All posts by khakimkenzhetayev

Symbolic peculiarity of anxiety in education

Since my thesis is mainly devoted to exploration of language anxiety in classroom settings, I’ve been reading various literatures describing this type of emotion. And I would like to share some of my readings in order to see your responses to my questions and help you to complete your  8 comments. Enjoy my hopefully-easy-to-read-and-comment blog!

To begin, development of psychology as a separate branch of science takes relatively short period of time. In this sense, the study of anxiety in this area has “a long past, but only a short history” (Spielberger, 2013, p. 245). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders prepared by American Psychiatric Association (2013) indicates that “fear is the emotional response to real or perceived imminent threat, whereas anxiety is anticipation of future threat” (p. 189, italics added). In this sense, both emotional states are closely related to classroom situations. Fear of being involved in upcoming activities like speaking in front of a class, taking exam, and having a conversation with peers might trigger learner’s negative emotional state like anxiety. Spielberger (2013) identifies three characteristics of anxiety appraisals as follows: symbolic, anticipatory and uncertain. No time to describe all of them, so let’s get to the point: Continue reading Symbolic peculiarity of anxiety in education

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NIS conference: tips and reflection

Attending the NIS conference organized this year was a great chance for self- and professional development for those were intrinsically motivated to do so. The reason why I italicized these two words is that motivation is a key component for attending such kind of events in order to gain maximally valuable knowledge and experience. Since I was motivated to take part in this conference by extrinsic factor, I understood several things and built my top 5 tips for conference goers:

  • As it was previously mentioned by @soothsayer, register beforehand to save your money! You don’t know whether the conference will worth the money you’re paying for, so it’s always better to pay less just by signing up a bit earlier.
  • Go motivated or go home! Any conference is planned to gather a number of people interested in a particular field of science or issue in one place to empower people to share and exchange valuable findings and perspectives. It would be strange to see hundreds of bored and uninterested people listening to a presenter burning in front of the audience like a raging fire.
  • Identify your scope of interest. Before attending a conference be sure to read a schedule to plan which presenters you are going to visit. Otherwise you will have to attend a random speaker research topic of which will apparently be not catchy for you.
  • (Since it’s my own TOP 5) I recommend not to take notes while listening to presenter if you are able to use an audio recorder. You can lose the track of the presenter’s message if you write too much. From my perspective, attentive listening gives better results than switching from speaker to your notes.
  • Prepare your questions before the presenter ends his/her speech. In case if no one (was interested in or listened to the presentation) asks questions, a moderator of the section might end the question-answer session while you are formulating your question. So, be quick!

Of course, these tips are subjective and might not be suitable for everyone, but some of them would probably be useful for readers to consider.

Speaking assignment 2

A short review on a podcast

Debates on creating one universal language have a long story and still keeps being multifaceted in terms of viewpoints. A podcast of Freakonomics Radio called What Would Be the Best Universal Language? is a recent compilation of various perspectives of academics from different fields dealing with languages.

The podcast attempted to raise an overwhelming discussion about the language that could have been the best means of communication if humanity could start over in a world as presenters call “Earth 2.0”. Guest speakers of the podcast provide a historical background of the development of a universal language all over the world. However, the main emphases were given to English, Indonesian and Esperanto as the languages with a potential to become universal.

Mainly, the authors of this podcast tried to inform the listeners by letting them to get involved in the dialogs between respectable scholars sharing their knowledge and viewpoints. The content of the podcast is informative in a way that it gives a historical facts about the languages mentioned. For instance, a speaker narrates how and by whom the Esperanto language was created and sheds light on its contemporary heritage which is 130 years old.

Since the aim of the podcast is informing, it reached this goal through presenting the issue from technological, historical, social and political perspectives. One presenter gave the examples of several countries like India and Kazakhstan comparing their successfulness in implementing English as a means of integrating to the global arena. And what was new to me, as Shlomo Weber claims, Kazakhstan shows better results in this attempt than India does. According to Weber, Indian people have stronger attachment to their native language which lets Hindi dominate over English. Whereas Kazakhstan’s formula for success in accepting the implementation of English is a strong government. But what surprised me is that Bollywood and its movies have contributed to the tremendous development of Hindi. And here I would like to pose a question which is unfortunately not relevant to the focus of the podcast but related to its content. How do you think, would the growth of Kazakhstani cinematograph have the same positive effect on the development of the Kazakh language as it took place in India in terms of Hindi?

