It is the fourth post of its kind aiming to promote the use of photos in English language teaching learning. The photos can serve the multiple purposes in our classes such as writing (paragraph/essay writing, story writing etc.), speaking (conversation, describing photos etc.) and other kinds of group/ peer works. In this part IV, we share the photos of Choutari editor Jeevan Karki taken during his visits in different parts of the country.
Welcome to the Fourth Quarterly Issue of ELT Choutari: Special Coverage on Teaching Reading #Vol. 10, Issue 89
First Let’s Talk About Reading Skills Then Only the Habit
Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics defines reading as the process of “perceiving a written text in order to understand its contents.” The written text here indicates written symbols of languages. Therefore, reading is making meaning from written symbols. Reading can be both aloud or silent. When you are reading this paragraph, perhaps you are reading silently and making the sense of what I’m trying to convey. Now, please read this statement aloud, yes please start reading aloud and feel the difference yourself. Have you read? That’s great. You read aloud so easily and subconsciously at the moment but I bet it took a great deal for your teacher to make you able to correlate each written symbol and their corresponding sounds and pronounce words accurately, which you just did without much effort and feeling that. Ok, just a moment for you to think, can we read silently without first being able to read aloud? Umm, generally not. Reading experts urge that a reader reads silently once s/he is fluent enough and to be fluent, one should have a considerable practice. And the practice comes from reading aloud. Therefore, the sub-skill of being aware of symbols and their corresponding sounds is a basic skill for reading.
In order to explain the process of reading more clearly, researchers have identified five components required for reading success. They are Phonemic awareness (sound- symbols relationship), phonics (name of the symbol and its sound), sight-word recognition, and fluency (NICHD, 2000), as well as vocabulary (Stahl & Bravo, 2010) and comprehension (Snow, 2002). Once we teach our children these five components of reading effectively, the children become independent readers and being an independent reader is the foundation for being successful in all areas of education. Check yourself now. You are reading this editorial independently because of these five components. Yes, our reading skill is based on these components and all other reading strategies we learn as we grow are also based on them. Similarly, our reading habit comes from these basic reading skills. Until and unless we children master these basic reading skills, we cannot expect a good reading habit in them. The ultimate goal of reading is to comprehend the text or grasp the meaning, which is equally important for any early grader to any university graduate.
Now as a teacher, future teacher, teacher educator or policy maker, we need to ask ourselves, in our reading lesson, do we really teach reading skills in our classes (like phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading fluency and comprehension)? When we remark our children do not have a reading habit, have we assessed whether they have a proper reading skill? How do we assess the reading skills of children? Mostly in written? Isn’t that somehow funny that we assess oral reading skill in written? These are some questions I leave up to you to reflect on our teaching reading practices.
Presenting you a special issue on reading skills and reading habits, we have opened up a discussion on developing reading skills- reading skills required for an early grader to the skills required for a university graduate. Moreover, we also have tried to capture some of the practices of promoting reading habits in this issue. We have covered six posts in this issue, which all are based on the experience of the authors. Some of the posts explore the challenges in developing reading skills and reading habit followed by some ways out. Likewise, other offer wonderful strategies and tips for accelerating reading skills at school level and also in research level. Moreover, some post views reading as the means of exploration and experience. Interestingly, this issue brings up the writing from three ladies and three gentlemen, gender equality, isn’t it? It is so good to see them coming up with academic discourse here at Choutari.
Read our posts to explore more about reading. Please follow the link below, read, drop your comments for the writers, share the posts among your circle and most importantly, write your experiences, reflections, best practices, challenges and so on in your profession and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will take your writing in the process.
