Ms Vaishali Pradhan is the Program Manager at British Council Nepal, working to improve English Language Teaching situation in the country. Here is an interview Choutari took with her.
ELT Choutari: How do you assess the current situation of English Language Teaching in Nepal? What are the prospects and challenges?
Pradhan: These days English is no longer a language for the elite class. Students from all backgrounds want to learn the language. Parents aspire to see their children speak good English. It is because of this need that English Language teaching in schools has gained momentum over the past few years. Our education system has seen a systemic shift and so has the ELT situation in Nepal. Trained human resource, quality materials and assessment for me are the main challenges our schools face today. Figures from many of our project baselines have shown that majority of teachers continue to teach English in Nepali. Receptive skills like listening, speaking and reading are given less or no priority. Some of these teachers probably aren’t equipped with the right training while the others fail to take their learning into actual classroom teaching. Quality materials and assessment is also an area that needs attention. Good English language teaching requires materials that can make English learning fun. This then needs to be supplemented with an equally engaging assessment tool.
ELT Choutari: What are the key programmes that the British Council is implementing for improving ELT situation in Nepal? What has been most effective?
Pradhan: We currently have two large scale projects that focus on improving the teaching methodology of primary school teachers. English for Teaching: Teaching for English (ETTE+) is a British Council project that helps teachers of English language improve their language and teaching skills. ETTE+ is particularly designed for teachers who live in far-flung areas, and who have not yet benefited from training or development opportunities. English for Teaching: Teaching for English makes this possible by using a new flexible model of delivery that combines direct and indirect delivery of face-to-face, printed, electronic and on-line services. It helps school teachers improve their performance in the classroom by enhancing their access to materials, methods and opportunities for their professional training and development. We are currently this in Lamjung and Chitwan. The phase one results of this project was very promising – by the end of phase 1 we had 96% of teachers speaking in English in the classrooms compared to 76% during the baseline. We also had 88% students speaking in English with their teachers compared to 16% before the project intervention.
We recently signed an MoU with NCED to implement Project NIITE (National Initiative to Improve Teaching in English). This project is aimed at teachers working in an EMI (English as a medium of Instruction) setting. This project will be implemented from February 2015.
ELT Choutari: Through this interview, we would like to inform teachers, researchers, and professional leaders in the field of ELT about the kinds of opportunities you have. Please list or describe some of the opportunities and resources that you have for them.
Pradhan: The British Council offers various opportunities for English teachers. We have scholarship opportunities like the Hornby Scholarship and Hornby Regional School. We have online and face-to-face training courses like LE Pathways, Master Series Workshops and Teach English Professional development courses. We also run the CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) which is an internationally recognised English teaching qualification for people with little or no previous teaching experience. It is one of the most widely taken qualifications of its kind and it is essential for anyone hoping to work for a reputable English language teaching institution such as the British Council. Details of all these opportunities and resources can be accessed via our website or by clicking on the link below.