Category Archives: Inclusive Education

“How to learn any language in six months?” – Chris Lonsdale (deconstruction)

Linguist, a psychologist and educator Chris Lonsdale in his TED speech persuades the audience that it is possible to acquire any language in 6 months. His talk would not be as engaging and straightforward if he did not use experiences and examples from his personal life connecting with the well-known inventions in the human development.  He points out that many barriers which hinder us in learning new language are due to limits that take place in our lives as social dislocation, wars and all sorts of things going on.

The thought provoking question at the beginning of his speech was a kind of technique to catch the audience attention followed by his personal question “How to speed up the learning?” made them even get involved in the topic. In order to assure that normal adults can learn a new language quickly, easily and effectively, he employs his own experience of learning the Chinese language, which is considered to be stereotypically one of the difficult languages in the world.  So this example enabled his speech to obtain more convincing, promising and exciting tone. He also indicated how it is important to observe people who are able to do it and situation where it is working and then determine the principles and utilize them.  To support his claim he includes the examples from history of human progress, which are common and diverse. It was even impressive when he showed the drawing that he learnt in five days. That urged the audience that they also can repeat his achievement if they are focused on something and for that they do not need talent and immersion per se. The principles and actions he stated are systematically connected and concise which make them easy to be remembered.

He impressed me with his strong persuasive presentation and topic which is relevant and popular nowadays since the world is becoming multilingual. And more and more people strive to be plurilingual due to its benefits. More importantly, this video might be valuable for teachers who are willing to learn English, but were afraid to make a first step. The principles and actions suggested by Chris Lonsdale seem truly feasible and effective as they emanated from his personal experience, observation and research.



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.

Students decide to fire a teacher?! WHAT?!

Let’s talk about decision-making within schools regarding employment termination of teachers. We all know that students can’t decide to fire the teacher but their parents may collectively complain about certain teachers to school administration. School administration is the sole body to decide whether to take disciplinary actions or even fire any staff member. I think students shall take part in decision-making as they are the immediate stakeholders. Apparently, primary and middle schoolers are too young to vote but high schools are fine.


There are always ‘favourite’ and ‘less favourite’ teachers for every student. Reasons may be different: incompetence, dullness, excessive severity and personal dislike (of course!). But can these qualify as the substantial reasons to terminate one’s employment? Let’s see. First, an incompetent teacher is not a teacher. I wonder how each of us defines incompetence, I, personally, view it as excellent knowledge and skills (it shall not be limited to one subject).  Incompetent teachers are easily recognisable but if they are appealing and charismatic they could even pass as excellent teachers in the eyes of students. Here, not dullness but appeal and charisma are what students seek in the teachers. What a dilemma!  Next is excessive severity which includes strictness in the classroom, a ton of homework and pertinacity.  Who would like a teacher who keeps students on the run all the time?! Finally, personal dislike could be the result of all these factors. Everyone has personal preferences that’s why having personal feelings involved is inevitable.

As a student myself I understand how these factors can cloud one’s vision. But, as a teacher I would not want to get fired just because some students didn’t like me. Especially, it is even more unfair if a particular teacher gets fired because a certain student manipulated the others to vote against that teacher. In this case, we should not allow students to take the lead in deciding whether to fire the teacher or not. But school administration definitely has to take the voices of high schoolers into account.


Should high school students be able to vote to fire teachers? Retrieved from

Photo credit:



Sex education in primary school




A growing number of teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, unhealthy relationship and sexual abuse is the result of unawareness and inaccurate information spread through media and the Internet. Due to the absence of sex education subject in the curricula of many schools, children learn about sexuality from mass media, parents or older friends. And it is difficult to hold control over the content provided online or transmitted through mass media. The subject of sex education (sexuality education) teaches not only about the biology and sexual intercourse but about keeping safe and building healthy relationship. Raising awareness about sexuality from primary school can prevent adolescents from making mistakes and languish in misery. 

