All posts by mariaminu

No Research Is Boring


In December 2017 second-year Master students had their data collection period. Even though this active part might be very stressful and intense for some students, I enjoyed every aspect of it. I felt that I was actually DOING something. So, did I have any problems with my data collection? Yes. Did I learn anything from them? Definitely.

Networking is a key.

The first thing you should do is to find your participants. My participants are parents who maintain bilingual communication with their 10-16 years-old children. And it was quite challenging to find them. In this way, I was a little jealous of my groupmates who could go to the school principal and get access to the teachers whereas I had to activate all my communication skills to find such families in two different cities of Kazakhstan. As a result, I am able to integrate my research topic into any conversation in the world. Even now I cannot stop asking random people about their language experience.

Research = Flexibility.

We do realize that people do not have to participate in the study and if you really want them to, you should be available at any time and any place. I had some wonderful conversations in a good office or cozy kitchen, but data-rich interviews also happened in the corridor, during lunch breaks, or in “that-corner-seems-quiet” kind of places. Not because of my poor planning but rather because people are willing to help even if they are extremely busy.

So, breathe in, breathe out, and focus on your questions.

“What else would you like to share that I haven’t asked?”

I think this is one of the most powerful questions in the interview. When you complete the main part and say that you have just one question left, some people get even more excited about their experience. Nobody guarantees that the story they are about to tell is connected to your study, but from their speech, you can get a deeper understanding of their attitudes, experiences, and preferences. This final story is less systematic but really important for them to express. And it leaves your interviewees satisfied with their participation in the study. What can be better than a person with positive impressions of his/her contribution to the research community?

The way research is conducted in practice is sometimes different from what we expect. I hope this post will help next generations of Master students not to be too stressed about their study and enjoy this experience. And for those who have already finished their data collection: What did you like the most about it?

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Is Evidence Making a Policy?

Abstract: This post is a critical review of the article by Joseph Tham “The relevance of evidence-based policy making (EBPM) in public management” (2017) where I suggest some possible areas for improvement and include educational researchers’ position to EBPM approach.

Абстракт: Эта публикация представляет собой критический обзор статьи Джозефа Тама «Актуальность разработки политики на основе фактических данных в государственном управлении» (2017), где я предлагаю некоторые области для совершенствования и взгляд на данный подход со стороны исследователей образования.

Абстракт: Бұл басылым Джозеф Там жазған “Мемлекет басқармасындағы нақты мәліметтерге негізделген саясатты әзірлеудің өзектілігі” (2017) атты мақаланың сынап талдауы боп табылады. Осы жарияланымда мен жетілдіруді қажет ететін салаларды әрі берілген тәсілге білім саласының зерттеушілерінің көзқарасын ұсынамын.

“No one can doubt that basing your predictions about policy effectiveness on evidence is a good idea”

(Cartwright & Hardie, 2012, p.53)

The author reviews the ideas about evidence-based policy making in the US, the UK, and Australia; touches upon some challenges of its implementation and presents the implications for public management. At the end, he gives the quick overview of the situation in Kazakhstan. According to Tham (2017) despite the fact that EBPM has a substantial number of proponents among governors and policy makers in the number of countries, its slow effect and difficulty in identifying quality evidence undermine its credibility.

In the review, I argue that ideas lack analysis and connection between them. The author uses a variety of sources such as government reports, conference proceedings, books, presidential addresses, organization websites and others to support his ideas but the quotes fail to achieve their rhetorical purpose and convince the readers. Here is an excerpt from the text:

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has clear guidelines on
performance measurement, and outcome evaluation. In a 2011 document titled
Performance Measurement, the GAO says that outcome evaluation:

“assesses the extent to which a program achieves its outcome-
oriented objectives. It focuses on outputs and outcomes
(including unintended effects) to judge program effectiveness
but may also assess program process to understand how
outcomes are produced.”

