Monthly Archives: January 2018

Discrimination against women

It is believed that the image of Kazakh women, as a parent who bringing up children, as a wife contributing to the wellbeing of her family, as an employee trying to achieve her career goals, is constantly changing throughout the history. However, the truth might be much further from reality.
Nowadays state policy goals aimed at gender equality and family issues are reflected in the strategy of development of Kazakhstan up to 2030, strategy of gender equality in Kazakhstan for 2006-2016. Despite the recognition of the women`s rights disparity, there is still the effect of ‘glass ceiling’ when women of the same nationality and age, the same level of education, the same amount of workload, have lower salary, less prospective job position and work conditions as compared with men. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (OECD, 2017) average monthly salary for males was 25, 3 % higher than for females in Kazakhstan. The economically active women`s proportion from the age of 15 and over was 65 %, which approximately 10% less than the share of employed men (OECD, 2017). OECD report on Gender Policy Delivery in Kazakhstan confirmed that these women are usually self-employed, and they lack any working arrangements like social security benefits, working conditions and pensions (2017). Woman are involved mainly in traditionally feminized sectors as health, education, food, financial service and insurance with low-paying wages (OECD, 2017). Overall, there is a constant gap in gender equality in Kazakhstani society. On the other hand, there are some fundamental issues that need to be considered:
From the ancient times, Nomadic females were not given any credits or excuses because of their psychological and biological characteristics so they got used to complete the same tasks as their male counterparts. Aldashev and Guirkinger (2012) indicate the salient role of Kazakh women:
Whereas a Kazakh man spends most of the year on the horseback, in continuous moves, taking care of social affairs of the kin, district, and village, his wife remains the real head of the household and manages all of it, thus reducing her husband to the role of the nominal head.
However, several researchers highlighted the act of discrimination, sad conditions and ignorance of the women`s rights in the Kazakh society (Aldashev & Guirkinger, 2012; Abdirajymova & Bizhigitova, 2014). This deep-rooted patriarchal attitude still places an additional burden on the stereotypical roles of women.
Society, family, school play a significant role in our future beliefs, behavior and assumptions. It is approved that the parents` expectations on their children differ in terms of their gender belonging. (Karimova, 2009) From the personal experience I can firmly state that Kazakh people tend to believe that if you are a woman there is no need to enroll for a graduate education, have a career promotion, to participate in politic or economic life because, in any case, your role will be restricted by the boundaries of our society.
According this data there is an enormous difference between opportunities for females and males in our society. It leads to women`s inability to exercise greater autonomy over their own lives.
My question: Is it necessary to avoid such gender inequality? Why?



Abdirajymova, A. S., Zharkynbayeva, R. S., & Bizhigitova, S. (2014) The Image of the Kazakh Women in the Works of Russian Authors in the Context of Imperial Policy in the Steppes (The End of the XVIII – Beginning of XX Century). Procedia-Social and behavioral Sciences, 140(2014), 671-676.
Aldashev, G., & Guirkinger, C. (2012) Deadly anchor: Gender bias under Russian colonization of Kazakhstan. Explorations in Economic History, 49(4), 399-422.
Karimova, Zh., K. (2009). Образовательный уровень женщин Франции и Казахстана: опыт сравнительного анализа [Educational levels of women in France and Kazakhstan: attempts at the comparative analysis]. RUDN journal. 1(4), 86-94. Retrieved from
OECD (2017), Gender Policy Delivery in Kazakhstan, OECD Publishing, Paris.
Retrieved from


Writing Contest Winners: Round One

The first round of our Spring 2018 writing contest series had only three submissions, but they were strong posts which provided critical reviews to two texts about Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM). The upside of the low number of posts is that all three contestants won a prize.

Please join us in congratulating the winners!
Third place: Gulzhaina Mussagali

Third Place

Second place: Sagida Serikbayeva

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First place: Mariya Ippolitova

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To learn how to submit a post for Round 2, click here.

Do Kazakhstani students depend on marks?

