All posts by gulnarbakytzhanova

The video is taken from a popular sitcom, called “Q-елі”, among the Kazakhstani youth. In this episode the main actress (Ainura) of the sitcom is at an online job interview, and during the interview one can immediately notice the patterns of language variation.

Analyzing the video, I identified style shifting, language crossing, linguistic hybridity, and code mixing:

  • Style shifting. As Jaspers (2010) defines style is “a way of doing something” (p 178), and in this video they use style shifting for several times, taking into account each others’ way of speaking. For instance, in the very beginning when Ainura starts with “привет!” [hi in Russian] in an informal way, and after getting the answer “саламатсыз ба!” (a formal way of greeting in Kazakh) she immediately shifts to a formal speech also.
  • Language crossing. Rampton (1997) explains language crossing “involves a sense of movement across quite sharply felt social or ethnic boundaries” (p 1). So, there are some patterns of crossing, when being ethnic Kazakh Ainura pretended as if she knew English. However, when the interviewer started speaking English she ended up saying “yes! Қалай еді? Мен білемін негізі. Если честно, я когда училась, я болела.” (“yes! How was it? Actually I know it [English]. To be honest, I was ill when I studied”). From this point I can see noticeable movements from English to Kazakh, and from Kazakh to Russian.
  • Linguistic hybridity. Hybridity “offers space for new identities that are seen as the product of mixing” (Sandhu & Higgins, 2016, p 182). I found hybridity occurring 9 times in the video: кандидатураңызды, резюмеңіз, ссылкамен, страницаңыз, отечеством, Officialқызы, Stanfordе, followerім, номерыңызды. These words are done by adding Kazakh endings to the Russian or English stems.
  • Code mixing means “the embedding of various linguistic units such as affixes, words, phrases and clauses from a co-operative activity where the participants, in order to infer what is intended, must reconcile what they hear with what they understand” (Ayeomoni, 2006, p 2). The participants use code mixing almost 90% of their speech, and each of them mixed 2 (Kazakh and Russian) or 3 (Kazakh, Russian, and English) languages in almost every sentence.

I find the usage of the English language in the job interview as the token of English being prestige language, and it implies that only well educated people, who studied abroad, are supposed to speak it. For instance, Ainura wrote in her CV she studied at Stanford University; consequently the interviewer got interested in it, and started speaking English. Furthermore, on the one hand, Russian is likely to be taken as more literary language than Kazakh for the actress as in the section ‘favourite quotation’ Ainura wrote Russian expression in her CV («меня трудно найти, легко потерять, невозможно забыть» – it is difficult to find me, easy to lose, and impossible to forget), and even when the interviewer asked to explain the meaning in Kazakh (оны қалай түсінеміз? – how should we understand it?) she replied in Russian again (любить не значит терять, терять не значит любить – to love does not mean to lose, and to lose does not mean to love). On the other hand, it may show that Ainura’s dominant language (L1) is Russian, and it is more comfortable for her to express her opinion in Russian. Moreover, it is obviously seen “shala Kazakh” when ethnic Kazakhs start speaking Kazakh combining with Russian or English in their communication throughout the video.

However, as the video is a short fragment from a sitcom there is possibility that it may not show the real situation taking place in a society. For this reason, I would collect empirical data in a real life but not from a sitcom or movie.


Ayeomoni, M. (2006). Code-switching and code-mixing: Style of language use in childhood in yoruba speech community. Nordic Journal of African Studies 15(1). Retrieved from

Jaspers, J. (2010). Style and styling. In Hornberger, N. H., & McKay, S. L. Sociolinguistics and language education (pp. 177-204). Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Retrieved from

Rampton, B. (1997). Language crossing and the redefinition of reality: Implications for research on codeswitching community. Urban Language & Literacies. Retrieved from

Sandhu, P., & Higgins, C. (2016). Identity in post-colonial contexts. In S. Preece (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Identity. NY: Routledge

Language family trees

Philologists suggest that languages are connected and the languages can be drawn under one particular big language family tree.  The number of such language families and languages varies. Yule (2010) refers to 30 language families with more than 6 000 languages (p. 225). Another source claims that there are 141 language families (Lewis, Simons, & Fennig, 2016) and 7,097 languages all over the world (Paul, 2009).  Like Yule (2010) describes the Proto-Indo-European language family with some examples, it would also be interesting to illustrate the Altaic language family, from which the Kazakh language has its origin (Paul, 2009).  In this blog, family connections of the several languages in Altaic family are clarified, and the examples of similar words and grammatical structure are provided to prove the connection of languages in one language family.

