А. Astafyeva, N. Zhumagulova магистр, преподаватель, Кокшетауский университет им. Абая Мырзахметова,
Кокшетау, Казахстан, е-mail: кандидат педагогических наук, доцент, заведующий кафедрой иностранных языков и переводческого дела, Кокшетауский университет им. Абая Мырзахметова, Кокшетау,
Казахстан, е-mail:


This article is focused on the analysis of implementation of the “Trinity of languages” project. The goal of the project is a mass acquisition of three languages by young people: Kazakh, Russian and English. The idea of such trinity is dictated by vital necessity. Knowledge of English is a mandatory requirement for business and business communication anywhere in the world. It is a window into the global world with its flow of information and innovation. Proposed trinity of languages in the conditions of multinational Kazakhstan is a significant factor in strengthening social harmony. However, it should be emphasized that the priority development of three languages does not mean that other languages of peoples of Kazakhstan are overlooked. The European Commission as well as Kazakhstan conducts a very active language policy focusing on diversity. For successful career in business it’s necessary to know one of the international languages, particularly European ones: English, German or French.

Key words: trinity of languages, multinational Kazakhstan, knowledge of English, successful career, business communication, trilingual as a modern socio-cultural phenomenon, the educational system of school and university.

In the modern world it isn’t enough to know only two languages due to the development of international relations, establishing international contacts between countries and peoples, and globalization of educational process.
Nowadays, for successful career it’s necessary to know at least one of the international languages, particularly European ones: English, German or French.
The trilingual idea (i.e. learning three languages: Kazakh, Russian and English by citizens of Kazakhstan) was first mentioned by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan at the XII Session of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan in October 2006. N.A. Nazarbaev suggested starting a staged implementation of the cultural project “Trinity of Languages” in his message “New Kazakhstan in the new world” in 2007: “Kazakhstan should be accepted in the whole world as a highly educated country, where people speak three languages. These languages are: Kazakh as an official language, Russian is a language of international communication, and English as a language
of a successful integration into the global economy” [1].
The trilingual idea arose not only as a new format of language policy, but it was worked out due to a vital necessity. Kazakhstan, has been committing to three languages acquisition by citizens, proceeds from current realities — trinity of languages will be an evidence of competitiveness of the country. Today English language proficiency opens a door to the global world with its information flow and innovations. English language acquisition gives us an opportunity to study abroad at the world — best universities and to gain practical experience in advanced countries. English language proficiency is a mandatory requirement for business and business communication in any part of the world. Hence, citizens who are fluent in several languages will be competitive not only on the territory of our country but also abroad.
Mikhalchenko V.Y. defines trilingual as «a functioning of three languages within a territorial community (country, region, city, village), and also as a proficiency in three languages by the individual in its communicative needs» [2]. Accession to the Bologna process played a significant role in trilingual development in Kazakhstan. According to the principals of Bologna Declaration, multilingual education system should be implemented in Kazakhstan. It means that three languages (Kazakh, Russian and English) should be used equally. The aim of Bologna process is creation of strong, competitive education system in the world. Demand of acquisition of Kazakh, Russian and English languages makes a basis for trilingual formation. However, in lingual planning, it is necessary to consider the fact, that bilingualism in the Republic of Kazakhstan is a natural process that takes place among the entire population of the republic, regardless of age and nationality. And trilingual is a regulated and formed “top-down” process.
M.S. Filimonova and D.A. Krylov notice that, generally, trilingual as a modern socio-cultural phenomenon develops under the influence of the following factors: strengthening the role of a socio-cultural component; creation of a common educational area; need for multilingual education; development of the global information space [3].
Thus, the essence of a transition from “bilingual” to “trilingual” is that every person should be inspired by the idea of three languages acquisition. And the educational system of school and university should create real conditions for that. The ultimate goal is to contribute to a jump of the economy of Kazakhstan, ensuring its competitiveness and successful entry into the global space.
There are different opinions on the issue in the country. Well-known political scientist, deputy of the Majilis of the Parliament, member of the Council of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan V. Vishnichenko considers that Kazakh language development has «a paramount importance as an official language, since it is the guarantor of independence, the premise for the decent development of the nation. Russian language was and remains in perspective a language of international communication. Moreover, it is understandable to the overwhelming majority of the citizens and is widespread in all spheres. While English language acquisition will help us better integrate into the international economic and educational space. Development and functioning of three languages in the country opens up broad prospects for the development of our society» [1].
Great Abay encouraged Kazakh people to learn the Russian language, intuitively understanding that through the Russian language and the Russian culture, people could join the world culture. In the XXI century society faced new challenges: remaining true to one’s own origin, developing native language and culture, people of Kazakhstan should be integrated into the dynamic global processes of the technological and humanitarian plan.
Proposed trinity of languages in the conditions of multinational Kazakhstan is a significant factor in strengthening social harmony. However, it should be emphasized that the priority development of three languages does not mean that other languages of peoples of Kazakhstan are overlooked. The Head of the State has repeatedly noted that the languages of other nations “have not become and will never be stepchildren in our country. We will continue to adopt a policy of
preserving and reviving the national languages and cultures of our ethnic groups” [4]. Let’s look back at history of multilingual implementation in other countries.
To begin with, the introduction of multilingual education in Southern Africa today is still critical where the language of instruction in educational institutions that discriminated against native language of students [5].
According to the author, this discrimination is still practiced in schools. One of the main arguments against multilingual education in Southern Africa is that bilingual and multilingual education, in her opinion, is too expensive, and there is only one way out: to use only one language — English. In the USA, for example, critics of bilingual and multilingual education are generally political conservatives [6].
In his opinion, there is a problem of various understandings of this phenomenon in different communities. Besides, as critics confirm, in this connection there is no common opinion concerning which multilingual/ polylingual education is the most successful [5].
On the contrary, other researchers (Cenoz and Jessner, 2000; De Bot, Lowie and Verspoor, 2007; Muller and Beardsmore, 2004; Vez, 2009; Ziegler, 2013) support the promotion of multilingual education. In their opinion, multilingual education for majority language students is effective in promoting functional proficiency in a second, and even third or fourth, language at no cost to the participating students’ native language development or academic achievement. There is often a positive correlation between the amount of exposure to the additional languages in multilingual programs and level of multilingual proficiency, but not always [7; 8].
For example, in Finland the education is provided in both the Finnish and Swedish languages at all levels, and Swedish and Finnish are required subjects at schools, thus almost all Swedish speakers are bilingual and many Finns have a good command of Swedish. Both languages, as well as a number of other smaller languages are all regulated by the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland. Moreover, despite the small number of speakers (approximately 5.5%), the Swedish language enjoys high status and governmental support. The development of the languages and their statuses were similar to those of Kazakh and Russian. Before Finland became independent, Swedish and Finnish were both official, after independence of Finnish came to dominate [9]. However, the Swedish speakers are a small community, and they are Swedish-speaking Finns, not Swedes. In this way, they do not have such a strong emotional attachment to the language as they would if they were Swedes. This was also a reason why the elite was willing to learn Finnish when the country became independent [9, p. 187-188] and thus the language policy had been successful.
It should be noted that the European Commission as well as Kazakhstan conducts a very active language policy focusing on diversity. Regarding their language education, every EU citizen should be able to use three community languages (after completion of secondary school); community language learning should be developed ‘as early as possible’; a better quality of language and intercultural learning must be improved, and a more balanced language ecology should be promoted; increasing language competence increases mobility and also gives better possibilities for seeking jobs in different EU member states.
An investigation was conducted at Almaty universities, as the result of which was set that 55.5% students from KazАТC and 60% from KazNU are fluent in Kazakh; 60% students from
KazАТC, 60% from KazNU and 77.7 % 11th grade pupils from the № 141 middle school in Almaty are fluent in Russian. The situation with foreign language is as follows: 20% students from KazАТC and 25.5% students from KazNU, who graduated from the Russian school — think that they are able to communicate.
10% of interviewed graduates from Kazakh schools can speak foreign language. This number is higher by the pupils from the № 141 middle school in Almaty — 25% of pupils can communicate in foreign language (mostly — English; less often — Turkish); for 80% of interviewed students and 75% pupils it is complicated to communicate in foreign language. We introduce the results in Table 6:

