Welcome to the June Issue of ELT Choutari: Language Planning and Policy

Language Plan & Policy

Editorial

English teachers should initiate discussion on rationales of English medium of instruction

It is common to experience different issues in teaching-learning process in educational institutions, which is not desirable but inevitable. Most of the problems can be solved through an effective communication and discussion among the team.

One of the key issues in our educational institution now is the appropriate use and practice of language/s both as a medium of instruction and access of children’s mother tongue in teaching learning. Before addressing the issue of mother tongue based multilingual education, there has arisen another key issue in teaching learning, which is the increasing use of English as a medium of instruction in our multicultural and multilingual classes. And the interesting thing is the practice of English medium instruction is merely guided by a statement in policy, which states that “the medium of instruction at school level can be Nepali, English or both. However, Mother tongue can be used up to basic level and the same language should be used for a language subject.” There is no any other policy guidelines to systematise this practice. Schools are imitating each others and the practice is increasing. In this backdrop, the communities, local governing bodies and teachers as local executives should also play an important role to make a wise decision on the language practice in the educational setting. An initiation from a teacher also can make a big difference. Therefore, teachers, especially English teachers should initiate effective communication and discussion among the team to avoid the situation from getting worse because they know more about English language and its limitation.

In the context of Nepal, the increasing shift to the English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) seems to be guided by two major factors. First, to stop the transfer of students to private boarding school and increase students in community school. Second, the belief that the English language proficiency of students can be enhanced by teaching all subjects in English medium.

There are several other factors behind the distrust of parents towards community schools, resulting the decrease in number of students. Merely introducing English medium instruction does not solve the problems but its impacts can further deteriorate the condition of school. On the other hand, schools and parents believe that the teaching all academic subjects in English can improve the language proficiency of students. But are schools only English language teaching centres? Or they have roles to deliver the academic contents effectively to students as set by curriculum. Can the existing teachers deliver the contents effectively in the new language? Are students ready for that? Most importantly, is it necessary to deliver all academic contents in English language from primary level? What is the rationale behind it? What do the researches suggest?

We, therefore, need to consider several important questions before making the decisions of language shift in schools. It is very important decision, which can affect the future of children and society but schools are taking it very lightly.

As an English teacher, we can do something to rethink and review this practice. Firstly, we ourselves should be clear that language is just a medium to deliver the information, knowledge and skills. Therefore, the medium of instruction should be the language in which both the students and teachers feel comfortable. It has been huge challenge even for teachers of English to teach English effectively around the nation and how can other teachers teach academic subjects (well packed with contents) effectively to students? Therefore, let’s teach English language subject effectively first. If only English language is taught effectively, students can achieve a level of conversational English. In the name of EMI, actually parents are asking for a workable conversational English, which is possible through effective teaching of the English language. It is not necessary to make such a big shift to attain this purpose. As an English teacher, if we only can clarify these illusions in our school management and school family, it could avoid the random practice and decisions regarding the medium of instruction.

And presenting you the June issue for you, we have tired to re/start the discussion on the language planning, policy and language practices. This issue is packaged with language planning and policy, language in education, professional development and general thoughts on education. The following lines will guide you to select the writing in the area of your interest:

In the first post, Kumar Narayan Shrestha talks about language planning and policy, and its process, and also reviews the language planning and policy of Nepal.

Similarly, Gyanendra Kumar Yadav explores the actual language practice and the issues related to language policy and English language teaching (ELT) in Nepal.

Likewise, a PhD scholar Karna Rana, shares the global need of multilingual citizens and rationales for education in children’s mother tongue.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Prem Phyak shares his insights on the effective approach to language planning and policy analyzing the flaws in the existing language planning and policy. Similarly, he also shares the possible approach in language in education and multi-lingualism and evaluates ELT in Nepal.

In another post, to present you a different taste, Dr. Shyam Sharma urges us to reframe our perspectives and look the realities through positive lens and encourages everyone to take action from their level for language policy and quality education for all.

In the last but the not the least post, Shikha Gurung shares how teachers can continue their professional development through the three dimensional act of reflection, research and networking.

