languages and could speak 100 of them (Smallwood, 2013).

 

Ziad Farah and Sir John look like quite ordinary people who probably went through the whole process of acquiring foreign language as every language learner does. Some begin with studying grammar, vocabulary, and struggling how to keep in mind all those rules and words and not to sound like a robot when using them in speech. Others, in contrast, are luckier, and have a chance to learn the language through exposure to the target language speaking environment. Furthermore, it is widely agreed that once you acquired one foreign language it becomes easier and easier to assimilate all subsequent ones. If so, why do so few people exploit this opportunity? Is it, perhaps, the truth that mastering many languages is a gift that is not for an average person?

Definitely, no. Though some theories espouse an idea that hyperpolyglottism can be the hallmark of people with high IQ scores (Erard, 2005), can be the result of mental diseases such as autism, and even can be inherent to left-handed people or musicians (Constantine, 2012), the counterarguments seem to be stronger and more realistic. The reason why these arguments deserve more support is that they are based on experiences of ordinary people with ordinary brains, who could take the linguistic risk and deal with it successfully while the previous cases might be just a coincidence (Smallwood, 2013).

As an illustration, William Lee Adams (2006) in his article “We’re all potential polyglots” maintains that IQ score can do nothing unless you are interested in and imbued by learning foreign languages, demonstrate enough motivation and efforts, and, of course, have access to foreign tongues. The good example of a person demonstrated strong desire and motivation, and perhaps a bit of stubbornness, is Emil Krebs. When he was told that it is impossible to know every language in the world he asked about the hardest one and achieved advanced proficiency in that language to show that human brain’s capacity is unlimited (Smallwood, 2013). David Robson (2015) adds that such factors as continuous exposure to foreign culture, especially imitating foreign style of speaking, intonation and accent can play a crucial role as well. Further, he elaborates on the example of Michael Levi Harris, an actor who could master 10 languages on the advanced level by his method of “adopting new cultural skin”. Harris also shared some tips with the author, which helped him in his job of imitation. Particularly, he suggests imitating the words without thinking about spelling (just listen and repeat) and offers to pay more attention to facial expression. Finally, he tells not to be scared of producing some strange sounds and just feel as if those sounds were natural for you. These advice can help language learner to own foreign words, and, as Harris concluded: “When you own words you can speak more confidently, which is how people will engage with you” (Robson, 2015). Michael Erard (2005) presents another interesting example of Lomb Kato who, according to her words, had no extraordinary talent to languages, but what she did to learn 16 of them was reading fiction, especially she preferred novels. In a word, all the examples show that you do not necessarily have to be gifted; you already have a genius hidden in your personal features and waiting for you to wake him up.

As shown above, hyperpolyglottism seems to be achievable for every person in the world, and this can be proved by many people who are already beating the records of knowing many languages. My final remark is that there is no secret on how to become a hyperpolyglot for anyone who is full of inspiration about learning.

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PS. Could not leave without sharing this video with you-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOiXtWcQ8GI This boy speaking 20 languages within 15 minutes is just awesome!

 

References

Adams, W. L. (2006, May). Could you learn 40 languages? We’re are all potential polyglots. Psychology Today, 39(3). Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.nu.edu.kz:2069/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d14f2e26-49d9-4367-948a-0a4c52c0e96a%40sessionmgr4001&vid=1&hid=4207

Constantine, P. (2012, January 25). The art of speaking in many tongues [Review of the book Babel No More. The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners, by M. Erard]. International Herald Tribune, 16. Retrieved from http://find.galegroup.com/gic/infomark.do?&source=gale&idigest=506b600fff0ddd14c7752310872f135f&prodId=GIC&userGroupName=123na&tabID=T004&docId=CJ277885267&type=retrieve&contentSet=IAC-Documents&version=1.0

Erard, M. (2005). The gift of the gab. New Scientist, 185(2481), 40-43. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.nu.edu.kz:2085/ehost/detail/detail?sid=cdbce790-9fdd-475f-bdf0-1d464dd67f23%40sessionmgr115&vid=0&hid=109&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d&preview=false#AN=15682419&db=aph

Robson, D. (2015, May 29). How to learn 30 languages. BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150528-how-to-learn-30-languages

Smallwood, K. (2013, July 31). The contested title of the person who speaks the most languages. Retrieved from http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/07/the-contested-title-of-the-person-who-speaks-the-most-languages/

Williams, A. (2012, July 29). 10 most impressive polyglots in world history [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/2012/07/29/10-most-impressive-polyglots-in-world-history/

 

 

The three words of wisdom

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image: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ihi491RQo5A/maxresdefault.jpg

You may have noticed that animated cartoons are becoming more popular among both young and adult spectators. Conveying to the audience a powerful message in a simplest way could be one of the reasons cartoons’ success. Here I would like to share with some of personal reflections on the cartoon The Little Prince based on the same-named novel written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Rich with metaphors the story about adventures of the Little Prince unveil philosophical and psychological aspects of the life and becoming an adult.  The book contains plethora of riveting quotes. So let me bring to your attention some expressions that captivated me and could be thought provoking for teachers and parents.