Table 1 – Languages at the schools and universities in Almaty

The name of the university Kazakh language proficiency Russian language proficiency Able to communicate on the foreign language
KazАТC named
after М. Tynyshpaev 55.5% 60 % 20%
KazNU named
after Al- Farabi 60% 60 % 25.5 %
Pupils of 11th grades Middle School № 141 in Almaty
(Kazakhs). — 77.7 % 25 %
Graduates with Kazakh language
teaching — — 10%
Note: [developed by the author]
Below are the results of our study, conducted among the 1-3 year students from the nonlanguage specialties at KokshetauAbaiMyrzakhmetov University, which allowed us finding out the level of knowing of the English language, also the level of knowing the Kazakh language among the students, where language of teaching is Russian. All the respondents know Russian. 403 students took part in the investigation, 257 students with Russian language of teaching and 146 students with State language of teaching.
Table 2 – Knowledge of languages (trilingual) at A. MyrzakhmetovKokshetau University
(non-language specialties), language of teaching is Russian

The number
of respondents Knowledg
of Kazakh Knowledg e of English Knowled ge
First year students 204 people 63 people -30.8% 44 people

21.5% 100%
Second year students 25 people 9 people36% 5 people 20% 100%
Third year students 28 people 11 people -39% 8 people —
28.5% 100%
Note: [developed by the author]