This is the question you might be asked during your academic studying or teacher experience. From my own observations, students usually tend to exaggerate greatly the importance of the marking. So, what are the reasons for this tendency? As a teacher and as a student I can state that the fear to lose a scholarship, the desire to meet the parents` expectations or the wish to be the absolute best in the competitive group are what can make our students get passionate about grading. However, that might be simply because of our misunderstanding towards the meaning and the functions of the received marks.
On the other hand, we should take into consideration the historical roots of this question. Obviously, Educational system in the Post-Soviet Time was aimed mostly on the received results. It means what to teach was the privileged issue rather than how to teach. As teachers concerned about the information and materials for teaching, students measured the quantity of their knowledge by the corresponding grading. However, nowadays the student is the consumer who is taught to learn independently and consciously.
Lewis and Loy`s investigation (2017) showed that the students` attitude towards grading and learning differs mainly by their grading practice on the disciplines. They pointed out that students appreciate the grading which is followed by fair and critical feedback, clear and consistent expectations from the instructor. Moreover, most students highlighted the importance of intellectual curiosity which can take place if there is appropriate classroom management, organized and thoughtful course. These findings confirm the significance of teacher contribution to students` understanding of the marking.
Are there any other factors that may influence the Kazakhstani students` perceptions on marks?
Lewis, C. S., Della Williams, B., Sohn, M. K., & Loy, T. C. (2017). The Myth of Entitlement: Students’ Perceptions of the Relationship Between Grading Practices and Learning at an Elite University. The Qualitative Report,22(11), 2997-3010. Retrieved from


Feedback from students. Is it a tool for growth or a cause of stress?


When I talk about school or education, I always imagine a teacher standing in front of the blackboard and explaining her class a new topic, taking exams or evaluating assignments. But I have never thought about the opposite – when students evaluate their teachers and give their feedback. This is what comes to my mind last. But today I want to look closer at this part of the picture.

Most of us get goosebumps when we hear the words “assessment”, “examination” or “test”. But to improve the quality or increase the productivity in any field, we need to evaluate first. Teachers’ knowledge and work are also evaluated by their students’ test results, by multiple examine checking the level of teachers’ qualification and, of course, by feedback from students. Mostly, this feedback can be used by the administration to see the professional level of a teacher and decide whether to fire him or elevate his authority.

These evaluations make teachers be quite apprehensive about their job. They do not want to destroy their career because of several negative feedbacks. A threat to lose their job makes teachers be stressful, be under certain pressure. Especially now, in the twenty-first century, there are too many things that influence the psychology of people and that cause stress from forgetting the keys to losing the lottery. Teachers also afraid to get not really honest evaluation just because some students do not like them. This is highly stressful particularly for young teachers who have just graduated.

But what is the initial purpose of these evaluations and feedback? In my understanding, they serve as “paper of advice” where students indicate what is been doing well in the classroom and what is not, what to change and how to improve in a kind manner. It actually helps teachers to improve their professionalism, teaching skills, and other qualities. Evaluations should be effective tools for positive growth of teachers, but not their verdict on discharge because no one is perfect. Teachers also do mistakes especially at the beginning of their career. And I think it would be so great if our students have the ability to evaluate their teachers accepting it as collaboration with teachers in education.

What is your opinion on this question?

Through debate to the strong linguistic intelligence or do we use language effectively

Every five year the World Economic Forum develops a list of “Top Ten Skills” for a successful global citizen. Most common of such skills, for 2015 and 2020, are complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, judgment and decision making, service orientation, and negotiation. However, there is nothing about linguistic intelligence which is not less essential to be a valuable leader or manager.

The contemporary world requires the ability to choose words wisely rather than raising voice while speaking and writing and the ability to listen and read actively. Linguistic intelligence as one of the Nine Multiple Intelligences offered by Howard Gardner refers to not only mastering all four language skills but also to use it effectively so that it persuades people with its effective speech composition and delivery. So, what is the best way to gain linguistic intelligence?

In the USA, debate plays a decisive role for the candidates for the president to win the election. They have to persuade citizens that he is the best candidate for the position of the president, not speaker or lecturer but for the position who deals with political and social problems. But, why does the debate decide?

