On the teaching of world history in English on the condition of imperfect language skills

Present makes high demands for schools and universities graduates; one of the requirements is to speak several languages. The article shows the problem of implementation of multilingual and multicultural education. In the authors' opinion, teaching and learning historical subjects in a foreign language will allow to solve these problems successfully. In terms of the abovementioned authentic texts have a particular importance in language training students. The article considers some types of authentic texts and kinds of reading necessary for teaching foreign languages for future teachers of the world history.

The strategic goal of the pedagogical education in Kazakhstan is the provision of the higher educational establishment’s graduates with the international qualified skills. The study of a foreign language as one of the main indicator of a personal adaptation to new social, economic, and cultural realities has become an urgent theoretical and practical aim and a consistent part of a specialist’s training. Especially, it concerns a teacher of history. On the other hand, in the contemporary education system there are some problems under the solution. Firstly, schools are not provided with the sufficient numbers of teachers who know three languages; secondly, graduates of teacher’s training Institutes obtaining the higher education have not enough knowledge of foreign languages. Therefore, the issue of teaching work-related subjects while training them a foreign language is really urgent. It is closely connected to the teaching history teachers-to-be a foreign language.

The specific feature of history as a science lays in the fact that the object of history study is the society in many aspects of its notion. The society and the ways of its adaptation to outer conditions can be considered as the cultural demonstration of a definite material and spiritual society, at the lessons of home and world history students get to know the various cultural civilizations. Thus, it is possible to formulate polycultural personality who can speak some foreign languages.

To achieve these goals the foreign language training should be fulfilled in two stages: the first (1st course) which supposes students should get the forth (B2) European level. It means a student should understand comprehensive information on various topics; he should speak fluently and grammatically correct paying attention to spoken statements, he should communicate without any visible hesitation to express himself, he also should focus on personal significance of events, express his thoughts clearly with the help of some appropriate explanations, produce the distinctive and developed text with the adequate extraction of important statements and details developing his ideas and thoughts. On the second stage (at the end of the 2nd and on the 3rd course) it is supposed to teach students work-related communication in the frames of a definite specialty with the use of a foreign language for the special purpose (LSP) [1].

Thus, poly-lingual education at the teacher’s training institutes can be introduces in the following formulae B2 + LSP + teaching general and special subjects in a foreign language what completely corresponds to the international standards of a foreign language.

One of the methods of a foreign language teaching is to teach students to develop their analyticsynthetic workout of the information skills, creative comprehension, analysis and evaluation of the context of an original authentic text. This text means the text which reflects natural language usage. In our opinion, integration of authentic texts into practice for teachers’ training is of a great significance. Nowadays the significance of such kinds of text is quite high due to its direction of the teaching process to the situations of intercultural correlation, because of the necessity of a future teacher to communicate with foreign partners. Therefore, the necessity of use of origin English texts (not their equivalents) is increasing; the special literature distinguishes the following authentic texts: didactic, semi-authentic, quasi –authentic and authentic ones. Didactic texts are the texts which are designed specially for methodological aims. Semi-authentic texts are the ones which are adopted by means of reduction of authentic texts in order to fulfill the education tasks. quasi –authentic texts are the ones without any difficulties to make the educational tasks easier (e.g. reductions of the texts because of the lack of proper names, historic notes, etc.). Authentic texts are the texts written by native speakers for native speakers. They are real productions of native speakers created in real conditions to keep and pass specific information not for the teaching process [2]. There is no doubt in the use of authentic texts but we can not state that non-authentic texts are ineffective either. We can take into consideration specific teaching tasks a teacher puts beforehand. such as the level of knowledge of various groups, different teaching conditions, etc. the goal of foreign language teacher is sensible and skillful balance of the usage of various kinds of texts (authentic and non-authentic), and other materials which can be used in terms of modern educational standards and interests and possibilities of students as well..

Use of authentic texts in teaching of foreign languages has old traditions and experience that can be successfully adapted to the process of teaching other subjects in foreign languages. At first these texts must correspond to the educational context and at second, they must suggest in-depth study of students in the language environment [2].

The aim of the article is studying theoretical approach to the reading of authentic texts and analysis of the implementation of such an approach which is based on some authentic texts for students studying history. The sources of the authentic materials for group and individual work can be texts from textbooks, theme articles from scientific publications, from mass media, and the Internet-resources. Implementation of such materials on the lesson of world history lets students know some cultural elements, social process, peculiarities of mentality and lifestyle of the country and historic events. Newspapers, scientific articles, and news sites give the opportunities to discuss current problems of economics, politics, culture and to compare the development tendencies of social lives of some ex-epochs and modern life which can.be used a method of actualization of historic knowledge.

