Books, Language Courses, Other Kazakh Language Sources

I would like to thank Suzanne for all of the "adoptive mom" reviews; she has researched these extensively and is actively learning Kazakh. Prices listed here are for your information only and could change at any time, current as of March 2007.

UCLA [external link]: language profile; excerpts were used on the language index page. You can also search their Language Material Project [external link] for resources. The project is no longer being maintained, but the resources are still there.

Princeton [external link]: Kazakh transliteration table

Language mapLanguage map of Kazakhstan [external link] shows where Kazakh and Russian are spoken. They also have a listing of all the languages and ethnicities in Kazakhstan. Click on the map to see a larger image. Reprinted with permission per their terms of use.

Lonely Planet Central Asia Phrasebook link in new window, published April 2005
"Your key to traveling the famed Silk Road, with essential words and phrases for getting around and getting to know the locals. From western Xinjiang to the Karakoram Highway you'll be able to haggle in the bazaars and order your favorite kebabs with ease. Covers all essential language and more, in an easy-to-use format; includes comprehensive sections on Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Pashto, Tajik, Tashkorghani, Turkmen, Uyghur and Uzbek; also includes essential words and phrases in other languages of the region; pocket-sized and organized by subject; the perfect language companion." Review of the previous edition by an adoptive mom:

"I find this one annoying. If you don't want to learn Cyrillic characters this one will work well. The stupid thing about this book, though, is that everything is written out the way it sounds in English letters, but they don't show you how it looks in Kazak characters. This is not at all useful if you actually need to understand anything in writing (menus, etc). Once you start learning Cyrillic characters it's actually harder to use this book, because you have to "back translate" into Cyrillic in your head to figure out what they are trying to sound out."

Beginning Kazakh [external link] by Ablahat Ibrahim, published by University of Arizona Critical Languages program in 1999. 2 CD-ROMs, 20 lessons, "Features thirty-nine video dialogs and readings by native speakers, audio recordings and audio flashcards relavent to the lessons, and various exercises. Includes multiple choice, vocabulary completion, pronunciation, and listening dictation exercises. Makes extensive notes to all instruction available." It is also available from Barnes & Noble Beginning Kazakh link in new window ($63), World Language - Beginning Kazakh [external link] in LA ($68), Desert Hawk Books - Beginning Kazakh [external link] in Arizona ($70), and World of Reading [external link] ($68). Review by an adoptive mom:

"Yes, it's expensive. It is one of the few items you can find in the US where you can actually hear people speaking Kazak, though. The problem with this set is that it was not (for me) complete enough to provide everything you need to learn. There are no drills to practice grammar, and I personally think the grammar lessons go pretty fast and don't provide enough info. You can get an idea of this series by going to the sample chapter Susan links to, but you will need to know Kazak characters to make any use of that chapter. You can get this info on Kazak characters from the website from Dunwoody Press's Kazakh Textbook: Beginning and Intermediate (see below). Also, you need to use the ASU software with a computer, so it "tethers" you to the computer while you are learning. I partially solved that problem for myself by changing the file formats on the audio files so I can carry them with me on an MP3 player. I tend to carry the audio dialog for the lesson I'm working on with me on my Palm Pilot, and I can play it in a continuous loop to practice."

The University of Arizona Critical Languages program published in July 2005 two DVDs for learning Kazakh: Intermediate Kazakh [external link] and Advanced Kazakh [external link] by Akmaral Mukanova; $40 each directly from that site. They are also available at World of Reading [external link] ($80 each), and may be available from the same sources for Beginning Kazakh listed above.

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Kazakh Language Course for Peace Corps Volunteers in Kazakhstan published May 1995. "This guide is designed for Kazakh language training of Peace Corps workers in Kazakhstan, and reflects daily communication needs in that context. It consists of an introductory chapter and a series of 10 theme-based competency-based language lessons. The introduction contains background information on the language, its alphabet, the Kazakh people, Kazakh phonology and morphology, some basic differences between Kazakh and English, and notes on terms of address. Each lesson lists the targeted language competencies, targeted grammatical structures, brief dialogues, vocabulary list, cultural notes, and a number of exercises in sentence completion, pattern drill, and translation. Lesson Topics include: greetings and introductions; family; food; shopping; clothing; invitations and social functions; getting and giving directions; using postal services; weather; and discussing work." Search the Education Resource Information Center [external link] for ED402757. Review by an adoptive mom:

