Category Archives: Multilingual Education

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:



Translanguaging vs. Code-switching

Two concepts of translanguaging and code-switching used in bilingual classrooms are often confused. However, they are different in terms of language interference and individuals involved in a language practice.

Garcia and Wei ( as cited in Molina & Samuelson, 2016) think that translanguaging is different from code-switching. Code-switching is seen as the process of changing two languages, whereas translanguaging is about “the speakers’ construction that creates the complete language repertoire” ( p. 3 ). To be more specific, translanguaging is a complex process of discursive practice where bilinguals know what they are saying while producing words in both languages, it is an existing controllable cognition. However different situations can be noticed, when bilingual individuals shift between two or more languages which depend on the purpose and environment of the communication. This is more of a code-switching, which Baker and Jones defined as “changing languages with a single conversation” (p.58 ). The main feature of the code-switching process is the purpose of the conversation. Mostly, code-switching is considered as linguistically incompetent ability. But it is also seen as unique ability due to the research studies conducted in the past 20 years. Baker and Jones highlighted its uniqueness as it has own rules and norms, and advanced level of complexity. Researchers also emphasized the benefits of code-switching. Martin ( as cited in Cahyani, Coursy & Barnett, 2016) suggests that code-switching is the set of “creative, pragmatic and safe practices…between the official language of the lesson and a language to which the classroom participants have a greater access’ (p.2).  Together, both code-switching and translanguaging are seen as a positive bilingual developmental process which raises a communicative ability to achieve a pedagogical aim. There is a difference in researching these areas of bilingual development as code-switching searches for “language interference and transfer” while translanguaging analyses “how bi/multilingual individuals are involved in their linguistic practice” ( Hornberger and Link, 2012, p. 267). The most important thing about code-switching is its systematic planning order used in the classroom. What Garcia, Mabule and De Beer say is that code-switching should be “responsible”, which means planned carefully in the classroom, as it develops cognitive skills of understanding any content material. Scaffolding considered as part of code-switching can be used in bilingual classrooms to develop metacognitive awareness. Translanguaging goes even further. According to Lewis, Jones, and Baker (2012), code-switching practices the notion of separating languages whereas translanguaging focuses on learning both languages at the same time without separating.

Kazakhstan, being considered as a multilingual society, could use these concepts while implementing a trilingual policy. Would it be better to focus on one concept or both concepts? What do you think?



Implicit bias or the Invisible Enemy in Education

Imagine believing in one thing, but your brain being uncooperative and believing a completely opposite thing whithout you even realising it. Changing that belief would be like fighting an invisible enemy insede of your own head. But this is something that actually happens when you think about implicit biases.

Greenwald and Krieger (2006) describe implicit bias as “unconscious mental processes that has substantial bearing on discrimination” (p. 946). This means that sometimes, despite consciously believing in the right thing, people may exhibit discriminatory practices, such as more severe punishments for African-American students for misconduct (Staats, 2014).  The concept is explained in a more detailed manner by Staats (2016), showing the division between the Explicit/Implicit cognition as two separate systems which can differ within a single individual.

There is a growing body of research on the topic of implicit bias, and some scientists are looking into the possible influence of such bias on educational outcomes of certain groups of students. A system of measuring implicit biases has been devised, called the Implicit Associations Test or IAT, which draws upon your “response latency (i.e., reaction time)” (Staats, 2016, p. 35) to certain visual cues or, in other words, the relative speed of your responses to several tasks (Greenwald & Krieger, 2006). There are various IAT types such as Race (Black-White, Native American, Asian American, Skin-tone), Disability, Sexuality, Religion, Weight, Gender, Age, etc. (Project Implicit, 2011). But the ones most researched in connection with education are Race (Staats, 2016), Weight (Lynagh, Cliff, & Morgan, 2015), Gender (Jackson, Hillard, & Schneider, 2013).

To improve the quality of education overall, the influence of implicit biases needs to be taken into account and tackled in future teachers’ training. As Staats (2014) emphasizes “raising awareness of the existence of unconscious biases is a vital first step of working toward their negation” (p. 1). This shows the need to raise awareness of educators on this issue.

As our brains are the most powerful tools at our disposal, I believe that it is better to use them to achieve mutual cooperation between our explicit beliefs and the implicit beliefs held by our cognition.