A compulsory sex education subject is going to be integrated into all the schools across England starting September 2019 (BBC news, 2017).  BBC news also relays that a representative of organisation Christian Concern, Andrea Williams says: “Children need to be protected, and certainly when they’re [still at primary school], we need to be guarding their innocence” thus disagreeing with the incorporation of sex education into the curriculum (BBC news, 2017). But sex education is not aiming at destroying the innocence of children but conversely at protecting them from harms they may do to themselves out of ignorance. Again, all the information provided at the lessons will be age-appropriate. It means that primary schoolers will not be taught things they cannot comprehend but what they need to know at their age. In an official website of BBC news, it is stated that the focus of the subject in primary school will be on “building healthy relationships and staying healthy”, and secondary school students will be studying “sex as well as relationships”.  In addition, these classes also will cover the issues of sexual abuse and “the dangers of sexting, online pornography and sexual harassment” (BBC news, 2017).  I think that information of sexual minorities, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) movement and the human rights should also be included in the content of the subject. These measures will raise awareness regarding these matters from a young age and help children to adapt to adult life in the future.

Children grow up mentally as well as physically. And when they notice these changes they have to be informed and prepared. Only with a proper guidance will they be able to avoid making terrible mistakes and mature healthily.



Sellgren, K. (2017, March 1).  Sex education to be compulsory in England’s schools. BBC News. Retrieved from


Regarding Kazakh terminology …

Recently the president Nursultan Nazarbayev organized a meeting with local and international mass media journalists. In the interview, the president spoke about one of the burning topic in our society– the language issue. In particular, he pointed out terms translated into Kazakh in an irrelevant quantity which have already merged into Kazakh. The president stated “Instead of enhancing Kazakh by international terms, the linguistic committee created a number of words which are not used by people, e.g. ‘procent’ is translated as ‘paiyz (procent) in Kazakh, but I do not use this word in my speech’”.

Language is the soul of the nation and spiritual identity. After gaining the independence, the Kazakh language obtained the status of state language. At that period, other ethnicities started paying attention to our mother tongue, saying “Kazakh became an individual country, the language received state language, if we do not learn Kazakh, we will not survive”. However, we could not continue this process properly. By trying to translate new words into Kazakh we made the language so complicated, that even Kazakh folks are not able to understand themselves. It is surprising to hear from graduates of Kazakh mainstream schools saying “I prefer to read in Russian to Kazakh” or “It is easier to read in Russian”. It is not difficult to notice that one of the main reasons of why we came to this adverse circumstance is the fact that huge amount of terms which are used by the whole world translated into Kazakh. Compare the following words in six different languages:

English Spanish Italian French Russian Kazakh
Passport Pasaporte Passaporto passeport Пасспорт Төлқұжат
Piano Piano Piano Piano Пианино Күйсандық
Internet Internet Internet Internet Интернет Ғаламтор
competence Competencia Competenza Competence Компетенция Құзыреттілік
Focus Foco Fuoco concentrer Фокус, концентрация Шоғырлану
Crocodile Cocodrilo Coccordillo Crocodile Крокодил Қолтыруын


In fact, words in all these languages are written and pronounced almost the same, except Kazakh. In this respect my opinion corresponds to the president’s that we should not translate all the single word into Kazakh. I assume there are two advantages of using international terminologies unchanged. First, the original meaning of a word will be preserved, i.e. the meaning of items or actions will be conveyed accurately. The equivalent of any word can be found in any language, but it cannot accomplish in accordance to modern time necessity.  For example, expertise, inauguration, document, administration -these words do not replace precise meaning of the words, thus are not used in everyday life. Secondly, terminology has enormous international power to unite world population. As our president said if 1800 words enter our language without changes, then isn’t it wealth? (Is Kazakh tongue-tied to articulate the international words?) These terminologies can also enable us to learn English, one of the most important goals in present days. Thousands of words have merged into the Russian language, but we do not see they lose something because of that.

The problem here is that we do not only make Kazakh language difficult to learn for other ethnicities, but also for ourselves. If Kazakhs do not read and understand their own language, who on Earth will learn and maintain it?



Giving or taking? Is a “Pronoia” connected with succeeding? (Deconstruction).

Take a minute before watching a video or reading this blog post, and answer the question: “Are you a giver, a taker, or a matcher?”.

I have recently watched TED video where Adam Grant tells about givers, takers, and matchers in our society. The question of giving and taking is discussed in the talk of Adam Grant, and it is connected with every sphere of our life. I remembered the words of one of our professors at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education (NUGSE) that each of us should share and help. In this blog post, I would discuss the issues of givers, takers, and connect them with the educational area.

