Category Archives: Multilingual Education

Language Variation (Data Interpretation)

The song “Waka Waka” is sung by Colombian pop-singer Shakira and South African Afro-fusion band Freshly Ground. It became hit in 2010, as the song had been chosen as an official song of football World Cup. According to the lead singer Shakira (www.songfacts.com), the World Cup delineates an event that can “unite and integrate every country, race, religion, and condition around a single passion”. So, the main focus of the song is the vigour that is able to connect all of them. Primarily the “Waka Waka” is in English, however there are some cases when Shakira shifts to Spanish and African languages. As the part which is sung by band Freshly Ground, a lead vocalist Zolani Mahola (2010) states that it is in Xhosa language. It was noted by Coupland and Schilling-Estes (cited in Jaspers, 2010) that people mostly change the style in reply to the public or their partners rather than the attention they pay to their speech. It might be the same with the change of languages. Singers may represent their song in different languages, as they have listeners from all the parts of the world, and their main aim might be to make it comprehensible for each person, who listens to the song. In this paper, reasons for the different language usage in the song will be analysed. Qualitative analytical approach is applied to describe principles that influence singers’ shift to different languages.

The title of the song “Waka Waka” means “a flame that’s getting higher and higher” (Mahola, 2010). The reason for why the song is predominantly in English might be that English is considered as a “global language”, which means “a language achieves a genuinely global status when it develops a special role that is recognized in every country” (Crystal, 2003, p. 3). So, even English is not their mother tongue, people learn it as a foreign language. Therefore, it may be possible that they have an opportunity to speak and understand speech in this language, in this particular case they are able to comprehend the meaning of the song. Also, the line in Spanish – Y vamos por todo, which is translated as “we will follow others” – can be found in the middle of the song. Cameron (1995) noted that “who you are depends on how you act” (p. 16). The use of Spanish language may be the case that Shakira (singer) wants to show her national identity, as she is a Colombian and her mother tongue is Spanish. She adds (acts) Spanish language to the English song, and makes it clear she is from Spanish speaking country (who she is). In terms of the last part of chorus, it has African and English languages shift.

Tsamina mina zangalewa
Cause this is Africa

Tsamina mina eh eh
Waka waka eh eh

Tsamina mina zangalewa

This time for Africa

It was borrowed from the hit “Zangaléwa”, which is by makossa (Cameroonian popular urban musical style) group Golden Sounds. According to the information given on the website www.hubpages.com (2010), there is an argument that in Fang (African) language “Tsamina mina zangalewa” means “Who sent you?”, so it might serve as a question “Where are you?” or “Why are you here?” in this song, since footballers come from all over the world to the football World Cup. Another version can be found on this website that “Zangaléwa” is from Ewondo (another African language) “Loé wa za anga?”, which is translated as “Who called you?”. The original song might have been devoted to soldiers to encourage them to the battle, therefore “Loé wa za anga?” is a question that one may be asked if they complain about the harshness of the military life. However, in this song it may have the same meaning as in Fang language.

There is also another part which is in Xhosa language (also African), sung by the band Freshly Ground:

Ame la mejole biggi biggi mubbo wa A to Z
Asi tsu zala makyuni biggi biggi mubbo from East to West
Asi waga waga ma eh eh waga waga ma eh eh
Tendency suna tsibuye ’cause this is Africa (Africa, Africa Africa)

This part might be possible to have a meaning of invitation of all players to come to Africa and take part in the World Cup.

Overall, the different languages in this song might have been used for a reason. English has a global language status and is comprehensible for most of the population of the world. Spanish reveals the main singer’s national identity. As for the use different African languages, it emphasizes the fact that the football World Cup takes place in Africa and adds African style to the song.

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Analysis of the video “Voice-Recognition Elevator in Scotland”

We often hear people say that someone has “such a strong accent”, or complain that his or her accent is “difficult to understand”, or, vice- versa, compliment highlighting how it is “lovely”. Having an accent means uttering the words in a specific way, which is usually influenced by the geographic location or social features of the speaker (Crystal, 2008). It shouldn’t be confused with a dialect since accent doesn’t imply distinguishing features in grammar and vocabulary. In some cases, the same language speakers from different parts of the world may misunderstand each other because of those pronunciation peculiarities. Therefore, people appear to ascribe a particular way of speaking to this or that country or city. Such stereotype is reflected in the video which was selected for interpretation that shows the attempts of English speakers with a Scottish accent to imitate American and British accents.