Table 3 – Knowledge of languages (trilingual) at KokshetauAbaiMyrzakhmetov University
(non-language specialties), language of teaching is Kazakh

The number of respondents Knowledg
e of Kazakh Knowledg
e of English Knowled
ge of Russian
First year students 123 people 100% 29 people -23.5% 100%
Second year students 23 people 100% 7 people —
30.46% 100%
Note: [developed by the author]

By knowing English, we mean a Pre-intermediate (A2) level of CEFR: I understand single phrases and the most commonly used words in expressions, relating to the important subjects for me (for example, the main information about myself and my family, shopping, about the place, where I live, about my work). I understand what this is about in easy, clear and small messages and advertisements. I understand very small and easy texts. I can keep a very brief conversation about daily themes, but understand not enough to do the talking by myself.
Result analysis allowed finding out the number of students, who know three languages at different levels: we consider the results of knowing the English language as the criterion of trilingual.

Table 4 – The number of students at KokshetauAbaiMyrzakhmetov University, knowing three languages (Kazakh, Russian, English), non-language specialties
Year Kazakh language teaching Russian language teaching Result
First year students 29 people 44 people 73 people
Second year students 7 people 5 people 12 people
Third year students Didn’t participate 8 people 8 people
Note: [developed by the author]
These students present the linguistic identity of a new Kazakhstani space, where the linguistic
identity, “is growing” in the updated academic discourse. They present Eurasian linguistic identity and Eurasian linguistic awareness, whose social and speech behavior is determined by cultures of language societies [10].
In order to clarify the attitude of the population of the Republic of Kazakhstan toward the trilingual program, we conducted an independent Internet voting. The results showed that, from 404 people who took part in the Internet survey, 36% considered trilingual program as one of the most absurd reforms.
A questionnaire was filled in anonymously, only age, nationality, occupation, native language and degree of its proficiency were indicated.
The questionnaire presented the following questions:
1. Is your school level of Kazakh language is sufficient for studying at a higher educational institution in a trilingual education program? (understanding of lectures in Kazakh language, answers during the seminars).
2. Is your school level of English language is sufficient for studying at a higher educational institution in a trilingual education program? (understanding of the lectures in English language, answers during the seminars).
3. Do you agree that knowledge of three languages (Kazakh, Russian and English) contributes to the personal and professional self-realization of a graduate of a Kazakhstan university?
4. Do you agree that your future professional success greatly depends on knowledge of three languages (Kazakh, Russian and English)?
5. Are you ready to study under the trilingual education program, where all the disciplines will be taught in three languages (Kazakh, Russian and English)?
6. What do you think about trilingual implementation in schools?
7. What do you think about trilingual implementation in universities for non-linguistic faculties?
8. Do you think that the expected results of the trilingual state program will be confirmed by 2019:
 Will the professional competence of Kazakh, Russian and English teachers increase?
 Will school graduates be able to communicate orally and in written form in English?
 Will schools switch to planned trilingual education in various school subjects such as: physics, chemistry, computer science, geography, biology, history, etc.)?
 Will secondary school graduates in 2019 be able to pass international English language exams to continue their studying at leading Kazakh and foreign universities (Kazakh-British University, Kazakh-German University, KIMEP, Nazarbayev University)?
9. How do you assess your own level of readiness for oral and written communication in
Kazakh? (from 1 to 5)
10. How do you assess your own level of readiness for oral and written communication in English? (from 1 to 5)
11. What kind of tasks and activities would you recommend for English and Kazakh teachers to use in their lessons for you to be taught to communicate both in oral and written forms in these languages? (to write a letter, reply to a letter (personal and business), communicate on professional topics, listen to and understand lectures of foreign teachers, etc.)
The following answers were received from people of different age groups to the questions requiring a detailed answer:
 Children will be able to cope. Teachers are in question.
 In general, this is a good idea. Once, many Turkic scholars knew several languages. Arabic and Persian.
 Very negative. It’s like biting three apples one at a time and throwing it away. We will get a generation of idiots who cannot express their thoughts and think clearly in any language.
 I think that there should be only one main language in Kazakhstan, it’s Kazakh, and English we may learn for scientific purpose.
 I studied in Kazakh and English and speak Russian. I see only advantages.
 If there is a quality education, then trilingual is, of course, the right decision.
 There will definitely be no harm from this. This implementation will help open up new and effective opportunities in the future. But firstly, it should be introduced gradually, without forgetting about our native language. And remaining an independent country. Everyone chooses the language in which it is easier for him\her to express thoughts.
 I am for it. This program does not say that half the classes will be in one language and half will be in another. And then a couple of subjects in one language, a couple in another. It is good that our children from the first grade will be trained. Because if you study with a child from an early age, when he grows up, he will be competitive in everything (the author’s style has been preserved).
 According to the study, the following conclusions can be drawn:
 66% of respondents spoke positively about the implementation of trilingual in schools and universities.
 Students are more positive about trilingual implementation than working people and senior citizens.
 At present, the older generation do not use trilingual in their speech, since for them the English language does not represent any perspective in the near future.
 Middle-aged people (30–45 years old), whose professional activity is directly related to communication, due to the demand for knowledge of Kazakh, Russian and English languages, have a positive attitude to this phenomenon.
 In contrast, most of the representatives of the young generation, as practice shows, do not speak the official (Kazakh) language and at the same time speak, write and understand Russian and English, prefer to learn English, considering it more promising and most in demand.
Based on the survey results, it is possible to say that the transition from bilingual to multilingual has begun in the educational system (so far in the form of trilingual).
The Head of the State Nazarbayev N.A. in his message to people of Kazakhstan (of January 28, 2011) noted that according to the results of program implementation, proportion of adults who are proficient in official language should be 20% by 2014, 80% by 2017 and 95% by 2010. Proportion of people who are proficient in Russian language will be no less than 90% by 2020. Proportion of citizens of the Republic knowing English will be 10% in 2014, 15% in 2017 and 20% in 2020. Proportion of people proficient in three languages (Kazakh, Russian and English) will be 10% by 2014, 12% by 2017 and up to 15% by 2020 [1]. However, 34% of interviewed gave a negative answer on this question, therefore the hope for a quick resolution of the question is hardly justified. 80% of respondents are fluent in Russian and give it preference in all spheres of their life. The percentage of speaking the official language is 65%.
The proposed trinity of languages is a significant factor in strengthening social harmony in the conditions of multinational Kazakhstan.
Thus, in language planning, it is necessary to take into account the fact that bilingual in the Republic of Kazakhstan is a natural phenomenon for the entire population of different ages, representatives of different nationalities, and trilingual is accompanied by language changes imposed “from above”.


