Teaching materials and recommendations for an “International conflicts and their resolution” course

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №10 - 2018

Kassym Tomiris, Kazakh American Free University, Kazakhstan
Novitskaya Yuliya, Kazakh American Free University, Kazakhstan

To develop a set of teaching materials for the course we selected texts and videos to the course topics. For each text or video we developed a glossary of terms and exercises that are to be done before reading/watching, while reading/ watching and after reading/watching. Here are some of the examples.

Topic 1. For topic 1 we chose a text “Conflict Definitions”. The text provides several definitions of conflicts, describes principles of conflict classifications and the consequences of such classification.

Before working with this text we identified the key words that the students will need in order to understand the text and do the proposed tasks. Here are these words:

­ difference of opinions;

­ conflicting views;

­ strategies;

­ consequences;

- eliminate a conflict;

­ resolve a conflict;

­ handle a conflict;

­ hostility;

­ negative attitudes;

­ aggression;

­ rivalry and misunderstanding;

­ contradictory or irreconcilable interests;

­ tension;

­ struggle;

­ disagreement;

­ mutually non-violent.

Also, before reading the text we suggest that the students should develop their own definitions of conflict. The suggested procedure of working with the definitions is as follows:

1) Write down your own definition of conflict;

2) Share your definition with the class;

3) Write down the key words that appear in most of the definitions.

The next stage is the reading stage. Here, the students are to read the text and write out the key words from the definitions provided in the text.

After doing this the students are to fill out a Vienne diagram in which the left sector is the key words from their definitions, the right sector is the key words from the text definitions and the central sector is the notions that are common for both sectors.

Now let us give a characteristic to this teaching means: by a teaching procedure it is a means of explanation of a new material, it helps to understand the concept of conflict; by a management cycle it is a means of direct communication of informative character; by content is a carrier of information about a subject under study; by form it is verbal and graphical and by information carrier type it is a paper teaching material.

The teaching material meets the following principles:

- the principle of accessibility – the text selected is suitable for the students’ language level and skills;

- the principle of independent activity - the students develop their own definitions, independently select the key words;

- the principle of visualization - they organize the ideas graphically, which assists both understanding and memorizing;

- the principle of strength – the key conflict concepts are repeated several times: while developing students’ own definitions, while making notes, while reading, while filling out the Vienne diagram, while determining common ideas;

- the principle of cognitive motivation;

- the principle of problem (in the course of the work the student must solve a specific didactic problem, using his knowledge and skills, while in a situation different from the situation in the lesson, in new practical conditions he performs independent search activity, actively developing his intellectual, motivational, strong-willed, emotional and other spheres) [1].

The activity addresses both lower-order thinking skills - remembering, understanding, using - and higher-order thinking skills - analyzing, comparing, creating, as well as their metacognitive skills which help the students gain more insight into their own learning.

Topic 2. Another teaching material that we would like to describe here is the podcast describing asymmetric conflicts [2].

Again before listening to the podcast, we first determined the words, that are necessary for the students to understand the podcast contents. Here are the words we selected as the key ones:

- Symmetric conflict;

- Asymmetric conflict;

- Belligerent;

- Insurgency;

- Resistant’s’ movement;

- Exploit weakness;

- Combatants;

- Rely on;

- Guerilla warfare;

- Counterterrorism;

- Resilient opponent;

- Secret weapon;

- Regional rivals;

- Conduce;

- Bear high costs;

- Reluctance.

At the pre-listening stage we suggest working with the key vocabulary by matching the words with definitions or by direct translation if there is a time constraint. For the next stage – listening – we develop a graphic organizer, which will help the students to systematize what they hear, and at the post-listening stage will serve as a visual support for speaking about symmetric and asymmetric conflicts [3].

Let us now analyze this teaching material. Methodological intention of this piece of teaching material is information retrieval, and it serves knowledge generation and transmission.

Principals that underlay the development of this teaching material are as follows:

- the principle of accessibility-the text is appropriate to the students’ achieved level;

- the principle of independent activity - the students retrieve the information enclosed in the text independently;

- principles of visualization – the graphic organizer helps understanding the content of the podcast and serves as a means of scaffolding;

- the principle of strength – visualization helps to utilize different types of intelligence: verbal, spatial and analytical;

- the principle of cognitive motivation – the students learn to get knowledge independently [4].

Topic 4. Now, let us consider another topic for which we developed teaching materials. This is the topic of key concepts in conflict resolution: conflict management, conflict settlement, conflict transformation. And again, we start working with the texts with some selected vocabulary:

­ prevent conflict escalation and negative effects;

­ reduce, downgrade, or contain ne-gative effects;

­ re-emergence of past grievances;

­ coercion;

­ subsidence;

­ intervene;

­ anticipation of conflict;

­ curtail the reoccurrence of conflict;

­ violent manifestations;

­ maintain the status quo;

­ precipitate pre-emptive action;

­ insufficient;

­ egregiously violent;

­ eruption of deadly conflicts;

­ social cohesion;

­ regional instability;

­ accountable governance;

­ governmental structures;

­ civil societies;

­ business communities;

­ inhibit recurrences;

­ reconciliation;

­ multifaceted;

­ clashing parties;

­ unintended consequences;

­ deliberate attempts;

­ insurmountable impasse;

­ ameliorate the situation.

