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

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to March Issue of Choutari

Conference Special Issue

Editorial:

In what is a landmark for the over two-decade-old organization, Nepal English Language Teachers Association, a female member has just become its president. On the International Women’s Day today (on March 8), ELT Choutari team members (including founders, contributors and larger audience) would like to congratulate Meera Shrestha on this historic achievement. We wish her and the newly nominated executive body great success in leading NELTA. We are also proud to share with our audience that our colleague, Ushakiran Wagle, one of Choutari editors, now serves in the executive committee. We wish her successful tenure towards achieving a new milestone in ELT of the country.

As in the past, we have maintained the legacy this year as well, by publishing reflections of participant, presenter, and rapporteur, upon their participation in the international conference of ELT organized by NELTA in the country.

For this conference special issue, we have five contributors –Prem Bishwokarma, Jyoti Tiwari, Priyanka Pandey,  Dipak Dulal, and Praveen Kumar Yadav—who have reflected their experience and learning upon participating in the 20th international conference. Among the contributors, Prem Bishwokarma, Jyoti Tiwari and Dipak Dulal are first timers to attend the conference. Prem and Dipak attended the event as participants while Jyoti was one of the rapporteurs. Similarly, Priyanka Pandey shares her reflections on presenting the paper for the first time. Finally, Praveen Kumar Yadav shares a news story written by him for Republica during the conference.

Meanwhile, we would like to welcome two talented ELT scholars—Rajan Kumar Kandel and Pramod Kumar Sah—who have joined the editorial team.

Here is the list of the entries we have included for March issue.

  1. Teacher’s Travelogue: My First Trip to International Conference of NELTA, by Prem Bishwokarma
  2. Conference through eyes of a rapporteur by Jyoti Tiwari
  3. Presenting for first time in the conference by Priyanka Pandey
  4. My first ever experience attending the conference by Dipak Dulal
  5. Hundreds of English teachers throng capital to enhance teaching skills  by Praveen Kumar Yadav

Finally, we would like to thank our contributors of this issue and also urge our valued readers and contributors to please SHARE the blog entries with the community, and press LIKE buttons on social media. Please join the conversation by adding your comments/views on the blog posts that you have read.

Thank you

ELT CHOUTARI Team

MARCH ISSUE

Welcome to February Issue of ELT Choutari

In my early formative years as a student, I understood that writing was just a medium of communication. I did not know any typewriter or a computer keyboard; I thought that only way of writing was with a pen or pencil or chalk. This meant, for me, that the basic purpose of writing was to teach (for the teachers) and write the answers (for students). Several years have passed and I am an adult now, and a teacher for that matter. This shift in my status has also changed in my understanding of writing. I now feel that writing is not just a medium of expression of ideas but it is much more than that.

What is that which makes writing more than a medium? One of the answers could be its purpose: why do we write? We may write to inform, to ask, to express, to share, to lament, to rejoice and so on. One of the latest realizations regarding the purpose of writing is that we write in order to evolve. The human race evolved from Stone Age to the civilized modern age and one of the key factors that facilitated the evolution is the writing that we invented. The whole human race underwent evolution due to the writing over the centuries and millennia. And in the miniature form, each person can evolve in his or her own life from beginner to a developed professional.

Writing becomes richer if we are engaged in reading. When we read diverse materials and blend them with our own ideas and insights, we can churn out beautiful pieces of writing. Writing that the readers can get inspired from; writing that can change readers’ perspectives; writing that remains as imprint in the readers’ kinds.

ELT Choutari is a platform where we can see our own evolution as we write. It is also a platform where we share our stories to help others to write to become professionals. In the current issue we have focused on: reading, sharing and writing. We present moving personal experiences, ideas on what to read and some distinct writings.

Thanking you for your continued readership, here are the articles for the month:

  1. Interview with Hornby Scholar Dr. Amol Padwad
  2. English from Feminists’ Eyes – Shankar Dewan
  3. Interview with Chinese Teacher Hu Xiao
  4. Teacher Confession: Leaving Radio Nepal to change the World
  5. Must-Read Series: Seven Books on ELT Methodology: Laxman Gnawali
  6. Interview: with Bishwa Gautam, RELO Specialist, US Embassy Nepal

Ushakiran Wagle
Editor, February Issue 2015

Welcome to Sixth Anniversary Issue of Choutari

Editorial

On behalf of the ELT Choutari team, I would like to wish everyone a slightly belated Happy New Year 2015! And welcome to a special Anniversary issue once again!!