Here is the complete list of the posts in this issue:

  1. Language Planning in Nepal: A Bird’s Eye View: by Kumar Narayan Shrestha
  2. Language Practices and Food for Thought for Language Policy Makers: by Gyanendra Kumar Yadav
  3. So What, If Not Mother Tongue?: by Karna Rana
  4. Language Planning and Policy Should Embrace Inclusive and Co-learning Practices: Dr. Phyak: by Prem Phyak
  5. Beyond Beating Dead Horses: by Shyam Sharma
  6. A Three Dimensional Approach to Professional Development of English Language Teachers in Nepal: by Shikha Gurung

Finally, I would like to thank Karna Rana for his rigorous support in reading and editing. Likewise, I am thankful to Ashok Raj Khati and Praveen Kumar Yadav for their support to release this issue. Similarly, special thank goes to all the contributors of the issue.

Read, comment, share and write your own practices and send to us at 2elt.choutari@gmail.com

Happy reading!

Jeevan Karki the Editor of the issue

Jeevan Karki
the Editor of the issue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Karna Rana

Karna Rana

Editor of the Issue

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

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

reflective-thinking

Dear valued readers,

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

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

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

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

second, by imitation, which is the easiest, and

third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the list of the posts in this issue:

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

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

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

Jeevan Karki- head shot

Jeevan Karki  Editor of the Issue

References:

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

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

Teacher, Teacher Education and ELT: Changing with the Time

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Dear Choutari readers,

In the midst of long silence because of technical and other issues, we are back with the special issue of ELT Choutari. This is the second issue of this year which focuses on several aspects of ELT. Before listing out the blog entries of this issue, let me reflect on my experience and observation on some aspects of ELT.

I am fortunate to observe hundreds of English lessons in the past two years in rural parts of Nepal. My experience of working with teachers in schools and training venues in diverse topography and culture in Nepal has shown that many teachers are still facing challenges in lesson delivery process. ‘Fresh’ university graduates who have ‘successfully’ completed pre-service teacher education program have been unable to deliver English lesson really effectively though having authorized license to teach.

Then where is the problem? In my opinion, the problem lies in the way we perceive a language, our profession (ELT) and the meaning of language teaching. The problem lies on how we make sense of a language to be taught as a course, the language to be used as a medium of instruction and the content to be taught (if it should be).

Every human being makes sense of the world differently. They obviously have their own ideas, concepts and perceptions towards overall meaning of language teaching. In this light, I have similar observations as Rebecca Reymann, a contributor of this issue has, in many parts of the country. We as teachers are investing our effort in memorization. I agree with her in a way ‘language is a beautiful tool for expression’. It has to be taught in a context differently in different grades but not through memorization. Every child is unique and he/she does not get success in language learning through the same route. The children have their own perspectives toward the language, language learning process and the world. In the same way, they have their own ability to grasp language.

So far we talk about ELT as a teaching profession, many of us might have different explanations for this choice. Samita Magar, another contributor, decided to pick ELT simply because she is influenced by her teacher when she was in school. She finds this profession more creative and respectable than others. It shows that the identity of English teacher is perceived differently by different people. In the past, to some extent teachers had an uniform identity. They were considered priests, the messenger of Gods and the personalities with high morale. In the east, this sort of identity is still in existence to some extent. However, the overall observation of English teachers’ identity has been changing with time. It is witnessed at present that there is no uniform opinions and beliefs why a person chooses ELT as a profession.

Likewise, as the time has changed in the way we teach children, the way teacher educators and trainers facilitate training sessions has been changing. The focus has been shifted to the achievements of the students along with the teacher learning. Ekraj Koirala, a teacher trainer, recently experienced a better way through school based teacher training modality in Nepal. Teachers have different expectations and challenges in their own contexts. In this regard, the same cascade model may not be appropriate in all cases.

At the same time, the approaches of teacher education in universities and academic institutions have been changed. Distance and open learning system have been introduced by several universities to prepare teachers. Similarly, private schools have different requirements for recruiting teachers and government has its own. Kiran Thapa, a scholar from Kathmandu University, discusses issue of certification and licensing of English teachers in Nepal. She highlights the significance of certification and licensing to maintain minimum standards and add quality in education.

Another changing dimension in public education is the shift towards English medium instruction from Nepali. Choutari editor Jeevan Karki has spoken with Juliet Fry, a teacher educator, who emphasized the continuity of multilingual approach in Nepal. She has strongly articulated her voice over the significance of Nepali, English and other local languages to generate economy, and to preserve the identity and culture of Nepal, which calls for a balanced approach and multilingual education.

Similarly, there has been a great shift in testing system.  From this year, the government has introduced letter grading system to assess SLC graduates and different forms of letter grading system was already in practice in school education. With reference to testing of English language, Shyam Sharma in a blog piece, states that monolingual tests don’t predict overall academic performance by multilingual students.

