ISSN 2409-546X
ПИ № ФС77-61102

Trilingualism in the education of Kazakhstan. Its benefits and opportunities for the society

Библиографическое описание: Хамиева М., Аманбаева А. Т. Trilingualism in the education of Kazakhstan. Its benefits and opportunities for the society // Юный ученый. — 2018. — №5. — С. 4-8. URL: (дата обращения: 19.07.2019).


Many people might have encountered with the term “trilingualism”, but not everybody knows what it is. What is trilingualism and its role on the world stage?

Different language policies refer to different nations, countries. Countries with the highest result of the numbers of individuals speaking three or more languages are mostly found in Europe or Asia, based on the research of the website “SwiftKey”. The ranking top three trilingual countries are Indonesia (17.4 %), Israel (11.4 %) and Spain (10.4 %). But we can also add countries like, Sweden, Holland, Egypt and Saud Arabia. [1] All of the listed countries have dissimilar combinations of three or more languages they speak, but, one common language is English. As you may already guessed from the given information above, trilingualism is using or being able to use three, especially with equal or nearly equal fluency.

As a student of Nazarbayev Intellectual School, I am very well introduced to this specific language policy and use it on daily basis. Language policy as trilingualism has an impressive outcome on the sphere of education around the world. I have chosen this topic because I want to know the role of trilingualism in the education programme in Kazakhstan and its impact on the development of our society. I set the following aim to cover such as: What role does this policy as multilingualism play at teaching and learning facilities?

Object of the research: modern means of the trilingualism: language policy

Subject of the research: bilingualism at educational properties.

Objectives are to identify the role of trilingualism at learning facilities and in the society, to study the different perspectives, to conduct a survey among students and to find out the benefits and the opportunities.

In 2008 with the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan, Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev, a project for launching Intellectual schools over the Kazakhstan has been approved. From the very beginning, the mission of those schools was to “facilitate a trilingual educational environment based on the best traditions of the national education system with international experience and modern technologies and equal opportunities for all”. [2] One of the school values is trilingualism, which means using three languages, in our case, Kazakh language, Russian language and English language. From the words of the President, “kids should be taught when they are kids. Trilingualism is necessary for our kids, as it will serve them in the future. Kazakh language — is our mother tongue and helps us feel connected and brings us together, Russian language — is one of the six languages of the United Nations, through which we came to the great literature and culture. [3] As for the English language — it’s an international language and a common language of science, technology, innovation and Internet.” Being taught in three different languages is thinking in three different languages, through which you feel more connected with your own and outer world. In our school, we are taught different subjects in three languages varying from the grade.

From the perspectives of an expert Peeter Mehisto who specializes in CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), has worked in different parts of the world like, Europe and Asia: “AEO-NIS is working in a highly systematic manner to establish a network of trilingual schools where Kazakh, Russian and English are used as a media of instruction. AEO-NIS supports schools: by organising professional development for teachers and managers/leaders; by developing curricula and learning materials; by commissioning independent research into student achievement and programme management; by creating fora for discussion; by developing public information materials; and, by managing knowledge from the entire programme development process.” [4]

If we are going to talk about the benefits and opportunities given from learning three languages, we consider both sides: education process and its role among people in the society.

Sharing the trilingual educational programme among other schools in Kazakhstan, will bring numerous various growths on the student itself and on the learning process. There are many available benefits of studying with more languages than one. Concerning the fact whether being multilingual is good or bad, it involves many different studies and researches done by scientists and experts from the universities across the globe. There are cases that support the idea of knowing and using more than one language, in our case three languages has its advantages. It has been confirmed that multilingualism stimulates brain work by the “Academy of Finland” in 2009. Demonstration especially with neurosciences has shown that, ‘offers an increasing amount of strong evidence of versatile knowledge of languages being beneficial for the usage of individual’s brain’.

