Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Examining Teachers' Views on the Implementation of English as L3 into Primary Schools: A Case of Kazakhstan

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Examining Teachers' Views on the Implementation of English as L3 into Primary Schools: A Case of Kazakhstan

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the last two decades, the importance of the English language in Kazakhstani society is increasingly being discussed in the press and at research forums, and proficiency in English has been widely regarded as a national as well as a personal asset (Cortazzi & Jin, 1996; Adamson, 2001; Hu, 2002a; Jin & Cortazzi, 2003). In the Annual Address of the President, Nursultan Nazarbayev - to the people of Kazakhstan " Kazakhstan Way - 2050: Common Goal, Common Interest and Common Future" (2015) the President mentioned that "We have a great deal of work to do to improve the quality of all parts of national education. For a modern citizen of Kazakhstan, proficiency in three languages is a requirement for self well-being. High school graduates should speak Kazakh, Russian and English. Therefore, I believe by 2020 the proportion of the English speaking population should be at least 20 percent".

On a national level, English language has been viewed by Kazakhstani leadership as having a vital role to play in national modernization and development (Ross, 1992; Adamson & Morris, 1997). On an individual level, proficiency in English can lead to a host of economic, social and educational opportunities; that is, it can provide access to both material resources and 'symbolic capital' (Bourdieu, 1991) for the betterment of personal well-being. For example, it is a great opportunity to get higher education at home or abroad, lucrative employment in the public or private sector, professional advancement and social prestige (Hu, 2002b, 2003; Jiang, 2003). Due to the prominence accorded to English and the escalating demands for English proficiency, huge national and individual efforts and resources have been invested in English language education and development (Niu & Wolff, 2003).

Currently, the general conceptual basis of language development in Kazakhstan is " The State program of languages functioning and development: 2011-2020", which is designed to be implemented over a period of ten years. The main objective of the program is to expand and strengthen the social and communicative functions of the state language (Kazakh), to preserve of common culture features of Russian language and to assist in the development of English and other foreign languages. In the framework of the State program of functioning and development of languages, the realization of a national cultural project "Trinity of languages", which establishes the rules for the content and the level of bachelor preparation as well as, the volume of workload in Kazakh, Russian and English, has started.

Substantial reforms are being carried out as part of the implementation of a qualitative transition to instruction in pilot projects at different levels (schools, colleges, universities) where students are taught in three languages. Excellent results have been achieved by the Kazakh-Turkish lyceum; multilingual education has been successfully implemented in the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools with the help of professionally trained teaching staff, efficient teaching technologies and the desire of students to study in three languages (Zhetpisbayeva & Shelestova, 2015). Since 2004, 32 schools have introduced an experimental program of studying English starting from the second grade with one hour per week. In 2011, English was studied from Grade 2 in 115 schools, involving a total contingent of more than 51,000 students.

Early learning to master foreign languages has been considered in the State Program of Education Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for the period of 2011-2020. The program aims at bringing together the existing practice of Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) and international experience in the same field (Zhetpisbayeva & Shelestova, 2015). Also, the program ensures the continuity of foreign language education and consistency of educational programs; it determines the high quality and efficiency of a multilingual personal development as one of the most significant factors in the development of the intellectual potential of a country (SP of DE RK, 2010). …

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