To sum up, the perceptions and practices in teaching profession, teacher education and ELT pedagogy have been changing with time. Here is the list of posts in this issue:

  1. School Based Teachers Training: My Experience in Khumbu Region- Ekraj Koirala (Siddhartha)
  2. Why I Chose ELT as a Profession: Samita Magar
  3. Certification and Licensing of English Teachers in Nepal: Kiran Thapa
  4. Throwing the Baby Out of the Bath Water: the Context of EMI in Nepal- Juliet Fry
  5. Multilingual Testing in Monolingual Regimes: Dr. Shyam Sharma
  6. Language Teaching is not Memorization: Rebecca Raymann

On behalf of ELT Choutari Team, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all team members, contributors and reviewers of this issue. As the commitment to our valued readers, we are investing our effort to release ELT Choutari as quarterly publication. At this hour, two new members have joined our team to continue this professional legacy of local and global ELT discourse through this platform. Juliet Fry, a national director of professional learning of secondary teachers’ of English language in New Zealand will be supporting us in the capacity of the guest editor. Likewise, Karna Rana, a PhD candidate from University of Canterbury New Zealand will be contributing Choutari in the capacity of editor.

Special thanks to Jeevan Karki, Karna Rana and KP Ghimire for their support to bring out this issue. Hope you will enjoy the readings. We will be grateful for your ideas and comments on the blog posts.

Ashok-photo

Ashok Raj Khati Editor of the Issue

Welcome to Seventh Anniversary Issue of Choutari: January 2016

On behalf of the ELT Choutari team, I would like to wish everyone a slightly belated Happy New Year 2016! And welcome to a special Anniversary issue once again!!

This is the eighth year of our blogging about ELT. We are grateful to you for reading and promoting the ELT khurak we provide here. And we are grateful to those who have contributed to this issue. Your contribution to professional conversations here is invaluable, as always.

The last year 2015 remained the year of despairs in Nepal especially due to destructive earthquake and five-month-long crisis resulted due to discontented voices of communities especially Madhesi, Tharu and Janjatis following the country’s new constitution. It has affected all walks of life, and education and ELT in Nepal have been impacted as well. But we also believe that as educators we can play a role: we can understand and communicate issues, we can rethink education at all levels, and we can even improve our day to day teaching. It is not just a coincidence, therefore, that the writings in this issue address difficult issues of power and struggle, opportunity and justice to the general masses.

Bearing the responsibility of representation of the Nepali people, the Constituent Assembly (CA) presented a constitution for the first time in Nepal’s history. The constitution has ensured Nepal as Federal Democratic Republican state with three-tier government (federal, provincial, and local), competitive multi-party democratic system, secularism, inclusion and policy of proportional representation, president as ceremonial head-of-the-state, people’s sovereignty and fundamental rights including economic, social and cultural rights. It is for professionals and educators in all fields to help realize the aspiration of the people by contributing through the means at their disposal. Education is arguably the most powerful means for social transformation. We will welcome fellow educators to share ideas with broad social vision through this venue.

We are yet to understand how the sociopolitical changes above will affect education, but as educators, it is our role to make sense of the change, to shape it, to give it meaning. It is for us to make the best contribution we can to the education of the future generations of Nepalis. We certainly cannot continue to do whatever we have been doing; we can and must invite others, ignite ideas, and involve ourselves in conversations about change, about where and what and how we can be most productive and professional in the new contexts.

At Choutari, we plan to produce new issues on special themes and issues. While we are likely to publish on longer time intervals than before (most likely quarterly instead of monthly), we will remain the open space run by independent volunteers, continuing a tradition and adding a necessary dimension to professional conversation.

Here we reflect on the past, present, and future of our work. We would like to invite you to consider joining us and contributing as directly as you can. If you can spare the time and have new ideas, please contact us; this could be your means of impacting the professional lives of English language teachers across the country (and also across the world). We have thrived on the power of volunteerism, volunteers with knowledge and experience, passion and energy, technological skills, and a desire for collaboration and networking. If you have any of these to contribute to the community, or have questions before you join, please do not hesitate to send them at eltchoutari at gmail.com.

Thanking you again for your continued readership and your support, and wishing you a great year ahead again.

In this anniversary issue, Prem Phyak, a PhD scholar in University of Hawaii, dedicates a blog post to the legacy of a famous applied linguist, Professor Alan Davies. In the context of sad demise (in September 2015) of Professor Alan Davies, the author shares some of his major contributions in relation to teaching, discourse, ELT policy and Applied Linguistics in Nepal. In the second post, Tikaram Poudel, assistant professor in Kathmandu University, examines the texts relevant to influence of English on Nepalese society and provides a fresh perspective for looking at the socio-educational issues of Nepal in relation to English language in education.