The purpose of this analysis is to explore the beliefs that the manners of American and British accents imitations imply in the Youtube video “Burnistoun- Voice Recognition Elevator in Scotland”. Therefore, I used a qualitative approach. To achieve my goal, I examined how the speakers pronounced the word “eleven” when trying to say it in American and British style. That would explain the way they perceive American and British accents. Along with that, I decided to pay attention to the phrases they used in their conversation in order to understand their beliefs. I couldn’t leave out the comments since there were some which added up evidence to the pattern that I found from the video. So, I analyzed them too.

Aforementioned video is a sketch from a comedy sketch-show called “Burnistoun”. The incidence takes place in the elevator with an installed voice-recognition system. Two Scottish men are stuck in it because the system doesn’t recognize their accent. In order to get to the floor they were heading for, one by one they try to imitate American and British accents. However, their attempts fail (VideoFunStation, 2011).

I noticed several techniques that they used. When trying to imitate American and British accents for the word “eleven”, the men changed the way they pronounced the vowel sounds. In the beginning, they used their own, Scottish, accent and I heard it as [әlevn]. However, when their manner of speaking wasn’t identified, they decided to try American accent and pronounced the word as [ilәvn]. After seeing that it wasn’t working they used British accent and said [әlәvәn]. Along with that, every time when changing their accent, they had to repeat the word several times. While repeating the word, they tended to break it down into syllables, presumably, in order to be intelligible. Moreover, use of the body movements was spotted. The second speaker moved his shoulders forward when he was imitating British accent which, I think, was intended to support his British sounding. One of the commenters noticed it too, he/she pointed out that it is an imitation of not only pronunciation but also of the Londoners’ habit while speaking:

“I’m from London, and it cracks me up when he does the english accent…puts a bit of cockney shoulder into it lol. Classic sketch “(VideoFunStation, 2011).

In this way, the vowel sounds’ change, thorough pronunciation, and body language support were observed in the process of attempting to sound like an American or Englishman.

The manner of “speaking” with American or British accent reveals the perceptions of those characters regarding how they think American or English people sound like. Those beliefs are usually constructed by the society (Giles, 1970). However, in this case, there appears controversy between two Scottish men about how American and British English should sound. The attempt of the first one made the another to oppose him saying it didn’t sound like American at all. In his turn, the second gentleman tried to imitate British accent but ended up being criticized the same way. This might indicate that the representatives of the same community don’t necessarily share identical beliefs about this or that language variation.

Another thing that caught my attention is that American accent was used in the first instance. I believe starting from British accent would be more logical for Scottish people since England and Scotland are the parts of the same kingdom. So, in the end, I came up with two possible explanations. American accent might be considered to be more popular, therefore, more likely to be recognized by the voice-activated elevator. My second interpretation of this is that the voice itself spoke American English which was noticeable not only by its pronunciation but by the word “elevator”, which the voice used. According to the Oxford Dictionaries’ website (n.d.), “elevator” is the US variant for the UK’s “lift”. Thus, their choice of American English could be the attempt to comply with their “interlocutor”.

The video also presents the stance on Glaswegian accent as well:

– Voice-recognition technology? In a lift? In Scotland? You ever tried voice-recognition technology?

– No.

– They don’t do Scottish accents (VideoFunStation, 2011).

This fragment is taken from the beginning when they haven’t tried anything yet. The first speaker predicted that their voices wouldn’t be recognized. In my opinion, that was based not on his experience, in case of which, I believe, they wouldn’t even try Scottish accent, but on the awareness of the hierarchy of British and American accents, even in their own hometown.

Another message, which I got from this video, is that Scottish accent is difficult to understand. One of the commenters wrote:

“I don’t get it. When he says “eleven”, it sounds more like the way I say it than any other accent he tried. (I’m from Minnesota, US.) Half the things they said I had a hard time understanding, but “eleven” sounded exactly like how I say it. Or is that somehow the joke, that it can’t understand “eleven” because it’s a Scottish accent, even though it in truth sounds pretty much the same in almost every accent? I’m probably missing something basic here” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

This commenter assumes that the machine refuses to accept the command “because it’s a Scottish accent”, which I would interpret as something different, unintelligible to be specific, compared with American and British accents. Actually, Scottish commenters confirm it on the comment section:

“This is literally what would go on if this were real xD” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

“Seen it and its so true” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

“OMG, I can’t stop watching and crying with laughter at this clip. It’s so true! Bloody voice recognition technology never understands a Scottish accent. I have so many friends who would react in the same way these guys would if they were stuck in this lift, PMSL” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

“I’m living in Edinburgh and… yes, it may happen :D” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

“Haha this is so funny I’m from Scotland myself and it’s dead true tbh” (VideoFunStation, 2011).

