Welcome to Eighth Anniversary of Choutari: A Special Issue on ICT in ELT

ict-in-education-elt-choutariDear teachers, educators and learners,

Learning is a lifelong process. Even a person at the end of his or her life says, ‘Had I done that…’. The philosophy of education and teaching profession keeps changing in the course of time. The traditional meaning of teacher has been modified as soon as the technologies emerged into the social life. The new digital technologies in daily life have transformed the socio-cultural aspects, educational norms and learning strategies. It has mounted the responsibilities of teachers, institutions and community to understand the fast-changing society and move with the time. At the same time, smart technology has already been accepted as a part of daily life. With the advantages of using smart technology, the technological environment has also generated challenges for the teachers, schools and communities.

Social mobility, migration and transformation of values and norms have consistently engendered various innovations, options and obligations in daily life. Such movements develop some aspects of the society as well as endanger some identities of the human beings. Among the several identities of different communities, language is one of them. There are still over 6500 languages surviving in the world although most of them are limited to verbal form only. After the World War II, the rapid social mobilisation brought several changes in social life. The development of computer technology emerged into our daily life. It increased industrialisation, international business, globalisation of education. The developments created such an environment where the world had to redefine ‘education’ as per the social needs and changes. The national institutions in different countries were renamed as International; these international institutions followed the way of world trade organisation. Education then has been driven by business motive rather than social transformation. Consistently industrialisation dominated socialisation and demanded socialisation according to industrialisation.

When we review last two decades of global change, industrialisation has led socialisation. Industrialisation of natural resources, human resource, technology, ideology and education has changed the way of socialising in the modern world. No nation can survive independently in the world today. It has been imperative for every country to share products, skills and bills. The powerful nations accelerated industrialisation and internationalised their products. The internationalisation of every product in a country demanded link language to communicate with each other. The underdeveloped and developing countries as consumers of multi-national products had to learn the language of industrialised nations. For instance, English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Russian and Chinese languages have been international languages due to their industrial development. Whereas, thousands of other languages are in the line of extinction. Technological development has much deterred the use of other languages existing in different communities in the world. Over 2000 languages with less than 1000 speakers are going to extinct soon whereas other several languages are dying gradually.

With the development of Web 2.0 technology in the new millennium, the world has been much controlled by the English language. The recent online information states that the English language has occupied over 90 percent digital information world. It is evident that the English language has been an international language and official language of many countries. The internationalisation of English language has been dominating other languages in the world.

The acceptance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education has much accelerated in the development of English language in the non-native ground of English language. This issue of http://eltchoutari.com/ presents various experiences of English language teachers from different countries in South-East Asia, Middle-East Asia and West Africa. It shares English teachers’ ICT practice in English language teaching and learning in various contexts. Teachers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Jordan and Ghana have also written about ICTs in English language teaching and learning in their contexts. Their contribution along with the English teachers from Nepal has made this issue a more reflective and hopefully productive.

Jeevan Karki, one of the editorial team members of this digital portal, has highlighted how the teachers can integrate mobile phones into English language teaching-learning activities and also shares the practices of English language teachers of remote schools of Nepal. In another post, Dr. Kofi Ayebi from Ghana has described the strategy of ICT integration in education from primary to tertiary level. He highlights ICT in primary school education as a fundamental course to prepare the children for higher level school. The government of Ghana has executed ICT in education policy at all levels with the aim of developing the skilled human resource to meet the requirement of the industry. Ghana equally emphasises the English language in institutions and official purpose.

SM Akramul Kabir from Bangladesh describes the situation of ICT use in schools in Bangladesh. He points out the challenges of implementing ICT in education policy in teaching and learning where there is a lack of skilled teachers and technology support. Although there are schools in Bangladesh trying various forms of ICTs in instructional activities, he says that insufficient IT support for the academic institutions across the country, lack of high-speed internet connection, and frequent power cut problem in rural and suburban areas are major issues to be fixed to execute ICT in education policy successfully.

Ambadatta Joshi from Nepal who has been teaching English in a primary school with digital devices (Laptop) reflects his lifelong learning. His schooling with Dhulauto (a wooden flake with dust on it) to teaching with digital technology can be an inspiring story for many teachers and learners in the world.

Upendra Ghimire in another post suggests some advantages of mobile in English language learning. Thinh Le from Vietnam explicates that his practice of online tools resulted in good after a long online teaching and learning activities. His experiential writing may encourage many school teachers and learners to use digital tools such as Skype, Moodle, Zoom, Facebook or other tools to communicate with each other, discuss lessons and share ideas from distance virtual environment.

Similarly, Muneir Gwasmeh from Jordan shares his English language teaching experience in Jordanian and Abu Dhabi schools using audio technologies. He considers that digital technologies provide the second language learners with an opportunity of learning the language in the absence of teachers or even what the teachers missed. Haprpinder Kaur from India explicates that how a school teacher came to learn the correct English pronunciation with the support of smartboard in the classroom. Her reflective writing may insist the non-native English teachers teaching English in the exotic ground to rethink about their English language teaching. It also suggests that the teachers have to learn to use digital technologies to upgrade their knowledge and skills. Similarly, Shaista Rasheed from Pakistan suggests the teachers use online tools to teach English as well as other subjects. Her experience of using Google group in English language teaching can be a good example for English language teachers.

In this connection, Choutari editor Ashok Raj Khati has talked to Dr. Balkrishna SharmaPraveen Kumar Yadav and Dr. Shyam Sharma to reflect back the seven years journey of ELT Choutari. In the same line, one of our regular readers, Narendra Singh Dhami, explains on how he exploits this forum for his day-to-day teaching.

Here is the list of the hyperlinked posts included for this issue:

  1. Avenues of Mobile Phones in ELT- Practices of Remote Schools in Nepal, by Jeevan Karki
  2. ICT/Digital technology in Ghana, by Dr Kofi Ayebi 
  3. ICT in Bangladesh: A potential tool to promote language education, by SM Akramul Kabir
  4. My experience using digital technology in primary school, by Ambadatta Joshi
  5. ICT in English Language Teaching and Learning: South-East Asia, by Upendra Ghimire and Thinh Le
  6. ICT in English language teaching and learning in South to Middle-East Asia. by Muneir Gwasmeh, Haprpinder Kaur and Shaista Rasheed
  7. ELT Choutari Journey of Seven Years: Reflections 

Finally, the thanks go to the contributors who have given their invaluable time to share their experiences, ideas and researches. At the same time, the team of Choutari who have constantly been putting their efforts to develop this platform equally deserves credits. To bring out the special issue, I am also grateful to the members of the editorial team, Ashok Raj Khati, Jeevan Karki and Praveen Kumar Yadav for their editorial and technical supports.

Thank you.

Karna Rana

Karna Rana

Editor of the Issue

Mr. Rana is a PhD Candidate in the School of Teacher Education, College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Avenues of Mobile Phones in ELT-Practices of Remote Schools in Nepal

Jeevan Karki- head shot

Jeevan Karki

Access to mobile phones are quite common in Nepal at the moment. It is even more common for teachers- both in the towns and remote areas. According to the Management Information system (MIS) report of Nepal Telecommunications Authority (mid-April, 2015), 90.4 percent of total population in the country have access to mobile service. Mobile phones are basically used for communication. Besides communication, it is used for taking photos and videos, listening to radio and music, watching videos even TVs, doing calculation, recording audios, flash light, playing games, surfing internet and even used as a mirror! This device has replaced some of other devices because of its multi-functional uses.