Altaic language family consisting of 66 languages is named after the Altai Mountains, a mountain range in Central Asia. It is divided into three groups – Mongolic, Tungusic, and Turkic. Turkic group includes 6 subgroups: Southern (Turkish, Azerbaijani, Turkmen); Central (Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Karakalpak, Nogai); Eastern (Uzbek, Uigur, Salar); Western (Karachay, Bashkir, Tatar Bolgar Chuvash); Northern (Yakut, Altai, Khakas, Tuva, Shor). Korean, Japanese, and Ainu are often grouped together as a branch of the Altaic language family. This grouping, however, is still controversial. According to Lewis, Simons, & Fennig (2016), the Kazakh language is assigned to the Western subgroup of the Turkic group.

Without any doubts one can say that the languages in subgroups are extremely similar, however, each subgroup is closely related to each other and it depends not only on geographical position of people (countries) who speak these languages but also shows us that all of them have the same roots in origin. To be proved, I attempt to find some similarities in Kazakh, Turkish and Tatar languages. Despite of thousands of kilometers separating the countries, they may speak different languages, but have common root.


Kazakh Turkish Tatar Meaning
su su su water
sut sut sut milk
kalam kalem kalem a pen

Word building is developed very well in Kazakh and Karakalpak languages. There are mostly similar endings for making nouns from nouns, nouns from adjectives, adjectives from nouns, negative adjectives from nouns:

Endings Karakalpak Kazakh Meaning
-shi Anshy Anshy A hunter
-lyk Zhaksylyk Zhaksylyk Good

We can also observe similar meaning of phraseological units, but they have slight difference in spelling some words. For instance,

Karakalpak Kazakh Meaning
‘Ut belan uinau’ ‘Otpen oinau’ To play with fire – to deal with risky, dangerous things
‘Utta yanmas, suga batma’ ‘Otka janbas, suga batpas’ Neither burns on fire nor sinks in the water

Language similarities are mostly seen in phraseological units which denote education, friendship, poetry, mother-child, animals, and quantifiers. This means that social, religious and cultural ties between were close and had a lot in common, therefore had one root in the beginning.

Having analyzed some languages from Altaic family like Kazakh, Turkish, Tatar, Karakalpak, I strongly agree that languages are connected, and they belong to specific language families. However, classification of languages is controversial, and it needs for further research. Even if languages have different origins, they might be connected due to geographical and historical interactions.


Lewis, M., Simons, G., and Fennig, C. (Eds.) (2016). Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Retrieved 12 September 2016 from

Paul, L. (Ed.) (2009). Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Retrieved 12 September 2016 from

Yule, G. (2010). The Study of language. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.


The implementation of trilingual education in Kazakhstan: Data interpretation

One of the central issues of multilingualism in Kazakhstani society is the implementation of trilingual education in all educational levels, starting from preschool to higher education. I looked for the information about the implementation process, and selected particular three articles for data interpretation.

In the first articles “Trilingual education implemented in 117 schools in Kazakhstan – Education Ministry” a journalist mostly emphasized on the speech of Takir Balykbayev who is the Ex-Vice Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The journalist’s report was neutral. From Balykbayev’s speech one can understand that only small percentage (2.3% of the total number of students) of all students was studying by trilingual program. Furthermore, the content of the article implies that trilingual education means in-depth study of three languages: Kazakh, English and Russian. However, it is noticeable that more attention is paid for English since it was highlighted that English was used as the medium of instruction in some natural science courses, and a student can choose special course in English at 42 universities. Moreover, the number of schools (which is 17) and universities (which is 42) shows that the implementation process is taking its initial steps because these numbers are too small for the entire Kazakhstan.

As for the second article “Over 80% of parents supported trilingual education in Kazakhstan schools: Poll”, the correspondent of informs the speech of Serik Irsaliyev, the president of “Information-Analytical Center” JSC of MES of Kazakhstan. To begin with, it is written “a rapid analysis” was made on trilingual education, thus it makes the reader of the article think if the results of the poll analyzed correctly, whether the given information is reliable. Secondly, the answers of the poll said the majority (81% of parents) supports the trilingual education which implies that the implementation of trilingual education is associated with qualitative knowledge for the majority. Thirdly, approximately a quarter (27% of parents) consider the implementation of trilingual education needs additional support from professional tutors to acquire a foreign language because they answered they were not able to spend money for tutors. From this point, one can also percept that the teaching of foreign languages was not well developed at schools as long as parents thought of hiring professionals.