From a large-scale study supervised by a linguist at Dalhousie University, proved that children who know and speak more than one or two languages had stronger thinking/intellectual skills that helped them obtain on average better grades, unzip higher levels of education and earn more money than their unilingual peers. Such policy as trilingualism not only plays a huge role on the education process and in the individual itself, but shows importance on the society too. Children who have control over two or three or more languages, have higher acceptance of the other culture and show more gratitude towards them. As what has to offer for the adults, it helps them become more open minded as regards to the other nation personalities. Career growth can also be accompanied by how many languages you know and use, due to the fact that companies hire employees, who speak a greater number of languages and find easier way to connect with foreign companies and clients. But it depends on whether your workplace has to offer international business dealerships or not. [5]

Other opportunities to learning a language may contain:

‒          being more efficient communicators.

‒          being consistently better able to deal with diversions, which may avail offset age-cognate declines in noetic dexterity.

‒          having a better auditory perceiver for heedfully auricular discerning and sharper recollections.

‒          being able to learn languages more expeditiously and efficiently

‒          being better quandary solvers, gaining multiple perspectives on issues at hand. They verbally express that erudition is potency.

You find a tense attachment or connection to humanities: in history, art, literature, but most importantly, your own heritage.


Having control over the native language you speak gives an opportunity to dig deep down on your own cultural line, heritage and find possible family members who might not speak the native language of yours. Also, you can manage to do anything related to self-development, for example, reading a literature in a completely different language, watching subtitled movies, studying art and history.

You’ll have a sense of feeling that you feel closer with the outer world and become adjacent with others, which will open up new horizons.

Kazakhstan incorporating such language policy to its education system, without a doubt will create new changes and open up new opportunities.

I have come to the decision to compare the language policy between Luxembourg and Kazakhstan, both in the society and in the education programme. One of the unique aspects of Luxembourg education system is trilingualism, which has been my reason to pick it for this research. It has completely integrated three different languages to the education system, like: Luxembourgish, German, and French.


Even though Luxembourgish is the national language of Luxembourg, other languages are also important to Luxembourg’s society. Luxembourg is a multicultural and multilingual country and therefore its official language policy takes that into consideration. Luxembourg has three official and administrative 7 languages, which are Luxembourgish, German and French and therefore Luxembourgish is the national language. Luxembourgish became the national language of Luxembourg by law in 1984; French is seen as the legislative language and is used to draft regulations; and for judicial and administrative matters Luxembourgish, German or French can be used. Moreover people working in administrative jobs are required to be able to respond to citizens in these three languages as much as possible. [6]

Different languages are introduced at different times for different purposes at the primary and secondary level. According to the “Luxembourg — Educational System”: 13 The cabinet level Ministry of Education makes the important decisions regarding education in the Grand Duchy. The curricula for the different types of schools are decided by the Ministry, as are the budgets for education and educational institutions, and the management and the survey of all secondary schools. During the two years of compulsory preschool-education, from the age of four to six and even before that in early childhood education, the language of communication is Luxembourgish. According to Delvaux-Stehres (2009), the former Minister of National Education in Luxembourg, the main objectives of these first years of education regarding languages are the development and the learning process of the Luxembourgish language and getting the feel for languages in general. Then during the six years of compulsory primary school, students are introduced to German and French. As German is the lingua franca of the primary schools in the Luxembourgish school system, students learn all four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening in German during their first year. And all other courses, as for history or biology, are taught in German. Then in the second trimester of the 2nd grade in primary school, students are orally introduced to French and later in 3rd grade they start to read and write in French. And for each two years students should have obtained a certain degree of oral and written production as well as oral and written comprehension. During these first two years of primary school, students will have around 10 hours of German and French lessons per week, whereas they will only have one lesson of Luxembourgish per week

At last for 5th and 6th grade the number of language hours stays the same for both Luxembourgish and French and German. Finally in 5th grade the writing of Luxembourgish is introduced but is nowhere near the German and French writing requirements that the policy sets for students

