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to learn or not to learn?

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Photo credits to: http://keypathedu.com/blog/inquiry-enrollment-need-speed

Learning and teaching foreign languages are the key components of the language policy of a country which set a course towards the development of bi/multilingual generation. However, there are still some controversial disputes on the true need for learning languages. In this regard, the episode of the radio podcast “Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?” mainly discusses the psychological and economical ROI (Return on Investment), which in a plain language means the word “benefit”, of the foreign language learning by providing quite interesting arguments with no less interesting reasons and evidences to support them.

Interestingly, from a psychological perspective, learning foreign languages changes the way the human brain works.  According to psychology professor, Boaz Keysar, the more languages you know, the more likely you will act differently. In this sense, he states that a foreign language directly impacts your decision-making process. For instance, the findings of his research show that when people think in a foreign language, they become more willing to take risks, more reflective and less emotional on their choices. Personally, I am quite skeptical on this issue, since I do not believe that there is a “magic” link between foreign languages and the human brain. It sounds to me as inane as the “Critical Period” theory, according to which a child cannot get a full command of a language unless he/she starts to learn it until a particular period, because after that his/her brain allegedly loses its flexibility.

As for the economical prospect, the ROI varies from country to country primarily depending on their L1. For example, the research conducted by MIT economist, Albert Saiz, found out that the learning foreign languages in the US is not so financially attractive as it is in non-English speaking countries: approximately 2% and 10% premium per year, respectively. Hence, Bryan Caplan, economist at George Mason University, claims that learning a foreign language is not reasonable and worthy unless people can benefit from it. Besides these economists, the responses of children on the need for learning foreign languages mainly reflect the same idea: financial benefits. Thus, the link between economics and learning foreign languages seems more realistic and worthy than the psychological one. Are you of the same view?

 

 

Is it possible not to overload yourself, but CREATE? Calling for MOTIVATION!

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Photo credit to @uaxi

  Wake up, warm up.
  Take a mirror, ‘show up’.
  Breathe in, breathe out.
  You will have a great start!

The poems credit in this blog post to Ayana Mukuzhanova

Have you ever thought that you are overwhelmed with all your assignments and writing thesis? Do you wake up and go to sleep with the only thought: “I must do it!” ? You would better say “I want to do it!”. Now I would like to tell you one important sentence. You are not the only one, YOU CAN DO IT! Is it easy to say? Yes, it is. Is it easy to do? (Silence). By writing this post, which is far from academic writing, I would like to support all education professionals who are struggling to write their thesis and papers. I know, this time will probably hit you one day. I am not an expert to give recommendations, but I am a Master student, who could share some pieces of advice and speak from my own experience.

  Great start, heads up!
  Simply have a try out.
  You are making it up,
  And get rid of that doubt.

Firstly, try to see positive moments in your study, follow your OWN progress, and look back. Do you see the changes? This should MOTIVATE you and bring a positive wave into your studying. Do not try to compare your progress with the progress of another person. You are unique, you are different, and you are great!

  You have done, well done!
  Now let’s visit the town.
  Take some time to relax,
  You deserve to break ice.

Secondly, find your hobby. Do not tell that you do not have time for it. You have. Instead of procrastinating by doing nothing, with your hobby you will not procrastinate anymore, you will get a CREATIVE and relaxing product. For me, it is writing various poems. In this way, you will not be overloaded by studying.

  I love my thesis,
  My thesis loves me.
  Let’s create a big deal
  To support the ideal.

Thirdly, you should remember that a substantial amount of people all around the world write thesis papers, and they did this! Think of it as “It is just another paper” (Montgomery, 2017). You should understand how much you are interested in the topic of your thesis. The principle: The more…, the better. The more you are interested in it, the more you will get a joy. After you add your voice on a particular topic, you will get into this field, and become the part of it.

  Time passes by,
  Sometimes I don’t mind.
  If I had another chance,
  I would think of this twice.

Next point to share with you is time value. Do not think of the result and end of the process. Otherwise, you will miss the precious time and all the positive moments which you will never face the second time. In the case of academic writing, write everything step by step. Do not write for the sake of writing, do your best, and you will be okay.