Do you always ask people do anything for you? Do you ask people if you can do anything for them? Do you do anything for the sake of taking back? These are general explanations of a taker, a giver, and a matcher.  As Adam Grant noted, givers are found in all the spheres of life, work, studying both at the bottom and at the top. They make the process work, but they are sometimes unevaluated. They share their knowledge, give feedback, and it could be 5 minutes help, but it is worth. The speaker pointed out three things to protect givers: protect givers from burnout; encourage help-seeking; get the right people on the bus/keep the wrong people off the bus. Explaining in other words, givers should know that they can receive as well; people should not be shy to ask for help; takers should be out because they could pass over the whole work to a giver.

What image do you have when you think of givers and takers? Agreeableness is for givers, and disagreeableness is for takers? However, these traits of character are not connected, and they could represent both of them. Personally, I appreciate disagreeable givers, they are the most critical and tell things that no one wants to hear, but they tell the clear truth and to the point. Adam Grant ended his speech with the words that if there will be more givers, and if people would ask for help, it could lead to the change of success understanding.

The claim of a speaker is valuable, and the presented evidence mostly come from diverse studies. However, I have several points to debate about and add something from my own experience. I refer myself to matchers. Previously, I was a giver, but I have the story behind which made me a matcher. Now I think that everything should be built on balance. If there should be many givers, as Adam Grant suggests, takers and matchers will be off the bus. I believe that three of them should have the place in every sphere of our life. If a giver gives, who would receive then? I agree with the opinion that people should not be afraid of asking questions, they should share and help. However, not only givers can do this.

Talking about an educational sphere, I would like to speak of studying and teaching experiences. Studying at NUGSE, I see on the practice that helping each other, sharing, and asking questions open the door to the suitcase of knowledge. People who do these things are not only givers, but they manage to do it. Working as a teacher of the English language, there seemed to be a lack of givers. Mentoring is what I needed as a first-year teacher. However, no one wanted to help. Then, I asked for a help, and I got it. From my experience, givers are mostly awake when you ask. Thus, asking, sharing, and helping are more important in our life.

Do not be shy and afraid of asking questions, as it is the wheel to progress and all the developments in our society. Do help people and share with them, no matter who you are: a giver, a taker, or a matcher. Not the point of being a giver, but being responsive is a key to success.

Learning new vocabulary became easier with Quizlet

Learning the vocabulary and terms is the difficult task for any person. A big amount of new lexis is not kept in one’s head, thus, it is important words to be practiced and recalled. Obviously, limitless of exercises and ways exist in learning new vocabulary, e.g. by repeating the word for several times, hanging stickers with words on the walls, writing a word in one language on one side and another language on the another side, switching the language in a smartphone or a computer. A widespread strategy to divide a notebook into three columns is not effective because of the high possibility to lose or tear the notebook and less possibility and time is available to rewrite it. Therefore, I would like to suggest a new approach and website to learn vocabulary – Quizlet.

Quizlet is a free online service where you can create flashcards and teaching games and practice the vocabulary. The author of this online tool,15 years old American student Andrew Sutherland, invented it when they were asked to learn 111 names of animals in French. In order to make his life easier, the teenager created the mega project which is complement by 3 million users each day and in 100 languages. The idea of this service is not complex, all you need is to register in, and add a translation or a definition of a word in the form of cards.

Quizlet offers to learn words though games by creating a list of vocabulary which is called ‘sets’. The words provided with translations might be presented as a list of definitions, images or photos with explanation. The sets created by other individuals might be changed or added into the list of your page. Making the list of words in English is not time-consuming as terms are already ready for use; you need to type the words in other languages though. Then, you may start the exercise. You can select the necessary set and learn it as it is, but it may bore a learner and is not always effective. Instead, the designers of the website propose several sorts of games for decreasing the time spend for learning and encouraging the word learning process. After practicing vocabulary, a test might be completed in order to know result. Four types of tasks are available (“multiple choice test”, “matching”, “write a word”, “true or false”), it is particularly effective when a teacher checks their learning. After having learnt each set, the statistics is constructed to trace the progress of learning. You may create a class, trace their result as well as see the record made by your students in games, which extremely advantageous in awakening students’ interest.

To sum up, this service offers a diverse range of functions: it is free and accessible, provides engaging exercises and games,  enables to trace students’ progess as well as to see the record made by students. Most importantly, it is simple and flexible tool in use which allows to learn new words easily and willingly.


Why should schools start later in the morning?