The use of mobile phone is widely discussed in classroom teaching learning in literature. Along with the advancement of technology, the features available in the mobile phones have assisted in teaching learning in classroom. The device seems to be an integral part of our lives. People can avoid their food but cannot avoid the mobile phone in the present context! The device is assisting both teachers and students in many ways in teaching learning. On the other hand, some people believe that mobile phones should not be allowed in the classroom both for teachers and students. They argue that it distracts them from teaching learning. As we cannot avoid it in our day to day lives now, we also need to look for creative ways of using it in schools. We can use it appropriately in schools and show students the proper use of the device and encourage them to use it appropriately and properly.

In the subsequent topic I discuss the use of mobile phones in ELT classroom with reference to the teachers’ practice of mobile phones in the remote schools of Solukhumbu.

Discussions

Solukhumbu is located in Northern part of Nepal, which is in the geographically challenging landscape. Roadways are difficult here. So is the case of communication. There is no proper access of telephone in some places of the district. However, teachers use mobile phones not only for communication but also in teaching learning in the classrooms. In a training for English teachers in Solukhumbu, I talked with teachers on how they have been using mobile phones in English classes. One of the teachers, D. L. Shah (pseudonym) said:

We use mobile phones for dictionary, songs, teaching chants through audio visuals and teaching listening.

It shows that the teachers can use the mobile phones both for themselves and students. They use the device for teaching language through songs and chants. The authentic audio and the language used in them is good exposure for children to learn language. Likewise, the video facility makes presentation of chants and songs even more special for children. On the other hand, teachers use it for teaching listening, which is one of the effective use of the device. Mobile phone is very easy device for teaching listening. Listening can be done in two different ways. First, we can store the authentic listening materials in the device, design some tasks and use the audio. Likewise, if such audios are not possible, we can also record the audio ourselves or by the help of our colleagues or even students and use in the class. This can bring variety in the classes. While interacting with primary level teachers, it is found that they generally skip or do the least, the listening activities in the textbook or while the curriculum gives more emphasis on listening in this level. Curriculum has allocated 40% of total activities of class one in listening, 35% in class two, 30% in class three, 25% in class four and five. Use of mobile phones can bridge this gap. Not only for students, the device is also serving as a resource bank for teachers’ professional development. Like, Shah uses the device for dictionary. Teachers can install dictionary in their smart phones (even in simple phones) and use it for searching the meaning of word, pronunciation, spelling, parts of speech, synonyms/antonyms and the use of the words. Talking about the use of it as a resource bank another teacher, Arjun Thapa said:

We use it to see teaching resources like curriculum and teachers guide in PDF form and also play games with children on the phones for entertainment.

It further explores another avenue of the use of mobile phones. The device can also help them to collect the resources, store and use whenever required. The resources like curriculum, teachers guide and books are available free of cost through curriculum development centre Nepal (there is even apps for smartphones). This saves both their money and time. It shows the device is proved to be equally useful for reading too. On the other hand, if there is access to internet, we can have the abundant knowledge in our fingertip and the mobile phone has made it even easier to access. Some of the useful site for teachers can be Wikipedia, teaching channel, British Council etc. Likewise, as Thapa mentioned, the device can also be used for entertainment with students. Not merely entertainment, there are apps that give both teachers and children education and entertainment. Badal Basnet, a young teacher added this very benefit as follows:

We can teach grammar using mobile phones e.g. grammar apps to practice on different topics, show the pictures for vocabulary.

Basnet focuses on use of the device in teaching grammar and vocabulary. There are several English grammar apps, which are useful for both teachers and students. For even junior students, we can use the grammar apps to design the language presentation and practice activities. If the number of student is less, we can even use the apps to practice the language items in groups. Another very important use of this device as stated by Basnet is the use of pictures to present vocabulary. Pictures are very useful to present vocabulary, which is especially useful for the beginners. We can use the camera of the device to click the pictures of animals, birds, persons, things, fruit, vegetables, plants and so on and use them to teach vocabulary. In the same way, there are pictorial apps to teach vocabulary. Adding another technique of teaching vocabulary using the device another teacher, Jitendra KC said:

We can record the sounds of animals and play for teaching vocabulary. Likewise, it can also be used to take photos of objects, animals and person, and generate talks.

Opening another avenue KC shared how we can record the sounds of animals available in his surrounding and use in teaching vocabulary. One of the most used features of the mobile phones these days is the camera and hence it is very common to have real life photos in our device. KC thought of using them to generate talks. Photos are very useful for teaching speaking. We can show a photo to students and generate simple to high level discourse. Photos can be used to practice wh and yes/no questions. Teachers can show a photo and encourage students to ask questions like, where did you take the photo? Who/what are/is in the photo? Did you take it in Tihar? Etc. In the same way, the same photo can be used to generate conversation of students. Students can talk about the photo with each other. On the other hand, the same photo can be used for teaching writing- a wide range of writing skills from words to paragraphs. After having the talks and conversation about the photo, we can now ask student to write few words or sentence or small paragraph about the same. In fact, the device can assist us to provide input for students to generate outputs. It also can help to minimize the use of other resources.

Conclusion

Mobile phone is a new digital resource and material. It contains variety of resources and yet handy to use. We can use this device to teach all four skills and the aspects like grammar and vocabulary in ELT. Not only in ELT, this device can be used in teaching other subjects too. It is useful both for teachers and students- especially senior students. Although there can be some threats of using mobiles, there are multiple advantages of using this device in classroom teaching learning. In fact, using mobile phone in classroom teaching learning is an opportunity for new generations to teach the proper and appropriate use of the device.

Jeevan Karki is an editor with ELT Choutari.

ICT/Digital Technology in Ghana

 

dr-kofi-ayebi-arthur

Dr Kofi Ayebi-Arthur

Globalisation and rapid technological advancement have created a new economy, which is driven by knowledge. In this regard, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become undoubtedly the critical enabler of a knowledge-based economy for many nations. It is acknowledged that for Ghana to make any appreciable progress in its socio-economic development efforts, substantial resources will need to be directed at improving educational delivery.  The key role that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can play in widening access to and improving the quality of education at all levels in Ghana continues to be recognised as a key priority area. Essential elements include literacy education, facilitating education delivery and training at all levels, opening opportunities for content creation and open sharing to expand knowledge resources.

For many years, the Government of Ghana has been a signatory to a number of reports, policies and initiatives (international, regional, national and sector). The policies have a  bearing on ICT use within the education sector and have also broadly emphasised the role of education and training in achieving the wider development goals and agenda of the country. The country, therefore,  is implementing an  ICT  in  Education  Policy as a guide to which  ICTs can be exploited under the guidance of the Ministry of Education and its sector stakeholders, in an efficient and coordinated effort to support the education sector’s own goals and operations. As well as, within the framework of the national development agenda, the Ministry of Education has implemented a number of policy and programme interventions that aimed at increasing access and equity and improving the quality of education. That includes, such as the integration of ICT in education to facilitate effective teaching, learning and management through the provision of computer labs, the internet and network connectivity to schools, the supply of laptops to teachers and students, and capacity development of teachers.

The Ghana ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy has one of the aims to transform the educational system to provide the necessary educational and training services, an environment capable of producing the right types of skills and human resources required for developing and driving Ghana’s information, and knowledge-based economy and society. Thus, the Government of Ghana is committed to a comprehensive programme of rapid development, utilisation and exploitation of ICTs within the educational system from primary school upwards. A strategy implemented as the introduction of computers into all primary, secondary, vocational and technical schools as a result of the educational reforms in 2007. The ICT4AD also seeks to promote electronic distance education, training and virtual learning systems to complement and supplement face-to-face campus-based educational and training systems.