In the third post, Shyam Sharma, assistant Professor in Stony Brook University, New York, appreciates and analyses the benefits of multilingualism in relation to Nepal’s multilingual context and education. In another post, Uttam Gaulee, a PhD scholar in University of Florida, recalls the days of his principalship in an English-medium school in Nepal, and provides the perspective on harsh socio-economic inequality and division created by public and private (English-medium) education.

Likewise, in another post, Doreen Richmond, a teacher educator in the USA, who did writing lessons in some classrooms and training sessions in rural parts of Nepal, shares her experience of teaching writing as a process to younger and older students. In another blog post, Hem Raj Kafle, assistant Professor in Kathmandu University writes on his PhD experiences, a thoughtful memoir of his six years engagement in Kathmandu University. In this blog post, Dr. Kafle provides deep thoughts on the process of pursuing PhD and the product of it.

Here is the list of posts in this issue:

  1. Prem Phyak: Local Contributions of a Global Applied Linguist: A Tribute to Professor Alan Davies
  2. Tikaram Poudel: English in Nepal: From Colonial Legacy to Professionalism
  3. Shyam Sharma: The Beauty and Power of Multilingualism
  4. Uttam Gaulee: Boarding the Illusory Train
  5. Doreen Richmond: Writing about Writing
  6. Hem Raj Kafle: Post-PhD Ramblings: What is There to Remember?

On behalf of ELT Choutari Team, I would like to express my sincere acknowledgement to former team members, contributors, and readers for continuing this professional legacy of local and global ELT discourse. Hope you will enjoy the readings. We will be grateful if you could share your thoughts and comments on the blog posts and also share them with your networks.

Ashok Raj Khati Coordinator Anniversary Issue
Ashok Raj Khati
Coordinator
Anniversary Issue

Welcome to EMI Special Issue: August 2015

On the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples today, the Choutari team recognizes the importance of both local and global linguistic diversity and rich languages/language practices and cultural heritage knowledge of the indigenous people all over the world as a resource for building an equitable world in 21st century through quality education.

editorial banner

The spread of English as a global language has created numerous issues concerning educational policies and practices. Pushed particularly by the the ideology of “global  market economy”, English is taken-for-granted  as the language of education in developing countries. While the teaching of English as a language has already been a big challenge in ESL/EFL contexts, there is an increased push of English as the medium of instruction (EMI) policy from the early grades in Nepal. While the English language is certainly an important language in this globalizing world, it is not true that imposing English-only  medium of instruction ensures a better education that prepares students for job market (which is becoming more multilingual and multicultural) nor is it justifiable that EMI promotes equity and access in education.

A famous linguist and scholar, David Crystal (2002) argues that the spread of English language has already created unprecedented “threat to many minority languages” all over the world. In Nepal, we have a mosaic of linguistic diversity which can be an important source of education. But EMI is pushed without considering any academic and language learning theories/studies. As they are facing a big pressure to increase student numbers, community/ public schools wrongly assume that the EMI policy will help them out to retain the students.

The EMI policy to lure parents to stop children from going to private schools is a perilous and an extremely reductionist view about education which lacks both academic and pedagogical justifications. The medium of instruction policy is one of the most important aspects of education as it is directly related to academic and cognitive development of children; to language and culture of society; and the education system as a whole. Thus, the creation and implementation of any language policy should be rigorous, comprehensive, and grounded on educational theories and best practices that embrace local existential reality while showing critical awareness of global issues.

Another key aspect to consider while developing a language policy is social justice and equity.  Studies from all over the world have shown that allowing children to use their own home/community language as a primary language of education, while simultaneously learning second/foreign language, ensures greater student achievement. Further, the right to education in one’s own first language has been recognized as a fundamental right in all the global educational forums and policies that Nepal has already rectified and adopted its own policies.

In this backdrop, the government must be responsible to ensure its policies that are informed by educational practices and theories that support equitable and quality education for all children. We must be aware of the fact that  “market forces” do not entirely determine and represent larger social and educational needs of the nation and as market resources are always hierarchical, they are not accessible to all children.  Thus, we should first answer these questions: Do we really need EMI? When do we start EMI? What is the space of English in local linguistic diversity that shapes our educational practices? What should be the medium of assessment? Have we prepared teachers and created resources for EMI? What are the research-based foundations of EMI?