This is the seventh year of our blogging about ELT. The web traffic remains robust, we have maintained high quality in content, and I am grateful to our readers for their conversations here on the blog and on social media sites. We are grateful to you for reading and promoting the ELT khurak we provide here. And we are grateful to those who contributed blog posts. Your contribution to professional conversation is invaluable.

Times have changed since Choutari was first published. Since this first ELT forum in Nepal was first established, the Internet has become more accessible, there are larger numbers of professional forums and resources that we can benefit from, and potential contributors (both experienced and new, both writers and editors) seem to have become busier due to increasing number of commitment to the professional community. This year, we also disambiguated the blog’s name so that our readers know that there is a different, official blog run by NELTA and that this one remains an open space run by independent volunteers, continuing a tradition and adding a necessary dimension to professional conversation outside of an organizational structure. Today, we see our community blogging both individually and institutionally or in groups. We are inspired by new developments.

When changes in the broader social, technological, and professional world affect our success and effectiveness, we remember to look at the big picture and recognize what we have achieved in the long run. As we reflect on our past, present, and future, the Choutari team of editors would like to invite you to consider joining us and contribute more directly than you may have so far. Let me describe how you can do so.

10524595_264845700373368_5623499030187357765_nIf you are willing and able to dedicate some time to a professional community, Choutari is for you. Choutari is for you if you are excited by the impact you can make on the professional lives of English language teachers across the country (and also across the world) with the power of volunteerism, with your technological skills, with collaboration and networking. Choutari is for you if you want to add a line on your resume, and want to fill that line (or say a paragraph) with meaning and substance. It is certainly not “being on board” that counts: it is what you do after you get on board. First, editorial colleagues take turns to be monthly coordinators (you may need to take one or two turns during the year). The coordinators request other editors to collect materials, as well as collecting contributions themselves. They start conversations early in the month before their turn with the editorial group (by email and Facebook), developing their theme and ideas. And toward the end of the month, before publication, they get help from the rest of the team to improve and copy edit all materials. They pass on the baton to the next coordinator on the schedule after they publish the month’s issue. In terms of time, editors spend about 3-5 hours every month (and more if they like to run or follow conversations), and coordinators invest 5-10 hours for collecting, coordinating, improving, publishing, and promoting. If you are interested, or have questions before you can decide when to join, please do not hesitate to send them at eltchoutari at gmail.

Let me conclude with an emphasis on the value of volunteerism and the power of blogging. Initiatives like Choutari may not have direct incentives or material return for editors or writers. They may not have organizational structure, recognition, support, or promotion. But it is precisely in these gaps/lacks that we will find value for our professional and social lives when working with a team of independent scholars. To share my own experience, by actively contributing to and leading Choutari for some time, I have got the opportunity to know and work with, and to gain respect from, many respectable ELT colleagues in Nepal and elsewhere. I tremendously improved my skills for writing and professional communication (both academically and socially), coordination and leadership, use of technology and emerging media platforms, reviewing and editing fellow professionals’ work, research and reporting. I not only have a line on my resume that describes what I have done and learned, I have gained tremendous knowledge and confidence that I use in my professional advancements. What I gave to Choutari is what I got. Needless to say, “being” on Choutari will not magically benefit us in any way (one has to work even to gain recognition from readers and fellow editors). Nor can anyone “use” Choutari’s name to benefit professionally: people and organizations will judge the work we’ve done, the time we’ve invested, the visible achievements we’ve made, the impact that we can show in order to recognize our role. But if you are eager to dedicate your time to develop professional skills and confidence in a scholarly venue, come on join us! Please write to the email provided above.

