Category Archives: Nelta Networking

Nelta Conference Hetauda Phase – A short report

Narayan Prasad Tiwari

hetauda

The 19th International Conference of NELTA (Phase II) began on March 3, 2014 in Hetauda.

One of the key speakers, Prof Stephen Stoynoff (US) presented on the theme: Language Assessment and the path to Crystal Mountain. Using the metaphor of a trek through the Himalayan Mountains, the speaker considered the paradigm shift that has occurred in language assessment over the past few decades and its implications for EFL teachers. He emphasized psychometric and socio-cultural perspectives on assessment. Prof. Stoynoff further presented “Classroom based Language Assessment: Improving the Design and Use of Teacher Developed Assessments” during plenary session. He reviewed key trends in language assessment and their complications for teacher constructed assessments of second language ability.

Prof. Keith Morrow (UK) presented on “What does ‘authentic’ assessment mean? How do we do it?” His talked about genuineness and authenticity while focusing on assessment, testing observation, self assessment and individual growth over time. His plenary session proceeded with awareness and activity in ELT. The primary focus was on learners and teachers who need to strengthen awareness and what they could learn from it.

Prof. Z.N. Patil (India) mainly focused on assessment as an integral part of ELT through story telling techniques. He stressed on day to day assessment in teaching by citing some relevant examples of poems and dramas. In the presentation “Enriching Linguistic, Communicative and Pragmatic Competence through Literature”, he presented audio- visual text and interacted with the participants and gave specific procedures to be adopted in classroom activities.

Mr. Brenden Mcsharry (British Council) presented on “21st Century Learning Skills and Assessment: the Implication for Nepal” stressing on thinking skills, working skills, working tools and living skills. Besides, he focused on 21st century themes like global citizenship, human rights, intercultural awareness, equality and diverse, healthy living and peace studies.

Laxman Gnawali and his team of Kathmandu University presented “Pechha Kuchha Fun Show” to all the participants that ultimately focused on insightful learning with innovative ideas.

Apart from the key presenters, there were around thirty presentations from different ELT practitioners from nation and abroad as well for two days. Around 450 English teachers actively took participation in different concurrent session according to their field of interest.

narayan

Narayan Prasad Tiwari
NELTA
Hetauda branch

A rapporteur’s reflection on the 18th Int’l Conference of NELTA

Mandira Adhikari

Attending conference is one among various ways of teacher’s professional development.  Maggoli (2003) says that many teaching professionals attend conferences, seminars or courses as a part of their professional development. She further puts an emphasis on the conference plan that a participant should have so that they will have the aim of attending the conference and they will utilize their learning after returning back to the classroom. For the same cause, I attended the 18th international conference of NELTA to gain various ideas that will be useful for my classroom teaching, personal learning and professional development.

On the first day of the conference, I attended the speech of Key Speaker Dr. Richard Smith from UK on the conference theme ‘Transformations in ELT: contexts, agents and opportunities.  I would like to share with the community some of the key extracts from the key speaker. English now is no longer owned by the native speakers, the number of English speakers is increasing rather than decreasing day by day and there is the need of more English teachers. The main message of his presentation was to focus on the bottom –up approach in ELT and teachers can be the best researchers as they are well aware of their contexts and the problems they are facing. Similarly, finding out the solution by the teachers themselves would be more effective as they are the ones who are contextualized in their classroom. He concluded his session remarking that transformation is going on and new challenges in the ELT are emerging that demands bottom-up approach and teachers are the major ELT agents in their own context.  Thus, his presentation motivated me to be the researcher of my own classroom and helped me build up a confidence that I am the one who can better understand my context and my classroom rather than any other person.

Another session which I attended was facilitated by Sayeedur Rahman from Bangladesh on ‘Politics of English Initiatives Implementation in Bangladesh: An Investigation of ELT Reforms which clearly mentioned that the programs implemented in Bangladesh in order to improve English language are not as satisfactory as they need to be. He also presented various facts and examples that pose challenges to the program implementation without desired output.

Similarly I found the joint workshop by Ashley Hager, Madhukar K.C. and Sumati Shakya entitled ‘Enhancing critical thinking and creativity in EFL Classroom more effective. This workshop helped me to gain the idea that critical thinking is something that makes an individual think critically rather than just a plain reading. It is something like ‘thinking outside the box’. At the end of the workshop, I thought critically and was able to make my own quote “innovative mind for revolutionary world”.

On the second day of the conference, the three plenary sessions helped me to gain ideas especially on the problems of large classes and the use of ICT its impact, affordances and constrains in ELT. The plenary session by Prof. Dr. Jodi Crandall, on The Expanding World of the ELT Professional: Opportunities and Challenges’ mainly focused on a number of factors have come together to make the world of English Language teaching one of the increasing opportunities such as the globalization of English, the introduction of English in earlier grades, the increasing use of English as a medium of instruction at some level of education especially higher education, the incensement reliance upon digital technology and so on. Her presentation highlighted the different issues of teacher development such as mentoring especially the role of the mentor to develop one’s professionalism. The way she presented the challenges and opportunity for the teachers looked as if she represented the stories about all of us who are facing several challenges but are trying to create opportunities within those challenges.

Another plenary by Dr. Richard Smith on Teaching Large Classes basically focused on successes and challenges of large classes where he encouraged the participants to share their own teaching successes and challenges in large class. From the discussion sharing, major challenges of teaching large classes included unable to check the homework, no participation of all students, difficult to get students’ attention, difficult to control noise in the classroom, problem in dealing with mixed ability students, difficult to achieve rapport among students- students and students-teachers, difficult to hear individual responses from the students, difficult to promote active learning, difficult to manage the classroom and difficult to remember all the students’ names.

To address the above problems Dr. Smith concluded with the suggestions that they should apply group works to make all the participants active, develop ground rules to minimize noise level, ask them to write notes and see at home to understand the mixed abilities of students, chat with students every time when the teacher gets time and play the role of the moderator to build rapport, ask students to find themselves or ask them to do project work in group to make active learning fruitful and ask students hang a name tag in their uniform when they come in the class to remember all the students’ name in the large classes.

Kalyan Chattopadhyaya from India in his presentation ‘Transformations in ELT: ICT in Learning Spaces, and Teaching Practices showed how the use of technologies is changing the ways of teaching and learning of English language teaching. His presentation was database and was focused on the following points; Teachers’ use of ICT tools, Impact of the use of those ICT tools, Affordances and constrains of emerging language learning spaces and challenges of those tools in ELT. He found the teachers were using ICT in language teaching to fulfill the objectives such as finding out the useful information or idea, expressing oneself through the web, communicating across cultures and fostering independent learning. He presented that ICT integration in ELT has larger impact such as learning beyond the classroom, providing new learning spaces, BYOD/BYOT: learning with your devices, supporting and sharing the ideas and self- exploratory practices. Despite of some limitations, ICT tools provide us the opportunities in ELT and we should never think that at first we need to master in technology first and use it later however, we can simply learn the essential tools and start using it.

On the same day I with three of my co-presenters (Dhanapati Subedi, Nibedita Sharma and Bhumika Adhikari) presented our paper based on the need of the teachers of Kathmandu valley. Upon our presentation, I found the participants more interested to learn the current need of the teachers and conduct researches on the area. The opportunity to present a paper in a mega event of ELT made me more confident adding a brick in my professional development.

The 18th international conference of NELTA was more helpful for me to learn a lot for my personal as well as professional development gaining substantial ideas that I can implement in   my classroom of real situation and building my self- confidence for further presentations.

Nepalese Youth Icon Rana’s Love for Change: Teach Children Free of Charge

Apar Poudel

Amid the forest and alluring natural beauty, there stands Maya Universe Academy, a child-friendly school for the children from the poor and marginalized community in Tanahun District of Nepal. It is a model school which offers the children with international standard education free of charge.  A youth icon Manjil Rana, who envisions establishing such schools over the country based on experiential learning, has started from his own village.

Let’s watch the video on YouTube, where Rana shares how he started his project of founding Maya Universe Academy.

Rana in his early twenties started his dream project Maya Universe Academy, a free school, in his village in Udhin Dhunga of Tanahu District two years ago. Now he has scaled up the project establishing two more schools as its branches in the remote villages of Syanja and Makwanpur districts too.

Before he started this school, Rana completed his high school from St Xavier’s School in Kathmandu and then University education in India and the United States of America. In the present context of the youths flying abroad for foreign employment and studies, Rana stands as the symbol, who models the youths to inspire to take a welfare initiative and initiate the campaign for a common cause in their community that can make a difference in the Nepalese society.

The curriculum of the Academy meets the international standards. It is practical and based on experiential learning. The effectiveness of the curriculum is reflected in day-to-day life of the kids as they use not only Nepali but also English for communication.

Rana’s initiative has received support from many helping hands and volunteers. It runs with the minimum fund collected from the volunteers from abroad. In addition, the guardians’ voluntary service, and school’s own agriculture and farming have also contributed to covering the expenses.

As a part of community development service, foreign volunteers from different nations are cooperating with the school management by teaching the children. Every month the Academy arranges some volunteers and cooperates with the local teachers for effective teaching-learning.

An American volunteer Aayean says, “I am highly inspired by the school and having great time here. I believe that students are having fun in learning practically and these are the precious days for me too.”

The Academy has its own rules and regulations that have shaped its uniqueness. The best part of the school is reflected in the students’ uniform i.e. Nepali daura and surwal with dhaka cap for boys and skirt and cholo for girls. It can be one of the indications that our children can learn English without losing their cultural roots.

As mentioned earlier, the students do not have to pay any fees for their study. Instead, their guardians should volunteer in the activities of the Academy. It can be farming and construction or even preparing breakfast and lunch for the teachers and staff. The Academy has raised the hope among the guardians. They are happy to have such an ideal school in their community.

“It’s a joy to have such a school in our village. I feel lucky to see my kids learning English happily.” says a guardian Machindar Dulal. Another guardian Mahendra Adhikari shares his views, “School is really a gift for the people of the poor community, who are marginalized and deprived of quality education”.

The support from the local community has added new enthusiasm to the Academy. The regular meetings and gatherings work out and entrust the responsibilities of guardians for the welfare of the school.

Apart from the educational initiative, the school has also initiated in social transformation through various activities. As a part of social initiative it has been working for the production, promotion and marketing of local products. Rana has come up with the idea of promoting local products along with their production and marketing. For example, he has cooperated with the guardians in producing the orange jam in the village and to sell it in the cities. For this initiation he has trained a team with the skill of producing jam. This has really inspired the locals, who were unaware of such potential of the markets and products.

He is determined to translate his vision into reality. However, he sees people’s mindset and lack of communication among themselves as a major challenge. He feels that passion is the driving force we youths should carry and move ahead that surely leads to success. He has  a dream of educating the kids from rural parts of Nepal so that they can explore and compete for the global opportunities. Obviously it is English that gives them competence and confidence to embark on the journey from the local to global.

This school is an exemplary one for other schools in Nepal, especially the private ones which increase their fees year by year to provide education to the children in the name of English. Besides, it establishes a friendly relationship among the students-teachers through good communication and interaction.

It’s an inspiring step that can surely bring about change in the education system of Nepal along with social development.  Only the thing is that the society should be positive and supportive to help the visionaries put their thought into action. Rana argues that his initiation can bring about change in the education system of Nepal within 20 years. As a promising and aspiring youth, he believes that the schools like this should be set up throughout the nation.

If you want to learn more about the school, click on http://www.mayauniverseacademy.org/

 Mr. Poudel is the manager at Radio Bani Network in Kathmandu and teaching English to higher secondary and bachelor’s level students.

Teach English, Speak English, Why? The Importance of Conversations on Choutari

Dr. Shyam Sharma
Stony Brook University, New York

Choutari is now in the hands of a brilliant new group of NELTA scholars, and I am excited about that. The old and new teams who were working together for a while in order to make this conversation under the shade of this forum even better had to go through a somewhat difficult time during the month of January—it’s a story that may be worth telling someday, perhaps years from now, and it’s a good one—but we also had a wonderful opportunity to further realize the tremendous value of promoting professional conversation in this great community. With the talent and enthusiasm of the new team, I am sure that we are going to see in the years to come great strides in the work of welcoming, encouraging, urging, prodding us to give back in the form of ideas and inspiration to our society. This work of building our scholarship from the ground up is extremely important to us as educators in a struggling nation right now and it will be, for different reasons, for generations to come.

