Is it scary to learn physics in English? What about chemistry?

Our multiethnic and multilingual country is aimed at implementation of trilingual education. Teaching subjects in three languages seems to be a complicated task for teachers and for students. Studying subjects of natural and mathematical cycle in English is considered as the most frightening and impossible thing. As for me, I had difficulties in understanding some themes in physics or chemistry in high school. If these subjects are difficult to learn in mother language, then what about studying them in English?

I want to throw some light on this issue by providing results of sociological research conducted in April 2016 year. 1055 students of 9th and 11th grades from different Kazakhstani regions took part in the interviews. The results showed that only 15% of them are fluent in English. A vast majority of students (68%) did not want to study computer science, physics, chemistry and biology in English. Students believe that they will know neither English, nor the subjects themselves due to the low quality of education (Kuchma, 2016). To my mind, one of the reasons why students feel uncertainty and anxiety is their fear of something unknown and new. People tend to beware of unfamiliar and novel changes. I think that by 2019 year, when four subjects in high school will be taught in English, students should try to improve their language skills and mentally prepare to accept the change.

While looking through online journals and articles I noticed the blog of “Aspandau” foundation board member. In his blog the author gives a piece of advice to the Ministry of Education and Science. He suggests that the process of transition to trilingual education should be slower. If school students will not reach Intermediate level of English by the end of 9th grade, how will they learn biology and computer science in English later? We have a little more than two years for increasing students’ language skills, coping with all fears and preparing qualified teachers. Dear readers, do you think all of our schools are ready for teaching four subjects of natural and mathematical cycle in English from 2019 year? If yes, why? If no, why? Do you agree that the process should be slow down?


Kuchma, V. (2016, May 19). Za trekh’ yazychie v shkolah – 66% roditelej (66% of parents support trilingual education in schools). Kapital. Retrieved from

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4 thoughts on “Is it scary to learn physics in English? What about chemistry?

  1. Dear alinatatiyeva, the issue raised by you in this blog is one of the most debated topics in a society today. Of course not all of our schools are ready for teaching four subjects of natural and mathematical cycle in English from 2019 year. They do not have to be ready fully. The global we step in does not way for our country’s schools to be ready 100%. Step by step implementing this approach in NIS, KTL (BIL) and piloting schools will lead us towards successfully putting into action our final goal. Also the process should not be slowed down. Students always afraid of what is unknown for them and as English tend to say “The sooner the better” ! If you had a chance what would be your piece of advice to the Ministry of Education and Science regarding this issue?


    1. Dear Yasawi, I agree with you that schools shouldn’t be prepared 100 percent for this change. It is challenging to reach the level of 100 percent and it will be great to prepare schools on 70 percent at least. I think the main point is confidence of students. In Kazakhstani secondary schools students learn English only two hours per week. Sometimes the quality of education is not on appropriate level. So my advice will be to add some hours of English to the curriculum and encourage the work of extra curriculum activities in schools. If students will have 3-4 hours of English language per week, In my opinion, it will reduce anxiety of studying subjects in English language.


  2. An interesting point in a difficult and controversial debate about the trilingual policy and its implementation challenges. The sources you rely on shed some light on new research and helpful perspectives. Keep up the good work! (5/5).


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