The latest Education Reform 2007 highlights ICTs as an important cross-cutting issue in the sector and seeks to address this through several strategies. The policy initially aims to equip all educational institutions with computer equipment and ICT tools in a prioritised manner and then to implement ICT programmes at the pre-tertiary level in a phased approach. The strategy makes the schools already possessing 15 adequate laboratories and teachers as a base to gradually expand to other schools when ICT equipment and teachers become available.  For this, the policy priorities adequately resourcing computer science and  IT  departments in public tertiary institutions to enable them to produce skilled human capital to meet the requirements of the industry. Within these reforms, it is also expected that the introduction of ICT into schools should cover the teaching of ICT skills to all students, preparing students for the ICT professions and enhancing teaching and learning through ICTs.

ICT & COMPUTER SCIENCE IN SCHOOLS

To facilitate the sustenance of ICT and to create a critical mass of interest in the subject as an important subject in Ghana’s education curriculum, the treatment of ICT at all levels of the school system is of prime significance. To this end, the following policy prescription was proposed under this framework:

  1. a) A subject labelled, as Information & Communication Technology (ICT) shall become a primary subject to be taught from basic to senior high schools in the country. The content of this course shall range from basic appreciation, and hands-on experience from the primary schools to computer literacy and applications use at the senior high school level.
  2. b) For those learners desirous of pursuing further studies at the tertiary level or in specialised professional schools, an elective “Information & Communication Technology” course shall be offered at the Senior High Schools.
  3. c) The content of the ICT general courses at all levels and the Information & Communication Technology course at the Senior High School shall be determined by the Curriculum Research and Development Division, in collaboration with the requisite accreditation bodies including the Universities and Polytechnics to ensure acceptability and admission at the requisite
  4. d) The reclassification of the ICT as core and elective subjects would also need to be discussed with the West African Examinations Council for a suitable timetable to be planned for the conduct of the first examination within an agreed timeframe.
  5. e) There must be a strong teacher development programme instituted to create the mass of professionals to handle the programme. Granted that the ICT field is a high yield area. Teacher retention is expected to be a major challenge because of the generic value of such skills and the high level of expected turnover and migration. It might be especially in the private sector and industry unless specific retention incentives are planned and programmed for those teachers who would be recruited or trained to teach the subjects mainly elective.

ICT has become an important medium for communication and work in a variety of areas. Knowledge of ICT has, therefore, become a prerequisite for learning in schools in the current world. The syllabus for ICT in the primary education (PRIMARY 1 – 6) is designed to predispose primary school students to basic skills in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) so as for building the foundation for further learning in the subject as they move into second cycle education and beyond. The syllabus covers basic topics in ICT and offers hands-on activities and keyboarding skills to build the required ICT foundation. The teaching syllabus for introductory ICT (Junior High School) is designed to provide basic skills in Information and Communication Technology syllabus covers basic topics in ICT and offers hands-on activities that will help students acquire basic skills in ICT. The syllabus is designed to help the pupil learn basic ICT literacy, develop interest and use ICT in learning other subjects, use the Internet effectively for information, follow basic ethics in the use of ICT and acquire keyboarding skills. The syllabus for Information and Communication Technology (CORE) is designed to provide basic skills in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Senior High School (SHS) students. It is expected that the knowledge and skills gained in this course will help students use ICT in almost all their courses at school. The syllabus covers selected basic topics in ICT which offer hands-on activities to help students acquire the required ICT skills for the job market and social interaction in the global village. The students will also apply the skills in solving everyday problems in their academic and social life. The teaching syllabus for Information and Communication Technology (ELECTIVE) is designed to provide advanced skills in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Senior High School (SHS) students. This syllabus has been planned at a higher content level than the ICT content at the Core ICT level. This has been done to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills for the job market and for pursuing further ICT course.

To give meaning and effect to the stated desire of the Ministry and the Ghana Education Service, Ghana becomes a solid member of the community of nations that have embraced ICT as an integral resource in its educational system. The Ministry shall invest in the effort to ensure that attitudinal deficiencies and non-progressive handling of the ICT phenomenon by persons in authority who (in reality) have no understanding of the subject are highly discouraged. School leaders, teachers, learners and parents alike must be groomed to appreciate the contemporary surge in ICT usage and applications and appropriately groomed to harness the power of ICT for the better and positive advancement of education in Ghana rather than put impediments via uninformed or ill-thought-out regulations. Ghana cannot be a country that claims or intends to compete on an equal footing with others (even if it is a small measure of handicap) if its response strategies to ICT issues end up ultimately creating chasms in knowledge to the detriment of the country.  The teaching of ICT in Ghanaian schools has come to stay, and examinations in the subject are examined at the Basic Education Certificate Examination and at the West African Senior School Certificate Examination.

 Bibliography

Ghana for ICT Accelerated Development (ICTAD) policy June 2003

Ministry of Education ICT IN EDUCATION POLICY, August 2015

 The author: Kofi Ayebi-Arthur is a PhD in e-learning and Digital Technologies. He is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science Education and Head of Department of Mathematics and ICT Education at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. He teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate courses and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students’ project work and thesis.

ICT in Bangladesh: A potential tool to promote language education

s-m-akramul-kabir

S M Akramul Kabir

ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is basically an overarching term for all communication technologies that encompasses the internet, web 2.0 tools, wireless networks such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, mobile phones, broadcast devices, and satellite communications. The National information and communication technology (ICT) policy-2009 of Bangladesh affirms ICT as a mandatory means to develop the country economically and socially (Ministry of science and information and communication technology of Bangladesh [MOSICTBD], 2009). The National Education Policy 2010 of Bangladesh also recommended ICT based education for its secondary, higher secondary, and tertiary education to make a uniform platform and to minimise the gap between rural, suburban, and urban students.

The inception of ICT-based education system in Bangladesh will not only hone classroom teaching and learning activities but also will make teaching and learning process happen beyond the classroom, especially, English language learning.  Power and Shrestha (2010) stated that “there is an inter-relationship between English language literacies and ICT literacies” (p.4). To facilitate this process, laptops and multimedia projectors have been subsidised by the present government to 20,500 public and private educational institutions ranging from high school to tertiary level under the project named EFA (Education for all) (Chandan,2014) and all other institutions are in the queue to be subsidised. Eventually, by the end of the year 2021, under the project named “Vision 2021”, the government of Bangladesh has taken the agenda to integrate ICT into all its educational institutes. Among all other foci, the prime objective of the implementation of ICT through this project is to facilitate the teaching and learning process to increase the efficiency of both teachers and learners in the country (Khan, Hasan, & Clement, 2012).

As far as the language teaching and learning are concerned in Bangladesh, integration of ICT can transform dynamism in language education as it has the capacity to improve teachers’ work-design and to increase the engagement of learners and teachers in the learning process by generating a collaborative learning environment. It can facilitate language learning not only in the classroom but also beyond the classroom. It can provide learners with the freedom of place, situation, and time for their learning. Moreover, an ICT-based education system will ensure Bangladesh to face the challenges of this century by equipping its citizen with technical skills for relevant qualifications as well as English language skills for communication competence.

In this connection, to ameliorate its language education through integrating ICTs, the government of Bangladesh has been carrying out a nine-year (2008-1017) project named as English in Action (EIA) funded jointly by UKAID and the government. The primary aims of this project are to make the existing Communicative method efficient for language learning and to improve teaching qualities in the classroom by developing teachers’ pedagogical capacity through the usage of mobile technologies. The government also formulated school-based professional development training for both primary and secondary language teachers using ICTs. According to Shohel and Banks (2010), this sort of training contributed to both communicative English learning and teachers’ professional improvement. English language teachers were provided with media players, preloaded with video and audio language learning resources, along with battery- powered speakers for the use in a classroom. The authors claim that “materials on the iPod touch, especially audios and videos, are impacting on teachers’ personal and professional development” (Shohel & Banks, 2010, p. 5489).

