2012: A Statistical Review of NeltaChoutari

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt from the report generated by the site wordpress.com:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 46,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 11 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Wish for a Bigger, Better Choutari

Hem Raj Kafle

I remember seeing Shyam only once in one of my NELTA conference sessions in 2004. I get to see Sajan once a year. I know Prem well but we used to meet on rare occasions before he flew to pursue the doctorate. I have known Mr. Kamal Paudel for the last 15 years, but our regular communication is limited to Facebook chats and telephone conversations. Bal and I have never seen each other.

Nelta Choutari brought all of us to personal and professional intimacy.

I became a part of Choutari because of my audacity to ask for more work.  I first expressed the intention to join the team in the 2010 Nelta International Conference, at Little Angels’ College, Lalitpur. A webinar conducted by Mr. Paudel, Prem, and Sajan, featuring Shyam and Bal from USA during their late nights was something for epiphany. The advocacy for professional networks, and of the use of Web 2.0 among the English community, and the mention of Choutari and what its team had by then done gave me a sense of elevation. This happened to be a time while I was almost surreptitiously maintaining a couple of personal blogs, and while only a handful of academics in Nepal were beginning to take note of the worth of owning a platform of this sort.

The Team readily accepted me as an administrator/editor as early as April 2010. But I had only little zeal for stereotypes, and proposed to the Team that we could reach out to people beyond the English community to talk about English and its disciplinary worth. In my first editorial for Choutari (May 2010), I made an invitation to work ‘beyond the ritual’, to “come challenge our smug culture of sharing very little or nothing.”

Choutari gradually became an inclusive space with areas as diverse where English played a part as literary criticism, scientific research, travel writing, and teaching. There was little qualm about this multiplicity and the publication of the seemingly extra-ELT texts. But we had agreed upon the value of exploring the human as much as the professional, teacher and learner. Working mainly on the oral history project was the memorable experience in this direction. The interviews sought to bring out the personal stories of English teachers, which at times might have failed to appeal to a wider audience. With what I could collect it was not easy to satisfy certain type of people, the type that expected to hear certain type of English and certain type of opinion. But it was meaningful to have on board people like Gammbhir Man Maskey (Kathmandu) Rajendra Bimal (Janakpur), Prem Subedi (Morang) and Ekku Pun (Dhulikhel).

Choutari literally gave me a company of endurably cheeky and competent friends, who did not observe ritualistic courtesies in matters of quality and keep quiet in the urgency to speak. This quality I had developed already in the company of the ‘youngsters’ in the Society of Nepali Writers in English and Literary Association of Nepal. At times, the Choutari Team together thought we hurt ‘senior’ contributors by trying to put things straight. Often we anticipated that some people would stop writing for us. But, we assured one another the authenticity of our collective audacity, the advocacy of openness and quality. And every contributor turned out to be readier to help us. A simple, unpaid blog attained merits of a professional resource site.

We had always been maddened by a number of other priorities. But Choutari did not fail to come later than the second day of a new month. This was the result of our friendly non-compromise for delay. We helped and claimed the right to be helped. And we clung to the principle of remaining intact till a good team of volunteers was ready to take the charge. Truly, I was the last person to join the team and nearly became the first to leave, in lack of time. But the team held me around. I am glad I did not drop midway.

A lot of people know us by our names and writings. I often happen to surprise a young ELT scholar in our first acquaintance. I feel that people have formed an impression about us different from our faces tell them. Perhaps, we don’t look the way we write and quarrel.

I am glad I joined the team of great scholars — cheeky, audacious, resourceful …. I hope the new team will check being too submissive, too compromising and too polite in matters of professional integrity. I wish you all the best for bigger, better Choutari and promise to remain a part as a reader and contributor.

Happy New Year.

How to use Newspapers in ELT

 

Praveen Kumar Yadav
praveenkumaryadava@gmail.com

 

Background

Teaching English through the use of authentic materials can prove effective, creative, innovative and interesting for both English language teachers and learners. What we mean by authentic materials in teaching is the materials that have not been designed for teaching purpose. For example, a letter written by your friend, a press release, a notice and other materials that are not meant to have developed for teaching can be authentic materials for English language classroom.  Teaching English through the use of newspapers in ESL/EFL class is one of the popular sources of authentic materials.

A newspaper refers to a printed publication daily or weekly containing news, advertisement and articles on various subjects. The NEWSPAPER has an acronym in which ‘N’ stands for North, ‘E’ for East, ‘W’ for West and ‘S’ for South respectively. That is to say, the newspapers report the incidents from all four directions of the place or the world.

Newspapers, obviously, are authentic teaching materials for English language classroom. They can be used for a variety of purposes in English language teaching. For example, they can be used to motivate students, to present new structures and practise them, for communicative activities, for teaching free compositions writing and vocabulary and so on. The newspapers include different sections and columns like editorials, news, book review, advertisements, condolences, letter to the editors that can be cut out for preparing different teaching materials for ESL/EFL classroom.

Unlike most language textbooks, this information builds from day to day—what is learned in reading a story today can be applied to an updated version of the same story tomorrow.

In other words, the newspapers are more current and updated in comparison to the course books.

Suggested Activities

  1. 1.      News in Brief

    In some newspapers e.g. Newsdigest as in The Kathmandu Post, there is a ‘news in brief’ section consisting of many short news items (one paragraph each).

–         Give each pair of learners one of these news items for reading

–         Ask them to write a headline for it on a separate slip of paper.

–         Collect all the stories and the headlines.

–         Paste them on the board or put them on a table and ask learners to match the stories and the headlines.

  1. 2.      Caption Writing

–         First of all, let the learners read the captions under the photos and learn the structures and patterns used.

–         Assign them to write the caption of some photos

–         Collect the captions written by the learners and paste them on the board to decide the one which is the best of all.