The Brookings Institution, a private think-tank has issued a recent report that
calls on ‘Strengthening Results-focused Government.’:

“It would help strengthen Americans’ confidence that their
government is able to effectively and efficiently tackle the
challenges we face as a nation.” (Page 1, Feldman Strengthening
Results-focused government)

The ideas are just introduced but not discussed and consequently, the coherence is lacking. One idea jumps into another. As a reader, I am wondering how is the existence of efficiency measurements linked to Americans’ trust in their authorities? More analysis of the quotes would lead me to the better understanding of the author’s goal. The conclusion also does not bring the whole paper together and only characterizes the US case leaving the discussion about other countries, challenges, and recommendations without any attention. I would like to see how the cases are interdependent and how Kazakhstani case is different from them.

Which of the implications should be taken into account in the Kazakhstani context? In this part, I would like to compare Tham’s ideas about EBPM in public management with the use of evidence in the educational field on the example of State Program for Education Development. Tham (2017) states that with the “support of the demand for evidence,  and support for the generation of research evidence, EBPM will be strengthened and widely used [in Kazakhstan]” (Tham, 2017, p. 12). However, no parallels were drawn with existing literature on the situation in the US, the UK, and Australia.

Moreover, when it comes to policy-making in the educational field, Bridges and Watts (2009) report about “the failure of policy-makers to take research findings properly into account” (p. 37). Ironically, they cite a number of research studies from Australia, UK, and the US which demonstrate that even solid evidence plays a minor role in changing practitioners or policy-makers decisions (Bridges & Watts, 2009). So even if the research evidence is generated, it is simply ignored because it is problematic to identify what should be counted relevant evidence in a particular context. According to Kettl (2017), in the UK case, the evidence is “facts, figures, ideas, analysis and research” (as cited in Tham, p.8).  This kind of data is already required from the policy makers in Kazakhstan when developing a policy. For example, the State Program of Educational Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020 (MoES, 2010), which is the foundational program for all the education initiatives, has a special section “Analysis of the current situation” where all the facts and figures on the progress of a program or necessity for its implementation are described. No state program can be developed without “the demand for evidence” (Tham, 2017, p.12). Policy makers rely on think-tanks, experts, commissions, media but “academic research on social issues, including education, sits at the bottom of the list of resources” (Bridges & Watts, 2009, p.37).

Evidence-based policy making is a complicated process because even the essential part of it – the evidence is hardly generalizable. What worked in Western countries may not necessarily work in Kazakhstan, and even the kind of relevant evidence varies from department to department. In this post, I used the article on evidence-based policy to look at some aspects of policy making in education. However, it would be easier to follow the author’s way of thinking if he commented more on the way he interprets some quotations and made more conclusions for the reader on their connection.


Bridges, D., & Watts, M. (2009). Educational research and policy: Epistemological considerations. In D. Bridges, P. Smeyers & R. Smith (Eds.), Evidence-based education policy (36-57). United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell

Cartwright, N.,& Hardie, J. (2012). Evidence-based policy: A practical guide to doing it better. NY: Oxford University Press

Tham, J. (2017). The relevance of evidence-based policy making (EBPM) in public management. Unpublished manuscript, the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana, Kazakhstan

Kettl, D. et al. 2017. No time to wait: building a public service for the 21 st century, National Academy of Public Administration.

MoES. (Ministry of Education and Science). (2010, December 7). State Program of Education Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020. Retrieved from



Immersion programs tryout

cd364da377df6c4cbc5d59db1182e27dThere are many designs of immersion programs but among them, two-way immersion (TWI), Canadian immersion and European school are the most popular ones. The most popular means the most effective in suggested contexts. In the Kazakhstani context, we have good conditions for raising bilinguals as Kazakh and Russian are two dominant languages in the society and immersion programs would get support not only in the school environment but out of school as well.

What is the difference between these immersion programs? They vary according to the class structure and time of languages teaching. The main feature of two-way immersion program is the almost equal representation of native speakers of two languages within one classroom. In this case, students of different languages spend almost all day together, get instructions in these languages, and develop both their academic literacy and cross-cultural competence (Howard, Sugarman, & Christian, 2003). In this case, we control the number of languages speakers to get the right ratio.