Among the reasons we started this blog, one was to make our professional conversations serve as useful resource by making them open and accessible. And that’s what I want to write about in this reflection today.

Since I promised the editor of this month, my friend Bal Ram Adhikari, that I would contribute an entry for the issue, I’ve been trying to write about something that has kept me professionally “awake,” so to say, since I started teaching in a primary school in Butwal almost 20 years ago, something that I continued to ask for the next 12 years in grade schools and eventually at TU and then when I decided to switch from English to Writing Studies. And that something is a whole range of questions, which used to often discourage me while I taught at home: Why am I teaching what I am teaching? Does teaching grammar help students learn language? Why are we asking students to speak in English only? The teaching of literature seems to contribute to students’ personal development quite a bit, but how far does it contribute to their social and professional lives and the society at large? Why do we do little more than giving lecture in the name of “covering” the content of the course and helping students prepare for the exam—and what if there are better ways to achieve these same goals and also make education more worthwhile? What do we mean by “English education”?

When we started Choutari, I was happy because this platform allowed us to ask questions like the above as part of a broader professional conversation among hundreds of other scholars and teachers who may have similar questions, different perspectives, better answers. In this post, I want to build on a recent conversation that took place (and at the time of this writing is still ongoing) inside NELTA’s Yahoo mailing list that many of us are subscribed to. I responded briefly there, as it fit that medium, and I want to explore the issue further here, from broader educational, professional, and social perspectives. I request you, dear colleagues, to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

A fellow NELTA member, Umesh Shrestha, asked in the mailing list recently whether we, as English teachers, should communicate in English beyond the classroom and school (because, the writer seemed to imply, we don’t practice what we preach). This was a very thought-provoking question (and among other colleagues, Suman Laudari has responded with some great ideas on the list). Let me get into the relaxing mood of choutari and share some thoughts—for the beauty and fresh air of early spring is returning to the hillsides and I am truly excited by the arrival of a whole group of gaunles under the shady tree.

The question of whether we, even teachers of English, should speak English everywhere, as well as require our students to do so in school and encourage to do so outside is not new. And I happen to have strong views not only about whether even our students (forget about us) must be required to speak English at all times in school (if not beyond it!) but also about whether we should use English as a medium of instruction and for what purposes, if at all.

Let me take a step back and ask a more basic question: “Why” is it that English is the increasingly dominant, increasingly popular, increasingly unquestioned medium of instruction in Nepal? Is there a straightforward “ELT” answer to this question? Does the use of English as “the” medium of instruction raise the standard of our education overall? Does it make classroom teaching and classroom learning more effective?

First, if the answer to questions like the above is more of a “no” than “yes,” then should we make it our professional lives’ priority to make the answer “yes”? Or, should we instead pause and think why the answer is “no”? That is, if using English rather than Nepali and/or other languages of instruction—at least in certain subjects, grade levels, regions, etc—does not have an “ELT” answer (which I presume it doesn’t), then why are we insisting that “English Only” must be the medium of instruction? If imposing English as the only medium of instruction does not raise the standard of our students’ education, then how have we come to embrace the delusion (sorry, but that’s what I think it largely is) that English “is” education (as in the phrase “English education”)? Is there, in the world of reality, such a thing as “English” education (one that is of a different order of intellectual significance than education acquired “in”? another language?)– or have we just created a feel good phrase to describe “English language education/learning” by dropping the key word in the middle?

To stay on the yes/no questions above, I would readily say NO, there is absolutely no doubt that IF requiring only English as the medium of instruction, communication, and jus being in school had ZERO SIDE EFFECTS, then the benefits are so many, so significant, so long term, so attractive… that we wouldn’t need to have this conversation. I would whole-heartedly support the use of English as the “only” medium in/throughout school. I’m not joking about this, but IF our students were to come out of high school speaking fluent English while ALSO writing effectively (whether that’s in English or not, please note), demonstrating critical thinking skills at par with their peers in other nations, being able to pursue and generate new ideas on their own, excelling in math and science and technology, etc, and IF the “medium” of English was a significant reason for our students’ elevated standards in all the above areas, then NO we would not have this conversation either. We would just call the adoption of English as the “only” medium of instruction as a straightforward, non-political, purely pedagogical decision. But that’s not the case. We know for fact—and we have been in denial for a few decades now—that the English medium that we have imposed in the name of improving the “quality” of education has VISIBLY affected the effectiveness of just too many teachers’ teaching, thereby their students’ learning, the teaching and learning of math and science and social studies and economics and environmental studies and agriculture and you name it. The English medium is certainly justified for teaching the English language—although even in this case, I have a hard time understanding why we teach it for 12-16 years and our students’ English is not as good as the Nepali proficiency of my Christian missionary friend who has been in Nepal for less than a year. Yes, our students’ English proficiency—and indeed our own as English teachers—may be too low. And it is for us as teachers (plus scholars) to develop solutions by having serious curricular, pedagogical, and educational discussions. But our good intentions to solve a problem don’t justify just “any” means. For instance, it would be terribly absurd for us as English teachers to tell our colleagues teaching social studies and math and physics and chemistry and their students who are solving algebra problems or playing khopi or eating samosa in the canteen that they must use English because— oh, wait, I forgot what I was about to say! English, you know, English, and like English education. Like globalized world. Opportunities. The internet. Facebook…. Okay, I can’t think anymore. Let me do something different. Let me tell you a story.

I have a nonnative English speaking (Chinese) student named Bao in my “intermediate college writing” class (here at the State University of New York). During the first class meeting in a one month long intensive writing workshop, while I was describing one of the assignments, a “rhetorical analysis” of a text that students would choose, Bao raised his hand, with his face looking like he was terrified of something, and said: “Professor, I don’t have the ‘professionalism’ to criticize the author’s writing style….” Bao’s English language “speaking” proficiency was so low that I couldn’t help thinking how many of the international students (15 out of 20, from 6 different countries, with different extents of exposure to “native” English speaking communities) were going to pass. Bao’s case was particularly striking: he not only struggled to express himself in English, as a student who had just come from a sociocultural background that doesn’t value “challenging” or even “analyzing” the ideas and expressions of established writers and scholars, he was saying that he neither could nor would like to “criticize” how a scholarly article was written. I gave a short answer and invited Bao to my office for further discussion. During the first discussion I realized that Bao was “confusing” his low proficiency in English with his lack of “knowledge” about what “rhetorical analysis” means; so I gave him a text (an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech), a sample rhetorical analysis that he and I found online, and a long list of questions with which I broke down the assignment (as supplement to the assignment description). Long story short, the rhetorical analysis that Bao wrote within the first week of class (before the class moved to another project) was in many ways better than the writing of most other students in class, including the native English speaking students (some of whom, by the way, implemented what they had already learned in high school and turned in their papers, and their papers showed little new learning). One of the things that Bao had done was to copy, adapt, and echo the rhetorical analysis “moves” made by other writers in the many samples that he had gone on to find: he deliberately avoided looking at rhetorical analyses of the text he was analyzing so he was not plagiarizing. When he submitted the finalized analysis, I had to start by asking whether and to what extent someone else had helped him write the paper and/or he had copied from another writer’s analysis of the same text. He had not, as I found out that he had done what I just described.

So, it was not because Bao mastered the “medium” (indeed, it was “in spite of” the medium that still lagged significantly) but because he was engaged with ideas (a highly thought-provoking text), because he had an unyielding commitment, because he learned how to learn, because of his commitment and motivation that Bao was able to do what seemed so impossible. Even as he imitated and echoed and adapted and ventriloquized sentence structures and phrases and worlds from the samples that he gathered from all kinds of sources, Bao learned a whole new “discourse,” indeed a new language, in his incredible one-week long learning journey, thereby tremendously improving his overall English language skills (including skills for critical thinking, analytical reading, and composition). When I read Bao’s final draft, I questioned some of the conventional teaching wisdom that only rare situations like this make me ask, only situations like this can so beautifully blow up in the air.

Reading the question about how great it might be if we too were speaking English all the time, I was almost depressed to think about the state of our education—I mean about the learning part, the part where the nature and content of education matters, the part where our students are being prepared (or not) to become intellectually and professional capable of navigating (and indeed competing in) the complex, connected, global world that they live in and need to be even better prepared for.

Let us (of course) develop practical solutions for practical problems. But let us do so without being so naive as to think that we can be more effective at doing so by eschewing the larger context of education–motivation, rationale, fairness, etc–in the name of being practical. Let us not allow the politics of denial (or the claim that one is not being political in order to stay above the discussion when the issue is politically significant) to justify an active forgetting and overlooking of the larger purpose of teaching English, or social studies or science for that matter. It is only within the larger social context that our problem-solving of any ELT issues—the questions we ask, the answers we seek—will make sense.

And to connect that to what I was saying about the importance of joining and promoting such conversations like this in choutaris like this, I have the same old, humble request for you. Dear colleague, after you read a post, or two, maybe all, please do not forget to add a line, or two, or many lines, sharing your idea, experience, feedback… as encouragement to the writers and good example for other readers.

Editorial, January 2013

Shyam Sharma

I hope that 2012 was a wonderful year for everyone and I wish everyone a Happy New Year, 2013!

Nelta Choutari’s fourth year was a great one. And as a new–younger, more enthusiastic, more resourceful–team of scholars takes over the role of editors for the blog-zine after this issue, we, the outgoing team, are excited.

As we present you the first issue of the new year, we share our reflection about the year behind us (which has become a kind of tradition); one essay by Bal and Prem and another one by Hem present that reflection. As usual, we have also asked our readers to share their comments and feedback for the blogzine toward improving it further in the new year. Similarly, we also pause to urge you again to join the conversation, thanking you for your contribution in the past year.

Personally, Choutari has been a wonderful mode of connection with a professional community back home, a community I love very deeply; I know that the same is true for my fellow editors and many readers, wherever we are. I call Choutari a “wonderful” platform because our communication here is based on substance; it helps us as a community build knowledge out of the work that we do, the challenges that we face, and the ideas that we share. Because we don’t have many venues for sharing ideas, like academic journals, and because even those that we do have are not easily available across the country and the world, I cannot imagine in what other ways I would be able to read the ideas about ELT written by younger scholars across Nepal; in fact, this blog might have served as the most available and accessible venue for those scholars to share their ideas with the ELT community.

That said, we as editors do not want to claim that Choutari is a “high quality” online magazine or anything like that. Our idea of quality and of scholarship is different: we value the voices of the novice teacher over whether their submission is “academically significant” or professionally polished, and instead of maintaining “standard” by rejecting materials that don’t meet the criteria, we try to support writers toward making their work accessible and interesting to the readers. Within the flexible guidelines that we have developed, we try to run conversations that are thought-provoking and useful. We are sure that the new team will build on the spirit of support and encouragement that this platform has created for fellow teachers/scholars ranging from those who have limited experience to those who have a lot of it. We are also sure that readers will continue to encourage the writers (as well editors) by joining the conversation regularly.

The outgoing team will be stepping aside and not away from the blog; we will be contributing entries, posting comments, promoting the blog, and providing  support and mentoring as needed to the new team. And we wish all the best to the new team as they take their turn at running this wonderful professional forum.

Here are the entries for the month:

  1. Introduction to the New Team of Choutari Editors (compiled by Shyam Sharma)
  2. Critical Thinking in Language Classroom, by Prem Prasad Poudel
  3. Event Report from NELTA Lalitpur, by Dinesh Thapa
  4. Have Your Say (Readers’ Views and Comments), compiled by Praveen Kumar Yadav
  5. Nelta Choutari’s Four Year Journey, by Bal Krishna Sharma and Prem Phyak
  6. A Site-Generated Statistical Overview of Choutari’s 2012
  7. Wish for a Bigger, Better Choutari, by Hem Raj Kafle

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE WONDERFUL FOUR YEARS OF VERY PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS IN ELT! Please do not forget to comment, share, like, or submit a new post. This forum will be greater when YOU share your thought with the community. 