Overall, the video shows the struggles of Scottish people when their accents are not understood by others. Unfortunately, technologies with such voice-recognition system are put to use for real. But the more disappointing thing is that people tend not to take into consideration language variations. In my opinion, such practices limit the rights and opportunities of the people who don’t speak the standard language. Therefore, referring to this sketch I would recommend addressing the requirements of all the speech community representatives in the society when creating the technologies which “facilitate people’s lives”. In case of impossibility to install all the varieties of the certain language, it would be eligible to leave the option of using the previous technique of utilizing that technology, that is, buttons in the situation with this elevator.

The analysis of the Youtube video “Burnistoun- Voice Recognition Elevator in Scotland” revealed that the stereotypes regarding the accents are not always formed by society as a whole, in some cases representatives of the same speech community perceive the other variations of their language differently; possible explanations for giving an advantage to the specific accent could be adaptation to the accent of the dialogue partner or hierarchy of the language variations. The scriptwriters and actors excellently showed the difficulties which the speakers of less “popular” language variations face in reality. Ignoring the existence of that diversity may lead to the reoccurrence of such unpleasant situation, however, this time, it might be not rehearsed and experienced by ordinary people.

 

 

References

Accent. (2008). In D. Crystal, Language library: A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.nu.edu.kz:2359/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/bkdictling/accent/0?institutionId=7630

British and American terms. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/usage/british-and-american-terms

Giles, H. (1970). Evaluative reactions to accents. Educational Review, 22 (3), 211-227. DOI: 10.1080/0013191700220301

VideoFunStation. (2011, September 7). Burnistoun- Voice Recognition Elevator in Scotland [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAz_UvnUeuU&t=1s

To translate or not to translate?

 

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photo credit: https://theviewfromsarisworld.com/2015/10/14/the-not-quite-nihilistic-question-to-be-or-not-to-be/

A recent assignment on Academic Kazakh brought up another controversial issue related to Kazakh language – translating international words and terminology into Kazakh. The task involved checking and correcting the translations done by previous year students. Reporting and reflecting on the completed work triggered a heated debate in class on some issues connected with translating terminology.

Firstly, some, including me, were in doubt whether we have the right to make up new words in Kazakh, if we ourselves are just learning Academic Kazakh. Others felt that we, as researchers in the field, are responsible for translating, as “If not us, who?” For example, the word “translanguaging” is used a lot in multilingual education and is researched by several of my group mates. However, it does not have a translation in Kazakh. Well, it did not have until one of my group mates translated it as “транстілдесу” [transtildesu], which, in my opinion, sounds nice and is an example of a successful translation.

Another controversial issue was translation of words which are internationally common. Some students held an opinion that words like “context” do not need to be translated because it confuses people. The word is translated into Kazakh as “мәнмәтін”, whereas in Spanish it is “context”, in Italian “contest”, “context” in French, “контекст” in Russian, “kontekst” in Uzbek and “kontekstində” in Azaerbaijan. Others thought that people will get used to new words as they did in case of words like “сынып” [synyp] (class) and “пайыз” [payiz] (per cent) which were met skeptically when introduced in the 1990s.

Finally, some students mentioned that translations of some words were more like definitions rather than equivalents. For instance, “magnet school” was translated as “жеке пәндерді тереңдетіп оқытатын арнайы мектеп” (literally: the school which offers specialist tuition in a particular subject). The argument for such translation was that we need to think of the ordinary people who are not experts in the field as for them leaving “bullying” as “буллинг” does not make sense, whereas its definition does. However, others argued that people can look up the definition of the term when needed in a thesaurus or defining dictionary as we do with medical or other terminology.

What do you think?

Language Variation: Kazakh dialects

 

“Languages, like living species, evolve, grow, change, live, and die in relation to other languages and also in relation to their environment” (Hornberger, 2002, p. 33). So, with this word I want to emphasize that one language can be varying in different forms according to different places. The term language variety is also can be understood as a different interpretation of one language, which depends on social, regional or contextual patterns (Jaspers, 2010). Everybody has differences in the way of speaking, including pronunciation, grammar using structure, and vocabulary in one language in a particular place, and this variety of a language is called a dialect (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000).  I am going to analyze a videoclip of Kazakh famous singer Serik Ibragimov with the song “Kazakhpyz barimiz” which can be translated as “All of us are Kazakhs”,  where he clearly illustrates different dialects in different parts of Kazakhstan. According to Coupland (2007),  dialect can be characterized as a perspective of different experience, not just a variation and its styles can be described as a social action, which illustrates a local identity.