Картинки по запросу implicit bias


Greenwald, A. G., & Krieger, L. H. (2017). Implicit bias: Scientific foundations. California Law Review, 94(4), 945–967.

Jackson, S. M., Hillard, A. L., & Schneider, T. R. (2014). Using implicit bias training to improve attitudes toward women in STEM. Social Psychology of Education, 17(3), 419–438.

Lynagh, M., Cliff, K., & Morgan, P. J. (2015). Attitudes and beliefs of nonspecialist and specialist trainee health and physical education teachers toward obese children: Evidence for “Anti-Fat” bias. Journal of School Health, 85(9), 595–603.

Project Implicit. (2011). Retrieved from

Staats, C. (2016). Understanding implicit bias. Education Digest, 82(1), 29–38. Retrieved from

Staats, C. (2014). Federal Government Recognizes the Role of Implicit Bias in School Discipline Disparities. Kirwan Institute Analysis. Retrieved from

Picture credit: Implicit bias illustrated: “Our Kind of People” by Bayeté Ross Smith 

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Harry Potter and WHAT?

In many ways, we only write and read for predominantly academic purposes. But what if we thought more about what is it like to write for our own enjoyment? What if we actually taught children to do that? Some people engage in such behaviours, and they are not necessarily professional writers. A lot of the people who enjoy writing try their hand in something called “fanfiction”, which is writing short stories based on your favourite movies, tv-shows or even books. Some are just novice attempts at writing, some turn into big international franchises (ahem, 50 Shades), and some are just meant for your enjoyment just like any book out there.

I believe that it would be beneficial to provide children in schools with opportunities to write on the topics which captivate them in the manner similar to fanfiction, instead of forcing them to write on strictly regulated topics, such as “What I did last summer”. This will lead to more creativity and potential love for writing, which is often missing if we think about schoolchildren.

To support my point, I will introduce the greatest piece of fanfiction I have ever encountered for the judgement of future professionals in the field of education.

However, it is hard to call “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality” by Eliezer Yudkowsky, a “fanfic” in the sense in which the word is usually perceived. It is not often that you find scientists who study Artificial Intelligence writing fanfiction.

Imagine a parallel universe, in which Petunia marries a university professor instead of Dursley, and Harry grows up in a drastically different environment. Private tutors, discussions with his father, and most importantly – books, thousands and thousands of scientific and fictional books are at his disposal. As a result, at the age 11, Harry knows the basics of quantum mechanics, probability theory, and other important scientific fields.
This tale follows the Harry Potter storyline with adjustments to his brand-new rational outlook and scientific approach to life, and at the same time describes various methods of rationality. You will encounter new information from the fields of psychology, physics and cognitive sciences. Some of the examples include the Asch conformity experiment, Bayes’ theorem, Genovese syndrome and many other fascinating concepts.

Now, just imagine students inspired enough by the chance to write about what they like in school becoming writers, and creating something as wonderful in the future.



Yudkovsky, E. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2017, from

It’s all decided.

This summer thousands of teachers from all parts of the country are going to take the English language course. This is another big step of Kazakhstani policy for the bigger goal of improving the educational system.  What might this bring to teachers, “planters the seeds of knowledge”, “gardeners” “artists”, and, as some policy makers call them, “performers of reforms”? To answer this question let’s turn to philosophies of education. Yes, you have got it right, not policy, but philosophy. While the former is the set of rules and regulations to govern an educational system, the latter might shed more light on the answer, as it addresses the sense, the purpose and major problems in education.

The omnipresent, yet important, notion “student centered teaching and learning” evolved from the educational philosophy of existentialism. Existentialism is philosophical thinking which centres existence as central for human beings. The supporters of the existentialist thought believe that the existence and its purpose are determined by individuals’ decisions or actions. The truth, according to them, is relative conception, the matter of individual choice (Sanderson, 2004). As an example, a single historical event can be interpreted differently by the authors in various times. The truth is what an individual decides to be true. Although this philosophical movement has been debunked by rationalists and empiricists, it remains to be one of the focal in contemporary education, at least in Western societies (Sanderson, 2004, Higgs, 2012).

