It gives us immense pleasure to release the second quarterly issue (April-June 2023) of ELT Choutari. The articles in this issue are the product of a recent Four-Week Virtual Workshop on Teachers’ Narrative Writing led by the ELT Choutari team. It aimed at empowering teachers to write reflective narratives (experiences and stories) offering them moments to pause and reflect on what they do, why and whether or not the process is serving the purposes. Choutari think this process of reading, writing and critical thinking empowers teachers professionally. Working closely with mentors, the participants produced some original and thought-provoking reflective narratives based on their rich experiences. This issue acknowledges the power of teachers’ own voices, personal journeys, triumphs, and challenges, ultimately inspiring and igniting change within the educational community. The issue presents you reflective blogs on students’ feedback and teachers’ support, story of teachers teaching in rural schools, integrated curriculum from teachers’ perspectives, and dealing with assignments.
Dasarath Rai, in his narrative highlights the shift in language teaching principles and the importance of addressing learners’ needs. The author shares his personal experiences of collecting students’ feedback to create more rewarding and meaningful learning experiences to them. He emphasizes the need for teachers to innovate and create their own methods based on the context and students’ unique requirements.
Similarly, Jham Bahadur Thapa provides a personal account of teaching English in low-resourced rural communities and navigating through some unique challenges. The author provides insight into the complexities and evolving nature of teaching English in a rural context.
Likewise, Laxmi Shrestha in her critical reflective narrative shares her mixed feelings about teaching integrated curriculum in elementary school highlighting some challenges she faced such as lack of access to the curriculum and resources, limited professional development, assessment procedures. It demonstrates how the top-down approach to curriculum development and dissemination is not working and raises questions about the process and preparation of implementing new curriculum in classrooms. The author also discusses some ways out to address it.
Additionally, Surendra Prasad Ghimire reflects on his experience of teaching large class in college and shares the challenges associated with students’ late assignments submission. The author also shares some way outs he and his students tried out to tackle this issue.
Here is the list of blogs for you to navigate in this issue:
Finally, I would like to thank our editors and reviewers in this issue, Mohan Singh Saud, Nanibabu Ghimire, Ganesh Kumar Bastola, Jeevan Karki, Sagar Poudel and Karuna Nepal for their relentless effort and contribution.
ELT Choutari is a platform for researchers, scholars, educators, and practitioners to share their perspectives, practices, and stories from classrooms and communities. If you enjoy reading the articles, please feel free to share them in and around your circle and drop your comments.
We encourage you to contribute to our next issue (July- September) and send your articles and blogs to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the decades, we have witnessed a different shift in the principles and methods of language teaching. The key concern behind such a move is to appease and address the need of the learners and make them achieve the desired linguistic competency. However, the ideologies of language teaching prescribed to us so far have proven to be contextually irrelevant. According to Kumaravadivelu (2003), “classroom-oriented studies carried out in the last two decades show that teachers could not be successful in putting the methods into practice in real classroom situations.” These findings have encouraged teachers to innovate their own practices and generate theories beyond what was prescribed, and grow as independent, autonomous, and reflective practitioners.
Throughout my six-year tenure as an English teacher in a private school in Kathmandu, I have encountered numerous pivotal moments in my classroom that have served as beacons of enlightenment, guiding me toward creating my own teaching methods rather than merely adhering to prescribed principles and methods. I think principles perform perfectly for scientific experiments, however; language teaching and learning necessitate a more adaptable and fluid approach. In this regard, every language teacher becomes a reservoir of principles, possessing a comprehension of learners’ unique needs, context, and intended objectives.
My journey towards transformative teaching commenced with a fundamental shift in perspective, prioritizing the needs of my students. This shift was prompted by the realization that my own educational background had conditioned me to cater solely to the expectations of my teachers, fostering the belief that they were the absolute source of knowledge. As a result, my teaching endeavors were driven by what I knew and what I desired to impart.
Nevertheless, the awakening of my conscience compelled me to recognize the inadequacy of this approach in the capital city, where students are inundated with abundant information and varied sources of knowledge. In this regard, I realized that introspection and self-evaluation are key to cultivating insights and intuition for relearning and unlearning.
Evaluating teacher from students’ bench
Knowing students’ attitudes, beliefs, and interest is quite rewarding for a teacher. Therefore, I decided to collect students’ feedback. The rationale behind gathering their feedback was: to critically evaluate my teaching methods from students’ vantage points, make learning more engaging and students centered, and find out the flaws which unconsciously go unnoticed in the classroom.
To achieve my objectives, I told students to write their feedback on the paper. I urged them not to show their write-ups to their friends. It is because I wanted to dig out personal opinions from them.
I collected students’ opinions from three sections. I took their feedback home and read it thoroughly. I divided the feedback into two groups. Positive feedback is one pile, and constructive feedback is another. I read all the constructive feedback twice and analyzed whether they had been true to their words or not, whether they had any personal influence and any prejudice or not. Then I picked up some of the common feedback, which really required my attention. One common feedback was that “You give us some contextual knowledge but extend it to dull and boring lectures.” This is what the teacher-centered approach is, where the teacher keeps on talking, and students become just passive listeners.
No matter whether students perceive it or not. As a result, students feel bored, unenviable, and exhausted. They don’t get time to exchange their personal thoughts, feeling, and ideas with teachers and their friends. At the same time, the teacher also becomes exhausted by screaming throughout the day and trudging home disconsolately due to students’ reaction of disappointment in his or her class. It indicated that high school students want specific information from the teacher instead of rattling off all the information he or she knows. It is particularly due to their age, level, and experiences in the real world. The next feedback read, “We feel your focus on only some students. So focus equally on all the students and promote students’ participation in class” I understood that it was the voice of those students who did not get the opportunity to participate in different activities in the classroom despite their talents. As a result, they felt socially distanced and emotionally detached in my class. At the same time, it was the question of equity in learning. In this regard, Ling, Nasri, & N. M. (2019) define “equity means that students should have equal opportunities to achieve their optimal abilities without being restricted by their community background or dispositional characteristics.” In my case, equity denoted scaffolding to especially those learners who have poor linguistic performances and cannot learn at the pace of other students in my subject. The aforementioned feedback enlightened me that treating all students equally regarding content delivery and teaching language skills is unjustifiable in a heterogeneous classroom setting.
Response to students’ feedback
The students’ feedback revealed that they wanted to activate themselves mentally and physically in the classroom. They wanted to listen less and engage more in activities that could be productive, meaningful, and interesting. I pondered the best strategies and materials that could equally engage the students in learning. While doing so, I discovered that our teaching and learning activities are limited when we fully depend on textbooks. Therefore, I did not fully rely on the textbook but prepared different materials and worksheets for teaching all four language skills. For reading activities, I created worksheets that were intellectually challenging. Students had to fully comprehend the text to do the activities to develop intensive reading skills, and the activities given in the prescribed textbook were below students’ level.
Regarding speaking activities, I used-cut outs consisting of clear guidelines for speaking. I designed the materials in such a way that students had to brainstorm for two to three minutes on the topic before they spoke. The guidelines helped them to maintain coherence in speaking. This activity helped me in two ways: one exciting part was I could maximize students speaking, and another was I could engage them in a meaningful talk. I assume that speaking should not only be commotion for students, but it should be meaningful where they can share their thoughts and ideas. In the same way, I used IELTS listening text in my class, and the outcome was so exciting.
The students’ feedback helped me modify my teaching method, which was particularly practicable and fit for my context. I could equally engage the learners in learning. In another way, the students were at the center, not me.
Teaching, a collective effort
Our faculty often used to have discussions on different ideas about teaching and learning activities and professional development. Therefore, the English faculty in our school adopted some techniques. Firstly, the school allocated one weak period for faculty meetings, which were regularly held. The meeting served as a platform for teachers to engage in narrative sessions, sharing their classroom practices, techniques, methods, outcomes, and the challenges they encountered during their teaching experiences. During the meeting, we did not only share the stories but also offered suggestions to the problems. For instance, experienced teachers shared their materials, discussed lesson planning, and suggested novice teachers use positive verbal reinforcement to the unruly students in and out of the class to make them responsible in their work. By implementing this methodology, we established a supportive community of educators, as advocated by Richards and Farrell (2005), wherein mutual classroom observations and constructive feedback facilitated a teachers’ support group. In addition, we engaged in a classroom observation process where we attended our colleagues’ classes to observe their teaching methods and reciprocally invited them to our classes for feedback. We diligently recorded these valuable insights in a personal diary, allowing us to enhance our teaching skills and refine our strategies. This instructional approach aligns with the peer observation framework proposed by Richards and Farrell (2005). Through reciprocal classroom visits, we observed our colleagues’ instructional practices and invited them to observe our own. We systematically documented the feedback in a personal diary to facilitate continuous improvement. After observing one of my classes, my senior faculty head, with extensive teaching experience, provided written feedback, insights, and recommendations, which read as follows.
You have incorporated materials that went beyond the usual textbook. This approach kept the students alert and engaged. The activity was a reading-based exercise, where students delved into thought-provoking texts and answered questions that required higher levels of cognition. The challenging nature of these questions fully engrossed the students, fostering a deep understanding and critical thinking. Besides, consider the pronunciation of ‘bicycle’ and get students to paste the material in their copy after they finish activities.
Rethinking evaluation system
Despite the tireless efforts exerted by teachers and students throughout the year, the final outcomes of students have consistently sparked discourse and deliberation among students, educators, and academicians. However, the concerns related to the evaluation system often go unnoticed within our educational setting. While our education system emphasizes the importance of critical thinking and creativity, the evaluation system relies on grades, often viewed as irrational and lacking justification from students’ perspectives.
Last year, two students had not made the required grade in two subjects to qualify for the next level. The outcomes left them feeling disheartened and humiliated, leading me to ponder, does this three-hour evaluation system truly assess students’ capabilities? Does it compensate for students’ time and efforts? Probably, the answer is ‘no’. Those two students, who served as representatives from my class, are just a glimpse of the thousands of students across the country whose self-worth and sense of pride have been severely undermined by the impact of this evaluation system.
Hence, it is imperative for educationists and academicians to engage in a comprehensive evaluation of the existing assessment system, ensuring that it possesses the necessary flexibility to effectively measure students’ abilities while being practical and contextually relevant.
Souvenir at farewell
Teaching is my passion. I feel I am born for it. I know nothing can be more rewarding for teachers than the complements and their students’ achievement. Last year, some students came to me with colourful paper folded artistically. They handed it to me with excitement. My inquisitive hand unfolded the papers. As the papers unraveled before my eyes, a symphony of emotion swirled within my being. The profundity of their gratitude echoed through the chambers of my heart. Their words, like sacred verses, embraced my weary spirit.
In the beginning, your classes were boring to be honest, but as time passed by, we got to know your English class was one of the most exciting classes. You have been a really great teacher. Your teaching style is wonderful. Your experience is learnable. It has been two years of your wonderful teaching that we cherish. Your handwriting has been a favorite part. If you will not be in our section next year. You will always be remembered.
Aloni, N. (2007). Enhancing Humanity. Dordrecht: Springer.
Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003). Beyond methods: Macrostrategies for language teaching. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Ling, T., & Nasri, N. M. (2019). A systematic review: Issues on equity in education. Creative Education, 10(12), 3163.
Richards, J. C., & Farrell, T. S. C. (2005). Professional Development for Language Teachers: strategies for teacher learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.
About the Author: Dasarath Rai teaches English at Ideal Model School, Dhobighat, Lalitpur. He has accomplished Master’s Degree in English Education from Mahendra Ratna, Campus, Tahachal, Kathmandu. He is interested in teacher professional development, multiculturalism, cultural identity, and materials development in language education.
A good teacher is one of the prominent figures in society. It is believed that whatever the teacher teaches is correct and true. So, the teacher is a role model in a society whose character can be imitated by numerous people. Therefore, a teacher should always have a positive attitude and have a person of spotless character. Similarly, talking about teaching is a dynamic profession where the teacher should be very energetic and adopt new teaching strategies as per the need of the situation, demands, and level of the students. Teaching English and being an English teacher is a challenging job in this ICT era. It is one of the most complex, and sensitive tasks in the ELT context of Nepal.
Here, I have narrated my own real story of teaching experiences as an English teacher in a rural area of Nepal, including what and how I have faced the ups and downs during my ELT periods. Our society is heterogeneous. I am from the Magar community of Tanahun district where our Magar communities want their children to be in the army. Similarly, my family also wanted me to join the army. More amazingly, one of the incidents directed me to become an English teacher where I stand today.
Self-observation and reflection
After completing my Intermediate Education Level with a major in English, I initiated my teaching career being an English teacher at one of the community schools in Tanahun district in 2072 (2015). I was appointed as a private teacher and paid 2500 RS. in a month. During the winter vacation, I came home from Prithivi Narayan Campus as usual other students did. Once early in the morning, around 5:30 a.m., the head teacher who taught me in primary school came to me. I was shocked to see him at my house so early. We talked for a long time, and even after a long conversation; I couldn’t guess why he was there. Eventually, being more honey talks, he requested me to teach English in that school that has been running basic level 6- 8 grades. I was in a dilemma with my teacher’s proposal whether to teach in that school or not, as I had to continue my higher education on one side, and on another side, my parents couldn’t afford my higher education without doing any job. Finally, he suggested me to continue my further study, both teaching, and self-studying. After the selection process, I was appointed to be a lower secondary English teacher, from where I completed my primary education. I felt very nervous at my first teaching. So, I uttered the words with stammering. Now I recall how many times I stammered, ‘Don’t make noise’ It might be more than 30 times in a period. How poor my first class was. By reflecting, I think teaching years are not valued until we provide positive transformation to the students.
Being a novice teacher, I used to depend on textbooks. There was Ajanta’s dictionary in school which I frequently used to consult. It made the ELT classes more comfortable for me. I had to teach all the periods except the tiffin time. In the remote part of our school, there were only blackboards and chalk in the name of teaching materials. I rarely used instructional materials like; cardboard, cutter pictures, word card, and other local materials. I used to follow the Grammar Translation method to teach English. Later on, I employed the communicative language teaching method where the students could get ample opportunities to engage in pair work, group work, role play, simulation, and some project-based works, etc communicating in English. After that, I could teach language skills using cassettes and pictures, focusing on the students’ needs and interests as well. I was satisfied with my teaching as my students had improved their English slowly and gradually. I received very positive responses from my parents. I wish I could improve the existing ELT situations in favor of students’ dynamic learning process. Regarding that situation, I myself reflected on how I had studied English at the secondary and campus levels.
By demand of time, several approaches or methods came and collapsed and now are existed in ELT. Similarly, I have got a chance to improve my teaching assumptions and philosophies. I have participated in different ELT trainings. Especially, I’ve learned the modern post-method approach, including with critical thinking approach that highly affects the ELT field. I have learned how to deal with multi-lingual and inclusive classes. The training in which I participated made me conduct the class in a child-friendly environment. In the present day, I intelligently tackle the issues/challenges in my teaching profession. Obviously, numerous pieces of training and having a master’s degree reformed me to design, construct and apply teaching materials and lesson plans and provide feedback to needy students. When I myself started being up to date, renewing, and reflecting on the present ELT approaches, methods, and techniques my performance is being improved with students’ results in English subjects.
The successful teaching class
It was a day in the month of Magh 2075 (2019), as usual, after the assembly time, I went to class ten. Afterward, I had a well-prepared class and commenced the lesson by telling a moral story. I provided the time to guess what the topic was on that day. Then, students could easily guess the topic of the day that they were going to have. At first, I divided students into nine groups having five students in each group. After that, I instructed them clearly what they were supposed to do with the cardboard paper. Then, I distributed the cardboard paper and a sign pen writing the phrase ‘Once upon a time…. It was given to the first group to write some relevant sentences about the moral story. Then, respectively that paper was relayed to each group by adding some new sentences to develop a story. Finally, the last group was given the task of writing the title and moral of the story. Providing clear instructions, each group developed the related sentences for the productive stage of story writing. During that period, I facilitated going around the groups. I provided necessary feedback to each group’s members. I observed each group’s members actively involved in the given tasks. Actually, it was the most learnable and effective class I have ever had. From that day, what I reflected is that every ELT teacher has to teach with a good lesson plan and employ the appropriate learning strategies, activities, and techniques to obtain the learning competencies.
Issues of teaching English in rural schools
I have faced many issues and challenges during my ELT teaching in rural Nepal. First, the issue is in ELT is the English medium of instruction (EMI) in the rural area of our school. EMI creates a kind of obstruction in teaching English and other subjects in my classes. Many teachers couldn’t teach the English language. So, it created a great puzzle for the students cum other teachers. Similarly, there is a great issue of policy making and implementation in the context of ELT in Nepal. Another challenge is teacher training implementations in the classroom. The main challenges of training teachers to teach English effectively remain in place.
Though English teaching in Nepal is not a politics of knowledge, it is a useful subject for bureaucracy and profit-making incentives. The issues of ICT, internet, and computer usage in ELT and outdated teachers are prominent issues in Nepal. Therefore, the changing position or roles of teachers should be focused on digital competence in this era of globalization and technology. In this way, the issues of the mother tongue-based, and multi-lingual approaches need to be addressed properly in the ELT context of Nepal. The economic, cultural, educational, social, and family issues of the students are the prominent issues in the ELT in Nepal. The teaching methods are the issues that I faced in teaching English. Lack of internet access in the remote part of Nepal is another challenge for English language teaching in Nepal. In my remote part, there are no rich resource materials, textbooks, curriculum, and teaching materials, which makes it difficult in teaching. We do not normally see students when they engage in writing in the classroom where students might need some help from teachers. Some of us do not appreciate students’ efforts and steps towards putting what they want to show through small compositions as creative starters. Furthermore, the issues related to ELT teaching in Nepal are the lack of proper supervision, monitoring, and teacher support. I think the issues should be addressed scientifically.
Objectives of teaching English in Nepal
In my experience, the objectives, goals, and paradigms are always shifting and changing due to the demands of the times. Despite this, the goals of ELT have been changed from focusing solely on developing language skills to fostering a sense of social responsibility in students. Now the objective of teaching English is shifted into communicating, collaborating, and exchanging ideas effectively with others who speak the English language. The students should be enabled to use all four language skills creatively, critically, fluently, and accurately to solve real-life problems. Furthermore, the ELT teachers make the students respect each other’s cultures and religious festivals.
Road ahead in Nepal
I have been teaching and learning English for more than 17 years. What my experiences taught me is that the ELT system of teaching in Nepal is slowly promoting and expanding its different aspects. The curriculum based on the communicative approach is gradually shifting into interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and Transdisciplinary approaches. Therefore, the objectives of teaching ELT in Nepal should address every challenge or issue related to the students, ELT teachers, and curriculum in the present world. It is the era of rapid development of ICT and the Internet. For this, ELT teachers should have sound knowledge and communication skill of digital competence. The traditional perspectives of teaching English in Nepal have been changing the rigid feeling of native speakers, and monolinguals’ gradually faced objections. Non-native English teachers promoted multilingual practices in their classes. I think the government or the concerned bodies should focus on promoting multilingualism awareness. A new kind of training structure, policy, and implementation should be emphasized. The salary, payment, and other terms of facilities need to be addressed. Education policy should be reformed. Different kinds of ELT conferences, workshops, training, counseling, etc., are required. The concept of ELT globalization must be interrelated to each ELT teacher in Nepal. The education system, including examination systems, must change into a scientific system of examination that exists meaningfully in the present world. Students should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning. There can be the training of teachers as well as student motivation. Similarly, ELT teaching in Nepal aims to achieve sustainable development. ELT teachers should improve the learning achievement of all students. In my opinion, what students learn in the classroom results from what a teacher makes students do in the classroom. Thus, the above-mentioned clues should be emphasized to improve the ELT in Nepal.
Being an English teacher in the Nepalese context, what I experienced is that the role of the teacher should function as a resource person to inspirer. Similarly, he/she should have a sound knowledge of current ELT pedagogy. The teachers should have self-reflective practice. The teachers need to make our students clear on how English has been used and how we should use it in the era of globalization. ELT teachers need to be action researchers in their teaching profession. The chief responsibility of an ELT teacher is to create a suitable and conducive learning environment where the children perform their tasks easily and freely; construct knowledge, and show their creativity. Thus, an ELT teacher should have all kinds of practical skills and knowledge and extend helping hands to the students to solve problems via cooperation, collaboration, and creating an effective learning environment. So, my teaching reflections guided me to be an inspirer updated ELT teacher for the betterment of my own professional development for the successful career of the students.
About the Author: Mr. Jham Bahadur Thapa is an M.Phil Scholar in English Language Education at the Graduate School of Education TU, Kritipur, Nepal. He has been teaching from basic to higher levels at different schools and colleges for a decade. His area of interest is Multilingualism, Narrative Inquiry Research, and Teacher Professional Development.
The government of Nepal introduced Integrated Curriculum in 2019 after piloting it for a year with the goal of providing knowledge of different disciplines through related subject matters. Integrated curriculum is defined as a curriculum that interlinks learning of more than one domain or learning areas (Ghimire, 2019). So, the content is thematically organized in it. Theoretically, it is regarded as one of the best forms of curriculum design. An integrated curriculum is characterized by a systematic approach to teaching professional skills, that is, personal and interpersonal skills, and product, process, and system-building skills, integrated with engineering disciplinary fundamentals (Crawley et al. 2007). However, as a teacher, I have mixed feelings while implementing it in my classroom. In this reflective blog, I will share my experiences of implementing it especially in relation to professional development, resources, and assessment process.
In Nepal, the implementation of the curriculum is hugely dependent on teachers. Unfortunately, teachers are unknown about the curriculum until they are handed over the textbooks. They get to know that the curriculum has been revised only after going through the textbooks. Many teachers think that the textbooks have been revised, but actually, it’s the curriculum that has been revised. Surprisingly, I got access to the soft copy of the integrated curriculum only after three years of application.
Curriculum dissemination and teachers’ professional development
Generally, after the change in curriculum, the concerned authority trains the teachers before implementing it. But in my context, curriculum is implemented in school first, and only a few teachers are given training after a year or two years. So, how can teachers implement the curriculum in its true sense?
Following a similar trend, after a year of curriculum implementation, two teachers from each school in Vyas Municipality, Tanahun were called to participate in the curriculum dissemination programme and I was one of them. The facilitators of four subjects showed their slides related to their areas (Mero Nepali, Mero Ganit, My English, and Hamro Serofero). Most surprisingly, the slides simply contained a copy of the curriculum and nothing else. The facilitators read, and we listened to them like obedient students. Some of the teachers asked questions but they didn’t receive satisfying responses. I think the facilitators didn’t understand the question, and the participants didn’t understand the answers. So, the two days’ training was not so effective.
The teachers returned to their schools. Neither they implemented the curriculum nor did they exchange their learnings with their colleagues. As I was also the administrator of the school, I asked one of my colleague how they were conducting teaching-learning activities in her school. Instead, she said that the teachers who took part in the dissemination programme commented they had not understood what they were told to do and were not in the position to share their learning with others.
Later, I got an opportunity to take part in training. I had filled out the form of ETC, Tanahun, which I saw on my Facebook page in August 2022 (Shrawan). According to the information, the training would be held in the first week of September (Bhadra), but I was called for the training in October (Kartik). I attended it and learned to teach according to the purpose of the integrated curriculum. I learned different techniques to teach Mero Ganit (Mathematics) while teaching My English, Mero Nepali, and Hamro Serofero (My surrounding) and; to use teachers’ guides (TG). I learned to use an evaluation form to keep records of students’ learning achievements. I learned to keep records and build a portfolio of the students. As it was a ten-days training with two days devoted for each subject area including students’ assessment. We were told how to use teacher’s guide. Frankly speaking, I had never used a teacher’s guide before. Moreover, I had rarely heard about it and never seen the teachers using and talking about it.
After the training, I hurried to reach my school and apply what I learnt. I downloaded the Teacher’s guide from www.moecdc.gov.np; however, I couldn’t find the TG of all subjects of all classes. Despite that, I found the training useful for me to teach and assess my students.