Time of languages teaching is also represented by two configurations. According to De Jong (2011), immersion programs vary according to the time when the second language is added (early or late immersion), and the quantity of time for each language within a school program (full or partial immersion). TWI program refers to 50:50 model of additive bilingualism. The proportion describes the amount of time given for each of languages of instruction within the studying process. Another model, 90:10 refers to Canadian immersion program, where 90% of instruction in K-1 is in the second language with gradual decrease throughout their studying year by year.

European school model implies not only the development of the bilingual and bicultural individual but also is aimed at the formation of the European identity. It can be demonstrated on the example of Luxemburgish education. The primary education is provided in Luxembourgish, after that during four years such languages as German, French and one foreign language are introduced first as subjects and then as languages of instruction.

Consequently, an additive bilingual model can be of different types depending on the amount of time distributed for each language in a classroom and the goal a particular school is trying to achieve. Taking into consideration language situation in Kazakhstan, it is interesting why the potential of two-way immersion programs with 50:50 languages distribution was not utilized. The main reason why this program could be successful is the human capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Russian and Kazakh languages prevail in all domains of the country. They are used on a daily basis. Especially in the central region, where the distribution of Russian and Kazakh speakers is relatively balanced the classroom organization with 50% of native Kazakh speakers and 50% of native Russian speakers would not make a problem. However, not only linguistic human capital is important, but also teacher’s training, appropriate funding, and curriculum overhaul. The school authorities could decide for themselves what type of bilingual model is more applicable to their case, what teaching resources they have and if there are enough materials for introducing this model. Last but not least, the approbation of the bilingual programs would give much experience and provide some solutions to a substantial amount of problems we are facing with the implementation of trilingual education.


De Jong, E. J. (2011). Foundations for multilingualism in education: From principles to practice. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon Publishing.

Howard, E. R., Sugarman, J., Christian, D. (2003). Trends in two-way immersion education: A review of the research. Report 63. Baltimore: Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk.

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Artificial use of artificial intelligence


We are familiar with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our everyday life: smart cars, video games, movie recommendation services and many others (more examples are here). But some countries, like UAE, go even further. It is the first country to introduce the position of the Minister of Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, Emirates introduce AI technologies into the classrooms with the use of advanced software and robots. The speed of technology development and implementation in education is impressive but can teachers keep pace with it?

On one of the recent conferences, Andrew Nolan from GEMS Education surprised the public with the variety of software and hardware used for schooling in Dubai:  Microsoft Imagine Academy, Microsoft Azure cognitive services, IBM Watson, Singularity University, Kinteract; Learnometer that optimizes the classroom environment for better learning; even the robot which in near future will take most of the administrative work and give teachers more time to work with children. This variety of resources allows the development of competencies needed for the 21 century and really shows how valuable technology is going to be in the modern world.


(Screenshot from a movie “I, Robot” by Alex Proyas)

Although it all sounds fun I was feeling lost in such a variety of technologies. It is like I am in the rally and everybody uses GPS navigator to keep moving and I am looking for breadcrumbs on the ground (credits to Brothers Grimm). So I was wondering if I am so lost in the technology development how are teachers capable of advancing their computer literacy so fast in UAE? I mean, in-service teachers. Are they get trained every half a year? Do they have IT support teams or assistants at schools? Trying to answer all these questions I found the results of the survey of 100 UAE educators which was conducted in April 2017 and revealed that: 

38 per cent of educators do not have the training to integrate technology into the way they teach, while 48 per cent of educators blamed a lack of access to available technology as the reasons for not using ICTs in classrooms. A further 42 per cent of educators said they lack the time to learn how to integrate technology into teaching” 

This data demonstrates that even though it is claimed that advanced technology is widely used in the classroom, not all the teachers have enough skills to realize its full potential. Also, they do not have enough time to explore programs features or even lack the software itself. The sampling is quite small and may not be representative of all the teachers in the country but still provides us with some context of UAE teachers.    