Happy New Year again!!!

-Shyam Sharma
Stony Brook, New York

On behalf of Choutari’s Outgoing Team
(Shyam Sharma, Bal Sharma, Prem Phyak,
Sajan Karn, Hem Kafle, Kamal Poudel)

NELTA Lalitpur holds district conference


Dinesh Thapa

NELTA Lalitpur organised a district conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) amidst a grand gathering of ELT practioners on Dec 29 and 30, 2012 at Kitini College Godawary, Lalitpur. There were about 180 participants including guests and presenters in the program. The theme of the conference was ‘Promoting English in Local Context’.

The program was presided over by Mr. Nabin Mahat, president of NELTA Lalitpur while Senior Vice President of NELTA Ms. Meera Shrestha was the chief guest of the inauguration ceremony. They jointly inaugurated the conference by kindling a candle. Former President of NELTA Centre Mr. Ganga Ram Gautam, Kitini College Chief Mr. Narayan Prasad Banskota, PABSON Lalitpur Chair Mr. Nawaraj Mahat, DEO NELTA Focal Person Mr. Damodar Timalsina, Mr. Rameshwor Lamichhane from District Education Office, Associate Editor of Shikshak Monthly Sudarshan Ghimire, President of Science Teachers’ Association Nepal and Resource Person Mr. Babuhari Marasini and other guests were present in the ceremony.

Following the inauguration, Ms. Shrestha delivered a key speech on the conference theme. Similarly, Immediate Senior Vice President of NELTA Centre and Associate Professor of Kathmandu University Mr. Laxman Gnawali facilitated a plenary session on ‘English Teachers’ Dilemma’. Similarly, Mrs. Madhu Neupane, executive member of NELTA Centre facilitated a plenary on ‘Teaching English as an International Language’. Another interesting plenary ‘Handwriting and Creative Arts in the English language Class’ was hosted by Mr. Bamdev Yogi, Creative Arts expert. Teachers from Lalitpur and across, ETAs and former ETAs were chiefly the ones to give their presentations. The presentations facilitated in the two-day program were focused on classroom issues of ELT and hence they were much relevant and useful to the participants.

The most unique feature of the conference had a panel discussion on the beat of community schools converting their Medium of Instruction (MoI) into English. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Dinesh Thapa with the panelists as Mr. Mohan Bhurtel expert from TITI Nepal, Mr. Deepak Maharjan of PABSON Lalitpur, Mr. Thakur Prasad Upadhaya, one of the principals changing the MoI, Mr. Ashok Sharma and Mr. Ashok Raj Khati from NELTA.

The gathering in bulk was converted into the AGM in the last session of the second day. Following a discussion on the existing committee’s reports, a new executive committee of 11 members was formed. The newly formed committee consists of Mr. Dinesh Sanjel as Chair, Mr. Bharat Babu Khanal as Vice- chair, Mr. Gokul Sharma as Secretary, Mr. Dinesh Thapa as Assistant Secretary and Mr. Hari Kafle as Treasurer. The presenters, participants, sponsors and volunteers were recognized duly with vote of thanks, certificates and tokens of love. The program ended with the immediate past committee handing over the responsibility to the newly formed committee. The new committee held their first meeting and an interview with the team was broadcast live by local radio station Jana Aawaj FM for 30 minutes. Let’s not forget that it is the third district conference NELTA Lalitpur has organized. It was, indeed, a grand successful, wonderful and historical event of NELTA Lalitpur.

Have Your Say!

Dear valued readers and contributors,

We feel highly privileged to celebrate the fourth anniversary of NeltaChoutari. The continued support of our valued readers and contributors along with untiring efforts of the editorial team consisting professional experts of Nepalese ELT from home and abroad is the secret behind the successful journey of Choutari. The Information Communication Technology integration into Nepalese ELT has brought revolution which was propelled by a team of six editors (Shyam Sharma, Bal Krishna Sharma, Prem Phyak, Sajan Kumar Karn, Kamal Poudel and Hem Raj Kafle) working independently and voluntarily for the publication of online magazine on the web.

As the editorial reads above, the previous team of Choutari has handed over the responsibilities to young promising leaders of Nepalese ELT to maintain the chain of change for sustainability. The new team members were nominated based on their contributions on the blogzine and their potentials to contribute the professional forum to a large extent. We wish the new team of Choutari a thriving time. May the commitments from the new team to contribute Nepalese ELT to a large extent!

It is only readers and contributors who influence the course of a magazine. Ideas are equally important. Not all ideas can be identified with one person or one faction. As we have witnessed the shift of the responsibility to the new team members after four years’ journey of Choutari, we need the power of ideas and the vision of our readers and contributors to lift the Choutari intervention out of the rut. On the special anniversary occasion, our valued readers and contributors of Choutari have expressed their views adding wonderful ideas along with the best wishes to the new team. Please read on before you post a comment adding yours. Your views and opinions are always counted on for the promotion of the webzine.

Uttam Gaulee, University of Florida, US

Choutari has provided an instant, active, and living medium for the NELTA community to virtually come together, interact and catch up. I assume few will disagree that Choutari now represents the soul of this organization. I believe there is a greater number of teachers, who quietly enjoy and benefit from this inspiring forum than is apparent. No doubt it should be expanded and promoted. However, honestly, I do not think I have any wonderful ideas to promote it though. What comes to my mind instantly is that participation should be encouraged more by acceptance and guidance rather than intimidation. Finally, of course, my best wishes to the new team!

Mandira Adhikari, Kathmandu University

I heard about NeltaChoutari in the 15th international conference which I attended for the first time but I could not understand what it is about. After I joined M. Ed. at Kathmandu University and started exploring different ELT articles on internet in order to complete my assignments during studies, I came across Choutari where I found different relevant articles. Later I also contributed the blog with my three articles as it has been helpful for my professional development. Now I regularly read the articles published here and comment on them. Similarly, I like to read the comments as well since they are helping us to write professional articles and get them published in other venues. Here I would like to suggest everyone to send the articles based on our experience to the forum to promote Choutari. They help the readers reflect on the situation and think of alternatives to improve it. Finally, my best wishes to the new team for their success and I hope we will get chance to read more significant articles of our context onwards!

Umesh Shrestha

Right now, Chautrai is the only webzine which features and promotes ideas and works of Nepali ELT experts, professionals and teachers. In a way, this is a great space for ideas, resources and innovations. However, the webzine needs to add more variety in the content, for example, a podcast or a video of interviews or workshops or conferences. That way, the focus could also include the ‘spoken’ English of Nepali English language teachers. I’m sick and tired of watching videos of foreign experts and ELT professionals on youtube. So, that’s my expectation, at least one interview a month (either in audio or a video format), or audio/video recordings of workshops/presentations, etc. Thus, the new team could have not only editors, but also few journalists or reporters. Hopefully, this idea doesn’t get discarded.

Jyoti Tiwari, Thakur Ram Multiple Campus, Birgunj

NeltaChoutari is the wonderful webzine for all the readers who are involved in teaching learning activities and also for those who are interested in ELT. It is the place where professionals can meet and exchange their ideas, views, experience, etc through this webzine. This is very helpful for those who want to share their experience and who want themselves keep updated with new teaching technique along with teaching method. What I found is that it is playing very instrumental role for improvement of Nepalese ELT and it is the matter of great happiness for all of us. It can be more effective if it covers some more space including more articles, views, interviews, experience of those who are experiencing this field and from those who are fresh or new along with encouraging new readers to read and get benefited. At last I want to express my hearty gratitude to those professionals who have contributed a lot for this wonderful webzine. Because of their effort and hard work, Choutari has reached such height. And I would like to wish ALL THE BEST and GRAND SUCCESS to new team of the webzine in coming days.  

Batuk Lal Tamang, Chair, NELTA Chitwan (Annapurna HSS Parbatipur, Chitwan)

I think NELTA Choutari is a handy companion for ELT practitioners and a valuable asset as well. I read almost all of the articles published in this website. They all are useful and helpful for the English language teachers no matter whether they are primary teachers or university professors. It has been now a small library for us, as we can retrieve the archived articles in category-wise/ theme-wise or date-wise.

Yet some we are looking some features in it. Some more themes should be included here, such as small scale research for language teaching, i.e. action research, case study, and specimen of project work for English language class. I think these topics are very much needed for the school teachers nowadays. To extend its service area, even hard copies should be published.

Finally I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the past editors who successfully accomplished their task during their tenure, and have been able to bring this online magazine in this status. And I hope the future editors will be able to make the “NELTA Choutari” better and better. I wish them a success of their working period.

Parmeshwor Baral, Prithvi Narayan Multiple Campus, Pokhara, Nepal

Since the beginning of Choutari, I am one of the regular readers of this and consulting the ideas and articles presented in different issues, I have been able to solve so many academic confrontations. In the mean time there is no doubt about the wide coverage of its audience, still I think if this is made like the webmail through yahoo like that of NELTA, it can have more coverage. 

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the previous team of editors and I would like to congratulate the newly formed editorial body. Moreover, I hope that the professionalism in ELT will enhance more in the upcoming days as well.

Now it is the time for you to post a comment adding your views like above – Please consider three things while expressing your views (1) your feeling/experience about/with Choutari (2) your wonderful ideas for its promotion (3) finally the BEST WISHES to the new team.

Nelta Choutari’s Four Year Journey

NELTA Choutari: Looking back and moving forward

Bal Krishna Sharma and Prem Phyak

1. A brief history

“Over the course of the last few months, Bal, Prem, and I have been talking about a random but very significant set of issues via email (copying among the three of us). I am beginning to wonder if we should redirect that time and energy into something more productive, more shared, and more beneficial for a larger community. As Prem and I talked on Skype this afternoon, we should archive and share these discussions through blogging (I created this blog after our talk), through a wiki (I set up since that email also), a discussion list (way to go), or anything better than email–email is not designed for collaboration, for Pete’s sake!”

The above excerpt is what Shyam wrote on the very first issue of the NELTAChoutari in January 2009. Prem was in London, Shyam was in Kentucky, and Bal was in the middle of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. Before we gave birth to the Choutari, three of us used to exchange chains of emails looking for ways to get reconnected to our beloved Nepalese ELT community even if we were physically disconnected. Nelta Choutari was an outcome of that motivation and interest toward taking our ideas outside of our personal spaces (email) to a “choutari” (for those who don’t know this Nepali word, it’s the platform under/along with a tree, in or on the way to a village). In due course, three colleagues, Sajan Kumar Karn, Hem Raj Kafle, and Kamal Poudel joined the forum as moderators and connected Chouatri to the ELT community across the country back home; with their extensive experiences working with NELTA and its branches, affiliation with universities in Kathmandu and beyond, and added knowledge and skills in the field, the new colleagues helped take Choutari to its next level.

Choutari was also the product of increasing interaction between ELT and technology. But as we witnessed how technology was largely redefining ELT and professional networking across the world–through such affordances as online discussions, professional email listservs, Facebook updates and comments, online teaching and training, and so on–we also realized that technologies such as blogging were not penetrating very deep in Nepal, partly due to the lack of widespread access to the web and partly due to the academic systems that do not encourage individual teachers and schools toward educational innovation through ICTs. However, we were driven by the idea that we cannot wait until the house catches fire for the Nepalese ELT community to start talking about technology in ELT and education. So, we paid some attention to the subject of technology itself as well as using it as a vehicle of our discussions of all kinds of issues in the village yard.

More broadly, the main objective to establish the Choutari was to provide a professional space in which ELT practitioners across Nepal could learn by exchanging what we know and generate new knowledge from the bottom up. We wanted to promote local ELT scholarship through critical academic discussions; as some of our earliest posts (which we started publishing as monthly issues and called Choutari a “blog-zine”) indicate, we were interested in injected critical discussions on issues like critical pedagogy, the politics of language and ideologies undergirding language policies, the place of ELT in the bigger picture of education, democratization and decentralization of scholarship, and so on. One of our most passionate interests has been to let our colleagues at the grassroots level speak up as teacher-scholars through this forum.