"Even if you aren't interested in learning the language, the book has a number of sections (in English) that describe Kazakh culture and traditions. It also has a lot of lists of words (e.g. words for food, clothes, etc) that would be really handy to have while in Kazakhstan or with older kids. The lists are all in Cyrillic script, but at least the lists would help with menus, etc, and you could always show it to people too. I think you could just print it and cut out the lists and use them as a handy topical guides to carry with you. If you are interested in seriously learning the language, you will need audio tapes or CDs too, but the explanations in this book are SO MUCH better than the explanations in the other materials I'm using (Critical Languages Series from U of AZ). I've been spending a TON of time compiling my own lists and verb charts and deriving consonant change rules, etc, and they are all HERE! At $6.30 [note: now free] it's a steal, and is worth much more than many of the other resources I've paid MUCH more for. The biggest problem I had with this one is that the quality of the type isn't great, so it's hard to tell the difference between q and k in print and the n and ng (the Kazak k and n with and without a tail). "

Kazakh: Language Competencies for Peace Corps Volunteers in Kazakhstan by Ilse Cirtautas, published July 1992. "The text is designed for classroom and self-study of Kazakh by Peace Corps volunteers training to serve in Kazakhstan. It consists of language and culture lessons on 13 topics: personal identification; classroom communication; conversation with a host counterpart or family; general communication; food; money; transportation; getting and giving directions; shopping at a bazaar; reception by a host family; workplace language; medical and health issues; and interaction with officials. An introductory section outlines major phonological and grammatical characteristics of the Kazakh language and features of the Cyrillic alphabet. Subsequent sections contain the language lessons, organized by topic. Each lesson consists of a prescribed competency, a brief dialogue, vocabulary list, and grammatical and vocabulary notes. Many sections also contain cultural notes. Appended materials include a translation of the dialogues, glossary, word list, and brief bibliography on Kazakh language, history, and literature and culture." Search the Education Resource Information Center [external link] ED353810.

Colloquial Kazakh by Zhoumagaly Abouv and Kurtulus Oztopcu, published in 1994, 3 audio cassettes and booklet. "An introductory course in Kazakh for those planning on traveling to Kazakhstan. Emphasizes oral communication. Includes three tapes with words, phrases, and sentences in English that are then pronounced twice in Kazakh. Provides the same information in the 50-page booklet, with the Kazakh written in transliterated form. Contains information on pronunciation of the transliterated Kazakh in unit one, while unit two treats commonly used words and phrases (such as yes, no, maybe, etc.). Groups units three through fifteen by subject (i.e.,personal information, food and drink, accommodation). Introduces full sentences and supplementary vocabulary. Divides each unit into the following sections: vocabulary, key questions and phrases (or words and expressions), and dialogues. Provides general information about the country and people of Kazakhstan. Includes sketches to accompany the printed material and eight credit-card sized flash cards that contain the English and transliterated Kazakh for key phrases from each chapter." ISBN 0884327841. Availble from Barnes & Noble Colloquial Kazakh link in new window and Multilingual Books [external link] ($89).

Learn the Kazakh language in 70 steps: using 200 sentance models by Tangat Ayapova, published in 1991, Dunwoody Press, 3 audio cassettes and textbook, "A beginning textbook of Kazakh, arranged in seventy steps. Contains eleven units in two sections. Concentrates on pronunciation and grammar in section one (units one to ten). Divides the units into steps, each of which includes an explanation or model of the item to be learned and various exercises--listen and repeat, pronunciation, translation, parsing, transformation, substitution, reading, and sentence completion and composition. Often presents the exercise texts in dialogue form. In each unit, several of the steps are cumulative self-tests containing exercises as described above, and suggested grading scales. In addition, units typically include answer keys for the exercises and tests in each step, as well as a Kazakh-English vocabulary. Concludes unit ten with a comprehensive grammar examination (answers provided). Section 2 (Unit 11) concentrates on conversation practice in section two (unit eleven). Divides the unit into twenty thematic steps that cover such topics as getting a job, talking on the telephone, conducting business, asking for directions, and shopping. Includes a dialogue and/or model sentences (select phrases only are translated) for the steps in section two, each of which also contains various exercises--listen and repeat, memorization, and role play. Provides a Kazakh-English vocabulary for unit eleven. The listen/repeat and pronunciation exercises throughout sections one and two are to be completed with the accompanying cassette tapes. Illustrates throughout with explanatory charts and tables." ISBN 1881265064. Published by Dunwoody Press [external link] ($85); also available from World Language [external link] ($79).

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Kazak Grammar by Somfai David, published in 2002 as part of the Languages of the World series. "A grammar of Kazakh focusing on TAM (Tense-Aspect-Mood) Categories of the Kazak verb morphology and auxiliary verb formations with examples illustrating the usage of these morphological aspects. The phonology section explains some phonetic changes that can be observed only in spoken Kazak, which are not indicated in the written language." It is published by Lincom-Europa [external link] in Germany; do a new book [external link] search for ISBN 3895864706, $32.50 USD.

