«Ұят» as a barrier to learn a new language

One of my pre-intermediate students told me a story about her meeting a foreigner in a bus. She said that a man noticed her English papers and asked, “Do you speak English?” Her answer surprised and confused me. She said “NO!”. Her level allowed her to communicate in English, but she decided not to talk. When I asked the reason, she said that she did not want to make a mistake and fail with person who is able to speak the language. It is not first case about psychological reason not to have desire to speak learning language. It is a widespread issue in Kazakhstan, because “Ұят болады” (It is shaming) can be an obstacle to do actions, especially to have communication with strangers.


In order to create effective results of learning languages, various approaches of teaching and learning are creating. Different ways to learn grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, different techniques, etc. However, numerous people and methodologists ignore psychological side of the learning new languages.


According to Nida (n.d.), our culture, traditions and mentality determines procedures in learning. For example, non-American accents can be defined as  low class pronunciation, consequently students can think that a teacher is not sufficiently qualified. In Kazakhstani context, we are usually shy, because we are afraid of being mistaken and being criticized. Telling something wrong, asking stupid questions is so embarrassing for us, that it is easier for us to be quiet. However, it is very important to be curious in learning. Questions, mistakes, feedback, practice, interest and motivations are engine in learning. Our fear being censured restrain the process.


Taking into consideration above-mentioned information, I would like to suggest next tips. I hope that your comments help to correct thoroughly and/or extend them:

  • If you do not understand anything, ASK QUESTIONS [nobody will think you are stupid]
  • Make YOUR OWN MISTAKES [practice, correcting mistakes is better than doing nothing]
  • Practice SPEAKING everywhere: bus, restaurant, etc. [if you have opportunity to speak in learning language, SPEAK! Nobody cares about your mistakes]
  • Study anywhere, anytime [some people think that they are too young or too old to learn something and/or it is embarrassing to read, write learning things in a bus, café, park. It is not true. Learn what you want. When you want. Where you want]

2 thoughts on “«Ұят» as a barrier to learn a new language

  1. Thanks for this post. It highlights the psychological and sociological factors involved with language learning. I appreciate your personal example and helpful tips for language learners. Please include reference information (or at least links) to your sources and images.



  2. Assyltas, thanks for sharing this post with us. Actually, it is the second time I am writing my comment for this post because the first one has been deleted somehow.
    I think that most people who have ever taught someone any language faced this problem with language barrier. From my own experience, I can say that people could be proficient in a language with an excellent grammar, copious vocabulary and good listening skills, however, speaking skills can be very low. There are different factors for that: disconfidence, fear or anxiety about mistakes in speech. I guess, people should just overcome those things. Even though it needs time.
    I agree with the tips you gave. Getting rid of fear and going ahead should be a motto of every single person learning any language. Because things happen and without any experience WE can not gain any results.


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