My favourite researcher

My study at Multilingual Education program requires reading and analyzing a number of publications from various authors with their own unique personality, writing style, and viewpoint. Fortunately, I have already been familiarized with famous researchers in the sphere of language acquisition and bi/multilingualism before being enrolled at NUGSE. Those authors whose works I am mostly interested in empower me to shape my vision on the concepts and notions coming across throughout the courses. However, each scientific area has its own ‘rock star’, and when it comes to second language acquisition and bilingual education I would mention Stephen Krashen.maxresdefault

Continue reading My favourite researcher

To learn, or not to learn? Or to acquire?!

Acquisition might take from several months to couple of years, whereas learning might last all life long. This assumption is fortified by the input hypothesis represented by linguist Stephen Krashen who made a distinction between language learning and language acquisition, claiming that acquisition is a subconscious process, while learning is a conscious one (Sole, 1994). Conversely, contemporary state school and university curriculum is mostly focused on so called “skill building” approach to language teaching which means that teachers have to teach students to pass through the tests by means of sufficient linguistic skills, therefore it is more likely to be called language learning rather than acquisition.

The language acquisition process often occurs unconsciously, instinctively, inadvertently, without purposeful assimilation. However, the process of language acquisition may be also a conscious, if you are, for example, taught a particular language with a particular purpose, or it can be intuitive when you already acquired a language and developed some speaking skills from your childhood.

To some extend second language acquisition can be similar to L1 acquisition process. This means that second language acquisition should be maximally alike, thereby this process will be effortless and efficient. Moreover, according to Krashen’s theory, the process of  L2 acquisition is similar to the acquisition of mother-tongue (Sole, 1994). Thereby, second language acquisition can be artificially imitated. There are a diversity of methods in L2 teaching that might provide the imitation of L1 acquisition process. For example, Total Physical Response (TPR) and Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) discussed in one of my previous blogs. Given methods empower the students to learn grammar and vocabulary through perception of comprehensible messages, so they acquire L2 subconsciously during listening and reading. Finally, L2 acquisition process might be expediently assimilated with L1 acquisition process.

I am personally convinced that language acquisition occurs beyond stressful memorization of grammar structures and loads of vocabulary. I started to make significant progress as I gave up on memorizing and writing mathematical formulas of tenses to learn using them automatically. Whereas relaxing and joyful activities such as following video blog channels of my interest, reading catchy news and articles, and watching my favourite movies for 101th time in English helped me to start understanding, writing, reading and speaking more fluently than ever before.

What sort of advice would you give to your friends or relatives in order to help them reduce their sufferance in foreign language learning?

References

Sole, Y. (1994). The Input Hypothesis and the Bilingual Learner. The Bilingual Review, 19(2), 99–110

Picture credits to: https://www.babbel.com/magazine/static/img/en/integrate-language-learning-700×394.png

Want kids to learn well? Feed them well | Sam Kass (Deconstruction)

Sam Kass is a chef and food policy maker whose family members and relatives mainly comprise teachers. Sam In his Ted speech claims that feeding children well leads to better educational attainments. Relying on the examples of his colleagues life experience and research study results he explains how school nutrition programs improved overall educational outcomes of children.

Sam Kass raises an important question of the correlation between child’s growing mind and their growing body. At the beginning of the speech the presenter mentions excessive consumption of sugar and  lack of nutrients in children’s diets. He also suggests that hunger and non nutrient food makes pupils think about food while learning.

To support his claims he provides the results of multiple studies. The first evidence is shown on the example of a girl he calls Allison who goes to a school that provides a nutritious breakfast with fruit and milk and lower sugar and salt. He says Allison in this case will have lower rate of obesity, less nurse visits, better behavior, less anxiety, better attendance and less tardiness in contrast to average school kid. Furthermore, Sam provides an opposite example of Tommy who is 12 as well as Allison. In case of Tommy there is no nutritious breakfast which raises the probability of repeated low academic performance and poor cognitive function throughout the kindergarten and school grades.