  1. 3.      Letter to the Editor

There is a letter to the editor section in each and every English Newspaper. For example, Voice of the People in The Kathmandu Post, letters to the editor in The Himalayan Times.

–         Direct learners to the letters to the editors section of the newspaper.

–         Ask them to read some of the letters and discuss in pairs which ones they find most interesting/ controversial/ easy to understand. Feedback on this as a class. There is often more than one letter in the letter to the editor section that can spark discussion or a controversy.

–         Now ask learners to write their own letter to the editor. They can respond to one of the letters on the page, or they can write about a recent news item. They must write between 25 and 75 words. When they have finished, ask them to compare letters with a partner and try to peer correct any big mistakes. Circulate and monitor. Then post the letters to the editor around the class. If someone responded to an earlier letter then they should copy and cut out the original letter to which they are responding.

–         If possible, email the letters written by the learners to the respective newspapers. If published, they will be encouraged and it would also act as a reward to them.

–         Ask the learners to read the news or article and let them write a letter to the editor responding the news and article.

  1. 4.      What’s this?

–          Cut out some photos from various newspapers (not necessarily English newspapers) of recent news items which are familiar/ relevant/ of interest to your learners.

–         Put the learners in pairs. Demonstrate the activity by holding up a picture.

–         Let them speak and describe what is in the picture (there is… there are… a man is talking… two women are walking….)

–         Speculate about what the news story could be (it could be… it must be… he might be…)

–         Ask learners to do the same with their picture in pairs. As a follow up they could write the caption for the photo on a separate piece of paper. Collect the captions and photos. Redistribute them to the learners, who now have to find the photo to match the caption.

  1. 5.      Newspapers as a prompt

We can always use newspapers as a prompt to start a discussion on a given topic. Just as we would show a picture of something to prompt discussion, do the same with a newspaper article. If our aim is discussion and speaking skills, then why not use a newspaper written in the learners’ L1 to prompt discussion? Learners will be able to skim an article much quicker in their own language, especially at lower levels. If the issue is local, all the more reason to do so.

A variation of this would be to ask the learner to read something from the newspaper in their own language and explain it to you in English (of course this works best in small classes or one to one classes).

  1. 6.      Newspaper as a prop

We can use a newspaper in class without learners having to read it at all. For some role play speaking activities give out props. For fidgety learners, having something to hold while they are speaking can help!

For example, role-play a conversation between two people over a coffee in the morning. To help them get started, give them the following options to start a conversation:

A (reading a newspaper) – Can you BELIEVE this?
B – What is it?
A – This is an outrage. Listen to this…
A – Are you listening to me?
B (reading a newspaper) – Hmmmm?
A – I was saying…

  1. 7.      Role-play the news

    Choose an interesting article or story from the newspaper and make enough copies for every pair of learners. There are often “human interest” stories in the newspaper which adapt themselves well to role play (“Man finds long lost brother”; “Lottery winner buys a house for pet dog” etc.). Ask learners to first read the newspaper and then improvise a short role play. Role plays from newspapers are often conducted one of two ways: 1) one learner plays the journalist and the other plays the protagonist of the story; the journalists does an interview, or 2) learners each take the role of a person in the story and act out the story, or something that happens before or after the story.

8. What’s in the news today?

– Distribute the newspapers, one for each group of two or three learners.

– Tell them they have a time limit with which to skim through the newspaper.

– When the time limit is up, ask two groups to get together and report to each other   everything they remember that is in the news.

They must do this in English, and cannot refer to the newspapers (this is important, because otherwise we may get one or two learners who bury their heads in the paper and don’t participate!). Do feedback as a whole group. This is a combined reading and speaking activity, although the time limit forces learners to use the reading skill of skimming.

9. Newspaper show and tell

Give each learner a newspaper and tell them that for homework, we would like them to take the newspaper home, choose an article and prepare a report on it to classmates. The report must be no longer than five minutes, and should include peer teaching on new vocabulary that the learner encounters in their article. This encourages reading outside the classroom, as well as dictionary use. Set up a schedule and have the last five minutes of every class devoted to news reports by a learner or learners and make this project part of our class routine.

10. Newspaper Quiz

Give each group of four or five learners a newspaper and a piece of paper. Tell them that they have ten minutes to make a quiz based on that section of the newspaper. Suggest different kinds of questions, e.g. How long has X been… Where is …? How many people…? What happened in …? Who is…? Who won…? How much did…pay/cost…?

In groups, learners write six questions. Circulate and monitor, checking the grammar and spelling in the questions (and making sure that questions are not too difficult!)

When the groups are finished, they pass the paper and the questions to another group. Set a time limit for new groups to do the quiz. Repeat the process if you have time. Do feedback and check the answers to the quizzes. This is good to practise the reading skill of scanning for information.

These are not only the exercises that can be used for English language teaching using the newspapers. A number of creative activities for different language skills can be prepared based on the different items of the newspapers.

Conclusion 

Newspaper is a useful tool in the ELT classroom for improving reading skills and enhancing students’ knowledge of current affairs. However, it depends on the teacher or facilitators how they work out with the newspaper materials. Therefore, they should be able to select the items that suit the need of the language learners. They should keep in mind that learners should be left free to select an article that interests them, work on it and report back to other learners. They should get learners to read outside the class as much as possible.

If we teachers can get our learners to regularly dip into English newspapers, their reading skills, writing skills and vocabulary will improve.  We can talk about reading and comprehension of English texts with our learners as well, and share strategies that they use while reading. If used in a more inspiring way, newspapers can help both the teachers and learners achieving their goals.