Access to resources and materials
As teaching and testing are the two sides of a coin, I had to assess my students’ listening skills in English. In their workbook, students were asked to listen to recordings and do given activities, but I was helpless because I was unknown about the recordings. I searched on CDC website but couldn’t find them. Then, I contacted the municipal education department and they told they would get back to me but never did so. I reached out the trainer, who facilitated the assessment segment in the training and explained my problem and he provided me with the contact information of a CDC officer. I called them and they asked me to contact them later and when I called later, their phone was switched off. Eventually, I couldn’t find the materials to assess listening skill of my students.
Needless to say that the teachers must be well equipped with the resources for effective teaching and learning processes but teachers in our context are struggling to access the fundamental resources. On the other hand, teachers are blamed for not imparting quality education. How can a teacher contribute to students’ education? How can a teacher provide better education without resources? It is said that teachers must be resourceful, but how?
Assessment policy and practices
The curriculum indicates that the students must be assessed regularly and provided feedback. So, I tried to collect the assessment template from one of the stationeries where I usually used to go for school related documents and materials. I couldn’t find them even after making couple of attempts and I accessed the softcopy of the curriculum and printed the assessment forms using my office computer. I started to keep records of my students progress in it. Later, the municipality called for a meeting to discuss the examination date and other issues just before the first term (quarter). They provided a booklet of assessment forms. It was frustratingly late because we were supposed to keep records of students learning achievement from the very first day.
The curriculum has talked about the formative assessment of students and workbooks are designed based on it. Students are to be assessed after completion of each theme, so that we can evaluate whether they have achieved the learning outcomes of the particular theme or not. All they have to do is assess their students and keep records in the given format and make a portfolio of each student.
Although it became easier for me, it was not the same for other teachers. When the second terminal examination was about to begin, there was a debate among the teachers whether to follow the curriculum or not for students’ assessment. Only a few teachers favored the curriculum, which envisions continuous assessment of students instead of paper-pencil test but teachers and parents are habituated to it. They don’t want to change the status quo. Instead they would want to continue with the traditional test, which is against the spirit of the curriculum. However, almost all the teachers wanted to continue with the terminal paper-pencil tests. They argued that the parents aren’t happy until their children appear in the written examination. It seemed that they were fencing themselves and making excuses due to the time-taking assessment system in a new format.
When the third quarter of last year was coming to the end, teachers were asking me about the process of assessment procedures of the students. I explained them many times what I knew but it was not possible to explain entire process over the phone. I requested them to read the curriculum and teacher’s guide. However, I don’t think they did so. Some teachers even asked me to take a photo of the assessment form and send them pictures of the record. It was surprising how a photo could help them to assess their students! Actually, the whole process is described very well in the curriculum. However, they do not access them either because they have poor digital literacy or are reluctant to implement the change in the new curriculum.
The government appoints specialists to develop the curriculum, and the specialists develop the curriculum. They might accomplish their job after designing the curriculum but curriculums are only successful once they are implemented effectively, so the concerned authority should also equally think about the implementers and implementation process. Teachers are still obliged to enter classrooms without any ideas about curriculum and instruction it envisions. They are also unlikely to be aware of the learning outcomes, pedagogy and assessment procedures in the new curriculum. Despite these problems, teachers are compelled to teach, which definitely hinder the effective implementation of the curriculum.
To summarize, the concerned authority must make sure that every teacher gets a copy of curriculum before it is implemented in classrooms. The teacher’s guide and curriculum must be available easily, like students’ textbooks. Teachers’ feedback must to collected widely before rolling out the new curriculum. Similarly, all teachers must be trained well before implementing new curriculum or policy. Mohr and Welker(2017) stated that “if curricular change is to happen, professional development ought to be a focus, and teachers’ perspectives should be central to the process.” Training after one or two years of curriculum implementation is worthless. Teachers should get chances to discuss their issues with the concerned authorities regarding their problems. Last but not least, the teachers themselves must also be active and curious to learn, so that they don’t have to always depend on others for implementing or leading change.
About the Author: Laxmi Shrestha is an M.Ed. from Aadikavi Bhanbhakta Campus, TU. She is an English teacher in a public school, Tanahun. Her interest in writing includes EMI, Second Language Acquisition, Sociolinguistics, and Language Teaching.
I joined college teaching at Matribhumi Campus, Lamjung, where a few regular students were in the classroom. I would have enough time to share ideas, listen to them, and support them. Later on, I was appointed as an assistant lecturer of English at Hetauda School of Management and Social Sciences, Makawanpur, where there would be an average of 50 students in each class. In the beginning, all the classroom activities were going smoothly on. However, gradually, I was entangled with the late submission of home assignments by some of the students, which caused me troubles in teaching and learning activities, particularly about completing the assigned course in the expected time. Thus, in this paper, by reflecting on my experience, I discuss specific causes/reasons behind the delayed submission of home assignments of English and some practical solutions to get rid of them.
Academic achievement of students and their submission of home assignments in time have been associated (Eren & Henderson, 2008; Rawson et al., 2017). Thus, the study by Kim and Seo (2015) claimed that the procrastination of home assignments indicated the low academic performance of the students. There have been various reasons for such delayed submission of home assignments. For instance, a study by Kuftyak (2022) argued that the students who had low performance in their studies, their laziness, and lack of proper time management were some of the causes of delayed submission of their home assignments. Moreover, delayed submission of home assignments would have a colossal impact affecting almost all the aspects of social and professional lives of students, particularly their academic performance. In addition, a study by Shaked and Altarac (2022) reflected feelings of frustration, anxiety, stress, damage to self-image, and receiving a lower grade were some of the consequences of delayed submission of home assignments. Despite the devastating impact of procrastinating on the home assignments, some of the students in my class delayed the submission of their home assignments. Although I tackled the problem by encouraging and motivating the students to complete the assigned work in time, the fundamental situation remained the same. Moreover, they made various excuses, such as forgetting their copies of assignments and not feeling well, just to name a few to justify their delayed submission. However, finally, I overcame gradually minimizing the ratio of late submission of assignments by adopting various strategies such as finding the real causes of problems, establishing friendly relations with the students, changing the ways of teaching, dealing individually with them, and assigning the work on their consent, thereby, here, I argue by understanding the real causes/reasons of delayed submission of home assignments and dealing accordingly with the students assist minimizing the ratio of delayed submission of home assignments instead of imposing the workload and various instructions for them. Thus, in this brief descriptive reflection, I focus on just how I made the students submit their home assignments before the deadlines by exploring the causes/reasons of the problem and adopting some strategies to get rid of the problem.
Causes of late assignment submission
I explored various causes of late submission of assignments of English which were different from student to student. However, some of the causes of late submissions of home assignments are discussed below:
Lack of clear understanding of the lesson
I found the students who did not concentrate on the classroom activities often delayed submitting their home assignments as they did not have much idea about how to solve the given problem due to a lack of clear understanding of the lesson. To solve their homework, they needed to explore their prescribed texts and other related materials which made them delayed in submitting their assignments before the deadline.
I discovered some of the students who delayed in the submission of their home assignments had a lack of managing the time in solving their assignments as they reported they often began solving their home assignments very late hour after receiving them, due to which they could not submit their assignments before the given deadline.
I found the workload of students’ home assignments was also a responsible factor in the delayed submission of their home assignments as I often used to prescribe them more work by realizing that they had to do a lot to improve their academic performance. In addition, some of the students reported that they would receive extra work in other subjects as well, due to which they would be already overloaded.
I investigated some of the students who did not submit their home assignments on time and often did not pay attention to working on home assignments instead, they enjoyed copying readymade answers from various sources, such as from their friends’ exercise copies, without really being involved in the given activities. Moreover, some did not care about the deadline of their assignments and made various excuses for their delayed submission.
Ways forward to overcome the problem
After finding some of the causes/reasons behind the problem, I adopted the following strategic procedures to solve the delayed submission of home assignments. They are as follows:
Establishing friendly relationships with students
Establishing friendly relationships with students assisted me in minimizing the delayed submission of home assignments by supporting me in a better understanding of the students and promoting the teaching and learning environment in the classroom. In doing so, I began spending more time with students outside the classroom, such as during break time, particularly focusing on the students who did not submit their home assignments on time. Gradually, I sorted out the names of the reluctant students, particularly about doing their homework, and developed their portfolios under their consent which helped me to assign a particular kind of homework for certain students and follow them before the deadline of their home assignments. As a result, the students who procrastinated in submitting their home assignments gradually improved and began to submit their home assignments a bit faster than earlier. They started sharing their problems of solving home assignments and other problems related to teaching and learning, which supported me in preparing further plans for overcoming the problem of delayed submission of home assignments.
Changing the ways of teaching
By exploring a connection between ways of teaching and the submission of home assignments, I reviewed and changed my previous ways of teaching in the classroom. I minimized the lecture method and focused on students centric teaching methods, such as class discussion and group work, just to name a few. Changing ways of teaching assisted me in solving the problem of lack of clear understanding of the lesson in the class. As a result, I found the majority of the students who delayed submitting their home assignments were actively participating in the classroom activities. I kept on following and inspiring them by highlighting their latest progress in classroom activities. Gradually, I realized the change in their classroom performance and submission of their home assignments before the deadline, which inspired me to work further to change their ways of working with assignments. Thus, changing the way of teaching assisted me to some extent in overcoming the problem of delayed submission of home assignments by promoting students to solve the problems and making them more responsible in the assigned work.
Dealing individually with students
In addition, I started dealing individually with some of the students who were still nagging about submitting the home assignments and making various excuses such as forgetting or missing their exercise copies, having an urgent piece of work at home so forth. They often would give me word that they would come the following day with the assignments; however, they never kept their promises. Then, I decided to deal individually with such students, which made it easier to explore further and understand them and to make them responsible for doing the home assignments. I initiated assigning different tasks for each such student instead of homogeneous kinds of work, which prevented imitating from each other’s copies and supported me assigning the work based on the standard of the students. The result was wonderful, as I found most of them submitted on the assigned time. Very few of them still did not submit on time. However, there was an improvement in their way of working.
Assigning on students’ consent
Finally, I developed another strategy, such as assigning home assignments on students’ consent for those who (very few of them) were still remaining back on submitting their homework on time. Thus, I asked them some questions before assigning some work to them, such as “Could you complete this work in the given time”? “Could you solve the following problem?” After finding some positive responses from such students then only I began assigning work to them. Later on, I found successful results after doing this as they improved them by following the given timeline of their home assignments and solving the problem in better ways instead of making various excuses like earlier. However, I found some students would like to receive very few home assignments compared to the other students in the class. Thus, it took me a bit more time to assign them the homework on their consent; nevertheless, I did not give up. Ultimately, I found adopting such a strategy supported me in overcoming the problem of delayed submission of English home assignments.
This article reflects some causes/reasons for delayed submission of English home assignments. It provides some practical solutions for solving the problem, such as establishing friendly relationships with students, changing the way of teaching, dealing with each student individually, and assigning the work on students’ consent. This reflective writing showed a single strategy has not been adequate for addressing the problem of delayed submission of home assignments and provides clear direction for further exploring the problem.
In this article, I have tried to expose the difficulties of a multilingual classroom and my practice of translanguaging to address those problems to do fair to students’ native language as equally as the target language. The classroom is the microcosm of society, providing the authentic flavor of each society’s culture, lifestyle, and way of thinking. The students are gathered from diverse backgrounds. In the classroom teacher as a facilitator must respond to every student fairly and respectfully. The translanguaging techniques may help the teacher do justice to the diverse students because translanguaging supports the varied learner to choose the language they like for the highest level of performance that they can perform in the heterogeneous class.
I have been working as a secondary-level English teacher since 2016. My school is one of the government schools, and it is situated in Golanjor -7 Khurkot Sindhuli. It’s name is Shree Jana Jyoti Secondary school, and it is one of the province model schools of sindhuli district. My school has two mediums of teaching and learning, English and Nepali, since 12 years ago. Because of the craze for the English language, my school’s pressure is very high, so each class has two sections. Section “A” is where students learn every subject except Nepali in English. In Section” B”, every subject except English is taught in Nepali. The catchment area of my school is large, and students come walking even from 4 to 5 miles far and also from Terai Region.
The linguistic background of section “B” students’ is a little bit poor. In my school, though there is no strict entrance exam for those students from outer school, they arbitrarily choose the section “B.” Most of the students are from minor ethnicity and Dalits in section “B” like Majhi, Waiba, Hayu, and Shrestha. The translanguaging technique is very effective in this section for the optimum levels of knowledge and language development because there is no mental pressure for the students to use only the target language in the classroom as they can use Nepali or their mother tongue, so they become more interactive. Similarly, in section “A, there is predominantly so-called higher ethnic groups like Chhetri, Brahmin, Devkota, Rai, Mandal etc., though the linguistic background of this section is a little bit good compared to section “B”. The translanguaging technique gives more freedom to share the highest knowledge levels and makes the classroom more engaging.
Practicing English in the EFL classroom, which is full of heterogeneous students, is very challenging because the student’s linguistic and cultural backgrounds are different. However, it directly and indirectly affects language learning for example, the students from the Madheshi community are more active in writing sessions than speaking because their first language and culture are different from the other students and teachers in the classroom. Hence, it is not easy for them to interact in the classroom. As an EFL teacher, I have to encourage my students to speak in target language as much as possible. However, most of my students are reluctant to talk because of a lack of sufficient vocabulary, problems in sentence formation, pronunciation etc. Some sample problems of the classroom are as presented as follows. At the beginning of the session, while I was encouraging my students to talk in the target language, one student stood up and said that” mam, I can’t talk in English, it is a very difficult subject. “He pronounced /talk/instead of /tak/, and sentences were also incomplete
Similarly, in most cases, while forming sentences, my students become confused in the order of words e.g., they create unusual sentences like (I never have understood her instead of, I have never understood her), (Rajan drives always to work, instead of Rajan always drives to work). They always become confused about in which position they should keep which words. The next thing is because of the cultural gap, students become so confused and ask funny questions which do not hve any sense in the classroom context; for example, while I was teaching my class ten students the chapter related to the international cultures they became surprised and confused by reading Some European country’s greeting culture and ask some silly types questions like “mam doesn’t American feel ashamed to kiss between opposite sex in the open place?” “Is it appropriate to hug the foreigners if I meet them in Thamel Kathmandu? etc.” Another last but not least exciting thing is that I Feel tired of running class to class to make my students understand the questions because the question comes only in the English language. It is challenging to them to understand the questions. In this article, I am trying to reveal the real problems of multilingual classrooms and my attempts to use translanguaging techniques to address those problems.
Translanguaging is a term used to describe the trend which supports the learner to choose the language that they like for the highest level of performance that they can perform. It motivates the learners to speak, write and translate in the language they feel comfortable to foster their learning. This concept entertains multilingualism in the EFL classroom. It helps to develop a positive attitude toward all the language skills that the learners have.
(Baker, 2011, p. 39) defined translanguaging as” the process of making meaning, shaping experiences, gaining understanding and knowledge through the use of two languages.” Similarly, (Hornberger & Link, 2012, p. 262) defined translanguaging as “the purposeful pedagogical alternation of language in spoken and written, receptive and productive mode. To be concluded, translanguaging is the process of allowing EFL learners to use any language that they like at any time. As an EFL teacher, while practicing the English language in the classroom, I have been facing the following problems.
Problems in Classroom Teaching
Psychology of Students towards Target Language
Most EFL students in public schools think English is a complicated language compared to their mother tongue. They cannot learn it, so they hesitate to interact in the classroom, switch to their mother tongue frequently while practicing the target language, and prefer to answer in their second language or mother tongue.
Problems Related to Sound
One of the significant challenges of the classroom is phonemic and phonological challenges. In the classroom, there is a lack of authentic input; in most cases, we depend on the textbook. We take textbooks as a curriculum rather than a helping book, and there is a trend to teach the subject to obtain marks rather than to learn it. So because of the lack of adequate input, students can’t pronounce most of the words correctly. Another problem is that they understand the sentences spoken by Nepalese speakers. However, it is challenging for them to understand the same sentences spoken by a native speaker. It means there is a lack of practice in pronunciation in the classroom.
On the other hand, the pronunciation of sounds in English can be challenging and confusing. The same letter can be pronounced differently in different situations. Some sounds may be silent in one instance but not another; for example, the letter “c” can be pronounced as /k/ in some words (e.g., “cat”) and as /cha/ in others (e.g., “chair”). The /k/ sound is silent in the word “knowledge”, but not in “keep.”
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity
For students whose linguistic and cultural background differs from that of the majority of students in the classroom, speaking in the classroom can be challenging. These students may not have a strong foundation in the second language and lack confidence, leading them to avoid speaking for fear of making mistakes. For example, in my classroom, students from the Terai region whose native language is Maithili and who use Nepali as a second language often remain silent, despite knowing the answers, due to their different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. During a dictation exercise, these students had difficulty understanding my pronunciation. They asked me to repeat the words and sentences multiple times. When I asked if they understood, one student, Devkant Mandal, told me that it was difficult to follow my speaking, but he could answer questions in written form. This highlights the gap between teaching and learning that can arise due to different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
Questions are only in the target language
Due to the use of monolingual assessment systems, students face difficulties comprehending the questions in the target language, leading to an inability to express their knowledge accurately.
Efforts to Solve the Problems
To overcome the problems mentioned above, I have been using the following techniques and strategies in my classroom.
Create Positive Attitude
First, I adopt a positive approach by uplifting words to shift negative attitudes towards positivity. I often tell my students that English is easier than their native language and remind them that if they can fluently speak their native language, they can also learn English. I also acknowledge and appreciate their small accomplishments, encouraging them to answer questions in the language they feel comfortable with. This approach has proven effective, as it has motivated weaker students to become more engaged in their learning and freely express their ideas in both their native and target languages.
Encourage Students to Express Ideas in the language of Their Choice
In my 10th-grade class, I teach Health, and the medium of instruction is English. At the start of the session, I solely used English to impart knowledge. I encouraged students to use English in classroom interactions. However, this resulted in a lack of student participation and creativity, making the class dull and monotonous. Later, I realized that while it is crucial to have a high level of knowledge about Health, it is not necessary to learn it in English. So, I encouraged students to interact in the language they felt comfortable with. This change made the health class more interactive and engaging, as students were no longer burdened by language and could freely share their ideas in their preferred language.
Maximization of Authentic materials
The primary goal of language learning is to communicate effectively on relevant topics. Since 2021, the curriculum for grades 4, 7, and 9 have changed, focusing on social themes, such as religion, yoga, Health, dining etiquette, etc. As an English teacher, I aim to align with the curriculum by incorporating authentic materials related to these themes into my lessons. Using real-life materials makes the learning experience practical and exciting. It helps students learn the language based on their needs and the topics being taught. For example, when it comes to cultural topics that may not have exact translations in the target language, students are free to use both their mother tongue and the target language as needed.
Reduce Overcorrection and Interruption
In most cases, I refrain from correcting my students while they are speaking and try to minimize correction in their writing. I don’t mind if they switch to their native language to feel comfortable talking and practicing, even if it is challenging.
Translanguaging is a process that allows for flexibility in language use in the EFL classroom. As target language teachers, it is our responsibility to foster an appropriate environment for language practice. We should not prohibit using the native language in the name of learning English. Instead, we should embrace and appreciate the use of the mother tongue following the context and situation.
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About the author: Mrs. Mandira Basnet is an M. Ed. in English. She teaches English to secondary-level students at Shree Jana Jyoti Secondary School, Golanjor- 7, Khurkot, Sindhuli, Nepal.
The concept of teacher identity can be taken as multifaceted and constructed in a dialectical way. It has several implications, such as teacher education, school leaders, teacher unions, or curriculum can provide a universal teacher identity in which teachers need to fit. Human beings can influence their lives and the peripheral environment where they live. Teachers experience many opportunities to change themselves and to be identified by them and by the external environment. Identity construction is a kind of narrative positioning that opens the understanding of teachers as active agents in their own life where identity formation is dynamic and changing (Davies & Harré, 2001). Our relation to the world, people, choices, and language construct and reconstruct our identity (Weedon & Rappaport, 1997). Identity is not a fixed attribute of a person. It is a relational phenomenon and is a process of interpreting oneself by the periphery and environment. There has been a growing interest and research on teacher identity construction in many parts of the world (Dolloff, 1999). Identity can be defined as a set of ideas, self-concepts, peculiarities, riddles, and concepts considered a perception or point of view (Albert & Whetten, 2004). Identity is continually emerging and becoming a dynamic and shifting process. People do not have any fixed identity. There can be varieties of identities: cultural identity, social identity, ethnic identity, and linguistic identity. Teacher identity is needed to study how teachers work, learn and develop (Beijaard et al., 2004).
Democratic and managerial professionalism are identified in shaping a teacher’s professional identity, which is transformational, reformative, context-bound, constructed, maintained, and negotiated through language and discourse (Sachs, 2001). A teacher’s professional identity is influenced by workplace conditions, language policy, curriculum, cultural differences, institutional practices, and access to professional development. All language teachers are subjects to mainstream discourses such as languages, teachers, and teaching. The narrative told by media, researchers, documents, politicians, and groups of persons are called public narratives. It makes sense of the everyday world and provides different kinds of resources for identity constructions (Holstein & Gubrium, 2000). How public and institutional members understand these narrative resources to construct identities varies from person to person and situation to situation. Educational policy, teachers’ professional development opportunities, and current educational practices create public narratives about teaching and teachers. One of the narrative resources to construct teacher identity is historically and socially constructed subject positions (Norton, 2010). Teachers’ identity relates to how a person perceives their relationship to the world and the relationship formation across time and space(Norton, 2000). Negotiating a teacher’s professional identity can be significantly influenced by contextual factors outside teachers themselves, their courses, and workplace status (Clark & Flores, 2001). Teachers’ identity is primarily affected by workplace conditions, language conditions, language policy, cultural differences and institutional practices, and so on. All language teachers are subject to mainstream discourses such as languages, teachers and teaching. Teachers’ identity is transformational, context bound, maintained and negotiated by the language, society, educational policy, and so on.
This article explores how self and other external factors construct teachers’ identities. It explores what factors are responsible for creating teachers’ professional identities.
Current Conceptualization on Teacher Identity
Teachers’ overall activity, public narratives, and what teachers know and do are a part of teachers’ identity work. They continuously perform and transform it through interaction in the classroom. Teachers’ identity is both an individual and social matter. Davies and Harré (2001) state that a subject -position prevents other ways of experiencing and understanding the world. A Norwegian research reported that teaching is a caring profession and is understood as creating and enabling an atmosphere for all children (Søreide, 2007). There is a nexus between transformative pedagogical practices and the identities of students and teachers. A research on teachers’ professional identity, Beijaard et al. (2004) reported that identity is an ongoing continuous process; therefore, identity is dynamic rather than stable and constantly evolving. It is dynamic, fluid, and shifting in nature. There is a need for dialogic interaction between teachers and students, which can help to learn new things about students and teachers themselves. Professional teacher identity is established as a separate research area in the last few decades (Beijaard et al., 2004). Social science and philosophy are useful domains for the construction of teachers’ identity research.
The approaches reflected upon evaluation procedures for assessing teachers and their development from the perspective of predefined professional development (Porter et al., 2001). There is a need for dialogic interaction between teachers and students to help students learn new things from teachers and vice versa. This process can help create their unique identities. Non-native English language teachers can’t enjoy the status and power of native English language teachers. They have to struggle to achieve such a status in the educational field. There is a problem of identity between non-native and native English language teachers. Teachers’ professional development and personal identity determine teachers’ identity(Akkerman& Meijer, 2011). A person’s identity is connected to their performance in society or how one interacts (Gee, 2001). Identity can be transformational, context-bound, negotiated, and maintained through language and discourse(Varghese et al., 2005. Critical issues must be addressed in teachers’ identity construction, namely marginalization, the status of non-native teachers, the professional status of language teaching, and teacher-student relations.
Most English language teachers around the world are non-native speakers of English. Native English language teachers have been prioritized even in the TESOL workplace, and non-native speakers can face discrimination due to accent and credibility problems (Maum, 2002). Non-native teachers of the English language are compelled to face oppression and psychological dominance by native English language teachers. They may face an identity problem. There may not be the availability of native speakers as English language teachers everywhere. Different approaches, such as neo- Vygotskian Sociocultural theory, language socialization theory, and critical pedagogy, can address identity, discourse, diversity, and local context.
