The role of English in the process of transformation of public consciousness

The article is devoted to the issues connected with the need to understand the importance and necessity of the transformation of public consciousness at the present stage of development of Kazakhstani society. This will in many respects help to resolve the problems connected with the country's desire to enter the top thirty of the most developed countries of the world. Nowadays, the most important condition for the formation of a person's competitiveness is not only his professional knowledge and skills, but also the knowledge of foreign languages. The solution of this task in Kazakhstan is largely connected with the approved policy of introducing trilingualism, which implies mastering English along with Kazakh and Russian. Today, it is the English language that is called upon to play a significant role on the way of Kazakhstanis entering the modern world of business, innovation and technology. The article emphasizes that the mastering English opens up ample opportunities for students to get education in different countries of the world, for the exchange of specialists in various fields of activity. At the same time, this significantly increases the level of requirements for mastering this language. A special role in overcoming the difficulties along this path, in the authors' opinion, is called upon the transition of Kazakh to the Latin alphabet. Since Latin graphics are even more common than English. At the same time, this will also simplify to a certain extent the very process of mastering English. The transition of Kazakhstan to the path of mastering poly-lingualism by its citizens is its adequate response to the objective requirement of the course of modern globalization processes. Simultaneously, this will help the republic to contribute to the development of the treasury of world's human culture.

Learning English today is one of the main issues on the agenda for residents of Kazakhstan. The Republic is going through an important period of changing social development and radical transformations, striving to reach the road of universal civilizational development, to reach the parameters of a modernized society. A new direction in the development of the state, whose goal is to enter the thirty of the developed countries of the world, was designated by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.A. Nazarbayev in the program article «Course towards the future: modernization of Kazakhstan's identity», published on April 12, 2017 [1]. The article emphasizes the need to learn English more than once.

Along with political reforms and modernization of the economy, the most important direction for further transformations is the transformation of public consciousness, which must outstrip and predetermine the nature of further changes in virtually all spheres of life in the country. The transition from socialism to a market economy, accompanied by a systemic crisis of the Kazakhstani society, has already caused significant changes in the social structure of society and, as a consequence, changes in the public consciousness. However, if the state's goal is to occupy one of the foremost places in the global world, it is obvious that it is important to understand the importance of solving the emerging problems in the minds of the main part of the country's population.

The transformation of public consciousness, which is a complex spiritual system, becomes the conceptual basis of spiritual modernization in Kazakhstan. As is known, social consciousness, as a rule, is understood to mean the totality of existing in society ideas, theories, views, feelings, moods, habits,traditions, reflecting the social being of people, the conditions of their life [2]. Hence the diversity of the basic forms of social consciousness - political, moral, legal, religious, aesthetic, historical. The leading role of public consciousness is connected with the scientific and theoretical level of reflection of reality, a deep awareness of the subject's responsibility for the progress of society. The object of transformation can come out as the ordinary-practical level of social consciousness, and scientific-theoretical.

Among the areas of modernization of consciousness identified in the program article of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan - competitiveness, pragmatism, the preservation of national identity, the cult of knowledge, the evolutionary development of Kazakhstan and the openness of consciousness. The primary object subjected to change in terms of the required modernization of the public consciousness of Kazakhstanis is the youth. It is the youth, as N.A. Nazarbayev writes, should understand the importance of the need to implement appropriate changes, since «the internal desire for renewal is the key principle of our development» [1].

In this situation, on the one hand, the targeted impact on the consciousness of every young person, as a unit of the transformation of public consciousness, becomes particularly significant. And on the other hand, the whole system of education as a mediator of changes is of great importance. Education takes on a special status of a social phenomenon that goes far beyond purely pedagogical and teaching activities and predetermines the opportunities for the development of all other spheres of social life, supported by competent human participation [3; 215].

