On our eleventh anniversary, the Choutari editor, Jeevan Karki has collected the reflections from our founders, editors, ELT experts and readers. Their reflections remind the readers our journey, our contribution (contribution in education in general and ELT in particular), contents and readers perspectives on them, its sustainability, some valuable suggestions. It’s indeed very interesting to hear from them and we believe you will certainly enjoy these excerpts and know more about Choutari.
The way forward: Interactivity
Before I wrote this piece, I quickly skimmed through the blog posts published in 2019 and stopped at the one written by Sreejana Chamling on the topic of how listening to the radio made her a good language user and a teacher eventually. She writes “I enjoyed the English-speaking style of the RJs. I especially liked their pronunciation, speaking styles, confidence etc. Then I started dreaming of being able to speak like them and started tuning English programs even if I did not fully understand what they were talking about.” Fascinating! Then as I finished reading it, I wanted to see how the post has been responded to by the readers. None! This is just a representative case. When the founding team envisioned the goal and mode of this online forum, a few keywords came to our mind: interaction, dialogicality, discussion, and so on. The idea of publishing a reflective material in an interactive blog is to generate a response in its readers. Interactivity is exactly the feature that makes Choutari different from traditional journal articles or other web-materials.
What is the way forward? For the last few years, I have been following another interactive blog Language on the Move. Like ours, it publishes articles on a regular basis, from contributors around the world. As an example, the blog published an entry on ‘language shaming’ written by an Australian professor Ingrid Piller, and the post drew several details of content from my article on language ideology published in the journal Language, Discourse and Context. The blog post generated 19 comments, both long and short. Meanwhile the writer contacted me to see if I could write a response to the post, and I did. I was impressed by the degree of interest that readers had on the topic and the content of the article.
The way forward for ELT Choutari is to take stock of what we have achieved so far and learn from other similar forums like Language on the Move. Happy New Year 2020!
Collaborations with institutions for forward
As the first webzine launched by the Nepali ELT professionals, Choutari actually established the idea that this type of publication is viable to run a sustainable way. It was launched at a time when Nepali ELT professionals were looking for reading materials which were Nepal specific and freely available. Choutari was an apt response to the expectation. Though the pioneers had no concrete experience of running a professional webzine, with their relevant academic background giving Choutari a professional shape, in a short span of time, it became a familiar platform for the ELT professionals particularly for the young scholars. Looking from the professional development point of view, those who were not getting space in the print journals, saw their work published and read by colleagues from around the world.
The selection of write-ups of Choutari is impressive. The issues include an array of contributions: anecdotes, opinion articles, classroom tips, research papers and book reviews which allow professionals and scholars of varying stages to contribute their experiences and insights as well as research outcomes. In addition, occasional interviews and bytes create space for the seasoned and senior professionals to share their views and positions on pertinent issues. Though the editors seem to be cautious about the quality, in some issues some minor errors act as red herrings which, if avoided, will make this webzine a truly professional one. Everything has a room to improve.
Choutari issues are commendable and have a good readership from home and abroad. Even then, this webzine has a potential to have a wider impact. For this, I propose a few strategies. Firstly, if the contributions undergo a peer review, though not necessarily blind, the oversights can be detected, and unintended red herrings can be avoided. This will also allow some thinking time for the editors as the review can be done by professionals who are not in the team. Secondly, if each issue includes one editor from a different university/college, that particular issue will see contributions from that institution. Once the professionals from that institution see their write-ups published, they become regular readers for the upcoming issues. The selection of the guest editors needs to be done institutionally i.e. Choutari team need to approach to the institutions to nominate someone from their respective departments. This becomes a true collaboration between Choutari and the institution. An understanding can be made that the collaborating institution members contribute at least 50% of the selections in the issue. Thirdly, if each issue has two sections a) regular features and b) specific theme-based contributions, regular readers will find something to read as they always have. Other readers who may be interested in specific theme will access a given issue. This will create a niche of the readers maintaining a variety for the ELT community.
Recognition opportunities for sustainability
ELT Choutari is an adventurous journey by a few pioneers who inspired a generation of ELT experts in Nepal and beyond. The contents on it included a wide variety of resources, reflections, and research, the contribution of which is tremendous in the Nepali society.
Choutari is a wonderful platform and should therefore continue to reach out to young writers and help them express their ideas by providing trainings on writing. Some competitions, incentives and professional development opportunities tied to the contribution would go a long way toward sustainability. Recognition opportunities such as the “contributor of the month” or author spotlight would help young writer build up confidence.
Some reflections from behind the scene
ELT Choutari is a digital ELT magazine in Nepal, initiated by ELT scholars in Nepal. This forum has been grooming the new members to take over the responsibilities to run it and thus offering them an opportunity to gain new experiences and grow professionally. ELT Choutari earned good popularity in the field of English language teaching and networking. I understand it as a great platform where authors from home and abroad exchange their ideas, share about their innovative practices and where ELT professionals can network and grow. One year ago, when I was offered to join the ELT Choutari team, I was quite excited as it was my first experience working as an editor of an online journal. It has really been a great pleasure becoming a part of this vibrant and enthusiastic team of six editorial board members. Since I joined this team, my role is to support my co-editors to find articles focused on and complementing the particular theme for that quarterly edition. Additionally, I would also review articles. This year, I got an opportunity to work as a lead editor of the fourth quarterly edition (October-December, 2019) of ELT Choutari, under the theme of ‘EFL/ESL Teachers’ New Teaching Ideas/ Methods and Best Practices on Integrated Approach to Teaching English’.