Based on the results of the survey, not only Artificial Intelligence implementation is important but also Natural Intelligence appropriate training. Teachers need support and time to learn new things just as their students. And all brand new shiny machines do not make any difference if teachers do not know what to do with them.

P.S. Additional interesting fact about UAE Ministries is that they have 3 Ministers in the field of education: Minister of Education, Minister of State for Public Education, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills. In Kazakhstan, there is only one: the Minister of Education and Science. Whether such division of responsibilities is beneficial to the quality of education or not is a good area for research.


Order with consequences



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In the podcast Is This Working? different teachers, educators, parents talk about discipline at school and ask very simple but important questions: what is the reasonable level of discipline? Why do we need kids to unpack their bookbags silently? Is all this discipline for a child or for a teacher? And the most important one: What are the consequences of the punishment for discipline violation?

The podcast starts with the question what teachers would do if a boy does not want to take his hat off during the class. And different approaches to discipline are discussed in its three acts with different storylines. Some stories argue that keeping discipline does not prepare children for a real life because staying quiet and obedient is not always a good way to achieve something in life. Other persuade that not punishment but conversations about the offenses work better as children learn to think about their emotions, emotions of others and collaborate in the society and this is exactly what they need in future. These are all wonderful questions, suggestions, ideas to check and prove by research. What I want to share is another phenomenon that I have found in this podcast which answers the question What are the consequences of the punishment for discipline violation?



I learned about the “discipline policies that push students out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system at alarming rates—a phenomenon known as the “school-to-prison pipeline“. Moreover, starting from early age black and Latino students are punished more harshly than their white peers and this excessive punishment makes it more likely for them to get in prison once they become adults.   There was a data from College Station at Texas A&M which documented all the suspensions in 2000-2002:

 “And they determined that African American and Hispanic students were twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than their white peers for their first offense. When they looked at African American boys in Texas, 83% were suspended at least once. And usually, they were suspended a lot more than once. That includes anything a school calls suspension.

And what kind of infractions were they getting suspended for? Most of the time, these were not for big things, like hitting a teacher or bringing a weapon to school. They were for things like disrespect, insubordination, willful defiance, the kind of incident that often begins when an angry kid won’t take his hat off”

What do you think about this data? This is the result of the attitude they get at school. They are punished seriously even for minor mistakes. I immediately recalled the blog written by chsherbakov that I read recently about the intrinsic bias against Black schoolers which is seen even in the language of documents framing desegregation.

What I want to say is the issue of keeping discipline in the classroom can be controversial but there is another dimension of the problem which we should take into consideration. There is an attitude which starting from the very early age creates a special mindset, special environment and changes the future of many little kids. This attitude makes them feel bad and unwelcome in the society. This attitude puts them into the conflict with the school, with their parents, with the law. This makes them look for people who would value them no matter what and, unfortunately, very often these people are not the best examples to follow.



For every researcher, help

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-20 at 18.19.48

The week 18-22 of September I was lucky to take part in the first in Europe and Central Asia cognitive testing of the module on inclusive education developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Washington Group. Students of Nazarbayev University completed training on conducting interviews and tested the module on functional features of development and disability of children. Apart from gaining a huge experience in interviewing people and summarizing the results, we discovered a lot about UNICEF’s activities and programs in Kazakhstan. I want to share some knowledge and sources that will probably be useful for other young researchers.

UNICEF works across 190 countries protecting the rights of children, providing them with opportunities to study, and improving standards of living. The activities vary from country to country depending on the context of the country and living conditions. UNICEF supports children who fall a victim to violence, natural disasters, migrant crises or terroristic acts. In Kazakhstan, UNICEF is mostly involved in actions for the protection of children’s rights and research about children’s wellbeing.

1.jpg is a good source of publications and research studies on children’s living and studying conditions in Kazakhstan. One of the latest publications is “The statistical yearbook “Children of Kazakhstan” (available in 3 languages) which was published in June 2017 on a joint initiative of the Committee on Statistics of the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Representative Office of UNICEF in Kazakhstan. This yearbook contains all the statistical data about children in the Republic of Kazakhstan and includes such sections as Demographic Characteristics, Health and Healthy Lifestyle, Education, Leisure for Children, Social Protection of Children, Employment of Youth. Many others publications present reports on UNICEF activities in Kazakhstan and data analysis across different regions of the country.

