Multilingual education in the Republic of Kazakhstan: problems and perspectives

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №9 - 2017

Author: Muratbekkyzy Kymbat , Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

The Republic of Kazakhstan carries out a radical modernization of the education system, actively implementing a policy of multilingualism in the educational process. Only a few countries of the CIS develop multilingualism at the state level. Most of the former Soviet Republics from the category of countries with a strong bilingualism turned its language policy in the direction of monolingualism. In Kazakhstan the English language is developing at the state level in accordance with the tasks set by the President of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev. The initiative of the head of state, the project "Trinity of languages" is implementing. Multilingualism as a strategic priority of the education is also set in the State program of education development for 2011-2020. By 2020, 100% of the population of Kazakhstan must speak the Kazakh language, and 95% Russian and 25% English, but there are intermediate points of the report.

Now we can say that the formation of Kazakhstan's statehood and civil society is at the beginning of a new stage of its development, qualitatively different from the previous one. On the one hand, there are reasons to assert that during the first two decades of independence, Kazakhstan had been successfully established the Kazakhstan model of interethnic and interconfessional tolerance; largely thanks to this such strategic objectives as the preservation of independence and territorial integrity of the country, reaching of inter-ethnic and inter-confessional peace and economic and political stability have been successfully solved. On the other hand, at the moment the Kazakhstani public and the expert community come to the realization that interethnic and inter-confessional peace and harmony are only a necessary starting condition for the successful consolidation of the society in a single political nation; this realization of strategically important tasks of the new stage of development of the country is reflected in the Doctrine of national unity of Kazakhstan.

The strategic goal for the new stage of development of the country lies not just in the future maintaining of a achieved, but in the transformation of the Kazakhstan society to a new qualitative state, which can be achieved through the knowledge of the original culture and language of the Kazakh people and all other peoples living on the territory of modern Kazakhstan.

On the way of development of multilingualism in the education system there are already some results. As noted in the speeches of the Minister of education and science of Kazakhstan, the translation and publication in the national language of the best foreign textbooks for University students will be implemented by the Ministry. Since 2004, an experiment on early teaching of foreign languages has been carrying out in the country.

In a world practice, the study of issues related to the problems of multilingualism and multilingual education are studied comprehensively. Multilingual education is under scrutiny of UNESСO. American psychological Association conducts special studies on cognitive abilities of multilingualism in pedagogy and policy. Issues of multilingualism, education and culture have been considering annually at the meetings of the Commission of the European Community since 2007. Moreover, the European Commission awards grants for research on multilingualism with the use of e-learning. In the World Wide Web, a considerable number of scientific articles on the role of Internet resources in multilingual education have appeared.

Certain experience in the implementation of multilingual education in the system of secondary and higher education has accumulated in the educational space of Kazakhstan. It is the experience of multilingual education in Nazarbayev Intellectual schools, Kazakh-Turkish high schools, schools for gifted children "Daryn" and others.

Currently there are over 30 schools with teaching in three languages. It is planned that the 476 schools will move to a system of multilingual education, and 9 universities of the Republic will carry out training on special subjects in English, the work on the training of English teachers for secondary, technical and vocational, and higher education in the framework of international scholarship of the President RK "Bolashak" has already begun. One of the major directions of modernization of system of training of the innovative staff is the training of multilingual specialists for our state.

To perform the tasks of development of multilingual education and integration into the world economic and educational space, there is needed the involvement in the multilingual training of a wide range of students, training of multilingual specialists, high school teachers, University professors. This is especially important in connection with the upcoming transition to 12-year education.

The study of the state of multilingual education and the analysis show that a number of sequential activities should be made, namely:

- to study the actual situation of multilingual education in the Republic of Kazakhstan;

- explore the global experience of implementation of multilingual education;

- to develop a model of implementation of multilingual education in the aspect of requirements of the State program of education development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020;

- to develop a model of multi-lingual specialist.

The search for effective ways of training multilingual staff indicates the need to resolve the following issues:

- mismatch of existing qualifications and characteristics to the requirements to multilingual specialists;

- lack of regulatory and program-methodological support of polylingual education;

- the absence of a unified concept of preparation of multilingual professionals based on competence approach;

- insufficient knowledge of foreign countries experience in the implementation of multilingual education.

Multilingual education is inextricably linked to the performance of the main parameters of the Bologna process, a correlation and unification of curricula with the European standards of education. As the implementation of the Concept of 12 years of education, as one of the solutions, the implementation of the foundation program (the real 12th grade) with a focus on multilingualism and the study of the foundations of fundamental Sciences that will be learned in the first year of study at the University, is proposed. In this case, a full curriculum of preparation of bachelors is 5 years (1 year foundation program + 4 years bachelor's). Starting from the second year, the training in specialized disciplines is offered. Specialized disciplines need to be studied in the following proportions: ½ in the state language, ¼ in Russian and ¼ in English for groups with the Kazakh education. For Russian-speaking groups ¼ on the state language, ½ Russian, ¼ in English. In this case, students can take General education unit and intensive language training.