During this process of releasing that edition, I realized how challenging it is to find authors to write and share their ideas. Actually, we were trying to bring into the new contributors to share their experiences. We encountered some enthusiastic people, who were willing to share their experiences but lacked confidence to produce a readable reflection or blog post. So, it gave us an insight that we need to support such people in scale to build their confidence in writing their reflections.
The best part of my time here was our team work. My team members gave their valuable time to provide me with technical support and help me with editing the articles until all the articles were finally released. I would like to thank all the editors of Choutari for their for their immense support and encouragement. Finally, I am very thankful to the valuable contributors who shared their experiences of various practices in the field of English language teaching.
Choutari was a very familiar forum for me before I joint it as an editor as I had already published a couple of my own articles. Later, when I was offered a place as an editor, I felt elated. I was overwhelmed in the very beginning. Later, I had to lead one issue myself (of course with the support from team members). As we received the articles and we started reviewing them, I encountered some challenges.
During the review of the articles, firstly, I confined my focus on cohesion and coherence of the write-up. I made cursory reading of some of peer reviewed journal and their articles. Apart from reading across those different articles, I concentrated on the structural aspects as well. The most challenging part of reviewer is to envisage the positive as well as the negative aspects of paper. During the process of refining the write ups, I learnt many things myself, which are discussed below:
- Organization of the contents: We know every write-up has its own style, lay out and structure. The papers I reviewed had varied structures. Of course, no two articles have similar heading and sub-heading. However, it is essential that any article should maintain the diction appropriate to its style, for instance, the reflective article is written in narrative form, which doesn’t match with other research articles.
- Recapitulating the contribution of the paper: As an editor and writer, one should question themselves, “What’s the contribution of the write-up to its field?” I also realized that an article having practical pedagogy for day-to-day classroom is more preferred by teachers than the articles on theoretical perspectives. However, having both theoretical perspectives and practical application in the classroom can make the article even better.
- Aligning with the theme of the issue: Sometimes Choutari announces the thematic issue aiming to generate the focused discoursed on a particular theme. As an editor and writer, one should bear this in mind while editing and writing any article.
Reviewing and editing not only helps to make articles publishable and readable, but also offers many benefits for editors. While reviewing and editing articles, I get to read and re-read diverse write ups from wider scholars in home and abroad, which not only expands my academic horizon but also develops the professional skills like editing and reviewing. After publishing the articles with the series of revision and editing, I feel that editing gives an academic shape for an article keeping a contributor’s voice intact, tacit and embodiment.
I’m glad to know that ELT Choutari is welcoming valuable feedback from its reader.
I had subscribed this magazine quite a while before, I published my article on it. It was my thesis supervisor (Dr. Prem Phyak), who encouraged me to write reflection on the Masters’ Research (2018), for ELT Choutari. Then, I made up my mind not to miss that opportunity. I was glad as well as worried whether I could produce a publishable writing or not. Then, I went through some of the articles, which motivated me for reading the recent trends and practices in English language teaching and also gave me some ideas on shaping my own article. Some articles like ‘Teacher as Reader’, ‘Good Writing is All about Practicing and Knowing its Reader’, ‘Enhancing Project Work in EFL Class’, ‘Critical Thinking Strategies for Resolving Challenges in ELT’, issues of EMI in Multilingual Context, etc. are some of the remarkable writing which inspired me to keep reading this magazine. Not only that I often read the reflection by various ELT practitioners and equally got insights from their experiences, day to day practices, stress, frustration, opportunity, etc. The success stories and motivational reflection published on the digital magazine are highly commendable.
It supports and inspires the people like us to revive our hopes to try something new in our field. Moreover, in this age, digital magazine provides the opportunity for the readers to interact with the contents and authors.
However, ELT Choutari has yet to work on the reaching the larger audience. Despite the amazing contents on it, the number of readers seem less. Therefore, it should work on bringing the large number of students and teachers on this forum to read and also share their experiences and reflections. I hope ELT Choutari will be recognized as one of widely used magazines throughout the country and the world to bring the unheard voices of the ELT practitioners.
Finally, I would like to suggest Choutari team to bring in the contents in the areas of eco-pedagogy and English, narratives on inclusion in ELT, narratives of disabled teachers/learners’ of English, creative and critical writing, and photography as a means to teach language.
Insights on diverse themes: Bam Shah
I’m one of the regular readers of Choutari since I’ve heard about it. I began to study regularly when I got information from my respected teachers in the university. I regularly read the articles published on it, which are very interesting. Choutari has energized me to read and explore more. It has provided insights on the diverse themes in ELT. Today I’m very happy to know about the eleventh anniversary of ELT Choutari. I hope that it will provide readers with more valuable research articles in the days to come.
Now, we open the floor for you. Please share your reflections or comments for ELT choutari in the comment box below.
[To cite this: ELT Choutari. (2020, January 25). Reflections: Hearing from founders, editors, ELT experts and readers [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://eltchoutari.com/2020/01/reflections-hearing-from-founders-editors-elt-experts-and-readers/]