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Symbolic peculiarity of anxiety in education

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

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

A short review on a podcast

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

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

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

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

To all procrastinators out there..

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Procrastination. A ubiquitous term permeated our everyday lives so deeply that each of us can relate to a habit of putting off things until the last moment. Interestingly enough, that long before people became obsessed with efficiency and productivity ancient Egyptians had two different verbs for denoting procrastination: one for laziness; the other for waiting for the right time. Almost poetic, isn’t it?

Well, it could be. If people weren’t prone to think of it as the root of all-evil. Not that it is completely untrue; but Adam Grant (2016) in his book titled “Originals” debunks the common assumption and assures that even though procrastination can be “a vice for productivity” it can serve as “a resource for creativity” (p. 95).

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As it turns out, there are three types of people in this world. First, are pre-crastinators, the ones who rush in and cannot live without finishing everything in advance. Then, there are chronic yet moderate or “strategic” procrastinators. Ideally, this is the type you would want to be. And, as you may have already guessed the third ones just wait til the very last moment and miss the benefits of procrastination that it has to offer if it’s done right.

Speaking of which, procrastination makes you more creative and leaves room for improvisation and spontaneity (Grant, 2016). To prove the theory, Grant, who finished his thesis four months [FOUR MONTHS] before the deadline and is a vivid example of pre-crastinator, with his procrastinator student have run a series of surveys and experiments.

So, what they did is they accessed several companies and conducted a survey among employees about their procrastination experiences. After, the employers were asked to rate their employees’ level of creativity. Surprisingly, procrastinators got higher scores. However, they did not stop there and designed an experiment where people were asked to generate business ideas. They had two control groups: the first group had to start immediately; second were given 5 minutes to play a computer game, i.e. to procrastinate. Again, the ideas of procrastinators were rated 28 % more original and creative.

The key point here is that people were more creative only if they knew about the task before they started to procrastinate. Thus, it is only when we start thinking about the problem and then procrastinate on its solution we open the door for the diversity of ideas. Because even if we are not directly involved in doing the task, it is still active somewhere in the “palaces of our mind”. So, when we actually start working on the problem our subconscious allows us to think in creative and non-linear ways.

Moreover, it “keeps us open to improvisation” (p. 100). Usually, we tend to plan our steps and try to stick to it, otherwise why plan in the first place, right? Studies of numerous successful executives have shown that the habit of procrastination made them more strategically flexible. Of course, as a great procrastinator you still need to plan, at least make a plan for your procrastination and “test and refine different possibilities” as they cross your mind (p.102). And do not wait until the last night before the X day. Just don’t.

If you’re not convinced and feel like it got out of control, check these guides on how to deal with procrastination and how to avoid our common frenemy. It won’t hurt for sure. However, if you think that you’ve already lost the battle don’t stress out either. Instead, learn how to make it work for your benefit. In other words, learn how to procrastinate wisely.

And don’t forget to remember “they call it procrastination, we call it thinking” (Sorkin, 2002).

References:

Grant, A. (2016). Originals: How Non-conformists Move the World. New York: Viking

Couric, K. (2002, May, 22). Interview with Aaron Sorkin. Retrieved from http://www.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/flatview?cuecard=2090

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.

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photo credit: http://kwickid.com/

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 assem.tazhiyeva@nu.edu.kz*

Reference:

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: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=759242740911790&set=a.435316439971090.1073741830.100004782127386&type=3&theater

Should “Bolashakers” immediately come back after graduation?

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Photo taken from: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/90000/nahled/y-all-come-back-sign.jpg

Kazakhstani international scholarship program “Bolashak”, well known for its limitations and rigorious rules, still keeps being a bone of conception raising various issues in its practice.  Despite the strictness of the Program’s measures of preventing drop outs and brain drain through providing pledge from the applicant, outflow of the qualified specialists among students studying abroad has been successfully prevented. An obligation to work for 5 years in relevant profession by arrival is a great opportunity to “pay back” to the country for the study in the world class university abroad. However, there are also complications in terms of the application of acquired knowledge in the home country that need to be discussed and questioned.

I strongly believe that providing 2 or 3 years of work in the country of study or anywhere else  abroad would be vastly beneficial for both graduates and government. The justification of this approach lies on the fact that mostly foreign higher education programs provide knowledge and skills irrelevant to the Kazakhstani context. Moreover, the graduates are not capable of applying theoretical framework on practice as they do not have neither practical work experience abroad nor relevant workplace to employ innovative skills in Kazakhstan. Moreover, a meticulous empirical study on the Bolashak program (Perna, L., Orosz, K., & Jumakulov, Z., 2015) has shown that many employers were not satisfied by the graduates of the Program due to the lack of sufficient work experience in their fields. Therefore, a couple of years spent in foreign organization would be an appropriate complement to the CV’s of the graduates in order to meet the requirements of employers in Kazakhstan.

The challenges in the Bolashak program concerning employability and restrictions on working abroad and gaining foreign experience demands the suggestions on the alternative measures that could lead to better results in human capital development. In this case, the concept of Brain Circulation is one of the appropriate ones. The definition of this concept given by Johnson & Regets (1998) refers to the mobility of competent and experienced workers. Brain circulation is related to receiving and sending countries that obtain mutual benefits out of the exchange of human capital (Pan, 2010). Shortly speaking, Brain Circulation concept enables the educated personnel to be hired abroad for a certain period of time in order to implement acquired skills and experience by coming back to home country to soar local economy (Dawson, 2007). For instance, Chinese government made deliberate efforts to promote this concept in three directions: supporting the overseas studies, encouraging overseas students to return and abolishment of the restrictions on going and coming of students, and this reforms empowered returned graduates to establish 5000 organizations costing 30 billion dollars in total by 2003 (Pan, 2010). It is evident that this concept might enhance the quality of human resources with long-term benefits on the development in political, financial and societal aspects. Because staying abroad will form new work and business connections contributing to the establishment of corporate networks in cross-border scale.

To sum up, the Bolashak program still needs significant reformations in terms of the inner policies concerning further career progression of the graduates. Appearing absence of correlation between the knowledge gained abroad and demands of the employers in Kazakhstan depicts rather negative consequences of the current regulations within the program. Brain circulation concept, as an opposite approach towards the vision of decision-makers of the Bolashak program, may catalyze positive outcomes from grant holders.

References

Perna, L., Orosz, K., & Jumakulov, Z. (2015). Understanding the human capital benefits of a government-funded international scholarship program: An exploration of Kazakhstan’s Bolashak program. International Journal Of Educational Development, 85-97. doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2014.12.003

Johnson, J. M., & Regets, M. C. (1998). International mobility of scientists and engineers to the United States–Brain Drain or Brain Circulation?. SRS Issue Brief.

Pan, S. Y. (2010). Changes and challenges in the flow of international human capital China’s experience. Journal of Studies in International Education14(3), 259-288.

Dawson, L. R. (2007). Brain drain, brain circulation, remittances and development: Prospects for the Caribbean. The Caribbean Papers. Retrieved from: http://www.cigionline.org