Kazakh (Qazaq)-English Dictionary by Karl Krippes, published in 1994. "A Kazakh-English dictionary containing over 20,000 general words and phrases. Includes organizations and names as well as concepts. Arranges entries alphabetically in Kazakh and includes the equivalent term in English for each entry. Provides illustrative phrases in Kazakh and English for some entries (e.g., "indebted - I'm greatly indebted to you"). Notes metaphorical and colloquial uses." ISBN 1-881265-02-1. Published by Dunwoody Press [external link] ($59); also available from Barnes & Noble Kazakh (Qazaq)- English Dicitonary link in new window, World Language - Krippes Dictionary [external link] ($100) and from Multilingual Books [external link] ($118). Review by an adoptive mom:

"This is ONLY going from Kazak to English, so you probably don't need it unless you become a serious student of Kazak. Unfortunately there's not a good comprehensive English to Kazak dictionary in print that I've been able to find."

Kazakh Grammar with Affix List by Karl A. Krippes, published in 1996. "A reference grammar for Kazakh. Contains descriptions of phonology, morphology and syntax, nominal and verb inflection. Treats each part of speech individually. Includes a list of affixes. Facts on the grammar of Kazakh, spoken in Kazakhstan, are presented. They are intended as a guide, not an instructional text." ISBN 1-881262-46-3. Published by Dunwoody Press [external link] ($24); also available from Barnes & Noble Grammar link in new window, Multilingual Books [external link] ($48), World Language - Grammar [external link] ($70), and from the Education Resource Information Center [external link]: search for ED404842. Review by an adoptive mom:

"It's very technical and won't be very helpful unless you are wanting to truly understand the ins and outs of Kazakh language (rather than just memorizing words and phrases)."

Introduction to Kazakh: Grammatical Outline, Kazakh Reader, Kazakh-English Phrasebook, and Kazakh-English Glossary by John R. Krueger, published in 1980 by the Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University. "A grammatical outline and reader. Designed to build competency in reading contemporary social science writings. The outline is in English and describes phonology; morphology (cases, possessives, pronouns, and numerals); and morphophonemics (accent, noun and verb formation, calques, etc.). Numerous examples, romanized and translated, follow items described. An English-Kazakh phrase book follows the reading material. Useful phrases/sentences are given in English for various topics, including the family, school, the library, traveling in the city, restaurant dining, etc. Kazakh equivalents are provided on the facing page. With a Kazakh-English glossary of terms used in the reading selections, and an annotated bibliography of sources for further study. Author's introduction provides a general linguistic profile of the Kazakh language."

Kazakh: Kazakh-English Dictionary by Routledge, World Language [external link] ($150).

Kazakh English Dictionary link in new window by B. Shnitnikov, $150.

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Dictionary of the Turkic Languages: English, Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Uighur, Uzbek link in new window. By Kurtulus Oztopcu (editor), published in August 1996. "Translates some 2,000 English words into eight Turkic languages, providing original script and Latin transcription for each language. Includes alphabetical indices for each of the eight languages, a guide to pronunciation, and a table of alphabets and transcriptions. This is the first dictionary to use the new Latin alphabets for the Turkmen and Uzbek languages. Useful for students, linguists, and travelers, and those engaged in international commerce, research, diplomacy, and academic and cultural exchange. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR." Review by an adoptive mom:

"This is the only alphabetical dictionary I've been able to find that goes from English to Kazak, but it's not comprehensive. Try to find it used. I got mine for $20. It goes from English to 8 different languages, one of which is Kazak. It's not an exhaustive dictionary, and it's a little awkward because each entry has the English word and then the translation in the 8 languages listed by number below it. So for Kazak you always look for #2. It just has one-word translations, so it doesn't give you all the possible meanings, but at least it will get you started. It has both the Cyrillic and the phonetic spelling of the Kazak word, so it is the best (the only) dictionary I've seen thus far that goes from English to Kazak. In the back there's a Kazak-English index that just lists the Kazak word and the English translation, so if you know the order of the Kazak alphabet you can use this dictionary to go from Kazak to English too."

Kazakh Textbook: Beginning and Intermediate by Tangat Tangirberdi kyzy Ayapova, published 2002. "This textbook is for beginners, enabling the student to learn the Kazakh language. The first section is a series of steps to practice phonetics, conversation, grammar, and vocabulary. The second section is designed to reinforce the grammatical material of the first section through everyday conversations. With two 90 min. audio cassette recordings of the articles read by a native speaker." ISBN 1-881265-91-9. Published by Dunwoody Press [external link] ($85 for book, casettes $19), also available from Barnes & Noble Beginning and Intermediate link in new window, Multilingual Books [external link] ($205 for everything). Sample text [PDF link]. Review by an adoptive mom:

"I do not have this one, but have looked through their sample files. This one looks better than most of the other options, and it looks like it goes slow enough and has enough drills that it would be useful. I saw a couple of what I think are typos in Kazak, but other than that it looks good (but also expensive)."