Most people think that debate is only about the manner in which you deliver your winning speech but does not deal with listening, reading, and writing. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Firstly, persuasive speech requires a lot of reading about different topics to approach the problem from different aspects. Second, an ability to hear an idea that was not told by your opponent is also essential to counter-attack. Last, systematically constructed speech is mostly based on note-taking that means the debate is highly important to learn taking notes in a limited amount of time.

Well-planned speech with a good articulation of thoughts always touches your listeners` mind. The speech cannot be attractive if it does not contain balanced arguments with reasoning and evidence based on the deep knowledge. Your word is the mirror of your mind which means it is clear for your listeners how deep is your knowledge by your word choice. Therefore, to produce a great speech analyzing and synthesizing complex information by researching various data is a fundamental skill for a good debater which is a precursor to being a critical thinker. Besides, in debate, the limited time given to prepare facilitates decision-making skills. Also, debate sets different issues to address that demands complex problem solving creatively. In brief, debate is the practice that is essential to have every leader.

So, why linguistic competence is not included in the “Top Ten Skills”?  My personal answer is that because it is the base for all the ten skills because debate is considered a very effective tool to earn linguistic intelligence which is the key for the basic skills for a leader of XXi century.

What do you think about the importance of linguistic intelligence in gaining “Top Ten Skills”?

Principles or the ready models: which is better to borrow?

As a student of multilingual education at NUGSE, I read various texts on the current practices of the subject. Usually, readings followed by classroom activities where we discuss the appropriate experiences of ME for Kazakhstani context. Here, I would like to share my views on the ways of properly appropriating international experiences to our context.

Brief definitions of approaches
Three major approaches of implementing multilingual education (CLIL, CBI, Immersion programs) are widely used throughout the world, especially in the west. First, the common approach (or at least, that is being implemented) in Kazakhstan is CLIL (Content Integrated Language Learning). Initially, it was introduced in Europe, now implemented in 216 forms in different countries (Grin, as cited in Coyle, 2007). Generally, CLIL is “dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language (Coyle, as cited in Cenoz, Genesee & Gorter, 2013). In other words, CLIL aims to include the content (subjects such as science, history) and the language in the same curricula. The second, which is also widely discussed among educational professionals in Kazakhstan, is immersion education (often referred as Canadian immersion programs). The immersion education is an approach that provides bilingual education ‘exposing’ learners to second/foreign language as a medium of instruction classrooms to promote additive bilingualism (Swain and Johnson, as cited in de Mejia, 2012). First introduced in Canada in 1960s, now it is also one of the widely used approaches in different forms depending on students’ age and the amount of the second language content. One more important approach is Content-Based Instruction, defined as “an umbrella term referring to instructional approaches that make a dual, though not necessarily equal, commitment to language and content-learning objectives” (Stoller, 2008). Some define it as an integration of the subject and the language (Brinton, Snow, & Wesche, 1989). Interestingly, the history of CBI goes back to the Canadian immersion programs that is mentioned above.

Deeply analyzing all three approaches (immersion, CLIL, CBI) I concluded that the principles and the aims are almost the same. Actually, Cenoz (2015) studying CBI and CLIL concludes that these two approaches do not possess pedagogical differences except few ‘accidental proprieties’. However, she adds that the implementation of both (CLIL and CBI) approaches are quite different depending on the context, which does not necessarily differentiate them from each other. The reason is that even the same approach can be contextualized differently. Also, Cummins (2009) refers dual language education and two-way immersion as the same approach. In addition, Genesee and Lindholm-Leary (2013) believe that immersion programs, CLIL, CBI, or other dual language education models in North America are merely different which is pedagogically unimportant. They highlight that the common feature of CBI, CLIL as well as immersion education is that they “use non-language content as a vehicle for promoting L2 proficiency” (p.5). It can be assumed that using different terms for the similar if not the same approaches due to geographical contexts. For example, the ‘shelter’ instruction referred as the type of CBI in the US (Brinton & Swan, 2017), but it is considered one approach of the immersion program in Canada (de Mejia, 2012).
What I conclude, all three approaches above are seen as the examples of successful models among Kazakhstani stakeholders. However, as mentioned, every country has its own interpretation of the approaches depending its context. Additionally, the same method is implemented in different labels just because they were in separate countries, or conversely, in some cases, theoretically different approaches are referred with the same label in practice. Therefore, the countries that we are educationally “following” use given approaches (CLIL, CBI, immersion) as a framework, where you can borrow only main principles and develop further interpretations.

