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The English language environment for STEM teachers in the Astana Orleu Branch

The English language environment for STEM teachers in the  Astana Orleu Branch

The English language environment for STEM teachers in the Astana Orleu Branch

Have you ever been in the situation where you should use the language of the surrounding which you are less competent;   especially, where you are required to use and speak in the language of this environment because of a person who you are working do not understand you or your language?  The teacher trainees of Astana branch of  “Orleu” National Center  of Professional Development have been experiencing similar situation.

Teacher trainees of our branch have been developing their communicative skills English with foreign trainers that are native speakers of the English language to learn CLIL approach better.  Due to the fact that Kazakhstani education system is striving for implementing the trilingual education program in the mainstream schools, our branch has been providing two professional development courses in English for the science teachers (Biologist, Chemists and Physicist) and Computer Studies teachers.  In our courses, trainees have opportunities to formulate emerging English communication skills.  Now the courses are in the last stage. According to the program, which is approved by the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, teachers are learning how to use CLIL approach thoroughly through the English language.  It means that teachers whose L1 is Kazakh or Russian are using English to learn CLIL method. In the sessions, they try to interact with each other only in English. Whatever they hear, listen to, read, write and speak, they should use English. This is because the environment requires trainees undelibirately shift to this target language. The foreign trainers, Mark Edward and Paul Hutson, interact and response to them only in English.

More clearly, the classroom environment seems safe for trainees.   This is because these trainers are putting their effort to facilitate the learning process for them.  They speak to them in a simple and easy language; apply multimodalities (gestures, voice, pictures, videos and different arrangement of desks); try to engage all trainees although they have different level of English and different needs; strive for meeting the needs of each trainee; and provide the immediate and constructive feedback to every activities of teacher –trainees. Sometimes, some teachers who are less competent in using English language realize they can speak simply in English due to such encouragement.

As for activities, they are various and meaningful for STEM teachers.  They do discussion,  a small group projects;  lesson planning and micro-teaching. Sometimes, they focus on the final exams, which are Cambridge Exams as FCE (First Certificate of Cambridge and TKT CLIL (Teaching Knowledge Test Content and language Integrated Learning  The former test examines the language proficiency. Because of the test format, our trainees are learning and practicing on how to write essay, article, email, letter of application and report; interact in English language; read and listen to a range of genre.  Even though these skills seem to be necessary for passing FCE, they can be very useful for running authentic CLIL lessons in future as well.  This is because in CLIL learners should be able to interact with each other, read, write and listen to a different texts.  As CLIL teachers, our trainees can benefit from the gained skills here.  They can meet the needs of their learners.  As for last exam, the participants focus on CLIL lessons aims, language use in the class, designing lesson plan and activities, lesson delivering, assessment and feedback.

It is worthy to appreciate the help of our foreign trainers.  They are cooperatively working with our trainees. They listen to trainees’ feedback to their session and try to fix the situation. For example, there is few sample test of TKT CLIL.  They have done all tests as a result there is no left any valid sample test of TKT CLIL exam on the internet.  Due to the humble request of our trainees, our trainers attempt to adapt materials and design questions as analogue for real exam test.  Particularly, one of the trainers encourages his trainees to think of how their knowledge reflects in the TKT CLIL test.  Our trainees are practicing with TKT CLIL exam questions.  Consequently, they can earn confidence by practicing with test questions.

In addition to the native speakers, two competent trainers from EduStream, which is a one of the best language academy in Kazakhstan and is working cooperatively with Cambridge ESOL exams, are contributing to our trainees’ progress as well. They are Saniya Bissimova and  Shakhnoza.  These two trainers are adding to the trainee’s FCE knowledge.  They train to the FCE skills in morning and evening sessions.  Although there are many gaps in trainees this exam knowledge and skills, these trainers are helping to our teachers by showing how the best answer look like; what area trainees should work toward and how to avoid make the elementary mistakes at FCE exam.

In short, our presupposition about the influence of native speakers on boosting emerging communications skills of our trainees seems working for complex group. In two groups, the level of English proficiency is different. There are teachers with A1 to B1 levels.  It challenges trainers.  However, the classroom environment is friendly and teachers and trainers are working collaboratively.

A teacher-trainer

Laila Abdimanapova