This August 2015 issue focuses on the above and other cross-cutting issues related to EMI policy in Nepal. We include case studies, pedagogical practices, and experts’ perspectives on EMI.

The first blog entry  by Mahendra Kathet, a teacher trainer, is a case study of community schools from the Mt. Everest region which have recently adopted EMI. In the second post, Ashok Raj Khati, a teacher training specialist working for REED Nepal, further investigates into the EMI practices based on case studies, observations, and theoretical aspects.

In the third post, Ishwor Kandel, a master trainer of NIITE (National Initiative to Improve Teaching in English) project, highlights the need of EMI in schools and focuses on professional development of teachers to materialize the policy effectively. He also shares the ongoing NIITE project and its contents.

The fourth post is an interview with Khagaraj Baral, Executive Director of NCED. Mr. Baral believes that needs and interests of citizens are primary in democracy and if they want EMI in their schools, it should be up to them. With reference to SLC results of few EMI schools, he argues that  EMI policy contributing to  better results.

Prem Phyak, a PhD scholar, University of Hawaii, US, and Lecturer at the Department of English Education, Central Campus, Tribhuvan University, in another interview, shares research-based findings and situates them in Nepal’s current EMI policies and practices. He argues that the issue is not whether we need EMI policy, rather it is the accessibility and quality in education through EMI in the multilingual societies like Nepal. He argues that there is a need for redefining and reimagining language teacher education (including ELT/TESOL) and professional development programs (including teacher training) from a multilingual perspective. He asserts that there should be intensive research studies and critical examination of the current policies and practices before making any language policy decision.

Likewise, Bal Krishna Sharma,a PhD scholar of the University of Hawaii, shares that in the context of Nepal, where English is taught as a foreign language, teaching in English-only does not benefit the majority of students. Based on his research, he argues that whether we allow or not, translanguaging is in practice in our classes and he further suggests using both English and home language of students systematically to produce effective teaching learning outcomes.

Similarly, in another post, Pramod Kumar Sah, a research scholar on EMI at the University of Central Lancashire, shares his views on the prospects and challenges of implementing EMI in the context of Nepal. He presents the cases from all around and argues that EMI in Nepal has been a haste and unplanned decision. He also proposes to allow multilingual practices such as ‘translanguaging’ and ‘plurilingualism’ in the bilingual and multilingual classes of Nepal.

Last but not the least, we have continued the photo photography project. For the project, Photojournalist Sunil Sharma, who is also working for Chinese News Agency called Xinhua, contributes the photos from the classes in the temporary learning centers that were built to support children who could not go to schools after the April 25 earthquake.

Here is the list of the blog posts for the August Issue of Choutari:

  1. EMI in community schools: A case from Mt. Everest region by Mahendra Kathet
  2. EMI in Nepal: A passport to a competitive world or a commodity to sell?, A Case Study by Ashok Raj Khati
  3. Project NIITE: Developing Better Teachers for Implementing EMI by Ishwor Kadel
  4. Parents have Rights to Choose Medium of Instruction: Executive Director of NCED, an interview
  5. Reimagining EMI from a multilingual perspective: Policies/Practices, Realities and Looking Forward, by Prem Phyak
  6. Why English-only ideology and practice, by Balkrishna Sharma
  7. English Medium Instruction (EMI) in Nepalese Education:Potential or Problem? by Pramod Kumar Sah
  8. The Photography Project: Education in Emergencies, by Sunil Sharma

We hope that the views, opinions, and experiences in this issue will help shape EMI policies and practices in Nepal. I extend my sincere gratitude to the entire Choutari team for their support. Similarly, I am thankful to all the contributors for their amazing ideas on EMI! Last but not the least special thanks goes to Praveen Kumar Yadav for his untiring technical support!

Hoping that you would enjoy reading the special issue!

Happy readings!

jeevan

Jeevan Karki, Editor, August Issue

Editorial (July 2015 Issue): EFL teachers in ‘super-difficult circumstance’

Namaste and welcome to the July 2015 issue of Choutari!

We hope you enjoyed our June issue which also focuses on education and EFL teaching in Nepal’s post-disaster situation. You can read the issue here.

In this issue, we have three blog posts and a photography project. In my own article, I have discussed the preliminary findings of the survey on the role of EFL teachers in Nepal’s post-disaster situation, which I call “super-difficult circumstance.” The teachers’ responses reveal a multitude of difficulties (e.g., psycho-social, educational and economic challenges) caused by the recent earthquake. Most importantly, the findings of the survey reveal the “transformative agency” of EFL teachers who transgress the “schooled pedagogy” and can create their own “pedagogy of disaster” to help their students recover from the traumatic experience.

