All posts by aidana17

“Alice’s adventures in Researchland”

Who could think that an ordinary rabbit-hole under the hedge contained entire Wonderland?

alice-wonderland-adult-colouring

When I was applying for the program “Multilingual Education” I did not know clearly what I was going to study. I was interested in languages and education as a whole and so this program seemed to suit my interests. However, I was wondering how we were going to study this simple at first glance field for two years. It looked like Multilingual Education was just all about schooling in several languages. I thought it was not a rocket science, after all. What a big delusion it was?

Now I understand that then I saw only the top of the iceberg. As it is occurred, Multilingual Education is full of thought-provoking, curious and fascinating aspects, in the center of which there is research which opens the doorways into the academic world (read: Wonderland).

The first months of my study at GSE can be compared with the long fall of Alice down the rabbit-hole. Everything was new and different for me. At every corner there was a door waiting to be unlocked and a finding waiting to be understood and analyzed. All the classes, readings, assignments and conferences have been leading me to find my path as a researcher.

Step by step research is immersing me deeper into the world where every piece of information should be questioned, analyzed and looked from different perspectives. And now at the second year of my adventure study, equipped with the knowledge of multilingualism and research skills to a greater or a lesser extent, I am ready for a breathtaking journey named “thesis writing”. I chose the topic, identified the problem and the need for study, but still there are so many crucial things are to be discovered and fulfilled. I bet, research is, indeed, an unbelievably long and endless hole to fall.

Photo credit: https://blog.whsmith.co.uk/alices-adventures-in-wonderland-free-colouring-downloads/

 

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How can schools promote plurilingualism?

The pertinent and acute content of the article written C. Despagne “Promoting Multilingualism: Majority language in multilingual settings” (2009) convinced to choose this piece of writing for closer investigation in this blogpost. Despagne in her paper gives deployed answers on crucial questions “How can schools promote plurilingualism?” and “How plurilingual students should be treated at schools?”.

Most of the teachers use ‘monolingual paradigm’ while teaching, using only one majority language and neglecting students’ other languages (Igoudin, as cited in Despagne, 2009). This teaching paradigm hinders plurilingualism as a whole, since both minority language users and majority language speakers suffer from this. In order to solve this issue, European centre for modern languages aims to make a shift in teaching and offers to use ‘plurilingual paradigm’, which considers languages and culture of any individual as an important source and knowledge.

Despagne (2009) shows that monolingual teaching approach sees students’ languages as “the sum of separate competences, placing languages in unconnected “boxes” (p. 655), whereas practitioners of pluringual teaching approach believe that an individual’s languages may help him or her in learning a new language. In 1979, Cummins introduced the term “interdependence hypothesis”, which briefly says that all linguistic repertoire of any person is kept in one “box”.

Also, the author explains the project called MARRILE (Majority Language Instruction as a Basis for Plurilingual Education), which focuses on implementing plurilingualism in secondary schools with one medium of instruction. The given project is carefully designed to work with change agents of different levels, starting from school principles and ending by students. Moreover, MARRILE intends to produce the shift in teaching paradigms, school curricula and other documents.

Thorough analysis of linguistic situations given in this article, supported by policy documents, gives a general overview of how step by step the aim of being plurilingual society de jure and de facto may be achieved through changing teaching paradigms in secondary schools. I found this article extremely relevant to the Kazakhstani case, since European Council and Kazakhstan have the same goals of the knowledge of 2 languages additionally to a native language. Thus, the knowledge of reforms and their outcomes in Europe allows seeing the gaps in current schooling of Kazakhstan and making further improvements and changes in Kazakhstani educational system.

Reference

Despagne, C. (2009). Promoting plurilingualism: Majority language in multilingual settings.

“What you’re doing, right now, at this very moment, is killing you…”

Stop by and watch this TED video. I bet it is worthy to waste your precious time on it, since the speaker, Nilofer Merchant, has a work experience of 20 years in leading big companies as Apple, Yahoo, HP and others, helping to grow businesses, consequently her words are trustworthy.

The TED video of Nilofer Merchant “Got a meeting? Have a walk” gives a great insight in leading active life at the workplace. She raises crucial and vital issue of sitting which is occurred to be a precursor of various illnesses. She makes a loud and strong claim calling sitting “a smoking of our generation”.

Merchant starts her speech from a bold statement “What you’re doing, right now, at this very moment, is killing you” which grasps the attention from the very first second. In her very short video, about three minutes with half, she gives very convincing and alarming statistic that people spend 9.3 hours a day sitting, which is even more than sleeping. This, of ‘course, could not be without consequences, especially health consequences. She draws on numbers such ten percent of breast cancer and colon cancer and “six percent for heart disease, seven percent for type 2 diabetes”are caused by sitting. All this leads to the realization of seriousness of the situation we are in and can be the impetus for changing our lifestyles.