The self and identity
One phenomenon of issues of determination of identity revolves around the notion of self and self-concept and its relationship to identity. Teachers’ identity depends upon self and the idea of self within an outside context. Teachers’ professional identity is defined in terms of the influences on teachers, how an individual perceives oneself, and the professional setting. Lauriala and Kukkonen (2005) stated that identity and self-concept as the same, where identity is considered concerning teachers and self-concept to students. They have used self-concept and identity as stable and dynamic simultaneously. The self is constructed within three dimensions- the actual self, and the ought self (recognized by external groups or society), and the ideal self. Looking at identity through the self and profession can help us think more clearly about identity from the point of view of teacher development. Identity through self and others seems essential, and it is necessary to consider the two together in enhancing comprehension of identity in teaching.
Kirkup (2002) revealed the link between a teacher’s personal and professional self. His position links identity and practice. Identity can be the negotiated experience of self, involves society membership, and combines different forms of membership within an identity. A teacher can be taken as an active agent in influencing the community (Alsup, 2006). Identity can be a part of the social context where the person lives. In the process of communication with others, one can self-realize the roles of others. Cooper and Olson (1996) state that historical, cultural, and psychological factors influence teacher identity construction, which is believed to have an important space in one’s lifetime. Identity has been established as a separate discipline through the discourse and practice of self and environment.
The need of critical reflection in shaping teacher identity
Reflection can be recognized as a key means by which teachers can become more able in the sense of self and deeper understanding of how self -suit into a larger context. It is one of the factors in reshaping teacher identity. Rodgers (2002) reported that reflection in teacher development has been acknowledged for some time and can be recognized as the core of effective teaching. Korthagen and Vasalos (2005) noted that core reflection is needed to enhance personal growth. It is necessary to tap into a sense of self and include reflection as a primary aspect to shape teachers’ identity. Reflection requires looking back at thoughts or practices and considering their value. It might guide a future way of looking at something. Conway (2001) reported that reflection could show the future path of thinking in teachers ‘ identity. Pennington (2002) said that teacher identity could be viewed from a different orientation. Firstly, we can look at it from social psychology, which provides perspectives on teachers’ social identity. Secondly, we can look from the perspective of teacher education literature provides perspectives on teachers’ professional identity.
The role of reflection in making sense of experience and practice is essential in teacher education. Luttenberg and Bergen (2008) reported that reflection must be broad and deep, pragmatic, ethical, and moral domains must be included in reflection, which is helpful for the identity construction of teachers. Reflection may be more or less open or closed, depending on its connection to self-reflection. The narrative self-study reflects on discursively shaped thoughts, beliefs, and knowledge to portray the construction and reconstruction of various stages in a professional career (Safari, 2018). There is a need for a shift from traditional reflection to critical sociocultural reflection because sociocultural reflection takes account of identity and related issues of individuals in a specific context. It is better to link reflection to a collaborative inquiry as a means of exploring identity.
Narrative and discourse aspects of identity
Narrative and discourse are essential aspects of constructing identity. Narrative of teachers themselves and their practice, their discourse provides a gateway to explore the element of self. Clandinin et al. (1999) focused on teachers’ stories, their self, and the power of teacher narrative to express identity within a changing professional context. Sfard and Prusak (2005) explained that identification is discursive and communicational practice. It is a collection of stories of a person and narratives about an individual. There is a link between narrative and discourse. Identity is negotiated by an individual self and the external world (Beynon, 1997). The discourses in which teachers engage contribute to shaping or constructing the teacher’s identity. The study of teacher talk can lead to the shaping and construction of identities. A teacher is a subject that influences identity development.
Teacher education needs to understand identity as a complex and multiple social and individual phenomenon. People who have no fixed identity must construct their identity through membership, context, and language use. Context and identity play crucial roles in classroom interaction and teacher work. The course room is a complex ecological site where participants interact to construct different identities. The study of teachers’ narratives, which can be called the stories of teachers, plays a significant role in exploring teachers’ thinking, culture, and behavior which are the elements of teachers’ identity. Sachs (2005) defines teachers’ professional identity as the core of the teaching profession. It provides a framework to construct their own ideas, recognizing their workplace and status in society. Teacher identity is not fixed or imposed; it is negotiated through self and sense made from experiences.
Identity is complex and changes over time, constantly evolving. Identity is discursive, social, institutional, and cultural. It has a significant role in continually emerging and becoming. Teacher identity is one of the essential aspects of teachers’ education. Teacher identity is substantial to upkeep the formation of teacher education programmes. Teachers create identities according to the context of their workplace, the environment provided by an institution, government policy, curriculum, cultural background of teachers-students, social demographics, institutional practices, and so on. English is a globally accepted lingua franca, so both native and non-native English language teachers construct and maintain an identity as language teachers according to local, cultural, and social contexts. The teacher education programme is the starting point for implanting the awareness of the need to develop an identity and an ongoing, dynamic process. It is situated within the mind, and it also exists within a social context.
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About the author: Mr. Saroj Bogati is an M.Phil. in English Language Education. He is a lecturer and Head of the Faculty of Education at Nuwakot Adarsha Multiple Campus, Battar, Nuwakot.
Nepal is a multilingual, multicultural, and multi-ethnic country where different people dwell with their own identities in terms of culture, tradition, and language in society. As per the data of 2068, there are 126 ethnic groups and 123 languages. Multilingualism refers to the condition in which more than two languages are used in the same setting for similar purposes. (Poudel, 2010). This research aimed to explore the challenges and problems faced by English language teachers in multilingual classrooms. The study further aimed to discover some pedagogical approaches they employ to tackle the challenges. Research questions for the paper were; What are the challenges and the problems faced by English language teachers in multilingual classrooms? How do English language teachers express their experiences implementing pedagogical approaches to tackle challenges and issues faced in a multilingual classroom? I have followed Narrative inquiry as my research design. The data collection tools are interviews and observation. I have thematized the data. The study found that students feel comfortable learning via a language exchange. Translanguaging is an appropriate pedagogy for teaching English language in a multilingual classroom.
Keywords: Multilingualism, Multilingual, Pedagogies, Medium of instruction, Translanguage
Nepal is a multilingual, multicultural, and multi-ethnic country where different people dwell with their own identities in terms of culture, tradition, and language in society. As per the data of 2068, there are 126 ethnic groups and 123 languages. Every person has their language and culture. (Chand, 2020) stated, “our community is mixed up with people from these diverse cultures.” So are in the classroom. In addition, multilingualism includes people with competencies in several languages or places where many languages are used. It is useful to bring the Council of Europe’s concept of multilingualism as the characteristics of a place – city, society, nation-state, where many languages are spoken, and plurilingualism as the attribute of an individual who has a ‘plurilingual repertoire’ of language competences (Council of Europe 2007 cited in King, 2018).
Furthermore, King (2018) stated was the fact that multilingualism can be seen in a geographical area, large or small, of more than one ‘variety of language,’ i.e., the mode of speaking of a social group, whether it is formally recognised as a language or not; in such an area individuals may be monolingual, speaking only their variety. In Sindhuli, the majority of people are indigenous, according to the 2011 census. According to the National Data Profile (2011), 48% people in Sindhuli speak Nepali language, 26 % citizens speak Tamang language which is nearly the half of the speaker of Nepali language. Similarly, there is also a number of people from Magar community dwell in the different geographical areas in Sindhuli district. We can probably say that we can behold pupils from different cultures and lingual backdrops even in the classrooms.
Statement of the problem
Multilingualism refers to the condition in which more than two languages are used in the same setting for similar purposes. (Poudel, 2010). As Poudel said in his definition, I used more than one language in the classroom for similar purposes. When I was teaching in the school, I found multiple backgrounds students whom I had to deal with different mindsets in the classroom. I found various problems, such as writing, reading, speaking, and listening. There is a problem with language aspects, too, like pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.
Furthermore, students can’t understand only one language. The experience that I have in the use of other languages rather than English has motivated them to learn. In this regard, Atkinson (1987) states that the theory that the students’ mother tongue shouldn’t be completely ignored in the English classes, ever since the use of mother tongue (L1) can be very effective in terms of the amount of time spent explaining.
But we teachers are bound by the language policy of the government. Can we be successful in producing students with proficiency in English? Does Using a foreign language in an unfamiliar subject help to figure out the problem? Similarly, Nepal is bound by diverse languages and cultures. How do English Language teachers struggle to overcome the multilingual classroom? Will they find the perfect strategy to penetrate the various phenomena of the classrooms?
Objectives of the study
This research aimed to explore the challenges and problems faced by English language teachers in multilingual classrooms. The study further aimed to discover some pedagogical approaches they employ to tackle the challenges.
The research questions for the study were;
What are the challenges and problems English language teachers face in multilingual classrooms?
How do English language teachers express their experiences implementing pedagogical approaches to tackle challenges and problems faced in multilingual classrooms?
Medium of instruction (MoI) policy in Nepal
Language issue, among others, was one of the major agendas in the policy reform discourses. The policies focused on promoting the monolingualism of Nepali. Indigenous communities resisted the existing monolingual policy and demanded for a ‘mother tongue’ education (Phyak & Ojha, 2019). For example, Nepal National Education Planning Commission (NNEPC) (1956), called Wood Commission, was the first commission in Nepal for policy recommendations, led to the assimilation, restriction, destruction, possession, and perpetuation of one language Nepali in the education system of Nepal (Awasthi, 2004). Ninth and Tenth Plan, National Education Commission (1990) showed the willingness to promote non-Nepali languages as a medium of instruction in non-Nepali speaking schools. It encouraged the children from multilingual communities to learn the local language and recommended priority to the candidates who knew the children’s mother tongue while recruiting teachers (Awasthi, 2004; cited in Rai, 2021). High-Level National Education Commission (1998) again focused on promoting mother tongue-based education in Nepal. After considering the suggestions and recommendations, the Education Act (1971) was amended in 2002, ensuring mother tongue-based education.
Translanguaging as pedagogies
Translanguaging as pedagogy refers to the various methods in which bilingual learners and teachers become employ to get involved in “complex and fluid discursive practices to make meaning of teaching and learning, to communicate and appropriate subject knowledge, and to develop academic practices” (García & Wei 2014, p. 112). There are two types of translanguaging: teacher-directed translanguaging and learners-directed translanguaging (Lewis et al., 2012). The former refers to pedagogical translanguaging (Cenoz, 2017) or official translanguaging (Williams, 2012) that uses planned and structured teaching strategies to build on multilingual learners’ diverse linguistic practices flexibly (García & Li Wei, 2014). This approach can facilitate learners to understand complex academic texts and content and the target language learning and develop new linguistic practices.
García and Wei (2014) suggests the translanguaging pedagogy that can help teachers to accomplish their teaching goals; to differentiate and adapt instruction to meet the needs of diverse students in the bilingual/multilingual classroom (e.g., through translation); To build background knowledge in order to help students to make meaning of the lesson content (e.g., through collaborative dialogue, collaborative grouping, reading multilingual texts, and multilingual listening/visual resources); to deepen understandings, extend new knowledge, and develop critical thinking and socio-political engagement (e.g., through multilingual writing, and inner speech); to enable cross-linguistic transfer and metalinguistic awareness to help students to fulfil their communicative needs (e.g., through vocabulary learning, and comparing multilingual texts); To build cross-linguistic flexibility in order to help students to use language practices competently (e.g., through interchanging languages and media, and translanguaging in writing and speaking classes); to engage students through identity investment and positionality (e.g., through multilingual writing) and to examine linguistic disparity and disrupt existing linguistic hierarchies and social structures (e.g., through project learning, thematic units, and research) (García & Wei, 2014, pp. 120-121).
The learner-directed translanguaging takes place ‘when learners self-regulate their learning by using linguistic practices and meaning-making resources that are not explicitly included in the classroom or lesson’ (García et al., 2011). Within the classroom, learners use learner-directed translanguaging for metafunctions such as negotiating for understanding among each other, co-constructing the meaning within themselves and between self and others and exhibiting knowledge (García et al., 2011).
García and Wei (2014) further propose translanguaging strategies for monolingual and bilingual education. They are in three categories (ibid., pp. 121-122): The teacher should pay attention to meaning-meaning by teacher-directed translanguaging and learners-directed translanguaging. The teacher should employ and create classroom resources for translanguaging based on the multilingual and multimodal texts’ availability and production (e.g., textbooks, references resources), technology (e.g., computers, Ipads), and multilingual/multimodal classroom landscapes (e.g., visual texts, technology-enhanced media, multilingual word walls, and sentence starters). And the teacher should create the curriculum and classroom structures for translanguaging based on learner grouping in the home language, project- and task-based learning, research tasks, thematic curriculum units, and language-inquiry tasks.
Major challenges in multilingual classrooms
Dhakal (2015) states two challenges in the multilingual classroom setting and parents’ preference to teach their children a language with broader application. Firstly, parents don’t want education in their language as it doesn’t cover the wider area. Secondly, the local language is confined to the local communities. They feel that learning the local language limits the children only to their communities (Annamalai, 2003, p. 126). Rai et al. (2011, p. 33) also noted that the parents doubt whether MLE schools will sustain. They further state, “The most crucial challenge is that parents, teachers, children, and other stakeholders are still resistant and suspicious about the sustainability and effectiveness of the policy” (ibid). It is commonly claimed that all participants of MLE- planners and policymakers, educationists, community leaders, and almost all community members want their children to be taught in English (Phyak 2012, p. 42). Parents’ concepts, community leaaders, members, and even other educationists’ beliefs can be the significant challenges of multilingual classrooms.
Dahal (2020) researched “Teacher experience on using mother tongue in second language classroom: a narrative inquiry.” The study’s objective was to explore teachers’ opinions on using MT in terms of teaching grammar and vocabulary, classroom management, content delivery, and student motivation in secondary English language classrooms. It also found the role of MT in the second language classroom based on teacher experience. It suggested pedagogical recommendations based on the findings. She selected four English teachers and conducted typical semi or unstructured interviews. The result of the study indicated that MT is best for explaining the meanings of abstract nouns and can help teach grammar items. It also found that most classroom activities include learning new vocabulary items and studying grammatical rules. Likewise, Mother Tongue (MT) can be best used in ELT classrooms for pedagogical management. And particularly, it helped to develop rapport with the students.
Likewise, Sherpa (2016) has conducted research entitled “The Use of MT in Teaching English at Primary Level.” The study’s objective was to determine the role of using MT for teaching English and the advantage and disadvantage of using MT in a classroom. She selected 20 parents and 20 primary teachers from Taplejung district. The two sets of questionnaires were used as a tool, and the research finding showed that primary teachers mainly use the first language for cultural translation and to break the monotonous of the students.
Next, Madrinan (2014) conducted a research study involving kindergarten students of an English immersion program in the first year in Colombia to investigate whether the use of MT increases comprehension and facilitates the second language acquisition process. In her action research, she designed the lesson plane – using only English as the language of instruction, and both Spanish and English, respectively. The result revealed that the students did better involving the latter patterns, especially for transferring concepts from l1 to the target language.
Moreover, Ghimire (2016) carried out research entitled “Use of l1 Facilitation in Developing English Vocabulary” in the Gorkha District to find out learners’ progress in vocabulary with the use of the first language. It was experimental research. He collected data from 40 secondary students with purposive non-random sampling. He used test items (pre and post) as a research tool. His works’ findings revealed that using the first language in a classroom greatly helped students learn target language vocabulary.
Methods of the study
Interpretive research paradigm
A paradigm is a prototype and plays the role of assistant to describe the purpose of an investigation. Guba and Lincoln (1994, p. 105) point out that a basic system or worldview that guides the investigator, not only in choices of method but in ontologically and epistemologically fundamental ways. Moreover, the paradigms we build in our minds have a powerful effect as they create the lens through which we see the world (Covey, 1989). As my study aims to explore the challenges of teaching English language in a multilingual classroom, I was bonded with an interpretive paradigm. It believes in the inseparability of understanding from interpretation. I choose interpretivism as my research paradigm for this study because it attempts to bring the views of realism, naturalism, and humanism approaches that believe in reality, not imaginary. Furthermore, it helps me to understand my participants’ experience and the actual situation in the field.
Narrative inquiry combines storytelling and research by using stories as research data or as a tool for data analysis or presentation of findings. It narrates the lived experiences of participants as a story. There are two terms in Narrative inquiry: “analysis of narrative” and “narrative analysis.” According to Polkinghorne (1995), analysis of narrative refers to the research in which stories are used as data, while narrative analysis refers to a study in which storytelling is used as a means of analysing data and presenting findings. I choose the analysis of narrative because it allows me to collect the stories from the participants and interpret them for meaning-making. So, I used analysis of narrative under the narrative inquiry.
Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world. Storytelling is the way to sprinkle ideas that are inside you and be able to reach near the truth, knowing the reality of the phenomena. Bruner (1990) argues that it is through telling ourselves stories about ourselves and others that we understand who we are, who they are, and the relationship between us. Clendenin et al. (2006) equate teachers’ ‘‘personal practical knowledge’’ (p. 7) to the stories teachers live, tell, re-live, and re-tell. In contrast, stories of teachers are shifting stories that others hold or expect of teachers. In my studies, I aim to explore the challenges and problems faced by English language teachers in multilingual classrooms. The study further aims to find some pedagogical approaches they employ to tackle the challenges. Human experiences happen in a sequence that we call a story, and they emerge with the collaboration between researchers and participants. (Clendenin and Connelly, 2000).
Sampling procedure and research participants
The study explored the challenges of teaching English to basic-level students in multilingual classrooms. I used purposive sampling to select participants to collect reliable and detailed information on their experiences for this study. Furthermore, this study was based on a qualitative design that followed narrative inquiry. The total participant of this research were two basic-level English language teachers.
Data collection and story generation
The only tool for data collection of the study is an in-depth interview that included some guideline questions in an open structure to obtain lived experiences of English language teachers. An in-depth interview helped me to acquire detailed information on the lived experience of the participants (Johnson & Rowlands, 2012). I met the two participants who were from basic-level community schools. I collected their lived experiences through the open-ended questions (interview) I had made. And I narrated it to make meaning.
Meaning making process
Clendenin and Murphy (2007) opined that meaning-making is a process of understanding lives as they unfold temporally, as specific events within a particular individual’s life. This study followed the narrative inquiry that brings lived experiences of the individual from the floor for a meaning-making purpose which I found essential for my paper. After I interviewed, I kept them in a table for coding, categorizing, and thematizing. I used words or phrases from the informants’ language as codes. Coding helped me organize and group into categories of similar characters and patterns (Saldana, 2016).
Similarly, I categorized them after coding their lived experiences based on commonalities and distinctions. Then, I thematized it concerning English language teaching in a multilingual classroom. I related them to the existing theory and literature to make the study more authentic. Based on the themes, I transcribed, coded, categorized, and analysed the themes to make meaning.
Findings of the study
Difficulties in the multilingual classroom
There can be many difficulties in a multilingual classrooms. In this regard, one of my participants, Samiksha says; in my area, most of them are Magar, and some of them are sunuwar, bhujel and dalit. They don’t seem to motivated toward English language. Motivation in teaching and learning activities is the overall driving force within students that raises, ensures continuity, and provides direction for learning activities so that students’ learning objectives are expected to be achieved (Handayani et al., 2020) Samiksha further shared,
They don’t have a strong underpinning in English language they do not have the environment for reading it at home. They don’t understand even a single word. They can’t even write properly in the notebooks. The classroom is totally teacher-centred. The teacher have to explain the readings in Nepali and their mother tongue sometimes, which makes my class delay in proceeding the lesson further. In this regard my next participant Krishna shared;
Students have to perform many activities at home instead of reading books and doing homework. They have to cut grass, cook food, and sometimes have bring firewood from the near jungle. A few students complete homework. According to one of my students, they have very little room for doing and reading the lesson. He said, “haamile school maa jati padhyo lagvag tetinai ho, sir”.
Trans-language to comprehend contents
In multilingual classroom contexts, using mother tongues permits students to understand the concepts of teaching by utilizing their existing linguistic knowledge (Cummins, 2006). When she shared her teaching experience, she said, “one of my students told me, Miss, hamro English subject ni Magar basa maa vaako vaye haamlai yo ni aauthyo hola hai?”. Similarly, Krishna said, “It is challenging to make them understand via the English. I have to teach most of them in Nepali. I also ask some of them what we call it in your Magar language. They became shy in front of me. But later, after making it easy, they used to say.
The local education policy forces teachers to teach English in English. But it seemed insignificant in the multilingual classroom. According to Samiksha and Krishna, they had to teach English in Nepali as given below; Samiksha who was teaching in Class 5, tought the word meaning in this way.
Similarly, she teaches sentences also in the say as she teaches word meanings in Nepali. She has to translate every English sentence into Nepali.
Jhuma lives on a hillock. she translated it in Nepali, “Jhuma dada maa baschha.” She did translate other sentences of the story “Jhuma”
The situation with Krishna was also the same. He entered the class, and took attendance, and a few students were absent the students who were absent the day before were called in front and asked why they were absent. They stayed quiet, and he advised them to be regular. He said, “Take out your books and turn page no. 36. Sabaile book nikala. chhatis page number paltau.”
After that, Krishna told the students to read the lesson “Some festivals of Nepal” and picked up some new words in the notebook. Before teaching the lesson, Krishna told the meaning of all the words in Nepali. We knew from him that he always used to do that.
Decorated (de-co-re-tid) –Sajaaunu
Commemorate (com-me-mo-re-ta) –Samjhanu
Deceased (di-sis-ed) – Mareko
Exchanging (ya-chen-jing) – Satasatat
Combination (com-bi-ne-san) –Samyojan
Observed (ab-ser-v-d) – Hernu
At first, Krishna told the students to read the text after him. Students did it accordingly. They didn’t seem to read correctly the text as their teachers did. After finishing that, he started to translate those all into Nepali. For example;
Lhosar combines two words; Lho means year, and sar means new. Lhosar is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal, celebrated by different communities on different days. Tamu Lhosar is celebrated amongst the Gurung community, whereas the Tamang celebrates Sonam Lhosar.
When I observed his class, the class found teacher-centered. He translated every word to the students in Nepali and pronounced the works in chunks for their easiness. I found that students were quiet in his class. He later freed the students to ask the question in Nepali. The students in the second desk were whispering to each other, requesting to ask the meaning of the word “community”. One of them stood up and asked, “Sir, caamunity vaneku k ho?” He said, “Samudaye” in Nepali. Furthermore, he gave an example, “jasto kunai yeuta jaati ko vid athaba basti hunx ni teslai samudaye vaninx. Samajik bisayemaa padheko hola ni hoina?” Such a quiet class seemed interactive now when they were permitted to speak both Nepali and Magar languages.
Talks in Multilingual Classroom
“Pedagogy must evolve to make education more experiential, holistic, integrated, inquiry-driven, discovery-oriented, learner-centered, discussion-based, flexible, enjoyable” (NEP,2020). She used Nepali and Magar language in the classroom interaction. She once read the text in English, and then used Nepali and Magar to interact in the classroom. for example;
Teacher: Ese jafre (do this)
Student: ‘hillock’ eski English sang hidele? (What is it written, sir?)
Teacher: sabdau artha ‘dada’ ho lai aale (the meaning of the word is dada.)
Many researchers have found that the classroom must be interactive and student-centered. Whenever she asked the question in English, they all remained quiet. They didn’t even utter a single word. Krishna’s condition was also the same. There was no interaction if he spoke English for a long time in the classroom. For example;
Teacher: What is this? Say in English
Student: he stayed quiet.
Teacher: ese Nepali aang hi aale (Can you tell it in Nepali?)
Student: sir chake garo chhana (I feel quite difficult, sir.)
Teacher: Magar aang? (in Magar language)
Student: rewa (Crab)
However, the class seemed interactive when they were allowed to speak in their comfort languages. Both seemed good enough to engage the students via Nepali and Magar. Such practices are translanguaging pedagogy (García and Kleyn, 2016; Probyn, 2015).
