Komila Tangirova is the founder and head of the Association for English Teachers of Non-Philological Universities. Her involvement with the British Council inspired her to create a new kind of organisation for English language instructors.
Komila is currently working on her doctoral thesis at the University of Warwick and continues to manage her association’s activities. She was inspired to create a new association specifically for English instructors working outside Uzbekistan’s traditional language-focused institutions of higher learning. Having participated in the EnSPIRe-U project led by the British Council, Komila came to realise how much educators can gain when they have opportunities to share experiences and advice with instructors at other universities.
Komila presented the concept for a new association to senior administrators at the Uzbek State University of World Languages (UzSUWL), where she was working as a junior researcher. The administrators were supportive and in December 2018, the association was founded, initially working from the Scientific and Practical Innovation Center at UzSUWL. Later, the association moved to the Tashkent branch of the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas.
Even as she works on her doctoral dissertation at the University of Warwick, Komila remains committed to empowering members of her association. Her doctoral thesis is entitled "Creating Teaching Materials for Teaching English in Non-Philological Areas Using Corpus Linguistics."
For Komila, setting up a new professional association has been a challenge, and the pandemic made things even more difficult. But the move to online teaching has had its benefits. "When it comes to providing online training, we have seen a significant increase in participants from all over Uzbekistan. This was an absolute plus. The pandemic did not stop our activities but spurred us to move to another level,” Komila explained.
The success of the new association reflects Komila’s professional commitment and talents. In 2016 she won a prestigious grant from the Hornby Educational Trust, which supports educators who can make “a significant contribution to the development of English language teaching in their country."
The Hornby Educational Trust also played a role in the establishment of the new association, providing two grants since 2018 that have been instrumental in supporting the association’s development. The experience of applying for and securing grants is something that Komila has been keen to share with others.
Through the association’s Telegram channel, Uzbek teachers regularly receive information about ongoing webinars, seminars, training, various events, and professional opportunities, both in Uzbekistan and abroad. To take advantage of these opportunities, Uzbek educators often need to apply or seek funding.
“Many of our members were able to apply for various programs, thanks to the knowledge we gained and shared about how to apply for participation in international conferences and how to present their achievements. For example, one of our members, Hilola Maksudova, won a grant for the 2021 IATEFL conference and, thanks to this, took part in it and gave a successful presentation,” Komila explained.
Given the members of the association are drawn from non-philological universities, there is a special focus on the development of English language skills for various professions, such as economics or medicine. For individuals working in these fields, learning English is an important part of professional development which opens the door to exchanges with foreign colleagues and the use of international literature, research, or data in their own work. Komila considers the expanding of professional communications for its members to be “the greatest achievement of the association.”
The association has also been supported by the Uzbek government, particularly by the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education. "From the very beginning of the creation of the association, the ministry took part in all projects and events, first of all, informing universities about them, which helped a lot. Because of this official support, the leaders of various universities contacted us, offering to hold conferences or workshops together. We felt the demand for this association,” Komila recalled.
But Komila reserves special praise for the British Council, which was her greatest source of influence and inspiration. “Participation in the projects of the British Council developed my skills and opened up new professional pathways, expanding my horizons. The British Council’s projects allow us to raise the quality of education to the required level, and we are therefore grateful to all of the talented experts who have invested their time in Uzbekistan.”