In our attempt to bring out the voices of teacher-scholars across Nepal, we have tried to publish oral interviews, branch updates, success stories, personal teaching anecdotes, and even classroom humor from colleagues from NELTA branches. Not all the “columns” we tried were successful, but we believe we have excelled in publishing issues with a good variety of materials. We have spent hours and days discussing what kinds of posts and publications would cater to the needs and interests of our readers. Thanks to Skype, we have conducted several conference calls, argued for the best possible alternatives, constructively criticized each other’s ideas, and eventually formed consensus.

Choutari has come a long way and there certainly have been a few good challenges along the way. Often we would come up with brilliant ideas and try to implement them but some things didn’t go as well as we hoped. Our contributors, as well as we the coordinators, are very busy, and so participation has often been a challenge. For example, out of ten potential contributors we communicated to, seven would respond and five of them would promise to contribute a piece by the end of the month. When sent a second or third email, some of them either would not respond or would postpone their contribution for the following month. One or two of them would send the entry.

However, we always remained confident and enthusiastic and we are grateful to many colleagues who continued to contribute entries and comments. We are particularly grateful to a few wonderful and regular contributors who promptly responded to our requests, and sent the entries by the deadline. They were instrumental in keeping this blog alive. We also owe special thanks to a few NELTA leaders like Ganga Gautam who contributed content (including this interview) and provided great encouragement during and after his presidency. Our colleague Kamal Poudel joined us as a liaison of NELTA; with him on board, we began to conceptualize the idea of NELTA networking, a larger framework that would consist of blogging (Choutari), microblogging (Twitter), social networking (Facebook), content creation (wiki for branches), and so on. We have also tried to connect Choutari to the larger world of ELT conversations. For example, by blogging for the IATEFL conference in Glasgow in 2011, Choutari became an IATEFL registered online blogger; this kind of international networking is another area for further exploration for the growth of Choutari and other professional networking platforms in Nepalese ELT.

We believe that Choutari serves an important but a specific purpose (of being a space for discussing ELT issues); but we have always viewed this work not only an independent but well-aligned project that is meant to help fulfill NELTA’s central mission of promoting scholarship and professionalism. Furthermore, as indicated above, we have also viewed Choutari as a part of a potentially much larger substance-based professional networking initiative that can help NELTA fulfill its key missions. We have discussed the larger project extensively and it remains a great potential; as we hand over one successful part of that larger mission to a new group of ELT professionals, we are willing to further engage in that larger discussion with the new colleagues, NELTA leaders, and/or any other volunteer colleagues within the organization. We may not be able to dedicate as much time as we have the past four years but we remain as passionate as ever for contributing new ideas and helping to enhance Nepal’s ELT–its scholarship, professionalization, as well as its pedagogy–as much as we can.

2. Themes we discussed
Local literacy and critical pedagogy: One of the major themes that emerged out of the posts in the Choutari was local epistemology/literacy/pedagogy. We not only discussed what critical pedagogy  and local epistemology means in theory (see 2011, January Issue) but also presented some practical ideas based on teachers’ experiences, oral history project and interviews. Most importantly, we tried to generate critical ideas from the bottom-up while being aware of global ELT theories and practices. Critiquing on how the taken-for-granted globalized ideology of ELT may not be helpful in promoting diverse local epistemologies, Phyak (January, 2011) says that:

What I am saying is our full dependence on global methods, norms and textbooks in ELT may not help to promote and sustain our identities and treasure of local knowledge.  What I am saying is that we have wonderful ELT practices that we are not able to share with the people from other parts of the world which we need to do urgently.

Reflecting on his own dilemma created by the tensions between global and local and theory and practice, M. Kafle (November, 2012), S. Adhikari (August, 2012); Regmi (4/2011) and Limbu (March, 2012), deconstruct the notion of top-down literacy and pedagogical practices in English language teaching. While M. Kafle argues that we should critically look at whether or not the way we teach should foster  ‘semiotic process’ and ‘creative languaging’, focusing on the intelligibility, S. Adhikari argues that any varieties (not only British or American) which help us establish communication ‘emancipate us from western centred linguistic imperialism’.  Viewing from the perspective of global and local divide thanks to digital advancement, Limbu calls for teachers’ agency and collegiality to deconstruct dominant globalized pedagogical practice and look for opportunities that foster democratic pedagogies in which both local and global can go together. In this regard, quite related to H. Kafle’s (October, 2012) call for ‘interdisciplinarity’, Bhattarai and Yadav (November, 2012) and Sharma and Phyak (August, 2012) have worked with teachers on how different social issues like gender, poverty, child labor, human rights, and pollution can be brought into the classroom and help children find  a creative space for capitalizing both local and global literacy practices.

Teachers’ professional development: We received an encouraging number of posts on teachers’ professional development ranging from classroom practices to strengthening teachers’ associations. While M. Adhikari (January, 2012) suggests ways to deal with mixed ability classes, Ray (2012) critically unravels the tension between teachers’ motive for the monetary gain and professional development. In the similar fashion, Shrestha (September, 2012) and Panta (September, 2012) contend that present teacher training programs in Nepal lack both expertise and atmosphere for their implementation. Suggesting that observation servers as an important tool for teacher development, KC (October, 2012) and Bhusal (October, 2011) present various ways for engaging teachers in effective classroom observation practices while Budha (October, 2011) focuses on the role of reflective practice in teacher development. Other posts (not mentioned here, due to space limitation ) deal with designing tasks, organizing communicative activities, lesson planning, teaching writing and conference reflections. Together, these posts have provided ideas for the bottom-up and critical perspective on teacher development.

Teachers’ narrative: This is the most popular theme in our webzine. Teachers’ personal narratives (e.g., Bashyal, 10/2012; Dahal, 10/2012; Gautam, 7/2011; Khati & Shrestha 10/2012; Rijal, 11/2012; Neupane, 8/2012; Wagley, 3/2011) have provided an important impetus to make the webzine one of the most popular blogs in Nepalese ELT communities. By including the interviews of teachers (initiated by Heml Kafle) working at the different levels of education, we have tried to bridge the gap between the notions of language-teaching-as-it-is-perceived and language-teaching-as-it-is-practiced. We are able to draw on creative writing works (e.g., Dewan, 3/2012) to help students use English in creative ways (please search Andrew Wright’s post in Chouatri). The key issues that emerge from teacher’s narratives are: (a) to what extent we are able to utilize our own literacy practices?; (b) to what degree we are able to address student needs and contextual challenges?; and (c) can we teacher narratives’ be base for promoting local ELT scholarships?. We think that future discussion should go in this line. We see that teachers’ narratives about teaching, learning and attending conferences and workshops may provide an important avenue for looking at what is possible to apply in our own context.

Teacher training:  We also received a significant numbers of posts on teacher training and workshop report. Ranging from Tanahun (e.g., Pandey, 3/2012; Nidhi, 9/2012) to Rautahat to Ramechhap we were able to cover branch updates and their activities. These updates not only tell us about what is happening in different branches, but also contribute to generate discussions on teacher training, classroom practices and organizing conferences. However, we are not able to report on whether or not the training programs NELTA has conducted have been translated into practice. We think that this is one of the key areas we should explore in future.

3. Responses from the readers

The most important part of the Choutari is its readership. We are really encouraged with the increasing number of readers/subscribers of the webzine from home and beyond. The responses from our readers not only generate the critical discussions among the ELT scholars but also form strong sense of the ELT community of practice. We are happy to know that students from Kathmandu and Tribhuvan universities are finding the webzine very useful sources of information. The posts and responses from KU and TU students have shown the academic impacts of the webzine.  Through readers’ responses like the one given below, we tried to promote academic culture among the NELTA colleagues:

 

Kate Miller says:

June 6, 2010 at 11:02 pm

I completely agree with Leknath on the importance of programmes like SQC to encourage linguistic formulation of ideas, in an age appropriate way. Circle time can start with KG children, in a simple story and discussion, with both topics and language being extended according to developmental level. (Refer to work of developmental psychologists Piaget and Vygotsky.) In UK, we are encouraging both creative and critical thinking programmes. Some are based on the work of Reuven Feuerstein who developed content-free thinking programmes, one is called Philosophy for Children, P4C, based on the work of Matthew Lipman. Some people were outraged at the idea of children ‘doing’ philosophy, but it is simply a structured way of unpicking an issue at the level the children are at at the time and extending both their thinking and their language. How can we be expected to develop our own language, let alone a foreign language, without widening concepts.

(Kate Miller’s response to Lekhnath Sharma Pathak’s post of the Students’ Quality Circle)

Lekhnath Pathak says:

May 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I am deeply grateful to the readers and colleagues in this choutari. The write up that was posted over a year back is still drawing interest. This shows there is something in SQC. In fact, SQC is a complete package which includes all the issues like critical thinking, teamwork, developing language skills etc. which are quite common themes in ELT and other fields of academia. Officers Department of Education, Ministry of Education,GoN are also getting interested in this. The best thing is it canbe practiced in a well resourced school and quite underresourced school or college as well. Language is also not a barrier.You can do it in any language be it English or Nepali or even in any mother tongue.You just have to learn the systematic problem solving approach, tools and techniques that we teach and then you can adopt it to your own situation. ….

(A part of Mr. Pathak’s response to the readers)

In addition to these themes, we have also included expert’s interviews in which Professor Jai Raj Awasthi, Professor Govinda Raj Bhattarai, Professor Tirth Raj Khaniya, Professor Chandreshwar Mishra and Dr. Vishnu Singh Rai have shared their opinions about recent developments in ELT, language testing, language-literature-creative-writing. We also have teaching tips and classroom humors (though we do not have many) which can be useful for making classroom teaching effective.

4. Future directions

With this anniversary issue, we have handed over our legacy to a new vibrant team of  young professionals, both fresh and seasoned, who have a strong commitment to collaborate with fellow ELT professionals, solicit contributions from practitioners from the grassroots level as well as publicize it as a global academic forum reaching out to hundreds of readers worldwide. The strongest aspect of the new team has to be able to work with the teachers in NELTA branches and bring their professional voices to the public. Teaching experiences and pedagogical practices are valued more when they are shared, replicated and experimented by the fellow practitioners. Thanks to multiple blogs and wiki applications! Those teachers who, for some reasons, cannot contribute their posts in writing can send their oral anecdotes and narratives to the editors who can easily upload them online.

Four key words we want to emphasize and pass on to the new team are: sustainability, collaboration, variety, and coverage. NELTA Choutari should not die, nor should it be weakened in the future. Since we believe in democratic academic culture, we strongly believe in the principle of systematic entry into and exit from this forum although we did not start with any formal constitution. Although there is no such formal rules in this forum, we are guided with academic multiculturalism in which we enjoy working with different conflicting views, reflect each other’s perspectives, and think of grooming new colleagues, who could lead the webzine in future. Thank you to all new team members who accepted to take this challenging academic responsibility further. In this four years, six of us spent our valuable time and had a very productive experience, learning from each other and from the readers. The new team that starts at the dawn of new year can continue the legacy that are worth continuing, amend the tradition for a good cause and prepare next generation of who will replace them when time comes. Second, there is a lot to be done regarding collaboration. Our attempt and success to get the IATEFL blogger registration was one example. We also believe that Choutari can and should collaborate with local ELT branches, other organizations that have ELT as part of their mission, and other international ELT forums. It will be an appreciative task to invite contributions from writers from around the world; to ask them to share their experiences and anecdotes; and to encourage them to respond to the posts we share. When NELTA members travel to other professional venues such as IATEFL, TESOL, and other regional and local conferences, it is important to highlight what we have achieved so far from this forum. Third, we believe that readers always want varieties. Varieties can be in the themes or they can be in the modalities such as visual, oral, animations, images, and so on. Multimodality is something we tried but were not able to present as expected. Pictures of classrooms, videos of good teaching practices, and audio of teacher narratives, for example, are some of the wonderful examples in creating diversity in publication. Four, our subscribers should be in rise. Since technology and the internet has hit almost every regions of the country, local teachers should be aware of the fact that their fellow teachers have a professional khurak to share so that they do not always have to depend on international/foreign practitioners and writers. In addition, getting the Choutari entries to offline in printed format such as in the form of newsletters or small-scale journals would expand its horizon of coverage. This has already been started by our colleagues such as Sajan Kumar Karn and Dinesh Thapa. We always have to remember that we are doing everything for our fellow readers/teachers and they are the center of this project.