Although the advancement of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has challenged the traditional notion of teaching and learning process, the use of ICTs does not automatically guarantee to ensure quality language teaching and to improve students’ language learning. Bangladesh has both technical and pedagogical challenges to implementing ICT in the language classroom. Although the government is supplying all the technical equipment such as computer, Overhead projectors, and the related accessories, there are still some technical problems that are yet to be addressed to expedite the teaching and learning process through ICT integration. The technical issues include insufficient trouble-shooters for the academic institutions across the country, lack of high-speed internet connection, and frequent power cut problem in rural and suburban areas. The pedagogical challenges in teaching and learning process of language are also significant in number. Firstly, there is a scarcity of teacher-educators with proper pedagogical as well as technological knowledge in the country to train and create tech-savvy teachers for primary, secondary, higher secondary, and tertiary language education. This problem leads to the insufficient influx of technically-sound language teachers to teach the English language with technology in the classroom. Consequently, most of the English teachers in Bangladesh have neither sufficient training on the pedagogy of language (Ali & Walker, 2014) nor training on technology for the teaching of English. However, there are some teachers interested in integrating ICT into their language teaching. It is apparent that they are not attuned to different theoretical frameworks of teaching with technologies, such as SAMR Model or TPACK model to interweave the three essential sources of knowledge – technology, pedagogy and content to an active environment.

Therefore, to get the maximum output of the ICT in the language classroom, Bangladesh has to address both these above mentioned technical and pedagogical issues simultaneously. If the country can sort out these problems, the synergistic effect of ICT and English education will promote its learners to deal with social, economic, and linguistic challenges both at home and abroad where English is a barrier to achieving something.

References

Ali, Md. Maksud & Walker, Ann L. (2014). ‘Bogged down’ ELT in Bangladesh: Problems and policy. English Today, 30 (2), 33-38.

Chandan, Md. S. K. (2014, March 28). A New Bangladesh. The daily Star. Retrieved from http://www.thedailystar.net/a-new-bangladesh-17482.

Khan, Md. S. H., Hasan, M., & Clement, C. K. (2012). Barriers to the introduction of ICT into Education in developing countries: the example of Bangladesh. International Journal of Instruction, 5 (2), 61- 80.

Ministry of science and information and communication technology, Bangladesh. (2009). The National information and communication technology (ICT) policy-2009. Retrieved from http://www.btrc.gov.bd on 03 January, 2016.

Power, T. & Shrestha, P. (2010). Mobile technologies for (English) language learning: An exploration in the context of Bangladesh, presented at IADIS International Conference: mobile learning 2010, 19-21 March, Porto, Portugal. Retrieved from http://oro.open.ac.uk/20800/1/IADIS_Conference_Mobile_Language_Learning_Power_&_Shrestha_2010.pdf

Shohel, M. M. C. & Banks, F. (2010). Teachers’ professional development through the English in Action secondary teaching and learning programme in Bangladesh: Experience from the UCEP schools. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2, 5483–5494.

The author: Mr. S M Akramul Kabir is an Assistant Professor of English, Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, Ministry of Education in Bangladesh. He is also a PhD Candidate in the College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

My Experience Using Digital Technology in Primary School

ambadatta-joshi

Ambadatta Joshi

Along with the new rising sun, there are new developments in science and technology. More than that in the sector of education, digital technology is being the focus for all the schools. All the students and guardians are attracted toward the school where there is the use of digital technology.

While telling my experience of learning basic letters of English and Nepali, I learned to read and write on ‘Dhulauto’ (a small wooden board with spread dust on it used to write with a little stick, erase and rewrite). My teacher used to catch my hand and get me to write the basic letters on the board. Gradually, I used ‘Kamero’ (made of white mud and water) and then ‘Khari’ (soft white stone) to write on pati (a wooden board). Gradually, I came to use ink that was developed by fermenting locally available particular tree leaves in boiling water and filtering with a piece of cotton cloth. The pen was made of Nigalo (a particular type of bamboo found in the hills and mountains). For writing, I used to use Nepali paper locally made because my father used to develop it at home out of a kind of bush plant to write horoscope of people. Nowadays, these pens and paper are not utilised in the schools.

Those days, students were quite afraid of English teacher with no reason. They used to be rather happy when the English teacher was absent. In English lessons, we used to write the pronunciation of all the words under the line in Nepali so that we could ready easily and correctly. This was the situation and feeling toward English language and English teacher when I was a student in a primary school.

Nowadays, where there is the use of digital technology in English period, it is entirely different than those days. In my own school, OLE Nepal has provided 42 XO-laptops (E-pati) for the students that we use to teach English as well as other subjects. The lessons and activities those are available in E-pati are designed to obtain class-wise and subject-wise goals of education. There are audio-visual materials that help teachers and students in teaching and learning activities.

We have e-library (local server) that contains over six thousand digital books in Nepali and English. Those reference books help the children as well as teachers gain extra knowledge about various local and global activities. Even the high school and campus near the school take advantage of this school e-library. This has developed good habits of reading in the children.

Nowadays, the teachers feel abnormal without digital technology in their teaching and learning in our school. I can say that the schools which have got this technology are lucky. In my case, this has brought a huge difference in teaching English. The technology has cultivated energy in my profession. This has provided more opportunities for the children to practise their lessons and given relief for me in the classroom. When the children have some problems, I facilitate them in their activities. Since we got this technology, this has decreased the burden of gathering several teaching materials and saved teachers’ time as it contains several audio-visual materials for teaching and learning. The animated pictures in e-paath (an application that includes course books) have decreased my unnecessary lecture in the classroom. Various videos about wild animals, the universe, internal body parts, baby growth, development of plan out of the seed, etc. have made classroom teaching and learning very effective. Use of the technology has developed a mind of both the children and the teachers. This has become very supportive in engaging the students in the absence of a teacher in the school.

The technology in the school has gradually made the guardians feel ownership of the school’s property. Their positive response toward the change in teaching and learning with the new technology has made the teachers more responsible. They feel pride that their children are learning with new technology which they had never seen before three years. The digital technology has encouraged them to further develop the school.

The use of new technology has increased the number of students and decreased the drop-outs from the school. The children learn singing, dancing, playing games and other activities by watching videos on the devices. They freely select various digital books like poetry, stories, etc. for reading or drawing pictures. The most important aspect the technology has developed in the children is learning interest.

I wish all other schools will get this technology to bring change in their teaching and learning activities. Otherwise, this will increase digital divide between the schools and children. In the end, the teachers should be well-trained to use such digital technology in their instructional activities to improve teaching and learning and to achieve educational goals.

The author: Ambadatta Joshi teaches at Shree Kalika Primary School, Sunkuda, Bajhang

ICT in English Language Teaching and Learning: South-East Asia

In this blog piece, Upendra Ghimire from Nepal discusses on the some practical ideas of using mobile in English language learning whereas Thinh Le from Vietnam shares his teaching experiences in using technology from blended learning to fully online.

Mobile in English language learning

Upendra Ghimire

The new millennium has come up with various scientific inventions and technological developments. As soon as the 21st century began, the world experienced the rapid evolution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the maximum use of those technologies in business, education and other fields. The various information technologies such as computer, tablet, mobile, television and other smart devices have been fundamental things in academic, business and personal life of growing generation people. More than just the digital devices, web 2.0 technologies have shifted the way of communicating information with each other from one part of the world to another. Nepal is also one of the fast-developing countries in ICTs. Among different smart devices, the mobile phone is the most portable digital device readily available for reasonable prices in Nepal. The early August 2016 record shows that 95 percent of the total population of the country have telecommunication access. The number of internet subscribers crossed 50.11 percent of the total population. Mobiles have gradual influence in English language development in Nepal. The use of English language to access and record the information on the devices has continuous influence in English language development in Nepal. Thus, the mobile can be a potential digital device to teach and learn English. In this article, I am trying to suggest some advantages of mobile in English language learning.

