Research Article

The Dynamics of Language Shift in Kazakhstan: Review Article


  • Nurgul Terlikbayeva MSc Scholar, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
  • Gulbakhyt Menlibekova Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, Professor, L. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan


In the 90s, language planning in Kazakhstan was hindered because people of other ethnic groups outnumbered Kazakhs. Russian has long been designated as the language of inter-ethnic communication and its status is officially on a par with the state language, Kazakh. The leadership in Kazakhstan avoided taking 'extreme' positions as the stability in the country was at stake, so in order to preserve political stability in the country, the language shift towards Kazakh was delayed. Now in modern Kazakhstan, the number of ethnic Kazakhs has increased which has resulted in positive, albeit slight changes in favour of the Kazakh language. The primary purpose of this review article is to understand the reasons for the slow dynamics of language shift in Kazakhstan. Analysis of the literature and theoretical frameworks by Ruiz and Sonntag and Cardinal sheds light on the dynamics of this shift. One of the contributing factors to its slow dynamics has been the government’s support for the bilingual later multilingual language regime. Language planning in Kazakhstan implicitly promotes economic planning. Russian, and more recently English have been favoured as more suitable for human development in Kazakhstan. Another factor associated with the slow dynamics of the language shift is a language's prestige and value. Kazakh is not associated with social success and as such, it remains less prestigious compared to Russian. Based on the evidence, this paper concludes that Kazakhstan is still linguistically dependent on the past state traditions despite being politically independent today. Russian, seen as a language of international communication, in truth, remains intra-national in Kazakhstan.

Article information


Journal of English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics

Volume (Issue)

3 (2)





How to Cite

Terlikbayeva , N. ., & Menlibekova , G. . (2021). The Dynamics of Language Shift in Kazakhstan: Review Article . Journal of English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 3(2), 12–22.



Language planning, Kazakhstan, policy, status planning, corpus planning, prestige planning, language acquisition, language shift