In education specifically, existentialism is built around the freedom of choice, where individuals (administrators, teachers, students) can choose and be responsible for their decisions. It accepts individualism in schooling, fosters independence and develops decision making and problem solving skills (Sanderson, 2004). It is rather individual oriented than student centered approach to learning and teaching.

The article “Moving out of the cellar” by Kline &Abowitz (2013), in supporting existentialism as “fundamental value for teachers” (p.159), presents the voices of teachers who experience “ambiguity and contingency” due to “contemporary classroom working conditions”, where “success exclusively evaluated by hyper-standardized, quantitative measures” (p. 156):

  •  What happened to my creativity? What happened to the fun in teaching and learning? What Happened? (G. E. Johnson)
  • I don’t know what else I could do, having wanted to teach all my life, I feel I am being forced out, forced to choose between a life and teaching. (Name not supplied) (Kline &Abowitz, 2013p. 158)

The article argues that teacher preparation programs, workshops, professional development courses are designed according to and constrained by “strategies”, outcomes, “rubrics”, and assessment rates, leaving little room for reflective and inventive practice (p. 166).  The authors warn that “the teacher identity becomes less open, more closed to individual critical and creative work/play” (p. 166). High expectations from a professional cause teacher frustration and, as a consequence, lack of confidence  . The article turns attention to the existentialist view of teacher independence, accountability and courage in making decisions as a driving kernel towards teaching and learning improvements (Kline &Abowitz, 2013).

The upcoming courses will set a new bar for teachers to overcome. Regardless the age, socio-economical and educational backgrounds of participants, they are expected to take the course and, eventually, to demonstrate certain level of the English language proficiency in a short period.  The answer to the question that it may add more anxiety and fear to already loaded and demotivating work is less disturbing than the fact, that the decision for better teaching practice, has been made for teachers without any choice. This goes against the existentialist philosophy of education, though might go alongside the trilingual policy.

Image: 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?



The positive aspects of acquiring a “dominant language”

Картинки по запросу dominance

Nowadays the existence of minor and major languages in the world led us to raise the problem of human rights.  The discrepancy among the status of languages that is becoming the reason of intercultural disagreement was and is still the major concern of many researchers.  In this blog I am going to share my views about the article “Derrida’s Le monolinguisme de l’autre: Linguistic Educational Rights” written by Denise Egea-Kuehne that aims “to explore Derrida’s Le monolinguisme de l’autre to discuss the impossibility of absolute monolingualism demanded by linguistic imperialism, and the multiplicity inherent in any language” (p.111).  In my analysis, I emphasized the positive aspects of acquiring a “dominant language”. I do not consider the loss of language, culture, and identity, as a consequence of this “dominant language” being imposed to the detriment of the mother or native language. I would like to recommend reading the whole article with in mind the main question posed by author concerning the dilemma for educators to teach the needed main language, or the more widely known and used language, while respecting and preserving the minority languages.  The whole article is divided into several subtopics dedicated to pertinent linguistic and sociocultural issues. This post particularly will dwell on one of the subtopics of this work which is called “The other language: linguistic imperialism.”

Egea-Kuehne (1999) in this chapter discusses the role of dominant languages in different linguistic contexts. She claims that there is a crucial necessity of using dominant languagues for minor ethnicities.  The dominant language is the sole language with the help of which minorities are able to communicate with other countries and nationalities. As Crystal (2003) claims that linguistic imperalism strengthens the language itself, and it is beneficial for communities which are willing to be involved in the modern world society. Moreover, according to De Jong (2011), the language of imperalism is the way “to gain access to knowledge, international trade opportunities, cultural events” ( p. 93).

Further, Egea-Kuehne (1999) describes the occurrence of linguistic imperialism in different contexts. According to her analysis of different countries’ linguistic cases, Egea-Kuehne (1999) concludes that in most countries the acquisition of foreign language was mainly forced rather than acquired in a voluntary way. She presents the case of Indian children who were forbidden to speak their native language and forced to learn English by making them to forget even about their religion, culture and identity. Unfortunately, the same situation can be seen in the Kazakhstani context too. When Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union, the forced imposition of the Russian language (in that time it was the dominant one) led the Kazakh people to  losing their national identity. As a result, after gaining independence, Kazakhstan was the only post-soviet country where non-titular nations were prevailing the native one.

