ERG SES H 03, Language and Education
Learning a third language in the school context is a common experience for many children all over the world (Cenoz et al., 2001). There are specific multilingual schools in European countries (Luxembourg, Catalonia, Finland, the Basque Autonomous Community and others), where several languages are used as languages of instruction, and double immersion schools in Canada (Cenoz et al., 2001). Cenoz and Gorter (2012) referring to Council of Europe suggest that the role of multilingualism is crucial for economic and cultural reasons. The economic policy imperative was also a driving force for introducing trilingual education policy in Kazakhstan since it is seen a key factor for integration into the global economy (Mazhitayeva et al., 2012). Kazakhstan presents an interesting case, where Kazakh is promoted as a state language whilst Russian has been widely used as a Soviet legacy. This is in parallel with the introduction of English as a third language of instruction at schools, colleges and universities. English, which has always been a foreign language, is seen as a language of integrating the nation into the global community (Beisenova, 2013; Mazhitayeva et al., 2012; Mehisto et al., 2014; Yakavets and Dzhadrina, 2014). Currently trilingual education is implemented in specialized schools of the Daryn educational foundation, Nazarbayev Intellectual schools (NIS), and Bilim-Innovation Lyceums (Mehisto et al., 2014). From 2017-2019 academic year the State Program for Education and Science Development (SPESD) for 2016-2019 envisages to start introduction of trilingual education in all schools nationwide. Specifically, from 2018-2019 academic year, starting from the Grade 6, History of Kazakhstan will be taught in Kazakh, World History - in Russian in all schools of the country, regardless of the language of instruction. From 2019-2020 academic year in high school students will start studying Informatics, Chemistry, Biology, Physics through medium of English (SPESD for 2016-2019).
While the debates around trilingual education are mostly raised by public figures and journalists, parents’ voices are not heard. Exploring parents’ attitudes towards trilingual education is crucial since if parental opinion is taken into consideration, the likelihood of meeting the needs of both students and parents in planning and implementing the policy will increase (Chang, 2008; Oladejo, 2006). The objectives of this paper are to explore parents’ attitudes toward the trilingual education policy and identify factors that affect these attitudes. Specifically, the study will address the following research questions:
RQ 1 What are parents’ attitudes towards trilingual education policy?
RQ 2 What are the factors influencing parents’ attitudes towards trilingual education policy?
RQ 3 How do parents’ attitudes towards trilingual education policy compare among three different regions?
The research will be guided by the language ideology framework used in Curdt-Christiansen (2009). This framework will be used despite the differences between ideologies and attitudes since Maio et al. (2003) state that they share several conceptual features. These constructs are evaluative, subjective, and none of the constructs exist in isolation from each other. Maio et al. (2003) assert that people’s ideologies should affect their attitudes and attitudes may influence their ideologies. Despite the fact that a particular concrete attitude may lead to changes in higher order ideologies, researchers have tended to focus on the influences from the highest level of abstraction (ideologies) to the lowest level of abstraction (attitudes) (p.284). According to the framework used in Curdt-Christiansen (2009) language ideology is context specific and related to and linked to economic, political, socio-cultural and linguistic factors as well as parental personal experiences. It should be noted that these factors are interrelated and may simultaneously affect individual persons’ attitudes.
The study will employ a mixed methods research design in order to answer the research questions of the study. This choice has been justified by the fact that fact that mixed methods design allows the researcher to simultaneously address confirmatory and exploratory questions, while single-approach studies often address only one or the other (Teddie and Tashakkori, 2010). On the level of schools, a purposeful sampling strategy will be utilized. Six schools will be chosen for this mixed methods research: 1) one trilingual school and one mainstream school in North Kazakhstan; 2) one trilingual school and one mainstream school in South Kazakhstan; 3) one trilingual school and one mainstream school in Astana A list of 33 trilingual schools will be obtained from the website of Daryn educational foundation. Based on this list three trilingual schools will be selected. The list of mainstream schools will be provided by the local Education Departments in three regions. Mainstream schools will be selected based on the characteristics of the pilot trilingual schools like size of school and number of students studying there. The next criterion for the inclusion of schools would be based on location. Schools situated in three different regions will be included into the study to explore if the linguistic situation in the selected regions affects parental attitudes toward the trilingual education. Maximum variation sampling technique will be employed in selection of parents for interviewing since according to Creswell (2013) it increases the likelihood that the findings will reflect differences or different perspectives that is ideal in qualitative research (p.157). On average 4 participants from each school will be recruited from each school. Thus, the total number of parents for the qualitative part of the study will constitute 24. The samples for the survey questionnaire will be attained through stratified sampling, meaning that the survey will be distributed amongst several schools with differing populations of parents. An approximate number of population targeted to be surveyed will be 500 - 600. Participants will be recruited through schools. Schools will be asked to provide the list of parents of the students studying in Grade 8. The fieldwork data collection will take place in April – May 2018 followed by data analysis and write-up in June-August 2018. The appropriate ethics and consent forms will be devised and employed as per Nazarbayev University Institutional Research Ethics Committee (IREC).
Anticipated outcomes of the study will be diverse. First of all, the study will aim to deepen the knowledge about the two key theoretical constructs, i.e., parent attitudes and trilingual education policy. The intention is to expand theoretical understanding of their meaning, origin, and develop a greater insight than what we currently have on their impact on language education. Second, the study aims to conceptualize and describe the relationship between the notions of parent attitude and trilingual education policy. The research will aim to fill a considerable gap in the literature given the lack of research on the topic and the void in knowledge on parents’ attitudes toward the trilingual education. The point is that there is plenty of research conducted on parents’ attitudes toward the bilingual education in many countries (Amaral, 2001; Curdt-Christiansen, 2009; Lee, 1999; Shannon and Milian, 2001; Tarhan, 2003), however little research has been done on parents’ attitudes toward the trilingual education. Besides, the results of this research could be useful for policymakers and school principals in developing appropriate awareness-raising activities, which will raise parents’ understanding about the agenda of the trilingual education. The practices of European countries in implementing trilingual/multilingual education with consideration of specific factors such as parental perceptions and expectations can also contribute to developing these special activities. At an international level, including European contexts, the findings and recommendations will be of interest to those engaged in the development of trilingual/multilingual education systems where one of the languages of instruction will be a foreign language. Since this research is a work in progress, there are no concrete findings, conclusions and recommendations at this stage. However, research findings will be available at the time of the conference.
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