Another evidence provided by the presenter is about the program (Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010) which ensured breakfast and lunch to every kid in a school for free. The schools implemented this program registered an increase in math and reading scores by 17.5%. Sam also emphasizes the result of study which suggests that kids having a consistent and nutritious breakfast increase their chances of graduating by 20%.

Regarding the life experience of his colleagues, Sam narrates the case of Burke County school, one of the poorest district in Georgia. School nutrition director of the Burke County established new nutrition standards providing breakfast full of fruits and vegetables and implementing dinner program. The latter program was due to the absence of dinner for kids at home since they live at or below the line of poverty. As a result, kids reported positive responses on the program. However, the most important outcome he says was the breakthrough of the school football team in the state championship the coach of which credited that championship victory to the initiator of the food program at school.

Personally, I agree with the statement of the Sam Kass and believe that nutrition is one of the key factors to succeed in education since brain is the biggest energy consumer in human body. Moreover, I liked the way he presented his evidence and arguments. For instance, he illustrated boring numbers of study results in the form of characters, average schoolchildren to represent the benefits or and disadvantages of having or missing breakfast.

Linguistic interference: eliminate or ignore?

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Picture from: http://100lang.ru/wp-content/uploads/ECML.JPG.jpg

Proficiency in several languages tends to trigger the interaction of language repertoire units. This interaction of languages are ubiquitous and labelled variously depending on causing factors (e.g. code-mixing, code-switching, language loss, etc.). Thus, I am going to address the issue of linguistic interference (a.k.a. language transfer, L1 interference, and crosslinguistic influence) which occurs as a result of the influence of one language to another.

Linguistic interference is defined as a linguistic overlap when a particular linguistic unit refers to the systems of two languages simultaneously (Haugen, 2001). In other words, it is the transfer of linguistic units wether from L1 to L2, vice versa or many other relations (Jarvis & Pavlenko, 2008). Given theory is to some extent similar to the notion of code-mixing. The latter one however is a broad term describing the simultaneous use of two languages, whereas linguistic interference regards more specific layers of language such as grammar, syntax, stylistics, semantics, lexis, phonological and orthographic.

To make it clear, I will provide an example of linguistic interference occurring in the speech of English, Russian and Kazakh speakers. A word library in Kazakh (кітапхана) is sometimes replaced by a Russian equivalent causing lexical interference: Мен библиотекаға бара жатырмын (I am going to the library). In this case the Russian equivalent obtains underlined Kazakh suffix –ға so it kazakhizates this word. Another example between English and Russian forming grammar interference: Tourists visit our city rarely. Wrong position of the adverb of frequency is due to the peculiarity of its Russian equivalent. In Russian we can say both туристы редко (rarely) посещают наш город or туристы посещают наш город редко (rarely). This phenomenon is inherent in language learners and multilinguals and often considered as a deviation in speech construction or translation.

Linguistic interference taking place in classroom settings is often regarded by the teacher as a negative phenomenon, as a mistake. However, overemphasizing the importance of eliminating linguistic interference in student’s speech might in turn lead to language anxiety which will definitely aggravate the language acquisition process. Moreover, not knowing the necessary structure in target language might be compensated by the borrowing from L1 for instance. Of course it makes the speech sound ridiculous, but at least it enables a learner to try to speak in the target language and learn from mistakes at the beginning level.

What factors do you think trigger these transfers of linguistic structures? Do you agree that linguistic interference in language learners should be ignored and considered as a transition stage of language acquisition which helps a learner to fill the gaps in language proficiency through the use of elements from another language?

References

Haugen, E. (2001). The ecology of language. The ecolinguistics reader: Language, ecology and environment, 57-66.

Jarvis, S., & Pavlenko, A. (2008). Crosslinguistic influence in language and cognition. Routledge.