The Little Prince meets a fox that whispers him words of wisdom: And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. Unfortunately, it happens that we fail to turn our hearts on, and judge the book by its cover. Frequently we tag some students as a problem learner and even do not take a chance to talk to him/her, spend some time, try to help or solve the problem together. Students with high academic performance are praised, included in various subject competitions, whereas struggling students are left aside, or pushed to attend after school classes which are usually held for show only. The Little Prince tells us to go back to childhood, when heart was open to see those things that eyes could not. Teaching with open heart makes one a real teacher.

“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” Daily routines and alarming dates of deadlines in calendar turn the life into dullness or rat race. We want too much control over our feelings to hide the weaknesses and pains. Our attempts to seem stronger than we are in fact, lead to psychological and emotional disorders that result in physical illnesses. Do you remember yourself as a child you used to be grateful and happy for little things? I guess we need to bring up that girl or boy whom we left once we were told that we had grown up.

The worst thing is leaving someone you shared moments of happiness and grief. “People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed.” Once you set connection with your student and become friends, maintain that ties, do not abandon your young friend. Those ties serve child as a bridge to cross the river, to get to another bank without falling into water. When the time comes to cross the river and he/she does not find the bridge secure enough, it brings child down, that follows with disappointment, helplessness, anger and frustration.

For one, above-written may seem too much exaggerated or kind of caramel words, but sometimes cartoons and stories for children may teach to life better than books and journals on psychology. Plant your rose, nurture and water it. The rose does not stay forever, so try to smell it to the fullest, and after, never forget its fragrance and beauty that once has lit up your world. Maybe your childhood memories were not sweet, but you have a chance to make someone’s better.

 

References:

St.Exupery, A. D. (1943). The little prince. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World.

Features of British education

Great Britain is one of the leaders in the world educational system and its Universities take high places in the international leack table. Therefore, I want to share my education experience in the UK. I studied in the pedagogical internship program for 9 months at Reading University. My impression I divided into three main parts: educational coast, studding process and student life.
In my point, Universities coasts are the most arguable issue everywhere. Parents and other stakeholders think about price and quality. The price in the UK very high but government fines the best conclusion to give opportunity to studying. They, as many other countries, offer educational credits but I was impressed by the way how it return back. I think is the best decision because graduates don’t have obligation to return all money immediately, you do it only when you will get a good job with high salary. This process shows how people can get outcome of their degree.
The next point is discussion about studying hours. In the UK I read the article where author raises the question about contact hours, and he disagreed with Universities which provides only 2 or 4 hours a week per students and the remaining hours are for self education. Thus, author writes that it is improperly to pay twenty thousand pounds per year and have only 2 tutorial hours a week. Of course, Universities organize many different open lectures, conferences, seminars and other events to engage students, but I think lectures and practical work particular in your major will be more useful and can be combined with self-evaluation.
The third impression is student life. At the first I want to emphasis that I don’t blame English students but I was surprise when I saw how much they drink. One of our lectures said that alcoholism among young people becomes the big problem in Universities. It is dangerous signal for society and Universities should think about it.
In conclusion, I want to say that the UK Universities give a good education but at the same time they have outstanding issues. When I was going to Britain I thought that the UK Universities were ideal organization however, after 9 months I changed my mind. No one in the world can be perfect and Kazakhstan education system also has some good practice which we can share.

Attitudinal barriers in the Kazakhstani society: My personal perspectives

The issue of social attitudes towards differences and acceptance of diversity in our society raised in previous posts is the one I have also been thinking of writing a post about for quite a while.

 

Tolerance to differences and diversity is a cultural feature that does not form over night. Rather, it requires a long period of experiencing the differences in a meaningful way through positive interactions between disabled and non-disabled people and,thereby, accumulating a critical mass of changes in people’s mindsets necessary for a substantive shift toward a tolerant non-disablist culture. Bearing this in mind, I myself try to be active and open to people wherever I go and wherever in public I am.