Serik Ibragimov in his song illustrates the most common Kazakh dialects such as Northern Kazakh, Southern Kazakh, Eastern Kazakh and Western Kazakh dialects. One of the founders of Kazakh linguistics Sarsen Amanzholov claims that these different types of dialects are determined according to territorial basis, not by tribal structures (Kazakh encyclopedia, 2015). These different dialects are closely related to each another, although it has some regional peculiarities. So, let us take a look at the interpretation of the song’s lyrics and determine some of the dialects there.

At the beginning of the song he claims that there are different language varieties and customs in every region of Kazakhstan ranging from Altai mountains to Atyrau region, from Esyl and Zhaiyk rivers to the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Then, in the first part of the song he added Southern dialect to the song. There are some words which is similar with some Uzbek words, or their pronunciation. It can be impact of Uzbek boundary close to South region of Kazakhstan.

Standard Kazakh language Southern dialect English translation
Ol zhakta Oyakta There, in that place
Erkin Beimaral Feeling free, comfortable
Kai zhakta Kayakta In any place, wherever
Tate Apshe Aunt
Aga Koke Uncle
Oibai! (interjection) Oliaa! Woo!


Then, he continued his song in the second part with presenting the Western Kazakh dialect, the place of the powerful Younger clan (zhuz) of Kazakh tribe, which has a specific pronunciation and vocabulary pattern:

Standard Kazakh language Western dialect English translation
Ne khabar? Ne khayar? What news?
Goi Goo Well (meaning smth.)
Sau bolshy Say bosh Good bye
Nemene? Ne zat? What?
Tynda Tyndashish Listen


In the next part, the singer switched to the Eastern dialect with the specific pronunciation of consonant ‘ch’ instead of ‘sh’. This may be an influence of the Great Silk way road which went through South-Eastern part of Kazakhstan to China and nomadic style of nations and people of that time may had an impact on pronunciation which remain till our time (Kazakh Encyclopedia, 2015).

Standard Kazakh language Eastern dialect English translation
Shygys Chygys The East
Shalkyp zhatkan Chalkyp Wide
Zhatkan Chatkan Laid,  situate

 And the singer in his final part of the song mentioned the Northern dialect with the specific pronunciation of some vowels in soft way. The Northern region is described in the song as cold place with strong windy weather, however the singer enjoys the place of extreme weather and warm people.

Standard Kazakh language Northern dialect English translation
Kulakh Kuliyakh Ears
Tymakh Tymiakh Hat

At the end of the song the singer mentioned all the parts of Kazakhstan, and he strongly believed that Kazakh language with its beautiful various dialects should not be divided into national or regional subgroups. As we can see from this song, there are several language variations, especially dialectical variation (Nordquist, 2017) of four different regions. It can be observed that these dialects were different by grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation in each region. The Kazakh language is rich and wide, and it has lots of variations throughout Kazakhstan.  I have noticed that some of them are extremely different from Standard Kazakh language, others are slightly different. Despite that fact, dialects might be recognized by many Kazakh people. Nevertheless there is an every hope that Kazakh young generation and people from different parts of Kazakhstan might understand each other and accept these dialects with high tolerance and respect. The author and the singer of this song have an explicit objective of ensuring that every Kazakh people or citizen have an access to live in peace and harmony, no matter what ethnicity or culture you belonged to,  wherever you are from, and what dialect you use in ordinary life.

References

Coupland, N. (2007) Style. Language Variation and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press.

Ibragimov,S. (2017).  Kazakhpyz barimiz\ All of us are Kazakhs. Video retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_wijc5hTZc

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 http://www.ebrary.com.

Nordquist, R. (2017). Linguistic Variation. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-linguistic-variation-1691242

The American Heritage dictionary of the English language. (2000). Boston :Houghton Mifflin.