Analyzing quotes on Trilingual education policy

 

Trilingual education policy in Kazakhstan creates concerns in a number of individuals whose personal viewpoints are on par with the idea that Kazakh language will definitely suffer from the influence of equally prioritized Russian and English. However, supporters of the reform continue to claim that its implementation will not bring any harm to the country’s state language. Let us analyze three quotes from popular news website “Azattyq” [Freedom] representing commonly held beliefs on the given policy:

  • – In my opinion, the Kazakh language is being developed naturally. The Ministry [of Education] neither helps nor interferes this process. If we want to develop three languages, why not to develop the Kazakh-Turkish high schools? The people does not speak three languages. English is necessary, but studying it at the expense of Kazakh is not correct. [28.06.16. Quote from scientist mathematician – Askar Zhumadildayev] (Mukhankizy, 2016).
  • – The Kazakh language – is the main guarantee of national security. Therefore, it must be one of a kind, not just one of the three languages. There is no such equation in any country. Personally, I think trilingual education is a nonsense. [27.05.16. Quote from the Head of the Department of the Kazakh language and literature of the Kazakh National University named after Abai – Janat Dauletbekova] (Mamashuly, 2016).
  • – Not even one hour from the amount of hours devoted to Kazakh language will be reduced. Teaching the subjects in other languages in an elementary school is not planned. [28.06.16. Quote from the Director of Department of pre-school and secondary education of the Ministry of Education and Science – Janyl Zhontaeva] (Mukhankizy, 2016).

Excerpt (1) depicts the role of the Ministry of Education in terms of status of Kazakh language nowadays claiming that the government’s impact towards the development of Kazakh is minimal. Moreover, trilingual education is regarded as a practice not suitable for the state schools (“If we want to develop three languages, why not to develop the Kazakh-Turkish high schools?”), and therefore it is suggested to be implemented only in chosen range of institutions. Nevertheless, the need for mastering English is not denied (“English is necessary”), but there is also a context showing the vulnerability of Kazakh (“studying it at the expense of Kazakh is not correct”) which is obviously due to its slow pace of development (“the Kazakh language is being developed naturally”) that might be interupted if the priority of studying English will be equated to Kazakh.

The first excerpt in sum illustrates the negative attitude towards trilingualism, while excerpt(2) highlights a special status of Kazakh (“it must be one of a kind, not just one of the three languages”) for stability and national prosperity (“The Kazakh language – is the main guarantee of national security”). However, both excerpts (1) and (2) indicate the impossibility of equating Kazakh to Russian and English due to its vulnerability and significance of the former. If the excerpt (1) shows more tactful way of rejecting trilingual education (“If we want to develop three languages, why not to develop the Kazakh-Turkish high schools?”), the (2) excerpt demonstrates direct negative criticism (“I think trilingual education is a nonsense”). Such negative utterance is apparently a logical continuation of the unprecedented phenomenon of equating the state language to other two languages (“There is no such equation in any country”).

Conversely, excerpt (3) justifies the trilingual education by ensuring the security of the Kazakh language among two others (“Not even one hour from the amount of hours devoted the Kazakh language will be reduced”) in terms of the amount of hours. This excerpt illustrates rather positive regard towards trilingualism, since according to the quote, it does not disciminate Kazakh. Deliberate exaggeration of untouchability of the Kazakh language (“Not even one hour…”) shows a position of defense of the reform against negative criticism. In addition, the guarantee of safe state language acquisition is presented in excerpt (2) (“Teaching the subjects in other languages in an elementary school is not planned.”)

To sum up, first two excerpts (1) and (2) demonstrate negative attitude towards multlingual education in Kazakhstan containing a broad social multilingualism discourse in place depicting unique position of Kazakh in society in contrast to other languages, while excerpt (3) illustrates a positive regard providing the facts to reply to negative critique. Negative utterances generally position the Kazakh language as a cost for the implementation of multilingual education with equal positions on par with Russian and English. Two excerpts (1) and (2) comprise rather reasonable concerns and therefore these perspectives tend to be accepted by the majority of native Kazakh speakers. Concrning excerpt (2), this is likely to be a typical response of those holding governmental positions aimed at justification of the benefits of the trilimgual education reform. Which side of the debate do you support?