  Never think of some feedback,
  Like it is a huge mistake.
  It is just a third hand
  That will help you till the end.

The last, but not the least piece of advice is to look at feedback that you get from your Professors as a great help, and not a punishment. At first, it was difficult for me to accept some feedback, and I got upset. Now I understand that I am in the process of getting knowledge, and I will learn my whole life. There will always be feedback, both positive and negative. The only think is to LEARN from them.

To conclude, I would like to thank my MA NUGSE id2016 group mates. You are fantastic! All of you will do their best to overcome some difficulties and take out of it only POSITIVE outcomes. I hope that this post would support you and all education professionals.

No more drama anymore! Or why the question of switching to Latin alphabet has already become vapid

imageThe question of switching to Latin alphabet is still very disputable in our country. And this issue has two sides of the coin as well as two groups as for and against. However, according to the policymakers, the decision has been made. And now by the help of some excerpts from their speeches I’m going to tell you why there is no more need to raise this question up.

  • “By 2025, the Kazakh alphabet should be switched into Latin and the work in this direction should be done now,” (Nazarbayev, 2012).

By this short sentence, one can understand that the decision has already been made. By the help of the highlighted words, I suppose the President wanted to set the tone. Of course, one can argue that even if any boss would make just a “friendly request”, the “tone” of the request may still convey the message of command. This speech was made in 2012, by giving time limitations he sets the clear goals. Also, one can understand the hidden message of this sentence as the President directly instructs the parliament what to do and when to do. “And the work in this direction should be done now” in this part two sides can be considered, firstly, he expects them (parliament) to give him report on work that has been already done, on the other hand by saying “should” instead of “have to” or “must” he emphasizes his understanding that this is difficult task and he does not expect from them “full” report, but something should be done by now. Also, it can be understood by the time which is given to complete the task, 13 years starting from that point.

  • “For the future of our children, we have to make that decision, which will create the conditions for our integration into the world. For our children, it will assist in a better learning of English, and most importantly, it will give impetus to the modernization of the Kazakh language,” (Nazarbayev, 2012).

Knowing that this is the controversial issue in our society, the President used three major points which are valuable for any citizen of Kazakhstan. By giving the words “future and children” in one phrase, he called the attention of any parent to this issue. In the era of globalisation the role that the English language has is huge, and nowadays it is a “magic word” to guide the parents in our country, and even the President uses it. The next two points were very smart moves as saying “integration into the world” and “modernization of the Kazakh language” he killed two birds with one stone. When the society is divided into two groups as those who are willing to be a part of the globalized world and those who are struggling for the future of Kazakh language and somehow promote the policy of “kazakhization”, the President reassured both sides.

  • “The Program on the transition of Kazakh language to Latin alphabet has been already adopted, and it will operate on the schedule,” (Mukhamediuly, 2015).

The Minister of Culture and Sports is not the only person who is responsible for the implementation of this task about the transition to Latin alphabet. But here he emphasises the issue that this is not just the case, but a Program and much work has been already done. He also shows that there is a timeline set for this task and they will continue to work on that graph no matter what.

  • “At the moment, scientists work on the issue, and it is proposed to enter Latin alphabet on a keyboard, that we have. However, national features of the pronunciation of Kazakh language require additional decisions. It is not simple, we need to integrate to the international community through the less painful way,” he highlighted (Mukhamediuly, 2015).

From this passage, it can be seen that something has gone wrong or at least did not go according to the plan. Because the minister trying to send the message that this is a time consuming project. It also can be seen from the second part of passage, “through the less painful way”, he tries to explain that integration would not be easy and it deserves more time and attention than they planned.

  • I have set the task of turning the Kazakh culture into a well-recognized segment of the global cultural space,” (Nazarbayev, 2013).

Using the pronoun “I” instead of “We” can easily be considered as an indicator of self-focus. However, knowing the personality of our president, we can assume that sometimes he makes decisions that are not welcomed by the society or the decisions which are difficult to understand for the society. And he carries that weight. Despite the fact that we are already in the list of top 50 developed countries, the Kazakh culture still remains unfamiliar for the most of the world. And here is the clear goal to rectify this situation.