So, what should we do?
In my opinion, considering the diversity of Kazakhstani context from western countries, we should also be focusing on the only wider principles and aims rather than ready “successful” models. It is no longer argumentative that blindly (or even intentionally) copied models may not work because of the differences in contexts. Kazakhstan’s linguistic context is quite diverse, with three languages from different language families. Additionally, some of the approaches (or types of approaches) are mostly designed for bilingual purposes, which necessitates more studies to examine their validity in our trilingual context. Although there is no officially required or suggested approach, stakeholders are actively promoting (or copying) some “ready” approaches, sometimes without any empirical studies on its effects. Therefore, I think that basic principles must be the central concern of the educational stakeholders, the rest of guides should be based on study results that are done specifically in Kazakhstan.
Should we have our own models of implementing ME approaches (CLIL, CB, immersion etc.) based on international principles? Or is it sometimes acceptable just to copy certain approaches? What do you think?


Brinton, D., Snow, M., & Wesche, M. (1989). Content-based second language instruction. New York, NY: Newbury House.

Cenoz, J. Genesee, F. & Gorter, D. (2013) Critical Analysis of CLIL: taking stock and looking forward. Applied Linguistics (First Published Online July 2013)

Coyle, D. (2007). Content and Language Integrated Learning: Towards a Connected Research Agenda for CLIL Pedagogies. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 10(5), 543–562.

Cummins, J. (2009) Bilingual and Immersion Programs, in The Handbook of Language Teaching (eds M. H. Long and C. J. Doughty), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford

de Mejía, A. (2012). Immersion education: En route to multilingualism. In M. Martin-Jones, A. Blackledge, & A. Creese (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of multilingualism (pp. 199-213). London: Routledge

Genesee, F. & Lindholm-Leary, K. (2013). Two case studies of content-based language education. Journal of Immersion & Content-Based Language Education 1(1), 3-33.

Are we on the right track of improving higher education?

Over the last decade, due to the globalization, demand for qualified specialists has risen sharply. In the Soviet Union, students were well-prepared because of high quality from technical, medical, and pedagogical institutions. The material-technical basis of universities and high salaries of teaching staff directly influenced by the quality of higher education. As a result, experienced and well-educated professionals could help to boost the economy in all sectors of their countries. At that time, for instance, Kazakhstan was positioned ideally in the economy and higher education. When the wall of the Soviet Union fell down, there were a big proportion of universities were closed because of the lack of money in the whole economy. Consequently, some parts of professionals especially, ethical German, Jewish and Russian’ teaching staff migrated to their historical motherland. Other parts of teachers left their job, in order to find lucrative works for themselves. Step by step the situation in the educational system has begun to improve. Nowadays, Kazakhstani students are given the chance to study abroad owing to Bolashak program or in local universities for free of charge. Over the 26 years of the independence,the educational system in our country has reached significant results in the global arena. For instance, our students participate in an international Olympiads and educational research studies such as PISA, TIMMS and reach a higher place. In addition to our university students are working in all spheres by making a valuable contribution to the economy of Kazakhstan. However, despite the success of higher education and their competitiveness in the local and in some cases in global areas, we could not say the same thing in comparison with developed countries.