 

Being in public and encountering a multitude of different people and correspondingly distinct attitudes, I do see absolutely diverse patterns of people’s ways to interact with persons with ‘disabilities’ (Let’s stick to this common, though not the best, term).

 

Comparing the attitudes of people to myself in the U.S. and Kazakhstan, in the former I often came across people who seemed to feel highly uncomfortable if/when they are not skilled/educated enough to properly accommodate / adapt to a ‘disabled’ person’s differences. While in Kazakhstan I run into unfriendly attitudes of locals right on the way from the plane to the bus in the Almaty airport when I returned back home after the long trip to the U.S. There were two ladies fussing who of them should help me get out to the waiting room. They barely cared about my presence there. It was a kind of reverse culture shock.

 

Of course, this is not to say that I experience only such ignorance / unfriendly attitudes here in Kazakhstan. However, a critical lack of appropriate education is the issue that always comes to my mind whenever I meet people outside walking by myself even on the NU’s campus with its well-educated community.

 

Even if people are friendly, their friendliness often turns to exhibit in the form of a degrading pity or patronizing condescension towards people who are believed to be deprived of something vital to live it up. For example, sometimes, I come across taxi drivers who say, perhaps, with the kindest intentions; “I don’t take money from people like you” and get stuck when they learn that I probably earn more than they do.

 

These accounts are based only on my own experience and I try not to make too broad generalizations. My main point here is that changing such attitudes is the key issue in endeavors to eliminate the disablist culture of the society since all other barriers can be removed / reduced only through forming an overall non-disablist culture and all-round acceptance of diversity.

 

P.S. Not those are disabled who have physical impairments, rather, those defective who are so ignorant as to not be able to understand/accept diversity and differences in others and such a ‘mental defect’ is much more harmful than any physical impairment.

 

Acknowledgement:

Thanks to Dilshat whose post about the attitudes towards people with disabilities was an impulse for me to write this account which I was originally developing as a comment to her post. But it gradually grew up to more than 500 words becoming an independent piece of writing which, I thought, is worth posting separately.

 

 

 

New Goal – New Challenge

One of my professors at NU told once that she had “MY TIME” in her everyday planning list, and as she explained, it was the time when she could do anything that had nothing to do with her real goals. Since then I also made up my mind to create my own one. Although it takes not only an hour of my one day as it was supposed to be so but I tripled “MY TIME”. I organized it a little bit different with new challenges and here it follows and the rest of “MT” is given to my studies and note, no social network browsing for at least a week (have to challenge myself even more))):

Every day:

6amWith the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. (E. Roosevelt)

6.30-7.30amSports do not build character. They reveal it. (H. Broun)

9 – 10.30pmEither write something worth reading or do something worth writing. (B. Franklin)

Once a week:

7 – 9pmI cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy…. (C.R. Swindoll)

8 – 10pmSoap operas are the most popular shows we have. (D. Stevens)

Some of them were set recently; they are really challenges for me. I am seriously addicted to the internet: surf it every day and night, watch anything and everything on purpose and with no purpose. So I decided to forget about Facebook, Instagram for about a week and limited myself. Another passion is Turkish soap-operas; I can`t explain why I am so passionate about it, but there is little excuse for that – I am learning Turkish. Again, I cut off the time that I was spending for that. Instead I found new inspiration in reading, especially classics. I love reading books actually, but with the advent of the internet they were shifted away and left to farther shelves.

How far I can go? You have to tell me! See you soon!

vincent

http://www.brainyquote.com/

Bad advice for Master students

All children are different. Some of them listen to what their parents teach them, and it makes the life of their mothers and fathers so much easier. However, what can we do to educate the disobedient ones?
vrednye-sovety

In 1990 Grigory Oster published the first book of the “Bad advice” (Rus.: “Вредные советы”) series that he called “a vaccine against stupidity”. Naughty children that listen to advice and do the opposite were the target readers of “Bad advice”. Saturated with humor, the book has become very popular not only amongst “bad” children, the “good” ones  and even adults enjoyed reading it.

As every GSE newcomer struggles with particular problems, he/she is given valuable advice by our professors or more experienced students. But what if he/she is a former child from Oster’s book? In this case, I present you my version of “Bad advice. NUGSE edition”.

Bad advice for Master students

Inspired by Grigory Oster’s “Bad advice”

 

Once you are enrolled in Master’s,

You can feel relief and joy.

There’ll be no one to control you,

They can only give advice.

 

But don’t listen to professors,

They do only see the hard way.

Listen to this bad advice and

Follow it! No second thoughts!

 

They will say that you can only

Cite and quote in APA. But!