With the help of the education system, a new human capital is created. After all, in this case, such qualities of youth as its professionalism, being in demand, and, most importantly, competitiveness in various fields of activity, represent the basis that should contribute to Kazakhstan's success in the future. Here it should be specially noted that in modern conditions, the most important condition for the formation of a person's competitiveness, as the «work resource», is not only his professional knowledge and skills, but also the knowledge of foreign languages.

Knowledge of foreign languages in general is positioned as one of the factors of the nation's success in the XXI century. Of paramount importance for Kazakhstan is the qualitative growth of human capital, the need for a reorientation of public consciousness to acquire qualitatively new knowledge and skills, the disclosure of the intellectual human potential. The young generation must have at least three languages at the level necessary for life and work, both in the country and in the global world. In this regard, it is the English language that is called upon to play a significant role in the way of entry of Kazakhstanis into the modern world of business, innovations and technologies. Knowledge of English can facilitate employment in foreign companies operating in the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan and national companies that are aimed at international cooperation, as well as gaining experience working abroad. In connection with the growth of business activity of the population and expansion of foreign economic relations in Kazakhstan in recent years, there is a high demand for labor market in specialists who speak English.

No doubt, English became one of the leading languages in the field of international business communication in the twenty first century. Knowledge of English is considered one of the most important conditions for integration into the world community, an indispensable element of positive social change, economic well-being and new technologies. In connection with the expansion of international business contacts, more and more companies of the world began to choose English as their official corporate language, and in most cases, those for whom English is a foreign language become participants in such business communication [4]. The number of speakers in English as a non-native is constantly increasing: currently about a quarter of the world's population speak English, and by 2060 the number of speakers who speak it exceeds significantly the number of native speakers themselves [5; 153]. Thus, English often serves as the lingua franca in intercultural business communication between local and foreign specialists.

Speaking about competitiveness, it is necessary to note the importance of obtaining a quality education. And global competitiveness presupposes a level of education that corresponds to high world standards. Such education today can be obtained both abroad, and already in Kazakhstan itself. As is known, in the Republic the scholarship program «Bolashak» has been operating since 1993. During the 24 years of its implementation this scholarship was awarded to more than 12.5 thousand citizens of Kazakhstan for training in the best universities in the world [6]. Initially, the goal of the program was to train staff and specialists with foreign education for priority sectors of the country's economy, primarily for building quality market relations with the international community.

The result of the purposeful perfection of the mechanisms for the implementation of the Bolashak scholarship was its recognition as the best scholarship program among 11 such organizations in the world in2014 at the VIII International Going Global Conference in Miami, USA, following the results of the British Council and the German Academic Exchange Service. Special mention was made of the availability of the Bolashak scholarship for the general public, the accuracy of training and post-soperation, that is, work with graduates. It should be noted that for many applicants for the Bolashak scholarship, the main difficulty with participation in the program was most often the lack of knowledge of the English language. Moreover, recently the requirements were raised to world standards.

In this connection, by the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated 19.05.2017, changes were made in the rules for selecting applicants and entry criteria for participation in the competition. Namely, the requirements to the level of knowledge of the English language on the IELTS system have been raised from 5.0 to 5.5 points. At the same time, for the holders of the IELTS certificate 6.5 and above, a new category «general tender» has been introduced, in which there are no requirements for the existence of an employment record and an application from the employer [7].

For many, a high level of education is the main reason for studying abroad. Universities of Western countries occupy the top lines of influential ratings: QS, THE and ARWU. These ratings have for several years put the highest ratings for universities in the United States and Britain [8]. The top 100 also includes the universities of Canada, Japan, Australia and Switzerland, and the main evaluation criteria are the level of scientific research, contribution to innovation, international student and teaching activities, the number of scholarship programs, the citation of scientific articles, the level of educational services and reputation among employers.