The Kazakh encyclopedia, (2015).  Dialekty kazakhskogo yazyka\ Dialects of Kazakh language. Retrieved from: http://ru.encyclopedia.kz/index.php/dialekty_kazakhskogo_yazyka

Code-switching as a strategy for a social cohesion in Kazakhstan (data interpretation)

Kazakhstani society has been featured by the dominance of linguistic purism at least on an official level (Fierman, 2006). Monoglossic ideology also retained during independence with Kazakh language promoting policy and such linguistic practices as code-switching, that is, the use of both languages in the same sentence was academically and politically despised (Muysken, 1995). Although, as it was mentioned above, code-switching was an unfavorable phenomenon especially on official levels, it turned to be widely practiced among both russified and Kazakh-speaking population. Code-switching along with code-mixing became an indispensable part of linguistic practices of bilinguals, that was considered as a “colloquial language use” (Muhamedowa, 2009). The practice of mixing languages in some cases became a means of claiming identity or the demonstration of belonging to a certain community, for example, international school students’ use of code-switching in their daily conversation (Akynova, Zharkynbekova, Agmanova, Aimoldina, & Dalbergenova, 2014). The following data interpretation is based on about two-minute long video clip called “Мен казакпын” (“I’m Kazakh”)  made by Ivanov, a Kazakhstani blogger of Russian origin, who uses code-switching attributed to his Kazakh affinity. The author is known for creating his comic videos about social life in Kazakhstan, which sometimes reflect main issues in a society and satires on such detrimental phenomena as corruption, high-rolling habits, the low responsibility of government bodies.

YouTube blogger Fim Ivanov published his video clip of a song “Men kazakpyn” right before the celebration of Peoples of Kazakhstan Unity Day, which he remarked at the description box. Meaning of the word “peoples” here attributes to “nations”, which symbolically reminds us that the 1st of May is the day of celebration of other nationalities of Kazakhstan, indicates this video as his tribute to the solidarity and peace among other ethnicities of Kazakhstan.

Use of intersentential code-switching in the first line of the song “Я казах”, “Meн казакпын” (“I’m Kazakh”, first sentence in Russian, second in Kazakh); “Весит кредит”, “Мен Туркияга кеттим” (I have a credit (Russian), I’m going to Turkey (Kazakh) and intrasentential in such utterances as “Казахша сойле, а то,” (“Speak Kazakh (KZ), otherwise” (RUS), “Дома сижу, мен шай ишемин” (“Sitting at home (RUS), having a tea (KZ)”, etc. illustrate that author wanted to become appropriate to Kazakhs’ lifestyle and demonstrated it through adding Kazakh phrases or words to his Russian text, or changing his name “Fima” to more Kazakh styled “Fimeke”. But then, the presence of grammatical mistakes in phrases and a lack of Kazakh typical letters, that were substituted with Russian alternative letters in words like “ишемин” (“drinking”) instead of Kazakh letter “і”, or “казахпынгой” instead of “қазақпын ғой”, where several letters have been kept in Russian, and grammatically were incorrect: two separate words were connected. At the first sight, those mistakes and Ivanov’s poor Kazakh pronunciation may seem to be the result of low language competence of the blogger, but his description near the title reveals another point:

“For those who do not understand why there are errors in the text. This is done deliberately, as many Kazakhs do not know their language. And when those people start talking it, they are immediately humiliated. When you speak abroad, in bad English, you will simply be corrected or kept quiet. Do not necessarily discourage people from speaking the Kazakh language, everyone will learn it in the future. Peace for everyone!”

This message explicitly conveys the author’s attitude towards the state language, his belief that it will be acquired by majorities. He draws public’s attention to Kazakh-speaking part of the population, so-called “nagyz” (“true”) Kazakhs opposed to those who do not or hardly ever speaks Kazakh – “shala” (“half”) Kazakhs. The first one tends to react aggressively to the latter who are not fluent in Kazakh, even in those cases when “shala-Kazakhs” are learning it, but struggle with speaking. Hence, the author calls “nagyz” Kazakhs for understanding and compassion to Kazakh learners, not endless shameful blaming. Moreover, author through the use code-switching implicitly shows how language can be learned with the help of the first language and “one nation-one language ideology” not always works effectively (Woolard, & Schieffelin, 1994).

Another distinctive feature of a song is its ambiguity, presence crossing or possible absence of it. Crossing is a form of code-switching that is executed by a performer who tries through that to become closer to the imitated language or language community (Rampton, 1998). However, Ivanov tries to imitate Kazakhs through depicting their lifestyle in a stigmatized manner: he collects and names well-known sometimes infamous facts from everyday lives of Kazakhs, such as endless tea parties with excessive consumption of it, a habit of coming late to weddings, a necessity of having friendship with influential individual and impractical high-rolling of money even at the expense of low family budget. The audience in the comments section has been divided into two different groups: those who support the author and claim his crossing in lyrics have positivity, and others, who asserted Ivanov was mocking at Kazakhs and was focused only on flaws based on stereotypes. Personally, I could not find any offense in the video content and in the song, except the use of features of stereotypes about Kazakh culture, which I am sure were used for humoristic effect.