Mobile assisted language learning (MALL): There are several pedagogical reasons of considering the mobile in second language classroom. Kukulska-Hulme and Traxler (2005) elucidate why smart mobiles are comparatively more useful devices to learn the English language. They explain that these smart devices are relatively cheap in price and increasingly powerful to support teaching and learning the English language.

Nowadays the children are familiar with various types of smart mobiles. They use the devices, play with them and enjoy playing with different apps on the devices. The technology has provided them with an opportunity of learning several things beyond the classroom teaching and learning.

Some practical ideas to use mobile phones:

  1. Pronunciation practice: Pronunciation is the beauty of speaking and one of the aspects of language. Therefore, we focus on this aspect of language in language teaching classroom to develop communicative competency. The smart features of mobile can be supportive to develop pronunciation skills of English language. The learners can record their voice, listen to their record and native speaker’s voice, and practise consistently to improve their pronunciation. The English language learners can use English dictionary app to practice vocabulary, open YouTube to watch English language videos and practice English speaking. Besides, the students can watch television channels such as BBC, CNN and more on their mobile sets to improve English pronunciation.
  2. Capturing class notes by using the mobile camera: The learners can use mobiles to capture the pictures and record the audio-visual materials. These features can support English language learners to develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.
  3. Downloading Materials: Smart mobiles can work like computers to download digital files, save web information and read them in flexible time. For instance, mobile with internet access provides an opportunity for downloading e-books, journals, software, games and useful apps for learning English.
  4. Using note features: Note application on smart mobiles can be helpful to write various notes of meetings, classroom lecture, textbook or personal interaction.
  5. Using mobile games to develop critical thinking skills: Various mobile games such as crossword puzzle, Scrabble, hanging man, vocabulary and so on can support the English language learners to improve their English with entertainment.

Problems encountered by ELT practitioners while using mobile:

  • Lack of internet access
  • Privacy issue
  • Noisy classroom
  • Monitoring individual students
  • Requirement of highly-skilled teachers

Conclusion

Mobile as a portable smart device can support English language learners to improve their English and the teachers to involve students in language practice. It is a relatively cheap and powerful digital tool useful to practice the English language in the classroom as well as personal life. However, it requires the teachers to have high-level skills to purposefully use in classroom teaching.

Reference

Kukulskal- Hulme, A, & J. Traxler eds.2005. Mobile Learning : A hand book for educators and trainers. London: Routledge.

 Introduction to Digital Tools for Teaching and Learning Online

thinh-le

Thinh Le

In this entry, some digital tools are introduced first. Then I will share my teaching experiences in using technology from blended learning to fully online.

There are a variety of digital tools that you can use to teach English. Here are some digital tools that I have experienced and found them quite convenient and effective to use.  First, it is important to set up a learning management system where you can stimulate your students’ interactions with you and their peers. This can be closed Facebook group or Edmodo. Then questions relating to your post can motivate students’ interaction online. If you want to make videos explaining the lesson, PowerPoint can be a useful tool because it is very easy to use and you can have good quality videos. After that, these videos should be uploaded to the learning management systems with guided questions for students to watch and do their work before the online interaction. To have online interactions with students, Zoom and Skype can be very useful tools for you. Both of them allow group call in which you can have interactions with many students at the same time. Besides, you can share your screen while you are calling your students, so you can explain the lessons easily. It enables you to do all kinds of teaching. For collaborative writing, I think Google Docs is magnificent. Just create a link to a Gmail account and let your students join in the game page so that they can write together under your supervisions and their peers.

I would like to share my experiences about using technology from blended learning to fully online class. I used to teach a group of students in Vietnam. They are hard-working, active and highly motived to learn English for communication.  They were in grade 10 and lived in the remote area where there was no linguistic environment outside the classroom. Besides, it was really hard for them to find a good language centre to study English. In addition, high school teachers in Vietnam mainly focused on grammar. Therefore, these students were unable to communicate after 8 years learning English at school. They wished to learn English for communication, so I opened tutorial classes for them. However, we did not have enough time in the class, so I decided to set up a closed Facebook group to give them some extensive practices especially listening and speaking. I used all authentic materials from YouTube or British Council Broadcast to upload on the closed Facebook group and designed some tasks for them to do online. When one student uploaded his/her work in the group, other students started commenting, which created many discussions and stimulated their critical thinking. In the class, I gave them feedback about the homework they did. That saved us a lot of time in the class, so we could have more discussions in the class. Unfortunately, I had to go to New Zealand to do my PhD, and I could not help them anymore. However, they still wished me to help them improve English. That motivates me to carry out fully online teaching.

Here are my experiences in teaching online classes. My students and I have great online discussions. I set up a group of students on Edmodo by inviting them through emails. Then I post the tasks which can be written, audio, video posts. I can create these materials, or I sometimes use authentic materials online. More importantly, I create activities with the tasks so that my students can do when they watch the videos or read the post. The tasks can be multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, or free writing. Through Edmodo, I just set up a deadline so that my students know when they have to finish their tasks. For multiple questions, Edmodo even marks my students’ work, and I can see the results easily. To engage more students to have more discussions online, I ask my students to comment on at least two other people’s posts. Therefore, after the post, it is really interesting with all asynchronous discussions online. During the online meeting with my students, I can give them some feedback and have more conversations with them via Skype. If I have my students’ works, I usually put them on Google Docs and give them feedback so that all my students can see them carefully. Please try all these digital tools for your teaching and share your experiences.

The authors:

Upendra Ghimire teaches English at Gramin Adarsha Multiple campus, Nepaltar, Kathamndu.

Thinh Le is a lecturer of English at Vietnam Banking Academy, Phu Yen Branch, Vietnam and he is also a PhD Candidate in College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

ICT in English Language Teaching and Learning in South to Middle-East Asia

The post includes the experience of Harpinder Kaur from India on how a teacher learns from technology and Muneir Gwasmeh‘s ideas on improving pronunciation using technology from Jordan. It also incorporates a way of using of Google group to teach English by Shaista Rashid from Pakistan.

When a teacher learnt from technology

Harpinder Kaur (India)

Harpinder Kaur (India)

During my doctoral research data collection in India in early 2016, I met an English teacher (Mr A) who shared his exciting experience in an interview. Back in the 1990s, when technology was not a part of education, teachers were entirely dependent on reference books or other print media. The teacher told his story of learning English in his school. When he was a student, his teacher taught him names of months. He learned to read them how his teacher taught him to pronounce ‘January’ with Punjabi accent like Jann+Worry and February as Fer+Worry and so on. A more interesting thing he said that no one those days had that knowledge of what was wrong. Perhaps there was nobody to correct the wrong pronunciation the teacher was following. This continued ages in teaching English in the schools in Punjab, and there might be some doing the same even today. He remembered his teaching life again. The worse thing, he said, happened when he followed the same pronunciation in his teaching profession. He became a teacher in the year 2000 and transmitted the same knowledge to his students.

After a decade teaching career when his school adopted smart boards in 2012, he realised what he had learned and taught in the school when he learned how to pronounce the names of the months correctly with the help of audio technology. It was a shocking surprise for him. The teacher smiled while telling his experience and said, “It was a pretty tough moment because I learnt wrong diction and communicated similar thing to my students for a decade.”

After that incident, he said he met his school teacher who taught him English in the school and shared his experience of learning from technology. Apparently, his teacher refused to realise what he had done while teaching English. He rather explained that he could not get the difference between January and Jann+Worry and denied to accept that he was wrong that time. He said that his teacher was really disappointed with the integration of technology in education, and according to him, traditional teaching methods are always better. Technology will take the place of teacher and finish the bond of teacher and his students.

