The Seven Years Journey of ELT Choutari: Reflections

As ELT Choutari enters into eighth year, Choutari editor Ashok Raj Khati has talked to Dr. Balkrishna Sharma, Narendra Singh Dhami, Praveen Kumar Yadav and Dr. Shyam Sharma, to reflect back its seven years journey. They have  put their voices in light with the contribution of ELT Choutari to local and global ELT discourses too.

Dr. Bal Krishna Sharma, a founding member of Choutari

13173997_10209640185584950_7635820056705789107_nI would like to comment mainly on two points when reflecting back the Choutari’s seven years. First, Choutari has been able to groom a new generation of scholars capable of writing on topics they have read about in others contexts or learned in their university classrooms. We did not have a stronger tradition of academic writing in TESOL and applied linguistics in the context of Nepal in the past. The Journal of NELTA was there, but young Nepali scholars did not consider themselves qualified enough to write for the journal. I had a similar view when I completed my M. Ed. In 2003. There still is a popular assumption that only experienced ‘scholars’ write for the journal, and the younger scholars are positioned in the receiving end of the journal readership. Since the starting of this webzine, this assumption has been questioned, renegotiated and redefined. I can see a whole lot of new scholars turning themselves into academic writers with greater confidence, refined skills, and thoughtful pedagogical tips. Second, the traditional mode of printing and publication in Nepal reached only to a small group of readers, usually with a long time gap. Consider, for example, the NELTA journal we have. It includes a collection of homegrown scholarship, but we have to wait for one year to read about ten or so articles. Webzine like the ELT Choutari has again challenged the tradition, expanding its reach to a wider audience, with a large number of readable articles. This again has promoted a new generation of writers and readers, who necessarily are not the university professors.

Regarding the contribution of Choutari, I was reading the latest issue of Choutari before I wrote this paragraph. This issue largely reflects how Choutari has been able to address both local and global concerns in the field of ELT. Lal Bahadur Bohara, for example, brings voices of English teachers from the far-western region. I was intrigued by Lal Bahadur’s observation that teachers in the region do not only question the Western decontextualized cultural content in English lessons, they also question the so called ‘localized’ content in textbooks and contents written and produced by Nepali writers. This article reminds me of an onion metaphor used in language policy research, highlighting that language policy is like an onion reconciled in several layers, processes and levels. So is the issue of culture: it operates in multiple levels, and national dominant cultures may not serve as a local culture in all the contexts. Lal Bahadur’s blog post is one representative examples from Choutari with regard to how Nepali young scholars have tried to raise and redefine the ‘local’ in language teaching, questioning and challenging some dominant traditions in our field.

Another article from the same issue that connects the local with the global is by Sujit Wasti. Sujit aptly uses the metaphor of McDonaldization by sociologist George Ritzer to take account of the impact of globalization on the local, including language and the environment. This was fascinating for me because ELT has not paid much attention to the discourses and concerns of the environment in pedagogical contexts. It makes sense to address the concerns of climate change and environmental degradation, which are equally local and global, in our policies and practices.

When the local voices and issues are narrated and circulated to a global audience through the internet on ELT topics that matter to people around the world (e.g. critical pedagogy, teaching tips, ELT humor, literacy, and many more), this is as an evidence that Choutari is both local and global.

Narendra Singh Dhami, teacher at Khimti Project school, Kirne, Dolkha

I have been reading the Choutari Khurak since its first issue published in 2009. I found that the blog posts are very useful resources for me and my fellow teachers. As its name suggests, it offers different tastes and colours on teaching strategies and activities as well as theoretical insights for professional development.

We have formed a group of five teachers in our school to discuss on the posts of each new issue of ELT Choutari. We often save the published articles from the website and discuss on each post among us. We also apply the best strategies and current trends of ELT approaches mentioned in our real classroom teaching situation. Some articles are truly inspirational, some are insightful to new teaching strategies and some are really research based too. The Choutari teaches us on how to grow  professionally in the remote parts of the country. And, of course, Choutari has broadened the horizon of ELT discourses in such remote area where it is quite difficult to get textbooks in time. The varieties of posts in each issue of Choutari always reenergize me to improve my teaching practices. I shall be much glad to read some posts on child psychology and motivational stories in the days to come. I am so grateful to the editorial board for providing me an opportunity to reflect on ELT Choutari.