Studying at a university abroad gives the experience of interethnic communication and is a universally recognized way to establish international professional contacts. Foreign universities are proud of the multinationality of the student body, and representatives of leading companies come to prestigious universities to get acquainted with the students, classes are often conducted by invited lecturers from all over the world. The main obstacle, in addition to the cost of training, is the language barrier - training and living abroad requires a fairly good starting level of language proficiency.

Many advanced universities offer training programs in both the official language of the country and in English. Therefore, only one sufficient knowledge of English provides a person with ample opportunities to study in any foreign country. In recent years, the term «English as a medium of instruction» (EMI) is increasingly used. In a study conducted by the EMI Oxford Center in 2013-2014 on the basis of 55 countries (including Kazakhstan), an attempt was made to define this rapidly growing global phenomenon: EMI is the use of the English language to teach academic subjects in countries or jurisdictions where the first language (L1) of the majority of the population is not English [9].

At prestigious universities in Kazakhstan, a certain part of the disciplines are already taught in English. Because of this, it can be considered quite justified the worries of Kazakhstani businessmen about the introduction of trilingual education in general education schools. In July 2017, on the eve of the school year and the change scheduled for the 2017-2018 school year, the elite of Kazakhstani businessmen published an appeal on the pages of the social network Facebook, urging to support this innovation [10]. This, in particular, will allow school leavers to experience less difficulties when entering the leading Kazakhstani universities: Nazarbayev University, KBTU, IT-University, where the main language of instruction is English.

In Nazarbayev University, founded in 2010 by the President of the country, most of the classes are conducted by foreign professors. This is dictated by the strategic goal of forming a world-class research system in partnership with the best scientists and research centers in the world. Nazarbayev University aims to train a new generation of leaders of the country in the field of science, technology, entrepreneurship, medicine, public administration. And also those who can provide leadership in reforming the education system in Kazakhstan. Key features of the NU are: legally fixed academic freedom and institutional autonomy, mainly international faculty, English as the main language of teaching and research, strict academic requirements for admission and further education, as well as the integration of education and science from undergraduate programs [11]. Following the example of the NU, the invitation of foreign lecturers to read individual courses, as well as the teaching of selected disciplines in English in master's and doctoral studies is already practiced in a number of Kazakhstan universities.

Knowledge of English is necessary for most studies in the field of both technical and human sciences. After all, the overwhelming part of the results of the latest scientific research is available only in English today. Translations, as a rule, appear when the information already becomes obsolete. Twenty-eight percent of all scientific publications and fiction in the world is also published in the language of Shakespeare [12].English today is also the language of the Internet, for comparison: the number of articles in the English- language Wikipedia exceeds the corresponding number in German (the closest rival) by more than 2.5 times (5578000 and 2157000 articles respectively).

All of the above plays an important role in the process of convergence and harmonization of the Kazakh system of higher education with the higher education systems of Europe in the framework of the Bologna process. After the Bologna Declaration was signed, Kazakhstan became the first Central Asian state to join the European Higher Education Area, providing much greater mobility to its students, researchers and teachers.

The English language of the beginning of the twenty first century is not just a language of international communication, but today it is the language of global communication in the context of the globalization of geopolitical and socio-cultural processes and the revolutionary development of information technologies. English language today is defined by such terms as lingua franca, bridge language, international English, World English, Global English, although each of these terms has its own specifics and differences. For example, lingua franca is a mediator language used as a means of inter-ethnic communication in a certain field of activity. History already knew examples of the mass application of certain international languages – Latin in the Middle Ages, French as a language of European diplomacy which was used from the 17th century to the middle of the 20th century. Classical Chinese prevailed for the region of Southeast Asia (including Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan) until the beginning of the XX century. Arabic was the language of the Arab Caliphate (733-1492), which stretched from the borders of Northern India and China through Central Asia, Persia, North Africa to Spain and Portugal to the west.