Also, you can watch a series of simple and entertaining videos with the results of UNICEF’s studies (ex. Results of the study “Violence against children in the family” Results of the MICS – Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey in Kazakhstan).

I hope these resources will be useful for those who write about children’s education and their position in the society of Kazakhstan.

P.S. Do not forget to evaluate critically all the information you use in your research!

The research legacy of MA 1 in the spring semester


WhatsApp Image 2017-04-25 at 1.27.05 PM

This post is dedicated to all students of MA in Multilingual education program who have studied hard this semester to share their knowledge, express their thoughts and advance their language skills through the blog writing. Their blogs merit special attention.

Why are they so important?

They are scholarly but personal.

                                     They concern education and life.

                                                  They demonstrate our accomplishments and future plans.

While reading each post I could see the variety of interests and perspectives of each author. Easy calculations:  thanks to 27 students we have got 189 masterpieces about anything in the world (but mostly about education, of course). They write with passion and joy; address sensitive, controversial and ambiguous topics; add their voice and style to each work. With this post I would like to give credits to all the authors of this semester who opened my eyes to a variety of existing problems and possible solutions; who shared their stories, analyzed speeches and discourses; who searched for engaging pictures and videos; who invented ingenious titles and experimented with design; who did their best to add to the scope of knowledge of other people. Welcome to the temple of knowledge built by amazing students of MA in Multilingual education!

The diversity of topics covered is just incredible. It is impossible to mention all of the blogs in one writing but I would like to synthesize some of them to show how much we can change in the educational system in terms of curriculum, classroom environment, and teaching approach if we just start working together and transmit knowledge and experience to others.

A lot of discussions were raised about the learning environment and creating comfortable conditions for students. As sashaxxxx mentioned, emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in students’ learning that is why the issues of appropriate class size (uaxi), studying hours (bayanassylbek), and discipline maintenance (chsherbakov) should be considered. The need of school uniform (farihandro) is not always justified when it comes to sustaining the emotional well-being of students but including animals (alinatatiyeva) into the learning process is definitely an effective way to relieve stress and anxiety. It was all about the form but looking at the content of education MA students also suggested some ideas how to improve it.

The curriculum should be renewed to include the development of skills for learners’ future life and keep them mentally strong. Aigulizat and gulzhaina13 emphasized on the positive influence of arts and music on the children’s well-being and argued for the increase of the time devoted to these disciplines in school. Also, as Kazakhstan is multilingual and multicultural country, we can benefit from it using the method of tandem learning (ariyavvv) as well as showing the importance of intercultural competence (danasan13) in the modern world. This could be done by organizing special Multilingual clubs (assema001) which allow to explore other cultures not only in theory but in real communication. Arai4ona and khakimkenzhetayev addressed the reading habits of learners and gave their recommendations both on how to read effectively and use this skill in the classroom to learn through the story-telling. Even such topic as the total spread of fast food was not left without attention. Makha09 shared Japan’s experience of including food education in the school curriculum and its positive outcomes.  Some of these initiatives could be really helpful for children’s development and additional research would induce the Ministry of Education and Science to consider them.

However, it is not only the work of the Ministry to raise healthy and intelligent children. As educators (and parents) we should not restrict our children too much (asselt) because of our fears for their physical and mental health but should teach them that mistakes and failures (asselshmidt) are opportunities for further improvement. We should help them to become responsible, independent individuals who are able to plan their time, cope with deadlines (ayanairis), and choose what disciplines (maira1291) they want to study more. Also, it is necessary to develop a variety of soft skills (aidana17) for their future life such as “social skills, communication, higher-order thinking, self-control and self-concept”. Supporting children we support our future but the teachers’ problems should not be neglected in the process of change.