Praveen Kumar Yadav, an editor of Choutari

As ELT Choutari enters into 8th year, we would like to thank our valued contributors and readers for their continued support. The ELT journey without their support was never possible to accomplish seven years. The ELT Choutari today has won acclaim for its commitment to contributing to discourses focused on various issues related to English Language Teaching and Education.

Generally speaking, the past causes the present, and so the future. Looking into the origin of Choutari, the web magazine was started as a wiki collaborative project in January 2009 to supplement the ELT conversations that have been going on for many years within the mailing list of NELTA. In order to make accessible to such ELT conversation by the rest of the ELT community outside NELTA (here’s what one member wrote in the original “about” page), ELT Choutari was initiated.

First initiated by Ghanashyam Sharma (Shyam), who was accompanied by Bal Krishna Sharma and Prem Bahadur Phyak, this networking initiative had six core moderators (Sajan Kumar Karn, Kamal Poudel, and Hem Raj Kafle joined later) from 2009-2012. Then, this initiative is being continued by a team of young ELT practitioners and scholars. They believe that we can develop very useful and probably most relevant intellectual/professional resources for the Nepalese ELT community and those interested through a discussion forum like this.

So far, more than 500 posts has been published by ELT Choutari, followed by more than 1000 comments over the past seven years. Our journey over the past seven years did not remain smooth. Our journey began with challenges, continued with the same and they exist even today. For instance, in the beginning of our journey we embraced challenges when internet and blogging was much exposed in Nepal and ELT community. Even today, challenges are ahead as we look for ELT enthusiasts to come and joins us for the mission.

Amid challenges, we chose to remain optimist to see them as the opportunity for us, just like Winston S. Churchill’s saying, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” We are driven by our courage and willingness to change. We never pretend that nothing has happened or we are not ready to move ahead.

Dr. Shyam Sharma, a founding member of Choutari

I think Choutari has made unique contributions to Nepali ELT discourse. The community had a great journal, and we also had an active listserv; but we wanted to provide colleagues a place to share ideas that was more public/open and interactive, where especially younger colleagues could contribute their ideas and experiences and run conversations. Many scholars who chose to run this blogzine also had the opportunity to practice publication and leadership skills while serving the profession. This publication has slowed down a little bit, but I am confident that new scholars will take the baton forward. In fact, I also hope that more venues like this will emerge and make new kinds of contributions to the field of ELT in Nepal.

The few colleagues who started this journey would have never imagined that hundreds of scholars, including scholars from around the world, would contribute to this venue–nor that new local voices would join and develop like they did. Thinking about how we started the initial conversation (by putting some of our email conversations in the more open platform of a wiki) is just humbling. The first set of editors (Prem Phyak, Bal Krishna Sharma, and me) took a few important steps in the journey, but we never imagined the many new areas that new colleagues would go on to cover, new ideas they would implement. Just the number of posts and comments and the generation of ELT scholars at home who have participated in the conversation through Choutari is truly inspiring.

As a reader, I urge other readers to read and share the good work here, to contribute as writers, and to consider leading the venue. And I thank the colleagues who are running it today and tomorrow.  ​

Welcome to the latest Issue of Choutari: Professional Development through Self- reflection

reflective-thinking

Dear valued readers,

The process of teaching learning does not finish after delivering a lesson or course, whereas the learning point for a teacher and teacher educator starts after that. In the cyclical process of teaching learning, teachers need to make a self inquiry at the end of the class or day and look forward to refine their practices. We as a teacher need to look back and ask ourselves, what went well in our class and what didn’t. Why a particular thing worked and why the other thing didn’t, and what could have been done. This process of self- inquiry and critical thinking is termed as reflection.

