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Teaching English in Central Asia: The View From Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

AA: I'm Avi Arditti and this week on Wordmaster: English teaching in Central Asia. The view from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Ibrahim Rustamov is a teacher at Relief International School Number One in Isfara, Tajikistan. And Shukry Marash-Ogly is a linguistics professor at Osh State University in Kyrgyzstan.

The professor says English is taught at many schools and universities in his country.

SHUKRY MARASH-OGLY: "The major problem is lack of resources and new books. But they are coming in and we are starting to use new technologies as well."

AA: "At what age do students in Kyrgyzstan start learning English, and is it a required course?"

SHUKRY MARASH-OGLY: "It is a required course, but in fact children start from grade one, which is basic and just one hour per week, which is a very small amount of hours. But at a university level, they have from six to sixteen hours per week."

AA: "How widely used is English in everyday life in Kyrgyzstan?"

SHUKRY MARASH-OGLY: "It is being used at the moment quite a bit, but still Russian is the most important and widely used means of communication. And Kyrgyz, which is the native language of the country, is there. And English can be considered as the third language in the country, and it is overcoming instead of Russian."

AA: "And Ibrahim, what about in Tajikistan -- how much is English being used in everyday life?"

IBRAHIM RUSTAMOV: "English is one of the prestigious languages and every student wants to learn, to take tutorship, or to go and to attend courses to learn English, because, due to globalization, they want to -- they can't imagine their future without knowing English."

AA: "At what age do students start learning -- and, again, is it required there too as it is in Kyrgyzstan?"

IBRAHIM RUSTAMOV: "Now parents try to -- they want their children to study children starting from the second or third grade and until the eleventh grade. So at the age of eight students are starting learning English language."

AA: "And is it a required subject?"

IBRAHIM RUSTAMOV: "Yes, it's a required subject. At the second grade they are required to take English lessons, because we have two hours of English lessons per week."

AA: "And so your students are how old?"

IBRAHIM RUSTAMOV: "My students are studying from fifteen till seventeen."

AA: "And I'm curious, how are they with learning slang?"

IBRAHIM RUSTAMOV: "Many students have pen pals in the United States and they get things through the new technology. They write e-mails, they have friends in the United States. They try to pick up the new words that are used in the daily life in the United States and try to get to know -- sometimes students come and ask me some word that I don't know as a teacher."

AA: "Can you give me an example or two?"

IBRAHIM RUSTAMOV: "So just two years ago, when I just started working as a teacher after my graduation, they said 'I gonna do this. I gonna do that.' And I didn't know what is gonna. So later I found out that is 'going to' do something."

AA: "And you say there's another word also."

IBRAHIM RUSTAMOV: "Yeah, it's 'wannabe.' I found out that it is those people who want to be something but they can't!"

AA: "Right, they're call wannabes."


AA: "Have you heard that term?"

SHUKRY MARASH-OGLY: "Yes, I did, but we don't use them much. But students do. And one of my students even wrote a diploma paper on American slang."

AA: Shukry Marash-Ogly is a linguistics professor at Osh State University in Kyrgyzstan, and Ibrahim Rustamov is a secondary school teacher in Isfara, Tajikistan. I talked to them at the recent Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Convention in Seattle.

And that's Wordmaster for this week. You can hear from other English teachers at our Web site, And our e-mail address is I'm Avi Arditti.