 

References

Mamashuly, A. (2016, June 29). Diskutiruya o trekh”yazychii, zayavili ob «unichtozhenii natsii» [Discussing about trilingualism, said about the “destruction of the nation”]. Retrieved from http://rus.azattyq.org/a/slushania-trekhyazychnoe-obrazovanie/27827432.html

Mukhankizy, M. (2016, May 27). Zayavleniye biznesmenov o «trekh”yazychii» vyzvalo spory [Statement of businessmen on “trilingualism” caused controversy]. Retrieved from http://rus.azattyq.org/a/kazakhstan-trekhjazychnoe-obrazovanie/27761450.html

That feeling when you start speaking English in a public place

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Retrieved from: http://reactiongifs.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/people-looking-at-me-on-the-bus-the-Graduate.gif

I would like to raise a commonly ignored issue in Kazakhstani society: foreign language anxiety in public places. If you are proficient enough to have a fluent conversation in English with your mate, you have probably felt those gazes of people in the bus or supermarket. If yes, have you ever thought about the reasons triggering this feeling?

In fact, anxiety refers to the emotional state of nervousness, worry and apprehension related to a stimulation of the autonomic nervous system (Speilberger, 1983, in Horwitz, 2001). This feeling is more known as a negative and destructive sort of emotion. However, in some cases our inner flash of anxiety before the deadline might  somehow help us to write more effectively and creatively. Anyway, it does not have the same trait during the speech.

Studies on language anxiety tend to focus on the educational process rather than everyday live experience (Horwitz, 2001; Portugal, 2007; Elaldı, 2016). Thus, Horwitz et al. (1986) identified three types of foreign language anxiety as following: 1) Communication anxiety (inability of a learner to express mature thoughts and ideas); 2) Fear of negative social perception (seeking for a positive evaluation from others); 3) Test anxiety (fear of academic evaluation). Thus, our case is more likely to be related to the second classification of foreign language anxiety.

Well, being more or less familiarized with the theoretical framework of given phenomena, let us discuss our live experience. Personally, I often feel foreign language anxiety when my friends unexpectedly to me start conversing with me in English especially in the bus. Some people tend to turn around and stare at me which makes me feel uncomfortable and stressed. Even though there is no any criticizm or disapproval towards those who speak foreign language in Kazakhstan, speaking English in public places is not commonly accepted by the majority and still is calls their attention. Frankly speaking, I myself and some of my friends perceive such odd reaction as people’s attitude to foreign language speakers’ attempt to blow their own trumpet, so to speak. Therefore, my feeling of anxiety is more about a possible negative attitude prescribed to me by arbitrary listeners staying next to me. Anyway, this feeling does not overpower my attemts to communicate in English outside the classrom in order to fix my current speaking skill and practise new words and expressions. Moreover, I noticed that this feeling depends on the current emotional state and mood.

Do you always feel comfortable to have a conversation in a foreign language in public places? To what extend do you think this feeling disturb language learners? And how would you suggest to cope with this feeling?

 

References

Elaldı, Ş. (2016). Foreign language anxiety of students studying English Language and Literature: A Sample from Turkey. Educational Research and Reviews11(6), 219-228.

Horwitz, E. (2001). Language anxiety and achievement. Annual review of applied linguistics21, 112-126.

Horwitz, E., Horwitz, M., & Cope, J. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. Modern Lang. J. 70(2):125-132.

Portugal, M. K. (2007). Language anxiety: Creative or negative force in the language classroom. Humanizing language teaching7, 1-7.

A bit more about methodology in language teaching…

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Picture taken from: http://static.wixstatic.com/media/6b97d7_28ec83c8932e4351beff06c6dd1c07d0.png

When we hear about the implementation of tri-lingual policy reform in Kazakhstan, the methods of teaching that will ensure efficient acquisition of three languages tends to be ignored. From my perspective, the Ministry of Education mainly focuses on academic and organizational improvements in education. The role of the methods and approaches in the process of education is of paramount importance since this reform generally hinges upon a language proficiency.

Kazakhstani schools and universities are expected to use English as a language of instruction in chosen range of disciplines. The use of three languages equally in the classes is one of the key features of tri-lingual education policy, therefore its widespread establishment tends to be the most ambitious plans of the Ministry of Education. A relevant examples of the multilingual education practice are Nazarbayev intellectual schools (NIS) and Kazakh-Turkish high schools for gifted boys and girls where chosen subjects as math, physics and biology are conducted in English on par with Russian and Kazakh. Thereby, students are expected to obtain enough input in three languages as they have to perceive crucial information from a teacher which is planned to lead to the increment of their linguistic competence in target languages. However, shifting the language of instruction is not the only measure on the way to trilingualism since there is a need for powerful techniques and approaches.