Reflection is a powerful tool for our professional development. Templer, 2004, as cited in Harmer (2007) states that reflection is like ‘holding up mirrors to our own practice’, which make us more conscious what is beneath the surface. In other words, it is being critical and reflective to our own practice, which eventually refines our skills as a teacher and helps us understand the process of teaching- learning better.The process of teaching and learning begins with planning, followed by implementation or action and further followed by reflection. The reflection gives us input in the planning for the next cycle. The cycle of teaching learning process becomes incomplete without practice of reflection. If we do not reflect into our practice, we stop learning and eventually stop growing because we fail to realize what is not working and we tend to continue the wrong process or practice. Richards (1990) considers reflection a major component of teachers’ development. He urges that self-inquiry and critical thinking can help teachers move from a level, where they may be guided largely by impulse, intuition, or routine, to a level where their actions are guided by reflection and critical thinking. Reflection develops the practice of self- inquiry and critical thinking in us. Therefore, our actions are less likely to be guided only by a sudden desire and routine, whereas they will be more rationale.

Pre-service or in- service training or workshop is one way of our professional development but in the continuous journey of professional development, the best of all is the self- inquiry through reflection. In the words of Confucius, it is the best way to learn. In his three methods of learning he places reflection at first stating,

“The first, by reflection, which is the noblest;

second, by imitation, which is the easiest, and

third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Therefore, being reflective to our own action not only helps us understand the process better but also refines our professional skills and expertise.

The inception of ELT Choutari is also the outcome of the reflective thinking. Likewise, most of the writings on the magazine are based on the reflection. We strongly believe that this practice should continue, which helps develop the culture of reflection. Therefore, we request our readers to reflect on their actions and write about their thoughts. We will give them space at Choutari.

This issue is also a full package of reflection. Karna Rana reflects on his route to learning English language. He believes that English has been given much more importance than required, which results our weaker competence in content knowledge and life skills. Therefore, we should not finish our valuable time only worrying about a language.

Society of Translators Nepal recently organized the first ever conference in Nepal. In this context, Choutari editor Jeevan Karki has talked to Bal Ram Adhikari (Vice- president of the Society, Translator and Faculty, Department of English, TU). The talk not only reflects back to the conference but also explores deeply the relation of translation in ELT pedagogy.

To encourage the teachers to reflect on their practices, our Choutari editor, Ashok Raj Khati has asked five teachers from East to West to express their views in the context of English language teaching. In this interactive post, they reflect on their practices in relation to resources, participation of students, use of English and L1, their best practices in English classroom and challenges they face.

In the series of the reflective thinking and writing, we present another very special and powerful reflection of Sujit Wasti. In the truly unique and thought provoking post, he brings together nature, society, and education in a unique way.

In another post, Lal Bahadur Bohora (who is pursuing his M. Phil in ELE from Kathmandu University) shares his preliminary findings of a research on the area of teachers’ perspectives on the prescribed English syllabus of Tribhuvan University and pedagogical practices at tertiary level in far west region.

Finally, to continue with the Photography Project, the Choutari editor Jeevan Karki shares the photos he clicked during his visits around the country on the theme of ‘People at Work’. This is the third Photography Project at Choutari.

Here is the list of the posts in this issue:

  1. Children Taught Me English Language: Karna Bahadur Rana
  2. Translation should be Used as a Technique not a Method in ELT: Bal Ram Adhikari
  3. Peripheral Classrooms: Reflection of English Teachers in Nepal: Ashok Raj Khati
  4. Are We at the Verge of Collapse?: Sujit Wasti
  5. ELT at tertiary level: perspectives from far west Nepal: Lal Bahadur Bohara
  6. Photography Project III: People at Work: Jeevan Karki

Lastly, I extend my special thanks to Ashok Raj Khati for his continuous support to materialize this issue. Similarly, I would like to thank Shyam Sharma for his support and encouragement in the publication of this issue.

Enjoy reading with reflection and share your thoughts in the comment boxes.

Jeevan Karki- head shot

Jeevan Karki  Editor of the Issue

References:

Richards, J.C. (1990). The Language Teaching Matrix. UK. Cambridge University press.

Harmer, J. (2007). The Practice of English Language Teaching. UK: Pearson.