Further in her speech, Merchant proposes the optimal solution for the given issue: taking walks instead of holding meeting in conference rooms. This idea came to her after one unpleasant situation: she came to the meeting where she could not fit a regular conference room and she was offered to meet in the open air. Since this time she was taking walk laps with her colleagues and refusing to meet in coffee rooms and other indoor places. This has changed her life significantly. Along with improving her health and losing weight, she transformed the way she thinks. Merchant claims that changing lifestyle is “getting out of the box” which leads to “out-of-the-box thinking”. This in its turn develops problem solving skills, since person starts to generate new ideas and ways of doing things.

So we see that “talk and walk” idea is truly beneficial in several dimensions as your health conditions and work performance, and now it became evident why this idea was often practiced by the business titans as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.

 

Humanity rise

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18th of May, 1944 is the most catastrophic and tragic day in the history of Crimean Tatars – the Soviet Government troops forcedly evicted ethnic Crimean Tatars from their motherland, Crimean Peninsula, to Central Asia.  Only in 1989 Crimean Tatars were allowed to move back to Crimea. Deportation caused death of many Crimean Tatars and separated many families. Those horrible times are depicted in the song “1944” of the winner of the contest “Eurovision-2016”, Jamala, an ethnic Crimean Tatar, the representative of Ukraine. The music and lyrics of the song were written by Jamala herself. The idea of writing this song was born by the stories of Jamala’s grandmother, who was deported to Kyrgyzstan.

When strangers are coming…

They come to your house,

They kill you all

and say,

We’re not guilty

not guilty.

Jamala calls Soviet troops “strangers”, since Crimea is a “house” of indigeneous people, Crimean Tatars. The word “kill” can be understood in two ways: many people died while transportation to Central Asia, others died in the steppes where they were left. Also, “kill” means that people were broken spiritually, separated from their Motherland.

Where is your mind?

Humanity cries.

You think you are gods.
But everyone dies.

Don’t swallow my soul.

Our souls

Jamala addresses to Soviet Regime asking “Where is your mind”. Indeed, it is difficult to understand how injustice can be made to the whole nation. “You think you are gods” is again addressed to the Soviet state, which thought they were as powerful as god, since they ruled the fates of many nations. History says that Soviets accused Crimean tatars in betrayal and collaboration with Germans, however many tatars were fighting against fascism on the side of Soviets. “Humanity cries” because of the extremely inhumane and violent actions of Soviet government against tatars.

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım [I could not enjoy my youthfulness]

Men bu yerde yaşalmadım [I could not live in that place]

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım [I could not enjoy my youthfulness]

Men bu yerde yaşalmadım [I could not live in that place]

The chorus of the song is in the Crimean Tatar language, consists of two phrases. Youthfulness is associated with heaven-sent and carefree moments. In my opinion, she speaks on behalf of her nation, which could not continue its happy and carefree life anymore on “their land” – “I could not live in that place”. Also, it is reported that during the deportation many children died, since they were most vulnerable ones – “I could not enjoy my youthfulness”.

We could build a future

Where people are free

to live and love.

The happiest time.

This part is about the hopes of the nation. They “could build a future” with free and happy people, but they were deprived from this chance. In my opinion, this part is also about the recent events in Crimea – the annexation of it by Russia. It is important to underline the phrases “could built” and “people are free” which mean that even now Crimean tatars are allowed to live in their historical motherland, they are not free and happy yet.

Where is your heart?

Humanity rise.

You think you are gods.
But everyone dies.

Don’t swallow my soul.

Our souls.

This part is still about the current situation of Crimea. Jamala addresses the global community asking “Where is your heart” and calls for attention and actions woth words “Humanity rise”. Jamala changes her style to harsh one and emphasizes the phrase “Humanity rise”, which is expected to wake compassion in peoples’s hearts.

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım

Men bu yerde yaşalmadım

Yaşlığıma toyalmadım

Men bu yerde yaşalmadım

Jamala wrote a very strong song with serious connotation in it. While singing Jamala uses code-mixing English and Crimean tatar and switches her style of performing, which is made not by chance.

Jamala starts the song with a quiet but yet firm voice full of terror and pain, this is the way how she describes 18th of May of 1944 when her ancestors were deported. She continues singing in Crimean tatar. I think, she chose particularly her native language for a chorus, where she describes the feelings and pain of herself and her nation. She sings a chorus with a tremble in her voice, making words long as she is moaning and howling from the pain.