Finally, wish you all a joyous, colourful and brightest Tihar and Chhat festival. Have a good time. Here is the list of the posts for this issue:
- Let’s Borrow Something from Nepali Language Classrooms into English Classrooms: Ekraj Koirala (Siddhartha)
- Some Ideas of Developing Reading Habits in Children: Babita Chapagain
- How to Review Literature Effectively: Sharing My Research Experiences: Karna Rana, PhD
- Why There is No Good Reading Habit in Our Students: An Exploration: Nabina Rokka
- My Experience of Teaching Reading in Higher Secondary Level: Yashoda Bam
- A Professional Journey of Exploration, Experience and Expression: Balram Adhikari
Catch you up in the January issue.
Before leaving, I would like to thank all the contributors to this issue. Likewise, I would like to offer special thanks to Ashok Raj Khati and Karna Rana for their rigorous reading and review of the articles.
Follow me at Twitter: @G1Karki
Talking with an Editor on Writing and ELT
British Council has recently published a book titled “English Language Teaching in Nepal: Research, Reflection and Practice” (2018). This volume is edited by Dr David Hayes. He is an associate professor at Brock University, Canada and an independent education consultant.
This volume is a collection of 14 research papers including a majority of voices of Nepalese ELT practitioners focusing on ELT and critical analysis of the role of English in Nepal. On his remarks on its publication, Dr Lava D Awasthi, the chairperson of the Language Commission of Nepal states, “…it will serve as a resource kit for language planners, policymakers, practitioners and stakeholders.” He further adds, “…it is groundbreaking… drawing on national and international perspectives and practices, theorizing the issues generated from practical experiences and research-based empirical evidence.” On his foreword, Alison Barrett, the director, Education and society, East Asia (British Council) mentions, “…this volume will stimulate considered debate around the role and position of English within the education system in Nepal, and will enable agents of change… to make informed choices… on the quality of English language teaching, learning and assessment in Nepal…”
This book is divided into three sections. First, international perspectives (on ELT), which includes the papers of Rhona Brown, Pritivi N. Shrestha and Amol Padwad. Second, Sponsored research studies, which covers the other three papers of Min Bahadur Ranabhat and Subodh Babu Chiluwal, with Richard Thompson. Finally, the third section- Case studies includes the eight case studies of Ushakiran Wagle, Eak Prasad Duwadi, Laxmi Prasad Ojha, Jeevan Karki, Gopal Prasad Bashyal, Ashok Raj Khati, Laxman Gnawali and Vaishali Pradhan.
As the volume is out in the market, we thought of sharing the thoughts and reflection of the editor in editing the valuable volume. I managed to briefly talk with Dr. Hayes.
Jeevan: Dr. Hayes, you have recently edited a volume “English Language Teaching in Nepal: Research, Reflection and Practice”, which includes 14 chapters. Based on this valuable experience, what is your reflection on the writing of Nepalese ELT practitioners? What are the strengths in their writing and what could be done to make their writing even stronger and better?
Dr. Hayes: Nepalese practitioners are experts in their contexts and my job was just to help them to clarify their ideas and put everything together in a way which allowed them to make their contributions to the book the best that they could be. The strength in the writing generally was in bringing the Nepali school contexts to life so that readers elsewhere could see what was positive about teaching and learning English in Nepal, what the challenges were and where improvements could be made. Good writing is really all about practice and knowing the requirements of the publication you are writing for and its readership. Nepalese practitioners just need opportunities to be given- opportunities to write and to publish for both local and international audience. The more they write, and the more editors (of journals and, I hope, more books like ‘English Language Teaching in Nepal: Research, Reflection and Practice’) help them, the more proficient they will become.
Jeevan: Having gone through the research and practices in Nepalese ELT, where do you locate the ELT practices in Nepal in relation to the trends and practices in the world?
Dr Hayes: I think it’s always best to look at ELT practice in terms of how appropriate it is to the local context. However, there are clear trends which are present in Nepal just as in other countries worldwide. The most obvious of these is the expansion of English-medium education, even at the primary level. Personally, I don’t think this serves the interests of the majority of children well. International research shows that children are most successful educationally when they are taught in their first language and become literate in that language in the early years of schooling. Of course, this is a challenge for multilingual societies like Nepal but experience elsewhere shows that primary education in the first language can be achieved and, not only that, children are often more successful at learning another language such as English in later years too. The danger of English-medium education when the language is not available and regularly used in the local environment is that children often end up not learning anything very well. The work of the Language Commission in Nepal is extremely important in this respect. There is, of course, still a place for English language teaching but I think there needs to be some serious reflection about its place in the overall education system in Nepal. The educational interests of the children must come first.