Children Taught Me English language

Karna Rana

Karna Rana

When I was a cowboy going to high school in the late 1980s, there was no educational mission in my life. Born in a poor economic background, even thinking of high school after primary school (Year Five) was just like imagery. Almost all the primary school graduates used to travel to India for work after primary school education in our locality. This came to me too in the long run of schooling but my illiterate (cannot read and write) mother and two elder brothers (who could not complete even their primary school due to loss of father) insisted me to join high school which was/is at the distance of three and half hour walk from home. After learning English alphabets at grade four and five, my journey to learning English in high school started in the mid-80s. That used to take whole morning to reach the high school after crossing dense forest, river, and walks up and down the hills via three villages. Over three hour walk in the morning and the same distance back home after school every day was more than enough to make me very tired. The dreams might be away from the sleeps but the real dream of life i.e learning English and speaking like professional was alive even in the sleeps, every walk and work throughout the high school.

Although there was no English learning environment in my school, the thought of learning English emerged listening to the rhymes of the kindergarten children of private school and looking at a couple (both teachers) of the school. I wished I could speak English like those couple teachers who were running that kindergarten school. There was no any English language learning centre around the school. Otherwise, I would have possibly joint the class. Gradually, I completed my high school with almost ‘no learning of English language’. I could just read words without understanding what the text meant. However, I passed SLC by memorising the texts, especially teacher’s notes. I must thank those high school teachers for their intensive teaching of English grammar that supported me to learn English in university later. Apparently I could not speak English even if I had every day English class from primary to high school.

This is a common sense – Nepal was/is not a ground of English though the neighbour had been colonial land of English for hundreds of years. I must thank the earlier generation of Nepali who saved Nepal and the diversity of over 125 languages that exist in Nepal even today. Though I could not learn proper English in high school, I learned formal English during my university education. How I learned English is quite interesting to share here. In fact, I learned almost no English from university classes but I learned English speaking and writing from my teaching profession at private schools in Kathmandu. Thank God, I got a job at private primary school where I used to teach kindergarten children. Actually I was learning more than teaching those kids in the school. The English language began with ‘May I come in, sir? May I go to toilet, sir? Come in. Go…’ Wow! How lovely the children were, who taught me English speaking and writing which was really helpful to study English on campus. I could speak general English in the very first year of my teaching profession. That teaching was reflected in the result of my I. Ed. English papers when I got very good marks. Therefore, I always thank those kids who taught me English language.

Let me continue the issue of professionalism in English language. Since 1995, the beginning of my university education and teaching profession excluding high school, I have been learning English. When I was almost at the scratch level even after SLC, I thought of developing English in me. I could develop English to some extent from my teaching profession as well as university education. I was always keen to develop my academic English proficiency throughout I.Ed, B.Ed and M.Ed. That was the main reason I selected English as major subject in the university. Sometimes I used to feel wretched when I could not understand native speakers’ English on TV or movies. Of course I had been teaching English at different English medium schools and community campus in Kathmandu for about eighteen years before travelling to the United Kingdom for my second Masters in September 2009. However, language is observed in communication and academic arts. One of the reasons behind going to study MA in Education in the UK was the same to develop English language in me.

Let me tell my real story in the UK. I could mostly understand the people in the university but it was quite different when I had to communicate with customers at my work. I used to work in service oriented company where I had to speak over the phones and face-to-face with local English people. I don’t know how many mistakes I might have done in the very first month due to misunderstanding of people’s language. There I realised what the real English is. This reminded my linguistic theory that I learned in B.Ed and M.Ed classes in Nepal ‘Language is human specific.’

I believe this reflective story is worth sharing with teachers, policy makers and English language learners. Only running after English language may be killing our innovative and productive life. At the same time, it should be understood that language is/not universal phenomenon and it should be realised in the education policies of the nation. As an emerging researcher, I have been reading education policy of Nepal and other countries, there is a gap between socio-cultural values and English language education in Nepal. As I said earlier Nepal was/is not the land of English where over 125 languages still exist with their socio-cultural diversities. Quite significant, most of the developed countries are gradually adopting migrant languages to reflect their diversity, inclusion and preserve their socio-cultural values. When we lose our languages, our socio-cultural values also die with the language. One reality that we have to understand is that language is not solely education. This is just the vehicle of education.