As a part of pre-reading activity the students are asked to distribute these words into three columns in a table: conflict management, conflict settlement and conflict transformation.

This exercise allows the students to develop their high order skills of critical thinking and analysis. They have to use the previous knowledge of the discipline and background knowledge on conflict resolution they may have received while studying other disciplines.

After doing the task individually the students will discuss their suppositions in pairs and will try to persuade their partners in the correctness of their choice. They will use the phrases on how to express opinions, how to agree and disagree. This activity will help to develop students’ communication skills, which is one of the goals of using CLIL methodology.

While reading the texts the students will have to fill out the charts that we developed – they will have to select three most important ideas that describe the character of conflict management, prevention, and transformation. Later they will use these charts as a support in retelling the texts / speaking about the main concepts of conflict resolution.

This teaching material is simultaneously the means of explanation, drill and assessment – the students will revise the material they covered during the lecture (conflict management and conflict settlement) and investigate a new topic (conflict transformation), and the teacher may use the charts they fill out as a tool for assessing their understanding of the material. It is a direct communication means – the students receive the information directly from the text. By its form the material is both verbal and graphical: it contains both the texts and the diagrams.

The methodological intention of the teaching material is retrieval of the information and training, which implies the goals of monitoring knowledge, consolidation of knowledge and competence development [5].

The materials are developed with consideration of the following principles:

- the principle of accessibility - the materials are selected according to the students’ achieved level;

- the principle of independent activity - two of the exercises are to be done individually;

- the principle of visualization and modeling of information;

- the principle of cognitive motivation, which is realized in the students’ trying to guess to which area of conflict resolution the words given before the text belong;

The material also satisfies the following criteria that the CLIL materials should meet:

- make the learning intentions (language, content, learning skills) and process visible to students;

- foster learning skills development and learner autonomy;

- fostering cooperative learning;

- seek ways of incorporating authentic language and authentic language use;

- foster critical thinking.

Topic 5. For this topic we suggest using a crossword puzzle, since the lecture contains quite a few terms and their definitions.

The process of guessing crosswords and their compilation is a kind of gymnastics that activates and develops the students’ mental powers. The guessing sharpens and disciplines the mind, accustoms the students to a clear logic, to reasoning.

The use of crosswords in the learning process:

­ stimulates cognitive activity (students begin to seek help from textbooks, reference books, dictionaries and other additional sources);

­ expands the horizon, enriches the lexicon with new words, terms;

­ develops logical thinking and memory, creativity;

­ increases literacy;

­ facilitates the implementation of a differentiated approach to learning (both by creating resources of different levels of complexity, and by setting tasks: to solve / compile).

While developing the crossword puzzle we used the following rules:

- Do not have “dies” (unfilled cells) in the crossword grid;

- Random combinations of letters and intersections are not allowed;

- Words to be guessed must be singular nouns;

- Two-letter words must have two intersections;

- Three-letter words must have at least two intersections;

- Abbreviations are not allowed.

- A large number of two-letter words are not recommended.

Working with the crossword puzzle the teacher can use different forms:

­ Whole class work (when all students under the guidance of the teachers solve a crossword);

­ Group work (when the class is divided into groups, each group solves the crossword together);

­ Pair work;

­ Individual (when student one student solves a crossword puzzle).

A crossword puzzle may be also used for assessing students’ learning.

Undoubtedly, the criteria depend on many factors and should be determined by the teacher individually, it is possible to single out only certain basic points. Here are possible criteria for evaluating the result:

1) percentage of guessed words;

2) share of key terms;

3) accuracy and unambiguous wording of questions (if the students create their own crosswords).

The effectiveness and effectiveness of solving crossword puzzles offered to students may be estimated by two indicators:

a) the time that is necessary for students to guess the crossword;

b) the number of mistakes (including spelling errors) made by them in the decision process (the latter induces the compiler to find out the reasons for the incorrect answers and, if necessary, clarify the wording of the questions).

In group work, an assessment is made for the group and those who correctly named the largest number of words. If the crossword is guessed by the whole class, the activity, “resourcefulness” and erudition of everyone are taken into account, and only good grades are given to the most active students.

First, it is practiced to use in class ready-made crosswords (compiled by the teacher). As soon as the students feel the charm of such activities, they can be asked to create crossword puzzles by themselves. This can be done both at home and in class.

This is a very useful kind of independent work of students. It is especially advisable from the methodological point of view to compile thematic crosswords: it requires a good knowledge of the chosen topic, the ability to clearly formulate definitions of concepts.

The requirements for students when working on drawing up a crossword in class or at home are different.

In class, a crossword puzzle is compiled on a given topic. In this case, clear criteria are set: the number of words and time (for example, 10-15 words for 20 minutes).