Egea-Kuehne (1999) also maintains that preserving the national value of any language is very important as well as the education in the dominant language . She says that education in the dominant language allows to fortify the communciation with other countries “as broadly as possible” (p.112). She gives examples in which education in “other” language could save Drassus’s nation from slavery, and also helped American writer Maya Angelou to escape from “silence, loniless, oppression and abuse” (p.112).  In this sense, the Russian language played a positive role in Kazakhstan development and its people enlightment too. Fierman (2006) states that due to the Russification policy, the Russian language became a “valuable asset for upward and social mobility” (p.89) for the Kazakh nation. Indeed, due to the Russian language acquisition, our country could establish international relations during the first years of independence. Due to the knowledge of the Russian language, the Kazakh people began to take part in international competitions. Particularly, the Russian literature opened the door to world classic literature because the translations were only in Russian.

To sum up, from thought-provoking views with supportive evidences about linguistic imperialism in the article “Derrida’s Le monolinguisme de l’autre: Linguistic Educational Rights” by Denise Egea-Kuehne, it might be concluded that appropriation of dominant languages does not diminish the minorities’ linguistic human rights, but instead, it offers various opportunities to be one of the leading countries in the world.


Crystal, D. (2003). Why English? The cultural legacy. In English as a Global Language.            Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

De Jong, E. (2011). Linguistic diversity and globalization. In Foundations for Multilingualism in           Education: From Principles to Practice (83-101). Philadelphia, PA: Caslon Inc.

Egea-Kuehne, D. (1999). Derrida’s Le monolinguisme de l’autre: Linguistic Educational

Fierman, W. (2006).  Language and education in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan: Kazakh-medium       instruction in urban schools. Russian Review, 65(1), 98-116.

Photo credits to,d.d24&psig=AFQjCNGcQiC0Zjeq9iulIMntT2Ze21FdZQ&ust=1491762554844306


An overview for the language of “Chinese-looking Muslims speaking Russian”!


What historical events affected its formation? I am quite acquainted with the comparisons for the word “Kazakh” like “The Land of the Great Steppe”, “The Alash”, “The Land of Nomads” and “The Eternal Country”. However the comparison with “Chinese-looking Muslims speaking Russian” was quite unusual, yet it sounded right! The reason why Kazakh look Chinese is because of the Mongol Invasion in 13th century, Kazakh are Muslims because of the Arab missionary activities which started in 8th century Kazakh also speak Russian because Kazakhstan has been a part of the USSR, where the state language was Russian. Kazakh alphabet changed 4 times: ancient Turkic runic writing (3-8 centuries), Arabic script until 1920-s, Latin alphabet was used in 1929 and current Cyrillic alphabet since 1940. Due to this issue the parallel can be made with a relatively deliberate process of linguistic imperialism of Russian over Kazakh which occurred through specific policies as well as discursive practices (Phillipson, 1992).

What’s so special about Kazakh language? What is the current situation with it? Kazakh language is unique in its own way. It is the state language of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It is estimated that it is spoken by 64.4% of the country’s 18-million population with its use strongly promoted by the government. Today the estimated number of its speakers reached for 15 million people (CIA World Factbook, 2017). It turns out that there are quite a large number of people who even think that Kazakh is a dialect of Russian! Kazakh and Russian languages are totally different languages. Kazakh belongs to Altaic languages being a part of the Turkic language group while Russian belongs to Indo-European languages being a part of the Slavic language group. The current Cyrillic alphabet contains 42 letters, 33 of them taken from the Russian alphabet and 9 specifically designed to represent Kazakh sounds (Thompson, 2014).


What is the future of Kazakh language? The President Nazarbayev addressed to the people of Kazakhstan “Strategy Kazakhstan-2050” (2012) that the Cyrillic-based would be replaced by a Latin-based script with a presumption time that the change would take place by 2025. The Latin script is believed to lead Kazakhstan to greater global integration. Nowadays it is very important to promote Kazakh language especially among youth. Every citizen of Kazakhstan must remember that Kazakh language is the treasure of our ancestors for all people living in Kazakhstan which should be carefully appreciated and left to the future generation to be inherited with pride!


CIA World Factbook. (2017). Central Asia: Kazakhstan. Retrieved from

Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Photo credits to

Strategy “Kazakhstan-2050”. (2012). Retrieved from:

Thompson, I. (2014). Kazakh. Retrieved from

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