He, further, shared a personal experience of his colleagues as well. Age gap or generation gap is an obstacle to the successful integration of technology in education. The teachers who are aged or seniors are not ready to accept technology whereas young teachers appreciate technology in their lessons. Senior teachers were even not attending training sessions because they considered it as a waste of time and offensive to their traditional methodology. He pointed it one of the causes of following the traditional instructional strategies in this modern era.

The teacher got some doubts concerning technology in education from his school teacher. Then, he evaluated his learning from the blackboard and then compared it with a smartboard. Then he decided to learn technology and motivated himself to use technology as a teaching tool in teaching and learning process. He added that being a teacher, he got self-confidence and professional development through technology.

Harpinder Kaur is a PhD Candidate in the College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Technology tools improve pronunciation

Muneir Gwasmeh (Jordan)

Muneir Gwasmeh (Jordan) 

English has been widely and overtly spoken not only for the purpose of learning and teaching but as a means of communication. The high demand of English as an international language put a heavy burden on the second language (L2) teachers’ shoulders to help them be familiar with different aspects of L2, and help L2 learners raise criteria to provide learners with strategies to increase their language input and assist them improve their output. Although it has been widely said that native speakers are more qualified to teach their language, several studies have confirmed that non-native language teachers are also qualified.

I have taught English in Jordan schools and tertiary level from 2000 till 2007, and in Abu Dhabi University from 2012 till 2016. When I was appointed as an English teacher in my country of origin, Jordan, technology was only exclusive on tape listening to recorded texts for the purpose of improving students’ listening comprehension, and pronunciation skill was overlooked.

The advantage smart technology, such as mobile phones, tablets or other software tools, necessitates language teachers and users to address specific skill problems and solve it immediately. The use of ICT has put pressure on L2 teachers to be up-to-date to track new techniques and create activities and tasks that would help L2 learners improve their language skills and achieve their targets.

I started using technology to teach pronunciation when I was an English instructor at Abu Dhabi University in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I utilized technology to address the pronunciation issue that L2 teachers and learners have difficulty pronouncing, for instance, isolated words or sentences. The Online Speech Dictionary has helped students listen to a variety of English sounds to improve their pronunciation. Other software programs were installed on computers in the labs, so students could listen and repeat following the speaker to have a better or in another way an intelligible pronunciation. Technology increased self-confident among students to practice speaking and particularly L2 learners who were unconfident to speak in public. L2 learners, because of technology, reported that technology provided them with an opportunity to cover what teachers missed to teach, improved their input and output, increased self-confidence. More importantly, they had learned L2 either by using competitive team games or communicating with native and/or non-native speakers.

Technology has been effectively a pivotal player in English learning and teaching. I have dug deeply by using various technology tools to help myself and my students in getting a better education. These tools have helped my students increase their productivity, become active in class activities, and created a stress-free environment. I have used some technological tools such as Sounds: a pronunciation application that helps L2 learners to listen to how words are pronounced, but also gives them the opportunity to record, playback and listen to their voices. This application comes in two versions: American English and British English. It helps me as a teacher bring an authentic native speaker into the classroom and help L2 learners improve their English pronunciation. It is also available for smartphones. Another application I used is Pronunciation King, which can be used offline too. Another one I found fascinating and useful at the same time is Clear Speech Pronunciation. It provides L2 teachers and learners with pronunciation practices; it includes games that the learners can choose to improve their English pronunciation. BBC Learning English is another tool that I found very attractive, well-built which contains various pronunciation features, tasks and activities.

References

Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D., & Goodwin, J. M. (2010). Teaching pronunciation: A course book and reference guide (Vol. 2nd). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Munier Gwasmeh is a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

Google group in ELT in Pakistan

Shaista Rashid (Pakistan)

Shaista Rashid (Pakistan)

My interest in English Language Teaching (ELT) and Linguistics developed along with my studies and later my professional teaching experience added strength and depth to it. Along with the English Literature side of my Master studies, I was also introduced to the subjects of ELT and Linguistics. I was simply drawn by the way language was perceived by the linguists combined with the evolutionary work being done in the field of ELT. Placing every concept learnt in Pakistani context raised my interest and thirst for more advanced studies in both Linguistics and ELT. After doing my Masters, I got an opportunity to practically implement the acquired knowledge at junior level in an international school in Pakistan. Working with young learners from a diverse cultural and social background was the first platform to test my understanding of 2nd language teaching principles, error analysis, 2nd language teaching methodologies and pedagogical teaching of grammar and vocabulary.

During my postgraduate studies at University of Oregon, United States of America, my research work mainly focused on pre-service and in-service English language teachers in Pakistan. In order to start from grass-root level, I designed a beginning level Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) workshop for school teachers. The aim of the research was to equip them with methodologies for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as instruction and computing skills. After graduation, I started my first full-time teaching position back in Pakistan in 2011. Due to limited financial and technological resources, ICT was not much popular among teachers and students. The first initiative in this regard was taken by Higher Education Commission Pakistan in 2003 by constituting “National Committee on English”. This committee launched a project “English Language Teaching Reforms (ELTR)” and made several subcommittees which offered many programs. However, these programs aimed to provide professional development and research training only to the faculty of higher education sector. Unfortunately, school teachers were left alone.

Looking at this scenario, I took the initiative to introduce Google products such as Google Groups as an alternative for Course Management System for maintaining discussion groups, assignments and different listening, speaking, reading and writing activities. A Google group was the most interesting tool/integration for the students. Having an online presence of their own class was something which motivated them to contribute more actively in the classroom activities. I tried to post all of the class assignments through Google Groups. Students not only acknowledged these posts, but they also posted their opinions about the activities. As an administrator I could keep a record of the people who had already viewed the post, thus making sure that everyone in the class was on board. It mainly worked very well during school holidays; I kept posting interesting storybooks and other entertainment activities which could be completed in English so that the English language was still in use while they were at home. The results were really amazing! Students’ motivation, energy level and interest were significantly high.

I can conclude here by saying that there is an alternative to everything in the world. It only needs to be explored at the right time. If the teachers are trained and possess up-to-date knowledge about content and how to teach that content, they can easily find a way to cope up with the lack of facilities.

Shaista Rashid is a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

The Seven Years Journey of ELT Choutari: Reflections

As ELT Choutari enters into eighth year, Choutari editor Ashok Raj Khati has talked to Dr. Balkrishna Sharma, Narendra Singh Dhami, Praveen Kumar Yadav and Dr. Shyam Sharma, to reflect back its seven years journey. They have  put their voices in light with the contribution of ELT Choutari to local and global ELT discourses too.

Dr. Bal Krishna Sharma, a founding member of Choutari

13173997_10209640185584950_7635820056705789107_nI would like to comment mainly on two points when reflecting back the Choutari’s seven years. First, Choutari has been able to groom a new generation of scholars capable of writing on topics they have read about in others contexts or learned in their university classrooms. We did not have a stronger tradition of academic writing in TESOL and applied linguistics in the context of Nepal in the past. The Journal of NELTA was there, but young Nepali scholars did not consider themselves qualified enough to write for the journal. I had a similar view when I completed my M. Ed. In 2003. There still is a popular assumption that only experienced ‘scholars’ write for the journal, and the younger scholars are positioned in the receiving end of the journal readership. Since the starting of this webzine, this assumption has been questioned, renegotiated and redefined. I can see a whole lot of new scholars turning themselves into academic writers with greater confidence, refined skills, and thoughtful pedagogical tips. Second, the traditional mode of printing and publication in Nepal reached only to a small group of readers, usually with a long time gap. Consider, for example, the NELTA journal we have. It includes a collection of homegrown scholarship, but we have to wait for one year to read about ten or so articles. Webzine like the ELT Choutari has again challenged the tradition, expanding its reach to a wider audience, with a large number of readable articles. This again has promoted a new generation of writers and readers, who necessarily are not the university professors.