In the next article “In 2018 Kazakhstan schools switch to trilingual education model”, Azamat Syzdykbayev, a journalist, also referred to the speech of Takir Balykbayev. It might be understood that the voice of the Ex-Vice Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the area of trilingual education implementation was important. His mention about English medium of instruction for some disciplines at all schools implies that the government focused more on English language. He said it required “huge efforts” which means schools are not completely ready to implement trilingual education for some reasons. The repetition of the word “necessary” shows those reasons like the content changes and teacher trainings. Moreover, the expression “of course” highlights that not surprisingly the language skills of the students need improvements.

Overall, it can be concluded as Kazakhstan is implementing trilingual education, and the majority of parents is positive about this decision. However, there are still some obstacles to tackle with.


Syzdykbayev, A. (March 2, 2016). In 2018 Kazakhstan schools switch to trilingual education model. Retrieved from

Trilingual education implemented in 117 schools in Kazakhstan – Education Ministry. (March 3, 2016). KazInform. Retrieved from

Over 80% of parents supported trilingual education in Kazakhstan schools:Poll. (August 12, 2016). Retrieved from

Let’s help teachers!

The significance of English is likely to be very high for every developing country because it can directly influence a country’s place in the world economy. Thus, throughout recent years one of the most important issues in the Kazakhstani education system is the implementation of the trilingual education. The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan is trying to embody teaching in three languages – Kazakh, Russian and English – in all the Kazakhstani educational places including kindergartens, schools, colleges and universities. However, currently the implementation process is facing with the enormous problem which is lack of the teachers who are able to provide students with the qualitative knowledge in three languages. While the Kazakh language orientated teachers have some troubles in Russian, the Russian language oriented teachers have problems with Kazakh. Furthermore, in most cases English is a big puzzle for both Kazakh and Russian speaking teachers.


Photo credits to

According to Yule (2010), there are approximately 30 language family trees which consist of very different languages of the world (p. 225). The Kazakh language belongs to the Turkic language family tree whereas the Russian and English languages are under the Indo-European language family (Ethnologue, 2016). Despite the fact that these languages are in different branches of the different languages families, they can still be taught together. In my point of view, linguistics can assist teachers to learn Kazakh, Russian and English languages fast and effectively in terms of phonetics, phonology, morphology, and syntax in order to implement the trilingual education in Kazakhstan as soon as possible.Linguistics word cloud

Photo credits to

As a first step towards implementing trilingual education, the Kazakhstani teachers should be taught the phonetics and phonology of the languages. It will help them pronounce words correctly, write orthographically (a correct spelling), and, thereafter teach students the right pronunciation and spelling. Yule (2010) claims that phonetics is “the general study of the characteristics of speech sounds” (p. 26). Teachers should pay attention mainly to the articulatory phonetics because it teaches the way of speech sounds articulation (Yule, 2010). It will be easy for teachers to learn L2 and/or L3 through comparing to L1. For instance, there are labials, alveolars, palatals and velars in English as well as in Russian. After maintaining the phonetics of the language, teachers should move to the phonology. “The description of the systems and patterns of speech sounds in a language” is defined as phonology by Yule (2010, p. 42). Phonology mainly deals with phones, allophones, minimal sets, syllables, assimilation, elision and etc. All of the phenomena occur in Kazakh, Russian and English, that is why it will be much more convenient for teachers to learn them together. Completing the studying of the phonetics and phonology of the languages, teachers can take next step which is word formation and morphology.

Word formation is the studying of the word uprise. It will be amazing to study the word formation: to understand how the particular word appeared. Also there are a lot of words which were borrowed from Russian to Kazakh (eg. қорап khorap – коробка korobka – box). Another interesting point might be becoming familiar with new way of word formation like clipping, backformation or conversion – these phenomena do not happen in Kazakh and Russian languages. Moving to morphology, teachers will deepen their knowledge of foreign languages by investigating the basic forms of the words: their roots, suffixes, prefixes and endings. The table below shows the similarities and differences of the three languages morphology. There is no prefix in the Kazakh language. Also ending in different languages have slight differences: English endings show the singular or plural forms of the word, Kazakh endings illustrate the singular/plural forms and cases, and Russian endings demonstrate the singular/plural forms, cases and gender.