After six years of primary school students attend a Luxembourgish secondary school for seven years or when in secondary technical schools six or eight years depending on the subject area chosen. During the first three years of secondary schools, the lingua franca is still German, so every subject is in German except for the other language classes and the subject of mathematics, which is taught in French since 6th grade. Eventually in 10th grade the lingua franca changes from German to French, which means that all courses except for the language courses are no longer taught in German but instead in French. Then in addition to learn French, German and the few hours of Luxembourgish, English language lessons are introduced in 8th grade, English is seen as a third language as well as students’ first foreign language. In 8th grade, students even have the choice of including Latin into their studies and later on in 11th grade or even earlier on students can take Italian, Spanish or Portuguese elective courses and then there are even elective courses for other foreign languages. But with the addition of these foreign languages in 8th grade, Luxembourgish language lessons are no longer taught, so that Luxembourgish is, from then on, only 15 used for informal communication between students and also between them and their teachers, for example, for further explanation in class.

Even though this multilingual society of Luxembourg can seem troubling for foreigners at first, it does give its residents the possibility and ability to communicate in various languages inside as well as outside of Luxembourg.

Generally, in everyday life, when talking to a foreigner, Luxembourgers will attempt to respond in the language they have been addressed in (mainly French, standard German or English). Due to the large number of foreigners in Luxembourg, locals now expect to use foreign languages in daily life, and as far as they are able, will use the foreigner's native language. For example, American students who have learned standard German are often spoken to in English.



As Kazakhstan is a multinational and multilingual country, we also have the trilingual language policy in the education and everyday life. Kazakhstan’s trilingualism can also serve as a model for other post-Soviet countries.

This questionnaire studies the trilingual education in practice, analyses the existing trilingual education problems in our country and indicates the prospect of the future studies, so as to offer valuable references for the trilingual education practice and language policy making.

Altogether there are 60 students participated in the questionnaire survey. The students are randomly selected. Among the 60 participants, 39 are female students which occupy 65 % of all and 21 are male students which occupy 35 %. All the questions are supposed to investigate two aspects, including English language use situation and the attitude of the students towards trilingual education. In the given survey students from 7 to 12 grades took part at the age between 12 and 17. There are 53 students’ mother tongue is Kazakh and 7 students’ mother tongue is Russian. Nearly all the students speak Kazakh and Russian fluently.





No knowledge at all

















39 students speak Russian and Kazakh fluently, 9 know Kazakh and Russian for the medium level, 8 students speak Kazakh limited, 4 students speak Russian limited. Fluent English — 24 (aged 16–17), English OK — 20 (aged 15–17), Limited English — 6 (12–13,14)

2. What language do you speak to each other during the break at school?

Kazakh_ Russian_ English_

3. What language do you speak to your parents at home?

Kazakh_ Russian_ English_

According to the questionnaire, we find out that these students speak to each other at school mostly in Russian (48) and 12 — Kazakh whereas at home 46 students speak Kazakh with parents in comparison with Russian (14).

4. Do you learn Kazakh language (L1) in the school? Yes ______ No _________

 Do you like learning it? Yes ______ No _________  Why? Or why not?

All the students learn Kazakh language at school but 35 students do not like learning it because of no interest and complicated word structures. Although 25 students had a positive attitude towards Kazakh language as some of them respect it as the mother tongue and it is considered as an opportunity to get a job in Kazakhstan.

5. Is Russian (L2) used and taught in your school? Yes ______ No _________

 Do you like learning it and using it? Yes ______ No _________  Why? Or why not?

60 students learn Russian language in the school and 38 students like learning it because it is more widely-spread or popular language in their country and a few students think that it is easier to find a lot of information in Russian than in Kazakh.

6. Are you learning English (L3) at school?

 Do you like English? Yes ______ No _________ Why? Or why not?

Based on the 6th question about English language learning, most of the students learn English from the 2nd grade and like it because lessons are conducted 4 or 5 lessons a week and English is interesting to study, less than 20 students say that easy to find any kind of information in the Internet and 8 students answered that they can study abroad without problems.