In the second post, Nirjana Sharma, an education journalist based in Kathmandu, shares a featured news story based on her observation of the schools on the resumption after a month-plus unscheduled holidays following the earthquake. 

July Issue of ChoutariIn another article, Dinesh Thapa shares with us his own involvement in the relief and recovery operations in the earthquake-affected areas. He begins with telling his own story and discusses empirical findings about how people are affected by the earthquake. His article is a testimony to redefining the role of “teacher-as-researcher” and an important material for EFL teaching.

Praveen Kumar Yadav’s post focuses on his own classroom experience teaching his students after the earthquake. His story documents the importance of teachers’ role in facilitating the earthquake-related discussions in EFL lessons. More strikingly, the way in which he has framed the devastating stories in his “world literature” course resonates what I call the “pedagogy of disaster.”

The Choutari team always explores new ways to promote pedagogical discussions among EFL teachers. We have initiated a “photography project” for EFL teaching. Influenced by the Critical Photography Theory” (Wells, 2015) and the “Critical Art Pedagogy” (Cary, 2011), the goal of this project is to promote the use of photos/pictures in EFL teaching.

Table of contents
  1. From ‘schooled pedagogy’ to ‘pedagogy of disaster’: The role of EFL teachers in the super-difficult circumstance of post-disaster Nepal, by Prem Phyak
  2.  School resumption brings smiles to children, by Nirjana Sharma
  3. The impacts of the earthquake on education: Contemplation of an EFL teacher, by Dinesh Thapa
  4. I survived and have a story to tell, by Praveen Kumar Yadav
  5. The photography project’: Pictures in EFL teaching, by Choutari Team

I hope you enjoy reading this issue.

Happy readings!

Prem Phyak (Guest editor)

(With Praveen Kumar Yadav)

Welcome to the June Issue: Education in Emergencies

Education is children’s basic human right; we need to ensure it even in  emergencies.

The ‘April 25’, the day of 7.9 magnitude earthquake, which can be marked a black day for Nepalese people, has not only caused loss of thousands of lives, but also pushed the country years behind in terms of development. This has, no doubt, affected every sector, including education. Schools across the nation have resumed now, but are the children already out of the trauma? This is something that the primary attention of concerned stakeholders have to be paid for.  The traumatic reminders may still bring on distressing physical and mental reactions among children. It, therefore, challenges teachers for dealing with students’ psychology, safety measures, classroom management, and continuing the syllabus at the same time.

Children can be more reactive than adults owing to their less ability to anticipate danger and to voice how they feel. It is consequently important to assure that the children are orientated against false assumptions. They need emotional support and bereavement briefings-dealing with death experience.  This requires teachers- they may have however been traumatized- to be strong and bring in positive activities in their lessons, for example telling a story of positive recovery after disasters rather than telling about the loss. Parents should also have a significant part to play while letting their children recover from this trauma. They should try keeping the children away from horrific exposures, primarily from the sad news stories on mass media.

ELT Chautari has accordingly come up with a special issue that focuses on education in the aftermath of the earthquake.

The first post by Rojita Adhikari’, a multimedia journalist, is a feature story of an undergraduate student who lost her house and the only source of income, shop, in the April 25 earthquake. Adhikari narrates how quake survivor Sarita chose teaching to heal her pains and the pains of survivor children.

In the second post, Ms Charlotte Benham, a former Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Nepal, has put her ideas forward on ‘Lessons in Language: What EFL Teachers Can Learn from Earthquake Relief Efforts’. This article accounts for enabling students to communicate in the post-earthquake world and integrating social issues, that have been explored during relief and rebuilding process, into language lessons.

Prem Phyak, one of the founders of Choutari, in his article ‘language matters in the post-disaster discourses’ arguably advocates that the use of certain terms in the post-disaster discourse in Nepal are disempowering earthquake survivors. His analysis implies that teachers should refrain from using the terms that disempower the survivors while talking about the disaster in classroom and school.

Anuradha Sharma through her post shares her experience and efforts to helping the quake survivor children overcome their psychosocial problems.

Ms Neha Shah, a grade teacher from Ideal Model School, Kathmandu has produced encouraging ideas how she managed to cope up with small kids while taking the syllabus further. She has carefully noted the psychology of her children, and acted accordingly. Her article entails the strategies the schools outlined and how they were implemented successfully.