Language Prefix Root Suffix Ending
Kazakh zhaksy -lyk -tar
Russian pri- byt -i -e
English en- force -ment -s


Studying phonetics, phonology, word formation and morphology, teachers should be taught how to make sentences in a language. The way of constructing sentences is taught in syntax. In Kazakh sentences structure is subject + object + verb, while in Russian and English it is subject + verb + object.

Language Word order Translation
Kazakh Мен – subject кітаптар – object оқимын -verb Men kitap okymin.

I read books.

Russian Я – subject читаю – verb книги – object Ya chitayu knigi.

I read books.

English I – subject read – verb books – object  


To sum up, in order to be able to educate students in the three languages Kazakhstani teachers should start from learning the linguistic patterns of Kazakh, Russian and English themselves. Becoming familiar with linguistics of these languages, teachers are supposed to have more opportunities for teaching their subject in any of Kazakh, Russian, or English languages.


Yule, G. (ed.). (2010). The study of language. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Lewis, M., Gary F., and Charles D. (eds.). (2016). Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Nineteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved 16 October 2016 from

Lewis, M., Gary F., and Charles D. (eds.). (2016). Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Nineteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved 16 October 2016 from


Allow introverted students to thrive

Several decades ago there was a young girl who did not seem as all her peers: she was not as active as the environment expected her to be, she did not spend leisure playing outside with her friends, she was not talkative, instead this cute girl enjoyed quiet and calm atmosphere. Growing up to the age of 7, she was said it was time to open the doors of school. The girl was imbued with excitement and wanted to study hard. However, her pious beliefs about schooling were not lived up because she felt pressure both from her first teacher and new classmates.


Photo credits:

One of the obstacles in an educational society, which I want to amplify in today’s blog, is the marginalization of introverts’ learning style. From my personal experience (since I define myself as an introvert), I have realized that in most of cases introverts are misunderstood by their peers and educators. For this reason, I decided to depict the nature of introverted students and to give some useful tips for teachers.


Firstly, the most common occasion when introverts’ learning style is almost fully ignored is group works. Usually introverts do not contribute much in such tasks as group works and discussions, and it is not for the reason they do not want to share opinion with others or they have nothing to bring to the table. It happens because introverted students tend to listen carefully for others’ opinion, think and analyze it for themselves, and only after that decide whether they should offer their thought or not. However, extrovert learners and instructors are likely to suppose this sort of students is too slow, passive, or inane since it seems like they do not care about the task at all meanwhile introverts try their best to understand the topic and produce great idea which deserves to be underpinned. So, in order to encourage introverts to become active in group works, making them leave their comfort zone, it is better to set special role (as note taker, time manager, monitor, etc) for each member of the group.


Photo credits:

Secondly, introverts’ learning style requires time to think. It is normal for extraverts to think aloud during their speech as they are more likely have the ability to think in a very quick pace, while introverts need to be given a chance to organize and cull what to say. For instance, when an instructor asks me a spontaneous question I start panic even if I am familiar with all assigned readings, and there appears the felling I cannot respond quickly. Thus, it ends up with messing up everything when actually I know the right answer. That’s why I believe teachers should let introverted students to take a minute to formulate their speech instead of pushing on them by requiring immediate answer.

Experienced what is being a student like, I came to an inference that introverted students should be allowed to be themselves simply because it is their nature, and there is nothing wrong with them. Let’s appreciate the diversity of students’ temperaments in a classroom and assist both introverts and extraverts to gain knowledge in equal rights.

The implementation of trilingual education in Kazakhstani preschool organizations

Currently Kazakhstan is trying to implement the trinity of languages in preschool education system. On the one hand, the implementation process has its benefits; on the other hand, one should not forget to think of its drawbacks.


Based on personal experiences of my parents, I suppose the implementation of trilingual education in kindergartens is showing good results. They say that it was extremely effective to teach three languages at the age of 3-5 when children can acquire languages easily and quickly. Especially, the foundation of English was built in the kindergarten: my brother still remembers the vocabulary which he learned 3-4 years ago in the public kindergarten. Meanwhile, Kazakh and Russian were not ignored, both in the junior and medium groups children learned by heart tongue twisters, watched cartoon and played different games, consequently, the learning process was not supposed to be boring. In my opinion, the reform initiative is working successfully and achieving its intended outcomes, however, there are still some challenges, including absence of guidance, teacher training, discrepancy between rural and urban area.