  • “This move should not be viewed as a demonstration of Kazakhstan’s geopolitical preferences. We look toward multi-vector development and humanitarian and cultural contacts with all states,” (Nazarbayev, 2013).

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many people expected (some desired) the Kazakh language to replace the Russian language quickly and easily. But it did not happen. Even after 25 years of independence, the Russian language is still somehow dominant language in our country. By this reason, many started to think that the program of transition to Latin alphabet is politically motivated. However, the first and foremost goal of Kazakhstan is to integrate into a globalised world and be a part of it. “Multi-vector development” implies the development of all spheres and conducting good relationships with all states. Here the plurilingual approach of the President can be seen.

In general, all these discourses are positive. And it is very important regarding global science and education to not get left behind. As switching to Latin alphabet will not only foster our integration to the global arena but also trigger foreigners to get acquainted with our culture and traditions.

References:

Kazakh language to be converted to Latin alphabet – MCS RK. (2015, January 30). Retrieved from http://www.inform.kz/en/kazakh-language-to-be-converted-to-latin-alphabet-mcs-rk_a2741711

Kazakhstan denies switch to Latin script ‘political’. (2013, January 18). Retrieved from http://www.inform.kz/en/kazakhstan-denies-switch-to-latin-script-political_a2527409

Zhantaykyzy, M. (2013, January 23). Kazakh Language to Use Latin Alphabet by 2025, President Says.  Retrieved from http://astanatimes.com/2013/01/kazakh-language-to-use-latin-alphabet-by-2025-president-says/

photo credits to http://www.kazpravda.kz/en/news/society/program-for-transition-to-the-latin-alphabet-adopted-in-kazakhstan/

“I AM GOING TO LEARN U A THING” or Levels of explanation (Deconstruction)

A post by @uaxi talks about the importance of simplicity, and talks about how your ability to explain something even to a child is a good indicator of your knowledge on the subject.

Now, in this post, we will look at a video which supports this claim and explain why it is important for education, especially for teachers.

In this video we see a successful neuroscientist explaining a single concept to five different people. Those people range from a five year old kid to a PhD student in the field of neuroscience.

There are two standpoints from which we need to consider this video. The first one is the claim presented by the author regarding an important discovery in the neuroscience sphere, the Connectome. The second is the actual method used by Dr. Bobby Kashturi to deliver his ideas and explain them to different listeners.

From the first perspective, we see a scientist explain a concept in which he is knowlegeable, and while he does not mention any supporting evidence, from his background we can assume that he has a certain level of authority while talking about this topic. This topic presents an interesting possibility of mapping the brain at a deeper level than ever before. But one of the claims he makes sounds more like science-fiction rather than reality – the possibility of duplicating the brain and all of its functions in a computer simulation. It is the claim highly doubted by the listeners, but what Dr. Kashturi does – is he manages to open their minds to the possibility. Same happened to me, and after enjoying both the information and the way it was presented in this video I do believe that his claim may be truthful.

And the second perspective is something that needs to be considered by teachers. The information delivery method. If we watch the video in a different sequence – from phd student to the child, it is a demonstration of the point made by @uaxi about the Feynman Technique. If you understand a topic, you can explain it to anyone. This is why I believe that this technique is just as important, if not more, to educators as it is to those who are on the recieving end of education.

To mix, or not to mix, that is the question!

Looking through the blog post of my group mates, I found out that the most popular topics are mother tongue usage and mixture of languages. The blog posts: “‘Shala Kazakh’ and other obstacles for the pure language”, “Why does the status of Kazakh remain low?”, “Why don’t Kazakhs speak in Kazakh as the native language?”, “Use mother tongue or not…”, “Who are we in this country?” look at these issues from diverse angles. Some of the posts were addressed to the code-mixing/switching issue. I have read all the blog posts and have watched the video with code-mixing/switching. Then, I decided to analyze the video, and find out what may cause code-mixing/switching.