Regarding the contribution of Choutari, I was reading the latest issue of Choutari before I wrote this paragraph. This issue largely reflects how Choutari has been able to address both local and global concerns in the field of ELT. Lal Bahadur Bohara, for example, brings voices of English teachers from the far-western region. I was intrigued by Lal Bahadur’s observation that teachers in the region do not only question the Western decontextualized cultural content in English lessons, they also question the so called ‘localized’ content in textbooks and contents written and produced by Nepali writers. This article reminds me of an onion metaphor used in language policy research, highlighting that language policy is like an onion reconciled in several layers, processes and levels. So is the issue of culture: it operates in multiple levels, and national dominant cultures may not serve as a local culture in all the contexts. Lal Bahadur’s blog post is one representative examples from Choutari with regard to how Nepali young scholars have tried to raise and redefine the ‘local’ in language teaching, questioning and challenging some dominant traditions in our field.

Another article from the same issue that connects the local with the global is by Sujit Wasti. Sujit aptly uses the metaphor of McDonaldization by sociologist George Ritzer to take account of the impact of globalization on the local, including language and the environment. This was fascinating for me because ELT has not paid much attention to the discourses and concerns of the environment in pedagogical contexts. It makes sense to address the concerns of climate change and environmental degradation, which are equally local and global, in our policies and practices.

When the local voices and issues are narrated and circulated to a global audience through the internet on ELT topics that matter to people around the world (e.g. critical pedagogy, teaching tips, ELT humor, literacy, and many more), this is as an evidence that Choutari is both local and global.

Narendra Singh Dhami, teacher at Khimti Project school, Kirne, Dolkha

I have been reading the Choutari Khurak since its first issue published in 2009. I found that the blog posts are very useful resources for me and my fellow teachers. As its name suggests, it offers different tastes and colours on teaching strategies and activities as well as theoretical insights for professional development.

We have formed a group of five teachers in our school to discuss on the posts of each new issue of ELT Choutari. We often save the published articles from the website and discuss on each post among us. We also apply the best strategies and current trends of ELT approaches mentioned in our real classroom teaching situation. Some articles are truly inspirational, some are insightful to new teaching strategies and some are really research based too. The Choutari teaches us on how to grow  professionally in the remote parts of the country. And, of course, Choutari has broadened the horizon of ELT discourses in such remote area where it is quite difficult to get textbooks in time. The varieties of posts in each issue of Choutari always reenergize me to improve my teaching practices. I shall be much glad to read some posts on child psychology and motivational stories in the days to come. I am so grateful to the editorial board for providing me an opportunity to reflect on ELT Choutari.

Praveen Kumar Yadav, an editor of Choutari

As ELT Choutari enters into 8th year, we would like to thank our valued contributors and readers for their continued support. The ELT journey without their support was never possible to accomplish seven years. The ELT Choutari today has won acclaim for its commitment to contributing to discourses focused on various issues related to English Language Teaching and Education.

Generally speaking, the past causes the present, and so the future. Looking into the origin of Choutari, the web magazine was started as a wiki collaborative project in January 2009 to supplement the ELT conversations that have been going on for many years within the mailing list of NELTA. In order to make accessible to such ELT conversation by the rest of the ELT community outside NELTA (here’s what one member wrote in the original “about” page), ELT Choutari was initiated.

First initiated by Ghanashyam Sharma (Shyam), who was accompanied by Bal Krishna Sharma and Prem Bahadur Phyak, this networking initiative had six core moderators (Sajan Kumar Karn, Kamal Poudel, and Hem Raj Kafle joined later) from 2009-2012. Then, this initiative is being continued by a team of young ELT practitioners and scholars. They believe that we can develop very useful and probably most relevant intellectual/professional resources for the Nepalese ELT community and those interested through a discussion forum like this.

So far, more than 500 posts has been published by ELT Choutari, followed by more than 1000 comments over the past seven years. Our journey over the past seven years did not remain smooth. Our journey began with challenges, continued with the same and they exist even today. For instance, in the beginning of our journey we embraced challenges when internet and blogging was much exposed in Nepal and ELT community. Even today, challenges are ahead as we look for ELT enthusiasts to come and joins us for the mission.

Amid challenges, we chose to remain optimist to see them as the opportunity for us, just like Winston S. Churchill’s saying, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” We are driven by our courage and willingness to change. We never pretend that nothing has happened or we are not ready to move ahead.

Dr. Shyam Sharma, a founding member of Choutari

I think Choutari has made unique contributions to Nepali ELT discourse. The community had a great journal, and we also had an active listserv; but we wanted to provide colleagues a place to share ideas that was more public/open and interactive, where especially younger colleagues could contribute their ideas and experiences and run conversations. Many scholars who chose to run this blogzine also had the opportunity to practice publication and leadership skills while serving the profession. This publication has slowed down a little bit, but I am confident that new scholars will take the baton forward. In fact, I also hope that more venues like this will emerge and make new kinds of contributions to the field of ELT in Nepal.

The few colleagues who started this journey would have never imagined that hundreds of scholars, including scholars from around the world, would contribute to this venue–nor that new local voices would join and develop like they did. Thinking about how we started the initial conversation (by putting some of our email conversations in the more open platform of a wiki) is just humbling. The first set of editors (Prem Phyak, Bal Krishna Sharma, and me) took a few important steps in the journey, but we never imagined the many new areas that new colleagues would go on to cover, new ideas they would implement. Just the number of posts and comments and the generation of ELT scholars at home who have participated in the conversation through Choutari is truly inspiring.

As a reader, I urge other readers to read and share the good work here, to contribute as writers, and to consider leading the venue. And I thank the colleagues who are running it today and tomorrow.  ​

Welcome to the latest Issue of Choutari: Professional Development through Self- reflection

reflective-thinking

Dear valued readers,

The process of teaching learning does not finish after delivering a lesson or course, whereas the learning point for a teacher and teacher educator starts after that. In the cyclical process of teaching learning, teachers need to make a self inquiry at the end of the class or day and look forward to refine their practices. We as a teacher need to look back and ask ourselves, what went well in our class and what didn’t. Why a particular thing worked and why the other thing didn’t, and what could have been done. This process of self- inquiry and critical thinking is termed as reflection.

Reflection is a powerful tool for our professional development. Templer, 2004, as cited in Harmer (2007) states that reflection is like ‘holding up mirrors to our own practice’, which make us more conscious what is beneath the surface. In other words, it is being critical and reflective to our own practice, which eventually refines our skills as a teacher and helps us understand the process of teaching- learning better.The process of teaching and learning begins with planning, followed by implementation or action and further followed by reflection. The reflection gives us input in the planning for the next cycle. The cycle of teaching learning process becomes incomplete without practice of reflection. If we do not reflect into our practice, we stop learning and eventually stop growing because we fail to realize what is not working and we tend to continue the wrong process or practice. Richards (1990) considers reflection a major component of teachers’ development. He urges that self-inquiry and critical thinking can help teachers move from a level, where they may be guided largely by impulse, intuition, or routine, to a level where their actions are guided by reflection and critical thinking. Reflection develops the practice of self- inquiry and critical thinking in us. Therefore, our actions are less likely to be guided only by a sudden desire and routine, whereas they will be more rationale.