The presence of such an intermediary language, or global language, aims to raise the culture (including the culture of thinking) to a civilizational, global level. So, for example, until the XII-XIII centuries, Latin remained the only literary language and an instrument of artistic creativity and scientific thought in medieval Europe. Fluency of it opened for its bearers the possibility of mutual live communication both in the romanized countries and beyond, uniting the few educated people of that time. Later, for many centuries, Latin perfectly performed the functions of an international language both in science and in art. When, under the influence of the constant growth of national movements, the replacement of the Latin language occurred, this caused a clear damage to the intensity of scientific communication. In 1952, French scientist-mechanic, director of the National Institute of Applied Knowledge, professor Jean Kapel published an article titled «Latin or Babylonian Pandemonium», in which he asserted that in the growing multilingualism of scientific literature, there is a need for an international language [13].

Historically, it happened so, that English has become the language of international communication, a kind of «lingua franca» of the global community of the era of globalization. According to the famous English linguist D. Kristall, the number of people in the world who speak English is more than 1 billion 100 million people, of which only one quarter recognizes English as their mother tongue [14; 3]. The development of English is the command of the processes of globalization. Deepening of integration processes in the world economy, conducting a dialogue with the world community, providing access to world cultural values is accompanied by an increase in the functional capacity of the English language, a universally recognized international language of global dissemination.

Studying English today is an undeniable contribution to the country's own competitiveness in the global market. And at the same time - one of the conditions is its entry as an equal member in the composition of the modern civilization space. Along with this - studying a foreign language makes a significant contribution to changing the model of consciousness and thinking of its immediate carrier, and, consequently, to the process of transformation of the public consciousness as a whole.

For the first time the German philologist and philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt wrote about the connection between language and culture, language and perception of the surrounding reality. Humboldt was the first to apply the concept of internal form to language, linking it with external forms of language with mental processes. Widely known were his statements that «different languages in their essence, in their influence on different feelings are in fact different world outlooks» and that «the uniqueness of the language affects the essence of the nation, so a careful study of the language should include everything that history and philosophy connect with the inner world of man» [15; 370, 377].

The basic ideas of Humboldt's concept can be summarized as follows: 1) material and spiritual culture is embodied in the language, 2) every culture is national, its national character is reflected in the language through a special vision of the world; 3) the language has a specific internal form for each language, «the national spirit», its cultural competence.

Each language describes around the people to whom it belongs a circle from which a person is allowed to emerge only insofar as he immediately enters into the circle of another language. The mastery of a foreign language could be likened to the conquest of a new position in the previous vision of the world.

As K. Levi-Strauss noted, language is both a product of culture, and its important component, and a condition for the existence of culture. Moreover, language is a specific way of existence of culture, a factor of the formation of cultural codes. Different languages reflect different perceptions of the world's people, embrace their prehistory and subtly shape the national way of thinking [16].

Humboldt first of the researchers linked the content side of the language with the spiritual life, the culture of the people. Humboldt refers the language to the number of those phenomena that reflect the nature of the ethnos, its mental make-up, the way of thinking, art, science, philosophy, ie. the whole complex of intellectual values, which determines the «spirit of the people», their worldview, which is reflected in the language. Appealing to the spiritual beginning of the language, Humboldt simultaneously sees it as a dynamic, creative product, whose activity manifests itself in the impact of language as a social phenomenon on the individual. And the more consciously the individual uses the language in accordance with his internal and external needs, the stronger the language affects the culture of his thinking.

At this point, the transition of the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet is seen as a particularly important decision. Latin graphics is even more common than the English language, and has become the form in which the global world exchanges information.

Everyone who grows into a language is forced to learn its way of understanding the world of phenomena and the spiritual world. Thus, the study of a foreign language implicitly contributes to a change in the student's consciousness, and also increases the degree of openness and tolerance. The result of any language education should be a formed linguistic personality, and the result of education in the field of foreign languages is a secondary linguistic personality as an indicator of a person's ability to participate fully in intercultural communication [17; 65].

If bilingualism requires fluency in languages, the secondary linguistic personality begins to form from the very first steps in learning a foreign language.