We wish successful collaboration among the new team to publish Choutari. Thank you once again for accepting our proposal to take the legacy we have initiated ahead. Please let us know how we can be of your help. We also urge the rest of NELTA community and readers beyond this organization to please continue to contribute to this wonderful venue in any way you can. We did it for fun and we are convinced that it was absolutely worth our time and energy and we can assure you that if you can spare the time and energy to join this conversation, you will find it satisfying as well!

Thank you very much!

2012: A Statistical Review of NeltaChoutari

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

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

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

Click here to see the complete report.

Wish for a Bigger, Better Choutari

Hem Raj Kafle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year.

Growing Together with NELTA

Shyam Sharma, State University of New York

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Report of the 17th International Conference of NELTA

Praveen Kumar Yadav

In this post, I share some information about and my personal reflections of the 17th International Conference of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) which took place in Kathmandu (18-20 February) and Chitwan (a city in western Nepal, 21-23 February). The theme of the conference was “Beyond Binaries: Sharing ELT Practices and Creating the Future.” Rod Ellis from the University of Auckland, New Zealand; Angi Malderez, an honorary senior fellow at the School of Education, the University of Leeds, UK; and Fredricka L Stoller from Northern Arizona University, USA, were the key panelists of the conference. The conference covered issues about various aspects of English Language Teaching (ELT) among ELT professionals, practioners, researchers, experts and scholars. It greatly helped to promote ELT in the country.

It is perhaps that first time in the ELT history of Nepal that More than 750 ELT professionals from 22 different countries including Bangladesh, India, Singapore, USA, Pakistan, Britain, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Oman, Indonesia, New Zealand, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakasthan, Thailand, Morocco, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Japan presented, participated and held discussions on different burning themes in the mega event of ELT in Nepal. More than 270 research papers including 191 in Kathmandu and 80 in Chitwan were presented in the conference.  However, unfortunately, I missed Chitwan conference, about which I learnt from colleagues that it added a new chapter in the history of NELTA via energizing ELT professions of suburbs via new trends and techniques in the field.

Other than the plenary sessions on the first day, I attended a few other panel discussions and concurrent sessions which I briefly reflect upon in this entry. I could attend three concurrent sessions on the first day, as one of the rapporteurs. Presenters of my sessions on the first day were from Bangladesh, Japan and India.

Rasel Babu, one of the researchers of EiA-DU-OU, Research Collaboration Programme at Institute of Education and Research of the University of Dhaka presented the research paper on learning English at primary level, fun not fear. Exploring the success story of English in Action (EiA) project (2008-2017) funded by UK-Aid and implemented by the government, he concluded that the project has recently changed traditional scenario of ELT at primary level in Bangladesh where English is taught as compulsory subject from grade-I to grade-XII. It has helped the students develop English language skills through games, songs, rhymes and different interactive activities, leaving all the anxieties behind.  The most exciting things about the sharing was that the songs like good morning, hello and good bye have been developed during the project to make the students enjoy learning English language. Such projects could be implemented in Nepal as well since the context of Bangladesh is very much similar to Nepal. The government or the concerning stakeholders like NELTA can take initiative to implement the EiA project in our country Nepal as well in collaboration with UK-Aid or other developing agencies like US-Aid, I assume.

In the second session, Shawn Huizenga, a licensed attorney in the United States of America and associate professor in the law department of Kinki University in Osaka, Japan shared the Approaches and considerations about Content Based Instruction (CBI). Introducing the CBI and presenting the rationale behind it, he discussed about three general models of CBI: Theme Based, Sheltered Content and Adjunct model to organize the content based courses. Then he moved ahead referring Fedricka Stroller and William Grabe who outlined A Six T’s Approach to CBI: Themes, Texts, Topics, Threads, Tasks and Transitions. To address the challenges while following the CBI, he finally concluded his session with the considerations that worked well based on his experience. They were motivation, selection of appropriate approaches, introduction of vocabulary in advance, selection of level-appropriate texts, frequent repetition, breaking the lecture into short “mini-lectures” and questions in advance. It was very beneficial to those who are involved in teaching content-based classes.

Amitpal Kaur, a senior lecturer in English at Degree College, R. S. PURA (J&K) had her session on Innovations: Crux of ELT, which was very effective and useful for the teachers for making the students concentrate towards the learning with the help of visuals, realia, videos, movies, documentaries, etc. She focused her discussion largely on the use of information communication and technology in ELT classroom to bring innovations.

In the evening, the participants were thrilled to watch the cultural programme organized by the team of English Access Micro Scholarship Project implemented by NELTA in support of the US Embassy, Kathmandu to develop English language proficiency and cultural understanding for the needy children in Nepal. The access children performed their dances diverse culture representing Rai, Sherpa, Newari and Tamang Communities of Nepal. This is the first time NELTA has been able to organize a cultural show to give a flavor of Nepalese culture to attendees from abroad and to give some sort of recreation to the Nepalese attendees.

2nd Day (February 19, 2012)

The second day of the conference (February 19, 2012) began with the plenary talks by key note speakers Angi Malderez and Fredricka L. Stroller and Nepalese presenters Dr. Ananda Sharma and Laxman Gnawali.

Key speaker Malderez facilitated a plenary talk on Stories in ELT, wherein she demonstrated the use of four stories for primary language classroom, secondary classroom, teacher development and mentor development. At the end, she provided the participants the sources of more stories that can be used in ELT classroom.  In another plenary talk on vocabulary building as a response to students’ present and future needs, key speaker Stroller has explored important principles of effective vocabulary teaching and learning that can be used with the students at all proficiency levels. The talk was focused on vocabulary selection criteria, ways and techniques to teach and recycle vocabulary and instructional options that encourage students to see key words in relation to other words.

Dr. Ananda Sharma, associate professor at Tribhuvan University and Laxman Gnawali, associate professor at Kathmandu University jointly facilitated a plenary talk on Dictionary and Foreign Language Learning. The joint talk attempted to break the confinement of the general language users regarding the use of dictionaries in finding word meanings, spellings and pronunciation. The session motivated the language learners to get out of the traditional box of using dictionaries in classroom and suggested them to use the dictionaries extensively for different purposes like grammar, usage status, synonym discrimination, application of derivative affixes and distinction between spoken and written English. They concluded the talk that the dictionary is an indispensable weapon in teacher’s arsenal and its discussion on its preparation and practice is a must for a teacher training programme.

Following the plenary talks, I attended five concurrent sessions on the second day of the conference. In the first concurrent session, Ushakiran Wagle, an M. Ed. in ELT from Kathmandu University presented a paper on “Introducing Humour in English Language Classroom”. Basing on the learning-through-fun principle, she suggested some of the ways of creating humour in ELT classroom.  She concluded that introducing humour in the language classroom makes the learners motivated towards learning.

Bir Bahadur Shahi, Chair of NELTA Dailekh and the principal of Bhagwati Higher Secondary School Dailekh and Suvash Gautam, life member of NELTA at Dailekh presented a paper on English for Academic Purpose to the Students of Science and Technology. The presentation focused on suggestions to teachers, students and planners how science can be taught effectively through English.

Sharmila Sitaula and Kalpana Poudel, students of masters in ELT from Kathmandu University together carried out “An Action Research: How to Make Grammar Class Interesting?” in a primary school. Basing on the action research, they have relayed the findings that grammar can be taught about the teaching of grammar in an interesting and interactive way.

A Fulbright ETA Amber Powers who is currently teaching at Dapakhel, Lalitpur, Nepal had a presentation on How to Teach While Students Play. Illustrating public school classrooms where she taught English to younger students in Nepal, she discussed on easy ways to teach and assess them through playful and hands on activities.

The last concurrent session of the second day, I attended the session on English language, Globalization and Teacher’s Role, wherein Ishwor Adhikari, CEO of Pathshala Nepal Foundation and his co-presenter briefly presented the key roles of a language teacher for teaching English language in the globalized context.

At the end of the second day, Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held, where in the members of NELTA only gathered there.

3rd Day (February 20, 2012)

The third day of the conference began with two plenary talks and followed by concurrent sessions. Assistant professor at SIA University, Thailand and Editor-in-Chief of Language Testing in Asia Robert Kirkpatrick’s plenary talk IELTS Writing TestReliability and Raters, which mainly focused on IELTS writing module.  He shed lights on difficulties involved in scoring writing tasks and the ways that IETLS organization attempt to meet the objective and reliable rating.

Professor of English and Journalism Ms Gayatri Khanna from India had plenary talk on Assessment: An Indispensable Part of the Curriculum. She argued that assessment not only measures the progress and achievement of the learners but also the effectiveness of teaching materials and methods used for transaction. The talk concluded with the argument that assessment should be taken as a component of curriculum that fulfills the objectives of effective delivery and further improvement in teaching learning process.

I participated in four concurrent sessions by the presenters from Mehedi Kayser Pabitra from Bangladesh, Laxmi Bahadur Maharjan, Sajan Kumar Karn and Sarah Elisabeth Howlett from Nepal. Pabitra, lecturer at American International University, Bangladesh (AIUB) presented his paper on Business World in Language Classrooms: An Effective Language Acquisition Model. The paper presented a simulation model of an authentic communicative platform to develop students’ business communications in speaking, reading and writing. The teaching of English to the students of Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) he shared he was involved in was quite amazing and innovative. He changed the classroom as a corporate office and he played the role of manager and let students play the roles of employees of the corporate house. Even they were dressed up in the way that they looked as if they were in an office not in the classroom.

Laxmi Bahadur Maharjan, teacher at Department of English Education, TU Nepal presented a paper on Which Accent to Follow, which focused on the significance of the proper accent for English language teachers. Sajan Kumar Karn, lecturer Department of English Education, TU Nepal presented a paper on why we are not doing what we are not doing? Integrating Critical Thinking into ELT Lessons. He motivated the participants with his argument to integrate the elements of critical thinking into ELT lessons in order to pave the way for active learning. His argument was that Nepalese ELT is too much indulged in philosophy of presence and it was time to ponder over the things that have created gaps in Nepalese ELT. In order to bridge those gaps, critical thinking has been essential in perspectives and practices both.

The last concurrent session of the day was Sarah Elisabeth Howlett’s presentation on Rapping with Obama: The Power of Music in Understanding English Texts.  Firstly, she handed over an essay on Barrack Obama, the President of the USA to the participants and let them comprehend themselves and she facilitated them in the meantime. Extracting the ideas from the essay, she finally asked them to prepare a poem or song and present it with music and they did accordingly. Hence, she beautifully presented her ideas to make the participant understand the texts with the power of music.

After concurrent sessions, following Ms Gayatri Khanna’s plenary talk on Dictionary-indispensible part of life, a closing ceremony was organized wherein Dr. Abhi Subedi was the chief guest and the main attraction of the ceremony.

It would be unfair if I did not mention the journals published by NELTA centre and branches which were made available to the participants of this conference. The journals and newsletters published by NELTA Centre and branches like Makwanpur, Siraha, Birgunj, Nuwakot, Sindhuli and Pokhara branches were released by Chief guest Prof. Dr. Jai Raj Awasthi, the first vice-chancellor of The Far Western University during the inaugural  ceremony while journals of NELTA Rautahat and Surkhet were released by Dr. Abhi Subedi during the closing ceremony. The publication of the journals by NELTA branches increased this year.

NELTA Birgunj has celebrated the success of NELTA Choutari publishing its journal ELT Today that has included the materials retrieved from this blog.  This is an attempt to bridge the “digital divide” created by the lack of access for many of our colleagues on the ground to the emerging conversations in online forums.  Being web-based, this mode of professional conversation is not yet feasible for many of our colleagues across Nepal due to load-shedding, geographical difficulties, lack of internet access and adequate computer and internet surfing skills in most of the teachers —hence this attempt made by NELTA Birgunj is appreciative to provide some contents of Choutari offline—to encourage the readers and contributors along with editorial board to make it more productive.

There were more participants than expected in the conference. Finally, NELTA president Hemant Raj Dahal’s closing remarks wrapped up the conference held for three days at St. Xavier’s School Kathmandu.

