From the Conference in Almaty: How to Learn Languages in Game Form at School

UNICEF pilot programme helps schoolchildren learn foreign languages using the Akelius international platform

18 April 2023
Girl using Akelius platform


ALMATY, April 14, 2023 – Today, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with International Information Technology University (IITU) held a scientific and practical conference titled, ‘Blended Learning in Modern Education: Effective Practices and Challenges’.

Teachers, methodologists, professors, and scholars from both Kazakhstan and foreign universities gathered to discuss using modern information technologies and blended learning in language lessons. A key topic of discussion between conference participants was lessons learned from implementing the first stage of the pilot Akelius programme with UNICEF in several schools in Astana, Almaty, and Shymkent.

The Akelius course’s main goal is to facilitate everyday learning of non-native language skills at the initial stages of language development. The Akelius course introduces new material and grammatical rules in a natural language context. It develops communicative competencies using real-life communication scenarios. All lessons aim to develop necessary speaking skills for social adaptation, as well as writing, reading, and listening skills. This blended learning format involves both full-time classes, when a pupil is in direct contact with a teacher, and simultaneously, a tablet with a built-in language programme. This process of language acquisition not only introduces pupils to the laws of a non-native language but also expands the boundaries of general academic skills (research, critical thinking, information technologies, etc.). In Akelius programme classes, pupils can test and consolidate their knowledge in a gaming format.

Yessematova Akbota, Head of the Department of the State Committee for the Methodological Centre of Astana Akimat, provided additional details about the implementation of the pilot Akelius programme in the capital's schools. She discussed how the programme aims to improve migrating children’s literacy as well as the literacy of children requiring additional language support. She also acknowledged how the help of an accessible and easy-to-use programme facilitates the accelerated development of speaking and reading skills for children learning non-native languages.

Teachers at the No. 60 school in Astana also shared practical examples from their experiences using the Akelius programme. They spoke about topics including how lessons are held, lesson formats, and children’s mastery of this new language-learning approach. The teachers also discussed the importance of properly managing classroom work, planning lessons, developing practice speaking opportunities, and providing for simultaneous speaking, writing, reading, and listening tasks. According to Baytabenova Anar, a teacher at the No. 60 school, pupils are already independently processing and studying a certain level of information from the programme and then asking teachers questions during practical lessons while engaging in discussions with other children.

"Our main goal is to provide all children with access to education, especially those who need additional lessons. Knowledge of languages will help children affected by migration, including children who have returned from conflict zones, accelerate their integration into Kazakhstan society and prevent them from lagging behind their peers. The use of the Akelius digital platform on tablets also develops the necessary digital skills among schoolchildren and increases the competence of teachers. We believe that the widespread introduction of a mixed approach in education with the use of IT technologies will ensure that every Kazakhstani child will have access to quality education," commented Arthur van Diesen, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan.

UNICEF has been implementing the Akelius programme in Kazakhstan since 2021 jointly with the Ministry of Education and the methodological centres of akimats in Astana, Almaty, and Shymkent.

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About IITU

International Information Technology University (IITU) was established in 2009. After over 14 years of development, IITU firmly entered into the ranks of the best technical universities in the country. The University is constantly working to improve the quality of educational services and provides high-quality faculty and staff. The University’s modern infrastructure and harmonization of educational programmes with leading international universities contributes to the student body’s dynamic growth. Currently, more than 5,000 students are studying at IITU in the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programmes