To conclude, the author demonstrates how through code-switching a universal language may be shaped for both nagyz-Kazakhs and shala-Kazakhs, bilinguals and thus, viable in conversation. Following his claim on keeping tolerance, understanding and positive attitude towards those who learn the Kazakh language for more than longtime Kazakhstani society will witness gradual full acquisition of a state language and will not kill Russophones’ desire to learn it.

His video encourages interethnic solidarity and harmony in Kazakhstani society who barely speak state language, but could use code-switching for communication. Also, it develops patriotism among Kazakhstanis, when they see a young non-Kazakh man performing in a popular among young people trap style and claiming his Kazakh national identity through his own language.

References:
Akynova, D., Zharkynbekova, S., Agmanova, A., Aimoldina, A., & Dalbergenova, L. (2014). Language choice among the youth of Kazakhstan: English as a self-representation of prestige. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 143, 228-232.

Fierman, W. (2006). Language and education in post-Soviet Kazakhstan: Kazakh-medium instruction in urban schools. Russian Review, 65(1), 98–116. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9434.2005.00388.x

Matuszkiewicz, R. (2010). The language issue in Kazakhstan-institutionalizing new ethnic relations after Independence. Economic and Environmental Studies, 10(2), 211-227. Retrieved from http://www.ees.uni.opole.pl/content/02_10/ees_10_2_fulltext_03.pdf

Muhamedowa, R. (2009). The use of Russian conjunctions in the speech of bilingual Kazakhs. International Journal of Bilingualism, 13(3), 331-356.

Muysken, P. (1995). Code-switching and grammatical theory. In L. Milroy, & P. Muysken. One speaker, two languages: cross-disciplinary perspectives on code-switching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rampton, B. (1998). Language crossing and the redefinition of reality. Code-switching in conversation: Language, interaction and identity, 290-317.

Woolard, K. A., & Schieffelin, B. B. (1994). Language Ideology. Annual Review of Anthropology, 23(1), 55–82. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.23.100194.000415

 

HANAWON: RE-EDUCATION OF NORTH KOREANS

hanawon-copy

photo credit: https://www.nknews.org/2015/07/what-hanawon-doesnt-teach-north-korean-defectors

Images of North Korea circulating on the web give a glimpse of the hardships commoners face there; a few succeed to flee to the developed South seeking a better life. Curious to know how escapees adapt to new life in South Korea I came across a youtube video, where the two interviewed mention Hanawon (하나원 means House of Unity in Korean). Reading some articles, I was ambivalent about this settlement support centre, which by 2009 had trained nearly 90% of the 16,000 defectors in South Korea (Glionna, 2009). This blog post thus is dedicated to what I have unearthed wondering how Hanawon copes with “easing the socioeconomic and psychological anxiety of North Korean defectors; overcoming the barriers of cultural heterogeneity; and offering practical training for earning a livelihood in the South” (Demick, 2010, p. 249). 

Judging from defectors’ feedback online, the three-month training at Hanawon tries to help them deal with socioeconomic and psychological anxiety. The new citizens receive special treatment including cheap accommodation, settlement funds of ₩20 million ($18670) and ₩320,000 ($300) as a monthly allowance for five years (Song, 2004). Such support serves as an airbag to escapees when adjusting to a new society. Financial aid is all the more necessary given that in 2008 75% of almost 600 residents at the centre suffered from depression or other mental problems, which is likely to take a toll on their earning capacity (Glionna, 2009). While the struggling certainly receive counselling to relieve psychological anxiety, the centre’s exterior appears disturbing. The school buildings in a secluded area patrolled by dozens of guards remind me of a prison than a good educational institution. On top of that, intelligence agents grill residents in an attempt to weed out spies (Glionna, 2009). I can imagine all the stress they go through. Are the new South Koreans able to start a new life with the way Hanawon reeducates them?

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photo credit: http://newssh.tistory.com/692

The answer lies in the measures taken to help defectors adapt to the very different culture of South Korea. Within the three-month crash course residents also develop basic skills to survive in the capitalist society: they learn to use buses, ATMs and computers and they learn the standard (Seoul) Korean language (Glionna, 2009). The knowledge absorbed at Hanawon is crucial to get by considering the contrast in modernity between the North and the South. Yet it does not suffice to make the new South Koreans feel welcome and equal. Many of them have complained how harsh of a world to live in the society turned out to be. The locals are extremely individualistic. It is a characteristic so foreign to the Northern counterparts, those indoctrinated with socialistic values. It further widens the gap and adds to the discrimination the defectors face. They already get labelled as traitors and spies (Onishi, 2006). Of course, many would say it is not the duty of Hanawon to spoon-feed the newcomers, but I think the latter at least deserve to get a taste of reality before entering the society (Kang, 2015). They deserve not only to hear about a few success stories of North Koreans, but also to know of the walls the majority of North Koreans face.

