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Reasons for the Low Level of English in Central Asia

Among people who speak English, it is most often easy to identify people from post-Soviet countries, including Central Asia. Level of English in Central Asia is very poor. They speak with a characteristic “Soviet accent”, about which a million jokes have already been composed. And although in these states English was taught in schools and is taught now, starting from the first class, the level of their knowledge leaves much to be desired and the “accent” remains. If anyone can boast a fluent, pure speaking, then the younger generation is born in the mid-late 90s or early 2000s. And then, perhaps, not in the mass.

This thesis is confirmed by the study of the international educational center EF Education First for the 2018th. The organization has compiled a global English proficiency rating. It compares 88 countries in which English is not native. And according to this research, in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, English is very low-level – these states are located at the very end of the list: Kazakhstan – at the 80th place, Uzbekistan – at the 86th place, the preceding one.

Level of English in Central Asia
The level of English in Central Asia

Of all the countries that were once part of the USSR, the highest level of English is in Lithuania. In Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine – medium. Other countries of Central Asia – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan – were not included in the rating because it is possible that their residents did not pass the testing organized by these researchers.

The first reason for the low level of English in Central Asia

The first reason for the low level of English in Central Asia is that Residents of this area in the mass rarely go abroad on tourist trips or internships. And to practice the language while watching foreign films is not a great need, because the majority is duplicated in Russia and freely distributed in Central Asia. In extreme cases, Russian subtitles are always available.

Young people speak English better, they need it for work and study, and they prefer Internet content in the original.

The second reason for the low level of English in Central Asia

In Soviet times, English was taught in school and for a rather long time – about two hours a week from the fifth to the 10th grade. Then he was taught in universities. This time, it seems, is more than enough to master the language, but the result is an extremely low level. As is now clear, the matter is in the methods: in the Soviet Union, more attention was paid to reading and retelling texts, listening was lame, and the development of speaking skills was weak.

Now it is obvious that these approaches are inefficient, but old-school teachers are still working in schools and often using old schemes and textbooks. Although there are already many places where the methods of teaching foreign languages ​​have changed, therefore, it’s easier for current children to learn English than their parents.

The third reason for the low level of English in Central Asia

The third reason for the low level of English in Central Asia is that for non-native English speakers, its grammar and phonetics seem incomprehensible, and therefore there is a feeling that they cannot be mastered. Often this slows down the process of learning. The grammar seems to be a “dark forest” because many of the rules have no analogs either in Turkic or in Russian. A phonetics of English has not changed for centuries, and cases where it is not written as it is heard, frighten.

And finally, the editors point to historical reasons

For a long time, mostly German and French studied in USSR schools. In some, there was no English at all. And in the countries of Central Asia, they were pushing at Turkish and Chinese.

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