Lastly, I am writing this from the land of English (i.e. New Zealand). Just a reminder, I have realised very lately that English is just a language for communication that anyone can learn from the environment. This is similar to one of the 125 languages in Nepal. Now I speak and write English but I wasted my valuable time of life just running after English language and ignoring life skills. Now I think, I should have learned how to cultivate a beautiful flower in a pot that would give me handsome earning in any part of the world.

Mr. Rana is a PhD Candidate in the School of Teacher Education, College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Peripheral Classrooms: Reflections of English Teachers in Nepal

In community schools, teaching and learning of English has always been taken as a ‘difficult’ task. Teachers and students confess that it is a difficult subject to teach and learn respectively.  As a teacher, do we reflect on our own classes? Do we ask ourselves how are our classes going? Reflection upon our own classrooms certainly assists us to improve our pedagogical practices.

In this connection, our Choutari editor, Ashok Raj Khati has asked to five English teachers to reflect on their own English classrooms from different regions of Nepal. In the context of English language teaching, they briefly express their ideas in relation to resources, participation of students, use of English and L1, their best practices in English classroom and challenges they face.The five secondary level English teachers are: Babu Ram Basnet (Solukhumbu) Chandra Singh Dhami (Ramechhap), Kamal Raj Basyal (Palpa),  Durga Prasad Pandey (Dang) and Khagendra Nath ‘Biyogi’ (Bajhang).

562665_685671534783323_943408360_nBabu Ram Basnet                                                     Mahendrodaya Secondary School, Salyan, Solukhumbu

Teaching English is not always a fun but it is a very tough job in this part of country. We do not have enough resources, like the internet and other supportive materials, to facilitate English language teaching. Therefore, students do not get enough and authentic exposure in English. I have to read out listening text myself as we do not receive cassettes in time. There are 65 students in grade 10, which is a large classroom in our context. In the same way, the large classrooms are a barrier to many participatory activities. There are many activities to be done and performed by students such as drama, simulation, games and role plays. I am not able to do all these in such a large class which ultimately affect their learning achievement.

Students come from different socio- cultural and economic backgrounds, they usually speak in Nepali language among them. They are generally good in writing but hesitate to speak in English. They have fear to lose face among their friends if they commit any mistakes. So that, I am not satisfied with their fluency in English. To some extent, I am applying traditional method while teaching English. It is often challenging to correct their home assignments in a class of 45 minutes. I use group and peer correction technique several times. I conduct class test in regular interval to know how they are doing. The most challenging part of my teaching is developing speaking skill on the part of students.

15174624_1208623562564901_1405021138_nChandra Singh Dhami                                                       Manthali Higher Secondary School, Manthali, Ramechhap

My classroom in tenth and ninth grades are large, which contains the students with mixed ability. Likewise, students come from diverse socio-cultural and linguistic backgrounds. We have a ‘media’ hall equipped with different facilities such as internet, speakers, tape recorder, dictionary and projector. I often make them watch movies, biographies of poets, popular TV show and show activities related to English language learning. For instance, while teaching English sounds, I often download native speakers’ accent for them to practice. I regularly conduct unit and monthly test. It provides me timely feedback on the areas to improve. We have cassette players, charts and other daily use materials. Students sometimes prepare charts in different lessons.

Majority of students try to speak in English in the classroom. I often use group work and drilling. I make them write in group as a process writing. Students also speak in Nepali language particularly when they do not understand reading texts. I encourage them to speak in English even outside the classroom. Students also take part in speech and debate competitions. I use shorter expression. Even if, students have positive motivational orientation towards English, I am still not satisfied with the progress. Many students do not have same pace in learning English and it can’t be. However, the challenge for me is to cope the students with different levels of English language proficiency.

15239253_735504923267147_1974166001_nKamal Raj Basyal                                                                 Krishna secondary school, Peepaldada-Jheskang, Palpa

There are 56 students at grade 10 in my school which accommodates 29 girls, 26 students from Magar community and 5 from Dalits. Three language use can be observed there in the classroom – Magar, Nepali and English. They are from low income and mostly from middle class families. Their socio-cultural background is not much trouble for me while teaching English as they have positive motivational orientation toward learning English. Likewise, we have whiteboards, electricity, audio-tape/cassette players and necessary charts in English in the classroom. But, we do not have the internet facility in school.