Two weeks ago we were asked to spend a couple of hours in one of Astana schools. The bus was already arranged at 8 in the morning to get us to school at 9 a.m. In order to be on time, I had to wake up at 7 o’clock. But you cannot imagine what torment I went through before getting up and was grateful for this program where classes start at 10 a.m. So while sitting in the bus and looking at my sleepy group mates, I was pity about children who had to come to school at 8 o’clock or even earlier every day. What about their parents? Definitely, mothers suffer most of all in this routine; they need to wake up the earliest, cook, dress up their children and themselves simultaneously. It is even harder, if parents are teachers…

All right, this blog is not about difficult time of teachers or teacher-parents, it is about the efficient morning time that schools should begin. So, in this blog I will attempt to find out the adequate time that classes should start referring to the recent studies.

The school start time varies around the world, ranging from 8 am to 9 am. For instance, in the UK the secondary schools start between 8.30-9.00, in Singapore at around 7.20-9.00, in the USA – 8.00-8.30, China – , South Korea – 8.30.  In public schools in Kazakhstan classes start at 8 a.m. and in private and/or independent at 8.30 a.m. But are all abovementioned periods appropriate for all ages of students? They are not, according to researchers.

“Everybody learns better when they’re awake” says Mary Carskadon, who led the study on the relationship between early school time and poor performance and test scores in 1998 (Puckett, 2016). The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends policymakers starting middle and high schools later in the morning, so teenagers obtain ample of sleep to succeed both academically and physically. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urged to change schools to a later start times as children are required to get 8.5 to 9.5 hours of nightly sleep. According to pediatricians’ group and CDC, the lack of sleep leads to serious consequences such as depression, higher rates of obesity, car accidents and poorer quality of life (Richmond, 2015).

The recent studies conducted in eight high schools Colorado, Wyoming and Minnesota with the participation of 9,000 students where school time was shifted later than 8.30, revealed staggering result. School attendance rates, grades and test scores in English, Math, and social sciences elevated highly. Moreover, research depicted a decline in substance abuse, depression, lateness and motor-vehicle crashes among adolescents (Walker, 2015).

As majority of scientists urge policy makers to start classes later than 8.30 a.m., the Harvard and Oxford experts suggest 10 a.m. as the most relevant time, because it corresponds to the “biological wake-up time” of teenagers. So they recommend schools to start classes in accordance with “biological wake-up time” of students as in the following (Walker, 2015):


“The synchronization of education to adolescent biology enables immediate advances in educational attainment and can be achieved with a relatively simple step that does not require new teaching methods, new testing or large additional expenditure…Good policies should be based on good evidence, and the data show that children are currently placed at an enormous disadvantage by being forced to keep to inappropriate education times” (Walker, 2015).

Food for thought for my group mates, the future policy makers.


Puckett, L. (2016, March 29). Science Says Your School Should Probably Start Classes Later in the Morning. Teenvogue. Retrieved from

Richmond, E. (2015, August 17). Why School Should Start Later in the Morning. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Walker, T. (2015, September 20).Despite Proven Benefits, Starting School Later Remains a ‘Tough Sell’.Neatoday. Retrieved from

[Online image]. Retrieved September 20 2015 from

Multilingual and multicultural club

Being multilingual is the strong advantage for living in multicultural society. The individual with the baggage of linguistic knowledge is flexible and universal. While talking in diverse languages he/she gains more than just communication, but the deeper understanding and, in some cases, the sense of belonging to the number of cultures. This ability shapes personal characteristics and creates the global person, who thinks broadly and globally. Living in multicultural society everyone can be involved in interethnic communication, but to make it beneficial for learning, discovering, growing personally and enabling new horizons? The answer is “Multilingual and Multicultural club”. The platform for gathering different people with different backgrounds in one place, which is beneficial for every participant. Learning languages; exploring new cultural values, traditional food, lifestyle, the upbringing of children in multiethnic families, ethics in the international context are the directions for discussing in this club.


photo credit:

Firstly, this idea came to my mind when I started to mention that my son tries to speak with English speaking children and he repeats English words after them. At the same time, those kids learn Russian from my son. Nobody planned this learning activity, it is the natural process of communication. This situation shows us that the purpose of the language is the communication and learning languages just for knowing is the deadlock. As Cenoz (2013) mentioned: “Multilingual speakers use the languages at their disposal as a resource in communication, and as their repertoire is wider, they usually have more resources available than monolingual speakers” (Cenoz, 2013, p. 11). In other words, language is the resource for exploring the world. Therefore, the existence of Multilingual and Multicultural club is the beneficial platform, which will create the atmosphere of effortless learning of languages and cultures.

