Hello World!

Written by Shyam Sharma as the About page when Choutari was started.


The new era of web based communication began with someone writing “Hello World!” in a website created with complex web/code language. Today, with the advent of Web 2.0 web technologies, what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG). Bal, Prem, and Shyam (3 NELTA members who are studying abroad) began this collaborative blog in the beginning of 2009. Our intention is to make our often useful conversations, and the conversation of everyone who will join us in the future, accessible to other ELT professionals back home in Nepal and abroad. In sharing our ideas publicly, we are sort of making a rhetorical statement to the effect of something like this: What we know is knowledge too.

Please join us and let us help one another grow as knowledge-makers, as teachers and learners.

Teacher Experience and Teacher Development

Nelta Choutari: Intro to March 2009 Issue

All teachers have some sorts of experiences and stories which have inspired them to improve teaching or encumbered their professional development. When an intellectual interacts with 10, 20, 50, 100 or more intelligent youngsters everyday, there is a lot going on than first meets the eye i.e. the ‘routine’ of teaching. Now, if we pause to reflect on a striking incident in the process of that interaction, we will have stories to tell that are as serious and important as we find in the scholarly articles or books. A teacher story may be based on very ordinary everyday classroom activities like trying to get students’ attention, or it may be about some serious difference of perception on how to approach teaching a lesson with colleagues. Apparently, insignificant incidents might become the basis for innovative approaches or philosophical ideas of great significance in the field of teacher education–if we take the time to reflect and if we value the experiences.
Aagainst  this backdrop, this issue contains two scholarly articles, one teacher’s anecdote and one classroom humor.

Techer Experience as Professional Resource

Introduction to Scholarly Articles: Nelta Choutari March 2009

Jin (pseudonym), a teacher from Singapore, as described in Farrell (2006), faced many complications as a newly qualified teacher (NQT). The first complication was the conflict between his approach to teaching English and expectation of the school. His second complication was related to the conflict between what he wanted to teach (i.e. content) and what he was required to teach. He has many other complications. The important thing to mention here is; how did he solve these complications and establish himself as an English language teacher? Jin’s story can be downloaded in the form of a .pdf file here.

Minfang (pseudonym), a teacher from China, has also faced similar complications. Minfang got no personal satisfaction. He did not want to encourage any discussion in case his “disgraceful past” has inadvertently revealed in the course of discussion. Nor did he want to be a popular teacher, because in Chinese culture, a teacher who is popular among students is perceived as a teacher of little substance and one who has nothing but relationships to win the students’ hearts. He found working in a hierarchical institution oppressive with so many powerful people above him. He could not apply CLT into his classes and so on. However, he established himself as the best teacher in the school. Mingfang’s exciting story can be downloaded as a .pdf file here.

Teachers’ Anecdotes

My first presentation at a conference

–Balkrishna Sharma

When the preparation for NELTA’s International Conference was going on, I for the first time in my life decided to make a presentation at the conference though I was not sure what I specifically was going to talk about. I now want to recall what thoughts went inside my head before the presentation day. I first thought that I should not have decided to present in front of so many people. And again thought that if I did not start at that time, when would I start presenting? Then came another crazy idea: it was better not to present than to give a bad presentation. Another half of my mind again suggested that I present. Again I thought what if I trembled in front of the people. Then I thought what would happen if no people came in my presentation room. Then another silly idea occurred: how would the presentaion go if the computer did not work or if my power point slides did not open. Then I thought people would laugh at me if I could not answer audience’s questions. I hardly slept that night. Surprisingly, I was able to present without any hesitation and fear the next day. The room was full of audience; the powerpoint slides worked well; and I was able to answer the audience’s questions. The implication of my story is that it is always challenging to ‘break the ice’, but once you get started, everything moves smoothly. Last month I presented at East-West Center Graduate Student International Conference, and at Hawaii TESOL, and on 26th of March I am presenting at TESOL Convention at Denver (USA). My first presentation at the NELTA conference was the foundation and encouragement for my present and future presentations. I reiterate: a journey of hundred miles starts from a step. Let’s try…. and reflect…



My first day as a secondary teacher

–Kate Miller

We had a couple of hours to get to know our new tutor group, and we spent some of this time going over their timetable, checking they had written everything down correctly and understood what was required of them. About three quarters of the way through, to my horror, I realised that I had turned over two pages and had given them completely incorrect information. What to do? The only thing was to confess and apologise!! – two hours into my teaching career. So much for my credibility. An 11 year old boy, with great sensitivity, said “Don’t worry Miss. The last teacher wasn’t even half human!” My lesson from this. If you get it wrong, apologise. —————————————————————————————————————————————

Classroom Humor

Nelta Choutari March 2009 Issue

Humorous anecdotes can sometimes be very useful tools for teaching language. They make classes lively and entertaining. Maybe some of these will be useful spice for your class.