Show your teachers

Who the boss is.

Cite and quote the way YOU like!

 

When they say that you should manage

Time and tasks, and mind deadlines,

They just keep exaggerating

‘cause time-management is myth.

 

If you feel like doing nothing,

Don’t resist the lazy monster.

Just forget about assignments

And keep watching “Game of thrones”.

 

In group projects wait for someone

Do the work instead of you, and

Keep the silence, then contribute

Just by saying “I agree”.

 

When it comes to final project

That is due to week eleven,

Keep postponing and ignoring,

Last-ditch effort always helps.

 

All in all, you should remember:

If your groupmates keep believing

They must read and write and think,

This poor people didn’t listen

All this precious bad advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is really disabled? or The importance of transforming people’s mindset towards inclusivity.

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Alternative International Symbol of Access, which attempts to change social perceptions of disability. Image by Brian Glenney and Sara Hendren is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 and retrieved from accessibleicon.org

Recently, I was facebooking and came up with an interesting post of one of the friends of mine about his visit to the center for physically disabled people. In his post he wrote about a girl who shared her life story and thoughts about it. I was really touched and, eventually, was inspired to write about it. The original story was written in Kazakh. I will do my best not to change the message translating the story.

It was a hot summer. My mother and I were at a doctor and after medical check we were given the list of medicines that we had to buy. Then on the way to the drugstore I have noticed that some people were looking at me sitting on wheelchair with a great sympathy, others were passing with pride and arrogance. Then I thought looking at them: “If I were able to walk like these people would I treat the same as they do?” Most likely it will be otherwise. We reached the drugstore and my mother left me outside and entered there.

          I was sitting and moving my wheelchair. The sun was shining brightly, flowers smelled fragrantly. Suddenly, a woman passing by came up and was trying to find some money in her pocket. “I don’t need your money”, I said with anger and with pain questioned myself:”Do I look so helpless and pitiful?”. “I am not a beggar, I don’t need your money”, repeated I and another man came up and said: “Better give me that money, to the beggar like me”. The man looked slovenly and he smelled of alcohol. The woman gave him the money and went along. 

           Coming back home I started to speculate about those people who can see, hear and walk on their own but they became baggers and continue to harm their health. Whereas people like me who can’t even make a step on their own still striving and trying to become as everyone else.

Who is really disabled then?

The issue raised in this life story is vital. It has a direct relation to the inclusion in education which is considered as a right but difficult way to choose. Different stakeholders have different perspectives and most of them are skeptical about it. First and foremost precondition for inclusive education to become successfully implemented is people’s readiness to accept those “unusual” people as they are. That is to say, to create inclusive society. It is social values and perception which determine whether to include or exclude a specific characteristic of an individual. As the Department of Economic and Social Affairs report defines:

“Social inclusion of the excluded groups can only happen

if everyone becomes “part of the group” that defines the culture,

values and standards of the society in which they live” (p.32)

         Labeling them as people with special needs or Russian equivalent “люди с ограниченными возможностями” (people with limited opportunities) we define and affect people’s attitude towards them (Actually, we are all with limited opportunities). This is a result of social identity, meaning person’s self-conception derived from the group they were categorized to. As a rule, people want to possess a positive identity where they are valued and respected. Otherwise, in the society where there is an imbalance between the individual’s power may end up with the process of social exclusion (DESA, 2009). To achieve the social inclusion it is necessary to change the meaning and values associated with unfavorable characteristics.

This can be achieved by raising people’s awareness with help of education system, mass media and social campaigns. People have to realize that inclusive education doesn’t necessarily mean studying with disabled people. Instead, inclusive education is aiming to find and focus on what a student can do. It is clear from this point that every child regardless of his/her level of capacity is going to benefit from the education which is inclusive. Undoubtedly, it is not an easy task to make people to “embrace” people who are excluded from the first attempts. In this case, media and social campaigns is going to become important stakeholders in this essential but challenging process.

Going back to the story, it is possible to draw a conclusion that these people do want us approach them better and want to become a part of the community which is called “Humankind”.

P.S. Food For Thought:

If you fail to see potential in the person but only see person’s disability, then who is blind?

If you cannot hear your brother’s cry for help and justice, then who is deaf?

If you cannot stand up for the right of all people, then who is cripple?

If you cannot have the patience, the tolerance and understanding for individual differences, then who is mentally-handicapped?

 (retrieved from: http://www.gg.rhul.ac.uk/ict4d/disability.html)

References:

 

DESA. (2009). Creating an Inclusive Society: Practical Strategies to Promote Social Integration.