Just a year ago I taught academic English courses in Almaty at a westernized university. I had the rare privilege of teaching 100 Kazakh students in five different classes. I was dedicated to teaching to the best of my abilities in the given environment. However, a few of the Kazakh or Kazakhstani teachers at this university were hostile to what I was attempting to do as a foreigner. Yes, I would even say some of the Kazakh administrators didn’t want their boat to be rocked that they were comfortably sitting in. They were of the camp of “this is the way we have always done it.” However, in some cases they made up their own rules to maintain power that they had scratched and clawed to achieve over the worker bees. (I left behind some very good Kazakh teachers and students) All are hurt by these extreme politics where the supposed “winners,” who are paid very well, are those still in control. They are clueless to the changes going on in the rest of the world through modern technology. THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW!!!
I can’t even imagine the rancor and animosity that exists in my former place of employment in Almaty. I feel very blessed to be a part of this new vision at the new university in Astana. I am surrounded by Kazakh teachers who are very teachable. Therefore, I think that their testimonies to what is innovative and of modern technology is my best advocate for why I continue to teach in Kazakhstan. Please read on what the Ministry of Education people are reading of my year end report translated into Russian. I want my hopeful tone of change to ring true for them. The best is for them to read what their own Kazakh teachers think and what they have experienced this past fall semester.
VI. My PDP students comments on a range of things they have learned over the last ten weeks:
Student #1 “Edusoft is a new software program which helps us teach our students. We can add new units, different topics for our students. Mainly, we will be able to control our students’ achievement and progress with the help of this program. When I was a student, I used this program. But it was very old version. Compared with old version, new one is convenient and more useful for us (for teachers) and also for students.”
Student #2 “I especially liked the product from EduSoft as I was familiar with this program beforehand at Orken school. All our teachers liked it and sent their thoughts on this program to the management company of Orken. But no attention was given to that program….So EduSoft gives us lots of opportunities to supervise the students’ progress. At the same time making the content of the program on our own, which really encourages the students to learn real English. In general, it would be better to set this program up especially for schools in Kazakhstan. I’m sure it will affect the students’ progress and increase their interests to learn English.”
Student #3 “It is always interesting to go through different kinds of courses and studying something new is of course challenging. However, teachers must always study something new in order to keep up to date with new generation and to be always interesting for the students, otherwise, it won’t motivate students from someone who is behind. Nowadays our new generation is very computerized and of course, we, as the teachers, have to bring new technologies in our classes and create new methods of teaching. And here at the university [in our PDP classes] we are learning so many useful things that will help me to gradually create new method of teaching. And, of course, there are still so many things for me to learn and I don’t want to stop learning them.”
Student #4 “I want to use everything I learnt here. I didn’t know about the power of Internet before, now I appreciate it so much! We have interactive boards at our schools and an access to internet (though not to all the sites) so I can show everything to them [students]. I like especially blogging – it can develop our students’ cognitive skills, writing skills, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, everything. We can achieve several aims by blogging – educational, cultural, upbringing. Educational means grammar, vocabulary, spelling. Upbringing – learn to hear other people’s opinions and respect them but at the same time defend your own. Cultural – you learn more about some new things, culture, traditions of other countries. It’s great!!!
Student #5 “www:whenever, whatever, wherever”
As you may have guessed already, this is about opportunities with access to Internet
“Whenever” is the convenience I had and have: I can accomplish my assignments whenever I am free and want to. Just have to finish till due time. Yay!!! To NU Public Wi-fi
“Whatever” is the opportunities to be heard and to be paid attention throughout the world with Internet access. The most important right now for me is my blog and my surveys. I pity one thing, that I was not introduced to Survey Monkey or Web Master Survey long before when I wrote my paper for Pedagogical Institute.
“Wherever” is the dimension I got with blogging. Wherever you go and wherever you could be, if you just click you URL for your blog, you will be again have followers to your blogsite. Dimension is that anyone from any corner of the universe no matter Spaniard, English or German can read about things happening here in Kazakhstan, know something about Kazakhstan.”
Student #6 “I like the idea of using blogging to develop learners’ writing and what’s more essential, decision making abilities. Sure, it won’t be easy to start a new trend in Kazakh schools. We face the problems of schools not sufficiently provided with computers and of course, not every student has access to the Internet both at school and at home…Using blogging on the writing lessons has many advantages, the students write willingly; they enlarge their vocabulary and learn to work independently.”
(to be continued)