 

Growing Together with NELTA

Shyam Sharma, State University of New York

It was during the summer of either 1995 or 1996 when I attended my first ELT training. Professor Awasthi and Ganga Ram Gautam were in the city of Butwal to offer a one week training. In the almost two decades that followed, I have not only attended but also presented teaching workshops, training sessions, and papers. But when I think about my own growth as a teacher, I start in Butwal, with Awasthi and Gautam as the trainers. These two ELT scholars had a different way of sharing ideas: they inspired the participants to think about language teaching as a profession, as a life-long journey. They didn’t just tell us how to teach the conversion of active to passive voice; they framed their presentation of teaching skills within larger ideas of professional development. Gradually, I found out that these two scholars were among the first few people in Nepal to start a new organization called NELTA, an organization that they repeatedly told us back in those days was NOT politically oriented or influenced, an organization that was dedicated to professionalizing ELT in Nepal. What they said that week made an impact that continues to make me think about ELT, about teaching English in relation to the larger domain of secondary and tertiary education in Nepal, about professional development of the people and the organization that brings them together, generation after generation.

As I returned home from teaching  the first week of class to business studies majors at the State University of New York this week, I thought about my journey of teaching from Butwal to Stony Brook. We all have our own individual paths that are different from everyone else’s, but we also have something that we share. I share with most readers of this entry (fellow English teachers in Nepal) a professional platform, a platform from which we have all gained something and to which we have given something. I learned from the community of NELTA scholars—conference presenters, to be more precise—how to use the blackboard, how to teach vocabulary, how to integrate literature into language teaching. I don’t know how significant my giving to NELTA community has been, but I think about it, I try my best. I was not one of the most active members between my becoming a member while I was teaching in Butwal and when I left for further studies in 2006, but I actively participated in NELTA trainings and conferences. I guess I learned to value professional development through give and take with a professional organization a little late in my career. But while I might have picked up the excitement about professional development a little slowly, when I think about how my participation in trainings and other professional development activities of the first few years paved the path for the next stage (for instance when my ELT trainings made my teaching at TU more effective), I realize how important an engagement with a professional community can be.

As I reflect on my own experiences, I want to urge my colleagues—not just those who are new in the profession of ELT but also those who are my generation and older—to share, to inspire others, to engage in professional conversations and activities, and to help NELTA build scholarship from the ground up. We have a journal, and we have this blog where a substantive amount of scholarship is published; but we need much more. We need to create more, and newer types of venues for developing and exchanging professional ideas that come out of or are applicable to the particular context of Nepal. For instance, a twitter-based conversation could help us share quick teaching tips with brief text; or a more teaching-focused conversation via Facebook would help us bring more of us into the conversation. Maybe we need more journals, newsletters, and mailing lists. But for any and all of these ideas, we need dedicated NELTA members. And the larger point that I am trying to make here is that there is space and opportunity—and also need—for many, many more NELTA members to start new initiatives, to join existing forums of professional conversation, and to share news ideas and challenge our conventions.

In order to realize our potentials, we may need to change or update our approaches and even our attitudes toward professional development of ourselves and our organization. When I first went for ELT training, I felt a stark difference between the “training” that one of my cousins, who was a public school teacher, went to and the training that I went to as a private school teacher. For my cousin, the training was a source of income and a matter of some pride/ego when he returned to the village. My incentives were very different: I was excited by the skills that I learned and used in my classroom and by the difference that using those new skills made in my teaching and my students’ learning. Over the course of the next ten years, NELTA’s ELT trainings helped me become an effective teacher as I moved up the ladder of my career. Even when I left teaching in high school and started teaching at the university—a place where teaching methods had almost no place in the discussions, programs, or incentives for teachers—I continued to implement new pedagogical skills and ideas that I brought back from NELTA trainings, conferences, and publications. In fact, even after I switched my discipline to writing studies and moved to a radically different academic setting in the United States, I refused to stop asking how the pedagogical ideas and skills that I had learned in the field of ELT might apply to the new discipline. Specific idea and skill from ELT may not have been directly relevant in the new discipline, but the underlying passion for professional development that I had acquired kept me excited, eager, and passionate about learning new teaching skills. I once again bring in my personal experience because I want to urge my colleagues in Nepal—whether you are just beginning to teach or have taught as long as me (or more)—to invest as much time and attention as possible to professional engagement with this great organization.

I will admit that NELTA as an organization has not always tapped into the potentials of its members very well. We see young people come in with excitement, and cool down after a while. When this happens, I am reminded of a teaching tip that professor gave me some years ago, telling me to “not” tell a student that what he/she is saying is obvious, that it has been said already by someone else. That’s not the point about learning; a learner needs to be excited first and foremost, rather than their knowledge having to be just right, relevant, substantive, etc. Let us inspire our new members to share whatever they can share, telling that they don’t have to say the most important thing in the world in our forums. Let us write to explicitly encourage and inspire them. Let us give them opportunities and challenge them. We tend to focus on “quality” at the cost of equal opportunity and respect for everyone. Often I feel like older members of NELTA don’t use the basic social skill of communicating, acknowledging, joining the conversation with especially younger members. Indeed, people with greater social status seem to be reluctant to take issues of teaching, learning, and scholarship seriously/passionately. It’s possible that in our culture at large, when people become more experienced and established, we expect them to maintain their status—which may make sense from a certain perspective but it is a terrible thing from the perspective of professional development, both for them and for the professional community at large. That is perhaps why we see many senior scholars, in any field, who do not share their ideas in writing—neither in traditional nor newer modes of professional communication—and so they lose the wonderful opportunities of continuing to develop professionally and intellectually. Other people regard them superior just on the basis of their age and status. That’s a terrible, terrible culture that needs to change.

