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Benefits of Studying in a Multilingual Country

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Guest post: Chu Young Min

We live and work in an era of universal globalization of all spheres of human activity, which in its turn entails the revision of priorities in education. In this context, multilingualism preserves cultural diversity, respect and tolerance for different cultures and nationalities. In the globalized era a growing number of emerging countries are focusing on the development of a multilingual environment, which expands new horizons for economic, social and cultural development. 

I would like to share with my experience of studying in a multinational, multicultural country – Kazakhstan.  

The younger generation of Kazakhstan is becoming multilingual. The state language is Kazakh – the language of the ancestors. Russian is the language of interethnic communication. English is the language of international communication, trade and informational, political and cultural interaction. Its role has become very important for the growing economy and international relations of Kazakhstan.

Linguistic and cultural tolerance Linguistic and cultural tolerance

The development of multilingual and multicultural competence is one of the main purposes of education, and universities are at the center of this. L.N. Gumilyov ENU is the home of many different language and cultural centers, including the Korean King Sejong Institute, Confucius Institute, American Corner, Kazakhstan-Belorussian Centre, Kazakhstan-Ukraine Centre, Centre of Polish Language and Centre of Spanish Language. Besides, there are several language courses for students. Here you can learn Arabic, Japanese, French or Iranian. Participating in events, communicating with representatives of different ethnic groups, learning foreign languages, exploring new traditions and cultures gives students a wider outlook and an understanding of the peculiarities of different nations, as well as a respect for these differences.

Training in global skills Global outlook

In a globalized world we see that the labor market requires new abilities and skills from university graduates. It is not sufficient to have a global mindset; we need the ability to communicate with people from a range of cultural backgrounds. Studying in multicultural groups, working on projects with students from different cultures, makes the process more interesting and challenging as we can see different viewpoints, approaches and feelings. A diverse workforce can create valuable opportunities for knowledge exchange and innovation. This isn’t just about communicating, but also learning how to listen and show empathy for others, while also gaining flexibility. After such an experience it is quite easy to adapt to work in a multinational environment more effectively. And it really makes graduates more attractive and valuable for employers.

Understand the local culture Understand the local culture

Knowledge of more than two languages allows us to communicate with many people in both personal and professional contexts. I agree with the representative of BNP Paribas who said “If you have an ability, or want to develop the ability to speak the local language wherever you are based, I would argue that you will get a lot more out of the experience. This in turn can lead to even more effective as an employee; I think this applies for every country we work in.”

When living abroad, acquiring the local mother tongue provides an insight into national cultures and experiences. I learned the Kazakh language and this doesn’t just imply added value for my career, it gives me a better awareness of the country, its history, traditions and customs, people’s outlook, values and beliefs. Kazakhstan today represents the new rapid emerging economics, and its openness to the world community makes it attractive for international companies. Astana is a center where lots of companies have opened up branches or headquarters. Having an understanding of the local culture and language really helps to make early career steps, such as completing internships.

Citizens of the world

Multilingual society has many benefits. Universities which promote a multilingual environment carry a great humanitarian mission – to nurture citizens of the world and create a global village, where everyone is respected and understood.

Originally from South Korea, Chu Young Min is a PhD student at L.N. Gumilev Eurasian National University in Astana, Kazakhstan.

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