Mr Karki is one of the editors of this magazine and an independent teacher trainer*
Like in the past, we have come up with photography project in this writing special issue of ELT Choutari. We believe that our students, like any one of us, enjoy looking photos and hence we can use photos in teaching language skills and aspects. In this post, the photos are more like thematic and can be very useful for teaching writing. One photo can generate many ideas and in many different forms. We can use the following photos in the classroom in the different ways. Like, we can simply ask our students to describe the photo, write a story in the periphery of the photo, write an essay related to the issue of the photo. E.g. we can use the photo of the temple to assign them to write about the issue of “Hygiene and Conservations of Templates”.
Dear teachers, you can show the photos to your students, generate discussion, form a group (or you can assign to each individual) and assign the task of writing. The students will find at least some ideas to write about the photos and they will feel more secure to write with these thematic photos.
For this project, the photos are contributed by Jeevan Karki, who is also a freelance photographer.
Welcome to the Ninth Anniversary Issue of ELT Choutari, with Special Coverage of ELT Curriculum and Materials in Nepal
Growing older and giving back better
We are delighted to present the ninth anniversary issue of ELT Choutari. This is a legacy of work and inspiration of scholars at home and abroad for sustaining a forum and building new knowledge on relevant issues in ELT and on education more broadly. In 2017, we were able to publish two strong issues on ICT in education and language planning and policy. While we have published less often recently, we remain inspired to present high-quality scholarship through this venue. We are committed to regularising the publication of Choutari and we encourage our readers to share their work.
As we celebrate the ninth anniversary of “Nepal’s first digital ELT magazine,” this issue covers the subject of “ELT Curriculum and Materials in Nepal: Process, Quality, and Learnability”.
The curriculum is an area that needs the attention of scholars and policy-makers alike. Curriculum Development Centre (CDC), Nepal states that only the materials produced by it are textbook, whereas the materials published by private publication are called additional reading or reference materials. Students of private schools around the country are reading these additional reading/reference materials as the textbooks except for district and regional level exams in class eight and ten respectively. Big private publishers supply a large amount of such additional reading materials to schools around the country and those materials have their own characteristics. The additional reading materials available in the market do not show that their quality is controlled (or the national benchmark set) by the CDC, which is one of its primary roles.
Private publishers seem to believe that if their materials are thicker and heavier, they are better. Therefore, they include more material, in fancier format, for better ‘branding’, loading more materials beyond the expectations of the curriculum and levels of students. As a result, the current curriculum (unfortunately defined narrowly as textbooks) puts almost cruel and educationally absurd pressure on young students. Most of our teachers and parents strictly stick to the materials, rarely adapting the materials but instead just trying to “finish” the book by the end of the term (as their schools and parents also want them to do). It rarely matters whether the material is good, if it is relevant to course objective, or if it is appropriate and learnable to the students–not to mention how the approach undermines the ingenuity of the teacher.
Students are judged on the basis of how much of the material–however bad–they can ‘master’ through memory, rather than by understanding and using meaningfully. It is saddening to see the absolute power of developers, public officials, and school administrators, most of whom are both uninformed and uninterested in issues like this–while they love to lead the education sector. Who has time to think about boring issues like this, right? The intellectual development of students, meaningfulness of curriculum from social perspectives, role, and the ability of educators in the classroom is ignored. What really matters is whatever glitters!
