Currently Kazakhstan is trying to implement the trinity of languages in preschool education system. On the one hand, the implementation process has its benefits; on the other hand, one should not forget to think of its drawbacks.
Based on personal experiences of my parents, I suppose the implementation of trilingual education in kindergartens is showing good results. They say that it was extremely effective to teach three languages at the age of 3-5 when children can acquire languages easily and quickly. Especially, the foundation of English was built in the kindergarten: my brother still remembers the vocabulary which he learned 3-4 years ago in the public kindergarten. Meanwhile, Kazakh and Russian were not ignored, both in the junior and medium groups children learned by heart tongue twisters, watched cartoon and played different games, consequently, the learning process was not supposed to be boring. In my opinion, the reform initiative is working successfully and achieving its intended outcomes, however, there are still some challenges, including absence of guidance, teacher training, discrepancy between rural and urban area.
Firstly, I want to highlight that there is no one specific reform dedicated for implementation of trilingual education in preschool level, which guides teachers, informs parents, and states the clear goals and tasks. Even after launching the program “Development of trinity of languages in preschool organizations”, there is still no unified program for teaching English in preschool organizations (“Metody i priemy razvitiya”, 2016). Teachers, who are the key stakeholders to implement teaching in three languages in the preschool organizations, cannot make it feasible without knowing where they are aiming and what their clear tasks are. Because of this challenge, we do not know whether the intended outcomes are achieved or not, so it also cannot be assessed.
Secondly, in order to succeed in the implementation of trilingual education teachers should undergo training programs because without being aware of the certain methods and techniques of teaching they possibly may end up with failure of policy. Particularly, teachers should know psychological and physical characteristics of preschool children, and they should be able to approach each student individually. For example, in the kindergarten “Mary Poppins”, which is situated in Almaty, teacher of English undergo training for qualification every year in London, as a result the children show good results (“Stranichka prepodavatelya”, 2016).
Thirdly, we should consider the discrepancy in language proficiency between urban and rural areas. As Fierman (2006) and Smagulova (2008) claim the level mastering Kazakh and Russian is not equal in rural and urban areas: in urban areas Kazakhstani people tend to be more proficient in Russian, and in rural in Kazakh. So, I assume that adding English to preschool education will lead to sharpening of the discrepancy. In cities preschool children have more chances to learn languages while in rural areas some children even do not attend any preschool organization. This discrepancy which starts from preschool level will increase in the next levels of education.
To sum up, I would like to say that it is too early to anticipate for the results of the trilingual education policy at preschool level. It is only emerging, and supposed to be on the right track. In order to make it successful we should first understand what trilingual education is, then thoroughly plan implementation.
Metody i priemy razvitiya triedinstva yazykov [Methods and expedients of development of trinity of languages]. (2016). Retrieved from http://balbobekuk.kz/sovetyi-speczialistov/metodyi-i-priemyi-triedinstva-yazyikov
Stranichka prepodavatelya angliyskogo yazyka [Webpage of English language teacher]. (2016). Retrieved from http://mary-poppins.kz/personalnye-stranicy-pedagogov/ivizova-m-x-uchitel-anglijskogo-yazyka/
Smagulova, J. (2008). Language policies of kazakhization and their influence on language attitudes and use. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(3-4), 440-475. doi:10.1080/13670050802148798
Fierman, W. (2006). Language and Education in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan: Kazakh-medium instruction in urban schools. The Russian Review, 65: 98-116.
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