In my opinion, current methods in language teaching occur to be not as effective as they were expected and need to be complemented by various tools, effective and effortless ones. Therefore, there is a need in diversifying the approaches in language teaching which can significantly increase the pace of multilingualism development. For instance, the Natural Approach in teaching recommended by American linguists Stephen Krashen and Tracy Terrell which is one of the efficient approaches to language teaching which helps beginners to become intermediate level speakers (Krashen &Terrell, 1995). Krashen & Terrell (1995) claim that the reason of unsuccessfulness of the majority of audiolingual approaches lies on the fact that these theories were not focused on language acquisition, but on language structure instead. Thereby, the lessons conducted in such approach are “about the language” instead of being “in”, so to speak. It is important to simplify and naturalize the process of language learning for students, because:

We acquire language when we obtain comprehensible input, when we understand what we hear or read in another language. This means that acquisition is based primarily on what we hear and understand, not what we say. The goal, then, of elementary language classes, according to this view, is to supply comprehensible input, the crucial ingredient in language acquisition, and to bring the student to point where he or she can understand language outside the classroom. When it happens, the acquirer can utilize the real world, as well as the classroom, for progress. (Krashen & Terrell, 1995, p. 1)

For decades, school students have been learning and memorizing conversations and collocations like “London is the capital of Great Britain” or “Hello! How are you? I’m fine, thanks, and you?” and as a result many students struggle with the structures, “mathematic formulas”, of tenses and can barely construct complicated sentences orally  because formation of speech through grammar rules create a mental obstacle in producing free and natural speech. Therefore, it is clear that audiolingual approaches in foreign languages teaching, currently practiced in the range of state universities and schools of Kazakhstan, should be rethought and reformed in favor of much more actionable ones such as Natural Approach to language teaching provided by experienced linguists.

Furthermore, the Natural Approach led to the formation of many efficient ways of teaching and learning languages. An appropriate example here is Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) method developed by Blaine Ray which is based on the combination of reading and storytelling aimed at foreign language learning. The supporters of TPRS method claim that the best way of increasing linguistic competence of the students is to provide as much comprehensible input as possible, founding their position on Krashen’s second language acquisition theories (Ray & Contee, 2004, pp. 137–138). In TPRS method, teacher tells a story and asks questions depending on the story’s plot; and the effectiveness of this method entirely depends on the teacher’s capability to motivate and affect the students through emotional narration creating positive psychological atmosphere which contributes to language acquisition. This approach is likely to the process of language acquisition of children when they listen to interesting and exciting content in tales and cartoons. For instance, my nephews sometimes pronounce new expressions and constructions in their speech obviously subcoinsciously acquired from a cartoon where they understand semantic basis of the words and utterances as they see a situative context.

The stories in TPRS contain necessary grammar “messages” which are present in every session, and this peculiarity of the method enables those students who missed previous class to perceive and acquire a grammar rule from the following ones. Even though TPRS tends to be considered as “for children” and beginners, it might also be an effective tool for more advanced language learners since the stories may present any grammar rule “message” of any level through telling and asking process where students develop both their listening and speaking skills and acquire the structures of sentence formation subcounsciously.

To conclude, I suggest that the use of such methods as TPRS must be encouraged in multilingual education on par with any other methods. Do you agree that the methods used in Kazakhstani schools need to be improved? In order to avoid unnatural and complicated use of “math formulas” in children’s speech, what kind of methods and approaches in teaching three languages would you suggest to use? And do you appreciate the use of TPRS in multilingual education?

References

Ray, B., Seely, C. (2004). Fluency Through TPR Storytelling: Achieving Real Language Acquisition in School (4th ed.). Command Performance Language Institute, Blaine Ray Workshops. ISBN 0-929724-21-6.

Krashen, S. D., & Terrell, T. D. (1995). The natural approach: Language acquisition in the classroom. Hayward, Calif: Alemany Press.