Many works were devoted to teaching practice and teachers training. Gulnarbakytzhanova created some steps that will help them to learn three languages as part of their preparation to the implementation of trilingual reform. The question of educators’ professionalism (lenerakezlevli), and its connection to teacher-student relationship (akalya77) especially with introverted children (sharapat812) became an important part of students’ discussions. In addition to that, yasawi859 and soothsayer presented innovative approaches of teaching with the use of modern technology such as IPADs and video essays.

In conclusion, I agree with aigerimkazhigalieva who writes about blogs as an effective way to improve language skills and express one’s thoughts. Personally, I enjoyed writing them very much. But I enjoyed reading my groupmates’ works even more. So I want to thank you all for the tremendous work you have done and ask you one question: if we consider all these points raised above, will our educational system become the best example of success in education?

P.S. My answer is that maybe it is too much, I do not know. What I know is that if young researchers choose to put their efforts into the search of the solutions for the better world, they will definitely find them.

The change in the discourse of multilingualism in Kazakhstan in the last decade


(Photo: Dean C.K. Cox,

During certain periods of time, the increase of tensions regarding language situation in Kazakhstan is observed. It is connected with the unsuccessful attempt to switch solely to the Kazakh language in the political, economic, and social lives of the citizens of Kazakhstan after a long period of the Russian language dominance in the Soviet time. The discourse analysis is a useful approach to trace the development of ideas and attitudes among the population of Kazakhstan. In this blog, I will analyze the period of 2007 – 2015, almost a decade when one of the largest conflicts about the linguistic issues appeared.

The following two paragraphs are from the interviews with an educational leader and social activist who express different views on the role of Kazakh and Russian in the society as the starting point of the coming tensions.

“Kazakh-language teaching is gradually being introduced into all Russian-language schools, but there are no plans to close Russian-language schools. In the Soviet Union, there was discrimination against Kazakh. Now there is a revival of Kazakh, but Russian is functioning alongside it. There is no discrimination” (Eurasianet July 23, 2007; a quote from Svetlana Chzhao, the official in charge of Karaganda city’s general and secondary education)

“Policy seems to be specially constructed around removing Russian-speakers from state structures. I think for the authorities it is advantageous if [Russian speakers] do not know [Kazakh].” (Eurasianet July 23, 2007; a quote from Ksenia Makhotina, a local activist for the unregistered Alga! Party)

The expert Chzhao emphasized on the “gradual” introduction of the Kazakh language into schools with Russian medium of instruction. This type of introduction was not quite clear explained because in the year 2007 the Kazakh language had already been introduced as a subject in all schools throughout the country. In the case of the Kazakh language, the process of language revitalization (Fishman, 1991) was taking place due to its underdevelopment during the Soviet Period. She considered that this positive trend does not go at the expense of the Russian language. However, according to Makhotina, not the “gradual” development of the Kazakh language but the gradual replacement of Russian speaking people from authority positions is taking place in Kazakhstan. Thus, the concern of spreading language discrimination was expressed by some public figures in 2007.

These concerns were probably justified because several years later the slight tension turned into an attempt to raise a social conflict where some parties demanded the total exclusion of the Russian language from the use in Kazakhstan.

“Serious passions flared up this week in Kazakhstan. The war for the Russian language. It has begun with a letter, addressed to the President, which was signed by over a hundred people. Among those who signed are poets, deputies, and even astronauts. The main requirement is to protect the Kazakh language, and for this purpose to exclude Pushkin’s language from public life. Otherwise, the defenders of the state language ‘are willing to go to extreme measures’, as is stated in their letter” (Mir24 September 11, 2011: a quote from the reporter of the news program)

The use of words is particularly interesting. “Among those who signed are poets, deputies, and even cosmonauts” which means that even people who are not directly connected to language policy or linguistic issues contribute to the debate. Reporters do not illustrate what “extreme measures” activists claim and it means that those who announce it probably do not have anything to threat with but express the seriousness of their intentions. Also, the use of “Pushkin’s language” instead of the Russian language is an extra contrast between the languages of Russians and Kazakhs, Pushkin and Abai and consequently between Russia and Kazakhstan. This emphasizes that the Russian language is appropriate for Russia and in Kazakhstan Abai’s language should be spoken. The assimilationist discourse is mainly negative here because is likely to involve forced shift to the Kazakh language polarizing Russian and Kazakh to each other.

