All posts by gulnarbakytzhanova

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.

kindergarten

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.

References:

Metody i priemy razvitiya triedinstva yazykov [Methods and expedients of development of trinity of languages]. (2016). Retrieved from http://balbobekuk.kz/sovetyi-speczialistov/metodyi-i-priemyi-triedinstva-yazyikov

Stranichka prepodavatelya angliyskogo yazyka [Webpage of English language teacher]. (2016). Retrieved from http://mary-poppins.kz/personalnye-stranicy-pedagogov/ivizova-m-x-uchitel-anglijskogo-yazyka/

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.

Image from http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/domain/4651

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?

References:

ENT sposobstvuet “utechke mozgov” iz Kazakhstana [UNT promotes “brain drain” from Kazakhstan]. (2013, November 5). Retrieved from https://tengrinews.kz/kazakhstan_news/ent-sposobstvuet-utechke-mozgov-iz-kazahstana-244971/

OECD. (2014). Reviews of National Policies for Education: Secondary Education in Kazakhstan, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264205208-en