Thanking you again for your continued readership and your support, and wishing you a great year ahead again, here are the ELT khuraks of the month:

  1. Interview with Program Manager of British Council Nepal
  2. 2014: A bad fortune for Nepali universities, by Nirjana Sharma
  3. My Trip to Oregon, US: A Teacher’s Travelogue, by Pema Kala Bhusal
  4. AmericanEnglishState.Gov: Great Online Resource for English language teaching & learning (Feature Story), by Ganga Gautam
  5. New Year Resolutions by English Teachers, complied by Praveen Kumar Yadav

On behalf of ELT Choutari Editorial Team,

Praveen Kumar Yadav

Welcome to December Issue of Choutari 2014

EDITORIAL

Every old year ends with a new resolution. One month ends and another begins. One year ends and another begins. The cycle in the calendar keeps on revolving. The ELT practice in the shed of Choutari is a push that we, as ELT practitioners, need to do is to keep on moving like the calendar. As we move, we leave the familiar grounds and find us into a new territory. The more we move ahead, the more we grow.

In the new territory, our past learning and experience contribute to our continuous journey, the journey of ELT. We, the team of Choutari, are always ready to explore new possibilities to accelerate our journey. As we look back, we can reflect on how we have been moving and how we can move since the terrain has changed. We need to look into how we used to do things and explore the possibilities of how things can be done now. In order on to keep moving, we might have to keep aside the things holding us and move forward to welcome the changes. We are committed toward embracing the changes even if they are not pleasant.

As we move, we grow. As we move, we evolve. As we move, we get fit. Maxwell Maltz has put it precisely in words “Man maintains his balance, poise and sense of security only as he is moving forward”.

Here is the list of articles for December issue that reminds us to keep on moving:

  1. How to teach language functions, by Raju Shrestha
  2. Issues and Challenges of Teaching Creative Writing, by Sudip Neupane
  3. Teacher as a Reader,  compiled by Santona Neupane
  4. Issues and Challenges in Teaching Reading in EFL Classrooms, by Gyanendra Prasad Yadav
  5. Do you want your students to like you?, by Umes Shrestha
  6. Confession of an English Teacher, by Santona Neupane

December is a month of ‘letting go of the old’ and ‘looking ahead to the new’.  We may move slowly or move fast. We may run a mile in matter of days or only crawl an inch or two in a year. As long as we move, we will continue to grow.

Last but not the least, I would like to thank our contributors of this issue and also urge our valued readers and contributors to please share your comments/views on the blog posts, SHARE them with the community, and press LIKE buttons on social media.

Happy Reading!

santona

Santona Neupane, Editor, December 2014

Welcome to November Issue of Choutari

Editorial:

World Teachers’ Day 2014: Invest in Teachers, Invest in Future

Having the right academic degrees on the subjects we want to teach doesn’t make us effective teachers. We also need to involve in professional development activities such as mentoring, training, publication, researches, interaction, and networking within our professional community.

Teachers’ involvement in professional development program not only enhances their capacity, but it also ultimately contributes in improving the quality of education as a whole. This fact was implied in the theme of The World Teachers’ Day 2014 last month–“Invest in Teachers, Invest in Future.”

Teachers and educators have contributed five different pieces of their writings for the November issue of Choutari. Here’s the navigation list of the blog entries included for November.

  1. World Teachers’ Day 2014: Investing in Teachers, by Praveen Kumar Yadav
  2. How mentoring helped me become an effective teacher today , by Camila Licchesi
  3. Too many knowers? by Shyam Sharma
  4. Hiding the Gold Coins: A reflection on a Choutari Writing Workshop for teachers, by Umes Shrestha
  5. How can effectiveness of In-Service Teacher Training be maximized?, by Jeevan Karki

We hope you find the articles insightful, interactive and interesting to read. We’d be grateful to our valued readers if you could please share your comments/views on the blog posts you have read, SHARE the ideas with the community, and press LIKE buttons on social media.

We wish you all a very Happy World Teachers’ Day 2014.

Happy Reading!

Choutari Team

Welcome to October Issue of Choutari

Critical Thinking Special

EDITORIAL

Whether or not we should include critical thinking in English language teaching (ELT) is still a matter of debates and discussions among pedagogues and cognitive psychologists. Those standing for the argument opine that, like in other subjects such as science, social studies, economics, business studies engineering, medicine, etc., learners should develop their critical thinking abilities, because while learning language, they do not only learn through interactions among speakers, but also through reading various kinds of texts. Therefore, they can hone their critical thinking abilities in course of reading those texts. Another reason they put forward is that learning language means being very creative as well as critical. For example, while learning language, learners derive a certain set of rules involving themselves in series of analysis and synthesis activities. Once they have formed the rules of their own based on the input they have received, they start to use the rules they have consciously formed. Not only do they form the rules, they also verify whether their rules are correct listening to the other people speak. Also, they believe that learning language can be accelerated if learners are involved in critical thinking activities.