I have found that my students are active in different learning activities in English class where I try my best to use English only and inspire them to use it. I believe it maximizes exposure in English. Next I have generated weekly discussion on certain topics related to the course. In regular interval, I conduct several contests like debate, spelling and quiz in English. Regarding teaching technique, I generally use group and pair work and role plays to facilitate English language learning. I also encourage them to go to library and read books. Therefore, teaching English has always been a fun for me. I am satisfied with their progress. I specially enjoy teaching grammar and vocabularies. However, I often find myself challenged while teaching listening and free writing. So I need to be well prepared to deal with listening and writing activities.

1931541_925213197563390_775367134454601593_nDurga Prasad Pandeya                                               Padmodaya Public Model Secondary School, Ghorahi, Dang

I work in a government funded school having the classes from grade 1 to 12. It has around 87 classes and 5, 000 students. Generally, the student- teacher ratio is one to 50-78 students. Therefore, we teach in large classes. We have irregular internet access and the multimedia projector is only in the audio visual room and students have very less access to them. We also have a smart board but there is no skilled man power to operate it but white boards are available in each room. Teachers make charts and posters for the upper classes and use printed charts the lower/primary classes.

When I reflect on my English classes, my students work very happily in pair and groups particularly to practice speaking skills and some project based tasks. Many of them are found excited and interested to work in group or pair but a few are found reluctant to do all these activities and they prefer individual tasks. I instruct them both in English and Nepali languages. I particularly need to use Nepali as they understand me and are unable to respond in English. They are also not encouraged to converse in English. Another challenge of teaching English is being unable to create English speaking environment in school, which is the result of the low exposure of English in lower classes. It eventually affects their performance in upper classes.

11178286_1427707574212674_9151478527758031773_nKhagendra Nath ‘Biyogi’                                                   Bhairab Higher Secondary School, Jhota, Bajhang

I as an English teacher in this rural area, find myself encouraged in the recent years. Although the classroom is large, we have some minimum resources to facilitate English language class such as tape recorders, computers and other necessary materials. They are taken to computer room to play various language games. Similarly, I make use of laptop and the internet in the classroom. Students prepare charts of CVs, wild life reserve, language functions and so on inside the classroom. There are many different charts in schools, student make use of them in English class in different ways. Many of them use Nepali language inside the classroom. However, I inspire them to speak English. Every day, I ask them a question (as a part of general knowledge), related to English and they enjoy it very much. (For instance, how many words can you make from the word ‘examination’?). I also conduct quiz, debate and speech competition. Regarding the participation of students, they normally work in group and pair. Students are always invited to the front of the classroom to work or present the task assigned. Few students also feel shy to do so.

In the same way, I am selective on using methods and techniques in my ELT classes. Most importantly, I reflect back on my classroom activities to figure out what is working and what is not. Students are found improving the skills of English language these days. It might be the result of increased exposure of English through technology and social media. Another important activity that I do is to visit students’ parents (nearby school) once a week. I talk to them about their children’s progress. While talking with them, I figure out four types of students – outstanding, excellent, good/average and low achiever. The most challenging task for me is to teach and work with the low achievers. Some of them cannot read and write properly. Therefore, it is always challenging to find the strategies to support them.

Choutari team sincerely acknowledge teachers who shared their valuable reflections in this interactive article. They have particularly highlighted the diverse pedagogical practices and issues while teaching English in peripheral parts of Nepal. Now, we request you to feel free to share your thoughts and reflections after reading these reflections here.

Why I Chose ELT as a Profession?

Samita Magar

Samita Magar

This brief blog piece speaks my personal experience as an English language teacher. The reflective journal mainly tries to disseminate why I have chosen teaching profession and how someone can be benefited by being a teacher. Besides, there are significant positions of a teacher in the society that encourages growing generation to choose teaching profession. 

Introduction

When I was a high school student, most of the students were satisfied with the teaching of an English teacher. He ever suggested the students reading more than prescribed textbooks. His inspiration led them to be curious and enthusiastic learners. I was one of them wishing to be such a respected teacher. His positive attitude encouraged the students to prepare well and participate every curricular activity. His gentle personality could be easily observed on his smiles at the success of his students. His friendly and cooperative manner provided a space to share our feelings and problems that led us to achieve our success. I believe that his intellect and passion made me choose his profession in my life.