Let me state more explicitly my objective for sharing this reflect on my journey with NELTA. First, I feel at this point that I am at a major turning point in my career. In August, I joined the State University of New York, the largest and one of the most prestigious public university systems in the United States, as an assistant professor. Though I specialize in writing studies (I moved away from ELT per se almost a decade ago), I continue to profoundly value my participation in NELTA’s various professional development activities (journal, blog, social media and mailing list, conference, personal and personal communication with members of the community) because I believe that I can give something back to a society and professional community to which I owe a lot. As I indicated above, I may be in a different kind of situation today, but I too started like any primary or secondary school teacher in Butwal or Birgunj or Taplejung is starting today—with a dream, with passion as an English teacher. I believe that if those of us who have a few ideas to share do not hesitate and share those ideas, we will inspire more new and young and resourceful colleagues to come forward. We may want to give back (as well as take from) NELTA in different ways—off and on line, in person and in groups, in formal and informal settings—but we can and should all give and take.

If NELTA grows, we will grow. Even when we go different routes off the regular path, we can help others who follow our footpaths grow and realize tremendous potentials for them, for Nepal, and for the world. And in helping them, we always get a lot back. We get new ideas, inspiration, satisfaction like nothing else. That’s a strong and sincere feeling about my growth with NELTA—from Butwal to Kathmandu to Kentucky to New York—which I wanted to share as I start a new journey in my professional career.

An English Teacher’s Dilemma

Umes Shrestha
Shining Stars Boarding School, Sanepa, Lalitpur.

This is one of the common expressions students in my school use. I’ve been teaching English in a secondary school in Lalitpur for almost two years, and here are few of the problems I have come across.

The first one – the students, both juniors and seniors, have the habit of speaking in “progressive” almost all the time. For instance:
Sir, he is beating me and taking my book.
He is pushing for me.

She is pushing for him, and beating for him. And he is crying.
(Their endemic use of ‘for’, too)

I am not so sure how the students picked up this sort of English speaking habit in the school. But I think they might have picked it from the teachers in the first place. A common logic says – students learn from the teachers. May be from the English teachers, or may be from other subject teachers.

The school system says, we need to create English environment. Everyone must speak in English, both the teachers and the students (except for in the Nepali classes). This system is followed in most of the private boarding schools all over Nepal. I don’t know how far the system has been effective. But, I can’t change the system. If it was up to me, I would give the students a choice between learning other subjects in English or their mother tongue Nepali. I’m not sure if that would work either. Until that happens, the teachers need to stick with the system and try to be better at it somehow.

Coming back to my situation, the second problem – the students speak a weird form of English; a version which is a direct translation of Nepali to English and mixed with incorrect/unusual sentence structures. Some call it “nepanglish”. Some say its okay, and that we should use English in our own Nepali context. It will even help develop a new dialect of English – a native-tied version of English, they say. Some, just like me, frown over it.

I’m facing this crisis in Class 9 and 10, every single day. I’m stuck in this strange dilemma – whether to finish the course in time and prepare them for the SLC exam or to teach them right from the basic grammar and basic English expressions.

May be the whole concept of teaching English in the schools has to be redefined. May be the system (like, English Speaking Zone) needs to be discarded. May be we’re giving pointless importance on English as a foreign language.

Or may be, we should be able to use English without grammatical errors and we need to strive for it.

May be, we don’t have to speak or write correct version of English at all and we will still do well in future. Lots of may be-s, lots of opinions.

Meanwhile, here’s a list of some “nepanglish” expressions I’ve heard students (and teachers alike) use in the school.

Homework became.
Give fast. (Fast giving.)
I am not beating him and. (Yes, they end the sentence with an ‘and’)
Book give.
Headache making.
Homework show.
Fall downing. Take outing. Get upping.
I am catching book.
Shouting much yeah?
Have must go home.
Have you pen?
Angry coming for me.
Nonsense fellow, Hero becoming?
Late became.

Well, how is it at your school?

——————————————

Umes Shrestha also runs a personal blog:
Personal blog:  www.latebecame.wordpress.com.

Editorial, July 2012 Issue

I hope everyone is having a nice summer.

Here is July 2012 issue of Nelta Choutari. This is a variety pack. The increased diversity of contributors is exciting. And we are also excited about the fact that our contributors share their experiences while discussing issues at more or less general scholarly/theoretical level.

The first piece is a reflection of one of our colleagues, Kapil Neupane, who shares his experiences about beginning to use lesson plans and improving his teaching. In an entry about corporal punishment, Atmaram Bhattarai and Praveen Yadav first describe the scenario of corporal punishment in Nepal and then argue why corporal punishment is not the solution to problems that it is supposed to solve. The authors also provide alternatives and make an appeal to NELTA as a professional organization to address the issue of corporal punishment in our schools. Tirtha Wagle writes about an issue that most of us are are not aware about, decision making before, during, and after teaching. Sometimes, we ask editors to join the conversation, so in this issue Bal has provided an entry in which he discusses how experienced teachers deal with diverse students in the classroom. Finally, we have included the second half of the interview from last month with a veteran English language teacher Dr. Rajendra Bimal (thanks to Praveen Yadav again for collecting the interview). For convenience, here is the list:

I hope that you will enjoy this issue and join the conversation as always. You don’t need grand ideas, just any response, thought/opinion on the topic, or a genuine appreciation or critique. And please remember to share it on your professional/social networks.

Thank you and happy reading!