Little Julie was sad and sitting on the back bench. Teacher came in the class, and she found Julie sitting at the back, where she never sat earlier.
Teacher asked, “What is wrong with you Julie?”
Julie said, “Ma’m, you tell me, whether it is right to punish someone for not doing something?”
The teacher thought for a while, and said, “No, of course not.”
Little Julie said, “Then, Ma’m, I have not done my homework.”
Teacher: Why have you come so late to class?
Darwin: Sir I saw a signboard down the road.
Teacher: That is fine that you saw a signboard down the road, but what does a signboard have to do with your being late?
Darwin: The signboard said, “School Ahead, Go Slow!”
Martha was a Math teacher. She asked her pupils: There is a tiger and three lions walking down in a jungle. It is raining fast. What is my age?
Little Mary stood up and answered: 32 yrs.
Martha: How do you know I am 32?
Little Mary: Simple, my sister is 16 yrs old and she is half mad.
Samantha was teaching arithmetic to her fifth grade students. She gave a problem to solve: “Suppose, there are a dozen sheep and six of them jump over a fence. How many would be left?”
Little Julie: “None,”
Samantha: “None? Julie, you don’t know your arithmetic, start studying well.”
Julie: “Teacher, you don’t know about sheep. When one goes, they all go. It is better if you keep your sheep inside the boundary
Mary thought of teaching her students something about God.
She asked her class, “Where does God live?”
Sam: I think he lives in our bathroom.
Teacher: What? Why do you say that?
Mary: Well, You know Mam, every morning my daddy bangs the bathroom door and says, ‘God, are you still in there?’

(Source: Fundoo Times- http://www.fundootimes.com/jokes/teachers.html)

Nelta Choutari February 2009


Welcome to the second issue of NELTA CHOUTARI. In our attempts to promote some professional/pedagogical conversation among English teachers in Nepal and abroad, we are asking you to read and comment on the useful resources we are posting here. The most effective way to do this would be to share what you think about these materials (see prompts below) via NELTA email, and to respond/challenge one another’s ideas on these materials or issues that branch out from the discussion. Closely connected to the first issue on critical pedagogy, this issue focuses on student agency over classroom English, and at the same time informs the readers of an approach to alternative curriculum for students with learning disabilities. This issue has four items: NELTA History, Scholarly Articles, Teacher’s Anecdote, Classroom Humor

Choutari Feb 09: Scholarly Articles

Introduction to Research Articles (Nelta Choutari February 2009 Issue)

English in Classroom’ and ‘Alternative Curriculum’

In the first section, we have attached an article on ‘annotation’ published in 2005 in the journal English in Education. Literally put, annotation is the use of underlines, highlights, comments, and notes written by the students in textbooks. They are, nevertheless, very useful strategy employed by the students to manipulate texts, and show their agency over reading materials. Though this article reports the findings of the research study which was carried out in the setting where English is a native language, they are very useful in all the ESL and EFL contexts. Click click here to access the article.

The second item is an article on a case study of two students with learning disabilities. The findings that come out of these studies provide the English teachers with various lenses to look at the challenges of students who superficially have learning problems. Have we as teachers ever thought whether we can review our own teaching-learning activities and our curricula to address diverse needs of our students? This research provides insightful suggestions for language teachers and program administrators to understand L2 teaching-learning process better. Click click here to access the article.