It can be concluded that teacher has faced various difficulties while teaching English language to basic-level students in a multilingual classroom in Nepal. Teachers must teach in different languages to make them understand the content. Like Samiksha and Krishna, teachers have to teach English via Nepali or Magar, sometimes in the ELT multilingual classroom as a medium of instruction. In this regard, the pedagogies and perspectives of the teachers in this paper imply that any policies, be it EMI or English language teaching, that impose a monolingual approach lead to silence. It creates barriers to epistemic access (e.g., content knowledge) and meaningful participation in teaching-learning activities (see Makalela, 2022). Translanguaging is not just for teaching English and practices. However, it is also about building critical and ideological awareness to challenge hegemonic language policy in multilingual classrooms (Davis & Phyak, 2016).
Multiple languages must be allowed in the classroom to enable students to interact freely and wholeheartedly. Finally, this study found that there should be a plethora of space for multiple languages in the classroom to ease the students, which doesn’t only help them interact and collaborate in the classroom. It also helps to protect their language, culture, and identity.
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About the author: Mr. Raju Yonjan is an English teacher at Shree Kalikadevi Basic School, Phikkal Rural Municipality, Sindhuli. He is pursuing a Master’s degree in English Language Education at Kathmandu University.
The paper entitled “English as a medium of instruction in public schools of Nepal: practical consideration” aims to explore the teachers’ perceptions regarding EMI in community schools and to find out the practicality of EMI in Community schools of Nepal. The interview was used as a tool for data collection, five teachers teaching in public schools where English was used as the medium of instruction were selected purposively. It was found that practically public schools are shifting to the English medium though it was challenging to apply. It was the demand of parents and students as well as the time. Public schools were found using EMI to create better job opportunities for the students, parents’ requests, to increase the number of students in the school, and because of the government policy practically.
Background of the study
The teachers appointed 15/20 years before are still in service and are compelled to teach in English medium classes in public schools. It is not an easy task for them because they were not taught in English at their time. It becomes difficult for them to make the student understand the content because they cannot understand it correctly. EMI is not a difficulty for aged teachers, but it’s becoming a problem the newly appointed teachers too. It’s in the sense that every subject except Nepali is being taught in English medium. While teaching social studies, typical Nepali words like gundruk, dhido, dhiki, janto, chhatri etc., are romanized. I think it is straightforward for them to understand the terms in the Nepali language.
Nepal is a developing country, and education in remote areas is very pitiful. The children are not getting education facilities in their own mother tongue for many reasons like lack of teachers, textbooks, difficulty getting to school and so on. In such circumstances teaching in English medium is a complicated job.
Nepal is a multilingual country. Many ethnic groups have their mother tongue and acquire their native language as their first language. There are still such people who don’t know the Nepali language. For example, in the Magar community, only the Magar language is spoken, and they are unaware of the Nepali language. In addition, the government has also declared that children have the right to get education in their mother tongue up to the primary level. On the other hand, English medium education is prioritized by the government and contemporary society.
Consequently, the planning and policy of the country, the necessity of the society, and teacher conditions do not match, and the quality of education is declining daily in our country. The plan makers do not observe the actual context of the country. They only make the plan by targeting the area where they stay, i.e., the city. In all this, the students are suffering. It means the nation is at a loss because it will lack human resources and cannot step towards development with no good human resources.
EMI is one of the burning issues in the teaching field of Nepal. The constitution has declared the right to education in the children’s mother tongue. Instead, the children are forced to take instruction in the English Language directly and indirectly. The hegemony of the English Language indirectly forces parents to admit their children to the school where English is used as a medium of instruction.
I am also a parent. I sent my daughter to a Montessori school (private school), and I used to teach in a government school simultaneously. When I compared both schools’ delivery, I did not find vast differences between them. Instead, I found a more experienced teacher in my community school. So I decided to take my child to the same school where I was teaching. I took suggestions from some of my friends, who suggested I shouldn’t take my child to the community school to make a base in English. But I believe that a child should learn the subject matter properly and they can learn the language through different means like TV, Internet.
Some teachers believe that the student must be taught the content and that the language doesn’t matter. In contrast, the school administration is forcing teachers to teach in English. Even parents are also conscious of the English medium. They think fluency in English means their children are talented in their studies, but knowing English is not talent in the subject area. So I found EMI as an issue in the educational field. Some believe EMI is a better way of teaching. On the other hand, some favor focusing on subject matter rather than language. So I want to explore different teachers’ views on whether English should be used as a medium of instruction or concentrate on the content.
The objective of the study was to explore the teachers’ perceptions and practices of EMI in community schools.
English as a Medium of Instruction
English is the most widely spoken language in the world. It greatly influences the education system of most countries in the world. It is taught as the subject and used as the medium of instruction to teach other issues too. English Medium Instruction (EMI) refers to teaching academic subjects in English in non-Anglophone countries ( Macaro & et al. 2016). It is believed that if the subject matter is taught in English, it helps improve the children’s language because of the greater exposure. EMI is a model of teaching in which non-English subjects are taught through the medium of English (Poudel, 2021). Teachers use the English Language to elaborate the content. EMI is the regular practice in private schools. Community schools also follow this trend because of the parents’ attraction to the English Language.
English Language in school for teaching purposes is preferred because it may develop the listening and speaking skills of the students.EMI might help the students to increase their vocabulary power too. Tran et al. (2021) stated that students’ knowledge of technical terms was believed to be improved most through EMI by both lecturers and students.
Nepal is a multilingual country. More than 129 languages are spoken in Nepal. The government has declared that every child has the right to get education in their mother tongue up to the primary level. Contrary to this, children are forced to learn in English, a non-native Language for Nepalese learners. Regarding the instruction medium, Nepal’s constitution (2015) declared that Nepali or English, or both languages, can be used in the classroom.
Challenges of EMI
Teaching learning itself is a challenging job. Many learners feel difficult to understand the subject matter because of the language used to teach them in the class. Children from most ethnic groups learn Nepali as their second language. So, they may feel uneasy about learning using the English language as the medium of instruction. The class can be less interactive and silent. There may be a communication gap between teachers and students because of the language problem. EMI is not only a problem for the learner; it may also be difficult for the teachers. Bista (2011) views that educational institutions may not have language learning labs, the computers and internet use may be limited. Enough audio and visual aids may not be in the class, and textbooks and resources materials may be challenging. Teachers teaching may not have sufficient knowledge of the English language, which may lead the children to a misconception of the English language. Khatri (n. d.), English as a medium of instruction like students’ weak exposure to the English language, mother tongue interference in the classroom, poor competence of students in English, lack of support and encouragement from the parents and society, and no motivating environment for the teachers and schools are not resourceful and well facilitated.
Popularity of EMI
English is a powerful language in the world. It is the dominant language. Learning the English Language is a kind of indirect compulsion for the learner. Tang (n.d.) stated that language improvement is essential for EMI implementation. People without English are partly literate because English is mandatory in every sector. For example, one should know English to use an ATM, English is necessary to use email internet and get a job abroad, and fluent English speaking skills, which is equally essential in tourism. No sector is untouched by the English Language. Parents are keenly interested in teaching English to their children in Nepal for a secure future for their children.
The English language is used as the language of teaching and learning too. English is taught as a compulsory subject from pre-primary to university level in Nepal. The requirement to be a primary teacher in Nepal was SLC passed, who still teach in schools. In government schools, only one English subject used taught in the contemporary period. Public school teachers who are unfamiliar with English languages are compelled to teach in English. We believe that the more practice, the more perfection. It means that to make EMI effective, the learners and the teachers must use the English Language as much as possible.
In contrast, it is not practical because of many factors such as the influence of mother tongue, affective filter, lack of English-speaking environment, etc. Khatri mentioned in his research that there is no encouraging environment in the schools for practicing EMI-supported instructional activities in the regular pedagogy. Furthermore, he explained that according to the participant of his study, there is no English-speaking environment around their school premises.
Bista (2011) researched Teaching English as a Foreign/Second Language in Nepal: Past and Present. The main objective of the research was to review the history of English language teaching English as a second or foreign language in schools and colleges in Nepal. The author used secondary sources to complete his study as it was library-based. He concluded that the educators were using traditional lectured and grammar-translation methods, which is continuing. Furthermore, he explored that English language teaching is challenging because of the lack of physical and technical facilities.
Khatri (n. d.) studied the topic of Teachers’ Attitudes toward English as a Medium of Instruction. The research objective was to explore the teachers’ attitude towards using EMI in public schools and the challenges they faced in adopting EMI. The research was conducted using the mixed method. The results of the study revealed that public school teachers were aware of the basic concept of the notion of English as a medium of instruction. They were found positive in implementing EMI in conducting their daily teaching and learning activities.
Tang (n. d.) accomplished his research on the Challenges and Importance of Teaching English as a Medium of Instruction at Thailand International College. The core objective of the study was to explore the challenges of teaching English as a medium of instruction (EMI) and its essential impact on Thailand International College. A qualitative method was employed, utilizing an interview protocol as a research instrument. The outcome discovered four categories of challenges: linguistic, cultural, structural, and identity-related (institutional) challenges and four essential aspects of EMI implementation, namely, the importance of language improvement, subject matter learning, career prospects, and internationalization strategy.
Dearden (2014) researched ‘English as a medium of instruction – a growing global phenomenon.’ This study was designed to determine the size, shape, and future trends of EMI worldwide. She reported her research findings within five main points: the growth of EMI as a global phenomenon on EMI, official policies and statements on EMI, different national perspectives on EMI, public opinion on EMI, and teaching and learning through EMI. The main conclusions of the study were general trend is towards the rapid expansion of EMI provision; there is official governmental banking for EMI but with some interesting exceptions and so on.
Methods of the study
I used qualitative research design in this research, using both primary and secondary data sources. My study population was the teachers who were teaching other subjects rather than English. Five teachers were purposively selected from five public schools of Vyas Municipality, Tanahun where the English language was used as a Medium of Instruction (EMI). I took interviews with the teachers to collect data.
Data analysis and interpretation
This section is mainly concerned with analyzing and interpreting the information from the interview and observation with the different participants. Participants’ views are discussed and interpreted, developing different subthemes.
Teachers’ perceptions toward EMI in community schools
The teachers’ perceptions of using EMI in public schools are discussed and interpreted, developing the following themes based on their perceptions.
Use of the English language inside classroom
Many community schools have adopted English as the medium of instruction for many reasons. The teachers are compelled to teach in English whether they are competent. People say that, though the English Language is used to teach in the community schools, the result is unsatisfactory. Students’ performance in community schools is not good compared to private schools. So to understand the reality, I asked my participants about using English inside the classroom.
I asked my participant whether the teachers use only English Language inside the classroom. In this regard, my first participant Mr. Jagat said that Teachers use the English Language to teach but use the Nepali Language to explain the text because most students may not understand the subject matter in the English Language.In the same way, another participant, Mrs. Mamata, stated that I translate the content into Nepali to make it easier for the students. I could read their face though they don’t ask me to explain in Nepali. Regarding this question, my third participant Mrs. Sita shared her view. The teacher has to use both languages i.e., English and Nepali, to make the students clear about the content. Students are not able to understand the subject matter only in English.
Here my participants’ ideas are similar to Shah’s (2019) views that teaching in English seems a formality and a way of attracting students to schools. After analyzing the opinions of my participants, I understood that the community schools are using English only for formality. English language used as the medium of instruction is not practical because the students cannot understand the content in the English language. As a result, teachers use both English and Nepali Language in the classroom.
English medium for further study
After completing the secondary level, the students must choose a specific subject for their studies. Science and other technical subjects are being taught in English. The materials are also available in English. So the students must know the English Language. If they feel easy to use the English language, they will do better in technical subjects. Otherwise, they have to choose other subjects instead of being interest in studying such subjects. Here, my fourth participant, Mr. Dinesh, stated: English language is helpful to those students who are interested in a technical subjects. It helps the students to secure a good positions. Similarly the next participant, Mrs. Sita, claimed that English is essential for students to go abroad for higher study. It is impossible to go to the UK, the USA, and Australia for higher studies without the knowledge of the higher studies.
The English language has its influence in every sector. Likewise, education sector has also been dominated by the English Language. The English language is one of the main criteria to be fulfilled by students who want to study technical subjects. Furthermore, it is compulsory to acquire good scores on English language tests like TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, etc. to get admission to college and university abroad. Bista (2011) has claimed that, not only high school graduates but also college graduates prefer improving their level of English to pursue either higher study abroad or to start a job in foreign setting. It is a fact that the English Language helps students in their further study because at a higher level. However, students are reading in Nepali Medium taking Nepali as their major subject, they have to face the questions of compulsory subjects in English medium in board examinations. In this case, EMI at the school level may be helpful to them to understand the English Language somehow.
Strategy to increase students number
The parents’ attraction to teach their children English Language leads them toward boarding school. So the number of students in a community schools is decreasing daily. Many children are sent to the private English schools by buses. Those schools are far from from their homes, and they have to pay expensive fees but the community schools are searching students. The reason might be the community schools do not focus on English as medium of instruction earlier. However, nowadays, most community schools are also using books printed in English language and teach using English as medium of instruction. So, the number of students are being increased in public schools as well. While I asked teachers, they stated that the community schools have no other option to increase students. In this case, my first participant Mr. Jagat shared that;
The community schools do not have enough required human resources to teach in the English medium, but the teachers are compelled to teach in English medium because the school administration has made the strategy. The administration believes that if they teach in English, the parents would send their children to the community school.
In the same way, my next participant Dinesh said Before the implementation of EMI, we had a very low number of students. But when we started to use books in English medium of private publication, the number of students increased gradually When the same question asked to another participant Mrs. Sita, she stated: Previously, most of the students from her locality were sent to private schools. It was because private schools used to provide education in English. So our school management committee, PTA, and the school administration also decided to apply EMI in our school to increase the number of students.
The answers of the different teachers on the same query advocated that the community school must implement the English medium to increase the number of students in school. Bista (2011) claimed that the trend of sending children to English medium schools and or colleges have begun as an English mania today in Nepal. The majority of parents like to send their children to English-speaking schools. The decreasing number of students is a major problem in community school in the present day. The leading cause of this problem is quality education. The parents believe that the school where English is taught provides quality education. So they sent their children to private school. That’s why the community school has to choose EMI to attract the parents’ attention towards community school and increase number of students.
Teachers’ practice in EMI
The teachers are the main character to apply the policies of education in a real field. So, I observed few classes of public schools taking consent from the the suthorities and the teachers where English medium was used as classroom instruction. Mainly, I observed the classes other than English, where English was used as medium of instruction to find the practicality of the EMI in public schools.
Use of translation method for teaching
I went to Shree Janamaitri Secondary School of Vyas Municipality (name changed), a renowned school in Nepal. I entered into class seven, section D. The students stood up and greeted me. The teacher was teaching the subject matter of social studies as it is written in the book and was trying to explain it in English. She noticed that the students were not clear about the topic, so, she described in Nepali language. When the teacher asked the questions in English, most of the students feel easy to answer in Nepali except for some. The teacher asked the meaning of the word vaccination then the students replied, ‘Khop Launi’. Likewise, they responded in Nepali that the word Avoid means ‘Rokne,’ settlement, Basobas Garne. The teacher herself used the word’ DhamiJhakri’ because the exact English word to replace the word is not available in the English language.
Similarly, I visited the second school, Shree Janajagriti Secondary School (name changed). The school was in the countryside. The school was also practicing the EMI. I observed class six where a teacher was dealing with social studies. Students greeted me in English and responded. They had the books written in English language. The teacher was reading the book and translating the lines in Nepali to make the students clear about the content. The teacher asked the questions in English, but the students replied in Nepali. It seems that they understand the English language, but feel easy using the Nepali Language while responding.
The third school I visited was Shiddhivinayak Secondary School (name changed). The class I observed was class 9, and the teacher was teaching Mathematics. The topic was construction. The teacher was trying to make the students clear about constructing rectangles. I found that the book was written using English language but the teacher was using the Nepali Language to explain the matter. The students were also asking questions in Nepali, and the teacher was answering them in the Nepali Language too.
Less interaction using English
I visited a couple of schools to observe the practicality of the English Language. When I entered the first school for class observation, it was quarter to ten, and the students gathered on the ground for the Morning Prayer. I waited for a while, and found that the language to perform the assembly was Nepali, not English. One of the teachers asked me in Nepali,’ KATI KAMLE AAUNU BHAYO?’ I thought that the English language was being spoken only in the classroom. After completing the assembly, the teacher was previously informed about my observation schedule that I was observing her class for the data collection of my research. We together entered the classroom, they greeted us, saying, “GOOD MORNING TWACHERS” we responded together. When the class moved further, I found the passive students listeners. They did not take part in the conversations with teachers. They only listen to the teachers talk. When the teachers explained in English, they stayed passive but by the time the teacher translated in Nepali the students’ voices came out. The teacher also asked most of the time Yes/No questions only in English, and the students always answered with one word, ‘Yes.’
Likewise, I visited the second school as per my schedule to collect data. It was the fourth period. It was about half past twelve. The teacher was teaching math in class 8. The topic was set. The problems in the book were given in English, and the teacher read it as it was written in the book. While the teacher used the English language the class was almost silent. On the other hand, when the teacher started to describe the problems in the Nepali language, the class became noisy. I meant to say that the students began to take part in the discussion.
The present condition of the students and the teachers in community schools regarding the English language is not commanding. I found teachers’s using mother tongue in the classroom because of two reasons; one the students did not understand the content in English completely and the next the teachers were less competent in English.
This study was conducted by collecting data in public schools of Vyas municipality of Tanahun district. The collected data shows that the public schools also have adopted the EMI policy. Some of the reasons for adopting EMI are to attract students, and to provide quality education. Public schools are forced to implement this policy without any prerequisites as we know, there is only one English subject in a secondary school but all subjects except Nepali are forced to teach using English language no matter how competent teacher is in English language. All the teachers may not have studied English as major subject, in that condition even teacher may lose confidences to speak in English in the fear of committing mistake or error. In this situation, who will teach health and population, social studies, and other subjects through the English as medium of instruction? It has been an issue in public schools now ad days.
The concerned authority does not seem sensible for the effective practice of EMI. The schools do not have basic resource materials. As we all know that all four skills of language must be developed then only learners could use and understand the language better. To develop all the skills, they need exposure. Without materials and exposure, learners cannot acquire these skills. It is difficult for the teachers also to make the content clear unless the students understand the language. The policy and the implementation do not match. So, the learning outcomes of the students are not satisfactory in public schools though the English is used as medium of instruction. So, as we live in multilingual country, we need to respect all the languages. Together with the English language, international language we need to promote and preserve our languages as well. All the students should enjoy their schooling, for that we need to use either English or Nepali language in balance taking consideration of students’ level, their knowledge and necessity of the courses and the context of learning for better outcome.
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About Author: Laxmi Shrestha is an M.Ed. from Aadikavi Bhanbhakta Campus, TU. She is an English teacher in a public school in Tanahun. Her interest in research includes EMI, Second Language Acquisition, Sociolinguistics, and Language Teaching.
Prem Prasad Poudel is a recent PhD graduate from The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (2021/22). He is an Assistant Professor at Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He has experiences teaching at higher education in Nepal and Hong Kong, and has been continuously engaged in research with national and international teams on the issues of privatization in education, educational outsourcing, whole-child development, postgraduate students’ aspirations and well-being, medium of instruction policies, educational equality, and equity. He studied language policies, planning and the associated sociological issues during his PhD, and explored issues like language and social justice especially in the bi/multilingual social spaces nationally and internationally. Recently, he has been diving deeply into these issues to understand language and education issues from a socio-historical perspective.
Choutari editor, Nanibabu Ghimire has initiated a conversation with Dr. Poudel on language in education policies and practices, mother tongue education, English medium instruction (EMI) and its multiple facets. Enjoy this exclusive interview at Choutari.
Q: What do you think about the practices of medium of instruction (MOI) in school education in Nepal?
Starting from 1990s, we have seen significant developments in making language policies including MOI more people centric. The current constitution of Nepal allows the schools to use Nepali, English or the other languages of the nation as a medium of instruction in schools, up to the secondary level. Despite this policy, schools are aggressively (and sometimes blindly) shifting towards English medium instruction (EMI). The consequences of such shifts are adverse, especially for a multilingual and multicultural context. For instance, in Nepal’s case, even Nepali, the national language, has been displaced in many contexts from schools and has only been taught as a subject, and its (and several other languages) role as the MOI has been displaced by English. Hence, the practice of MOI in Nepal’s schools is highly English dominated. We have recently explored this issue from decolonial perspective and have published a paper, especially the colonial power of English in school and the efforts for the decolonization of it in school education in Nepal, which can be accessed here.
Q: Why are people attracted to English medium instruction (EMI) in school education in Nepal?
Good question. There is a craze toward adopting EMI in all levels of school education. This case is more serious in the early childhood education (the so called Montessori education). Several factors have driven this trend. First, EMI is our history, as it emerged along with the beginning of formal education in Nepal, which set a false belief that education in English is of better quality and of higher status. Second, the globalization and neoliberal marketization projected English as the language of opportunities, a key to cross-border employment opportunities and social mobility. The third factor is our social psychology. For example, in our case, perhaps similar to many non-native English-speaking countries, an ideology deeply rooted in Nepali society is that English is the language of prestige and higher social values such as being standard, educated or elite— an indicator of being an elite. This belief of projecting English as a high-valued language implies that languages other than English deserve less value and prestige. The main problem here lies in the superior-inferior labelling assigned to English and other non-English languages. This has affected our language choice in media, trade, education, family language practices and our lives in the public. For instance, if you walk around our marketplaces, most signboards are written in English at the top (perhaps in larger fonts) followed by Nepali (or none). This practice is intended to expand business and establish English as one of the commodities salable in the market. You know this is a form of hierarchization of languages in public places. It’s seemingly simple but has long-term implications for language policies.
Q: Despite having policy to provide basic education in learners’ mother tongue, people want to educate their children in English medium schools. How do you perceive this trend?
You’re right. There are legislative and educational policy provisions about using learners’ mother tongues or the most familiar language as a medium in schooling, which is good from a linguistic human rights perspective. However, people these days are attracted by the utilitarian values attached to languages. Some simple questions people have in their minds are, “What do I get by learning in my mother tongue? What are the benefits?” In my perspective, people today look for ‘socio-economic’ benefits out of learning in and learning of a language. This is a force coming in as a product of the neoliberal market that gives people a choice but simultaneously projects the economic gains or the material and social capital attached with learning a particular language as essential elements of an individual’s life. So, the growing trend of parents uncritically preferring to educate their children in EMI is unfortunate for contexts like ours, where children are taught the contents in the English language since the beginning of formal schooling.
Q: Meanwhile, language-minoritized parents are found to be motivated in teaching their children in EMI instead of their home language. What can be the reasons behind this?
I think the concerns should not be about majority or minority language speaking communities, rather, it should be about what structural conditions led these communities with less power to choose the dominant languages such as English for educating their children. In non-native English-speaking contexts beyond our national context as well, no matter the demographic strength of communities, they are driven by ‘English fever’. For example, in South Korea, as Choi (2022) pointed out, despite the deliberate efforts made by the governments, English continues to be the language of social prestige and quality education. Look at the Nepali native-speaking communities here in our context. People are more concerned about access to English, thinking access to English will widen their global space. The communities are abandoning or at least minimizing the use of their native languages in education. For them, it is not about whether their children learn English but the widening inequalities caused by English. Several researches in Nepal (e.g., Poudel & Choi, 2021; Phyak, 2016, 2021; Sah, 2022) have demonstrated it. While I was in the field for my doctoral study, I remember two EMI schools; one private and the other public. However, both students and parents of the public school were projecting the private school in the vicinity as of better quality. They thought that the English in these two EMI schools was unequal. They were anxious about the future life chances of their children due to the unequal exposure to English. Isn’t it interesting? So, what I mean is, people are not worried about the coercive impact of English on their ethnic/indigenous languages, rather, they are concerned about the consequences that their children might experience due to not getting exposed to zero or unequal English education. The main driving factor is their false assumption that ‘if you have English, you have everything, and if you don’t, you miss everything’, which is so unfortunate.
Q:So, does EMI improve the students’ English as parents/stakeholders think?