Of particular interest is the model of the secondary linguistic personality developed by I.I. Khaleeva. In a generalized form, the secondary (on the basis of mastering a foreign language) a linguistic personality is defined as «a person's ability to communicate at the intercultural level. This ability consists of mastering the verbal-semantic code of the studied language, that is, the «language picture of the world» of the speakers of this language (the formation of secondary linguistic consciousness) and the «global (conceptual) picture of the world» [17; 68].

This model is based on the developed by Yu.N. Karaulov concept of language personality. The main parameters of the characteristics and the integral structure of the language personality are presented to them in the monograph «The Russian Language and the Language Personality» [18]. A linguistic personality is understood as «the totality of the abilities and characteristics of a person, which determines the creation and perception of speech products (texts), which differ in the degree of structural and linguistic complexity, depth and accuracy of reflection of reality, determined by the target orientation» [18; 104].

So Yu.N. Karaulov distinguishes three levels in the structural model of the language personality.

The first level is verbal-semantic, the units of which are individual words as units of a verbal- associative network. Students master the structural and systemic connections of the studied language in the parameters of the system-forming function of the language aimed at solving communicative problems.

The second level – lingua-cognitive (thesaurus), the units of which are concepts, ideas, concepts that develop in each language personality in a more or less orderly picture of the world, reflecting the hierarchy of values. Stereotypes at this level correspond to stable standard relations between descriptors, which are expressed in generalized utterances, definitions, winged expressions, etc., from the whole variety of which the linguistic personality chooses precisely those that correspond to the connections between the concepts in its thesaurus.

The third level is the motivational (pragmatic) level, the units of which are oriented toward pragmatics and are manifested, in the opinion of Yu.N. Karaulov, «in the communicative and activity needs of the indi- vidual» [18; 53].

And here one can fully agree with the existing opinion, for example, S.M. Andreeva [19], that the three- level representation of the model of the language personality of Yu.N. Karaulov correlates with the three- level process of speech activity. By outlining the verbal-semantic, thesaurus and motivational levels of thelinguistic personality, this author puts them in parallel with the isolated stages of the three-phase model of speech activity: motivating, formative and realizing.

The concept of speech activity is also presented in the context of A.N. Leontief's theory. Speech activity is an active, purposeful, motivated, objective (meaningful) process of issuing and (or) receiving the formed and formulated through the language of thought (expression of will, expression of feelings), aimed at satisfying the communicative and cognitive needs of the person in the process of communication [20; 51].

In other words, the adoption of the concept of the secondary linguistic personality as a methodological means that in the current process of teaching foreign languages, special emphasis is placed on comparing different conceptual systems in the context of world and national cultures, and not different linguistic phenomena. Comparison involves students' awareness of their own universal essence as a cultural and historical subject.

Thus, at present, most specialists in the field of teaching foreign languages believe that one of the important tasks in teaching is the formation of a secondary linguistic personality capable of successfully carrying out social interaction with carriers of a different culture.

It should be noted that the scale of the spread of the English language in the world practice by different researchers is perceived rather ambiguously. Thus, in most cases English language proficiency is considered one of the most important conditions for integration into the world community, an indispensable element of positive social changes, economic well-being and new technologies. Others are concerned about the idea that minority languages may face the danger of disappearing as English language spreads as a result of globalization and integration processes in the world.

Thus, undoubtedly, Kazakhstan's transition to the path of mastering poly-lingualism by its citizens is its adequate response to the objective requirement of the course of modern globalization processes. And if the knowledge of the Russian language by its inhabitants for today is a kind of consequence of the answer to those challenges that were set by history in the XX century, then knowing English today is the answer to the challenges of the civilizational development of the century XXI. At the same time, all this will assist to the republic's own contribution to the development of the treasury of the world's human culture.

 

References

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Year: 2018
City: Karaganda
Category: History