Coming out of the shadows: Investing in English private tutoring at a transition point in Kazakhstan’s education system during the global pandemic

Anas Hajar, Mehmet Karakus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Unequal access to language learning resources has been exacerbated by
the global expansion of English private tutoring (EPT). Despite its
popularity, no study has examined the implications of EPT during the
COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this mixed-methods study explored the
nature and effectiveness of EPT that first-year Kazakhstani undergraduate
students had experienced over the previous 12 months during the
COVID-19 pandemic. It was informed by Benson’s (2011) model of
language learning beyond the classroom. Data were collected through a
close-ended questionnaire and semi-structured online interviews. The
study found that 318 out of 750 (42.4%) had experienced EPT, and 64%
of respondents had received face-to-face EPT although it was considered
a health risk during the pandemic. All the interviewees perceived EPT
sessions as an encouraging environment for coaching towards the
university entrance examination and expanding their knowledge. They
attributed this mainly to the individual attention they obtained from their
tutors, which was lacking in online classes with their English teachers due
to teachers’ indifferent attitude to students’ questions and the limited
duration of video conferencing sessions. The participants acted
agentively by evaluating the advantages and drawbacks of online EPT.
Pedagogical implications and areas for further research are suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalThe Language Learning Journal
Early online date29 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis GroupThis is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which thisarticle has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent


This work was supported by the Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education [grant number 20122022FD4117].THE LANGUAGE LEARNING JOURNAL11


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • emergency English language learning and teaching
  • English private tutoring (EPT)
  • first-year university students
  • a mixed-methods study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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