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.

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