The work on authentic texts includes three stages: pre-text, text and post-text. Pre-text stage should provide «slow entering» into the text. At first, a teacher should work with terms in the text and do pre-text exercises which can help students start communication on the topic.

The teaching task in this case is involving students into the language environment of a specific historic period via language exercises. These exercises are designed to formulate skills to use the materials studied by students in the language situations, the exercises must be creative and more close to the natural speech act. For instance, a teacher can provide students with some video-materials, slides, or other illustrations which can reflect cultural elements, historic events and processes that can be mentioned in the authentic text [3]. Thus, while studying the topic «About the development of world trade» we have taken an authentic text «the Silk Road» from the paper «The Nile» (October, 2005, Issue 15) in the column Preparation for the TOEFL test. This text is quite small and contains two illustrations; one of them is the map of the ancient Arabia peninsula.

In the pre-text exercises we recommend to pay attention to the title of the text that usually contains more then 50 % of the whole text information (in this case 100 %) because the title completely confirms the text content. It is also possible to use the map as a method of «a language guess» and ask questions to the students, e.g.:

  • Is the title of the text understandable for you?
  • What kinds of association have you got speaking about the Silky road?
  • What information do the symbols on the map content?
  • How can you explain such symbol as a vessel on the map? and so

Such questions help students be involves into the language environment and activate their knowledge on the following historic event.

Text stage is the reading itself. The programme supposes the development and improvement of the three kinds of reading in accordance with the goals. They are introductory, scanning and skimming kinds of reading. Introductory reading is the reading with the whole coverage of context. The result of it is the comprehensive context understanding of the text where the latter should be exact and the additional information should be understood correctly without any distortion. To develop such kind of reading it is possible to provide students with long texts quite easy in language with a small amount of extra information. Usually they are the texts from scientific journals, essays, extracts from publicist literature. In such a situation a teacher should consider the age features and interests of students. This reading suggests a small amount of language exercises directed to stimulate a language guess. To make the task easier students studying history can pay attention to dates, proper names, illustrations and maps that we have used in the abovementioned text.

Scanning reading is the most contemporary kind of reading because it is the base for taking the international exams like TOEFL/IELTS in the part «reading». In such case reading should be quick. The exercises of this reading suggest multiple returns to the text with various communicative tasks and focus on the cognitive side of the text. Thus, in the text «The Silky Way» we can give students the exercises which correspond to the international test scheme, for example:

  • find the definition of each words as used in the text;
  • indicate whether the statements below are true (T), false (F) according to the text;
  • choose the alternative which best completes each statement below;
  • find the meaning of the word and match it with its definition by seeing how it is used in two sentences [4].

Skimming reading is the skill of distinctive and complete extraction of information from the text. Such kind of reading usually accompanies with the analysis of sophisticated language phenomena, and critical evaluation of the read information, generalizing, and conclusion. This kind of reading is usually slow, because a student has to read and translate repeatedly, and put down the necessary information. Texts of such kinds of reading are quite difficult to understand. We can use the Internet-recourses of such kind of reading in poly-lingual groups which can be ready authentic texts on the topics of the course, various visual materials, historical and thematic maps, statistic tables, video-clips sounded by the native-speakers and thematic video lectures. Before the authentic texts scanning, e.g. on the topic ‘the rise of medieval Europe’, students can get some questions to answer like:

1 In what way was Charlemagne an exceptional ruler for his time? 2 How were loyalties maintained a fragmented and violent Europe?

3 What role did the Catholic Church play in the rebuilding of Europe? 4 What were the achievements of medieval European monarchs?

It is necessary to start organize the usage of authentic English materials by students with easy searching tasks on the studying topics. In this case a student reviews some sites in order to find some authentic texts to use skimming reading.

Post-reading exercises should provide students with informational elaboration of the text. Such exercises should be used to develop communicative skills and contain the specific tasks directed to create student’s own statement. A teacher can make questions focused on the special aspects [3]. For instance, post-reading stage can include different tasks of informational and creative types. While studying the authentic text «the rise of Medieval Europe» students have to do some exercises directed to the development their competences of different kinds, for example:

Explain — What problem resulted when Charlemagne was crowned by the pope?, What were stages necessary to become a knight?, How did the Roman Catholic Church provide the link between the past and the medieval world?, What factors account for the differences in the way French and English monarchs build strong states?

We state that post-reading stage suggests doing some exercises designed for the critical thinking development, i.e.:

Describe — Contrast Charkemagne with his weak successors. Why do you think Charlemagne was successful in enlarging and maintaining his empire?

Evaluate — Predict what might have happened if scholars had not preserved learning in an age when hardly anyone could read or write. If learning had not been preserved, would life today be different?, Judge the importance of the English Parliament in the development of representative government.