Pre-service or in- service training or workshop is one way of our professional development but in the continuous journey of professional development, the best of all is the self- inquiry through reflection. In the words of Confucius, it is the best way to learn. In his three methods of learning he places reflection at first stating,

“The first, by reflection, which is the noblest;

second, by imitation, which is the easiest, and

third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Therefore, being reflective to our own action not only helps us understand the process better but also refines our professional skills and expertise.

The inception of ELT Choutari is also the outcome of the reflective thinking. Likewise, most of the writings on the magazine are based on the reflection. We strongly believe that this practice should continue, which helps develop the culture of reflection. Therefore, we request our readers to reflect on their actions and write about their thoughts. We will give them space at Choutari.

This issue is also a full package of reflection. Karna Rana reflects on his route to learning English language. He believes that English has been given much more importance than required, which results our weaker competence in content knowledge and life skills. Therefore, we should not finish our valuable time only worrying about a language.

Society of Translators Nepal recently organized the first ever conference in Nepal. In this context, Choutari editor Jeevan Karki has talked to Bal Ram Adhikari (Vice- president of the Society, Translator and Faculty, Department of English, TU). The talk not only reflects back to the conference but also explores deeply the relation of translation in ELT pedagogy.

To encourage the teachers to reflect on their practices, our Choutari editor, Ashok Raj Khati has asked five teachers from East to West to express their views in the context of English language teaching. In this interactive post, they reflect on their practices in relation to resources, participation of students, use of English and L1, their best practices in English classroom and challenges they face.

In the series of the reflective thinking and writing, we present another very special and powerful reflection of Sujit Wasti. In the truly unique and thought provoking post, he brings together nature, society, and education in a unique way.

In another post, Lal Bahadur Bohora (who is pursuing his M. Phil in ELE from Kathmandu University) shares his preliminary findings of a research on the area of teachers’ perspectives on the prescribed English syllabus of Tribhuvan University and pedagogical practices at tertiary level in far west region.

Finally, to continue with the Photography Project, the Choutari editor Jeevan Karki shares the photos he clicked during his visits around the country on the theme of ‘People at Work’. This is the third Photography Project at Choutari.

Here is the list of the posts in this issue:

  1. Children Taught Me English Language: Karna Bahadur Rana
  2. Translation should be Used as a Technique not a Method in ELT: Bal Ram Adhikari
  3. Peripheral Classrooms: Reflection of English Teachers in Nepal: Ashok Raj Khati
  4. Are We at the Verge of Collapse?: Sujit Wasti
  5. ELT at tertiary level: perspectives from far west Nepal: Lal Bahadur Bohara
  6. Photography Project III: People at Work: Jeevan Karki

Lastly, I extend my special thanks to Ashok Raj Khati for his continuous support to materialize this issue. Similarly, I would like to thank Shyam Sharma for his support and encouragement in the publication of this issue.

Enjoy reading with reflection and share your thoughts in the comment boxes.

Jeevan Karki- head shot

Jeevan Karki  Editor of the Issue

References:

Richards, J.C. (1990). The Language Teaching Matrix. UK. Cambridge University press.

Harmer, J. (2007). The Practice of English Language Teaching. UK: Pearson.

Children Taught Me English language

Karna Rana

Karna Rana

When I was a cowboy going to high school in the late 1980s, there was no educational mission in my life. Born in a poor economic background, even thinking of high school after primary school (Year Five) was just like imagery. Almost all the primary school graduates used to travel to India for work after primary school education in our locality. This came to me too in the long run of schooling but my illiterate (cannot read and write) mother and two elder brothers (who could not complete even their primary school due to loss of father) insisted me to join high school which was/is at the distance of three and half hour walk from home. After learning English alphabets at grade four and five, my journey to learning English in high school started in the mid-80s. That used to take whole morning to reach the high school after crossing dense forest, river, and walks up and down the hills via three villages. Over three hour walk in the morning and the same distance back home after school every day was more than enough to make me very tired. The dreams might be away from the sleeps but the real dream of life i.e learning English and speaking like professional was alive even in the sleeps, every walk and work throughout the high school.

Although there was no English learning environment in my school, the thought of learning English emerged listening to the rhymes of the kindergarten children of private school and looking at a couple (both teachers) of the school. I wished I could speak English like those couple teachers who were running that kindergarten school. There was no any English language learning centre around the school. Otherwise, I would have possibly joint the class. Gradually, I completed my high school with almost ‘no learning of English language’. I could just read words without understanding what the text meant. However, I passed SLC by memorising the texts, especially teacher’s notes. I must thank those high school teachers for their intensive teaching of English grammar that supported me to learn English in university later. Apparently I could not speak English even if I had every day English class from primary to high school.

This is a common sense – Nepal was/is not a ground of English though the neighbour had been colonial land of English for hundreds of years. I must thank the earlier generation of Nepali who saved Nepal and the diversity of over 125 languages that exist in Nepal even today. Though I could not learn proper English in high school, I learned formal English during my university education. How I learned English is quite interesting to share here. In fact, I learned almost no English from university classes but I learned English speaking and writing from my teaching profession at private schools in Kathmandu. Thank God, I got a job at private primary school where I used to teach kindergarten children. Actually I was learning more than teaching those kids in the school. The English language began with ‘May I come in, sir? May I go to toilet, sir? Come in. Go…’ Wow! How lovely the children were, who taught me English speaking and writing which was really helpful to study English on campus. I could speak general English in the very first year of my teaching profession. That teaching was reflected in the result of my I. Ed. English papers when I got very good marks. Therefore, I always thank those kids who taught me English language.

Let me continue the issue of professionalism in English language. Since 1995, the beginning of my university education and teaching profession excluding high school, I have been learning English. When I was almost at the scratch level even after SLC, I thought of developing English in me. I could develop English to some extent from my teaching profession as well as university education. I was always keen to develop my academic English proficiency throughout I.Ed, B.Ed and M.Ed. That was the main reason I selected English as major subject in the university. Sometimes I used to feel wretched when I could not understand native speakers’ English on TV or movies. Of course I had been teaching English at different English medium schools and community campus in Kathmandu for about eighteen years before travelling to the United Kingdom for my second Masters in September 2009. However, language is observed in communication and academic arts. One of the reasons behind going to study MA in Education in the UK was the same to develop English language in me.

Let me tell my real story in the UK. I could mostly understand the people in the university but it was quite different when I had to communicate with customers at my work. I used to work in service oriented company where I had to speak over the phones and face-to-face with local English people. I don’t know how many mistakes I might have done in the very first month due to misunderstanding of people’s language. There I realised what the real English is. This reminded my linguistic theory that I learned in B.Ed and M.Ed classes in Nepal ‘Language is human specific.’

I believe this reflective story is worth sharing with teachers, policy makers and English language learners. Only running after English language may be killing our innovative and productive life. At the same time, it should be understood that language is/not universal phenomenon and it should be realised in the education policies of the nation. As an emerging researcher, I have been reading education policy of Nepal and other countries, there is a gap between socio-cultural values and English language education in Nepal. As I said earlier Nepal was/is not the land of English where over 125 languages still exist with their socio-cultural diversities. Quite significant, most of the developed countries are gradually adopting migrant languages to reflect their diversity, inclusion and preserve their socio-cultural values. When we lose our languages, our socio-cultural values also die with the language. One reality that we have to understand is that language is not solely education. This is just the vehicle of education.

Lastly, I am writing this from the land of English (i.e. New Zealand). Just a reminder, I have realised very lately that English is just a language for communication that anyone can learn from the environment. This is similar to one of the 125 languages in Nepal. Now I speak and write English but I wasted my valuable time of life just running after English language and ignoring life skills. Now I think, I should have learned how to cultivate a beautiful flower in a pot that would give me handsome earning in any part of the world.

Mr. Rana is a PhD Candidate in the School of Teacher Education, College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

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