The Foundation program, firstly would solve the problem of multilingual education, and secondly, the problem of transition to a 12-year education and, thirdly, the problem of multilingual staff, who will lead the learning process will be resolved in a short term. The modern system of education places high demands on the teacher of the higher school, the quality of its activities directly related to the quality of training of future specialists.

One of the effective ways of initial training of multilingual staff is adding to the list of the basic disciplines of standard curricula of such disciplines as "Professionally-oriented foreign language, Professional Kazakh or Russian".

In the multilingual process big role is played by the state and official language. Currently, the generation of the Kazakh speaking Kazakh youth has almost grown – both rural and urban – that had already formed in the years of independence (years of birth from the mid-late 1980s), who graduated from Kazakh schools, and if continue their education, mostly in the Kazakh departments of universities. These boys and girls have quite serious social expectations in language, and develop an appropriate strategy. Unlike the generation of their parents, they are much more painfully and more actively react to the fact that a significant portion of their fellow citizens not only do not speak Kazakh, but do not even understand the language.

The idea of formation of the Kazakh language as the state became property of the public consciousness, and has already been adopted seriously by a significant portion of society. The government strictly monitors the implementation of the "Law on languages". There are dramatic changes of expanding the functions of the Kazakh language.

The Russian-speaking population of our country, which are mainly concentrated in the major cities of the country, needs not only to master the Kazakh language, to communicate and to answer the test questions, but they should be able to think in that language. (Under the Russian-speaking population, I also mean Kazakhs who do not speak their native language). Therefore, our most important task in this question is to attract the Russian-speaking population to the study of the Kazakh culture and their active involvement in educational and cultural life in the state language. It is necessary to maintain the life of the Kazakh language as the natural language of national creativity.

The implementation of the main tasks on multilingual education in the framework of the State program of education development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020, as we all know, requires thoughtful organizational and institutional arrangements. It is therefore necessary to create a coordinating scientific and methodical Republican center (Institute) of the development of multilingualism, the tasks of which will be:

- analysis of the language situation in educational institutions;

- development of the conceptual foundations of multilingual education and training of multilingual staff;

- organization of pedagogical experiment on improvement of learning in three languages, as well as dissemination of the results of the experiment;

- the use of electronic e-learning training for the effective preparation of multilingual staff.

Due to the diversity and multi-dimensionality, the problem of multilingualism needs to have focused the attention of scientists of different scientific schools. Therefore, the Center of multilingual education needs to be multidisciplinary. Implementation of multilingualism is needed in constant scientific support. In this regard, it is necessary to analyze sociolinguistic and intercultural factors influencing the development of multilingualism in Kazakhstan. This will provide an opportunity to identify the real situation of multilingual education with a view to the further preparation of proposals and comments on the preparation of multilingual staff.

It is necessary to learn the advanced experience of the leading multilingual countries (Canada, USA, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Singapore, Malaysia). Systematization and generalization of world experience of multilingual education, introduction of effective learning methods at each level of education will allow the Centre of multilingualism:

– to develop a detailed proposals for the implementation of the most modern methods and technologies of teaching in the polylingual teaching;

– to improve the level of professionalism of teachers, which in turn will affect the quality of the preparation of multilingual staff;

– to increase the competitiveness of alternative language education programs.

Learning languages in the educational system of Kazakhstan has established tradition: a teaching material for teaching Kazakh and Russian languages as a second foreign is developed by professors of leading universities of Kazakhstan - Kazakh national University al-Farabi KazNPU named after Abay, foreign languages KazUIR & WL named after Abylai Khan. Experimental platforms for the implementation of multilingual education in our Republic, as we know, are Karaganda state University named after E.A. Buketov and the Kazakh University of international relations and world languages named after Abylai Khan. The Associations on cross-cultural communication watch closely over the evolution of language policy in Kazakhstan, and are interested in developing theoretical and methodological base.

Multilingualism as an important direction of the development of mankind has been aware for a long time. Today it is impossible to imagine that somewhere else there are countries where people speak only one language. In reality, there are no civilized countries where once only one nation.

Kazakhstan is a multinational country. People of different ethnicities live here like one big happy family, get acquainted with the languages of other nationalities and learn their languages.

An important strategic objective of education in Kazakhstan is, on the one hand, the preservation of the best of Kazakhstani educational traditions, on the other, ensuring the graduates of schools with international qualifications, the development of their linguistic consciousness, based on the master of the state, native and foreign languages.