Mr Chetan K Timilsina, an English language teacher from Kathmandu, has shared a story of his classroom experience with traumatized children of different age groups.His account for planning lessons and putting into effect in accordance to the psychology of the children is worth reading.

In the last post by Jeevan Karki, one of the Choutari editors and a teacher trainer with REED Nepal, shares his perspective to what and how to teach students at post earthquake situations.

Here is the list of hyperlinked write ups included for June Issue.

  1. Teaching helps forget quake victim Sarita’s pains, by Rojita Adhikari
  2. Lessons in Language: What EFL Teachers Can Learn from Earthquake Relief Efforts, by Charlotte Benham
  3. Language matters in post-disaster discourses, by Prem Phyak
  4. Helping children overcome quake trauma, by Anuradha Sharma
  5. Facilitating School Children at Post Earthquake Classroom, by Neha Shah
  6. Teacher’s Anecdote: Teaching Children at Post Earthquake Situation, by Chetan K Timilsina
  7. Rethinking what to teach in the aftermath of disaster, by Jeevan Karki

Last but not the least, I would like to thank our valued readers and contributors for their continued support and urge them to join the conversation through comments on the blog entries and sharing on social media (facebook, twitter, etc.).


Pramod K Sah
Editor
June Issue

May Special Editorial: Re-envisioning ELT/Choutari in the Aftermath of Great Earthquake

Dear Readers and Contributors,

We apologize for the hiatus in May — as you know, the entire nation was stunned by the major earthquakes that took the lives of thousands and affected those of millions of others in Nepal.

As we start gathering and rebuilding hope, energy, and enthusiasm as educators and citizens, and as members of the profession across national borders, we realize the need to ask new questions. Our questions must be situated in the new context of rebuilding the nation, as well as reforming education.

English Language Teaching (ELT) has always been a means for achieving social goals, and not an end. This is the time to think about what that end, that purpose of ELT and of education at large is. This is the time to reconnect ELT and education at large with challenges, changes, and opportunities in life and society. This is the time to embrace new ideas and perspectives, methods and technologies, people and cultures.

ELT is a means to prepare students for society, professions, and successful lives. We must now reframe the teaching of English language and literature (and all the knowledge and people that they connect to) within the vision of a new Nepal. A Nepal that rises from the rubble. A Nepal that took a disaster and turned into a new journey.

At times, it feels as if work that like this only serves to reinforce the inequity in the society, that it best serves the already privileged. Those of us who run this blog are teachers and scholars mostly living in cities; we use technological platforms that are not available for the majority; and we focus on a foreign language that, for many, is only taught and learned to pass exams (which are deeply discouraging and can drive many away from future careers in learning altogether). This feels like we are driving little scooters around a few cities in a country where doing so will only reach a quarter of the population; half of the nation is only reachable by buses and tractors, and the other quarter is unreached by any vehicle so far. Who are we doing all this for? Are fellow teachers across the country able to join conversations like this, conversations that are framed on the terms of those whom they cannot relate to? How far can technologies go in engaging teachers in vastly different contexts and situations across the country? And, most significantly, what is the new vision for the relatively few connected scholars/teachers after the national crisis, this rising from the dust? How can we leave behind our old modes of thinking and develop new visions, new alliances, new strategies?

ELT is one of our links to the rest of the world. It is also a link between many disciplines in our education. And it is a link between education and many professions in the world. English as a lingua franca links our young generations to bodies of knowledge and other nations/cultures, and to professions like diplomacy and development, business and journalism in the broader/global context. But English has also created bottlenecks in opportunities, hope, and confidence for generations of communities that are already disenfranchised in other ways.

So, especially in the aftermath of this national disaster, how can we expand the scope of opportunities above while disrupting the bottlenecks? How can we pause to think about the many ugly realities of inequality, marginalization, and irresponsibility of the privileged that the disaster has exposed–and how can we start using education (including ELT) to start addressing the problems and building on the opportunities?

At a more practical level, because Nepal is prone to different types of disasters (including earthquake, floods, and landslide, which take thousands of lives every year), how can we re-envision ELT curricula, pedagogy, and resources in order to help prevent damage of infrastructure and loss of life in the future. It is not enough to stand akimbo and say that these are issues that the engineers will take care for the society. No doubt, we cannot prevent them; but the community must be aware of three R’s of disasters — readiness, response and recovery — before, during, and after natural calamities.    In this sense, everyone can and should be partner-engineers of social vision, of thinking and communicating new ideas, of forging a new future.