Making a crossword puzzle as a homework, students are to use additional literature, try to come up with an interesting, unconventional questions that develop their creative abilities. While assessing it is possible to consider originality of questions, the ability to select the most appropriate words.

It is possible to propose such tasks for compiling thematic crosswords:

- Only a list of terms and words on the topic is reported. It is required to formulate questions (as a rule, this task is assigned to a group).

- Only the topic is named, everything else the students do themselves (the task is performed in groups or individually).

Priority is given to formulating the questions. The problem of raising the question is the problem of developing high-quality thinking. We see solving the problem in the accuracy of any questions asked by the teacher, and in the ability to cause students in the learning process to clearly articulate what they would like to know.

First of all, we recall those questions that were asked when studying the topic's material and its generalization. After all, a good question helps to see the essence of what was learned in a completely new way and to seek answers in ways that no one previously thought of. And most importantly - it indicates the understanding of the educational material. Therefore, we assess the crossword puzzles compiled by the students according to the following criteria: a) number of questions; b) their quality.

The number of questions is estimated not by their absolute number, but by the number of semantic elements with which they are related. The quality of questions is determined by the nature of the mental operations that are necessary to construct the answer.

Taking into account the latter, it is possible to distinguish such types of questions:

1. Pointing out the essence of the concept, the characteristic features of the phenomenon (What is...?). Such questions activate the work of memory, stimulate the revision of what is learned in the study of a particular topic.

2. Containing indications of the causes of the phenomenon, the establishment of causal relationships (Why / because of what ...?). Such questions presuppose the establishment of connections between physical phenomena, magnitudes, the allocation of key points in the topic under study, a certain systematization of knowledge, i.e. rethinking the information received.

3. Emphasizing the causal relationship between the phenomena studied in different topics (sections) of the course. Such questions require generalization, analogies, hypotheses, etc.; they encourage the establishment of multifaceted links of all studied material, the analysis of acquired knowledge from a new angle.

4. Expressing inter-subject communications [6].

Studying the subject in English requires reading professional texts and texts in professional topics. Reading involves several strategies: scanning, skimming, reading for details.

Topic 3. For this topic we selected a text about one of the founders of conflict resolution discipline Johan Vincent Galtung. The text was taken from the Peace Encyclopedia, and it is of a higher level of complexity than the level of an average student in the 3rd year of International Relations undergraduate program. Considering this fact we adapted the text to the level of our students. There were several things done:

1) We shortened the text from almost 2000 words to 1000 words;

2) We changed the structure of the sentences, making them simple rather than complex or compound;

3) We substituted the words of formal style into neutral words;

4) We omitted some of the information which is difficult for understanding, which bears cultural information that is beyond the students’ background knowledge.

Working with the text we suggest different types of reading activities:

1. Introductory reading is reading with an understanding of the content of the reading (reading for gist, skim reading or skimming). The text is read as quickly as possible in order to understand the main content and general structure or select the main facts.

For this kind of reading, understanding 70% of the text is enough; the main thing is the ability to distinguish and understand the key words. When teaching this type of reading, you must learn to bypass unfamiliar words and do not interrupt reading, if such occurs. You also need to learn to guess the meaning of keywords from context.

2. Reading for detail. This type of reading presupposes a complete and accurate understanding of all the basic and secondary facts, their comprehension and memorization.

3. Search and scan reading with the extraction of necessary information (reading for specific in formation or scanning). The goal is to find out whether this text contains any information useful to the reader.

This teaching material is educational by its methodological intention – it can be used for new material delivery and study; its goals are: generation and transmission of knowledge and information disclosure. When the material was designed, we used the following principles as guidelines:

- the principle of accessibility (the text was adapted according to the students’ achieved level);

- the principle of independent activity (work with didactic materials is carried out independently).


1. Ваганян А.Г. Реализация методики CLIL в учебниках по иностранным языкам // Педагогический опыт: теория, методика, практика: материалы V Междунар. науч. - практ. конф. (Чебоксары, 25 дек. 2015 г.) / редкол.: О.Н. Широков [и др.] – Чебоксары: ЦНС «Интерактив плюс», 2015. – № 4 (5). – С. 54-56.

2. YouTube web site at https:// www. youtube. com/watch?v=yNu8ei8bj04.

3. European Commission. Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity: An Action Plan 2004 – 2006. Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee of the Regions, COM 449. Retrieved

4 June 2017 from: http:// europa. eu. int/ comm/education/doc/official/keydoc/ actlang/ act_ lang_en.pdf

4. Meyer, O. (2010). Towards quality CLIL: successful planning and teaching strategies. Pulso, 33,11-29.

5. Mehisto, P. (2012). Criteria for producing CLIL learning material. Encuentro, 2015 [Online resource]. Available at http: // www.unifg.it/sites/ default/files/ allegatiparagrafo/ 21-01-2014/ mehisto_ criteria_ for_producing_clil_ learning_ material. pdf

6. Meyer, O. Towards quality CLIL: successful planning and teaching strategies. - Pulso, 33, 2010. – PP. 11-29.

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №10 - 2018

About journal
About KAFU

   © 2022 - KAFU Academic Journal