Firstly, I want to highlight that there is no one specific reform dedicated for implementation of trilingual education in preschool level, which guides teachers, informs parents, and states the clear goals and tasks. Even after launching the program “Development of trinity of languages in preschool organizations”, there is still no unified program for teaching English in preschool organizations (“Metody i priemy razvitiya”, 2016). Teachers, who are the key stakeholders to implement teaching in three languages in the preschool organizations, cannot make it feasible without knowing where they are aiming and what their clear tasks are. Because of this challenge, we do not know whether the intended outcomes are achieved or not, so it also cannot be assessed.

Secondly, in order to succeed in the implementation of trilingual education teachers should undergo training programs because without being aware of the certain methods and techniques of teaching they possibly may end up with failure of policy. Particularly, teachers should know psychological and physical characteristics of preschool children, and they should be able to approach each student individually. For example, in the kindergarten “Mary Poppins”, which is situated in Almaty, teacher of English undergo training for qualification every year in London, as a result the children show good results (“Stranichka prepodavatelya”, 2016).

Thirdly, we should consider the discrepancy in language proficiency between urban and rural areas. As Fierman (2006) and Smagulova (2008) claim the level mastering Kazakh and Russian is not equal in rural and urban areas: in urban areas Kazakhstani people tend to be more proficient in Russian, and in rural in Kazakh. So, I assume that adding English to preschool education will lead to sharpening of the discrepancy. In cities preschool children have more chances to learn languages while in rural areas some children even do not attend any preschool organization. This discrepancy which starts from preschool level will increase in the next levels of education.

To sum up, I would like to say that it is too early to anticipate for the results of the trilingual education policy at preschool level. It is only emerging, and supposed to be on the right track. In order to make it successful we should first understand what trilingual education is, then thoroughly plan implementation.


Metody i priemy razvitiya triedinstva yazykov [Methods and expedients of development of trinity of languages]. (2016). Retrieved from

Stranichka prepodavatelya angliyskogo yazyka [Webpage of English language teacher]. (2016). Retrieved from

Smagulova, J. (2008). Language policies of kazakhization and their influence on language attitudes and use. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(3-4), 440-475. doi:10.1080/13670050802148798

Fierman, W. (2006). Language and Education in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan: Kazakh-medium instruction in urban schools. The Russian Review, 65: 98-116.

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What is wrong with the Unified National Test (UNT)?

In 1999 the new system of assessing the school graduates of the Republic of Kazakhstan – the Unified National Test (UNT) was introduced in the field of education for the first time. Since that time it has being counted as the most vital and widely used way of assessing the Kazakhstani school leavers and the admission test to higher educational institutions (OECD, 2014). However, it is argued that there are some challenges regarding the UNT, they are: checking the quality of knowledge, and psychological pressure for school graduates.

To begin with, one of the main purposes of the UNT is assessing the quality of school graduates’ knowledge. However, the test is not likely to be check students’ real knowledge as its questions are designed to check only ‘factual’ knowledge rather than quality. Commenting this issue, Kanat Nurov, the representative of the scientific and educational portal “Aspandau”, said it was high time to exclude the questions asking the facts because they did not make students ready for problem solving (ENT sposobstvuet “utechke mozgov”, 2013). He suggested it would be better to replace such questions with real life tasks which students could use in their future lives. Looking at the UNT questions, one can notice without any obstacles that mr Nurov is absolutely right, and I suppose this issue should be dwelled on.

Another problem which the UNT faces with is that many Kazakhstani school graduates are pushed psychologically during both pilot and actual testing. Based on my personal experience, I can say that even if student knows the right answer for the task, he/she may choose wrong answer because of psychological pressure. For instance, I saw personally how some students started crying during the test because they studied the material, but could not remember each small detail. Moreover, unfortunately, sometimes tragic occasions used to take place after the UNT: some school graduates are seemed to suicide after getting the results of the high stake test.

Summing up, the UNT is being paid a lot of attention nowadays. Different stakeholders are raising the question of the reliability and validity of the UNT. Some people tend to defend the Unified National Testing system, saying that it is the most honest way of checking pupils’ knowledge, while others are completely against the UNT, asserting that it is forcing the pupils to learn by heart only the answers to particular questions without broadening their knowledge. And what is your opinion in this point? Should it be replaced by other forms of external assessment or not?


ENT sposobstvuet “utechke mozgov” iz Kazakhstana [UNT promotes “brain drain” from Kazakhstan]. (2013, November 5). Retrieved from

OECD. (2014). Reviews of National Policies for Education: Secondary Education in Kazakhstan, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from