Grant & Cutler [external link] (UK) site with language courses, dictionary. They do not have on-line ordering, but you can e-mail them your credit card info or call; they ship everywhere. They have the same books listed on the other sites, but would be more convenient for those living in Europe.

Paris [external link], France, Kazakh language course; great if you also happen to speak French! There is also an audio file [external link] where you can hear a little Kazakh.

From an adoptive mom: "Kazakh Language Made Easy by I. Kubaeva. The only place you can get it in the US is via Silk Road Painting. Email them and tell them you want the book and the accompanying audio CD, both of which are available at the Akademikniga bookstore in Almaty. They have the CD behind the desk, so Alex or whoever goes to get it for you will have to ask for it specifically (he got another one for me not too long ago, so I think he'll remember what it is). This may take a month or so to get, but will be relatively inexpensive (I'd estimate they would charge you around $20 or so for it). It's one of the less expensive options for beginning to study Kazak, and it's reasonably good. The book is in English and Russian and can be used for speakers of either language to study Kazak." Note that as of 7/09, Silk Road Painting doesn't seem to be functioning, and Alex is now a resident in the US.

The following companies online offer translation services. Kazakh, Russian and English. I don't know anyone that has used them, so I can't vouch for any of them. Remember that if you use these services for dossier documents, the translator will have to go in person to the Kazakhstan Embassy to be certified.

National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan [external link] used to have a language center; site being redone and comes and goes.

Sozdik [external link]: online Russian-Kazakh dictionary.

Qazaq translit [external link] translates between the Kazak, Latin and Cyrillic alphabet.

CenAsiaNet [external link] is an online video module. Must have cyrillic fonts and quicktime player.

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University of Minnesota [external link]: search for courses offered at US colleges and universities. Listed at this time are: New York Su-Genesco, U. of Indiana @ Bloomington, U. of Iowa, U. of WI @ Madison, U. of Arizona in Tucson, UCLA, and U. of Washington.

Get Kazakh/Cyrillic fonts from World Language Fonts [external link], ParaType [external link], UNESCO [external link], Musical Group Urker [external link] has a Kazakh font download, Multilingual Macintosh Support [external link] (finally something for Macs!), and Linguist's Software [external link] (for windows and mac). You can also do an internet search for "russify" and your operating system for fonts and how-tos. See the Russian Language page for additional resources on using Cyrillic fonts.

Kazakh Tongue Twisters [external link] with translations.

BBC Kazakh [external link] offers broadcasts in Kazakh.

Omniglot [external link] shows how Kazakh is written in Cyrillic and Arabic (used in the 19th century until 1940), sample text.

CeLCAR, Indiana University - Kazakh Language Learning Podcasts Kazakh Language Learning podcasts from Indiana University [external link]. "In an effort to deliver our materials widely and effectively, the Center for Languages of Central Asia (CeLCAR) is adapting its collection of on-line Kazakh, Pashto, Tajik, Uzbek and Uyghur language materials for mobile devices. In this first phase, texts are available in spoken and written formats along with basic vocabulary items glossed in English. CeLCAR selects news articles from a number of news sites and composes a summary in simplified standard language of the preceding week's news read by a native speaker. We also compose our own texts on various contemporary topics in Central Asian cultures. The level of language of these texts varies and will be be appropriate for learners at all levels, including those currently enrolled in language courses and those seeking materials to maintain their previously-achieved competency. Exercises for these texts are available at the CeLCAR website and will soon be incorporated into the downloadable material itself. Language Learning Podcasts are updated regularly on Friday afternoons from the CeLCAR offices on the campus of Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. Students are encouraged to subscribe to the language podcasts of their choice in order to receive updated lessons or may visit our website regularly to download the material directly from us. CeLCAR's Central Asian Language Learning Podcasts are available free of charge at the Apple iTunes music store or directly from CeLCAR."

If you live in the Washington DC area, there are Kazakh language classes being offered by the Kazakh-American Association in Potomac, Maryland. You can e-mail them [e-mail link] to get details. I would love to hear from anyone that takes them.

Kazakh Before You Know It link in new window : For beginners to advanced learners, Before You Know It is the simple and effective way to master a new language with Perfect Recall, guaranteed! Whether for business, travel, school or personal enjoyment, you'll quickly learn to understand and speak 1,000 common Kazakh words and 250 essential phrases. You can try it out with a Free BYKI® Lite download by Transparent Language .

Lena Leneschmidt's Kazakh, Russian and English glossary search engine. You need to be able to read Cyrillic.

You may also be able to find the above books by searching on Barnes & Noble: Out of Print Search Page link in new window or Abebooks link in new window


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