UCA News - Issue 116
The University of Central Asia (UCA) and the British Council, Kazakhstan jointly organized the inaugural English Language Festival in Tekeli and Taldykorgan on 10 and 11 March 2012, respectively.
Nearly 500 students, teachers, and community members attended the Festival, which aimed to introduce English language instructors to interactive teaching methods and professional development opportunities, while also exposing younger learners to available activities and online resources that can facilitate their learning of the English language.
In Kazakhstan's Almaty oblast, where Tekeli and Taldykorgan lie only 60 kilometres apart, interest in the English language is growing, particularly among secondary school and university students. However, a lack of English language specialists inhibits regional educational institutions from meeting this growing demand.
Festival organizers staged the event in both locations to generate interest in the English language among both students and teachers. "Our first English language festival was targeted to a wide audience – children, adults, teachers, and English language learners. We wanted to show all attendees that English language learning can be both fun and useful," said Indira Aitbay, Manager Academic Affairs of UCA's School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE).
The Festival featured a range of exhibitions and activities, including interactive games and workshops, registration assistance to English language website resources, and materials and handouts from the British Council for instructors and learners. Attendees also took a quiz on the United Kingdom and the upcoming London Olympic Games, linking their learning to "real life" examples of English language use in action. At the end of the event, SPCE student groups presented short skits and songs to showcase their English language skills. Participants also received complimentary materials from the British Council, including an introduction to online language resources and pedagogical materials for teachers.
Thrilled by the turnout at both locations, SPCE staff are already planning future events to build on the Festival's success. "We plan to continue using innovative methods of engaging children and adult learners. For example, we recently organised an English speaking corner with native speakers to enhance linguistic knowledge and exposure for our participants," said Indira Aitbay. Other potential activities to be jointly organized with the British Council include an English language summer camp for children and a conference for English teachers in August 2012.
With campuses in both Tekeli and Taldykorgan, SPCE offers English language courses and professional development opportunities for students and teachers, to build interest in the English language while also building the capacity of English language instructors. Since 2006, SPCE has graduated over 7,900 students from Tekeli and Taldykorgan with professional qualifications in accounting, entrepreneurship, tourism, vocational education, and applied languages that have improved their employment and income generating opportunities. SPCE is Central Asia's leading provider of post-secondary, short-cycle professional education with learning facilities in Tekeli and Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan; Khorog and Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Naryn and Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic; and Faizabad, Afghanistan.