Parts of the song, which are in English, illustrate the historical event of 1944 and address to the English speaking global community. Jamala tries to attract the attention of the world on current situation of Crimea and Ukraine. For this reason she sings with a harsh and loud voice, emphasizing such phrases as “Where is your mind?”, “Where is your heart” and “Humanity rise”.

In conclusion, the song “1944” and the performance of Jamala is a bright example of code-mixing and style shifting in order to deliver a particular message. Jamala masterly plays with her voice and gestures, showing her pain and sufferings.

Photo credits: http://esckaz.com/2016/ukr.htm

 

Why you don’t need motivation

What association do you have with a word ‘motivation’? When I think about motivation, the picture of a dog performing a trick for a treat appears in my mind. The same with people, adults behave themselves as dogs waiting for a reward.

carrot-stick

Have you ever thought about motivation as a negative term? Motivation seems to be beneficial asset that makes us act. In this post, I claim that people do not need a motivation. Moreover, I will try to convince you that motivation can be even harmful for an individual.

At the first onset, I would like to note that in this post the intrinsic motivation is not being discussed, which is motivation coming from inside, or in other words, when you do something in accordance with your personal will and feelings. My focus is on extrinsic motivation that comes outside. External motivators can be money, recognition, grades or punishment. These motivators are widely used at schools and workplaces. And the approach which uses reward and punishment motivators is called “carrot and stick”, where carrot stands for a profit and stick is for a sanction.

“Carrot and stick” method can be very beneficial in terms of achieving results, but can be very destructive for an individual and work itself. People by being motivated by “carrot and stick” are not happy, since the work can be done under the pressure or fear of being punished, or person does not enjoy the process of work since his or her only concern is to get a reward. In both cases, the quality of work suffers. Also, we see this situation every day, when adults justify their unproductivity or just laziness by a lack of motivation, which needs to be introduced by outer world. So some people are not ready to make decisions and take actions by themselves, but wait for a ‘treat’ from their surrounding, boss or government, forgetting that, first of all, people themselves are architects of their own fortunes. Thus grown-ups should stop behaving as kids and be responsible for their lives.

What do you think about being motivated by external factors? What kind of motivation does work with you well?

Photo credits: http://www.willettink.co.uk/LGC%20web/pages/Carrot%20%26%20stick.html

What are the soft skills?

 All of us are tomorrow’s workers. We aim to get the best jobs and have the best performance at our workplaces. If I say you that the development of specific skills can make you successful in any field, would you believe me?  

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There are universal skills that can make you stand out of the crowd and make you the best in your field. These are soft skills. Have you ever heard about this term before? Probably yes, because nowadays soft skills is a very popular concept, since it serves as guarantee of success in education, work and even human relationships.

Of course, you need the technical knowledge or ‘hard’ skills in order to get a certain job. Hard skills of an English teacher is knowledge of English language and for a driver is knowledge of traffic rules and an ability to drive. But obtaining hard skills makes you only an average worker, not a high achiever. However, you can easily become an outstanding worker by gaining assets such as soft skills.

Soft skills can be defined as “a broad set of skills, competencies, behaviors, attitudes, and personal qualities that enable people to effectively navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals”(Lippman, Ryberg, Carney & Moore, 2015, p. 4).  In other words, soft skills indicate our interactions with other people and our attitude to our life and jobs. Although soft skills are not easily tangible and measurable, researchers have identified many constituents of it.

According to Lippman et. al., five kinds of so called soft skills are most important for workforce success: social skills, communication, higher-order thinking, self-control and self-concept.

  1. Social skills mean being able to get on well with other people depending on situation and context, effectively avoid and solve conflicts.
  2. Communicative skills imply an ability to deliver ideas and thoughts in a clear and advanced way both in oral and written form.
  3. Higher-order thinking comprises abilities to think critically, solve problems and make decisions.
  4. Self-control and 5. self-concept, in turn, are skills that help people to control their emotions and will, have an adequate self-esteem and dignity.

Now being equipped by the information about the main soft skills ensuring you a success in any workplace, you are ready to work on yourself. The great thing about any type of soft skills is that they are all malleable, so you can train and improve any asset you like. There is only a matter of time, since, as it was written before, it is not easy to measure soft skills. However, with an earnest desire to succeed nothing is impossible!

References

Lippman, L., Ryberg, R., Carney, R., & Moore, K. (2015). Workforce connections: Key “soft skills” to foster youth workforce success: toward a consensus across fields”. Child trends.