To understand the situation better we can take a look at what happens in higher education. The main problem of these measures is low expenditure on education. According to statistics, the average expenditure per student is less than developed countries used. One cannot exclude that teachers, specifically young teachers do not want to work in universities because of low salaries in educational spheres. On this occasion, if they get insufficient fund, they will have a low level of motivation for teaching students. As a consequence, students will have limited knowledge in their specialties. In addition, the majority of teaching staff gained their knowledge in the Soviet Union. All these things which I mentioned lead to the quality of higher education which influences on students’ academic performance. For example, there are great proportions of the young generation who are not competitive in the labor market, because of their knowledge is outdated.

Secondly, a lack of well-educated stakeholders in the educational system.  Unfortunately,  the educational reforms are changing very often in our country.  Some of the them who are occupying an administrative position, they have never worked in educational institutions before. As a result, universities do not have a stable program for development of their academic disciplines for students.

To sum up, I would like to conclude that in order to improve higher education, our state needs to analyze world experience with national contexts, huge investment in education, thorough planning realistic expectations. In addition, we should not forget that the most successful developed countries have started to develop their higher education programs for many decades ago.


How to raise multilingual child?

How to raise a multilingual child?

Once I saw a programme called “Amazing people” on Russian TV channel and one of the participants was a little girl at the age of 4. I was really “amazed” when I heard the information that she spoke seven languages. SEVEN! Carl! I am 24-years-old young lady and I can speak only 3 languages. In addition, I am still not satisfied by the level of my knowledge. However, it is not the most important thing here. So, as a potential future mother I was interested how her parents helped her to achieve such wonderful results. It was not surprising fact that her parents were linguists. They read a book of Japanese author called “Kindergarten is too late”, which is stated that children ought to learn important skills from birth to the age of three. Of course, as a modern person, I started to search the internet and read different information about education children from the birth to teach them several languages. Here I would like to list main significant tips, which can help you to raise multilingual children:


The main aim of early development is to give good education in order to bring up children’s deep mind and healthy body, to teach them to be kind and intelligent


Children can easily learn very difficult hieroglyphs better than abstract notions like numbers. It is because they remember well the images, that is why they always remember their mother’s face from the birth


You should understand that even the room an street can influence the child. Make their room brighter, buy a lot of toys and books. Even view from the window can show the positive sides of the world


It can sound typical, but many parents focus on their child’s upbringing and forget about their behaviour. You should also know several languages and show your child that it is possible. In addition, it can improve their interest and relationship between parents and the child can become stronger.

I hope that you find my advice useful. I also attached the video, which made me surprised, and the book, which can help you in the future.

Click to access Masaru-Father-Version.pdf

Are the Pets Bilingual?

My mother unconsciously gave me a clue for the topic to write about. Today I was talking to her on the phone and before quitting our conversation she said it was so great that there was “someone” at home to talk to. You have probably guessed from the title of the post that it is something to do with pets. And you are absolutely right! Hence, “someone” in the first sentence stands for my cat Azur.

Let`s think about the way pets around the world understand their owners’ languages. It does not matter if you are from Australia or Kazakhstan, you talk to your pets and whether it is in English or Kazakh, you will get respond either through actions or sounds. However, it is the case of using one language but what if the owner is bilingual? We always refer bilingualism to humans only. Is it possible that non-human species possess cognitive capacity to perceive more than one language to understand?

I have encountered an interesting post written by Sean Roberts, a PhD student of Linguistics from Edinburgh. In his post there are patterns and background of his MA which is Artificial Intelligence and Linguistics. The whole post is about broad and narrow senses of the “Faculty of Language” – FLB and FLN recpetively. FLB is related to  features that both humans and animals possess, whereas FLN refers to capacities which are involved in language alone. The post’s idea is about our perception of bilingualism. Roberts claims that bilingualism is the product of social interaction and whether non-human species have capacities for bilingualism in the broad sense.