Shyam Sharma

Importance of Lesson Plan in ELT Class

Kapil Neupane, Model Boarding Higher Secondary School, Bhaktapur

A “lesson plan” can be defined in many ways. As someone who learned the idea of lesson plans after having taught for a while, I have found lesson plans to be the most valuable asset in my teaching. Without a lesson plan, I get nowhere with my teaching. A lawyer spends hours planning a case before appearing in court, a couch spends hours planning the plays and watching the team and a director explains his film story to his actors again and again, just why? Any successful professional knows that the quality of planning and preparation affects the quality of results. So, a lesson plan is to a teacher what a calculator is to an engineer, a stethoscope to a doctor, and a packet of seeds to a farmer. A lesson plan gives teachers an eagle’s eye of view of things to be taught and learned everyday. It also helps them determine when to insert ice breaks, interesting facts, and other components of engaging learning for my students. In fact, if used well, a lesson plan can also help students’ learning by helping them know what comes when and how things are done during a class by the teacher and by them.

Now, let me share my experiences of teaching which really began ten years ago. During those days, I did not really plan and prepare what I wanted to do during a class before entering the classroom; I read the material and thought that I knew the content well enough to teach it. In retrospect, I understand that my students did not pay much attention—and some did their homework for the next class and others just seemed to wait for the bell to ring—because I did not have clear purpose and organization behind my teaching. I got many complaints about my students being noisy from the teachers teaching at another class next to mine, and I complained about my students lack of attention. Some of the students pretended to listen to me perhaps to keep me pleased.

Frankly, I too waited for the bells to ring because the classes were painfully disorganized and students’ didn’t behave well. During class time, I had no fixed time for students’ performance and exchange of their learning, and when the bell rang I would frantically try to tell students what to do for the next class. There was no time for students to ask questions about homework or revisions. I rarely went to class with teaching material other than the course book, and my only objective was to finish teaching that material. Many of my students failed their exams, and I had to explain why. In response, I was upset and I went to the extent of scolding and blaming the students for being lazy. But the problem was that most students who failed in my class did better in other subjects. There had to be a reason. And for sure, the key reason was that I did not teach with a plan and a purpose. I did not use lesson plans, did not assess the outcome, and improve my teaching.

It was when I joined the bachelor of education degree that During I studied a theoretical subject in which I got the opportunity to learn about how to plan and execute a lesson and what the benefits of doing so are. I also later got other opportunities to participate in ELT trainings and workshops.

Today, I realize that the failure of students can be indirectly the failure of their teacher. Students who are taught without a clear sense of purpose and well-designed learning activities fail more often than students others. Now I enter any classrooms only after preparing a compete lesson which allows me to visualize every steps of teaching process in advance. In addition, a lesson plan records and saves my time as I teach similar subject and lesson in the future. Although it requires an investment of time, energy, and thought, lesson planning has been more than worth the time and energy to me.

We can … without corporal punishment

Atmaram Bhattarai & Praveen Kumar Yadav
Plan Nepal Sindhuli/Rautahat

Abstract

Cruel and humiliating forms of psychological punishment, gender-based violence and bullying remain a daily reality for millions of children in schools. Such different sorts of violence adversely affect quality education and create fearful learning environment violating the rights of children to learn in a safe school environment. The short article attempts to look back to the history of corporal punishment, moves further with the consequences and reasons for such punishments and finally concludes with alternative ways to create learn without fear environment. Overall, it appeals all the stakeholders to join hands to contribute Learn without Fear campaign launched globally with an aim to end violence against children in all schools.

Scenario of Corporal Punishment in Nepal

Corporal punishment in school has become a preferred measurable tool for making children disciplined. 57.77% of school going children in the world is potentially risk of receiving school corporal punishment. A study done by Plan Nepal in different 7 districts in 2011 shows that 39.34% of children realized punished corporally by the teachers. They also mentioned that 5.34% of total school droppers are because of the corporal punishment.

The above data makes some of us cringe while it is common for some.  No doubt, we were compelled to grow up in fearful learning environment in Nepalese context. The Learn with Fear concept or method has become a culture in teaching learning activities. We need to remove the culture with our collective efforts. The present article starts with some historical background of punishment given to the learners, goes ahead with the causes behind punishing the students followed by its effects and concludes with some alternative ways of teaching.

A look at the history

Our education system from traditional age is largely influenced by our religious books such as Vedas, Purans, Manusmriti, etc. According to Tulsikrit Ramayan, Ayodhyakand, one of Hindu religious books “भय बिनु प्रिति नहोई” (which means that there can be no love or motivation that leads to success without punishment/fear). But gone are the days when there was Gurukul Education and the teacher who was known as guru used to be powerful. Today, the traditional education has shifted to new generation and the power is misused by so called gurus. As a result, children are victimized due to excessive power exercised by the teachers.

In the Western world, such punishment was used for minor judicial and educational misconducts in the past. It was the most popular form of punishment until English philosopher John Locke stirred up some controversy with his paper, Some Thoughts Concerning Education around the late 1700s. In this paper, Locke explicitly criticised the manner in which corporal punishment was central to education. But it was as early as the 18th century that European countries banned corporal punishment; for example, Poland banned all forms of CP in 1783. Gradually, the practice of corporal punishment declined through 20th century globally to some extent. However, it is sad to note that corporal punishment is still prevalent in our schools of Nepal.

Why teachers beat the students in Nepal

Corporal punishment is given to the students in the following conditions or for the causes mentioned here:

  • When the students fail to submit their homework
  • When they make a noise in class room
  • Debate with the teacher in class room
  • When learners are found fighting with each other
  • If they come to school with no uniform
  • Lose / forget to bring copy, books and other stationeries
  • Cheat and hide others’ copy, book, pencil, etc
  • When they sleep in the classroom or show misconduct
  • When they are unable to answer correctly
  • If they receive poor marks in exam
  • When they leave some classes and run away
  • If a student is absent or does not attend the school regularly
  • If students speak unpleasant words
  • When they come to school late
  • They fail to pay school fee in time