Branch Highlights: Tanahun, Kaski and Makwanpur

Dear Choutari Readers,

In an attempt to provide you glimpse of the great things ELT that take place across the country, we invited brief reflective reports from our colleagues in NELTA branches. This time we have quick snapshots. Ideally, we want reports in the form of “blog” entries so that readers find them quick and interesting to read. We ask that our contributors take some time to learn and write blog entries as reflective pieces, whatever the content and subject may be. So, if you would like to share about professional development activities in your branch with the community via Choutari, please look at the guidelines for writing more substantive and reflective pieces on this page. And please see this example.

Editors

 TANAHUN, KASKI AND MAKWANPUR

Training: ‘Teaching Poems and Creative Writing’ organized by NELTA

Facilitated by Motikala Subba Dewan, Sarita Dewan, and Mr. Batuk Lal Tamang, this training involved the participants in writing their own brief creative work on the spot and then discussing how to teach creative work in the ELT classroom. More than 50 teachers participated in the event.

 

KASKI BRANCH

Training: Basic Level Teacher Training

Organized by PABSON Lamjung and Athrai Publication, this training was facilitated by Khim Lal Adhikari. The theme of the training was Child-friendly Pedagogy, Child-centred method and How to teach English. Fifty five English teachers from different schools participated in the training.

 Teachers Training on Teaching English Website

With the assistance of the British Council, Kaski branch organized a two day Teachers’ training focused on the Teaching English Website 8th & 9th Sep., 2011. Altogether 60 life members of NELTA, Pokhara from different campus, school and academic institution took part in the training. The training mainly focuses how to get the teaching materials from website on line so that the teaching learning activities will be more effective. Smreety Dewan and Asim Kharel from British Council facilitated the training.

Support in PABSON Spelling Contest

PABSON Kaski organized an English Spelling contest for Lower secondary Level from 10 to 12 August, 2011 in Pokhara. The programme was coordinated by Karna Gurung and assisted by other members. 198 students from 66 different PABSON schools participated in the contest.

Need-based Teacher Training by D.E.O.

NELTA, Pokhara worked together with the District Education Office, Kaski to prepare the Teacher Professional Development (TPD)  training manual as well as the training packages for all the levels beginning, intermediate and secondary levels. Min B. Gurung, NELTA chair and Khim Lal Adhikari including other ELT teachers and school supervisors prepared the training manual at the end of the academic session 2067.

MAKWANPUR BRANCH

Training: English Language Teaching: Breaking its Boundaries

This one-day conference was attended by about 200 members. It was facilitated by scholars like Kamal Poudel, Sajan Karn, and Ekadeve Adhihari.

NELTA Makwanpur Committee 2011-2013: (From left: Mr. Surya Pd. Ghimire, Mr. Ganesh Pd. Humagain, Mr. Kishor Parajuli, Mr. Shyam Pd. Dahal, Ms. Srijana Paudel, Mr. Dadhiram Chapagain, Mr. Thakur Ram Bhandari, Mr. Sangam Chaulagain, Mr. Rajeshwar Thakur, Mr. Mohan Waiwa and Ms. Reena Acharya)

Three Day Training on ELT

A three-day training on ELT for primary level English teachers was conducted by Makwanpur and was attended by 35 teachers from PABSON affiliated schools. This training was facilitated by scholars like Kashiraj Pandey from NELTA Center.

NELTA Branch Formation in Rautahat

As a member of NELTA, nothing could be more satisfying to me than to see a brand new branch coming into existence. On December 10, 2011, the Rautahat branch of NELTA was formally established amidst a programme held in Gaur, the district’s headquarters. Following the inauguration of NELTA Rautahat branch, a training (focusing on “Emerging Trends in ELT”) was led by Mr. Sajan Kumar Karn, executive member of NELTA Central Committee; the programme was actively participated by general and executive members of the new branch, as well as general members, members of the advisory committee, and guests. There were altogether 50 participants in the programme.

Inauguration Ceremony

The inauguration ceremony started with the singing of national anthem by students from International Bal Academy and lighting of 5 candles (representing each letter of N-E-L-T-A) by various dignitaries. Distinguished guest and facilitator Mr. Karn presented the “organizational profile” of NELTA with its history, mission, vision and goals, NELTA branches across the country, its various programmes and activities organized at branch levels and central level, collaboration and partnership with different national and international agencies. He also shared the branch-by-laws and requested all the participants of the programme to get associated with NELTA for the professional development.

The ad-hoc committee of NELTA Rautahat, which was chosen unanimously, was then announced (please see list below).

The inauguration programme concluded with best wishes from the Guest of Honour Yogendra Prasad Yadav.  NELTA Rautahat constitutes 31 members of NELTA including 20 life members, 7 annual members and 4 life members who are already members at NELTA Birgunj from Rautahat.

Training Programme

With the aim of encouraging ELT aspirants to change, the training programme on “Emerging Trends in ELT” was organized following inauguration ceremony. Mr. Karn facilitated the training that was participated by 50 participants including English language teachers and students, campus principals and section officer of DEO Rautahat. He discussed paradigm shifts and the cause behind the emerging trends in ELT Today, thereby motivating the participants to adopt and adapt different changes taking place in ELT.

Some of those trends include learner autonomy, globalization and ELT, methodology and pedagogy, English versus Nenglish, digital ELT, and updating ELT practice. Mr. Karn urged the participants to grow more digitally in order to survive and succeed in the networked academic world.
Affiliate to a professional associationHe further made an appeal to update themselves convincing them stating that academic qualifications once acquired are not enough forever. He concluded the training suggesting the following different ways of updating oneself professionally:

  • Read journal
  • Write articles
  • Carry out action research
  • Participate in trainings, conference, literary talks, lectures, workshops, seminars and panel discussions
  • Share ideas and problems with colleagues
  • Utilize web resources

Mr. Karn invited the participants to join the upcoming 17th International Conference and National Conference of NELTA to be held in February, 18-20, 2012 (3 Days) in Kathmandu and 22-23 February, 2012 (2 Days) in Chitwan respectively. He also requested them to visit   www.neltachutari.wordpress.com  www.nelta.org.np and www.neltabranches.pbwork.com. Finally, the participants shared their experiences and reflections, before they were given certificates of attendance. To conclude the day’s programme, Mr. Anil Kumar Nidhi, chair of NELTA Rautahat extended his gratitude to NELTA Central Office, all the participants and those who contributed in the formation of NELTA Branch in Rautahat district. The programme was conducted by Praveen Kumar Yadav, member of NELTA Birgunj.

Newly formed executive committee:

Members: Mr. Anil Kumar Nidhi as chair, Mr. Mukesh Prasad Patel as vice-chair, Mr. Sachindra Yadav and Mr. Upendra Raj Kafle as secretary and vice-secretary, Mrs. Anita Shrivastava as treasurer and executive members Mr. Dipendra Thakur, Mr. Jamun Yadav, Mr. Dharmendra Kumar Singh, Mr. Ram Kripal Yadav, Mr. Rakesh Sharma and Mr. Devendra Sah.

Advisors: Mr. Chandeshwor Raut, Mr. Asha Ram Sah, Mr. Ramanand Yadav, Mr. Chandrika Das and Mr. Devendra Yadav.

The Power of Professional Learning Networks

Shyam Sharma

Your “social” network is probably represented fairly well with who is on your Facebook “friends” list and how you engage with those people. But what does your professional learning network look like? In fact, what is a professional learning network?

In this entry, I share with you a powerful concept called the “professional learning network” (PLN) and share a few specific tips on how to develop–or become more conscious and deliberate about–a professional learning network in order to enhance your professional development as teachers and scholars, and what is more important, also help others in your professional community develop professionally by sharing your knowledge with them.

The concept of PLN originated from Personal Learning “Environment” (PLE), which referred to the situation and mechanism that a learner develops and uses for setting learning goals, managing learning process, and assessing outcome. With the advent of information technologies, it evolved into Personal Learning “Network” (PLN). More recently, many educators and other professionals have adapted the idea into “professional” learning network (also PLN; here’s some description and here’s some history).

With the advent of powerful networking technologies, professionals as well as learners are now able to access vast amounts and variety of information, aggregate and organize that information, prioritize what to read and/or respond to and how, with which community to share what and how much, and so on. As an example, here is an image in which I attempt to visually describe my own personal/professional learning network (you can click to see a larger image or right-click to download the file). I am still unsure how to integrate many other things that are not in the image and how to better organize an relate what are there, but trying to visually represent my PLN really helped me to think about my professional goals, management of time and energy, and so on. I call mine personal and/or professional because my roles as a learner and a professional overlap quite significantly.

Having introduced the concept, let me now share a few suggestions about how we can develop our professional learning network (both for ourselves as individuals AND in order to benefit one another).

1. Subscribe to blogs in your areas of interest. This means asking the blog to send you an email alert when a new entry is posted. Except with blogs (like those of news outlets) that may publish too many entries, blogs don’t usually flood your inbox. I guarantee that this blog will only sent you a few emails and only once a month, and I reassure you of that in order to (yes) suggest that you can go ahead and subscribe now.

2. Follow professionals on Twitter. Twitter, as many of us know, is a microblogging site where people share very brief (140 characters max) messages–breaking news, teaching tips, pithy comments, humor, hyperlinks, and whatnot–with their network. Compared to blogs, these are short and therefore good for mobile devices, as well as busy/mobile people. Compared to the full experience of social networking on Facebook (including its silliness, narcissism, distracting pictures and videos, and worst of all, too many “friends” ranging from the principal of our childhood school to maila kakaki saliko jwainko bhatijaki soltini to NELTA colleagues around the world to what-the-heck-when-did-I-add-this-guy kind of people)–okay, compared to Facebook, microblogging allows you to “follow” professionals in your field(s) of interest and let people “follow” you… and I don’t think maila kaka will follow your ELT Twitter feeds and hashtags, unless he happens to be an ELT person, which would be great.

3. Use Social Bookmarking. How often do you find yourself sending a link to an interesting article or educational video to a colleague, or two… well, post it on NELTA’s Yahoo Mail and flood the inboxes of 500 (?) people? You don’t have to share resources on the web like that. Just save your bookmarks in applications like Diigo or Delicious (install extensions on your browser) and people can see what you have “saved for later” and you can see theirs. That “theirs” could be people you know or it could be the whole social bookmarking community who have used “tags” to describe their findings on the web. (Here’s a fun video intro to  social bookmarking.)

4. Sign Up on Listservs and/or Mailing Lists. You probably are on NELTA’s Yahoo mailing list, which will send you a copy of all mails any member sends to the list. While it’s no longer the most efficient mode of conversation (though it is a still a good means for organizations to update its members), being on mailing lists is very important to stay updated. Listservs are more advanced forms of mailing lists.

5. Remember to Use Plain Old Personal, Human Contact. Motivated professionals as well as learners communicate with their colleagues and peers with both the intention of socializing and the intent of learning. Attending training events and workshops, conferences and seminars, and just asking questions or sharing ideas with colleagues are all extremely important aspects of persona/professional learning network. It is on top of this basic network that we want to take, as much as the resources allow us, that we take the human network into the web and extend it to people you may not be able to meet in person, add the affordances of synchronous and asynchronous exchange of ideas, conveniently store and retrieve information, and use the technology to help you aggregate and organize information for you.

There are many benefits of PLNs. First, it not only increases access to information and ideas that are relevant to us, it also allows us to organize that information. Second, the accessing/aggregating and organizing of information is mostly done by the invisible hands of technology, saving us huge amounts of time. Third, even when we are not using too advanced technologies, the very process of identifying our learning network and planning and organizing it makes us more efficient learners and professionals. Fourth, the network takes us from the isolation of our roles as “masters” of our classrooms where students do not engage with us as an equal into an open society where we can talk to our own learning peers. Fifth, we get the opportunity to learn by sharing our own knowledge  with others (and most of us learn by teaching!), and because we share that knowledge and experience with like-minded people, we also get useful response in return. (Here’s an interesting representation of the benefits of PLN).