Nelta’s History

Birth of NELTA

NELTA was born in the British Council Nepal in 1992 when its first meeting was held in the British Council Office. I remember the day when Mr. David Pottinger, then Assistant Director of the British Council wrote the minutes of the first meeting on a plain sheet of paper and all the members who attended the meeting promised to keep this association away from all the organisational ills including politics and favouritism. It was, thus, established as a non-government, non-political, non-profit making, professional association with the aims of improving ELT situation. The need to improve the teaching and learning of the English language, thereby keeping abreast of new development in ELT, lay the foundation of NELTA. The other members present in the meeting were Mr. Jai Raj Awasthi (currently the professor of English Education), Dr. Tirth Raj Khaniya (currently the professor of English Education), Mr. Ram Ashish Giri, Mr. Ratna Bahadur Bajracharya, Principal of Anandhakuti Vidyapith, Mrs. Meera Shrestha and myself. The meeting assigned Mr. Awasthi to draft NELTA constitution and an committee was formed. This is the first milestone that NELTA set in its journey.

The justifications to its birth were many. To recall some of them are listed below:

  • The mjority of English teachers in Nepal were untrained and no EFL qualifications were/are required to become an English teacher. Thus, some kind of initiation to familiarise them with the ELT pedagogy was a must.
  • All the teachers’ associations that exist in Nepal were affiliated to political parties and functioning as trade unions. But NELTA was established exclusively for professional development of English language teachers.
  • Teachers could hardly participate in the professional development activities during that time because of lack of professional organizations.
  • The ever-increasing demand of English grew higher and higher due to the expansion of business and tourism sectors with the restoration of democracy in the country.
  • The Ministry of Education was in the verge of revising the ELT syllabus in school level. The shift from Structural teaching to Communicative teaching demanded massive teacher training orientation which the government could not do alone.

(Mr. Gautam, one of the founding members of NELTA, is now its Senior Vice-President. If you would like to read the full article published in NELTA journal, please click here. Note that the dates and details in this article are not current, but the article is relevant and interesting from a historical point of view.)

A snapshot from Choutari history

Originally written by Shyam Sharma on a joint blog namedKnowledgeMaking–contributed Bal and Prem also–before we began the NeltaChoutari blog, which replaced three people talking with a web magazine and public discussion forum. (post date changed here)


“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 knowledgemaking.pbwiki 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! Here is how each of those technologies would help us preserve good conversation for our own and other people’s advantage.

  • Blog: a blog, like this one, will allow us to archive our discussions by date and also allows us to tag them by subject areas so we can both browse and search. I am serious when I suggest that what we are talking about is real serious “knowledge,” and I believe there’s much advantage in at least the three of us sharing/brainstorming ideas like those that we’ve been for some time. Having a common blog will allow us to freely write back and forth, generate ideas for long term and short term project, and not worry about manually archive them.
  • Wiki: Our Choutari wiki is public, so I set up a private one knowledgemaking.pbwiki for us to set up a schedule (that’s best for collaborative edititing, project schedule, automatic update notification, etc, and we’re already familiar). For all the good things, wiki demands that we archive things manually, so let us use both wiki and blog to do what they can do.
  • Discussion list: It’s still high-end technology (one that I had on my site went corrupt with a million spams, so I got rid of it). Advantages include designed for interaction, automatic archiving, visual organization of response, and a lot of built-in convenience for discussing in particular. I will update on this; you guys do the same.

On a more important note, lately we’ve also been talking about oral projects. Coming from an oral culture, we do better than westerners with oral interaction, oral materials, especially in Nepalese (Trust me, if we don’t require people to say it all in English, they’d say more substantial things). So, by using a schedule on wiki that we all can edit, let us set up something like once a month 3-way call on Skype among the 3 of us, talk based on specific agenda (communicated by email in advance; or negotiated before going on record), with one of us moderating the interaction, and record the talk and edit it.”

Classroom Humor (NeltaChoutari Jan 09)


Teacher: Sarita, make a sentence that starts with an “I”.
Sarita: I is the…
Teacher: Stop! Never put ‘is’ after an ‘I’. Always put ‘am’ after an ‘I’.
Sarita: OK. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.

Ramesh and Rajan were arguing when the teacher entered the room.
Teacher: Why are you arguing?
Ramesh: We found a hundred rupee note and decided to give it to whoever tells the biggest lie.
Teacher: You should be ashamed of yourselves. When I was your age I didn’t even know what a lie was.
The boys gave the money to the teacher.

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