However, the statistics shows that majority of recent school graduates choose science and business studies to go to medical field, technical field and business field. In my case, I have seen my future in teaching profession. I believe that teaching profession is considered as prestigious as other professions. Ayers (1994) stated that teaching is more than transmitting skills; it is living act and involves preference and value, obligation and choice, trust and care, commitment and justification.

This reflects my social values, ethics, responsibilities and determination. I believe that these features pulled me in teaching profession. In my perspective, the good teachers listen to their students, care their daily activities, desires, wishes, interests and problems. The responsible teachers always perform their duties well. Their consistent care for students produces various professionals. In this regard, teaching profession can be considered as the base of all other professions.

I choose this profession mainly because of three reasons: 1) respected profession 2) highly creative 3) role model

Respected profession

The great philosopher, Aristotle has stated that “those, who educate children well, are to be honored than those who produce them”. The case of Helen Keller for instance. She is a famous writer because of her teacher. The credit goes to her teachers than to her parents. Teachers encourage, guide and teach students to learn the beautiful art of living a life. In the east, Guru is the God. There is a verse in Sanskrit ‘Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Maheshwor’. It says that teacher is an incarnation of God. A teacher affects eternity. He or she can never tell where his influence stops.  So it is the reality in the sense that what a teacher writes on the board of students’ life stays lifelong in their memory. One of my school experience also reveals the same dignity of a teacher. When I was a third grade student, all the people in my village used to greet teachers, consult them for information and invite them on all kinds of occasions. They used to be lawyer in our village in need. The respect they used to get inspired me to think about being a teacher.

Highly Creative

Information and communication technologies have shifted the teaching and learning ways in this world. These technologies have provided wider range of learning opportunities for the learners. The learners have access to unlimited information in this digital age that assures creativity in their learning. On the other hand, the virtual environment has generated more opportunities as well as challenges for the teachers. Teachers need to be informed of daily information, and be prepared to tackle the challenges and to survive into the classroom. It is worth quoting Lewis that the task of modern teacher is not to cut down the jungles, but to irrigate deserts. Thus what I believe that teaching is creative profession. Great teachers mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage the students through several creations inside and outside the classroom.

Role Model

Teachers in the east has always been model for the growing generation. For instance, my English teacher in school was my inspirer, motivator or director who ever stood a figure for me. However, the students in this fast growing world may have different perceptions toward teacher. It is because of the changing roles of teachers as the facilitator, guide and manager. Towne (2012) stated that a good teacher is like a candle; it consumes itself to light the way for others. Similarly, Dey (2013) suggested that the teachers to become models for their learners, so that they can develop into disciplined, hardworking and successful person.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, teaching profession is full of respect, responsibilities, creativity and also challenges. Whatsoever, this profession is socially prestigious because of its leadership nature among other professions. They are found to have a high level of autonomy as a lifelong learner.  This made me think about being a teacher when I was in school.

Samita Magar teaches English at Omega international higher secondary school in Lalitpur. She is pursuing her masters in ELT from School of education, Kathmandu University.

References

Dey, S.K. (2013). Teaching of English. India: Dorling Kindersley.

Towne, D. (2012). Home thoughts. Mustafa Kemal (Atatuk Trans.) Home thoughts. (originally published in 1991).

My Reflection on Birgunj Conference

Kanokon  Opasmongkonchai

Thailand

One of my great experiences which I’d like to share with you was to attend the conference that took place in Birgunj, Nepal on 12 -13 March 2013. It was Asian English Teachers’ Creative Writing Conference (2013), in which apart from gaining knowledge from expert creative writers, Prof.Alan Maley, Prof. Jayakaran Mukundan, Dr Kirk Branch, Prof. Dr. Govinda Raj Bhattarai, Dr. Vishnu Singh Rai and other scholars, I also obtained friendship with warm hospitality, as well as Nepalese cultural learning.