Schools today are intentionally or forcefully shifting their medium to English. To my knowledge, extensive research evidence to claim that the practice of EMI improves students’ English is still missing, especially from the Nepali context. However, there are mixed arguments regarding the benefits and side effects of EMI. For instance, since the 1990s, critical linguists have been questioning the inequalities in schooling posed by aggressive and unplanned adoption of EMI for children whose home language is other than English. At the same time, there are claims at the grassroots level that if EMI is appropriately implemented, extensive exposure to English may improve students’ proficiency in English. However, I would say no evidence claims that teaching English as a subject does not improve their proficiency. I think, we need more research evidence to answer your question in terms of Yes or No.
Q: How can we convince the people to teach their children in the home language (mother tongue) as mentioned in our policy documents? Or is that impractical? If yes, how?
Again, I would say that we should not think about convincing. This ‘ideology of convincing’ sounds more like a hegemonic idea, and it creates an impression of a ‘ruler-ruled’ relationship, which is impossible in an ideal democratic society. The most important thing we need to consider now is ‘what structural conditions enable the use of children’s home languages in education vis a vis English?’ Regarding policy, yes, there are relatively favourable policy conditions at the macro level, but the support systems for such policies to be implemented well are not sufficient and also are not owned by the parents, who are the key influencers in school policies. Unless we counter or challenge the prevailing ‘deficit ideologies’ concerning minority languages, we cannot realise the agenda of mother tongue education. To do so, I think one of the essential steps to be taken is enhancing the social and functional values of minority languages.
Q: Why is there a gap between MOI policy and practice in basic education in Nepal? How can this gap be eliminated?
As I also mentioned previously, the main problem is about ownership of the well-intended policies at the grassroots level. For instance, several reports of the Language Commission of Nepal have also highlighted that parental ownership concerning the use of local/indigenous languages is negligible, which invisibly forced the schools to adopt the dominant language the community gives priority to. This shows that there are instances of resistance (albeit invisible) from the bottom up, and the top-down policies have not been able to find their way. Consequently, we have missed a good policy action and positive response to the policy at the implementational level. Unless we address the factors that create this condition for policy-practice gaps, and establish causal relationships between policies and policy outcomes, such as the impact of the implementation of MOI, we will have hard times in bridging the policy-practice gaps.
Q:How do you perceive the current research practices of MOI in the global and local context? What would you suggest to researchers in language policy and planning moving forward?
Starting from the 1990s, language policy research gravely took a critical gaze, raising issues of inequalities and inequities caused by language policies of several nations. I remember one of the monumental works in language policy is J. W. Tollefson’s book, published in 1991. He raised critical concerns about challenging the structures that promote monoglossic ideologies in policy making. Since then, there are significant advancements in researching language policies such as MOI, for instances the works of Tollefson and Tsui (2004), Liddicoat and Baldauf (2008), to name some. The research trend in MOI has moved towards exploring sociological issues such as MOI and social classes, MOI and social hierarchies, inequalities, elitism, and commodification of language(s) (Block, 2021; Heller, 2010; Menken & Garcia, 2010). I am very happy to see that such issues in Nepal’s case are also increasingly explored by several applied linguists and critical scholars like Dr. Lava Deo Awasthi, Dr. R. A. Giri, Dr. Prem Phyak, Dr. Pramod Kumar Sah and several other emerging scholars including you. I cannot name every work of everyone of the language policy scholars here in this short interview, but I know that emerging scholars are exploring several socially embedded issues in language policy such as MOI. The critical scholars have also questioned the threats generated by English on the very existence of other languages in their respective community contexts at the global level. Another important development in our case is that universities (e.g., Far Western University) have developed very specific courses on language policy and policy research in M. Phil and PhD programs. I am sure that such developments will expand our context-specific research on language policy and associated concerns.
One of the critical concerns we need to explore is the intersectionality of language policies (e.g., MOI) with broader historical, structural, cultural and economic conditions of the society. We have initiated a discourse in this direction through a publication (see Poudel & Choi, 2022- entitled “Discourses shaping the language-in-education policy and foreign language education in Nepal: An intersectional perspective). I would suggest future language policy researchers direct their research on identifying the relationship of the forces such as nationalism, neoliberal marketization and ethnicity and their impact on language policy decisions and implementation. It would also be interesting to see (even question) the roles of national and international organizations (e.g., The World Bank, OECD, EU etc.) promoting the neoliberal agenda that aims to homogenize the world while also advocating for diversity and equity. Future research could also explore the ways of enhancing community participation and engagement in establishing an equitable society by promoting the local languages and cultures so that the local epistemologies can be preserved and used in uplifting the lives of people who are living under conditions of the feeling of inferiority, minoritization and hatred. To be frank, we need to engage in critical dialogues at all levels of governance to realize the agenda of multilingualism.
As you have come to this point, you might have thoughts, feelings, and views about Dr. Poudel’s opinions and the issues raised here, so we invite you to drop your comments and questions below to advance the discourse.
The use of English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in schools has become a growing issue in the context of Nepal. This paper explores some examination practices in the EMI policy adopted community school (EMI school) in Nepal. Considering an EMI school as a case, I have collected qualitative data using multiple methods such as observation, interview, and informal interaction concerning the issue, and analyzed and interpreted the data thematically. The students need explanations of every question in the Nepali language before they write the answers. The negative washback seems to be extended to the examination hall. The examination practices employed in the EMI school raise a serious question about the way they learn the content using EMI.
Due to globalization, the use of EMI at school and university levels has become a contemporary and emerging issue in the global context and so is the case in the context of Nepal. Several studies from home and abroad show that the stakeholders of schools and colleges are shifting the medium of instruction (MOI) used in the schools and colleges to English, especially in the countries where the native languages being used are other than English, like Nepal. For this reason, the EMI issue has been a fresh area to study for researchers and academicians.
A number of studies (e.g., Baral, 2015; Bhatta, 2020; Brown, 2018; Ghimire, 2019; Gim, 2020; Joshi, 2019; J. Karki, 2018; Khanal, 2020; Khati, 2016; Ojha, 2018; Paudel, 2021; Phyak, 2013, 2018; Poudel, 2019; Ranabhat, Chiluwal, & Thompson, 2018; Sah, 2022; Sharma, 2018; Weinberg, 2013, to name a few) have been conducted concentrating on the EMI/MOI issues in Nepalese context. These studies especially focus on the assumptions, teachers’ identity, ideology, agencies, opportunities, challenges, possibilities, policies, and practices of EMI/MOI issues in general; however, less attention is paid to the examination practices in particular. So, in this paper, I endeavor to explore the examination practices employed by the EMI school selecting a secondary community-based school in a rural area of Bagmati Province, Nepal as a case.
Methods of the Study
This study employs the “case study” (Stake, 2008; Yin, 2016) research design selecting an EMI school as a “case” and the “examination practice” of the school as a phenomenon of the study. Multiple methods (i.e., nonparticipant overt observation of examination activities, interviews with three teachers teaching in Grades four and five, and informal interaction with two students of Grades four and five) were used for information collection. The data were transcribed and translated into English and interpreted categorizing them into themes.
Results and Discussion
The information was interpreted categorizing them into two themes: dependent on the teachers, and the existence of negative washback effect. They are discussed with supporting details below.
Dependent on Teachers
The students participated for the examinations in the hall seemed to be dependent on the teachers for writing the answers. The students started writing the answers to the questions only after the subject teachers’ explanations of the questions with the clues to write the answers. The students seek clarification of the instruction of each question written in English for understanding in Nepali language used in the paper. They wanted the meaning of the particular question, and meaning and spelling of the words, from which the students got the clues for writing the answers to the objective questions particularly. Regarding this, I have mentioned two short pieces of discourse held during the examinations of Class 5, Science and Class 4 Social Studies respectively in the hall.
Examination discourse # 1
S1: Miss, esko question sarnu parchha? (Miss, should we copy the question? [in the answer paper]?)
T: timiharule question sarnu pardaina answer-answer matra lekha (No, write only the answers).
S2: Miss, jo duiko (a) ke bhaneko ho bhanidinuna (Miss, please, tell me what Question 2 (a) means).
T: pani dherai chiso bhayo bhane ice banchha ,thik ki bethik? (Water can be converted into ice on cooling, true of false?)
S2: e… (um. . .)
S3: Miss, question no 3 ko (a) ko meaning bandiununa (Miss, please, tell me the meaning of Question 3 (a)).
T: J-u-p-i-t-r [spelling the letter] jupiter, jupiter bhaneko grahako naam ho thaahaa chhaina? (Jupiter is a planet, don’t you know?)
S4: Miss, aath  number ko (a) ko bhandinuna (Miss, please, what is meant by Question 8 (a)).
T: What are amphibians? Amphibians ke lai bhaninchha?
S4: amphibians ko meaning ke hunchha, miss? (what is the maning of amphibians?)
T: jamin ra paani dubai thaaumaa basne janawaar ho ni asti nai class maa padheko hoina? (amphibians live both on land and water, don’t you know?)
Examination discourse # 2
S1: Sir, “maaghi”ko meaning ke ho? (Sir, what is the meaning of “maaghi”?)
T1: “maaghi” bhaneko parbako naam ho (“maaghi” is a name of a festival)
S2: Maam, “gaura” bhaneko ke ho? (Maam, what is the meaning of “gaura”?)
T2: “gaura”bhaneko euta chaad ho (“gaura” is a festival).
S3: Miss, “mother” ko spelling bhandinununa (Miss, please, tell me the spelling of “mother”)
T2: lu hera tyeti pani najaaneko? “m-o-t-h-e-r” hoina? (Oh! You don’t even know the spelling of m-o-t-h-e-r mother?)
S4: Miss, yo (C) number ko ke bhaneko? (Miss, please, tell me what question C means?)
T2: “alcohol ko prayogale ke asar garchha” bhaneko ho? (It means-what are the effects of consuming alcohol?)
Note: The expressions written in italic are the Nepali words used by the participants and in the square brackets are my explanation.
During an interview, concerning the use of Nepali language, a teacher, Tarun expressed that they often used it “due to the low level of students’ knowledge in English”. He added “you saw in the examination hall, they could not write anything unless we [teachers] explained each question in Nepali”. The interesting point is that no single English sentence was used in the conversation though the EMI policy is adopted in the school.
There can be many reasons for behind the use of Nepali language in the discourse. One reason can be the teachers’ low proficiency in English which is similar to some studies in the past (e.g., British Council, 2013; LaPrairie, 2014; Mohamed, 2013; Sah & Li, 2020) and they feel difficulty in teaching and making the students comprehend in English. The other can be the students cannot understand due to their low level of English language knowledge (Wirawan, 2020). Whatever the reason may be, the students fully depend on the teachers for the use of Nepali language to understand the questions and solve the problems. The shreds of evidence in the discourses held in the examination hall and with the teacher imply that there is enough space for suspicion of accomplishing the learning outcomes set in the curriculum with the use of EMI.
Extended Negative Washback
The “negative washback” refers to the undesirable effect of the test on teaching and learning activities (Alderson & Wall, 1993; Chan, 2018; Cheng & Curtis, 2004) that precedes and prepares for the assessment. The negative washback seems to have been extended to and reflected in the examination practices in the EMI school. That is to say, the teaching-learning activities were performed keeping the testing system in mind, and during the examination, the problems to be solved in the examination hall were frequently signaled referring back to the classrooms activities as a clue to the examinees to solve the problems.
Once in the examination hall, Lila, a teacher, responded to a question made by an examinee “Didn’t I ask you to read the same answer some days ago in the class while practicing for the exam?” She added, “Do it in the same way” in a reminding tone. This expression signaled the extension of negative washback effect to the examination. Moreover, in the examination hall, it was seen that the answer to one of the subjective questions of many students was written exactly the same way in terms of its content, length, and structure.
With reference to this issue, one student expressed, “our teachers provided the questions and their answers just before the examination started” and she added that the students “memorized the answers for writing in the examinations” while I informally interacted with her. In line with the same view, another student, showing the evidence in his book, put his remark that “the teachers ticked the questions to be asked in the exam when the examination schedule was published” he further stated that they read the same answers to prepare for the exams. They both agreed that they normally get help from the teachers to solve the questions in the examination hall.
Teachers even agreed with the statements shared by the students. In an interview, a teacher, Jina, remarked that she normally selects “some possible questions with their answers to be asked in the examinations” and asks the students to memorize the answers. Relating to the issue, a Social Studies teacher, Lila stated, “I pick out some questions from the important chapters and repeat them many times for the examinations”. She further added “the students feel difficult to write the answers unless we provide them with the answer clues.” Her statements reflect the extension of negative washback to the examination practices. The pieces of evidence mentioned reveal that replicating the questions, which were practiced and asked the students to memorize earlier in the classes for the examination purposes, and helping the students to solve the questions in the examination, in other term, extension of negative washback effect, appeared to be a common strategy prepared and applied by the teachers in the EMI adopted school.
The extension of negative washback effect to the examination practices in the EMI school may not be favorable for learning because they may well miss the mark to reflect the “learning principles or the course objectives to which they are supposedly related” (Cheng & Curtis, 2004, p. 9), they oppose to “learning through exploration or discovery” (Tania & Phyak, 2022, p. 141), and they do not match the examination policy (T. M. Karki, 2020) prepared by the concerned authorities. Supporting the issue, Manocha (2022) views that it may not be a good strategy because it does not allow the students to use their “prior knowledge of language” and discourages them to share their “stories and experiences related to the text”, as a result people may question in the effective implementation of EMI policy from the teaching and learning perspectives.
In this study, I have explored the examination practices employed by the EMI-adopted community-based school. The students seem to be reliant on the subject teachers and their Nepali explanations of instruction mentioned in English and each problem appeared in the English-medium question paper. The extension of the negative washback effect to the examination hall was observed in the study. Although this study is limited to a single but discontinuously upgraded EMI policy-adopted school located in a rural area of Nepal selected for the case study, it provides information that can be true to the other EMI school more or less in a similar context. For more wide-ranging, trustworthy, and extensively applicable outcomes, similar but larger-sized studies in the future are recommended.
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Tek Mani Karki is a Lecturer at Tribhuvan University, Department of English Education, Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal, Kathmandu. Currently, he is pursuing his Ph.D. degree entitled “English as a Medium of Instruction in Community Schools of Nepal: Policies and Practices”. His areas of interest in research are language education policy and teacher professional development.
[To cite this: Karki. T. M., (2022, October 15). Examination Practices in English as a Medium of Instruction School [blog post]. Retrieved from https://eltchoutari.com/2022/10/examination-practices-in-english-as-a-medium-of-instruction-school/]
This article critically reflected the mismatches in educational language policy and practices in the schools located in the rural part of Nepal. Adopting the critical ethnography, I observed the classes of two basic level schools as a participant observer, conducted semi-structured interviews with four teachers, organized an FGD with teachers, maintained field notes, and reviewed the policy documents of local government to collect the information. The study revealed that the language policymakers and arbiters have mismatches on educational language policy ideologies, the local government’s educational language policy and its practices in the schools seem inconsistency that spaced conflicts amid monolingual, bilingual and multilingual policies and practices in education.
Keywords:Educational language policy, critical ethnography, ideological and implementational space, mismatches
Educational Language Policy (ELP) is defined as “the official and unofficial policies that are created across multiple layers and poor institutional context and have an impact on language use and education in schools” (Johnson, 2013, p. 77). Since 1970s, the ELP has attracted the attention of Language Policy and Planning (LPP) scholars (Tollefson & Tsui, 2018), especially, how language policy creation, interpretation, and appropriation in schools impact educational processes and pedagogy (Johnson, 2013; Johnson & Pratt, 2014). The school as a broader site of language policy processes (Johnson, 2013) and the teachers and students as prime policy arbiters have greater responsibilities for the effective implementation of policies. In addition, the teacher as the major agency of ELP generates authority to allow or restrict the use of multiple languages in their classrooms, assures the ideological and implementational spaces, and creates an equitable linguistic environment. However, in the context of school sited in the rural part of Nepal, the ELP seem to have been implemented and practiced haphazardly that has resulted mismatches and conflicts among languages. The Constitution of Nepal (2015) has legally authorized the rights of decision-making on ELP to the Local Government (LG) (Poudel & Choi, 2020) with reference to the contexts, demands, and necessities of the stakeholders. Therefore, the LG is the authoritative organ to devise and implement ELP corresponding with the federal and provincial governments’ acts and policies. Conversely, the schools at local level have diverse policies and practices of languages that have impacted the content and quality of education. With this backdrop, the article focuses on how the teachers in remote schools create, interpret and appropriate language policy in their classrooms. Employing the ‘critical ethnography research on ELP’ (McCarty, 2011) at Vyas Municipal Government, Tanahun, I disclosed how the teachers and students acclimatize educational language policy and practice in multilingual school/classroom settings since ethnography of language policy as a method used to explore the multiple layers of language LPP processes with a focus on the power of individuals within educational contexts (Hornberger and Johnson, 2007).
Methods of the Study
This study has applied critical ethnography research design (McCarty, 2011) of the qualitative research approach under the critical-interpretive paradigm. For the study, I collected information using participant observation of basic level classrooms, semi-structured interviews with teachers, FGD with teachers, and policy reviews of the local government (i.e. Vyas Municipal Government, Tanahun). Four basic level teachers and a group of students were the participants in the study. The data were transcribed in participant’s mother tongue and translated in English. They are coded and three major themes were developed based on the codes for data analysis and interpretation.
Results and Discussions
The information has been critically analyzed, interpreted, and reflected in three major themes such as ‘mismatches in ideologies’, ‘mismatches in policy and practice’, ‘conflicts amid monolingual, bilingual and multilingual policies’ that have been presented in the subsequent section.
Mismatches on Ideologies
During the fieldwork, I encountered multiple and divergent ideologies of teachers and students on language policy process. The teachers’ determinations, interests, and vested ideologies on ELP have created ideological tensions among them and impacted teaching-learning activities. Vyas Municipal Government has promulgated Education Act (2017) and Education Bylaws (2018) that instruct to adopt ‘trilingual policy’ (i.e., Nepali, English, and Mother Tongue) in education, and have created ‘ideological and implementational spaces’ to local languages as well. However, the teachers have reflected divergent ideologies regarding the ELP in their contexts;
Nepali Language Policy (NLP) is good, the field of knowledge becomes wider and students learn a lot. Students’ knowledge is narrowed down due to ELP). English Medium Instruction (EMI) gives 50 percent knowledge, I believe. (From interview transcript, T: 2)
Contrary, the next teacher participant (T: 1) expressed his agency focusing on the demand, need and necessity of ELP in education;
ELP in education is necessary to produce manpower who can grab the opportunities in the world market; therefore, we have adopted English in education for five years. First, it was the demand of time, second, the pressure from parents ignited to adopt the policy. (Form interview transcript, T: 1).
The multiple and divergent ideologies of teachers regarding the creation, interpretation, and appropriation of ELP have produced ideological discrepancies and created tensions and challenges for the effective implementation in the classroom rather than a compromise. The diverse expressions and ideological variance challenge policy creation and implementation in multilingual classroom settings. Most importantly, the policy arbiters’ ideologies have been divided into multiple groups in terms of language used in the classroom. Because of ideological clashes, the ELP is a blazing issue of debate in the multilingual classroom environment in Nepal.
Mismatches in Policy and Practice
School is the center of language policy practices, and teachers and students are the final arbiters (Johnson, 2013) and policy implementers. Moreover, teachers create their own ideological and implementational spaces in the classrooms which have resulted mismatches between local ELP and its practices. For example; the schools have adopted a bilingual policy (i.e., Nepali and English), however, the local government’s ELP has instructed them to use mother tongue compulsorily in basic level classes. I observed that the LG’s ELP has not been thoroughly implemented and practiced in schools; consequently, there exists inconsistency between policy and practices as instructed by LG. The school teachers have been interpreting, appropriating, and practicing ELP unfairly, for example; in English subject, the teacher and students adopt a bilingual policy (i.e., English and Nepali) but Vyas Municipal Education Act (2017) instructs languages (as a subject) shall be taught in the same language.
# Vignette 1: Language policy in the classroom (School: A, Grade -6)
(Topic: Biography of TS Eliot)
T: (students, please listen to me, ok?) TS Eliot was a playwright. You know playwright?
S1: No miss. What’s the meaning?
T: A Playwright is a person who writes drama or plays.
T: Playwright bhnaeko drama arthat natak lekhne byakti ho ke. Ho ababujyeu timiharule?
Ss: Yes, Miss. Aba bujhiyo. Nepalima bhanepachhi. (We understood after you said it in Nepali)
T: Ok, now say a playwright is a person who writes drama or plays…
Ss: (Then students follow the teacher) …
(Field note, July 24, 2021)
The policy provisions that basic education will be compulsorily provided in the mother tongue of the students; however, the schools do not have such practices rather they create and implement ELP on their own. The local ELP attempts to alleviate gaps in policies and practices but no proper implementation has been done in schools. The teachers state that the schools have mismatches among English-only, Nepali-only and Hybrid (mixed) language polices (Giri, 2015) but no consistency. The majority of schools have followed hybrid language policy (Kandel, 2021) as the teachers advocate “hybrid language policy has made the students easier to understand contents; therefore, the policy have been effective in our contexts” (FGD with teachers, July 24, 2021).
Conflicts amid Monolingual, Bilingual, and Multilingual Policies
There is a challenge to maintaining uniformed ELP because of linguistic and ethnic diversification of students and teachers. The varied ‘ideological awareness’ (Bakhtin, 1981), linguistic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds of policy arbiters in schools have spaced the critical perspective on ELP; consequently, the teachers revealed conflicting ideologies regarding the use of languages in education. Ultimately, the schools in the territory have adopted monolingual, bilingual and multilingual policies and practices in their classrooms. See verbatim of the teachers in the FGDs;
The classes from nursery to class ten are taught in English…First, it was the demand of the time, second, the pressure – the people from other places came to our school and demanded English medium. EMI has been adopted for 5 years. (FGD, T: 2, July 24, 2021)
We do not have a 100 percent EMI policy in school; we use about 70 percent English and 30 percent Nepali. Teaching in both English and Nepali has made it easier to understand contents. So the bilingual policy is very good. We have been adopting mixed medium. (FGD, T: 3, July 25, 2021).
In English subject, if the students don’t understand, I translate it into Nepali and Hindi as well. I also prefer students’ mother tongues. Therefore, I use three to four languages in my class. (FGD, T: 4, July 26, 2021)
The above excerpts reveal the fact that there is a dilemma whether to adopt EMI or NMI or MTB-MLE policy in education (Phyak, 2013), which has created tensions and mismatches to the teachers to deliver the contents. The disparities in policies have spaced and raised linguistic conflicts and unhealthy competition among languages and their users.
In Nepal, ELP has raised a national debate; especially in the multilingual school/classroom contexts. The policy arbiters (i. e., teachers and students) have created, interpreted, and appropriated ELP in the classrooms without analyzing the consequences and results. Similarly, the ELP adopted by the schools and teachers is divergent to LG’s education act and policy, national education policy, and constitutional provisions; as a result, there seem mismatches and gaps in policies and practices. Therefore, the local governments seem failure to utilize local linguistic capital and are inactive to implement the local ELP in schools/classrooms. To conclude, I suggest the local government, school authorities, and policy arbiters need adequate interaction and discussion for the ‘ideological clarification’ before, while and after the creation of ELP.
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Basanta Kandelis a Lecturer of English at Aadikavi Bhanubhakta Campus, Tanahun, and a Ph. D. Scholar in Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He is the Vice-chair of NELTA Tanahun, a Member of IATEFL, and the Editor of vyasshree.com. He has published dozens of articles, edited journals, and presented papers at national and international conferences (IATEFL, UK and LPP, Canada). His areas of interest include language policy and planning, linguistics, ELT, and research methodology.
[To cite this: Kandel. B., (2022, October 15). Mismatches on Educational Language Policy and Practice: A Critical Reflection [blog post]. Retrieved from https://eltchoutari.com/2022/10/mismatches-on-educational-language-policy-and-practice-a-critical-reflection/]
This paper tries to explore the process and practices of language in education policy in local governments of Nepal. For the study, I selected a local government of the Rupandehi district and took the mayor and deputy mayor as respondents who have been working in the area of local policy-making activities. I performed in-depth interviews for the qualitative data with semi-structured interviews based on the education and language policies they had prepared before. The finding of this research revealed that there is an inconsistency between policies and practices of language in education policy in local governments of Nepal. It is also found that policymakers are positive to promote the local languages but inattention is found by the local language communities.