On the other hand, those who are against the inclusion of critical thinking in ELT counter argue that learners can have double difficulties if we wish to foster critical thinking in foreign or second language learning. They believe that students will have burden of learning and enhancing critical thinking skills simultaneously, for instance, the students who do not have good proficiency over the English language cannot be involved in pro-critical thinking activities such as debate, discussion, argument, counter argument, etc., let alone understanding the implied meaning of a discourse.  These people believe that it can be best done in the disciplines that are taught in students’ native language, because they just need to think of gathering ideas. It is because they do not need to worry about the words and structures required for expressing those ideas.

In order to shed lights on this issue, Choutari of this month has included posts on various aspects of critical thinking. It includes six entries altogether. The first entry is an interview with professor Kedar Bhakta Mathema in which he maintains that teaching and learning activities carried out in our schools to universities do not seem to be sufficient for enhancing critical thinking skills, because they are mostly limited to developing students’ abilities to recall and understand only. Furthermore, learners have become just the passive recipients of knowledge; because they are rarely provided with opportunities to think independently and carry out certain tasks on their own. In addition, he very strongly argues that the concept of critical thinking can be introduced in ELT as well. The reason that he gives is that learning language does not necessarily mean knowing words and structures only, but also using those words and structures creatively.

In the second entry titled Why to Be Critical Thinker, Ramesh Khatri shares his own experience of using critical thinking while making a decision in a difficult circumstance. Having shared his experience, he presents some of the theoretical aspects of critical thinking such as standards of critical thinking, fundamental critical thinking skills, characteristics of a critical thinker; and advantages of becoming a critical thinker.

Yadu Prasad Gyawali in the third blog post Critical Thinking from Theory to Practice discusses different tools such as Bloom’s taxonomy, Socrates’ questioning techniques, etc. that teachers can use for stimulating ideas, which is essential for the development of higher order to thinking in learners.  Also, he presents his experience of using critical thinking strategies for both secondary level students and university level students and argues that the incorporation of critical thinking strategies in EFL classrooms can be very beneficial for the development language and thought.

 In the fourth blog Critical Thinking Strategies for Resolving Challenges in ELT, Rajan Kumar Kandel overviews the ELT situation of Nepal and enumerates a number of challenges that are likely to be found in our schools and colleges. He thinks that all those challenges can be resolved if we implement the steps and strategies that are followed while teaching English focusing for the enhancement of critical thinking skills in learners.

Bishnu Kurmar Khadka’s reflective blog Let Learners Think Critically in fifth entry presents his experience of handling the course New Directions: Reading, Writing and Critical Thinking designed for the B. Ed. first year major English students. As the title suggests, he puts forward his idea that teachers should follow student-centered method of teaching so that they can help their learners to foster critical thinking in them. Furthermore, he claims that due to the traditional way of teaching in which students focus on examination; rather than real learning, he was forced to give notes to his students.

Finally, Lal Bahadur Rana in his blog post titled Teaching Reading Texts through Critical Thinking Perspective remarks that many students of the public schools have very low proficiency over English, as they have too limited exposure. He believes that the amount of exposure in English can be remarkably increased with the implementation of critical thinking strategies in those classes. Most important of all, using these strategies in our classrooms, we can make students independent learners.

 Here is the list of articles we have included for October Issue, especially focused on critical thinking in ELT.

  1. Critical Thinking for Good Citizenry: An Interview with Kedar Bhakta Mathema
  2. Why to be critical thinkers?, by Ramesh Khatri
  3. Critical Thinking from Theory to Practice, by Yadu Prasady Gyawali
  4. Critical Thinking for Resolving Challenges in ELT, by Rajan Kumar Kandel
  5. Let Learners Think Critically, by Bishnu Kumar Khadka
  6. Teaching Reading Texts  through Critical Thinking Perspective, by Lal Bahadur Rana

Now I, on the behalf of Choutari, would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere thanks to all the contributors and also urge our valued readers and contributors to please share these articles among your social network and leave comments.

Enjoy readings!

Finally, we wish you all a very happy, prosperous and creative Dashain, Tihar and Chhath 2071 B. S.

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Lal Bahadur Rana   Editor,  October Issue

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