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2. Словарь социолингвистических терминов / В. А. Кожемякина, Н. Г. Колесник, Т. Б. Крючкова; отв. ред. В. Ю. Михальченко. — М.: Ин-т языкознания РАН, 2006. — 312 с.
3. Филимонова М.С., Крылов Д.А. Билингвизм как тенденция языкового развития современного общества. — ФГБОУ ВПО «Марийский государственный университет», респ. Марий-Эл, г. Йошкар -Ола, 2012.
4. Назарбаев Н.А. Толерантность как фактор мира // Казахстанская правда. — 2006. — 13 июня. — № 147. — С.1.
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6. Genesee F. What do we know about bilingual education for majority language students //Handbook of bilingualism and multiculturalism. — 2004. — С. 547-576.
7. Cenoz J., Jessner U. (ed.). English in Europe: The acquisition of a third language. — Multilingual Matters, 2000. -Т. 19.
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9. Buchberger, Irina. A Multilingual Ideology in a Monolingual Country: Language Education in Finland. CAUCE, 25, 2002. — P. 185-202.
10. Жумагулова Н.С. Евразийская языковая личность: монография/ Жумагулова Н.С.
— Кокшетау: Издательство РИО КУ им. А. Мырзахметова, 2017. — 112 с.

А.А. Астафьева, Н.С. Жумагулова
Кокшетауский университет им. Абая Мырзахметова
Кокшетау, Казахстан
Таким образом, можно сделать вывод, что трехъязычие в современном мире является неотъемлемой частью любого развитого общества. Оно помогает интегрировать в международное пространство. Выбрав это направление, государство дает гражданам широкие возможности. Возможность быть конкурентоспособным, востребованным специалистом во всем мире. Как и любое нововведение данная программа имеет свои плюсы и минусы, но только осознанный подход и понимание этого феномена поможет плавно влиться в уже запущенную программу и добиться поставленных целей и высоких результатов.

А.А. Астафьева, Н.С. Жумагулова
Абай Мырзахметов атындағы Көкшетау университеті
Көкшетау қ.; Қазақстан
Осылайша, қазіргі әлемдегі үштілділік кез келген дамыған қоғамның ажырамас бөлігі болып табылады деген қорытынды жасауға болады. Ол халықаралық кеңістікке ықпалдасуға көмектеседі. Бұл бағытты таңдап, мемлекет азаматтарға кең мүмкіндіктер береді. Бүкіл әлемде бәсекеге қабілетті, сұранысқа ие маман болу мүмкіндігі бар. Кез-келген жаңашылдық сияқты бұл бағдарламаның өз артықшылықтары мен кемшіліктері бар, бірақ бұл феноменнің саналы көзқарасы мен түсінігі ғана іске қосылған бағдарламаға бірқалыпты ықпал етуге және алға қойылған мақсаттар мен жоғары нәтижелерге қол жеткізуге көмектеседі.

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