Kazakhstan pays great attention to the study of the languages of the peoples of this country. Here Kazakh is the state language, and Russian is the language of interethnic communication. On the state program textbooks of a new generation are published in the country in six languages: Kazakh, Russian, Uigur, Uzbek, Turkish and German. Foreign languages are studied in all schools. Considering, that training in schools, colleges and universities is carried out in the state Kazakh language and in the language of interethnic communication, Russian and the curricula of all educational institutions provide the study of not only Russian, but at least, one more foreign language, then we can say that Kazakhstan has already formed a bilingual situation and the trend of multilingual education.

The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev, in his address to the nation in 2009, "New Kazakhstan in a new world" noted that in order to ensure the competitiveness of the country and its citizens, proposed phased implementation of the cultural project "Trinity of languages", according to which it is necessary to develop three languages: Kazakh as the state language, Russian as the language of interethnic communication and English as the language of successful integration into the global economy.

In the opinion of the President Nazarbayev "... Kazakhstan is unique and strong in its multiethnicity. His land formed a unique multicultural space... Multiculturalism of Kazakhstan is a progressive factor in the development of society. Eurasian roots of the peoples of Kazakhstan allow to connect Eastern, Asian, Western, European flows and create unique Kazakhstan variant of the development of multiculturalism".

Multilingualism is the basis of formation of the polycultural personality. Multilingual person is a person who speaks, understands and capable in various situations to use foreign languages. Learning a foreign language does not mean getting education. About multilingual education we can say in those cases, when studying a foreign language are taught in other disciplines, e.g., literature of the studied language, geography, etc.

To achieve international standard level of proficiency in several foreign languages, the concept of multilingual education was formulated. It involves the formation of poly-lingual personality with a certain selection of content, learning principles, the development of special technology using multilingual phrasebooks, dictionaries and educational literature, which would indicate the similarities and differences between basic, intermediate and new language learning. In new technologies of training it is necessary to ensure the identity of the content of learning second and third languages, starting with universal linguistic phenomena to move to a specific.

Levels of formation of the polylingual personality are to some extent conventional, as they can have a variety of combinations. Fundamental purpose of foreign language teaching is the formation of multicultural and multilingual personality with informational, communicative and intellectual needs, skills and competencies that will enable it to operate successfully in the conditions of intercultural communication and vocational language activities.

Based on the theory of Y.N. Karaulova, the model of Willingness, some levels of a language personality are distinguished.

The model of Willingness. Verbal-semantic level of the polylingual personality.

1. Willingness to pronunciation, perception and discrimination of sounds, sound combinations of French and Russian:

– willingness to distinguish word boundaries, to feel and distinguish the specificity of the French accent (on last syllable), and Russian (rolling);

– willingness to distinguish between intonational structures digestible language.

2. Willingness to nominations using the iconic system of three languages (the ability of the individual to the Association with the objects and phenomena of sound systems of three languages):

– willingness to the choice of words in three languages;

– willingness to use linguistic terminology in the target languages.

Thesaurus level of the multilingual individual.

Readiness for the reception of grammatical structures of French and Russian:

– willingness for speech in Vietnamese, French and Russian languages;

– mastering the rules of spelling;

– willingness for writing in three languages;

– willingness to understand and to reproduce the speech grammar model.

Motivational level of the polylingual personality.

4. The quality of the reading and retelling:

– willingness to produce and perceive the texts of everyday use– mastery of the tempo of spontaneous speech;

– willingness to maintain a dialogue, to distinguish between replica, ask questions;

– willingness to retell the text read;

Multilingual competence is not just the knowledge of several foreign languages. Multilingual competence is the possession with the system of linguistic knowledge, the ability to identify similar and different in the linguistic organization of different languages, the understanding of the mechanisms of the language and algorithms of speech acts, possession of meta-cognitive strategies and well-developed cognitive ability. Multilingual competence is not the sum of knowledge of specific languages, but is a single complex, often asymmetrical configuration of competencies, which supports the user. It improves the understanding of the methods and process of studying foreign languages and develops the ability to communicate and act in new situations. Multilingual competence makes possible and successful the operation of self-mastery of the basics of a previously unknown languages so that the competence of multilingualism may be seen not only as a possession of several foreign languages, but also as the ability to learn foreign languages, possession of a "sense of language", the desire and ability to independently learn foreign languages.

The years of development of sovereign Kazakhstan shows that bilingualism and multilingualism in society not only infringe upon the rights and dignity of the Kazakh language, but also creates all necessary conditions for its development and progress. But it depends on well thought-out language policy of the President Nazarbayev and the state and the capacity of the nation to preserve and develop the culture, history and language of the Kazakh people.

The concept of language policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan determines the Russian language as the main source of information on different areas of science and technology, as a means of communication with the near and far abroad. The development of the state, Kazakh, language, the preservation and development of Russian, the implementation of a policy of multilingual education – these tasks are important but difficult. It is possible to solve this problem only together, with the effort of all members of society.


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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №9 - 2017

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