A Brief Reflection of my Humphrey Fellowship Program at Boston University
Ganga Ram Gautam*
Dear Valued NELTA colleagues and Choutari readers,
In this brief reflective note, I would like to share with you how this year has been professionally rich for me and how I was able to expand the network for NELTA. I expect that this reflection will be useful information for those who are looking for similar experience.
I felt both honored and privileged to participate in the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship in the year 2010/11. This is a highly prestigious program that brings mid-career professionals to the US and offers professional opportunities to foster mutual exchange among educational leaders working in the US and other countries. This year there were 217 fellows from 93 countries based in 17 different universities in the US. The fellowship year has been a rich professional experience for me. I feel that I have been able to expand my network with scholars here in the US and the world. Expansion of professional network, meeting people and sharing information about NELTA activities were my top priorities. I attended some courses in the School of Education at BU. I also observed some of the English language classes at the Center for English Language Orientation Program (CELOP).
Let me begin with the course experience at BU. Among the courses that I attended, TESOL Seminar and TESOL Field Observation were the ones that I would like to particularly talk about. TESOL Seminar is a course in which students are guided through the steps of curriculum design and writing a book. The professor introduced us to the concept of Tri-dimensional Syllabus that combines the Topics (Themes), Language Functions, and Grammar. By combining these three elements we can really address the topical interest of the learners, expose the learners to the desired language functions and provide them with the type of grammar they need. In addition to this, we also analyzed some of the textbooks and curricula in line with the class discussion on curriculum and materials design.
Another course that I found very useful was TESOL Field Observation. In this particular course, we observed the student teachers in class and shared our experiences. The students were assigned to observe at least three classes per week. We had to take notes of how the class began, how the learning goals were communicated to the students, how the learning activities were organized in class, what the types of errors the students committed were, how those errors were detected and addressed by the teacher, whether or not the students learned from the errors they committed, how the classroom dynamics were managed and so on. At the end of the week we would come to the class at the university, share our experiences and plan for the next week’s observations.
In addition to this, I also designed a Google that I plan to use with my students back in Nepal. In this website, I have tried to include the wonderful online resources that English teachers can use in their class. Also I have hyperlinked a lot professional development resources. I will regularly update the page and please do feel free to browse the page and use the resources available there. Also, please do send me your feedback and comments so that I can make it more reader-friendly and user-friendly.
The website address is: https://sites.google.com/site/gangasprofessionaldevelopment/
Nepal is now going through a shift and English language is going to be one of the key languages in the Nepalese education system. One of the things that I wanted to learn here in the US was how English is taught in multi-lingual and multi-cultural contexts so that I can share my experience with my colleagues in Nepal in order to address the linguistic and cultural diversities in Nepal. I observed English language classes both in university and schools here and talked to the teachers. I found that the teachers use these cultural and linguistic diversities as resources in their class. They encourage the students to share their cultural practices in relevant lessons and compare the linguistic elements among different languages.
During the fellowship year, I attended a Leadership Seminar Series by Prof. Jack McCarthy from the School of Management, BU. The leadership seminar was one of the highlights of the fellowship year. Prof. McCarthy helped us carry out the Leadership Survey through which I was able to see my leadership qualities from the perspectives of the people I was working with back home. One of the things that I would like to share from this experience is ‘leadership is not what you think about you but what other people think about you’. If one wants to become a successful leader, s/he has to develop a mechanism to get regular feedback from the colleagues, co-workers, sub-ordinates and the wider audience. This is the key to a successful leadership.
I was lucky enough to participate in the mega ESL event i.e. TESOL conference in New Orleans. The conference was a great learning experience which not only connected me to the global ESL/EFL community from around the world but also updated me with trends in ESL/EFL scholarship. About 5300 teachers from around the world presented and participated in the conference.
During the same conference I attended a Leadership Course organized by TESOL for TESOL members and the leadership workshops that I attended gave me the confidence to volunteer myself to lead the professional organization at the regional and global levels.
I have established a great network in the conference and I have volunteered to one of the global forums to develop the key performance of the English language teachers of all levels of education.
I also did a series of presentations in different forums and I highlighted the role that NELTA has been playing to promote and enhance English language teaching in Nepal.
These are some of the activities that I did in the last ten months and I am now looking forward to sharing these experiences in Nepal and contributing to the professional growth of NELTA and its members.
I encourage NELTA colleagues to apply for this kind of fellowship and be a part of such great experience.
* Ganga Ram Gautam, Humphrey Fellow 2010/11
Immediate Past President, NELTA