What for do we need Multilingual and Multicultural clubs? In this case, Hummon indicates “community identity answers the question, “Who am I?”, but does so by countering “Where am I?” or, more fundamentally, “Where in the landscape of community forms do I belong?”” (Hummon, 1990, p. 143). Exploring others, we explore ourselves, we deeply analyze our beliefs, actions, acts and views. By doing so we learn how to respect others, be friendly, perceive community and educate next generation.

Do Multilingual and Multicultural clubs exist in other countries? They do! There are numerous of such clubs in every country. Mostly they promote their activities in social media. They are Multilingual club in JapanVancouverMalaysiaSpain, UAE ,USA , etc. Multilingualism and multiculturalism are supported everywhere all around the world. There is an information about the Multilingual club in Karaganda at the Karaganda State Medical University.

Nazarbayev University itself is the multilingual and multicultural community which may serve as the foundation for the Multicultural and Multilingual club, that’s why I am sharing my idea with you for espousing and empowering the project with new thoughts and support. Together we can amplify the club and develop the social project for preparing children and their families for trilingual education. Moreover, with the help of this club, we will demystify the advantages of multilingualism or plurilingualism in the multicultural society.

*For taking active participation in this project please contact*


Hummon, D. M. (1990). Commonplaces: Community ideology and identity in American culture. SUNY Press, p.143.

Cenoz, J. (2013). Defining multilingualism. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics33, 3. p.11.

photo credit: Kazhigalieva A. (2017) Mapping project on languages and cultures of Kazakhstan, Retrieved from:

Language revitalization: the case of Maori speech community


Back in the day, Maori people were a small indigenous tribe living in nature. They had their own lifestyle, culture and language. When Europeans settled down on their island (New Zealand) they brought English with themselves. European settlers started reclaiming the land by building cities and schools. In a while, Maori people had to move to the towns to send their children to the schools where the medium of instruction was English. Little by little, they shifted from speaking Maori to speaking English as there was no demand in their native language. This process of language shift lasted for about a century when people finally realised that they were losing their language and they have to do something.



           Benton (1997) indicated three main reasons for language shift: (1) the speakers are less in number that the other language speakers; (2) they do not have a distinct area of habitation; (3) the language is less prestigious than the other one. These factors were contributing to the decrease in use of Maori language for a long period of time. According to the author, in 1995 about 16% (44000 people) were able to communicate in Maori on a medium or high level, and 63% could understand Maori through listening. In his consequent research, Benton (2015) indicated the number of people who speak Maori well or very well (11%) relying on the survey be Department of Statistics of New Zealand. Due to the limited exposure to the language, it was natural for the speakers to lose their proficiency. The language activists and the families that wanted to revitalise their language started a campaign to bring their language back to live by doing as follows:

  • Recognition of Māori as an official language was the first step in revitalising the language. 
  • Maori Language Commission has also been established to consult the government.
  • Maori has been included into the curriculum in primary and secondary schools as a subject. Later, pre-schools with Maori medium of instruction have also been established. By 2013, about 22000 children were receiving half of their subjects in the Maori language.
  • A special day of Maori language and Maori language week (Benton, 2015).
  • The linguistic landscape of New Zealand has also been changed. Gradually, all the signs at public places started appearing in two languages.
  • New Zealand Maori Council and language activists managed to open a Maori television channel in 2008 where the programs were partially in the Maori language.maori-language-week

          Ministry of Education developed a curriculum of “full immersion” which could be afforded only by a few schools as it constituted a larger part of a national budget (Benton, 2015). Additionally, the teachers in such schools were also Maori learners who did not have a capacity to teach children to be fluent in Maori. All of this is the result of the efforts by language activists and all Maori people who pushed the government to help them. Additionally, in order to overcome the barrier, parents and teachers started visiting language courses and conversing with each other. Gradually, some families started talking Maori at home. Maori speakers visit TED talks in order to spread the awareness of Maori language and encourage people to speak it. Despite all the hardships, Maori speech community is one of the few communities who managed to revitalise and maintain their language. And it is just a beginning.  

What do you think could be applied to the language situation in Kazakhstan? Which of the steps above could be helpful to revitalize the minority languages in our country?


Benton, R. (1997). The Maori language: Dying or reviving?. New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Wellington, NZ: East West Center

Benton, R. (2015). Perfecting the partnership: Revitalizing the Maori language in New Zealand education and society 1987-2014. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 28(2), 99-112.