In fact, I had been there in Birgunj in a team four days before the conference. We had a three-day pre-conference session of only core group members. In the session I got acquainted with some new faces. We shared our poems and stories and had peer-editing that offered an ample opportunity to understand and learn how uniquely we take up creativity. The second day was much more memorable. We had a trip to Trikhandi on a bus. It was about three hours to the south of Birgunj. There I saw mountains stand very close all around and a clean stream rush down. I felt it special for getting intimacy with nature. We were there to empower our creative writing being close to nature. We all carried some stones of our choice and I brought back a heart-shaped one. On the third day we had a great time sharing our poems and stories that we had composed on the stones we had carried. It was of the greatest significance, since we had penned what we had observed on our field trip. It gave us another but the most crucial lesson how to find our surroundings in our literary work.

It was on March 12, the first day of the conference after the key speech by Prof. Alan Maley and a plenary session by Dr. Kirk Branch, I had a paper to present in one of the buildings of a nearby college. I was delighted to have about 35 participants to join the creative writing activity with me “Using a Picture to Stimulate Creative Writing.” I was very much impressed by participants who paid a great attention to the activity. While making a presentation, I wondered if the picture would be too difficult for them to write on or not. But, with their abilities and talents, it was obvious that they could write poems and short stories rapidly and colorfully, indeed.

Here are some of the poems on the pictures that they composed during the session and that I would love to share with you hoping that you may also try writing:

My Heart Says  

Oh, Dear
You look as fresh as dew
I don’t have many words to say
But only few
You are the old one for others
But in my sight, you are always new
I am the sky, you are my moon
When I see you, I forget the morning or noon
I have devoted my heart to someone and that is you
No matter you love me or not
But dear, really I love you

(Krishna Chaudhary)

Mona Lisa’s Change  

Oh, Mona Lisa
Pure and pretty woman
You’re born in a palace
And you end in the Mc Donald’s
Why you change your life?
I know well, my Mona
You don’t like the servants
You just wish a coca- cola!

(By Spanish participant)

……………………………….

What eyes she has,

What eyes!

It’s hardly a surprise

That millions have looked into them –

She looks so calm and wise.

But if, by some strange chance

We passed with a quick glance

Today,

Would we even spare the time

To ask her for a dance?

Or simply walk away?

(Alan)

………

And my friendly souvenir to you:

Let’s Smile!

Nothing to pay
When you smile.
So, let’s smile.

Something you gain
Is friendship
Hope
Joy
Peace
So, let’s smile.

Anything makes you pain,
Forget it awhile.
So, let’s smile.
Smile! Smile! Smile!
(Kanokon Opasmongkonchai)

Pictures used in the workshop:

Picture1

To my mind, participants were quite active and confident of doing the activity with me. They had proudly presented their writings. It was very nice that they had different views-points to write, so it made the workshop more interesting, making me feel that they could secure their own space for potential writers to grow out of them! Best Wishes!!

After the paper presentations on the first day, we got back to the Town Hall to observe the cultural program held by cute school boys and girls. Several times they got me to feel like singing and dancing next to them. They sang songs and danced so well that I couldn’t at all feel how swiftly time had flown away. I also learnt about the diverse cultures in the country through their dresses.

On the second day just before the closing ceremony we had another literary taste. It was a poetry recitation. Several participants including Prof. Maley, Dr. Branch, Prof. Bhattarai, Dr. Rai recited their poems in different languages – English, Nepali, Bhojpuri, Maithili, etc. Although I could not understand the poems in the languages other than in English, yet I could perceive their elegance through the ways they were recited. It was really a good example of multi-lingual harmony in Nepal.

In my view, creative writing is the best challenge to accept if you are learning to write. It requires a great deal of patience as well as love to do that. Maybe love should come first. Self-discipline to practice writing with figurative languages together with observing things around us deeply and correctly with imagination is a very important qualification of being a good creative writer. It is certain that it gives us pain when the idea doesn’t come out and in particular when we write in English, which is not our mother tongue. But, when the good result ripens, I dare say it’s worth it, indeed!

Before taking leave, what I am feeling now is:

Loneliness is…

Loneliness

Is

Fungus:

It’s fast to grow

It’s hard to heal

Its root

Is too deep

To eradicate

And

Ready

To come back

Terrible!

(Kanokon  Opasmongkonchai)

Stay in touch to ward off the feeling of loneliness.

Cheerio!