Before I paint any rosy picture, let me add an important caveat about PLN that we, as members of a smaller, younger professional community, need to keep in mind. For us, it is not enough to sit there and try to access and organize knowledge and experience shared by others; very often, there are simply not enough sources or people for you to gather the information from. We must create and share new knowledge with one another. By contrast, if you think about teachers in Europe or America, because of the number of teachers and scholars in those societies who have access to the web, the resources that they need, the amount of time they have been on the web, etc, individual teachers there can access cache of information even without giving as much back. In our case, if we want our professional learning network to be rich in local/relevant and really useful information, we must contribute to our own new pool of knowledge, as well as utilize what is available from teachers/scholars from other societies. Let us use a specific example. If you have read the humorous examples of broken English shared by Parmeshwar Baral in this issue, no one else but Nepali English teachers can explain and help us understand/tackle these error patterns. So, we need to share our knowledge with others, as well as learn from them, if we want to make our PLNs useful.

Using the comment function, please share with other readers of this blog any general or specific ideas about your own PLN. Let us use this forum to exchange ideas among as many of us as possible, rather than use it to passively read the ideas of a few of us. Thank you in advance for your time.

Branch Highlight: A Complete Report on ELT Programme

Eka Dev Adhikari

The newly formed executive body of NELTA Chitwan wanted to extend its activities in the wider level covering both public and private schools in Chitwan. The initiation of this programme was taken right after the formation of the body. NELTA Chitwan was schocked to notice a rift between NELTA and PABSON that had been developing in the past few years in Chitwan. NELTA Chitwan was also charged of treating the private schools with partiality. The PABSON Chitwan even had the misconception that NELTA Chitwan was centering its activities only for the public schools. In order to defend against the charge, NELTA Chitwan vowed to conduct the programmes in the future impartially for both the private and public schools.
Another benefit of conducting such programmes for NELTA was that we anticipated to disseminate the news about the international conference among the secondary level teachers of the district so as to unite the supporting hands together to make the upcoming conference a grand success. So, with this aim, the NELTA started lobbying with the PABSON delegates and decided to conduct a programme for private schools. For a wider coverage and inclusion of teachers from different parts of the district, NELTA decided to conduct the training in three phases. Phase I for the teachers in the central Chitwan, Phase II for the teachers of Eastern Chitwan and Phase III for the teachers in Western Chitwan. For this NELTA Chitwan decided to conduct a survey on the needs of the teachers. The survey resulted in a programme for the secondary level with the sessions mentioned herewith. A package compilation committee was formed that was led by district chair Batuklal Tamang. The other members of the package compilation committee were Mr. Minraj Bastakoti, Mr. Khemlal Pahari, Mr Dilip Sharma, Mr. Manoj Kshetri and Eka Dev Adhikari. The package was produced with the following training sessions in them.
• Teaching Poetry at Secondary Level by Mr. Batuklal Tamang (addressing the need of the Poetry to be taught the poetry in Compulsory English)
• Teaching Literature at Secondary Level by Mr. Minraj Bastakoti (addressing the need of teaching Optional English at Grade 8, 9 and 10)
• Integrating Skills teaching at Secondary Level jointly by Mr. Manoj Kshetri and Mr. Khemlal Pahari (addressing the need of integrating four skills of language together, if possible, in a language classroom)
• Teaching Grammar at Secondary Level by Mr. Dilip Sharma (addressing the need of teaching grammar in grade 8, 9 and 10)
• Teaching writing at Secondary level by Mr. Eka Dev Adhikari (addressing the need of teaching writing with special focus on Essay writing, story writing and news story writing)
• Correcting Learners: Correction Technique at Secondary Level by Mr. Minraj Bastakoti. (addressing the need and time management of assessing the student tasks in an ongoing language classroom)
The first phase of the programme (A Two Day ELT Programme: Phase I) was organized at Bharatpur English Schools Society (BESS) Office Bharatpur dated Shrawan 6 and 7 2068 (22 and 23 July 2011). As anticipated, the participants of the programme were the secondary level teachers of central Chitwan covering private schools (PABSON schools). The teachers had already mentioned their expectations in their survey form, so it was easier for us to go on with the package compilation as well as programme co-ordination. The sessions were planned to be taken as below:
Day 1: Session One: Teaching Poetry at Secondary Level by Mr. Batuklal Tamang
Day 1: Session Two: Teaching Literature at Secondary Level by Mr. Dilaraj Pathak
Day 1: Session Three: Integrating Skills teaching at Secondary Level jointly by Mr. Manoj Kshetri and Mr. Khemlal Pahari.
Day 2: Session One: Teaching Grammar at Secondary Level by Mr. Dilip Sharma
Day 2: Session Two: Teaching writing at Secondary level by Mr. Eka Dev Adhikari
Day 2: Session Three: Correcting Learners: Correction Technique at Secondary Level by Mr. Minraj Bastakoti.
The programme was duly conducted for two days. About 35 of the English teachers from the PABSON schools in central Chitwan attended the training and in the closing ceremony the participants felt and expressed their views that the sessions were aptly addressing the demand they had mentioned in the demand collection sheet filled by them. The participants also felt that since the sessions were derived by improvising the actual teaching rather than theoretical doctrines, they found the programmes really applicable in the classroom. They also said that they found the programmes to be really useful to carry out the lessons learnt from the training sessions directly into their classroom situation.
The closing ceremony was honoured with the presence of District Education Officer as Chief guest and other distinguished guests. The chief guest congratulated NELTA for initiating the short term refresher training courses for private schools. He also promised to support NELTA Chitwan and its ensuing 17th International Conference phase II in every possible way. He even promised to take NELTA in confidence in order to develop further training programmes for different level in the future. PABSON Chair, Mr. Shree Prasad Dhungana expressed that this programme has filled the rift between NELTA and PABSON that was supposed to have been built in the past few years. As the chair of PABSON Chitwan, he also promised to support NELTA and its ensuing international conference in every possible ways. Finally NELTA Chair closed the ceremony by promising to carry out such programmes in the near future in other parts of the districts as well and support with every possible way to improve and enhance the ELT situation of the district in the days to come.
The second phase of the programme (A Two Day ELT Programme: Phase II) was organized at Ekata Shisu Niketan, Ratnanagar dated Bhadra 3 and 4 2068 (21 and 22 August 2011). As the programme was cascaded to the Eastern Chitwan after its successful presentation in the central part of Chitwan. The sessions that were taken were –
• Teaching Poetry at Secondary Level (addressing the need of the Poetry to be taught the poetry in Compulsory English)
• Teaching Grammar at Secondary level (addressing the need of teaching grammar in grade 8, 9 and 10)
• Integrating Skills Teaching (addressing the need of integrating four skills of language together, if possible, in a language classroom)
• Teaching Writing at Secondary level (addressing the need of teaching writing with special focus on Essay writing)
• Dissemination of NELTA Activities in and around Chitwan and introduction to the online forums like that of NELTA Choutari, Yahoo Groups and so on.
• Correction Technique at Secondary level (addressing the need and time management of assessing the student tasks in an ongoing language classroom)
The second session of Phase I (Teaching Literature in the Secondary level addressing the need of teaching Optional English) had lost its importance as per the demand of the Eastern Chitwan. The reason was that Optional English was not in practice in Eastern Chitwan. The sessions were facilitated by the following trainers.
Day 1: Session One: Teaching Poetry at Secondary Level by Mr. Batuklal Tamang
Day 1: Session Two: Teaching Grammar at Secondary Level by Mr. Dilip Sharma
Day 2: Session One: Integrating Skills teaching at Secondary Level jointly by Mr. Manoj Kshetri and Mr. Khemlal Pahari
Day 2: Session Two: Teaching writing at Secondary level by Mr. Eka Dev Adhikari
Day 2: Session Three: Dissemination of NELTA Activities in and around Chitwan and introduction to the online forums like that of NELTA Choutari, Yahoo Groups, Teach English, etc. This was facilitated by Mr. Batuk Lal Tamang, Mr. Dilip Sharma and Eka Dev Adhikari
Day 2: Session Four: Correcting Learners: Correction Technique at Secondary Level by Mr. Minraj Bastakoti.
The programme was duly conducted for two days. A total of about 30 teachers of the Eastern Chitwan were facilitated in the training and in the closing ceremony the participants felt and expressed their views that the sessions were aptly addressing their need and they anticipated NELTA to continue such programmes in the days to come. The participants were found to be enthusiastic in working out with the lessons learnt from the sessions and expressed that they were grateful to NELTA, PABSON, SOECEBS, ECOBS and all other stakeholders of the programme.
The closing ceremony was honoured with the presence of SOECEBS Chair Mr. Balhari Devkota as Chief guest and other distinguished guests. ECOBS co-ordinator Mr. Madan Puri expressed his gratitude to NELTA for conducting such programmes for Private schools. The chief guest and the SOECEBS Chair Balhari Devkota also promised to conduct such programmes for lower secondary level and primary level as well. All the speakers also promised to support NELTA Chitwan and its ensuing 17th International Conference phase II in every possible way. Finally NELTA Chair closed the ceremony by promising to carry out such programmes in the near future in other parts of the districts and also for the other levels as well and support with every possible way to improve and enhance the ELT situation of the district in the days to come.
The third phase of the programme (A Two Day ELT Programme: Phase III) is yet to be conducted in the Western Chitwan. NELTA has taken PABSON western belt in confidence in collecting the teachers and setting the venue for the programme so that the programme can be conducted in near future.

 

(Eka Dev Adhikari working as as ELT practitioner for the last two decades. Currently he teaches at Janajagriti Higher Secondary School, Pithuwa, Chitwan. He is also The Vice Principal and English Department Head in Marigold Secondary English School, Chainpur Chitwan. He is an active NELTA activist and currently holds the position of branch secretary in Chitwan branch. He did his MA in English from TU, Central Department of English, Kirtipur and his M.Ed. In Curricullum and Evaluation From Saptagandaki Multiple Campus Bharatpur Chitwan. As an active NELTA activist, he has been presenting papers in Local, Regional and International conferences of NELTA. He has also published various articles on ELT.)

Teacher Travelogue: A Journey to ELT@I Conference in Vellore, India

 Praveen Kumar Yadav, Ram Abadhesh Ray, Ashok Kumar, Kamlesh Kumar Raut, members of NELTA Birgunj

Our trip to Vellore* was not an easy one, with no train tickets available at one point, the train we somehow got to board being late, and so on. But once we reached the venue, we had a great time. We were able to attend nine of the 147 concurrent sessions, which ran in 19 rooms where eight papers were presented during 2 hours (so each presenter only had about 15 minutes). During tea breaks, we were able to meet participants from India and other countries and shared what NELTA is doing for the professional development of English teachers in Nepal. When we informed them about the forthcoming international conference to be held in February, 2012, many teachers said they’d like to come and  participate in our conference in Nepal. We shared our email addresses and went back to more sessions. We then attended the plenary sessions which consisted of two facilitations on ‘Materials Design: From the back of an Envelope to Full-fledged Unit’ by Prof. Numa Markee and ‘Teacher Power’ by Raja Govindasamy from India.

Prof. Markee argued that as Prabhu (1987) demonstrated in the ground breaking Banglore project that was implemented in Southern India from 1979 to 1984, good materials design is fundamentally grounded in classroom experimentation by teachers. Prof. Markee illustrated this position by showing how a task based module he had presented at the 16th International conference of NELTA recently held in Kathmandu, started out life in 1990 as a demonstration lesson of task based language teaching for teachers in training at the University of Illinois originally, the hospital drawing task shown here consisted of a hastily drawn pictures and a few scribbled notes on the back of an envelope. Over time, he had the opportunity to refine these ideas into “real” materials as he repeated this demonstrated many times. In addition, he was able over time to incorporate various improvements based on evidence from video recordings of some of the early demonstration lessons. Prof. Markee concluded his talk by suggesting ways in Indian Teachers of English can adopt these ideas to their teaching situations.