The interview in the video was supposed to be in the Russian language. The theme of the interview was the opening of a new fashion shop. The shooting took place in Canada, the country that is considered to be multilingual and multinational/multicultural. The speaker had the Russian language as a native, but she moved to Canada many years ago, and the English language became dominant in the usage. By listening and transcribing the speaker’s speech, I found out that there was a case of code-mixing/code-switching between Russian and English, with a few elements of the Ukrainian language. This switching happened, as proposed by Poplack (2004), inter-sentential, intra-sentential, and extra-sentential. The lexical units represent the number of words in this speech. Totally, there are 344 words, out of this number 242 words were told by the speaker in Russian, 100 words in English, and only 2 repetitive words were in Ukrainian. After calculating the number of English and Ukrainian words appearing in the speech, it became distinct that the English language emerged almost at a half of the speech. Several points may influence this process.

First of all, the country, where the speaker lives, is mainly English/French speaking. Thus, she communicates in English everyday, and the English language is a part of her routine. While living there for too much time, she might forget a substantial amount of words in the Russian language. However, listening to her speech, it is obvious that the grammatical structure and sentence building in Russian are correct. In addition, as the speaker became connected with fashion in Canada, many of those words were taken in English, and she was adapted to use them in that language rather than in Russian or Ukrainian. Most of the words were dedicated to the topic of fashion and colors. Consequently, the speaker might not know the analogues of these words.

The increase in the usage of English all around the world may contribute to the next suggestion. For the Russian language speakers, English is believed to be prestigious, and the stereotype that the person, knowing English, is more educated, may occur. Comparing with the study of Yee Ho (2007), who conducted a research on the use of English in the Cantonese language, the same point is raised in the findings. “The use of English in Cantonese utterances delineates social stratification more clearly and divides those with good education, great prestige and high social status from those without” (Yee, W. & Ho, J., 2007). This point could be one of the influences to code-mix/switch as well.

To conclude, it could be suggested that code-mixing/switching which occurred in the interview might represent the speaking style of a person at the particular case (talking about fashion). Living too many years in an English speaking country, the lack of vocabulary may be one of the reasons to code-mix/switch, but there could be another reason for it. Code-mixing/switching could occur to show the side of an educated person, who really knows their job. However, there are many other reasons of code-mixing/switching. Do you code-mix/switch? If yes, what are the reasons?

 

 

References

Yee Ho, J. W. (2007).  Code-mixing: Linguistic form and socio-cultural meaning. The International Journal of Language, Society and Culture. 21 (1-8). Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.575.1796&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Poplack, S. (2004). “Code-Switching”. In U. Ammon, N. Dittmar, K.J. Mattheier and P. Trudgill. Sociolinguistics. An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society (2nd ed.). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 589–596.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

your-subconscious-mind-can-do-anything-how-to-use-its-power

Your subconscious mind knows all the answers. But how to bring them to conscious mind? Simple morning habit will help you get tips from the subconscious mind and to develop a creative approach to solving problems.

“Your subconscious mind constantly works: when you are awake and even when you are asleep.” (Napoleon Hill)

The subconscious mind never rests, it is constantly on the alert, since it monitors your heartbeat, blood circulation, and digestion. It regulates vital processes and functions of your body and knows the answers to all your questions.

What happens at a subconscious level, will be manifested in your mind. In other words, what is happening inside, in the subconscious mind, is sure to become your reality.

Your goal is to direct the subconscious to find a solution for a problem that you care about. And here is a simple exercise that will help to do this.

10 minutes before sleep

“Never go to bed without questioning your subconscious.” (Thomas Edison)

This is a common practice for many successful people around the world – to force the subconscious to work while you are sleeping.

You will need only a few minutes before bedtime, to meditate or write questions, answers to which you would like to receive.

Make a list of issues that interest you. The more accurately delineated a question, the more meticulous will be the answer. While you are sleeping, the subconscious mind will begin to work on this issue.

10 minutes after awakening

Studies suggest that the prefrontal cortex is more active and capable of creative solutions immediately upon waking. Your subconscious mind worked during sleep, having created contextual and temporal relationships; thus creativity is to be born from links between different parts of the brain.