Analyze — Contrast the daily responsibilities and life-style of a noble with those of a serf?, Compare and contrast the feudal class structure with the structure of the varna system discussed in India?, — Contrast the atmosphere that led to the Inquisition with our greater tolerance for differences in religious belief and practice.

Synthesize — Make a list of duties for serfs to carry out in the fall, keeping in mind the need to provide for the medieval manor during the long winter months. Imagine that you are a religious, but superstitious, peasant. Invent an explanation for the famine that has struck your village. — Imagine the scene at Canossa and compose Henry’s speech of apology to Pope Gregory.

Applying Concepts:

Movement — Explain the reasons why the Vikings, the Magyars, and the Slavs left their homelands and invaded the lands of western Europe.

Cooperation — Diagram the ways nobles, clerge, knights, and peasants cooperated during the medieval period.

Uniformity — Examine the effectiveness of the actions the Catholic Church took to ensure uniformity of people’s beliefs and practices during the medieval period.

Conflict — Identify reasons for conflict between popes and monarchs. Could they have been resolved peacefully? [5].

But at the beginning level of teaching History in English we can recommend the following exercises:

  • find and mark the abstracts containing a definite information;
  • define the number of facts in the text;
  • make up a plan of the text;
  • generalize the material;
  • make up a logical outline of the text;
  • make up a mind map on the topic of the text,

On this stage the working methods are designed to find out the main elements of the text. If a student is given the task to make the prediction on the text before reading then after reading a student should be given a question whether his predictions are true or not. It is necessary to read the text again if a student should answer the questions to the text and complete the table with the appropriate information, to make up the outline to the text and so on.

On the text base a teacher can arrange to do some exercises with the aim of finding out the level of its content and development of communicative skills which can be considered as a background for the fulfillment of qualitative situational and spontaneous speech. After reading authentic text students implement their theoretical knowledge on practice in case of making up a secondary text, i.e. an abstract, a report, an essay and an annotation. The analysis of authentic texts allows extracting the most valuable information, separating less important data, i.e. to make special analytical language analyses which are quite important to understand the main information from the text. Students can briefly formulate the text and make the synthesis of the text which can be easily done for making up secondary texts (abovementioned). These texts are designed to keep, recycle and modernize the primary (authentic) text. This assignment determines its essential role in education: creating secondary text students acquire skills of self-study in extracting, processing and coding the information from the texts.

At the end students read their secondary texts, discuss strong and weak sides of each text and together with a teacher they mention works meeting the requirements [6]. This kind of educational activity creates favourable opportunities for multi-lingual education and boosts the personal activity of teachers-to-be, and prepares to the active professional activity as well.

The usage of English authentic educational and scientific sources contributes to the awakening of cognitive motivation by students because they pay attention to the information available for native speakers. It increases a practical value of foreign language proficiency.

Reading and further making annotation or abstract from the authentic texts need the awareness of realities, culture, history and on the other hand it has became a valuable a source of knowledge [6].

To achieve the abovementioned aims in teaching multi-lingual specialists it is necessary to make a close collaboration between teachers of different subjects. It is possible when we can use the technology of the socalled Lesson study which suggests creation of a team of teachers conducting lessons in a definite studying classroom (student group). For example, in a group of students studying history but having imperfect knowledge of a foreign language the collaboration between a teacher of a language and history would be fairy enough.

Thus, it is necessary to fulfill the multi-cultural and multi-lingual education for forming a specialist, who can be able to be competitive, capable to the active and effective life in the multi-cultural environment and who can acquire the feeling of respect towards other cultures. The significant role in such process plays an acquaintance with culture and language of other peoples through authentic texts which let students feel the colour and ethnic originality of culture and language. The arrangement of education of the world history through the use of authentic sources reveals the opportunity to implement elements of multi-lingual education and also conducting research by students and post-graduates.



  1. Концепция языковой подготовки специалистов в КазНУ им. Аль-Фараби. — Алматы, 2008. — [ЭР]. Режим доступа: http://www.kaznu.kz/ru/
  2. Гальскова Н.Д., Гез Н.И. Теория обучения иностранным языкам. Лингводидактика и методика. — М.: Издат. центр «Академия», 2007. — 207 с.
  3. Носонович Е.В. Параметры аутентичного учебного текста // Иностранные языки в школе. — — № 1. — С. 18.
  4. The Silky Road // The Nile newspaper. — 2005. — 15 October. — P.
  5. Farab M., Berens Karls A. World history: The Human Experience. — New York,
  6. Гаврилов Л.А. Основы реферирования и аннотирования / Гаврилов Л.А., Латышева Л.К. — М.,
Name of author: A.M.Syzdykova, Zh.K.Shirokova
Year: 2015
City: Karaganda
Category: HISTORY