The plenary session had another presentation ‘Teacher Power’ by Raja Govindasamy from India. Teacher power simply means the influence of teacher exerts on students by virtue of his/her commitment and competence. Such a quality ensures leadership status to the teacher. Then a teacher enjoys power in five ways as appropriated from J. R. B. French and B. Raven’s book, The Bases of Social Power (1959). The first power is legitimate power by virtue of designation on the basis of qualification. The second is reward power which enables the teacher to assess and appreciate student performance. The third is coercive power which empowers the teachers to nudge and pressurize the students to move away from ignorance, indifference and inhibition to interest, intelligence and improvement. The fourth is expert power, the most imp0rtant power by which the teacher establishes his/her stature as a mastermind/specialist. The fifth is referent power, a sequel to the fourth, which means that the teacher is referred to as a role model for the students to emulate his/her. The powers make a teacher a mentor.

A reflection of our trip to Vellore wouldn’t be complete if we don’t mention the typical south Indian food that was provided by the conference organizers. Almost all the food items contained coconut in them!

After lunch, we attended the special lecture given via online technology by Mrs. Claire Bradin Siskin, director of Excelsior University, USA, in the Anna Auditorium Hall which is equipped with advanced technology. The sound at the hall was so clear that it looked as if the presenter was behind the curtain. At the end, through text message and microphone/voice chat, questions were asked to her and she answered them. It was an innovative and creative presentation we have ever attended. In the same hall, three authors Mrs. Usha Jesudasan, Dr. K. Srilata from IIT Madras and Mrs. Subhasree Krishnaswamy jointly presented their paper on creative writing. They started with how creative writing begins, continued with how creativity can be promoted, and ended with encouragement to write creatively.

After a valedictory session and speeches by various dignitaries, prizes were given for the school toppers in English for Standard X and XII. Prizes were also distributed for three Best Paper Presenters of the Conference. The programme concluded with the vote of thanks by the Director of the School of Languages, VIT, Dr. C. Annadurai.

The Conference was indeed a confluence which brought together over eight hundred delegates. The ‘connection’ the meeting has given to, many hoped, would be long lasting.

When compared to NELTA conference, the gathering was not as much as we had in our 16th international conference. The number of presenters was more in comparison of NELTA Conference, but ELT@I had fewer delegates from foreign countries. About 90 percent from India.  We also learned that ELT@I organizes more national conferences than the international ones, and that may be something that we need to start doing in Nepal. If we hold more national conferences around the country, more teachers would get the opportunity to attend them.  Among the finer details, 15 minutes only was allotted for one presentation during concurrent sessions, which seemed too short to us was that rapporteurs were highly active: they introduced the presenters at the beginning and they summed up the key messages of the presentation at the end.

Our journey to Vellore was very fruitful because we learnt a lot of things related to English language teaching in India. We got the opportunity to compare the conference with ours and learn new things from their, we saw new ways of presenting papers, and we heard about new perspectives in ELT. Our visit strengthened the relationship between NELTA and ELT@I. And we had a good interaction with the secretary of ELT@I who said that ELT@I is looking forward to collaborating with NELTA in coming days.

 

Acknowledgments 

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Consulate General of India (CGI) Birgunj for providing the opportunity and supporting us to attend the conference. We could not have been able to take part in the mega event of India without support of Chairperson Hemant Raj Dahal of NELTA Central and Kedar Prasad Sah and Sajan Kumar Karn of NELTA Birgunj.

—–

* This was the Sixth International and Forty-Second  ELT@I Conference, held in Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) University, Vellore. It was organized by the English Language Teachers’ Association of India (ELT@I).

Letter to the NELTA President

By Praveen Yadav

Dear President of NELTA,

I would like to congratulate you for being elected as a new president of NELTA unanimously. I wish you all the best as you shoulder immense responsibilities of the biggest organization of English language learners, teachers, ELT practitioners, methodologists, textbooks/materials writers, teacher trainers, etc. I believe you would put your efforts in making the dream of our advisors Prof. Dr. JR Awasthi, Prof. Dr. GR Bhattarai and Prof. Dr. Abhi Subedi come true during your tenure.

There is a very common quotation by our grandparents in our rural areas of Terai that to buy an elephant is expensive but to keep the elephant is more expensive. Likewise, it is difficult to get elected as president but to shoulder the responsibilities of NELTA as president till the term is more difficult. I hope you would shoulder the responsibilities honestly, efficiently and diligently. You have developed leadership and it is now up to you how you would lead 19 executive members, more than 1630 life members and 29 branches across the country.

All the members of NELTA across the country wanted you to chair NELTA with a lot of aspiration and expectation. I hope you would respect their aspiration and expectation and act accordingly to fulfill them.

We should not forget JR Awasthi guru’s quote, “WE ARE NELTA.” I believe this is the spirit of the organization. We should not also forget “UNITY IS STRENGTH.” Here unity means the unity of our branches. Our branches from Mechi to Mahakali and from the Mountains to Terai are the strength of NELTA. I hope you would maintain and develop mutual relationship and close coordination between NELTA central and NELTA branches. This is only possible when you visit the branches time and again and help organize different sorts of trainings, workshops, seminars, meetings, conferences and the like in the branches. Besides, representatives from respective branches could be invited in the meetings of NELTA central and circulate the minutes through yahoo mail groups or NELTA Choutari. This will make the organization transparent among all those associated with this. This is the mantra that will help us increase our new members and new branches.

Dear President, let’s develop a learning and positive organization culture in NELTA. You’d better to apply team approach, participatory decision-making practices, financial transparency and accountability and timeliness with a high quality of performance for the welfare of the organization. Participatory decision making, team building, appreciative inquiry, learning and doing, coordination & networking and collaboration with concerning stakeholders are the approaches that can make our NELTA alive and unique.

As you are the one member of last executive committee, you are familiar with its shortcomings. The then committee has already done a tremendous work, but it might have been still trying to coordinate with our branches and advisors of NELTA at the desired level. However, we are very optimistic to see minimizing the drawbacks in the past during the tenure of the newly elected Executive committee. I hope the new executive committee will bridge the gap between the central and its branches and strengthen organizational relationship.

NELTA, no doubt, explores the opportunities for English language fellows in Nepal. You are kindly advised to coordinate with all the branches while recommending our members for those opportunities. This will be an added value in your leadership in three years of your tenure.

We are well-acquainted with the fact that collaboration is a must for NELTA to explore and mobilize its resources across the country to promote the teaching and learning of English language in Nepal sustainably. NELTA has been collaborating with British Council, American Embassy, Ministry of Education, Room to Read, and SNV-Nepal.  At present AIN (Association of International NGOs in Nepal) comprises more than 80 INGOs have been working on a wide-range of issues and sectors to contribute to development efforts in Nepal. Dear President, we hope you would be able to collaborate with these organizations in the days to come during your tenure since ELT is also a kind of development and it can also be used to promote human rights.

English language in a New Nepal can stand as an icon of unity and national harmony since all other languages have been supposed to belong to specific communities. English can be an instrument to strengthen loktantra and promote human rights. To make the government of Nepal realize the facts, NELTA can play a crucial role as the nation is undergoing a transitional stage and everything is in a state of flux.  Then the government would ponder over a language policy, in general, and ELT strategy, in particular.

We hope you would learn from the mistakes of the predecessors and be able to put your efforts in minimizing them. You have the moment and the opportunity to put NELTA on the right course to achieve the mission, vision, goals and objectives of NELTA.

Wish you all the executive members of NELTA all the best for your successful tenure!

Yours Truly,

Praveen Kumar Yadav

Rautahat

NELTA Birgunj Branch

BRANCH SPECIAL, January 2011

Namaste!

We dedicate this issue to the colleagues from NELTA branches across the country, with special thanks to colleagues from Birgunj, Gorkha, Palpa, and Surkhet. There is no doubt that our readers will be glad and grateful to you if you can continue to publish news updates about training or other professional development events, success stories of individual teachers or schools that take new initiatives in ELT, personal anecdotes, annual summaries of ELT activities in your branch… anything you can share with the rest of the NELTA community and readers around the world. To repeat what we said in the main editorial, our vision is to make this a professional discussion forum where teachers at the grassroots level ARE the ELT scholars and researchers. We don’t need to remind any fellow teacher that the best types of ELT resources are pedagogical solutions that evolve from problems overcome by individual teachers, classroom/action research, teaching tips shared among teachers who are in similar material and institutional situations, and reflections and theorizing done by teacher-scholars in the geo-political contexts of Nepal and the local settings around the country. Simpy, this forum is yours, and you should contribute what you know, what you have, what you are interested in. The discussions of scholars at the center or in different types of professional academic settings around the world are also important, but those postings and discussions will also become more meaningful if they are based on the situations, challenges, innovations that you face at the classroom and local levels.

Here is a special set of materials from NELTA branches from across Nepal. Enjoy the local flavor and promote the conversation!

  1. NELTA Palpa Conference Vibrated the Teachers in the Area (an article by Gopal Bashyal, NELTA Palpa)
  2. NELTA = Novel ELT Activities (an event update and article by Gopal Bashyal, NELTA Palpa)
  3. NELTA Surkhet in 2010 (a branch update from Surkhet, by Mukunda Giri, NELTA Surkhet)
  4. “Teaching English with a Difference” (a report from Birgunj on a recent Training Program, by Suresh Shrestha*)
  5. English Access Microscholarship Program in Nepal (an article about a new ELT initiative in NELTA branches, by Shyam Pandey)
    (also linked from main editorial)

Please remember to leave a comment to these posts and promote updates and discussions from NELTA branches across the country. Please subscribe to Choutari so you will be alerted when there is a new post.

(back to front page)

NELTAChoutari, Networking and Nepalese Teachers

Kamal Poudel

Until about two decades ago, information technologies that were widely available in the world outside were either out of reach for us in Nepal, or we lacked the basic skills needed for using what was available. Even teachers did not have access to teaching materials on the Internet, not to mention the possibility of using it in their classrooms. But in the last ten or so years, there has been a quantum leap in the availability, access, and popularity of information technologies in Nepalese education.

Students directly benefit from the access to knowledge and professional development opportunities that their teachers have, and in the long run the society benefits from those resources and opportunities. From that perspective, teachers are the vanguard of social change. The incredible development in the information technology field has brought all of us quite close that we can find our entire sporadically scattered friends within our room. The new discovery of science and technology have always some pros and cons, and it will be the job of teachers to select the texts appropriately, and use them to maximally benefit the students. The dark sides of the new technology should be left in the dark world itself, and encourage the students to move towards the world of self-enhancement. The development in the societies always gives birth to new cultures, and to my belief, cultures are as dynamic as language, and thus they are prone to change all the time. The new generation people (in this context: present day students) are quite likely to adopt and adapt the new cultures as they are truly native to them. In this context, although the elder generation people (in this context: present day teachers) are immigrant to the newly developed culture, they are required to acclimatize themselves to the new climate or say the cultures developed by the IT. Not only this, they also need to enhance their pace so as to meet the students and be able to lead them. No modern teachers now can escape any student’s problem or question simply saying, ‘well, I am not quite aware of technology things….’ The students are very likely to feel underprivileged to be taught by these types of teachers as they do not get the sufficient learning materials and resources from their teachers. Their expectation is marked with newness and fast pace. The newness can be in the field of using language, for example, as the new culture leads the people to change their linguistic behavior as well. We can refer to this as a kind of paradigm shift in teaching and learning. Along with the pace of modern life, the pace of learning has naturally had the quantum leap.

Public media like BBC concentrates on the value of IT and spells that fame in the modern world can be doubled or easily be enhanced by means of the use of technology. A newly published book or article can be read by millions of readers immediately after the click on ‘upload’, which makes it easier for the the contributors to be attracted by those readers. This positively encourages the beginners to upgrade and update themselves, and thus will always be in such a world where they cannot stop browsing, uploading, collecting materials and be connected in the wider world.

Considering this as significant factor to change the life-style of teachers and the dire-need of the present day world, we have been encouraging our readers, teachers to come to the world of information technology, and thus be connected with the rest of the world. We have the principle of ‘learn and let learn’.  With the motive of empowering Nepalese teachers (ourselves), NELTA is committed to create the new ways of teaching and learning. For this, would like to invite you all English teachers and be the part of NELTAChoutari, and help the Choutari finally in order to help yourselves and thus transform yourselves. Cheers NELTAChoutari anniversary!!!


(back to editorial/contents)