Posts tagged Citation Builder

“Why We Teach Overseas” (Part III)

Several days ago I started this series about why my husband and I spend most of our time overseas in the former Soviet Union, in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Bottomline, we both like challenges of living in a different environment from our own.

4. Being and staying organized while living and teaching overseas can be a challenge. First of all, I’ve experienced in China, Ukraine and Central Asia that May is a dangerous month to require too much heavy testing or written work to be put into the syllabus schedule.  Holidays are liberally celebrated during this month and it is just as well because by this time teachers and students are tired of schoolwork and the great outdoors with warmer spring weather is a welcome distraction.

However, because we were Peace Corps and I was the TEFL training coordinator, I was able to set up my own schedule despite what the rest of the country was doing for their set holidays. During this training session in summer of 1993, I effectively used my time to enable the PCVs to be up to speed on how to teach English in a Kazakh classroom.  I implemented a Model School for three weeks, where 32 PCVs took turns in six different classrooms teaching English to primary school age children.  We had about 120 Kazakh students who participated in this Model School. It took a lot of coordination but was well worth it to give confidence to those inexperienced PCVs who did not have any teaching experience before this assignment in Kazakhstan.  Many of the PCVs were trained as journalists but they quickly learned during our TEFL training sessions, especially with young subjects in front of them, eager to learn English.

While I enjoy creativity and flexibility, I also appreciate structure. This makes it so much easier to walk into a classroom with a well thought out lesson plan, thorough textbooks that adequately cover the material and an overall good curriculum that touches on all the necessary skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking in an integrated way.

Second, I enjoy researching and have presented several papers having to do with my own Norwegian ancestor’s history.  I’ve also learned about my students (Ukrainian and Kazakh) history.  When I ask them about their grandparents or grand grandparents, they are very proud of their ancestors and do well in writing about them.  I have presented at history conferences (four papers) and many times at international TESOL conferences.  I enjoy researching and try to help my Kazakh students enjoy it too.  Many helpful websites such as Thesis Statement Builder and Citation Builder make the attributing of sources less onerous.

5. I have many years experience living overseas and coping with cultural differences. I enjoy the moment of breaking through to have a “normal day.”  I have taught in many similar settings to Astana, Kazakhstan and have lived outside of my own home country for over 15 years.  I think I bring an immense amount of experience that my fellow teachers and colleagues might benefit from.  I enjoy helping to coordinate solutions for those who are new at living overseas, dealing with exasperating “cultural moments” when things don’t go according to our westernized sensibilities.

Also, I DO know how extreme the weather can be in Astana but I’m from northwestern Minnesota that shares a similar climate.  In order to cope with the cold, you must find a sport that you enjoy doing outdoors.  I like to cross-country ski and it is great exercise to help alleviate stresses due to living in this sometimes very perplexing culture.

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Today’s “Virtual Classroom” in Kazakhstan

Our Kazakhstani teachers in the Language Center will have three days of professional development workshops which should be exciting for me and the 30-40 teachers who show up to learn.  Some have already signed a “Contract of Involvement” of what they want to accomplish in our “Virtual Classroom” since they all have varying degrees of skill levels with the computer.  I think they will be thrilled to be learning for two hours at their own computer going at their own pace. 

I was happy to find a typing tutorial and speed tests for 1 minute up to 5 minutes.  Some of the teachers will want to practice that, others will be VERY ecstatic about using the URLs to build thesis statements and also outlines!!! It is similar to the Citation Builder where you put in the information and then the computer works it all out for you in either MLA or APA formatted style.  Pretty soon we will give computers our ideas and opinions and it will spit back a fully cited essay, plagiarism free!!!  Just kidding, but it is fun to have such a fantasy outside the box in our virtual classroom. 8)

For my powerpoint presentation this morning for the teachers, I’ll be using many quotes from President Nazarbayev’s latest book titled The Kazakhstan Way, just out as of this year by a London publisher, Stacey International.  The following are quotes of Nazarbayev’s that I’ll use from his Afterword under the heading titled “Education and National Identity.”

p. 327 When speaking of the nation’s competitiveness, it should not be forgotten that competitiveness is, first and foremost, about making the most of one’s advantage.  However, before we can identify them, we must first understand who we are…


And in the twenty-first century it is to give life to individuals of a particular caliber, and generate new ideas.  The skills of the steppe mentality we have inherited in our genes perfectly reflect the global trends of mobility and systemic organization.  Nomads were always mobile, and all their actions, seemingly incomprehensible at first glance, always conformed to the set cycles of the weather and principles of social mutual relations.


The concept of ‘lifelong learning’ that places emphasis on continual education and the regular refreshment of personal skills is embedded in the field of education worldwide…


National baggage should not hamper the integration of the Kazakhstani younger generation in the field of general education worldwide, or reduce their competitiveness.


Every Kazakhstani should have a sense of his own worth and take responsibility for his actions and life.  Learning to assess a situation in an analytical and critical manner and taking key decisions, being able to work creatively with information, including the latest IT – that’s what really counts.


p. 328 The shortage of creative people sure of their potential and abilities to take worthwhile risks may be the greatest obstacle in Kazakhstan’s way to developing a science-based economy.


p. 329 Kazakh saying “Try to master seven languages and know seven sciences.”


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