7. What language(s) do the teachers in your school speak to you?

 In the classroom?__________________  Outside the classroom?_________________

Teachers in the school speak both Kazakh and Russian and English sometimes in the class.

8. Which language is the most important for your future?

a. Kazakh b. Russian c. English d. All of them

29 participants propose that all languages are important, 20 students think Kazakh and English are important and 11 students suppose that Russian and English are important.

When adapting to daily life in Kazakhstan, Russian language is showing dominance against Kazakh and English language, due to over 96 % of residents can speak, write, understand Russian freely. But, it doesn’t encourage the fact that, people only have to know Russian to be able to communicate with the locals. As for being the Kazakh language our native language, most schools are on top serving Kazakh primary education. In addition, Russian follows where the Kazakh language is being served. It means that, the free bilingual acceptance and control over the two languages are completely used in the society. Kazakh and Russian are official languages for commercial purposes. When it comes to using English in the public places, it is more intertwined with foreigners living in our country. Locals who speak and understand English are mostly young generation learning English at educational environments or those who work for international business companies and so on. But, the basics of English is introduced to most local workers or may be used with the help of a dictionary.

Language policy in education programme in Kazakhstan supports the idea of trilingualism, but not fully as our Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools. In most secondary schools, students of Kazakh/Russian classes, learn all subjects in L1. Kazakh language and Literature in Kazakh for all classes, Russian Language and Literature in Russian for all classes. This applies to most schools. L2, English is taught as a subject which is involved in learning process from the 3rd grade. Students learn the basics at the start and have higher level lessons at high school in order to strengthen the fundament of English before Higher Education Prospects. [7]

However, kids can be taught Kazakh/Russian (based on which class language they attend) and English from the kindergarten. Pre-school education system builds up necessary skills for school work and teaches the basics in order to not have challenges and problems for the upcoming change in the education environment (attending school).

If concerning the side of the parents who feel the need to add up to the school knowledge, can assign their kids for individual lessons from various teaching companies. They can attend classes not only for three languages, but to learn other languages they prefer like, French, German, Chinese and etc.

As already told from the beginning, Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools offer three language learning opportunity with different subject varying from grade and age appropriate groups.


‒                           Both countries have the trilingual language policy operated in the education programme and daily life.

‒                           Usage of three languages based on the subjects and age groups

‒                           Control over the three languages (one foreign language registered as partly native in use over the population)

‒                           English is the first foreign language


‒                           School graduate grade difference (11–12th grade and 13th grade)

‒                           Specific language teaching varying from the age groups or even from events

‒                           Hours of language teaching/lessons vary


In conclusion, I want to say that Kazakhstan has been influenced by a language policy known worldwide as trilingualism. I wanted to know, how developing such strong adaptation to it, may bring new possibilities to our education system and our people. In my opinion, I have reached my goal, but I do admit that this work could be updated as my research hasn’t come to its end. Further studies might show new results that will bring new ideas to this concerning topic. My recommendations would be to use this research paper as an introduction to some people that are still getting used to these changes or someone who is completely new to trilingualism in Kazakhstan. This project could spread different ideas such as, incorporating this language policy not just in the education and learning sphere, but come to the real realization of how it actually can have an impact on you and on your view to the outer world, become a motivation to study other new languages or how expressing yourself through different languages can help you to inspire others. The idea of using other languages and the proven points of how it stimulates the growth of individual skills, developing and getting to know the other societies, prepare for future and etc., is the new start of a whole new generation, which once again shows many advantages of it.

However, it is not possible to cover all risen topics and questions about this research, as this work needs further investigation inside and out.




  3.      Государственная программа развития языков в Республике Казахстан на 2011–2020 годы [Электронный ресурс]. — Режим доступа: http//
  4.      Building Bilingual Education Systems: Forces, Mechanisms and Counterweights; The Cambridge Education Research Series, edited by Peeter Mehisto and Fred Genesee
  5.      Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue, published by UNESCO 2009


№ 5 (19), ноябрь 2018 г. г.

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