What types of Corporal punishment is given in Nepalese Schools

  • Scolding, verbal abuse
  • Making the students sit in a discomfort position
  • Locking them in toilet/other room
  • Slapping a child by his/her own classmate
  • Making them stand for long time at side of the door, corner of room, on bench and ground
  • Pulling hairs and cheek
  • Twisting the ears
  • Hitting with the objects on any part of the body (like duster over the head)
  • Throwing some objects at child
  • Discrimination of equal participation because of caste group or gender
  • Hitting with stick on palm, back, head, legs, etc.
  • Preventing students from entering the classroom for a while
  • Squeezing a pen/pencil between the fingers
  • Pinching, Hanging, kicking
  • Making them lean against a tree and tying up with the rope
  • Threatening
  • Making the students run around the school premises or playground many times

What results when the teachers beat students (Consequences of Corporal Punishment)

  • Intellectual loss
  • Increased delinquency
  • School drop outs of children
  • Mentally / physically disabled
  • Nurture violence behavior
  • Lower self esteem / lose confidence/humiliation
  • Training for children to use physical violence
  • Liable to instill hostility
  • Rage without reducing undesired behavior
  • Associate with negative outcome
  • It does not only hamper the individual development but also disturbs/ruins the social harmony
  • Suicide /Death

Why corporal punishment is not the solution

Extensive research shows that corporal punishment does not achieve the desired end – a culture of learning and discipline in the classroom. Instead, violence begets violence. Children exposed to violence in their homes and at school tend to use violence to solve problems, both as children and adults. Key research findings show that corporal punishment:

  • Some learners blow their own horn about being beaten as something to be proud of, as a badge of bravery or success.
  • Undermines a caring relationship between learner and educator, which is critical for the development of all learners, particularly those with behavioural difficulties.
  • Undermines the self-esteem and confidence of children who have learning or behavioural problems and/or difficult home circumstances and contributes to negative feelings about school.
  • Does not build a culture of human rights, tolerance and respect.
  • Does not stop bad behaviour of difficult children. Instead, these children are punished over and over again for the same offenses.
  • Does not nurture self-discipline in children. Instead, it provokes aggression and feelings of revenge and leads to anti-social behaviour.
  • Does not make children feel responsible for their own actions. They worry about being caught, not about their personal responsibilities. This undermines the growth of self-discipline in children.
  • Takes children s focus away from the wrongdoing committed to the act of beating itself.

Why ban corporal punishment

Nepal is a one of the signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which compels it to pass laws and take social, educational and administrative measures to protect the child from all forms of physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.

By the result, banning corporal punishment is responded in School Sector Reform Program (SSRP-2009-14). The SSRP states that no child shall be subjected to physical punishment in any form in the school. Teacher and school found guilty of practicing corporal punishment shall both be subject to disciplinary actions that may include suspension of teacher’s grade and an official warning to the School Management Committee (SMC).

Similarly, Education Rule (sixth addendum), 2059 has added ‘no students should be physically and mentally violated’ under the teacher’s code of conduct. At the mean time, the ministry of education has approved a policy named ‘Policy Provision for Banning Corporal Punishment in Schools- 2011’.

Ministry of Education in the collaboration with the Department of Education, National Centre of Educational Development, Plan Nepal, Save the children and UNICEF launched Learn without Fear (LWF) Campaign in Nepal on 21st November 2008.  It is a campaign for preventing all forms of violence against children in schools. This includes corporal punishment, sexual abuse, neglect, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and bullying in schools.

So What?

CP crates fear among children. Where there is fear, there is no effective learning and the children can not construct their knowledge. The teacher should adopt alternative ways of CP. If teachers are to have a positive culture of learning and teaching in their schools, the learning environment must be safe, orderly and conducive to learning. There should be close relationship among teacher and children. The children should be loved and affected.

There are also those teachers who believe that corporal punishment is wrong, but they don’t always know what to use instead of physical force or the threat of it to maintain discipline and a culture of learning in the classroom. Discipline is a part of the daily life of students and teachers, but it is not a simple issue; it demands a great deal of time, creativity, commitment and resources.

A classroom climate based on mutual respect within which learners feel safe and affirmed will decrease the need for disciplinary action. By implementing a proactive approach, teachers can put things in place, which will safeguard the culture of learning, and teaching in their classrooms. Simple things like preparing for lessons; exercising self-discipline; having extension work available; ensuring that teaching and learning happen consistently; ensuring that learners are stimulated; establishing class rules with the students; making a space for time out or a conflict resolution corner; affirming students; building positive relationships with children; preparing and implementing job chart are all strategies which will set the stage for a positive learning environment and can significantly reduce problems with discipline in the classroom.

Similarly, the other alternatives ways of CP for a positive culture of learning and teaching are:

  • Providing disciplinary actions for misconduct inside the classroom: Carried out by class teacher; Verbal warnings; Community service; Additional work which is constructive and which possibly relates to the misconduct; Small menial tasks like tidying up the classroom; Detention in which learners use their time constructively but within the confines of the classroom i.e. they cannot participate in extra-mural activities or go home.
  • Adopting a whole school approach and making sure that the classroom discipline reflects the school’s policies.
  • Establishing class rules by the learners in the participatory way; be serious and consistent for implementing class rules.
  • Building a relationship of trust in which learners feel respected, understood and recognized for who they are.
  • Managing the learning process and the learning environment enthusiastically and professionally.
  • Being inclusive by using materials, pictures, language, music, posters, magazines and so on that reflect the diversity of the class so that no children feels left out or that his or her identity is not valued.
  • Giving students the opportunity to succeed.
  • Allowing children to take responsibility.
  • Giving attention seekers what they want.
  • Adopting strategies for behavioural modification like setting expectations, positive reinforcement, consistent consequences, presenting role model, etc.
  • Preparing and implementing code of conduct in school

Conclusion 

We observe that ‘pounding an animal is cruel; pounding an adult is crime and against human behaviour whereas pounding a child is a corrective measure for their proper adjustment into the social and cultural norms that the children need to respect’. Sometimes, punishing a child is considered the ‘right’ of parents or teachers. Teachers who are unmotivated and poorly trained are more likely to resort to punitive and physically violent methods of control, but this is not always the case for all teachers. But, globally, the practice of corporal punishment in school is being rejected and promoted alternative non violent discipline method to facilitate children’s behaviour and learning activities. A total of 106 states of the world have already legally banned the practice of CP in schools and care institutions. Similarly, 24 countries of the globe have legally banned corporal punishment at home either. In a society like ours with a long history of violence and abuse of child rights, it is not easy to make the transition to peace, tolerance and respect for human rights at a pace. Schools have a vital role to play in this process of transformation by nurturing these fundamental values in children.