So, Sean refers to Hauser Chomsky Fitch (2002) to divide bilingualism into two types. Firstly, in the narrow sense bilingualism refers to ability to learn several human languages. As you can see, it is relatable to human beings only. Secondly, in the broader sense bilingualism is understood as “the general capacity to acquire more than one signaling system.” This capacity may be shared with animals. Usually animals communicate for survival interests’ sake: food, predators, and mating but humans can go beyond this need. However, Roberts takes stance on the possibility that bilingualism comes from cultural interaction with people. Many cognitive capacities are involved for linguistic communication but basically it is all about memory, found both in humans and animals. According to Fabbro (2014), animals keep dangerous and pleasant experiences in their memories, thus they are able to avoid the former and recall the latter. This what I have found interesting in the Roberts’s post. Obviously, that further studies to find more for bilingual behaviour in animals are required.

From my own experience with Azur (my cat), firstly, he comes when we call him by his name. The most funniest thing is that when I say “Azur?” he replies with “Hm?” (like “what do you want from me?”)

Secondly, I can claim that he understands both Kazakh and Russian, since we speak two languages at home. He recognizes the names of the objects and the commands. For instance, when I ask in Kazakh “Доп қайда?” (Where is the ball?) he goes to look for it under the sofa in the living room or under the fridge in the kitchen (the constant locations of the ball after he finishes playing with it). The same result can follow the same phrase in Russian. The phrase “let’s go” in Kazakh (“жүр”) and Russian (“пойдем”) makes him to go after me to the kitchen for the new portion of tasty treats. In my opinion, I am not the only one who witnesses the pets’ ability to identify a language or two. May be more than two?



Roberts, S. (2010). Bilingualism as a preadaptation for language. Retrieved from

Fabbro, F. (2014). The neurolinguistics of bilingualism: an introduction. Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press.

Multilingualism matters


    1. Сәлем! Привет! Hello! Merhaba! Bună ziua!

  • It is interesting to know how many languages one can acquire and actively use them in his daily repertoire. Didn’t you think about that? I think it is beneficial to grow up in a Post-Soviet country which maintains the knowledge of two languages. Although my family is from a Kazakh speaking medium, that did not influence the purity of my second language: Russian. English was added later on when studying at a secondary school. Whereas, Turkish was a second major language after English at the university. Fortunately, I am an active Turkish language speaker. As Kazakh and Turkish belong to Turkic language family that perhaps the reason for my success in latter. What about “Bună ziua!”!? This is Romanian, which I used to study as an “unknown language”, a part of my TESOL course. Some grammatical similarities of Romanian to Russian made my study a bit easier at that time. With this in mind, these languages are the tools which help me to achieve my aims. Therefore, I consider myself as a prudent multilingual individual.

    Let’s define the terms first. As Cenoz (2013) emphasizes, some researchers claim that bilingual is the person who speaks two languages, and multilingual is the one who actively uses two and more languages. I consider myself as a balanced multilingual in first four languages. However, my knowledge of Romanian is limited, almost close to its loss.

    So, what are the benefits of being multilingual or bilingual? Cenoz (2013) mentioned that being multilingual positively affects the cognitive development of an individual. For instance, multilingual better fulfills some metalinguistic tasks and some features of the cognitive downturn related to aging can slow down. Personally, I have experienced its benefits in various ways. First of all, education is the sector which requires the knowledge of an additional language. In our case, it is English. It is the language which I have taught at schools and used as a medium of instruction at my institution. Additionally, English was the language which I referred to when traveled and lived abroad. Kazakh, along with Russian are the languages of daily communication. However, Russian is the preferred language of the Internet. As Okal (2014) points out:

      “Multilingualism is a big resource” (p.226).

    It opens doors for the creativity, communication, access and many more. The key idea that I want to emphasize is that bilingual can use the knowledge of his languages to learn additional ones (Cenoz, 2013), which I do up to these days. As mentioned above, I have used Russian to learn Romanian, and Kazakh to acquire Turkish. I guess, it is the time to apply it to English.

    So, to your mind, what are the privileges of learning additional languages for you? Would you agree that by being bilingual you make a less effort to acquire another language?

    Photo credit:


    Cenoz, J. (2013). Introduction to Multilingualism.  Annual Review of Applied Linguistics                     33, 3–18.

    Okal, B. O. (2014). Benefits of Multilingualism in Education. Universal Journal Of                                     Educational Research, 2(3), 223-229.