Incidentally, it was saturday when schools and colleges were closed when the first earthquake jolted the nation. Even the second earthquake occurred during daytime at a time closure of educational institutes were already announced in the aftermath of the disaster. Otherwise, casualties, especially students and teachers might have been worse. It is high time for teachers, practitioners and education experts, including ELT communities, to contribute to raise awareness among children and youths in schools and colleges about disaster management. Education is the most effective means to disseminate such knowledge and skills in the community.

We hope to raise broader issues of education in the days to come. We invite you to contribute your blog posts to this venue, encouraging you to write about a broader range of issues, including classroom practice and the emerging issues of the day. During the month, please consider joining ongoing conversations on our Facebook page.

Let us envision rebuilding our society, and education an ELT can be important tools. You can be an important agent. Let us rise from the dust and leave a legacy of resourcefulness and resilience for future generations.

Thank you.

Praveen Kumar  Yadav and ELT Choutari Team

(with contributions from former editor Shyam Sharma)

Welcome to April Issue of Choutari

Editorial 

Needless to mention, sharing the practitioners’ views on various issues related to particularly English Language Teaching (ELT), and language and education in general is part and parcel of publishing Choutari with a view to trigger further discussion inviting our audience to join the conversation every month. Once again, we have come up with another set of ELT khurak for April issue.

The April Issue deals with different areas of  ELT that covers author identity in academic writing and research, grammar, authentic source for language teaching, spoken English, medium of instruction and Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). 

Author identity in academic writing and research among others has remained an everlasting issue that the trainers, mentors, and ELT practitioners have brought into the forefront in our context since very long ago. Acknowledging the authors and researchers is a well agreed intellectual honesty that everyone who makes use of them should consider wisely. But the well accepted referencing systems throughout the world have still left space for the argument on whether the systems we are following have honestly respected author identity. Especially, abbreviating the initial and the middle names of the authors and researchers in the reference list alone has raised the issue in the academia to the discussion. Emerging authors and researchers do not have to mention the initial and the middle names of the authors in the text during in-text citation, especially in American Psychological Association (APA) for example. When abbreviating publisher’s names is discouraged, how does it seem plausible to abbreviate the initial and the middle names of the authors has haunted the authors, researchers and potential audiences. Those standing for the argument opine that, abbreviated initial and middle names of the original authors may lead to many other names except the authors. It not genuinely addresses author identity, nor does it keep the honest readers at comfortable zone to identify the true authors.

Similarly, English as Medium of Instruction (EMI) that has been raised as an issue of discussion has evoked a couple of questions in front of teachers, trainers, instructors, and education analysts. In the context of problematic situation of teaching English language itself in English medium, how it can help learners to achieve the desired learning outcomes when the medium of instruction alone is shifted from learners’ mother tongue to the international language- English. Learners may understand the content better through their own mother tongues rather than from English medium, the so called driving tool for quality education. If the cognition of the subject matter itself cannot be assured by any other language medium as much as by the learners’ mother tongue why the government and NCED have started for this venture, has not made the issue crystal clear. Further, the English medium private schools nearby may have been densely populated and government aided public schools thinly populated in terms of number of students not only because of the medium of instruction alone but also by administrative chain of command and professional loyalty, punctuality, and effort of the teachers. Parents also visit the English medium private schools frequently because they have to pay a large amount of fee every month but many of them do not visit even twice an academic year because they do not feel it compulsory. Government aided schools should own the confidentiality of the parents in child caring and safety needs, their disciplinary needs, punctuality, and regular classes.

Here is the list of blog posts we have included for April issue;

  1. Sharing Experiences Enhances Teaching and learning: An Interview with Bishnu Hari Timilsina
  2. Call for Respecting Author Identity in Academic Writing and Research, by Binod Luitel
  3. Is Grammar a Liberating Force or an Obstacle for Communication?, by Ramesh Prasad Ghimire
  4. Literary Texts: Authentic Resources for English Language Learning, by Resham Bahadur Bist
  5. English Medium Education: Hearsay and Reality, by Bishnu Kumar Khadka
  6. Spoken English: Challenge for college students and graduates, by Durga Bahadur Pun
  7. A teacher’s Anecdote, by Chandra Acharya
  8. Attending an Online Course: My Experience, by Rajan Kumar Kandel

Finally, I would like to urge our valued readers and contributors to join the conversation through comments on the blog entries and sharing on social media (facebook, twitter, etc.).

Wish you a very Happy New Year 2072 in advance !

Happy readings!

Rajan Kumar Kandel

Rajan Kumar Kandel Editor, April Issue

 

 

 

 

 

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