Key Words: Language in education policy, language planning, local government, locallanguage, English as the medium of instruction
Nepal is a little nation with a wide variety of cultures, languages, ethnic groups, and biological areas. According to Census 2011, there are more than 123 languages and 125 ethnic groups in Nepal. These languages are genetically affiliated to four language families: Indo-European (Indo-Aryan), Sino-Tibetan (Tibeto-Burman), Austro-Asiatic, and Dravidian. The Indo-Aryan family is the largest language group in Nepal in terms of the number of speakers. Among these languages, “most Indo-Aryan languages have literate traditions and share a well-developed writing system” (Giri, 2009, p. 34). According to the Census 2011, there are eight major languages spoken in Nepal. They are Nepali (44.6%), Maithali (11.7%), Bhojpuri (5.78%), Tharu (5.11%), Tamang (5.11%), Newar (3.2%), Magar (2.98%), and Awadhi (2.47%). Nepal’s inherent and historical identity is its multilingualism. Diversity in language, culture, and ethnicity has long been a defining characteristic of Nepali society. The same type of characteristics is found at the local levels of Nepal. Different languages function as symbols of ethnic identity and each speech community wants to preserve and promote its language. As the primary governing body, the local level should be aware to protect local languages, script, culture, cultural civility, and heritage in its territory. The Constitution of Nepal (2015) article 32(1) has provisioned the basic right to each community, the right to get basic education in the mother tongue and to preserve and promote the community’s language, script, culture, cultural civility, and heritage. The Constitution of Nepal (2015) has also taken local government as an autonomous body that can formulate the policies and laws to preserve the language, script, sculpture, art, music, literature, and another custom of their community. Due to high linguistic diversity, local governments find autonomously managing language in education policy rather challenging, though they also welcome the new opportunity to address local issues related to language in education (Poudel, & Choi, 2021).
Language-in-education policy is one of the fundamental issues of language planning studies. According to Shohamy (2006), language in education policy is a method of imposing and manipulating language policy since individuals in positions of control use it to put ideology into practice through formal education. Nepal became a Federal Republic Democratic country after the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal (2015). This constitution provisioned three levels of the elected governments in Nepal: federal government, provincial government (seven provinces), and local government (753 municipalities). Local governments have given decision-making power in several educational matters under this Constitution. They have been given the authority to design and develop their education policies, including language in education policy, though these governments need to line up with the fundamental framework provided by the federal government. Due to high sociolinguistic diversity, local governments are facing challenges in implementing education policies in their municipalities (Panthee, 2021). There is an education committee that actively participates in formulating policy which is made up of professionals, legislators, head teachers, and education authorities. This committee along with the local government are responsible for planning, implementing, and monitoring locally developed courses and appropriate policies, as well as providing financial support to their educational institutions. The objective of this study was to explore the inconsistency between policies and practices of language in education policy in local governments. This paper is significant in the sense that how the local governments are involving formulating and implementing the language in education policy in the multilingual context.
This paper is based on the theoretical lens of ‘the critical ethnography of Language in the education policy of the local government of Nepal. Critical ethnography is a method of examining the spaces for agencies, actors, contexts, and processes across the multiple strata of language policy creation, interpretation, and appropriation espousing a critical approach focused on the educational context (Hornberger & Johnson, 2007). I engaged in a research site which was a municipality in Rupandehi district. I was involved in the field with the mayor and deputy mayor who were key persons in formulating different policies including language in education policy. I performed in-depth interviews for the qualitative data and conducted semi-structured interviews based on the education and language policies they had prepared before. The interview was conducted in a natural setting without being judgmental according to their convenience. I recorded the information in audio recording supported by note keeping. I employed qualitative data analysis process which includes transcribing, editing, summarizing, organizing, categorizing deriving conclusions from the information collected from various sources.
Results and Discussion
LEP at the Local Level Beyond the Practice
The local governments have been given the authority to design and develop their education policies. The research site of this study has prepared its education policy as Municipal Education Act 2018. Article 7 of the act has provisioned that the medium of instruction to be provided by the schools shall be the Nepali language, English language, or both languages. Primary education can be given in the mother tongue. Languages [as a subject] shall be taught in the same language. The medium of instruction for English language teaching must be English. The municipality has the concept of monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual education concept for the transformation (Education Act 2018). The municipality has concerned about the national policy on language and education. It has prepared the education policy according to the essence of the constitution of Nepal and tried to formulate education policies to mitigate gaps in policies and practices. In this regard mayor of the municipality stated that we are careful to protect local and indigenous languages and prepared the policy according to the constitution of Nepal. The municipalities have mentioned and focused on mother tongue-based education, multilingual education, and English as mediums of instruction but it is very difficult to apply in the real sense. According to Poudel and Choi (2021), the Constitution of Nepal-2015, which offers a suitable legislative framework for substantive legal protection for the national indigenous languages as a medium of instruction, addresses the challenges of protecting and promoting historically existing linguistic variety. In the same way, the deputy mayor showed devotion to protecting the indigenous language and said;
we are aware to protect the local languages and made the policy according to the constitution of Nepal but it is very difficult to apply the policy because of the fascination with English as an international language and Nepali as an official language.
Local governments have to choose bi- and multilingualism as a minimum requirement to teach children at the primary level as basic education for the creation of this strong foundation to take place. But it is very difficult to successfully implement this provision due to the global political economy, interdependence, and diversity of the municipalities. Kadel, (2015, p. 196) states that there is a huge challenge for the local governments of Nepal to implement the plans and policies effectively. The deputy mayor said, “We are encouraging local people to promote their language but they are not giving priority to the languages they send their children to English medium schools from ECD”. It demonstrates how the locals have neglected to promote their languages. Three-level governments are silent on this issue, leaving parents, educators, and school management committees to decide whether to stick with their mother tongue-based multilingual education strategy or transition to English (Phyak, 2013, 41).
Mother Tongue-Based Language Policy but Lacks in Practices
Mother tongue-based multilingual education is a form of multilingual education built on the learners’ mother tongue. Kandel (2010) argued that mother tongue-based multilingual education is significant not only to develop a strong educational foundation but also to strengthen the cognitive development of learners at the beginning of education. Mother tongue-based multilingual education helps strengthen the first language and provides a smooth transition from the first language to the second and the third language. In this regard, the mayor said
We understand providing education in the mother tongue is the best way of educating children at the primary level so we have stated the provision as every Nepali community residing in our municipality shall have the right to acquire education in the mother tongue. But local people are not positive about it and they send their children to Nepali and English medium schools so we are unable to apply the local curriculum in local languages.
Above mentioned saying states that the policymakers are positive to protect local language but local people neglect to use their mother tongue in education. Where education is not provided in a child’s first language this is increasingly seen as a form of discrimination, limiting the application of this right. UNESCO (2011) referring to Skutnabb- Kangas (2003) states that if teaching is in a language that an indigenous child does not know, the child sits in the classroom for the first 2-3 years without understanding much of the teaching. Language-in-education policymaking is complicated primarily due to its unique demographic structure, i.e., the multilingual and multiethnic population of the municipalities. The federal, provincial, and local governments are focusing on MT-MLE policies but the parents are not emphasizing it. They are not convinced of the value of the MLE program. Speaking one’s mother tongue, as well as the national language and the international language, not only gives one more option in life but also promotes national cohesion (Baker, 2011).
Positive Attitude toward Local Languages, but Emphasis on English Medium
Both policymakers have a strong positive attitude toward protecting local and indigenous languages. They feel more prestigious to protect and promote local culture, language, and art. But local people themselves are embarrassed about speaking their native languages in the presence of speakers of the dominant language. They believe that educating children in their mother tongue has created a children-friendly atmosphere in the school but the mayor claimed that ‘Parents are not ready to send their children to their mother tongue-based school even Nepali medium school.’ There is a trend of sending children to English medium school because they believe that studying English medium gives better results. Deputy Mayor argued that her municipality encouraged English medium instruction since English is an international language and learning it would help students in the long run. Parents have a mindset that their children receive quality education only when they go to English medium schools. Slowly and gradually community schools are shifting into English medium schools from Nepali medium schools. The mayor said ‘We are allocating enough budget to strengthen community schools to improve English as a medium of instruction. Therefore, English-medium instruction at institutional schools and some community schools in Nepal is currently being evaluated for quality in terms of instruction. So we can find that the policymakers are positive to protect local languages but local language communities are not aware to protect their mother tongue. They want to send their children to English medium schools and they focus on English as a subject and medium of instruction. In the name of quality and parents’ demand, community schools are shifting to English medium schools.
Nepal is facing the complexity of language policy-making in education. The promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal (2015) officially transformed the country into a federal republic democratic nation that delegated the authority of decision-making in many educational issues to local governments. The local government has been preparing the policies as per the constitution of Nepal. They are struggling to implement its educational policies and plans. This study found that federal, provincial, and local governments made different provisions concerning language in education but it is difficult to implement in real practices. There is an inconsistency between policies and practices of language in education policy in local governments. Even though local governments have made various provisions to respect the local languages, students and parents do not go with the MT-MLE policies. It is dominance of English as a sign of dominance and linguistic capital.
Author’s note: This paper is a part of my M.Phil. study at the Graduate School of Education, Tribhuvan University, Nepal.
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Dinesh Panthee is an Assistant Professor of English Education at Sahid Narayan Pokharel Ramapur Campus Sainamaina, Rupandehi, Nepal. He is an M Phil scholar at Graduate school of Education, TU. He is interested on language in education policies, methods and techniques in education, teacher professional development, ICTs in education, and eastern philosophy including Buddhism. He is the membership secretary of NELTA Butwal.
[To cite this: Panthee. D., (2022, October 15). Language in Education Policy at Local Level of Nepal[blog post]. Retrieved from https://eltchoutari.com/2022/10/language-in-education-policy-at-local-level-of-nepal/]
In the changing paradigm of pedagogies, learners’ involvement and engagement has been considered primarily. Learners are the key components and their different aspects of knowledge and skills need to be incorporated in teaching learning activities. With reference to the aforementioned remarks this paper aims to explore learner centered integrative approaches to bridge the gap of learnability. This study is conducted in Chandigarh University, as a research scholar, I got opportunity to deal with MBA students with Professional Development Skill course and reflected in-self and collected students experiences towards the courses. Classroom teaching learning strategies and situations are the main interventions in which learner centered diverse skills were integrated and studied. The study revealed learners’ motivation, self-preparedness, enhanced communication and problem-solving skills followed by language skills. Moreover, learners were found engaged and encouraged to participate into activities as a result they could bridge the gap of learnability of language, content and context.
Learners are the agents of growth and development, similarly, they intend positive changes in them followed by the surroundings. In our traditional mindset we control the learning situations and it is judged in terms of achievements made through some basic formal tests. My mind is looking for the answer of a genuine question raised by one of the graduate students after examinations. She asked me, till when we will be experimented with the dilemma of frameworks of formal tests? Will there be any provision of addressing our needs, thoughts and existing inner capacity? Can you suggest me any places where there is the respect of the practice-based knowledge? I think these are the representative questions of the learners of 21st century, once I read the lines in (Carrillo & Flores, 2020) I found the motives of learners engagement in self-pace situations. Similarly, (Bovermann & Bastiaens, 2020; Johnson, 2006; Wong & Jhaveri, 2015) in different situations and time indicated learning as a psychological and sociological preparedness to the learners where the teachers are facilitating the situations with changing paradigms and new dimensions. Furthermore, the world is shrinking in the course of knowledge economy and practices. The learners are believed the first source of peeping down the world and the teachers, parents, surrounding are the supporting agents. The present context demands learners’ visible involvement in learning process with due respect of their thoughts and skills they equipped with. Therefore, this reflection paper aims to explore the learner centered integrative approach through the intervention of practical activities in professional development course.
The method of the study was based on the intervention implemented as per discussed in the course file. I got interested to observe the learners’ activities and activeness in this practical course. As per the nature of the course, plan and guideline I taught students. I observed students’ engagement in developing soft skills and other skills such as language skills and communication skills. I prepared journal for reflection of the daily activities. Similarly, interaction with students made me able to reveal the students’ experience towards the course and intervention. The intervention is presented below here in the diagram.
Diagram 1: Intervention model
Intervention for learner centered integrative approaches
During the Covid-19 crisis, the teaching-learning process in the classroom with physical presence was not totally possible in all regions of the world. Many Educational institutions from basic level to higher education have devised a strategy for incorporating new technologies and alternative teaching methods to engage students in the learning process. According to statistics presented by UNICEF (2020), more than one billion pupils are stuck in classrooms throughout the world owing to lockdowns and school closures in more than 188 nations. In the UNICEF (2020) COVID-19 survey, more than 73 percent of 127 nations said they use internet platforms and more than 75 percent said they use television to deliver remote learning for education. Many of these countries are experimenting with alternative methods of providing continuous education to pupils through the use of various technologies such as the internet, television, and radio. However, inadequate internet connectivity, lack of teachers’ and students’ digital knowledge and skills provide a barrier to online education. Concerning to the issues during pandemic, there could be varied alternative ways that we could own and develop as per the need of curriculum, context and social framework. On the other hand, Murtikusuma et al. (2019) discussed that teachers’ and students’ attitudes, actions, activities, and cultural and economic values are all linked to technological adaption. Computer technology, online learning communities, and ICT tools have all been identified as new paradigms in education that promote classroom connections through a virtual setting, allowing students to acquire collaborative and interactive skills. Although, there were several possibilities through Online Learning Community (OLC), learning process needs to be contextual and learner centered integrative approaches need to be incorporated to the new paradigms in the 21st century.
Lerner centered integrative approaches (LCIP) enabled learners to participate in virtual learning context as an alternative modes of teaching learning. For example, as a research scholar I observed students’ participation in classroom activities and motivation towards learning and sharing through blackboard in Chandigarh University in India. It’s a new experience to me and taking this as an example of paradigm shift. Align with the ideas of (Lamont et al., 2018; Lantada & Nunez, 2021; Leite et al., 2022; Leshem et al., 2021) learners’ readiness, institutional plan and teachers’ responsible thoughts following by the behaviors could introduce alternative learning possibilities. It is obvious that the learners are the change agents and teachers need to facilitate the situation in the realm of practicality and relevancy. Here I am presenting one sample activity conducted in 90 minutes session describing how learners participate into activities and integrate the language skills and technology within the class framework in the following diagram.
Diagram 2: Learner centered integrative approaches (LCIP) implementation model
Diagram 2 depicts the overall situation of intervention and implementation to introduce learner centered integrative approaches in professional development skill courses. Particularly, the session focused to the language development, interpersonal skills, soft skills and learnability. As mentioned in the diagram the role of the teacher is faciliatory and the manager and students are the conductors of all events take place in the classroom. Teachers support and encourage learners to participate. The main responsibility of the teacher is to clarify the concept of the topic and instructions for the activities. The rubric-based evaluation and clear instructions create interactive situations. Another beauty is the situation of Question and answering. Both the teachers and students ask and respond to the questions mutually. Similarly, learners’ motivation and enthusiasm to involve in the activity is effective as they are evaluated based on their performance in the classroom. Therefore, I claim that the process given in the diagram resemble to the Learner centered Integrative approaches (LCIP) and make learners responsible to their learning.
Reflection and conclusion
With reference to the intervention, I discussed with the students regarding their experience and perception to the practical courses, nature and potential challenges informally. This study’s students used blackboard as a virtual mode of learning and Learning Management System (LMS), which helped them develop communication and teamwork skills with their classmates. Many participants viewed classroom interaction through integration of language, content and context as a useful, suitable, accessible, and student-friendly. During the intervention time, I examined students’ activities and found that they were engaged and motivated to solve problems through interaction, teamwork. They were actively involved in completing assignments and submitting them by the due date. My observation revealed that a teacher’s instruction, orientation, and regular engagement can be useful in involving students in a learning situation.
I found that the learners are encouraged with the practical courses and the course is helping them in placement in multinational or the reputed companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and many others. Similarly, they explained the collaborative efforts they developed. For example,
S1: I am very much delighted with the Professional Development skill course. Initially, I doubt myself as thinking introvert student because I need to participate in every activity. With the encouragement of the teacher, I could participate in discussion in any forums.
S2: By the help of the professional development skill course, I am able to tackle with the challenges as I improved language, interpersonal skills and soft skills. Similarly, I experienced the real learning situation.
S3: Obviously, I am encouraged with the course and teaching learning activities. I personally feel I am learning something for me and hopeful of getting good placement in good companies. if I rate myself, I improved my language and interpersonal skills with the help of the course.
S4: The content, language and context integrated activities enabled us to engage and collaborate with friends remotely. Our participation remained task-based as per the teacher’s instructions and course materials posted in the blackboard. The most significant aspect of learning was that we gained communication and collaboration abilities.
As per my observation the practical course is linked to the life changing goals because students experience seems motivating towards the integrating of several skills and aspects of language learning. Students collaborated, coordinated, and communicated ideas among the groups independently and now they are habitual to present and share ideas integrating listening, speaking, reading, writing skills in every section. They found improvement in language and social interaction perspectives.
Following the ideas of (Kerres, 2020; Scott & Palincsar, 2013; Vygotsky, 1978) socio-cultural perspectives and technological integration could lead to increase learner’s independency as a result learners can interact with several elements such as society, language, content and emotions any critical situations like COVID and any others. Learners’ participation, motivation and interaction regarding to the situation enable them to intervene newness in learning as a result learner centered integrative approaches (LCIP) could be existed and they prepare themselves to face the challenges to rectify new motives of learning for personal and professional development.
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Researcher’s Bio: Yadu Prasad Gyawali is the Assistant Professor under the Faculty of Education at Mid-West University (MU), Surkhet Nepal. Mr. Gyawali is also a teacher trainer, consultant, and editor for different journals. Moreover, Mr. Gyawali is a Ph.D. scholar at Chandigarh University, India. His areas of interest include teachers’ professional development and ICT in second language education.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected every aspect of human life, including education. The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education system in human history. Social distancing and restrictive movement policies has significantly disturbed traditional educational practices. It has changed education for learners of all ages. Nepal has also suffered a lot due to the lack of adequate and appropriate sustainable infrastructure for the online system. In addition to this, the limited internet facilities in remote and rural areas were the other challenges for virtual academic activities. Many schools remained closed for a long time during the lockdown and some managed alternative ways of teaching. However, the teaching learning activities could not be made effective as expected. The impacts of the pandemic has directly affected the students, teachers and parents.
In the context of Nepal, many children from low income families and disadvantaged groups could not afford even the necessities of learning such as textbooks, notebooks and other required stationaries. Modern digital devices including smartphones, iPads, laptops, and computers were far from their expectations. On the other hand, the people in the remote and rural areas were deprived of online access due to limited internet facilities. In this context, providing equal opportunity for virtual learning to all groups of people in all the parts of the country was challenging. The online programmes shifted the education from schools to families and individuals. In some ways, educating children at home made the life of parents challenging. The school closures impacted not only students, teachers and families but had far-reaching economic and societal consequences. This closures in response to the pandemic shed light on various social and economic issues including students’ responsibility, digital learning, food security, homelessness, childcare, health care, housing, internet and disability services. The impact was more severe for disadvantaged children and their families, causing interrupted learning, compromised nutrition, childcare problems and consequent economic cost to families who could not work.
As per my experience, the institution where I work consists of students from different parts of the country. They come from different family backgrounds. When the government made an announcement of the school closure to prevent the spread of the pandemic, we did not have any idea of what to do. Later on, when the government issued a notice to resume the teaching learning activities virtually, it was very difficult for us to begin as we were not prepared for it. It was a challenging task for the teachers as well as the students. We did not have any exposure and special training to start the virtual mode of learning. The school provided a short training on how to use zoom app. Then, the teachers invited the students of their respective classes and guided them to use different digital applications. It took us about two weeks to get started. We conducted two periods a day which were of forty minutes each, as the trial version of zoom got disconnected after every forty minutes. In the beginning, the students were excited about the online classes. Many of them asked their parents to buy multimedia mobiles to attend online classes. As the parents were worried about the disconnected study of their children, they somehow managed to continue their study. It was not so easy for all the parents to buy new mobile and to pay for the mobile data. All the students did not join the classes as their parents could not manage mobiles and internet data. A few students were out of network access. They had to climb up a hill to take their classes. Later on, we increased the number of periods to four each day. But we found that the number of students gradually decreased after the second period and in the last period we could find only a few students attending the class. It was hard to manage the classes as there would be frequent problem of power-cut and the low bandwidth of the internet.
The students and the parents complained that they had to spend a lot of money on data and had to charge their mobiles every few hours. We fortnightly contacted the parents of the students to get feedback about online classes, especially the problems that their children were facing during the online classes. Many parents provided positive feedback, thanked teachers for continuing the teaching learning activities. Some complained that their children played mobile games throughout the day. They also requested us to counsel their children for not misusing mobile phones. We also conducted the interaction between the teachers and the parents virtually. We got mixed responses from the parents. Some of them explained that the online teaching was effective as their kids were being engaged at least for a few hours, while others said that it had not been effective as their kids did not have access to the online classes conducted by the school. We tried our best to explain to the parents that the teaching learning activity through virtual means was the continuation of learning. Instead of searching for perfection we had to support the virtual mode of teaching learning as it was totally new to everyone. We used to be obsessed with the behaviours and activities of some students as they did not respond when they were asked questions and they did not turn on their videos. It was very hard for us to find out whether the students were paying attention or not. It was really difficult to ensure the progress of those students.
Teachers in my school tried to find out the different techniques on how the participation of the students could be increased and how to make the students active in the class. Several extracurricular activities were also conducted virtually. The home assignments and project works were also assigned to the students. Later on, our school launched a systematic virtual learning application and we started teaching through this application. However, during conducting examination, we faced problems as many students got disconnected time and again due to the poor internet connectivity. It was a very tough time for the teacher like me because we had to prepare the materials for each and every class. E-learning tools played a crucial role during the pandemic by helping teachers facilitate teaching and learning. While adopting to the new changes, the readiness of teachers and students needed to be gauged and supported accordingly. The learners with fixed mindset found it difficult to adapt and adjust, whereas the learners with a growth mindset quickly adapted to the new learning environment. There was no one-size-fits-all pedagogy for online learning. Different subjects and age groups required different approaches to online learning. Therefore, it was not easy in the context of our country.
Despite the adverse effects posed by the pandemic, there were some positive impacts on academia. It has allowed reshaping the pedagogical strategies and adopt to innovative e-learning techniques. The schools and universities decided to introduce a digital education system which seemed to be one of the most outstanding achievements in the history of education in Nepal. The educational institutions as well as the learners used media such as TV, radio, YouTube and other social media. During the pandemic, teachers and students increased the digital literacy and expertise in virtual platforms. Many trainings were conducted for the teachers and students for the online system to join the virtual classes effectively. Many institutions expanded ICT infrastructures to support ICT associated with teaching learning. Many institutions prepared their guidelines for facilitating online classes and assessment under the direction of the government of Nepal. Schools also collaborated with local to national media such as Radios, TVs and local Radio networks. Many teachers who did not have any knowledge of ICT, also took the trainings and started using laptops and mobiles. They also learnt many techniques on preparing educational materials which helped them grow personally and professionally.
In conclusion, COVID-19 has taught many possible ways which can be adopted to tackle the crisis and build a resilient education system in the long run. This pandemic has taught us how the blended modes of education system could be implemented to improve the quality of education at an affordable cost with limited trained human resources. Furthermore, how different learning activities such as homework, assignments, open-book exams, take-home exams, quizzes or small projects can be taken into consideration as the alternatives of conventional paper-pencil based examinations.
Researcher’s Bio: Rajendra Joshi is an M. Ed. (English) from Tribhuvan University. He has more than a decade experience of teaching English from primary level to secondary level. Mr. Joshi has also published an article in the Journal of NELTA. He is currently working as an English teacher at Sainik Awasiya Mahavidyalaya Teghari, Kailali and Shree Krishna Secondary School Gulariya, Kanchhanpur.
