Archive for February 18, 2011

Impressions of American Guest Speaker Who Knows Kazakh (Part II)

A continuation of impressions from my Professional Development students which are written from their heart, here are three more:

Student #4 – Yesterday, we had a wonderful talk with Chad Harris, whom we waited for so long. It was a wonderful experience, he is a very interesting person. He has a lot to say and good advice. I was in the role of the observer. My friend told about him a lot and it seemed to me that I know him. He raised up-to-date topical questions about Kazakh language and teaching methods. He made me think about patriotic feelings and I realized that they started from the language you speak. Chad told the truth about people’s acceptance and their attitude towards each other. Especially Kazakh people. I do believe that we must speak our mother tongue, but people should be more encouraging and tolerant, otherwise we will not be able to learn it because of shame.

Student #5 – I was impressed by Chad and his Kazakh. There are 4 pieces of advice that I got from him:
1) If you go abroad choose home-stay – it is the best way to learn a language. By the way I heard the same advice from Jon Larsen
2) make students create a real-life situation and speak English with someone at home while, for example, drinking tea, as a home work assignment.
3) Give each student a glass where you can put a bean for each well-done work. Then at the end of the week we can count them and award the students with the most beans.
The last advice he gave is concerned with learning Kazakh language:
4) Speak Kazakh with one another! Don’t be ashamed and don’t laugh at somebody who makes mistakes.

Student #6 -On Tuesday at last we had a meeting with Chad Harris. He met all my expectations and I liked him a lot. He talked to all of us and each one in person. I liked that he had a warming and encouraging word for everyone. I think he gave us a good support when said that we all were on right way.

Also he told us his experience with learning Kazakh, the conditions he had and how people around unconsciously helped him. But what drew my attention slowly turned from learning Kazakh to his family. He was giving some extracts from how they work with their kids. They read stories, motivate them by giving bean for good work then in the end counting them. And I loved much story telling side. I just had a vision that Chad is sitting with his sons around him and tells “Imagine that there is…” telling stories about Jesus and his sons listening. I like that they motivate with upcoming gifts according to beans’ number. I thought, how interesting, do our Kazakh families also motivate kids in such a way?

I myself remember that sometimes when mom was not busy she read me stories from my books and I loved it much, or that when I learned how to write letters, we Mom’s brother, Mom’s sister, my sister and me had competitions “Who will draw the letters best?”. But they were not so regular as I wished them to be.

As I am getting into teaching more than before I started to think how right I will work with my own kids, will I be good mother and teacher? I want my kids to know English, speak Kazakh and be fluent in Russian from early stages and they will practice doing that long before school. Then when Chad told us how they work with their kids, I thought the same I would do with my kids, it seems very good methodology!
As for what he told us about Kazakh, indeed we need to comfort people who wants to speak Kazakh but unfortunately do not know. All of a sudden I understood that learning Kazakh is the same process as learning English. The most beneficial condition for people to learn speak English is creating English speaking surrounding and encouraging! Loads of encouraging. This is what we lack with Kazakh, it is getting a form of stereotype to blame and mock people if they do not know Kazakh, but how will they speak Kazakh if they don’t have and reason to learn it?! They do not know, but want – we mock and blame. They do now know and don’t want – we say: “Shame on you, you are living in Kazakhstan.” They do not know and doesn’t know why they have to learn it – we don’t give any motivation or even try to convince them. I think it takes time to change it for better, but still will others know our mistake as well as we did after this talk?

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