Visiting Fellowship in Canada
Having completed the data collection process for my thesis I was given the opportunity to conduct a research visit to Canada. This opportunity came from a Turing Scheme at the University of Sheffield that allows PhD students to undertake a research placement abroad. Upon receiving my supervisor’s consent I was able to apply for the scheme and receive the grant for the duration of my stay in Canada.
Over the course of my visit to Canada, I was able to conduct two school visits where I observed lessons and got to talk to the teachers. Since the Canadian school system is known for its French immersion, I was interested in how the schools are approaching this program. My thesis research looks at a similar program in Kazakhstan where the students are exposed to the English language. Moreover, Canada just like my home country Kazakhstan is multicultural and multinational where different ethnic groups live in peace and harmony and speak different languages. Seeing how Canadian schools teach students with different communicative repertoires was a great opportunity for me which in fact could serve as a model for the policy that I am looking at.
From what I have seen and heard from both of those two schools all I can say is that I am truly amazed and beyond impressed. The school administration along with the teachers create such a friendly atmosphere for the students. The students are not only allowed but rather encouraged to use their ethnic languages during the lessons. They make projects and record podcasts in different languages and as someone who is interested in language inclusivity, I was over the moon to see such kind of practice. The teachers and school principals were very welcoming and showed me around the school area and introduced me to the teaching staff and the students. I was able to learn about the school system in-depth and quench my research thirst.
It was truly an amazing experience for me both in terms of personal and academic progression. I was able to meet like-minded PhD students and connect with them. I also expanded my network and met teachers and school principals with whom I still keep in touch. I was also able to disseminate my early research findings and present them to the teachers and researchers who were very interested in my research. Most importantly, this visit gave me an opportunity to establish a strong connection with the teachers and researchers from Canada and I am sure that this will lead to exciting projects and collaborations.
Maira Klyshbekova is a second-year PhD student at the School of Education