In an interview with Josh Waitzkin, he mentioned about this morning habit – to use the subconscious mind to find unexpected solutions and connections.

In contrast, 80% of people aged 18 to 44 years old are checking their smartphones in the first 15 minutes after waking up, whereas Waitzkin goes to a quiet place, meditates and “resets his mind” in his diary. Instead of focusing on the external, as most people do (checking their notifications), he concentrates on the internal. Thus, he achieves a high level of clarity, ability to learn and creativity – the state, which he describes as “crystallized intelligence.”

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If you are not used to jotting down your thoughts, “resetting your mind” may seem complicated. Actually, jotting down your thoughts about solving a specific problem is enough.

Now consider a question that you send to your subconscious mind before you go to bed. Remind all the questions that interested you. Think about it and write down what you want to find out. Then go to sleep.

First thing in the morning, start writing everything that comes to mind regarding the problem that challenged you.

Hence you can find answers to any questions: how to solve a difficult task you are working on, how to write WAs you are struggling with, how to improve relationships you are carrying on and etc.

Of course, you should practice mastering this skill. But over time, it will be easier to get answers from your subconscious mind, to find creative solutions and trust your instincts.

Conclusion

One cannot change the circumstances but may change their mind and thus indirectly modify the circumstances. (James Allen)

Your thoughts are a plan of your life that you are going through with every day. When you are learning to control your thoughts, consciously and unconsciously, you are creating the conditions that make achieving your goals inevitable.

You are the creator of your eternity. This simple habit will help you realize what you want to achieve and how you want it done.

References:

Zorina, I. (2016, May 20) Prostaya utrennyaya privychka pomozhet naiti reshenie lyuboi problemy [Simple morning habit will help you find an answer to any question]. Retrieved from https://lifehacker.ru/2016/05/20/prostaya-utrennyaya-privychka/

Photo credits to https://www.powerofpositivity.com/delete-and-reset-your-mind/        http://www.learning-mind.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/

Critical Thinking vs Languages

What is more important for Kazakhstani students nowadays: mastering the three languages or developing critical thinking? The more I hear popularizing the former, the more confident I become in the latter. In the era of information availability the skill to differentiate facts from opinions, not accepting things without challenging them and “arriv[ing] at the truth” after careful examining the information (Wood, 2002) is more valuable than learning several languages and “arrive at” being multilingual.

From 1956, when critical thinking started attracting educators’ attention, many scholarly works on what CT is and the role of developing CT in education have emerged. Bloom (1956); Ennis (1987); Kennedy, 1991; Kuhn (1999); Mayer, R. E. (1983); Wood, R. (2002);  Paul, 1993; Nickerson, 1987 are only a short list of those who espouse CT as the school policies’ main focus (as cited in Mansoor  & Samaneh, 2014).  Despite, the model of education as global marketing workforce supplier in some countries underestimates the role of CT in mother tongue. Moreover, instead of developing students’ higher order thinking in L1, it “perpetuates”   the power of an international language “without associating it with learning skills”, so that a foreign language becomes a “stratifier” (Tupas, 2014, p. 119). Tollefson warns, “Those who can afford it go to schools with a high quality of English language teaching and learning; those who cannot afford it also go to English-medium schools (because of the belief that English is the way out of poverty) but end up being taught English deemed undesirable by society” (as cited in Tupas,2014, p. 119). The truth is that the quality of teaching languages is not equally available for everyone, and the necessity for various languages differs from area to area. The individual’s actual need for a language can be satisfied by asking questions oneself and others and gauging possibilities and aspirations, in other words, by being a critical thinker. That is why CT in education should be priority.

Regarding Kazakhstan, if we exemplify our blog experience (both Leadership in Ed. and Multilingual Ed.) as a minute model of Kazakhsatani education, the preliminary calculation of current topics shows that concerns around languages appear in the blog fifth as much as on critical thinking. Counting that a critical thinker can find ways to learn languages (and not only) independently, isn’t critical thinking more significant than a symbolic importance several languages?

Tupas, R, (2014). Inequalities of multilingualism: Challenges to mother tongue-based multilingual education. Language and Education, 29 (2), 112-124.