I am currently a faculty of English at QAA certified public campus situated in the district headquarter of Tanahun. I have worked there for over five years as a part-time teacher. I started my service at the campus in 2016 with two periods assigned, and then I have been working continuously. In 2016, when I was appointed to the campus, I was satisfied with the benefits offered by the campus since that was the initial phase of my career, and I did not have so much pressure from my family. Moreover, I was optimistic that the benefits, along with the payment made to me by the campus, would be revised logically. As I read them, I went sound in my deliveries for a couple of years, and students were satisfied. I always kept my head high and focused on my preparation and deliveries; as a result, more than 95% of students passed the exam in my paper. I was free from any anxiety though I had to spend many hours on preparation.
In recent years, most of the time, I have been passing through mental stress. Now it has been almost six years of my service at the campus, but I am paid the same with no additional benefits, and still, I am a part-time teacher. It has been challenging to sustain in the profession. I have been excessively anxious for a few years, and sometimes I imagine quitting my work. To free me from mental and professional deficiencies, I joined M. Phil. in 2020 A.D. Most of the time, I spend reading books to gain professional capital, but it does not work well as I have anxiety shaped by the unfair treatment made to the part-time teachers and other teachers at the campus. Except for that individual attempt, I have never witnessed any TPDs or other programs supporting teacher well-being. I do not feel comfortable in my profession and have been unable to concentrate on my deliveries. To make sustainable earnings, I have been taking ten periods daily, which is quite tough to maintain quality. Preparing the teaching force is a crucial concern of the government and concerned institutions worldwide (Gautam, 2016). Still, our teachers working in public campuses, especially part-time teachers, are ignored.
A teacher’s well-being refers to the state where the teacher experiences personal, professional fulfillment, satisfaction, purposefulness, and happiness (Acton & Glasgow, 2015). The student’s learning outcomes largely depend upon the teacher’s performance, and his well-being influences the teacher’s performance. Students’ learning outcome is at the core of the teacher’s work. Ryan & Deci (2011) define well-being as “open, engaged and healthy functioning.” A teacher’s well-being is a strength or power to energize teachers to work. His smiling and cheering face matters a lot in his performance. A teacher’s stress directly hinders students’ learning outcomes (Ramberg, Laftman, & Mordan, 2019). But the issue of teachers’ well-being is ignored by the concerned authorities. Educational actors, including policymakers, do not look serious about the subject. The condition of teachers’ well-being in Nepal is not pretty good, both in a rural and urban settings. The situation in a rural setting is tremendously critical than in an urban context. In my observation, permanent teachers working in community-based schools, especially school-level teachers, are slightly well supported by the government, so they are less angst-ridden compared to those teachers working in community campuses as part-time teachers. Several teachers working at the tertiary level in a public institution are very outsized, but the campuses leave out the issue of their well-being. Part-time teachers in public campuses are not open and well-functioning since they are mistreated. Benefits made to the part-time teachers in the public campus are personally manipulated. The policies of campus are running dysfunctional. They are entirely unsympathetic toward the ongoing sufferings of those teachers.
The current policies and practices look unsupportive to the part-time teachers working on public campuses. First, no ample research is done on teacher well-being out of the Kathmandu valley. If they are, they haven’t addressed the issue of teacher well-being working on higher levels, especially in public campuses. Hence, this paper aims to explore the problems of tertiary level teachers regarding their well-being and its influence on teachers’ and students’ academic performance. Part-time teachers working in the public campus are paid significantly less than full-time teachers and permanent teachers working at the same institution. Full-time teachers and permanent teachers within the institution are enjoying the good benefits. Part-time teachers are not provided any additional financial aid except their salary but are just made fun of. Part-time teachers at the public campus from all over the country must have gone through the same situation. Most of the public campuses in Nepal are running a profit-oriented mentality where the issues of teachers’ well-being are ignored. Teachers with the same duties and responsibilities in the public campus are treated individually. The salary and other benefits provided to them looks heavily imbalanced and unfair. Teachers having more than ten periods in a day for more than five years are still part-time teachers and are paid just a half to the full-timer and permanent teacher without other support, is not an injustice? Is it not intellectual exploitation? How can they supply their sound deliveries to satisfy their students in such a miserable condition? Hence, this paper aims to examine the narratives of some part-time teachers working in public campuses regarding the issue of their well-being.
Methods of the Study
This research is based on a qualitative research design under the interpretive paradigm. The interpretive paradigm is emphasized in this research to bring out tertiary teachers’ stories on their well-being. To explore the real-life experiences of those teachers, I employed Narrative Inquiry as a research methodology. I conducted online interview (Denzin& Lincoln, 2000) to get their narratives. Vyas Municipality from the district headquarter of Tanahun was purposively selected as a research site, and two part-time teachers working at the public campus in the urban setting of Tanahun are the research participants. Along with the data from the participants, this study further incorporates secondary materials such as books and journal articles.
Analysis and interpretation
A healthy body only isn’t sufficient to stay alive in any profession, and a sound mind complements well-being. The excellent reciprocal interaction between body and mind is always most for professional delivery. The teaching profession requires a creative mind free from any mental stress. Teaching in a tertiary-level course is challenging, and it is impossible to sustain professionalism without a sound mind. Due to the growing stress in the profession, the number of teachers leaving work is increasing (Brunsting, Sreckovic, & Lane, 2014). Stress manifests in teachers and most prominently affects their sense of efficacy, job satisfaction, burnout, attrition, student engagement, and physical health (Shernoff, Mehta, Atkins, Torf, & Spencer, 2011).
As a higher education teacher, I observe that kind of stress myself. The day I enter the classroom free of stress, I see my students’ smiling faces, which satisfy me throughout the day. That satisfaction further inspires me to make classes come meaningful. But sometimes I don’t want to talk even for fifteen minutes if I am stressed. I feel a single forty-five minutes to be long enough. Generally, family issues, managing financial problems of a family, health issues, untimely payments, additional payments among the teachers having the same responsibility, and excessive workload make me stressed. One of my respondents, ’X,’ told me that he forgets everything unfair that goes with him until his salary is dispersed. Still, the day he learns about his salary deposited in his account, he goes suffocated. As he reported, his salary is just half of some other teachers though he completed 5/6years of his life in the institution (variations caused by the nature of appointment). Another respondent, ‘Y,’ responded that he feels he serves the institution free of cost. He said, “It is not a job but a voluntary service…”. Too low payment made to him by his campus makes him feel so. This situation sometimes made him forget what he was speaking to his students. The financial problem, according to him, destroys his mental and professional well-being.
Moreover, teaching a large heterogeneous group of learners, urban poverty, teacher preparation, and managing students’ hyperkinetic behavior make teachers stressed (Shernoff et al., 2011). Since he has to handle higher graders, a tertiary-level teacher often goes through this situation. Research conducted in national or international educational set up suggested lower learning outcomes resulting from teachers’ ill conditions.
The financial issue comes first in teacher well-being. Most teachers working in the public campus as part-time teachers are stressed about their financial status. The amount paid to them looks insufficient and lower than that paid to secondary-level teachers. Permanent teachers working in the government schools are provided additional benefits as per the provision made by the government. The statistics suggest that the current basic salary for the secondary level first-class teacher is Rs. 47380. As per the financial provision of Tribhuvan University, the recent basic pay for an Assistant lecturer is Rs. 35500, which is lower than the salary of a primary level first-class teacher (Rs. 35990) (source: edusanjal.com). Mr. X, my respondent, said, “I have five periods in a day, excluding the day shift for grades 11 and 12, and I am paid just 25,000 per month. Still, the permanent teacher in the same campus is paid 44,000 for three periods excluding additional allowances…”. The data above shows a massive injustice for the part-time teachers in the public campus. Another part-time teacher from another public campus from the same district is paid just 4000 for one period.
The situation with the teachers working in the same institution is supposed to be more complicated regarding the well-being of teachers working there. They have to take 9/10 classes to earn equivalent to full-time and permanent teachers of the same campus with a basic period of 3. Due to this discriminatory attitude of the public campuses to ignore the contribution made by those teachers, they are stressed a lot. Both of my respondents plight fully revealed that they don’t get their salary on time; sometimes, they may stay penniless for 4/5 months. The Covid-19 pandemic made the situation more intricate since they didn’t get their salary for 7/8 months. First, the part-time teachers are less paid by the institution they work in, and then they aren’t paid on time, resulting in poor deliveries inside their classroom. Despite this poignant situation with the teachers, concerned authorities look indifferent toward the plight of teachers.
I started my tertiary-level teaching career in 2016 A.D. at a public campus in Tanahun. Since I was a novice in the field of teaching at the tertiary level, I was not well competent in pedagogical skills. I desired to have some training to impart my delivery to my students. My campus organized a faculty development program, occasionally focusing on leadership development and the use of ICT, which would provide me solace. It has already been five years of working at a campus. Still, I have never experienced an attempt to enhance the professional development of a faculty from the government or the university except for the campus. Teachers’ professional competence—their professional knowledge, skills, beliefs, and motivation—is a critical predictor of teachers’ professional well-being and success (Laurmann & Konig 2016). Mr.’ X’ and Mr.’ Y’ never witnessed programs assisting in their professional development and well-being. Secondary Education Development Centre (SEDP), Distance Education Centre (DEC), Primary Teacher Training Centre (PTTC), and National Centre for Educational Development (NCED) are some government-funded programs to train teachers in Nepal. Besides them, Women Teacher Training (WTT) , On-Spot Training, Teacher Training Through Distance Learning, B-Level (Under SLC) Teacher Training, and Vocational Teacher Training Program are run by the government and non-government organizations. They all are confined to school-level teachers; instead, there are no special programs to train teachers from higher education (Awasthi, 2010). My respondent Mr. X said,” I spent more than five years at my campus teaching for bachelor’s, but I do not know any programs run at the campus for our professional well-being…”. Mr. Y had quite a different experience regarding the teachers’ professional well-being. He said, “my campus occasionally offers some training on leadership development and the use of ICT but not on teaching skills and curricular issues…”. It suggests that tertiary teachers do not have access to professional development programs, so they do not feel professionally sound.
Teachers’ autonomy is practiced globally as a supportive tool for teachers’ professional well-being. Action Research (A.R.), Reflective Practice (R.P.), Teacher Research (T.R.), and Exploratory practice (E.P.) are practiced in the international educational market to assure teachers’ autonomy (Dikilitas & Griffiths, 2017). Recently, Tribhuvan University has initiated to adopt those innovations to develop teachers’ professionalism through teacher’s autonomy, but it is confined within the center; However, one of the public campuses of Tanahun has been encouraging its faculties to write a research article on current ongoing affairs related to their professional issues. Similarly, the culture of campus to sponsor the faculties (permanent) financially to gain higher education degrees with a paid study leave is another central effort made for teachers’ professional well-being. This internal support of a campus assists in acquiring professional skills and exploring existing problems with their classroom teachings. The campus makes financial assistance of five thousand for the faculties who write a paper. It is a magnificent effort made to enhance teachers’ professional well-being. But this kind of culture is not practiced in other institutions providing tertiary education.
Teacher’s well-being and students’ academic well-being
Many kinds of research and surveys made in the times of yore indicate that teacher well-being is essential to students’ well-being. If the teacher goes inside the classroom with a stressed mind, it doesn’t deliver anything meaningful to the students. A survey by Wellbeing Australia (December 2011) found that of 466 respondents, 85.9 percent strongly agreed. A further 12.1 per cent agreed that a focus on student well-being enhanced an effective learning environment and 74.5 per cent strongly agreed. An additional 21.9 percent agreed that focusing on teacher well-being promotes student well-being. 73.9 percent of respondents were teachers, of whom 20.5 percent were school principals (Roffey, 2012). It reveals that the issue of teacher well-being needs to be considered for students’ sound learning outcomes.
Hwang et al. (2017) write that students’ learning outcomes depend upon the teachers well-being, so teachers’ intervention is suggested to provide to teachers to enhance their well-being. There are large numbers of teachers working as part-time teachers in Nepal, and they are suffering from the issue of their well-being. Most of them are tormented by their financial problems. Their financial satisfaction determines mental and professional soundness. If the financial crisis haunts one, no professional development program works to keep him strong in his profession. Mr. X narrates, “Throughout the month, I forget everything unfair that goes with me, and I find myself focused in my profession. I find my classes strong enough, and my students look satisfied with my deliveries. But for a few days after I get the message of my salary deposited into my account makes me unpleased, and I lose my professional control”. He further says it is the financial issue that influences his mental well-being and professional well-being. As a part-time teacher, he is made a complete payment just for ten months in a year and paid one-period equivalent for two months. It means he has been paid just Rs. 5000 each for the last two months, which he opines is unjustifiable. These two months are particular for students since they are provided revision classes at that time, but he could not make any meaningful contribution to his students. And as a result, unexpected students failed his paper. It shows that it is essential to address part-time teachers’ issues regarding their financial well-being to keep teachers free from mental and professional deficiencies and students’ good performance.
The teachers working in community campuses of Nepal as part-time faculty are anguished from several aspects of their well-being. Teachers working in the community campuses as part-time teachers experience very rare personal and professional fulfillment, satisfaction, purposefulness, and happiness. Untimely payment, variation in payments among teachers having the same responsibility, excessive workload, and teacher preparation made them stressful. Teachers working in community campuses as part-time teachers are segregated from the offerings made to the full-time and permanent teachers within the same campus. Even after many years of service in the institution, they are not promoted. They have been working with minimal internal support from the campus since no meaningful attempts have been made for their professional development. Mentally, financially, and professionally those teachers are not sound, and as a result, the student’s learning outcome has been degraded. To ensure the quality of education, discriminatory attitudes to look at the part-time teacher should be corrected.
Acton, R. & Glasgow, P. (2015). Teacher well-being in neoliberal contexts: A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Teacher Education
Awasthi, J. R. (2010). Teacher education with special reference to English language teaching in Nepal. Journal of NELTA.
Brunsting, N.C., Sreckovic, M.A., & Lane, K.L. (2014) Special education teacher burnout: A synthesis of research from 1979 to 2013. Education and Treatment of Children, 37, 681–712.
Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). The sage handbook of qualitative research. Sage publication. New Delhi.
Dikilitas, K. & Griffiths, C. (2017). Developing language teacher autonomy through action research. Palgrave Macmillan.
Gautam, G. (2016). Teacher training in Nepal: issues and challenges. Researchgate.
Grainger, A. S. (2020). Teacher well-being in remote Australian communities. Australian journal of teacher education , 21.
Laurmann, F. & Konig, J. (2016).Teachers’ professional competence and well-being: Understanding the links between general pedagogical knowledge, self-efficacy and burnout. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305828549_Teachers’_professional_competence_and_wellbeing_Understanding_the_links_between_general_pedagogical_knowledge_self-efficacy_and_burnout
Ryan R.M., Deci E.L. (2011) A self-determination theory perspective on social, institutional, cultural, and economic supports for autonomy and their importance for well-being. Cross-Cultural Advancements in Positive Psychology, vol 1.Springer, Dordrecht.
Ramberg, j., laftman, s. B., & mordan, t. A. (2019). Teacher stress and students’ school well-being: the case of upper secondary schools in Stockholm. Scandinavian journal of educational research .
Roffey, s. (2012). child wellbeing-teacher well-being; two sides of the same coin? education and child psychology , 8.
Shernoff, E.S., Mehta, T.G., Atkins, M.S., Torf, R., & Spencer, L. (2011). A qualitative study of the sources and impact of stress among urban teachers. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227324157_A_Qualitative_Study_of_the_Sources_and_Impact_of_Stress_Among_Urban_Teachers/link/09e4150c8ac8a074c3000000/download
Author’s Bio: Bimal Khatri is a lecturer of Aadikavi Bhanubhakta Campus, Damauli, Tanahun since last six years. He is currently having M.Phil in ELE in Kathmandu University. Moreover, he is a life member of NELTA Tanahun. He is currently working on the issue of inclusion and equity in English Language Teaching in Nepal. He has published one article in peer reviewed journal of Aadikavi Bhanubhakta Campus in 2020. He can be reached at email@example.com, Bimal.firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are pleased to release the second quarterly issue (April-June), 2022 of ELT Choutari believing that the varied resources will benefit you.
We are moving ahead rejoicing the Nepali New Year with new thoughts, aspirations and with enthusiasm. We wish you a happy, productive and historic new year, 2079 B.S. to you and take this moment to thank our readers and contributors for inspiring us in the continuous journey of 14 years.
The world is constantly changing and the classroom pedagogies, teaching-learning principles and practices, research and resources should also change with the rhythm of time. Rationalizing this belief, Choutari explores resourceful ideas and pedagogical innovations and presents you in the form of articles, blogs, reviews, interviews, reflections, scholarly ideas, glocal practices, and indigenous knowledge to broaden our academic horizon.
Every classroom is diverse, so the educators in this millennium expect/are expected to be abreast with recent and relevant materials/resources for effective teaching-learning. We believe that the resources and materials shared on our forum can support you to be abreast in your field and contribute in your continuous professional development. Besides, writing your experiences/reflection and sharing your perspectives and scholarly ideas is another great tool for professional development. So, we encourage and welcome your writing/composition on the contemporary educational/linguistic issues, pedagogical practices and most importantly your teaching stories.
In this non-thematic issue, we present you the scholarly ideas, educators’ experiences and reflection and pedagogical practices useful for teaching, writing, researching, critiquing and professional development. We are hopeful that the ideas are replicable in our English language teaching-learning context. So, there are six articles and an exclusive interview in this issue.
In a conversation with Jeevan Karki, Dr Bal Krishna Sharma unfolds the global discourse in ELT, (Second) language acquisition, English language teaching in multilingual contexts, critical language teaching, English language policy and practices in Nepal.
Dr Padam Chauhan in his article ‘Ethnography of Writing: A Basic Framework to Introduce Academic Writing to ESL University Students’ recounts the challenges faced by English as a second language (ESL) first-year academic writing students in university. He highlights the linguistic, cultural, and instructional differences between the US education system and students’ home countries to highlight the educational, social, and cultural contexts in international higher education.
In the same way, Ganga Laxmi Bhandari in her article ‘Mother Tongue as a Resource in the EFL Classroom’ argues for the use of L1 in L2 classroom and believes that L1 not only creates the foundation for a better understanding in L2 learning but also develops a positive attitude among children towards their schools and L2 (Savage, 2019). She further argues that the English-only approach has been a failure; therefore, educators should adopt bi/multilingual approaches for effective language teaching-learning.
Likewise, Shaty Kumar Mahato, in his article ‘Teachers’ Collaboration for Teachers’ Professional Development’ reflects his experiences of professional development (PD) through personal and professional initiatives in the context of Nepal. He argues that teachers’ collaboration is paramount for professional development and engagement with different organizations like NELTA, BELTA and so on can also enhance teachers’ PD.
Similarly, Nanibabu Ghimire, in his blog piece, ‘Reading Among Under-graduate Students: Problems and Ways Forward’, brings on spotlight the reading struggles of under-graduate students and offers some practical ways for advancing reading skills.
Similarly, Bishnu Karki in his article ‘Exploring Creative Response in ELT: A Vignette of an English Teacher’ reflects on the writing strategies he adopted while teaching students in Nepal. He emphasizes on the innovative roles of teachers to explore creative responses in EFL classrooms. Karki, further argues that the teachers in the 21st-century classroom to be creative, cooperative and responsive to cope with the ongoing trends and shifts their profession.
Finally, Satya Raj Joshi in his article ‘Using a Story in Language Teaching: Some Practical Tips’ presents the fundamentals of literature in language classrooms and connects his experiences of language teaching through literature. He argues that the literature is a resource offering multiple ideas and activities for students which help them to develop skills and strategies applicable within and beyond classrooms.
For your ease of access, below is the list of hyperlinked articles:
Finally, we would like to thank all our editors, Mohan Singh Saud, Jeevan Karki, Karuna Nepal, Nani Babu Ghimire, Ekraj Koirala, Jnanu Raj Paudel and reviewers Dr Karna Rana, Ashok Raj Khati, Rajendra Joshi and Babita Chapagain for their tireless effort in reviewing these papers. Most importantly, we are indebted to all the contributors to this issue.
If you enjoy reading these blog posts, please feel free to share in and around your circle, and of course, drop your comments in the boxes below. Likewise, please write and send us your teaching-learning experiences for which we will be happy to provide a platform at Choutari. Our email is email@example.com
Bal Krishna Sharma (PhD) is an associate professor of applied linguistics at English Department, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, University of Idaho, US. He is interested in the role of English in multilingual contexts. He studies the dynamics of teaching, learning and use of English in order to examine the topics of language ideology, intercultural communication, identity and pedagogy. He has been studying the issues of culture, representation, and the economy of language from the perspectives of tourism workers in the Nepal’s tourism industry. Likewise, he investigates what English, other international and minority languages mean for a workplace where the commodification and representation of languages and cultures is a major driving force. He is also investigating language-related ideologies and identities of non-native English speaking faculty as U.S. universities in STEM fields.
So, in this post, Jeevan Karki has facilitated a conversation with him, which unfolds the global discourse in ELT, (second) language acquisition, English language teaching in multilingual contexts, critical language teaching, English language policy and practices in Nepal.
Feel free to comment, ask questions and share the conversation to continue the discourse. Here is the YouTube video for you:
Here is the list of questions covered in the conversation:
Q1: What are you busy at currently?
Q2: The global conversation in ELT is very critical towards ‘standard English’, while the goal of English language education in non-English speaking countries is to develop proficiency in standard English (either British English, American English or so on). So, have the critiques been too idealistic about it or the practitioners not aware of this conversation?
Q3: Ofelia Garcia (2017) says that “there is no second language acquisition in the traditional sense but children are acquiring languages together/in totality.” What does this mean to the field of SLA? What are the future directions of SLA?
Q4: In the short history of English language teaching, 50 years or less, what has Nepal gained from it and what has Nepal forgotten in this race?
Q5: And what should be the role of English in multilingual contexts like Nepal?
Q6: Parents and stakeholders don’t seem much concerned about preserving and promoting their own languages as much as they are concerned about immersing their children in the English language right from pre-school. Why does this happen? What can be done about it?
Garcia, O. (2017, June 7). Ofelia García – Translanguaging [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l1CcrRrck0
English as a second language (ESL) first-year university students often face challenges with academic writing because of the linguistic, cultural, and instructional differences between the education system in the U.S. and their home countries (academic writing conventions in English and their first languages). This paper aims to present an ethnography of writing as a framework to familiarize the ESL first-year university students with the basics of academic writing, which directly speaks to the educational, social, and cultural contexts of U.S. higher education. The paper concludes that ESL students benefit immensely from using Grabe and Kaplan’s (1996) ethnography of writing as a framework to introduce academic writing in English to cope with their academic writing challenges.
Keywords: academic writing challenges; freshman ESL learners; ethnography of writing; U.S. higher education; linguistic, cultural, and instructional differences
My Tutoring and Teaching Academic Writing Experiences
I have gotten an opportunity to become an ESL educator for different aged students in different educational contexts. First, I have been an ESL teacher in Nepal. I have taught reading and writing to high school and undergraduate students. Second, I worked as a writing tutor at a regional level teaching university in the Midwestern region of the U.S. I tutored both domestic and ESL international undergraduate and graduate students. Third, I have been teaching reading, vocabulary, and writing courses in the Intensive English Language Program (IEP) at the Midwestern U.S. university for four years. Primarily, I follow a process-based approach (Zamel, 1983; White & Arndt, 1991) and the genre-based approach (Hyland, 2004; Swales, 1990; Tardy, 2008) to teach academic writing to my ESL students who come from diverse educational, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. I guide my students by helping them explore resources, services, and contacts in and outside of the university. These learning resources are essential to alleviate their academic writing difficulties in the U.S. higher education context (Chauhan, 2021). Sharing experiences of ESL instructors’ academic journey, including coping strategies, is critical to improving their academic writing skills (Odena & Burgess, 2017). However, existing literature shows that academic writing in English is challenging for ESL students at both undergraduate and graduate levels (Chauhan, 2021) because they come from diverse social, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds (Duff & Anderson, 2015). The diversity of their backgrounds can also be an asset to acknowledge and utilize for enhancing their academic writing skills in English.
