UCA instructor wins masters dissertation prize at University of Birmingham

Date: 12 February 2013
Other languages: Русский язык |

With over 13 years teaching experience, UCA Senior English Instructor Tojiniso Olimnazarova, recently completed her Masters in Education at the University of Birmingham, with a dissertation entitled “Using multiple languages in English as a Foreign Language in classrooms in Tajikistan.”  She was awarded the Best Teaching English as a Foreign Language Dissertation Prize for dissertations which demonstrate significance, originality and methodological rigour. Tojiniso was also nominated by the University for the British Council’s English Language Teaching Masters Dissertation Award, recognising work with the best potential for impact.

Tojiniso’s research focused on using students’ full linguistic abilities to teach English. “There is widespread belief in current discourse that when teaching English, only English should be used. I agree that teachers should try their best to do so, but when students are challenged, there are other ways to help them understand and grasp concepts,” she said.  Observing English classes at UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) in Tajikistan, Tojiniso confirmed that using other languages helped her students understand English. “All our teachers are local. We share common languages with our students. For many of us, English is our fourth language. Our native language can also be a resource for teaching, especially at the lower levels,” Tojiniso asserted.

“We are very proud of Ms Olimnazarova and her accomplishments. UCA is only as strong as its staff. Birmingham professors noted that Tojiniso wrote an exceptional piece of research that showed the pedagogic possibilities of flexible bilingualism, as teachers and students use Tajik, Russian, and a local language Shughni, to learn English. Her work, rooted in a solid understanding of theory has great practical significance. It is an example of the kind of scholarship we wish to promote.” said Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, UCA Director General.

UCA Senior English Instructor Tojiniso Olimnazarova teaching Afghan and Tajik learners as part of
the Cross-Border Vocational Education in Badakhshan Phase II project

In 2009, Tojiniso was thrilled to join UCA SPCE as a Senior Language Instructor. She is an instructor with the Cross-Border Vocational Education in Badakhshan Phase II (CVEB II) project, which provides scholarships to Tajik and Afghan learners, some of whom travel great distances to attend classes.  Tojiniso recognizes that learning is a two-way process: “I believe CVEB scholarships are making important changes in both the scholars’ and teachers’ lives. The course ensures students improve their English, and broadens their horizons, adding diversity to our classroom, which is important.”

Tojiniso’s students admire her commitment.  Former English for Business student, Sattor Dustmatov said, “With her accomplishments, I was impressed by her humility and how approachable she was. I often asked myself, ‘Where does she get her energy?’ Her teaching style combines individual attention for weaker students, innovative lessons, and a contagious sense of humour. After each lesson, my English knowledge improved significantly. I realized her lessons are helping me build my career. Now I am eager to pursue the Khorog English Prepatory Programme, thanks to Ms Olimnazarova’s support.”

Tojiniso’s passion for teaching is demonstrated in her scholarship and her work experience. “When I began teaching, I had no formal training but I loved it. After teaching for three years, I realized that once you start, you don’t want to do anything else. Teaching challenges you intellectually, allows you to develop and enjoy job satisfaction. Each time I see my students pursing higher education, I feel really good about my profession,” said Tojiniso.

Her dynamic career also includes working as an English Language Instructor and Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator for the Khorog English Preparatory Programme of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. She also pursued professional development opportunities, such as English as a Second Language teacher training courses in Canada,  and Moscow, and  the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Training Teaching to Adults (CELTA) course.

When asked if she is considering a PhD, Tojiniso insists her hands are full with SPCE’s new Academic English programme and her family. However, she added, “Maybe in two or three years …. I might revisit my dissertation topic.” Until then, Tojiniso is busy teaching a variety of the courses at SPCE Khorog, including Conversational English, English for Business, and English for Academic Purposes.

SPCE was launched in October 2006 in Khorog and its Learning Centre was established in January 2008 in Dushanbe. To-date, SPCE has enrolled over 22,000 learners participating in some 120 training courses. In 2010, SPCE opened its Project office in Faizabad, Afghanistan. SPCE also provides capacity building programmes for the Shegnan’s Teacher Training College of Afghanistan.

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Strong start for second phase of UCA’s Cross-Border Vocational Education in Badakhshan, Afghanistan
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