Linguist explores English-language learning in Uzbekistan

Kenneth Palmer

As element of a U.S. Section of State job rooted in the transition from Soviet legacy to Western ideology, a College of Miami professor emerita of linguistics is looking into how political ideologies and sociocultural preferences effect English-language studying in the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan.

Arlene Clachar, who taught linguistics at the College of Miami College of Education and learning and Human Improvement for 20 years, was selected late last fall to take part in the English Language Expert Plan, which is geared to foster mutual comprehension among the United States and other countries by way of cultural trade. 

The challenge achieved her target of a retirement endeavor that would enable her to travel the world and teach, when continuing to do analysis, and the option to do exploration in Uzbekistan was primarily intriguing simply because of the sociolinguistic modifications getting spot in Central Asia. 

“After 9/11, the United States and Western nations grew to become additional intrigued in Central Asia, and specifically Afghanistan, since of security concerns—that’s just one aspect of the analyze,” Clachar defined. “Second, just after the separation of the Soviet Union, there has been a transition from the instructing of Russian and the educating of English based mostly on Russian pedagogy to the training of English dependent on Western ideology.” 

Whilst Russian pedagogy is far more rote and memorization-dependent, Western pedagogy is additional concentrated on the communicative facets of studying, Clachar defined. 

Primarily based on her linguistic specialization that explores how language interfaces—such as syntax-phonology, syntax-morphology, and syntax-pragmatics—create worries for English language learners, Clachar was chosen for the research. 

Arlene Clachar
Professor emerita Arlene Clachar has been chosen by the U.S. Section of Point out for a prestigious English language expert assignment.

Not able to journey to Uzbekistan in massive section for the reason that of the pandemic, she has expended the preliminary side of the analyze analyzing knowledge shared by a colleague from the Uzbek Point out University of Planet Languages, the country’s most important establishment of language analyze. 

The details is specially centered on English “speech functions,” communications that consist of requests this kind of as apologizing, complimenting, complaining, and supplying warnings, Clachar observed. 

“These grow to be extra advanced centered on the amount of imposition—from ‘please pass the salt’ to ‘may I borrow money’ and grow to be much more hard in the situation of Uzbekistan, a multiethnic and highly multilingual place,” she reported. 

Both of those Uzbek, the indigenous language, and Russian have been formal languages in the place. And English, since of Western influence and its world wide use, has obtained in level of popularity. The nationalistic press to make Uzbek the formal language was stymied when Uzbek personnel who traveled in just the location to uncover work understood that Russian remained the lingua franca for commerce. 

“There’s a good deal of allegiances to every of the languages, and each individual of the ethnolinguistic minority carries its very own ideology and its have attitudes toward its language choice,” Clachar described. “These factors impact how individuals specific their requests.” 

Uzbekistan has the major Muslim population in Central Asia, and spiritual preferences even further complicate the conclusion as to which language is most well-liked, Clachar pointed out. 

“Our purpose is to create pedagogical teaching equipment to get students to realize what comes about if a speech act is not correctly executed—it can come throughout as becoming impolite or arrogant if not voiced according to the cultural norms of the culture and bring about conflicts,” she reported. 

The linguist is hopeful that she will be equipped to travel to Uzbekistan and ultimately deliver a textbook with instructive workout routines primarily based on the study results. 

“We hope to locate out how we can aid teachers, and inevitably college students, to have an understanding of where by breakdowns with regard to speech functions get area and have a tendency to develop interpersonal conflicts,” Clachar said. 

The venture is a single of some 240 funded by the English Language Specialist Software annually and serves as the premier possibility for leaders in the discipline of training English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) to enact significant and sustainable improvements in the way that English is taught abroad, according to a Point out Section news release.

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