 Our Appeal to NELTA

Most of the English teachers of school level in Nepal are known and blamed as cruel teachers as they mostly punish children in the purpose of making them success. Most of them (mostly of lower grades) are not aware that English is not learnt with corporal punishment. English can be taught using love and affection to the children in the communicative way using the above alternatives. Therefore, it is our humble request to NELTA to adopt Learn without Campaign within the network to wash the blame of cruelty pasted on the forehead of English Teachers in Nepal.

What we can do is to prepare some posters for promoting ‘learn without fear campaign’ in collaboration with ministry of Education, Department of Education, Save The Children, Plan Nepal and UNICEF and disseminate among the teachers all over the country through our branches existed in more than 35 districts. This will prove a milestone to make the campaign a grand success.

References

Education Rule (sixth addendum), 2059

Learn Without Fear Campaign Plan (October 2008-2011), a core document

Policy Provision for Banning Corporal Punishment in Schools, 2011

School Sector Reform Program (SSRP), 2009-2015

Teaching without punishment, a training manual to teachers, NCED, 2063

http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/pages/pdfs/SchoolsBriefing.pdf

Decision Making in ESL Classroom

Tirtaha Raj Wagle
Saptagandaki Multiple Campus,  Bharatpur Chitwan
Small Heaven Model School, Aanptari, Chitwan

In any area of ELT, different approaches are available, so teachers are able to make the best decisions to suit particular situations and goals while planning, teaching and evaluating the students or themselves. But due to the lack of training, they are unable to make the right decisions. This entry attempts to raise awareness in teachers about making the right options which will help to develop their professionalism. The entry is divided into three sections: Planning Decision, Interactive Decision and Evaluative Decision. Each of the sections presents some reflective questions, summary of the topic and tasks for discussion.

Teaching English as a second language can be challenging for any teacher. But this is also a field where tremendous amounts of knowledge and scholarship exist, so teachers can learn about many different approaches, methods and techniques as they will fit their classroom. Teaching involves making a number of individual decisions which are the outcomes of reflective thinking. Since teaching itself is a thinking process, English language teachers have to think through and plan before actually teaching in the classroom. The decisions at this stage are Planning decisions. When the teacher enters the classroom, he or she starts making decisions on the spot; such decisions are Interactive decisions. At the end, the ESL teachers must make decisions about their own teaching which are known as Evaluative decisions. My concern, here, is to discuss how making these decisions effective can boost the professional development of ESL teachers.

(A) Planning Decisions

Neither a novice nor an expert can make his/her second language classroom effective if planning has not previously been made. Lesson plan is intended to help the teachers organize the lesson effectively. It usually includes description of objectives, mentions instructional materials, the activities students will carry out, time needed for each activity and teaching strategies to be used. It makes the teacher aware of possible problems and above all provides with alternative techniques to face them.

The way teachers prepare lesson plan depends upon their personal belief system. Planning of the lesson also differs in great deal on what a teacher believes about English as a second language, language teaching, language learning, language curriculum and language teaching as a profession such as,

Teacher A: I believe vocabulary is the most difficult aspect of English for its second language learners.

Teacher B: In my view, English Grammar is more difficult than vocabulary for its second language learners.

Here Teacher ‘A’ while planning a lesson for second language learners of English may focus on spelling, word meaning, pronunciation or sentence formation. On the other hand, Teacher ‘B’ tends to focus on providing grammar rules through inductive mode. His planning of the lesson seems more like teacher dominated. But, any other Language teacher with alternative belief may try to construct the knowledge in students’ mind from their previous experiences using deductive mode of language teaching. He may try to make the students more creative rather than making them passive receivers of the rules.

Teachers are generally encouraged to develop lesson plan in micro level for every lesson that they teach. Richards (1990) believes that the Planning decision is guided by the objectives of the lesson and should be mentioned using action verb. In a grammar lesson, for example, one of the objectives might include the following:

Students will be able to make a sentence in simple present tense using the structure:

Sub + V-present + Object

Objectives of the lesson lead the whole classroom activities from material use through Language practice and evaluation to homework assignment.

Planning decisions reflect the teacher’s belief about teaching, learning and the lesson plan itself. Beliefs on planning of lesson from five different teachers are mentioned below:

Teacher A: Detailed planning of lesson discourages student’s response, neglects students’ needs, avoids their interest and makes them less creative.

Teacher B: Without a detailed lesson plan, a teacher wanders off tasks in the class and achieves no prescribed goal.

The ESL teachers are suggested to consider the following reflective questions to make and select appropriate planning decisions:

• What do I want my students to learn from this lesson?
• Why should I teach this lesson?
• How should I start the lesson?
• Am I able to fulfill the professional roles?
• Do I have enough knowledge regarding the content?
• What instructional materials are needed for this lesson?
• Do I have materials needed for this lesson?
• What methods, techniques and approaches can be used while teaching this lesson?
• How should I organize the activities into different stages?
• Is the lesson too easy / difficult for this level?
• How can I deal with problematic students?
• How should I deal with students’ ability levels in the class?
• What role should I play during this lesson?
• How will I check students’ understanding?
• What will I do to manage discipline in the class?
• How will I handle interruptions to limit interference in this lesson?
• How will I motivate the students, involve them in language practice and evaluate them?

