Some of the peculiarities and challenges of teaching in Kazakhstan.

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The Republic of Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world. Its area is 2,724,900 sq. km. The nature is so diverse: mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, canyons, hot springs, steppe and forests – you can find it all here. Descendants of the nomadic culture, Kazakh people still respect the traditions of hospitality.  It is a very peaceful and politically stable country. More than one hundred and thirty ethnicities call Kazakhstan their motherland. Such a melting pot of traditions develops into a unique and diverse subculture. There are numerous festivals of folk music, craft fairs, and exhibitions on any given day. The city cafes and restaurants will treat you with traditional Kazakh, Russian, Georgian, Uighur, Dungan, Uzbek, Indian, Ukrainian, Chinese, Check, Italian, Korean and other food.

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The Constitution guarantees the freedom of choosing the confession. Sometimes, a church, a mosque, and a temple stand next to each other, and it does not bother any group of people, including somebody like myself – agnostics. There are only a few countries in the world that equally celebrate Muslim Kurban-Bairam, Christian Easter, and a pagan new year – Nauryz, and Kazakhstan is one of them.

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Most of foreigners find the living conditions quite comfortable. We have central heating, stable electrical and water supply, developed public transportation, banking, sports facilities and other products of civilization.  But watch out for taxi drivers – they think it is their duty to charge you 10 times more than a local! Get agreement on the price before the ride, or use Uber, InDriver and other apps for the smartphone.

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Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for foreigners who get their salary in Euro or US Dollar, the national currency continues to fall. Of course, there is a luxury segment in entertainment, and the prices vary in different regions, but on average, with 10 dollars in your pocket you will be able to spend a good day, enjoying food, concerts, cinemas and exhibitions. Native English speaking teachers can easily negotiate $1,000 and more, which will be enough to cover your living expenses and fun social life.

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There is a surprise waiting for a foreign teacher, who comes to the class for the first time. It is quite a pleasant one – in our country students stand up to greet the teacher.  Beside the sign of respect it help students to “switch their brains” from previous activity or conversations and focus on the subject.

The Kazakh educational system provides quite a broad range of knowledge and information in different spheres, but when it comes to the development of such important competencies as collaboration, critical thinking and creativity it leaves much space for improvement. Pupils get used to receiving and following teacher’s instructions. They are rarely given tasks that require independent or group thinking.  Because of that the following typical situations may happen.

Situation 1 – Reading. You give time for students to go through the text and then ask questions to see if they understood it.  The learners use the shortcuts: they find the sentence with the same words that were in a question and read it.  They may not pay attention to the fact that the question had “not” in it, and asked for different information.

Situation 2 – Speaking. Your purpose is to activate the vocabulary on a specific subject. Let it be “Shopping”. If you ask to make dialogues “In the shop” it won’t be enough. You would have to assign roles (a shop assistant and a client), provide more specifics on the type of a shop (food/clothes), and explain what they conversation must be about (return/looking for different size or color, etc.)

Situation 3 – Writing. You ask students to write an opinion paragraph, or a problem/solution essay. The students search the Internet and plagiarize the text, without even trying to paraphrase.

Situation 4 – Team work. Group studies and team projects are not common in our schools. If you teach children and young people without work experience, then you will have to facilitate the process.

Situation 5 – Collusion. The understanding of “friendship” takes a strange form.  If the learner rejects to give his work to be copied by another student, he will be considered to be a bad friend and a mean person.    

Good thing is that all these difficulties can be overcome with the time. Just be persistent, and explain your requirements and expectations clearly.

By Динара Карамуратова

 

To learn about our TEFL courses please visit teflbarcelona.net

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