Having success in the capitalist society is important. But far more important is not being a failure. I hope that Hanawon provides more realistic and practical education and training for newly arrived North Koreans.

Kang, 2015

One of those walls is the matter of employment. Few companies hire North Koreans (Onishi, 2006). Many defectors despite being just as skilled as the locals resort to part-time jobs and low-tier professions. How is Hanawon supposed to tackle it?! Well, I think they should be honest with the residents and tell them what is to be anticipated. More practical skills related to job-hunting would be appreciated. At this moment, you might realize the scale of the problem is appalling; the society as a whole mainly rejects the defectors and it is high time for it to change or to at least be more tolerant. Still, Hanawon is partly to blame since it lets the “students” set unrealistic expectations. The students think of South Korea as of a paradise after the hell they fleed from. 

In short, I inadvertently think of how similar Hanawon is to the schools we attend. We are often taught only about the successful cases, not failures. Being honest would help a lot. Hopefully, Hanawon is taking notes and developing its format of procedures to better re-educate the new South Koreans. North Koreans deserve all the best as they start a new chapter in their lives. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK HANAWON COULD DO TO IMPROVE?

 

Public intellectuals & the future of information, Erica Stone (Deconstruction)

In her TED talk, Erica Stone raises the issue of public access to academic researches that are done due to public money but distributed privately. She suggests that the research papers should be freely available to the public not only in its original version, but also it should be “translated” into the language that is understandable to masses. This process, according to the speaker, can be accomplished through republication of research papers in open-access journals and in popular media.
Stone critically explains the current research publication systems. According to her, once scholars write and peer review an academic paper on the research findings (that is done due to public or private money), they publish it in academic journals. Then, for-profit companies resell it to universities and libraries through journals as well as database subscriptions (e.g. we can access to those databases because NU library purchased subscriptions). Stone highlights this moment saying: “if the public is funding academics’ research, but then we have to pay again to access the results, it’s like we’re paying for it twice”. Although it might sound very simplistic explanation, indeed, it is a reasonable argument. What is the point of public funding if it is not freely available to the public at the end? So, there should be a payback process, as the speaker says, instead of feeding a monster.
Although this issue tends to be solved through some open-access databases such as Google Scholar, the speaker claims that simply giving the research report cannot be complete access to the public. She suggests that research results should be translated into popular language through mass media so people could understand and implement it in a real life. Also, according to the speaker, this would allow to people to recognize university’s identity based on researches that they conducted rather than only knowing them by degree programs or football teams that they have. Though I agree that most research reports are unavailable to the public in terms of clarity (easily understandable) and popularity, I assume that very important researches that really matter get spread anyway. On the other hand, again, who knows, maybe there are countless number of useful researches that we are not even aware of or understand.
The speech is convincing and clearly explain what she advocates. She effectively gives examples from her own experiences and statistical information. Up to know, I have read several articles that raise the same issue and suggest almost the same solutions. However, although it highlights only expected outcomes of her claim but not possible negative consequences, this speech is more concrete, much more optimistic and solution-centered rather than empty critiques.

Every kid needs a champion (Deconstruction)

As a teacher, I am aware that teaching profession is not the easiest. Although working with children might be delineated as funny and amusing, sometimes it might have its difficulties as well. However, if teacher and student understand each other, the process is likely to be successful. In her TED Talks speech, educator Rita Pierson, who has worked in this field for more than 40 years, raises the issue of the relationship between teachers and students. She uses expressions of famous Americans and shares her personal experience in order to explicate the importance of the relationship to be successful in teaching and learning.

In the beginning, the speaker provides examples from the words of James Comer that states “no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship” and George Washington Carver’s opinion, which is “all learning is an understanding relationship” in order to underpin her claim. Personally, I found these statements pertinent, since they highlight the significance of relationship in a learning process.