(B) Interactive Decisions

 

Since teaching itself is an interactive process, the teacher has to bring a number of changes in his planned lesson when a situation demands. Lessons are dynamic and unpredictable in nature, therefore, are characterized by constant change. The teacher has to make situational decisions to fit appropriate context of classroom teaching. Some teachers often comment that the classroom environment, while teaching, goes on changing and seems to be completely different from what it had been supposed it might be while making planning decisions. While selecting an option in planning the lesson, a teacher can not predict what may go on in real classroom.

A teacher whose teaching is solely guided by a lesson plan and who ignores the international dynamics of the teaching learning process is less likely to be able to respond students’ needs. Interactive decisions enable the teacher to access students’ response and modify the teaching strategy to provide optimal support for learning.

Parker (1984:220) observes – “Teaching- Learning contexts change, and teachers’ behavior must change accordingly: There is no one way to behave in language classroom.’ A number of behaviors are appropriate to the complexity of classroom.

Interactive decisions involve the ability of a teacher to observe the class her or himself to find alternative behaviors and select the best one to suit the specific immediate teaching context.

Consideration of following reflective questions will help the ESL teachers to make appropriate interactive decisions:

• How is my relationship with the students at this moment of teaching?
• Is my voice clear enough for the students to understand?
• Do the students understand it?
• Are the students paying attention?
• Is the class going on comfortably?• Is there anyone with hearing problem?
• Is this too difficult/easy for this level?
• Should I follow the different strategy?
• Am I out of my track?
• Is it going as I planned?
• Why is student ‘A’ not paying attention?
• Shall I ask him about his problem?

• Should I continue this task or start another one?
• Are the students interested with what they are doing or they are feeling bore?

• Do they think it is useful for them to develop certain language skill?
• Do the students have enough vocabulary to carryout this Language activity?
• Do the students need more information or it is too much for them?
• Can I meet the objectives if I teach this way?
• Am I transferring the knowledge or creating it in students’ mind?
• Am I playing the role of dictator or facilitator?
• Am I going according to my needs or students’ needs?

The following examples of interactive decisions made by two different ESL teachers are the outcomes of above reflective questions:

Teacher A: Yesterday in my grammar lesson, I planned to teach ‘Present Perfect Tense’ for grade x. When all the students were practising on – Sub + has/have + V-past participle (V3), one of them asked about contextual difference in the use of ‘has’ and ‘have’ . When I tried to reply, they got more interest in it. I immediately changed my decisions and started teaching ‘Concord’. The students were more curious to learn it, so I had to spend the whole period to teach ‘Concord’.

Teacher B: Once I planned to teach ‘writing’. To meet my objectives, I involved the students in picture description as I had planned. The picture was differently interpreted by different students. Even a single student described it in two different ways. Students became creative by themselves. When one heard the description from another, the class was lively. I immediately postponed the lesson for another day and let the students involve in discussion. I conducted only oral activities that day. I was satisfied with the consequences because all the students actively participated in language use.

(C) Evaluative Decisions

 

Teacher’s self-evaluation is an integral part of teaching which helps him develop professional proficiency. To evaluate own teaching teachers are typically based on their personal belief system on what constitutes good teaching. For e.g. a teacher following curriculum base approach evaluates his teaching in term of how well s/he explained the lesson as mentioned in the curriculum. In general teachers should make evaluative decisions on the basis of fulfillment of their objectives.

To make self evaluation a teacher should think back his objectives. He should think back his planning, presentation and decide the answers of the following reflective questions by himself:

• How did I start the lesson?
• Were the students well motivated?
• Was I successful to fulfill the desired objectives?
• What did the students get out of the lesson?
• Was my voice loud/clear enough for the students to understand?
• Did I give the correct answers to the students?
• Did the lesson arouse interest in students?
• How did I respond to the problematic students?
• Why did I shout at student ‘x’?
• Couldn’t I do something other than shouting/beating?
• Does shouting/beating bring positive change in her/him?
• Should I reteach any aspect of this lesson?
• What should I avoid and repeat in my next class?
• What were my strong and weak points in teaching this lesson?
• Should I use alternative strategies in next class?
• Were the students attentive all the times?
• Why did student ‘x’ feel sleepy/bore?
• Did all the students take part in oral communication?

After having finished the lesson, the ESL teachers should often evaluate their teaching and make alternative decisions. Following are the examples of evaluative decisions made by two different ESL teachers:

Teacher A: Once I made a plan to teach ‘Instruction’ for the students of grade x. I even got my plan approved by the expert. But, after presentation of the lesson, students could not instruct to make an omelet. I, therefore, concluded that I applied wrong method of teaching and immediately decided to use alternative method in the next class.

Teacher B: In my grammar lesson, once, I was teaching voice. My specific objective was to make the students able to change a simple present active voice into passive. But, about ninety percent of the students, after the lesson was over, could not do it. I concluded that my presentation of lesson was faulty and practice was insufficient. I, therefore, decided to reteach the whole lesson next day.

Second language teachers need to establish a reflective habit which develops the skill of reviewing, noticing, interpreting and evaluating own teaching. Above all, it guides the teachers in planning and selecting. Such reflective habit will help the teachers to face various unpredictable classroom situations in future.

References

Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classroom (Jack C. Richards and Charles Lockhart)

Language Teaching Education (John Roberts)

A Course in Language Teaching (Penney Ur)

Mentor Course (Angi Malderez and Caroline Bodoczky)

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