The conflict was resolved without any extreme measures and in 2015 the expert of Central Eurasian studies, professor of Indiana University William Fierman, comments on the linguistic situation in Kazakhstan.

After a short period of unrealistic expectations [after the Independence] of the Kazakh language policy has been and remains moderate. […] In my opinion, citizens should have the right to speak in Kazakh, Russian or any other language they choose. However, the policy was not sufficiently tight to ensure that all citizens who have gone through the Kazakhstani education know the state language.

Under “unrealistic expectations” Fierman implies the period after the gaining the Independence when radically minded public figures intended to exclude the Russian language from the use of the population of Kazakhstan in several years. These ambitious plans failed because the President of the Republic strengthened the status of the Russian language in the Constitution as a language of interethnic communication. This change was made in order to keep harmony and peace between two main ethnic groups: Russians and Kazakhs. Afterward, the language policy was very deliberate and according to some experts too cautious. The main problem in current language policy is its incapacity to turn the Russian-speaking population into learning the Kazakh language and use it on the everyday basis.

As a conclusion, we see that despite the moderate language policy regarding official languages in Kazakhstan, the intention to make the Kazakh language the only language used in all spheres of social and political life still gets public support. The year 2011 was a critical point when dissatisfaction with too lenient measures regarding the Kazakh language development caused a new wave of the controversy of the language’s usage in Kazakhstan. After this significant debate followed the period of relative calm in this question which, however, can be calm before the storm if some political figures decide to provoke a conflict on the basis of language.  That is why policymakers and multilingual leaders should be precise and careful in elaborating language policies in order to sustain mutual understanding in the society as this is a very sensitive topic and can be easily used for some interested parties’ purposes.


De Jong, E. J. (2011). Foundations for multilingualism in education: From principles to practice. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon Publishing.

Experty: voina protiv russkogo yazika raskolet Kazakhstan [Experts: the war against the Russian language will split Kazakhstan]. (2011, September 9). Retrieved from

Fishman, J. A. (1991). Reversing language Shift: Theory and Practice of Assistance to Threatened Languages. Clevedon : Multilingual Matters.

Lillis, J. (2007, July 23). Kazakhstan: Officials Adopt Low-Key Approach on Language Policy. Retrieved from

Uilyam Fierman: yazikovaya politika v Kazakhstane umerennaya [William Fierman: the language policy in Kazakhstan in moderate]. (2015, June 26). Retrieved from

Little by little to a new mentality

I was inspired by a very sensitive blog post of dilshatkalshabek who presents the story of one girl in a wheelchair who was treated with sympathy, arrogance, pride, and rudeness just being outside alone.  The author writes how important it is to “transform the mindset” of people, to make it more open to diversity and, as a result, to inclusion because nowadays people with disabilities are treated in a thousand different ways but not as normal people. I do agree that we should change something about it and make our society inclusive so that anybody could feel respected and appreciated.

In order to understand someone’s problems, we need to know about them first. In order to stop treating people with special needs with pity, we should know about their real needs and abilities. So I started to think and search for some ideas of how we can “transform” the views of the society.

  1. Admit that with disabilities are capable of amazing things

I have found a website of CARA – the national organization of Ireland which provides physically disabled with opportunities to sport and other activities.  They support many social activities, create materials for coaches, and increase awareness of their work in the community. One fascinating idea is CAMP ABILITIES – the camp for children with visual impairments. The program is developed to empower children and show how much they can; they are not limited to anything!


2. Encourage others to care

Another initiative is also from CARA – National Inclusion Awards which honors entrepreneurs and activists contributing to the expansion of people’s with special needs participation in sport and physical activities. It started in 2012 and has already become a “gold standard of outstanding work of organizations and individuals” who create conditions for inclusion in their communities. Such award is great in terms of increasing appreciation of the care and equal access to different activities.