What I like the most from her speaking are the words “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like”, which she said to her colleague, who considers she doesn’t have to like children. I think I like it because I have had such situation in my personal experience. As a schoolgirl, I didn’t use to like Physics and didn’t have that passion to study it as had it for the Chemistry. After watching Rita Pierson’s video, I understood that the matter was in my Physics teacher. She was too critical and sometimes rude. On the contrary, the teacher of Chemistry was friendly and tried to build a relationship, which made me be interested in her class. That is why I can state that I completely agree with the speaker that relationship is far more important than it seems. The statement she said to her colleague might seem as an assumption, but not for me, since I have encountered the same situation myself.

Moreover, the speaker espouses the Stephen Covey’s idea, which states that simple things are also important in building a relationship. She doesn’t just emphasize this idea is right, she also practices it in her own experience. It can be seen from the example when she apologized for her wrong teaching to students. As a result, students didn’t judge their teacher, but they just were sympathetic in relation to her. Here we can see that simple thing like apologizing plays a significant role in creating the relationship between students and their teacher.

Building a relationship is also beneficial in teaching students who are academically deficient. Teachers can motivate their students to study not by telling them off for their bad results or marks, but by encouraging them for their minute success. It is also one of the situations that Rita Pierson has had in her experience and considers to be advantageous. I agree with the speaker that it isn’t possible to like all your students, but teachers are just actors and actresses and they establish a relationship in order to direct them to the right way. So, they become a champion to their students, who will always support them.

Image result for every kid needs a champion

Photo credits to: Every-child-deserves-a-champion-.jpg

I was impressed by the speech of Rita, since it was compelling. I consider it is because almost all examples are from her personal experience. I highly appreciate her passion for what she is doing. It is not just teaching, it is also having a valuable human connection, which is the relationship.

Development of immersion education in Kazakhstan

Nowadays, the network of immersion education programs is becoming popular in most European countries. Historically, the first immersion education program was implemented in Canada in 1965, for Anglophone speakers who were taught French as a medium of instruction in elementary schools (Cummins, 1998). Introducing immersion education programs in most cases have benefits for people who will able to speak in a foreign language which leads to being bilingual or even multilingual become a full-fledged member in modern society, where speaking in several languages leads to building a successful career.

Over the last two decades, Kazakstani educational system has changed, when the idea of trinity of languages was presented by our president in 2007 (as cited in Irsaliyev et al., 2017), the first pilot schools began to implement trilingual education policy in three languages. As NIS schools are central schools which are translating the experience of implementing new school curriculum by teaching subjects experience into other state schools.

Introducing immersion education is not spread in all schools in Kazakhstan, because of the few studies in this area.  But, there are some pioneers in implementing immersion education in school education. There are NIS Kokshetau and Taldykorgan. Children from grade 1 not competent in Kazakh attend early immersion program in these schools, where they are taught Kazakh. The other two languages such as Russian is implemented as a second language (L2) for 2-grade children from the second term, while English is studied from 3 grade (Irsaliyev et al., 2017). In addition, 9-grade students are taught Kazakh in late immersion program which is implemented in Bilim-Innovation-Lyceums (BIL). Moreover, 46 % of the school curriculum is taught in Kazakh by “groups with The Russian language of instruction” (Irsaliyev et al., 2017, p. 135-136). The advantage of having proficiency in foreign languages, especially English might provide students an opportunity to take part in the international studies such as PISA, TIMSS and conduct academic research at international level.

However, during the implementation of immersion program, some challenges might appear. For instance, the school curriculum should be updated to correspond with the modern requirements of multilingual education.  It is still a lack of training courses for teachers and producing modern teaching materials both for teachers and students. The new methodology of teaching ought to be adopted and the curriculum should be updated to correspond with the requirements of the immersion education.

To sum up, the development of immersion education programs are new for Kazakhstan, but the first implementation of them in NIS and BIL, I hope it will have a positive attitude and help to improve proficiency in several foreign languages of students. On the other hand, in Kazakhstani context immersion education is required to do some research to find out the best way of implementing language immersion in all Kazakhstani schools in the future.

References

Cummins, J. (1998). Immersion education for the millennium: What have we learned from 30 years of research on second language immersion?  In M. R. Childs & R. M. Bostwick (Eds.) Learning through two languages: Research and practice. Second Katoh Gakuen International Symposium on Immersion and Bilingual Education. (pp. 34-47). Katoh Gakuen, Japan. Retrieved from http://carla.umn.edu/cobaltt/modules/strategies/immersion2000.html

Irsaliyev, S., Karabassova, L., Mukhametzhanova, A., Adil, A., Bekova, M., & Nurlanov, Y. (2017). Teaching in three languages: International experience and recommendations for Kazakhstan. Astana: JSC “Information-Analytic Center”.