On the other hand, textbooks published by the government are far from ideal. They may have been strictly based on the curriculum of the government and appropriate to the average students but does their content address the needs of students with different levels and types of abilities? Likewise, is there variety in activities? Are the lessons attractive and engaging for them? Do they try to tap into the teacher’s own ideas and ingenuity? Do the materials published especially by private publication undergo quality control? Are writers and developers sufficiently knowledgeable about curriculum and pedagogy, about benchmarks and reality on the ground, or even the subject matter? Are others involved in the publication process–such as illustrators and graphic designers–trained and qualified? What is the role of the national body of curriculum and textbook CDC to produce such manpower? Are our learners reading truly appropriate and learnable curricular materials? Or have we given in to the whims of the market and fashion as a nation?
Thus, curriculum–in both narrow and broad senses of the term–is an important issue that needs a lot more attention in our scholarship. It is in this context that this issue of Choutari focuses on ELT curriculum and materials in Nepal. Our writers and hopefully readers are also involved in this discourse, and we hope to generate more conversations around this topic in the future.
In the first post, Prem Prasai shares A teacher’s practice and perception on English language textbook of secondary level based on his day to day experience as a textbook user.
In the second post, Bishow Raj Joshi shares his journey from a teacher to English language textbook writer including the process, achievements, and challenges of developing textbooks.
Likewise, in an interview, Bal Ram Adhikari shares his experiences of a higher level course developer including the process, trends in course development, his observation on the available courses, prospects, and challenges of course development.
Similarly, in another post, Ramesh Ghimire, a Curriculum Officer at Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) shares his observations on the ELT textbooks in the market and the process and policy of CDC.
On the other hand, Bal Krishna Sharma in another post sheds light on the two ‘tremendously useful’ books the English teachers.
The next post is a survey on students reading habits on the non-textbooks translated by Praveen Kumar Yadav based on the survey conducted by Research and Analytics. It explores the interests of students in the non- textbooks, their reading habit, the role of teachers and parents to promote reading non-textbooks, the popular genre among students etc.
In the quest of offering you something innovative and engaging, we have stepped up to offer you an audio-visual interview. In the interview, Dr. Vishnu S. Rai shares his journey of developing textbook, the inception of the functional curriculum in ELT in Nepal, the quality and learnability of the available textbooks and materials in the market, and the future of ELT curriculum and materials.
Last not the least, we have an announcement made by Dr Prem Phyak for our readers about the first ever annual ELT and Applied Linguistics Conference, organized by Department of English Education, Tribhuvan University Nepal.
Likewise, it gives us the joy to share you that ELT Choutari has launched its own YouTube Channel ELT Choutari- YouTube in order to share the audio-visual resources and thus expanding the horizon of ELT Choutari. We are very hopeful that you will subscribe our channel and stay updated.
Please check the list of the eight posts in this issue:
- A Teacher’s Practice and Perception on English Language Textbook of Secondary Level: Prem Prasai
- My Journey to Become a Textbook Writer: Bishow Raj Joshi
- We’re Still Toddlers in Designing Materials for University Level: Bal Ram Adhikari
- Parents & Students Have no Choice in Materials Selection: Ramesh Ghimire
- More to ELT: Two Books on Language Education and Communication: Bal Krishna Sharma
- [SURVEY] Reading Habit: Do our students read the books outside the textbooks?,translated by Praveen Kumar Yadav
- (VIDEO) Dr Vishnu S. Rai in Conversation with Dr. Prem Phyak on ELT Textbook and Materials Writing in Nepal
- [Announcement] First Annual ELT & Applied Linguistics Conference 2018, Prem Phyak
I would like to say thanks to all the founders of ELT Choutari and the past editors; we’re building on the legacy you’ve passed on to us. I am very grateful to Dr. Shyam Sharma for help with editing, to Praveen Kumar Yadav for support with materializing this issue, and to fellow Choutari editors (Karna Bahadur Rana and Ashok Raj Khati) for their contributions and leadership.
Please remember to leave a comment on what you read, share anything you like with your network, and to consider contributing your own writing in the future.
Lead Editor, ELT Choutari, New Year Issue, 2018