Nature and Scope of Academic Writing in Higher Education Context
Academic writing (AW) refers to the writing used in the college and university-level writing courses (Johnson, 2016). Additionally, AW has become the primary communication medium between scholars in academic subjects and disciplines in a higher education context (Greene & Lidinsky, 2015). AW is simple, clear, focused, and formal. It is also technical, objective, impersonal, concise, logical, and well-organized. An academic writer must meet genre-specific expectations and stylistic conventions (Ferris, 2018; Giltrow et al., 2014; Osmond, 2016; Starkey, 2015). AW is specific to context, task, purpose, and audience (Ferris, 2018; Grabe & Kaplan, 1996; Starkey, 2015). In parallel with these ideas, Gottlieb and Ernst-Slavit (2013) stated that“[t]he distinct purpose, audience, and context of communication result in clear differences in terms of language use in the selection of words, formality, sentence construction, and discourse patterns” (p. 2). AW is seen differently by scholars based on the features mentioned above. Osmond (2016) argued that AW projects writers’ in-depth knowledge, critical thinking skills, and analytical skills while studying different academic subjects within their disciplines and majors. It is also seen as an inquiry because writers can discover their values, beliefs, strengths, and areas to improve when they engage in the writing process (Starkey, 2015). Grabe and Kaplan (1996) recommended that each writer understands AW from the lens of an ethnographic approach. Echoing similar ideas, Ferris (2018) has summarized the features of successful academic writers and standards of writing used in academia.
Writers must have at least an adequate grasp of the content they are writing. They must understand the rhetorical situation, including the purpose of the writing and the knowledge and expectations of their audience of readers. They need to appreciate the constraints and boundaries accompanying genres, tasks, and text types. Further, writers need advanced control of the linguistic features (vocabulary, spelling, grammar, cohesive ties) and extra-linguistic features (punctuation, capitalization, formatting) appropriate for their text’s content, genre, and target audience. (p. 75)
Ethnography of Writing as a Framework to Introduce Academic Writing
As I mainly tutor and teach academic writing to freshmen ESL first-year university students, I am well acquainted with their writing challenges based on my teaching experience and research study. Current research study has also found that ESL undergraduate students faced many challenges with academic writing in the U.S. university context.
To illustrate, Chauhan (2021) concluded that ESL “undergraduate students experienced academic writing challenges [including] content (gathering information/ideas), organization, academic vocabulary, genre awareness, grammar and mechanics, and citing and referencing sources” (p. 148) because the standards and genre-specific expectations of AW in English are different from those of in ESL students’ L1s (Ferris, 2018; Giltrow et al., 2014; Osmond, 2016; Starkey, 2015).
To address the AW challenges of my ESL first-year university students, I employ Grabe and Kaplan’s (1996) ethnography of writing, which provides a theoretical framework to understand AW regarding its social and cultural contexts in U.S. higher education. Before creating any written text, all writers must ask this fundamental question: “who writes what to whom, for what purpose, why, when, where, and how?” (Cooper, 1979, as cited in Grabe & Kaplan, 1996, p. 203). They further stated that this framework considers academic writing as a combination of writer, reader, subject matter, and text as a writing triangle in which the writer persuades the readers in terms of logos (reason/text), pathos (credibility/writer), and ethos (values, beliefs/audience). Overall, the ethnography of writing is one of the best frameworks to introduce AW to the freshmen ESL students because this framework examines the text’s audience, the writer’s purpose, the genre required by the task, and the situation in which the wiring is used (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996).
Taxonomies of Ethnography of Writing
Grabe and Kaplan (1996) introduced eight types of taxonomies of ethnography of writing to discuss further how this framework operates in a broader academic context. Their framework is further explained together with how I employed this framework to teach writing to my ESL first-year students in a Midwestern U.S. university.
Grabe and Kaplan (1996) state that the first parameter of ethnography of writing is a taxonomy of who, i.e., writers. Knowing the writer and their background is critical to understanding writing well. It is essential to understand whether the individual is a beginning writer or a mature writer and whether the writer is a student who will be evaluated by their teachers or an independent scholarly writer who writes for an academic journal. This background information of the writer influences the audience for whom the writing is produced.
Considering this parameter, I often emphasize the writer’s role in my writing class. As an L2 writing instructor, I know that my students come from different first language (L1) backgrounds. The writing system in their L1s works differently from the writing system in English. I am aware that they are beginner writers in L2 and need more explicit instruction, support, and encouragement from me. I do understand that they are at the initial phase of creating their identity in L2 writing. In the meantime, I am also aware that their authorial voice is critical. So, I orient my students to use academic language and concrete words that embody meaning in the academic context (Bailey, 2018; Brun-Mercer & Zimmerman, 2015; Johnson, 2016), which ultimately helps the writers to make their voices strong. Also, I ask my students to use active structures to strengthen their authorial voice.
The second taxonomy of ethnography of writing is writes, which focuses on the linguistic nature of writing. This taxonomy of ethnography considers the entire process of text construction, its different linguistic parts, and their organization (thesis statement, topic statements, coherence, cohesion, word choice, reference, transition words (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996), sequencing information (Atkinson, 1991), and overall rhetorical arrangement of information (Bruthiaux, 1993). Overall, in the process of text construction, the writer considers audience, purpose, context, and the genre requirement (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996), discipline-specificity, and disciplinarity (Christiene & Maton, 2011; Flowerdew & Costley, 2016). There are two approaches that I use to teach writing: a process-based approach and a genre-based approach.
First, I follow a process-based approach (White & Arndt, 1991; Zamel,1983) to teach writing in my class. For example, selecting topics (they select topics themselves which they are passionate about writing), gathering required information, creating an outline, preparing the first draft, seeking feedback from peers, writing center tutors, and teachers, addressing feedback, editing, and finally submitting the final draft to the instructor for evaluation (Johnson, 2016; White & Arndt, 1991). Each step in this writing process is equally important for them because my students need to undergo various stages of the writing process to write essays. Also, they will receive points for an outline, first draft, and final draft separately.
Another approach that I employ to teach writing to my students in my class is the genre-based approach (Hyland, 2004; Swales, 1990; Tardy, 2008) because genre-based instruction enhances L2 students’ knowledge in four main areas, which include “formal knowledge of target genres’ features and conventions, the process knowledge of the methods used to produce, distribute, and consume these genres, rhetorical knowledge of target genres’ functions, characteristics, strategies, and subject matter knowledge of disciplinary content and skills” (Tardy, 2009, p. 21). By recognising the usefulness of a genre-based approach to writing, past research studies emphasized the responsibility of L2 educators to develop L2 students’ genre knowledge (Ferris & Hedgcock, 2013; Hyland, 2004; Tardy, 2008, 2009). Highlighting the importance of genre, Hyland (2004) stated “to fail to provide learners with what we know about how language works… denies them the means of both communicating effectively in writing and analyzing text critically” (p. 42). As the L2 students are not much acquainted with different types of genres, it is imperative to teach them genre knowledge explicitly. Also, they need to know that written texts are specific to each academic discipline, program, and major (Christie & Maton, 2011; Hyland, 2017).
Therefore, I provide a sample essay to my students, and they are engaged to analyze and identify all parts of the essay. They include an introduction (hook, background information, and thesis statement), three body paragraphs beginning with topic sentences, supporting details (explanations, reasons, examples, data, experiences, observations, etc.), and a conclusion that summarizes the main points of the essay and restates the thesis statement. In doing so, my students internalize all parts of the essay, which will help them to create their essays later. Ferris and Hedgcock (2013) and Tardy (2008) also stress that it is crucial to train beginner writers with skills that enable them to participate in intertextual systems.
The third taxonomy of ethnography of writing is what, i.e., the content or message. Grabe and Kaplan (1996) emphasize that this writing parameter should be described in terms of content, genre, and register. So, this taxonomy of writing seeks to answer these questions: to what extent does the writer need to have background knowledge (content) to create a particular text, what type of texts does the writer produce, and in which fields they are used? The what aspect of writing “must take into account the phenomenological world (a theory of world knowledge), a theory of genre, and some specification of register” (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996, p. 205). In other words, the writer’s background knowledge (schema theory) is crucial in this taxonomy of writing because it provides the writer with the knowledge of the genre and the techniques to organize academic discourse for a specific purpose (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996; Swales, 1990). So, it is critical for ESL writing instructors to allow their students to choose their topics to write.
In my writing class, I do not assign any essay topics to my students. Instead, I provide them with the freedom to choose their topics themselves because I want to promote social justice in my writing class. I also encourage them to choose a topic based on their background knowledge because it is difficult for them to write on a topic that is entirely new to them. For example, the student majoring in Finance ended up choosing a topic from their field, such as Three Ways to Make Money Legally in the U.S. However, the student who is specializing in Sports Management wrote Three Strategies to Improve Cricket. Unlike these two students, the next student who is majoring in Nursing decided to write on Three Benefits of Homemade Breakfast. Besides that, I also provide them with a sample essay to follow because I follow a genre-based approach to teaching writing. This approach allows them to be acquainted with the framework of a text used in the academic context. In doing so, they can write their essays on their topics by following sample essays given to them.
Another powerful taxonomy of writing is to whom, which refers to the audience. Grabe and Kaplan (1996) call it a theory of audience or readers because the audience is always at the center of creating a text. Also, the audience plays an essential role in the meaning-making of the text. The writer needs to ponder some of these questions regarding the audience. Are the readers known or unknown to the writer? If they are known, how close or distant are they? How much-shared knowledge exists between the readers and the writer in general? How much-shared knowledge exists between them on a particular topic. Grabe and Kaplan (1996) further state that the audience’s parameter influences the writer’s writing, including the number of persons who are expected to read the text, the extent to which the readers are known or unknown to the writer, the level of status (can be either higher, equal, or lower) between them, the extent of shared background knowledge between readers, and the extent of specific topical shared knowledge between readers and writers.
Building on Grabe and Kaplan’s (1996) framework, recent research studies also highlighted the role of the audience. Before the author writes any text, they need to consider their audience because the type of audience determines their writing (Swales & Feak, 2012). Similarly, Kirszner and Mandell (2015) argued that while writing any text, the audience should be kept in mind because they determine the purpose of the paper. While writing, academic writers envision a specific audience who share knowledge regarding a topic or issue they are writing about (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996; Singh & Lukkarila, 2017). Realizing the significance of to whom parameter, I often ask my students to decide their audience because it is critical for them to know who is going to read their essays. They know that two types of audience read their essays. They include their classmates and their instructor/s.
For What Purpose
As its name suggests, this taxonomy refers to the purpose of producing a text. Grabe and Kaplan (1996) state that every written text is created purposefully. They add that when the writer thinks of purpose, they need to ask these questions: to what extent is it possible to define purpose in a writing task? Are there single or multiple purposes in the task? How does purpose interact with genre and audience? As most writings are meant for audiences, they expect the purpose of the paper when they read them. Therefore, most writers mention their goal of writing to facilitate the readers to make better meaning of the text.
Before writing anything, the writer should be clear about the purpose of writing. Kirszner and Mandell (2015) argued that it is the purpose that limits the writer what to say and how to say it. According to Bailey (2015, 2018), there are three main reasons for writing: (i) to argue on a subject of common interest and give the writer’s view, (ii) to report on a piece of research study and create some type of new knowledge, and (iii) to synthesize research conducted by others on a topic. So, AW is unique because the writer shares inquiry-based knowledge to inform a particular academic community (Singh & Lukkarila, 2017). Considering this taxonomy, all writers need to know the purpose of the academic texts they are writing.
In keeping in mind this taxonomy, I mention to my students that each piece of writing has a certain purpose. My students mostly write five types of essays, and these are five-paragraph essays. For example, when they write a cause-and-effect essay, they show cause and effect relationship of a particular topic. However, when they write a descriptive essay, the purpose is to describe a place, person, object/thing, and process. Unlike these two essays, when my students write classification essays, the objective is to describe three main categories of a particular topic in an interesting way. For example, one of my students chose to write on Three Types of Roommates, whereas another student was interested to write on Three Types of Cell Phone Users.
According to Grabe and Kaplan (1996), the notion of why people write refers to underlying intentions or motives that may or may not be revealed by functional purpose. However, if the writer’s motive is apparent, it helps the readers comprehend the text better. Therefore, genre-based texts overtly express the writer’s motive to facilitate schema instantiation. So, the why component of writing depends on the paper’s audience, topic, and purpose.
In order to make sure my students maintain the why component in their writing, I encourage them to engage in peer review. When they participate in the peer review process in different phases of their writing, they are provided with opportunities to read their course mates essays. In doing so, they not only write on only their topics but also get an opportunity to read and offer feedback on their classmates’ essays. First, they are provided with a checklist (based on a rubric) and asked to give feedback focusing on higher-order concerns such as content/ideas, organization, and vocabulary because they play an important role to convey the writers’ message to their readers. Then, they also give their feedback concentrating on lower-order concerns such as grammar, mechanics, and formatting.
When and Where
According to Grabe and Kaplan (1996), this parameter refers to text creation’s time and place. This taxonomy of writing plays a more minor role than the rest of the taxonomies. However, its relevance depends on the type of text. For example, in official emails and letters, the date and place they are sent may be more critical for both the writer and receiver (reader).
In my writing class, when the parameter is crucial for my students because every writing assignment has a fixed deadline to complete and submit to me. The deadline is clearly mentioned in my writing course which every student is provided with both printed and digital copies of the course syllabus on the first day of the class each semester. Also, the deadline for each writing assignment is also mentioned on D2L (an online learning platform used in most U.S. universities and colleges). My students strictly follow the deadline to submit each writing assignment. If students are unable to submit their writing assignments due to any unexpected circumstances, they inform me via email and request an extension of the deadline. In that case, I extend the deadline depending on each student’s situation. In that case, I also provide additional time for individual conferencing with that student to support their writing development.
Although this is the final parameter of the writing’s ethnography, this is probably the most important because it examines how the text is created. Therefore, this parameter is also called “a theory of online writing production … or a theory of writing process” (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996, p. 213). Mainly, there are two things this parameter emphasizes. First, writing is a recursive process because the writing process stages, namely planning, drafting, revising, editing, and sharing, do not come in a neat linear sequence. Instead, the writers move backwards and forward several times to create a text (Hyland, 2003; Zamel, 1983). Next, the cognitive mechanism remains at the center of this parameter because it “provides [the writers with] the means for exploring notions such as audience, content, and writer intension from a composing perspective” (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996, p. 213).
This parameter is crucial for my students. For each writing assignment, they must go through all writing stages. They also know each stage has its significance in terms of learning and assessment. For example, they are aware that they cannot create a good outline without gathering sufficient information on a topic. Similarly, no good first draft can be written without a good outline. Without seeking and addressing feedback on the first draft, the final draft does not turn out to be perfect. My students understand this process; therefore, they love to follow all phases of the writing process because they receive separate points for outlines, first drafts, and final drafts.
To sum up, I have found that Grabe and Kaplan’s (1996) ethnography of writing is a useful framework to introduce AW to my ESL first-year university students. My students have developed an understanding of the basics of AW after I employed this approach. This framework has been very effective for me for two reasons. First, this framework promotes the teaching and learning of AW by asking the ESL students to analyze the writer’s process before composing any written text. As Paltridge (2017) stated, the students are asked: “to undertake any analysis of the context in which the text they are writing occurs and consider how the situation in which they are writing impacts upon what they write and how they write it” (p. 12). Second, this approach considers the intended audience, their background knowledge, values and understanding, conventions, genre awareness, and discipline-specificity and disciplinarity (Christie & Maton, 2011; Paltridge, 2017) because of people working in the academic community share “ideas, beliefs, values, goals, practices, conventions, and ways of creating and distributing knowledge” (Flowerdew & Costley, 2016, p. 11). Therefore, the ESL writing instructor’s responsibility is to train first-year university students to familiarize themselves with these elements when writing for academic purposes.
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Author’s Bio: Dr Padam Chauhan works as a Retention Specialist for the International Center and an ESL Instructor for the IEP at Minnesota State University (MNSU), Mankato, Minnesota, USA. Prior to that, Padam worked as a Writing Consultant for MNSU’s Writing Center. He has earned MEd in English Education from T.U., Nepal, MA in TESOL, and EdD from MNSU, Mankato. Before joining MNSU, Mankato, he taught ESL at the high school level and served as a high school (10+2) principal in Nepal. Padam voluntarily served NELTA Central Committee as its member, treasurer, and general secretary. Padam has presented at the NELTA, IATEFL, TESOL, AAAL, and TESL conferences in Nepal, the UK, the USA, and Canada. His current research interests include academic reading and writing, Writing Center tutoring pedagogy, and equitable access to English language education.
Whether mother tongue should be allowed or not in the EFL/ESL classrooms has been a debatable issue for many years, especially after the Grammar Translation (GT) method was considered ineffective in teaching English in non-native contexts (Paker & Karaağaç, 2015). Krashen (1981) claims that the use of the mother tongue (L1) deprives the learning of the English language (L2) in a natural setting, while the monolingual approach would maximize the effectiveness of learning the target language. Turnbul (2001) and (McDonald, 1993) are among other scholars who join Krashen in arguing that the use of the mother tongue hampers the learning of English and the best way to teach English is through English only.
However, the English-only approach – or the notion of teaching English through English (Richards, 2017) – is gradually being challenged as an impediment to teaching and learning English (Butzkamm & Caldwell, 2009; Pan & Pan 2010; Savage, 2019). The use of L1 not only creates the foundation for a better understanding of the L2 curriculum but also develops a positive attitude among children towards the schools that teach L2 (Savage, 2019). The use of L1 will be particularly relevant to the students from introductory to lower-intermediate levels (Pan & Pan 2010). According to Cook (2001), L1 creates a mental link between L1 and L2 and, thus, equips learners with the language competence they need to learn the second language.
Languages are linguistically interdependent, argues Cummins (2007), who, in the 1970s, developed the Linguistic Interdependence Hypothesis. Here,, the use of the mother tongue in the classroom reinforces the interdependence and enables the students to learn the second language through language transfer. Monolingual policies or prescriptions are actually contrary to and inconsistent with current understandings of how people learn (Cummins, 2007). In the same vein, Cook (2001) demonstrates that English-only policies and assumptions are wrong and urges instead to treat L1 as a classroom resource both for teachers and students to convey meaning, explain grammar and promote collaborative learning. Urging to use English where possible and mother tongue where necessary, Weschler, R. (1997) goes on to suggest developing a hybrid method drawing on the best of both schools of thought; English only approach and judicious use of mother tongue while teaching English.
At the beginning of my teaching career, 15 years ago, I was also influenced, like many beginner teachers, by the monolingual approach. I also used to think that English-only was the right approach, even aware that I was teaching on a public campus in which most of the students were from public schools with poor English competency. My preference for the conventional style of teaching English was to be an ideal teacher who could speak English fluently in the classrooms forbidding students from using their native languages.
Later, I realized that my approach was wrong particularly after my students started shifting to another class where the teacher used students’ mother tongue (Nepali in my context) as a medium (for instruction, teaching grammar, warming up, explaining homework and also the meaning of some technical words). Realizing the students’inclination towards their mother tongue went bilingual and saw the impact of it on the retention of students and their interactive participation in teaching-learning.
In the subsequent sections, I am sharing my own latest classroom practices in which I have used LI as a resource to teach writing skills and vocabulary. It was practised among 40 students of Bachelor of English Education at a Public Campus in Kathmandu. almost all the students were from Govt schools, with limited English proficiency. Most of them were from the ethnic communities that would speak Nepali as a lingua franca.
Practice 1: Each student was assigned to write a paragraph (8 lines) describing their own culture in English within 20 minutes. Out of 40 students, only 2 students (5%) completed the assignment. Eight students (20%) wrote some four lines of a paragraph. Twelve students (30%) wrote hardly two lines and 18 students (45%) wrote nothing (sat passive biting a pen throughout the 20 minutes). The body language of almost all students would tell that the practice was dull and dispirited.
Practice 2: Students were divided along with their cultural/linguistic background and were asked to write a half-page about their culture in LI, Nepali in this case, within 20 minutes. Almost all the students completed the assignment in time. Unlike the first assignment, students were happy, engaged and motivated to complete the exercise to the best of their ability.
Practice 3: Each group was, then, asked to translate the text into English and present it to peers. In case of difficulty finding an English term, they were allowed to retain Nepali term/s. Each group tried their best to translate what they had written, and presented among their peers highlighting the words/phrases they could not translate. I jotted down the highlighted words or phrases on the whiteboard. After the presentation, each group was asked to seek help from the other groups (using LI) to help find English words/expressions in their writing. After listening to the students, I stepped in to help them, explaining that certain cultural words might be difficult to translate, such as the name of community-specific food: Yomari (Newari food), Ghongi (Tharu Food), Sargemba (a food item of pig blood), Thekuwa (sweet cookie of terai people) and so on.
It worked well. Students were cheerful and fully engaged. No one seemed hesitant to share and express. On the contrary, everyone had something to offer and help a fellow student in need. It was truly collaborative. The mix of L1 and L2 would create a new environment of learning.
The use of LI is very helpful in EFL classrooms in a multicultural setting, like ours in Nepal. Foremost of all, it firms up the bond/connection between a teacher and students and helps create an inclusive environment in which students learn from each other (e.g., culture-specific vocabulary, writing skills, interpersonal communication) on an equal footing. It enhances inter-cultural respect among students and promotes collaborative learning.
The use of LI creates an environment in which everyone becomes an active learner. No one sees English as a burden. Instead, learning English becomes fun. As Pan and Pan (2010) rightly put it, “if L1 is utilized well and presented communicatively, it can be a facilitative tool that will improve the language proficiency of students” ( p.8 ) by motivating them to engage in learning exercises. L1 helps to develop students’ intercultural competence by providing learning content that is familiar to them (Chinh 2013). It is easy to build on familiar content, which also creates a level playing field for all to engage equally in learning without any sense of superiority or inferiority.
As argued by Weschler (1997), L1 opens the door to many possibilities for L2 while creating a natural learning environment. Learning cannot be imposed. It should not be a burden. Learning should instead be fun, which is possible through the use of the mother tongue.
The L1 versus L2 debate is not limited to educationists and teachers alone. Even our parents are drawn into it. Many of them want to see their children trained in the English-only fashion, unaware of perhaps the contribution of L1 to L2. Our teachers should also bridge the gap between the parental expectation (of L2) and the need of the students (of L1) by making the parents aware of the importance of L1 in getting their children where they want them to reach.
Butzkamm, W., & Caldwell, J. A. (2009). The bilingual reform: A paradigm shift in foreign language teaching. Narr Francke Attempto Verlag.
Chinh, N. D. (2013). Cultural Diversity in English Language Teaching: Learners’ Voices. English Language Teaching, 6 (4), 1-7.
Cook, V. (2001). Using the first language in the classroom. Canadian modern language review, 57(3), 402-423.
Cummins, J. (2007). Rethinking monolingual instructional strategies in multilingual classrooms. Canadian Journal of applied linguistics, 10(2), 221-240.
Krashen, S. D. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning. The University of Southern California.
McDonald, C. (1993). Using the target language. Cheltenham, UK: Mary Glasgow.
Paker, T., & Karaağaç, Ö. (2015). The use and functions of mother tongue in EFL classes. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 199, 111-119.
Pan, Y. C., & Pan, Y. C. (2010). The Use of L1 in the Foreign Language Classroom. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 12(2), 87-96.
Richards, J. C. (2017). Teaching English through English: Proficiency, pedagogy and performance. RELC Journal, 48(1), 7-30.
Savage, C. (2019). The importance of mother tongue in education. Independent Education Today. Available at: https://ie-today.co.uk/comment/the-importance-of-mother-tongue-in-education/ (downloaded on 30 March 2022)
Turnbull, M. (2001). There is a role for the L1 in second and foreign language teaching, but…. Canadian modern language review, 57(4), 531-540.
Weschler, R. (1997). Uses of Japanese in the English Classroom: Introducing the Functional-Translation Method. Kyoritsu Women’s University Department of International Studies Journal, 12, 87-110.
Author’s Bio: Ms Ganga Laxmi Bhandari is a lecturer of English education at Mahendra Ratna Campus Tahachal (T.U.), Kathmandu. She has over 15 years of teaching and training experience in ELT. She has also been working as a Central Committee Member of NELTA. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD degree from Tribhuvan University. Her area of research interest is teacher professional development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org