Nowadays, the network of immersion education programs is becoming popular in most European countries. Historically, the first immersion education program was implemented in Canada in 1965, for Anglophone speakers who were taught French as a medium of instruction in elementary schools (Cummins, 1998). Introducing immersion education programs in most cases have benefits for people who will able to speak in a foreign language which leads to being bilingual or even multilingual become a full-fledged member in modern society, where speaking in several languages leads to building a successful career.
Over the last two decades, Kazakstani educational system has changed, when the idea of trinity of languages was presented by our president in 2007 (as cited in Irsaliyev et al., 2017), the first pilot schools began to implement trilingual education policy in three languages. As NIS schools are central schools which are translating the experience of implementing new school curriculum by teaching subjects experience into other state schools.
Introducing immersion education is not spread in all schools in Kazakhstan, because of the few studies in this area. But, there are some pioneers in implementing immersion education in school education. There are NIS Kokshetau and Taldykorgan. Children from grade 1 not competent in Kazakh attend early immersion program in these schools, where they are taught Kazakh. The other two languages such as Russian is implemented as a second language (L2) for 2-grade children from the second term, while English is studied from 3 grade (Irsaliyev et al., 2017). In addition, 9-grade students are taught Kazakh in late immersion program which is implemented in Bilim-Innovation-Lyceums (BIL). Moreover, 46 % of the school curriculum is taught in Kazakh by “groups with The Russian language of instruction” (Irsaliyev et al., 2017, p. 135-136). The advantage of having proficiency in foreign languages, especially English might provide students an opportunity to take part in the international studies such as PISA, TIMSS and conduct academic research at international level.
However, during the implementation of immersion program, some challenges might appear. For instance, the school curriculum should be updated to correspond with the modern requirements of multilingual education. It is still a lack of training courses for teachers and producing modern teaching materials both for teachers and students. The new methodology of teaching ought to be adopted and the curriculum should be updated to correspond with the requirements of the immersion education.
To sum up, the development of immersion education programs are new for Kazakhstan, but the first implementation of them in NIS and BIL, I hope it will have a positive attitude and help to improve proficiency in several foreign languages of students. On the other hand, in Kazakhstani context immersion education is required to do some research to find out the best way of implementing language immersion in all Kazakhstani schools in the future.
Cummins, J. (1998). Immersion education for the millennium: What have we learned from 30 years of research on second language immersion? In M. R. Childs & R. M. Bostwick (Eds.) Learning through two languages: Research and practice. Second Katoh Gakuen International Symposium on Immersion and Bilingual Education. (pp. 34-47). Katoh Gakuen, Japan. Retrieved from http://carla.umn.edu/cobaltt/modules/strategies/immersion2000.html
Irsaliyev, S., Karabassova, L., Mukhametzhanova, A., Adil, A., Bekova, M., & Nurlanov, Y. (2017). Teaching in three languages: International experience and recommendations for Kazakhstan. Astana: JSC “Information-Analytic Center”.