Perspectives on the role of foreign language
To begin with let’s denote some statistics. In 1998, Ziad got into the Guinness Book of Records, where it was mentioned that at that time he spoke fifty-eight languages. Each of us knows that there are a lot of different languages belonging to different language families. To be precise there are 7151 of them. Approximately 43% of the Earth’s population speaks two languages and about 13% are polylingual, which means they know 3 languages. What do you think, how many people speak 4 or more languages? The correct answer is around 3%. You may have an opinion that this indicator is low but in fact learning foreign languages is not as easy as you can imagine. Now then, what are the reasons and advantages of being polyglot?
The advantages of learning foreign languages are mushrooming as the world becomes increasingly globalized and bilingualism is now perhaps the most useful real-world skill to ever exist, rather than just being a nifty party trick. Foreign language study is all about learning how to truly communicate and connect with others. A few examples for you:
- Learning a foreign language opens up a world of job opportunities. Being able to communicate in other languages makes you much more valuable to an employer and having that competitive edge on your resume.
- Studying a new culture helps you meet new and interesting people.
- Foreign languages open the door to art, music, dance, fashion, film, philosophy, science and more.
One of or even perhaps the most spread language in the world is English. Nowadays in many countries it is considered that it is extremely crucial for present and future life. Over than 700 million people speak English as foreign language. India and China are leaders in the number of people using it as a second language. 85% of international conferences and organizations use English and 75% of all letters and telegrams are written in English. Futurologists say that in less than a hundred years the language barrier will disappear, and people will communicate exclusively in English. The English language has all the conditions to become mandatory for learning by every person in 10 years. Nevertheless, what will happen to English in 100 years?
It is difficult to make predictions for such a distant time. 100 years ago, English was just beginning to flourish. Although the British Empire occupied half the world, most of the royal subjects did not speak the language of their kings. It is only in India and some African countries educated people have since become accustomed to speaking English. But there are still not too many of them as a percentage of the entire population. By the end of the last century, computer technology gave a new impetus to English. Operating systems, applications, games – all this was originally created in English, then, at best, translated into other languages. It is not known how the achievements of science and technology will affect the life of mankind. Will the language survive at all, and will people still have a need for classical languages? The future of the English language as a global means of international communication is not so cloudless and requires constant support and attention. But if events develop in the same vein as in recent decades, then we can conclude that English will remain just as in demand. Only the global situation was touched. What about Kazakhstan?
In Kazakhstan English was entered into the school curriculum in the 1961-1962 academic year as one of the main languages during the USSR. In English proficiency worldwide, Kazakhstan ranks 96th out of 112 countries. The level of English language proficiency in Kazakhstan is assessed as very low. The study showed that in Kazakhstan the level of English proficiency is highest in Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Karaganda and Kokshetau. The lowest rates are in Atyrau, Taraz, Kostanay and Shymkent. The authors of study note that the English level in Central Asia is noticeably lower than in the rest of the region, in part because Russian is most often taught as a second language in schools. The region is beginning to focus more on international trade, so Central Asia will increasingly need people who know English. The trilingual model of education in Kazakh, Russian and English was included in the educational policy agenda in 2004 and has been one of the priorities ever since. For example, trilingual teaching experiments were launched in 2007 and were conducted at 33 schools in different parts of the country. The government developed a roadmap for 2015-2020, which included a set of measures that the government had to take in order to promote the formation of trilingual education at all levels of education. However, these efforts are poorly reflected in various types of measurements.
English is important for the future of Kazakhstan. Schools such as Nazarbayev Intellectual School (NIS), (KTL), higher education institutions like Nazarbayev University, KIMEP, KBTU, SDU + almost all foreign universities require high standards of English language proficiency. It is important to note that in most universities in Kazakhstan there are already groups with a mixed language of instruction. Taking into account that trilingual education is being introduced in Kazakhstan, knowledge of English will become something ordinary and mandatory in the foreseeable future.