Photo credits: http://blog.psoda.com/five-soft-skills-to-aid-your-project-management-career/

 

Why does the status of Kazakh remain low?

Reading the blog of Gulzhaina I got the insight to continue the discussion of the status of Kazakh language. This topic seems to be as old as the hills, but still is a burning issue for many Kazakhstani citizens.

I agree with Gulzhaina that even Kazakh language is a state language its status among Kazakhstani people is still low, especially young people prefer learning three foreign language instead of learning one state language. And the most distressing thing is that people are not willing to learn the state language. However, criticizing and blaming people for not showing a desire to speak Kazakh will not bring us any use. Here we need totally different tools and methods to solve this problem.

I have noticed that most of the Media in Kazakh is a priori sententious and educating. Take any public person in Kazakhstan who speaks let’s say ideal Kazakh, he or she is for sure a national patriot and this is how they show it – each of their speech is full of pieces of advice on how our people should talk, dress and behave. I think it is extremely dull and tedious. As for me, I am sick and tired of hearing that Kazakh people must speak Kazakh, unless they are not patriotic.  With the help of our Media I get the sense that Kazakh language is a language of an ‘ideal’ person, who is a highly-moral and well-mannered. It creates the feeling that Kazakh language is something sacral and sometimes you are even afraid to speak it because of the possibility to make a mistake. Maybe it is the reason why people are not minded to start speaking Kazakh?

I believe that all the efforts of the government and individuals interested in promoting Kazakh language should be directed on raising the attractiveness of Kazakh language. We need to understand that Kazakh language is not anymore the language of only Kazakh people, but all Kazakhstani people, since it is a state language. Currently, all the new releases of broadcast movies, bestseller books or popular TV series our people watch and read in Russian and never in Kazakh, because there are no any translations in Kazakh. Let’s make Kazakh language the language of good quality modern movies, music, TV shows and magazines and then it would become attractive and accessible for all Kazakhstani people.

I am proud of our country, our ancestors and we have just a fascinating history, but time flies and we should adjust to a new time with new standards and demands. Kazakh language needs to be the language of the 21st century with all its beautiful imperfections and weirdness.

What are your thoughts? How can we en masse promote Kazakh language?

Is the need in trilingualism justified?

Linguistic diversity is perceived to be an effective lever to solve many economic and social issues all over the world. Our country decided not to stand aside and adopted the Trilingual educational model (hereinafter TEM). In terms of this program it is expected that by 2020, all schools will provide education in Kazakh, Russian and English. Currently, trilingualism in Kazakhstan has gained both followers and opponents.

One of the most adamant supporters of TEM is the Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiev. He claims that youth that graduated from school with Kazakh medium of instruction has fewer opportunities to get good quality of education and young people from rural areas have difficulties in entering the leading universities. Mr. Sagadiev asserts that TEM will help us to eradicate the gaps between Kazakh and Russian and attain the equity between all students from all schools and regions of Kazakhstan.

TEM came under the criticism of the distinguished Kazakhstani journalist Gulnara Bazhkenova (2016) in her article “A story of Kurtakys who only speaks Kazakh”, where she throws a light on the issues of the contemporary education in Kazakhstan such as failed attempts to attract foreign teachers and 58% of functional illiteracy of Kazakhstani people. She questions the possibility of making Kazakhstani people to speak English language so soon with regards to its peculiarities: “located in the remote place of the continent, far from the English-speaking world with no well-established cultural and historical links, not having maritime power with the port city, which receives ships with multilingual sailors on board, and having one of the last places in the international education rankings” (Bazhkenova, 2016).

The policy makers are undaunted by the impressive number of the opponents of TEM. The interest of our government in trilingualism originates from the best experience of the world’s leading countries. Newspapers and magazines dazzle with descriptions of paramount educational systems of the multilingual countries of the world. However, Finland, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong-Kong and many other countries have in common not only established multilingualism but one of the best economies, high per capita financing and creative teaching approaches. Thus, it is erroneous to presume that knowledge of three languages is going to make an educational revolution and uplift Kazakhstan to the tops, isn’t it?

 

Reference

Bazhkenova, G. (June 27, 2016). Istoriya Kurtakyz, kotoraya govorit tolko po-kazakhski. [A story of Kurtakys who only speaks Kazakh]. Esquire Kazakhstan. Retrieved on January             16, 2017, from                                           http://esquire.kz/4077istoriya_kurtka_kiz_kotoraya_govorit_tolko_po_kazahski?_utl_t=fb