3. Support with information

However, not all the people with special needs have an opportunity or desire to go in for sports. They just live and face world’s cruelty on the daily basis. And we should admit that many times it is not the cruelty itself, it is just the lack of knowledge of others how to behave ordinarily. On this problem, I have found one very engaging resource which is a virtual community with information and different tools for people with disabilities and their families. They post many materials, games, articles for and about communication. Look at the Responding To Disability Quiz which demonstrates with short stories examples how people’s attitude towards disabled individuals varies and why it should not. The quiz is short but very informative. Try it yourself and you will see that next time you meet someone with special needs you will not be concerned about your “pitiful” behavior.

4. Start with ourselves

The most important thing on our way to inclusive society is to be a human. Just kind and careful human. To accept diverse minds, faces, bodies.  And here is an amazing video with some tips how to manage it.

In order to increase awareness of people about real abilities of those with special needs, we should go against our prejudices, encourage people to participate in the creating of activities common for all, and give the enough food for thought on our relationship with each other. The transformation of the mentality is a long process but effective steps taken can shorten the time needed for change. I tried to suggest some practices from other parts of the world but if the readers have anything to share we can create much more and start our own initiatives here, in Kazakhstan.

Deconstruction of the “Universities should ban PowerPoint — It makes students stupid and professors boring”

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The article by Bent Meier Sorensen, professor of Copenhagen Business School, states the author’s stance right from the title. It attracts attention by the use of strong words such as “ban”, “stupid”, and “boring”. The author wants us to believe that PowerPoint slides presented by the professors at universities do not make students smarter or more thinking, but the opposite. The suggested measure is quite radical – to ban them! However, if we look at the evidence we can find some inconsistency there.

The main problem of the PowerPoint presentations is revealed in the first words of the body paragraph “Overreliance on slides…” claiming that slides sometimes replace home readings and problem-solving situations and create fake literacy of the students.However, we cannot agree with this point because it is an example of an extreme case when the teacher relies only on the slide presentation and does not interact much with the audience. We need a facilitator in the classroom who controls the discussion; and it is the main teacher’s role, not the PowerPoint’s. Consequently, we cannot talk about the harmful influence of slides on students’ performance considering only the classes where professors read aloud the whole lecture from the screen.


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The argument that universities just follow students preferences regarding this issue is also quite questionable. The author means that if a professor does not give PowerPoint presentations students’ satisfaction decreases sharply. However, from my personal experience as a student, I would say that such factors as course content, regular practice, and brain challenges play a bigger role in my fulfillment with the course than the design of the slides.

According to US researchers Arum and Roksa (2010), one-third of students do not improve their skills during their years in college. More specifically, that is Sorensen’s interpretation. If we look at the book content we see that the findings are slightly different. First, students do not show any significant improvement after their second year, not after the graduation. Second, the main reasons for that are students’ adjusting to social life, work or getting acquainted with the institutional culture which prevents them from developing critical thinking or gaining professional skills. There is not a word about PowerPoint and its stupidity. Stop Chasing Bullet Points

Also, he mentions that the information on slides is oversimplified and presented in bullet points which demotivate students from going deeper in their research and limit them to just simple ideas without any theoretical background behind. In this case, the words of Albert Einstein come to my mind “If you cannot explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough”. The role of the teacher is to lead students through a discipline once they have grasped the core point. Not a complicated lecture trains problem-solving skills, but the meaningful discussion based on the mutual understanding of the information.

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Overall, if we ban slides we should replace them with something new. However, the author does not give us any suggestions to that except for the humble “alternative methods [of teaching]”. Moreover, it is not the shortcoming of the program that lectures are boring and not fruitful for students; it is up to the teacher to present the material interactively and raise an interesting discussion in the classroom or spend an hour reading to students. Many professors encourage students in the class and do it with  PowerPoint too. My solution is not to ban electronic presentations but help teachers make them a useful tool for engaging the audience.