A Three Dimensional Approach to Professional Development of English Language Teachers in Nepal

Shikha Gurung

Shikha Gurung

Learning to be a teacher of English language in Nepal is a part of professional development of English teachers. The desire of becoming a better teacher is an important aspect of teaching profession. Calderhead and Shorrock (1997) acknowledged a question ‘What makes a good teacher?’ which intrigued and challenged philosophers, researchers and policy makers and teachers over many centuries. It generated diverse answers, varying in their nature and degree of specificity in different countries and across different periods in history.

In the context of Nepal where English language is one of the foreign languages taught in schools, every English language teacher has a challenge to establish himself or herself in the profession as he or she has to deal with the learners who speak one or more out of 125 indigenous languages in Nepal. English language teachers in Nepal have more challenges to move with the global circumstances, emergence of digital technologies in social life and integration of various technologies in instructional activities. Richards and Farrell (2005) defines professional development of a teacher as an examination of different dimensions of his or her practices. They suggest that teachers need necessary support to make them understand their professional values. Thus, teacher education must emphasise teachers’ knowledge and skills.

English teachers in Nepal can follow three ways such as reflective teaching, teacher networking and researching to develop their professional skills. Keeping teacher education at the centre, the teachers can generate their ideas and develop professional learning strategies themselves. Instead of highly relying on their teacher education, they can actually learn by doing, that is, they can reflect their own experiences on their jobs. Their experiences of teaching and learning process can be both the input and output. English teachers can record their teaching activities and review for the further teaching. Such reflective teaching of teachers can develop the habit of correcting own weakness and gradually improve their teaching skills. Here is more on reflection ….

Likewise, teacher networking helps them meet and socialise with people which provides them with opportunities of collaborating and sharing ideas with each other. Similarly, researching on their own experiences can support English teachers to identify own pedagogical issues, study about the issues and broaden their knowledge.

Reflective Teaching

According to Richards and Lockhart (1996), documentary analysis is one of the most practical approaches to the development of teachers that reflects their learning on their teaching. English teachers can make a diary about their daily teaching and examine their own teaching activities as well as the students’ classroom activities. This practical approach provides them with an opportunity of understanding their own teaching, analysing their teaching activities and improving their professional practices. This reflective approach to professional development of an English teacher can be the next strategy besides formal teacher training. Reflective teaching approach may be followed by writing report. English teachers in Nepal can prepare their reports by doing survey, peer observation and interview. English teachers can report about their English language teaching motivation, students’ learning attitude, learning behaviour and so on. Reflective teaching allows the teachers to work on their own weakness and strengths.

Teacher Networking

English teachers in Nepal can establish their professional network and share their ideas with each other to improve their teaching skills. For instance, Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) can be a platform for many English teachers in the country. English teachers can organise seminar, workshop, hot seat presentation, group meeting and so on for the better practice of ELT. Besides face-to-face meetings, they can also develop online learning community on social networking sites like Facebook, twitter, skype and so forth to share their problems and ideas. Such networks allow English teachers to exchange their understanding and experience of English language teaching. In course of time, English teachers can also attend national and international conferences where they can share their ideas. Kuti (2000) stated that network between the teachers provides them with opportunities of discussing their problems and sharing expertise across the world. McDonald and Klein (2003) claimed that professional network of English teachers helps them increase pedagogical skills and develop leadership in the profession.

Research

Teachers in their role are also researchers who consistently gather information throughout their everyday teaching and classroom activities, analyse the information and reflect on their instructional activities. Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1999) advocated that teachers, besides formal training and workshops, can develop their professional skills through research activities in their field. From the research activities, they actually start learning as they have to study and understand their professional issues in depth. They gradually become proficient to investigate their teaching and learning issues and become professional. In the 1960s, educational research particularised fields such as classroom research, teacher research and action research in teaching and learning process. Classroom research emphasised the evidences relevant to instructional activities, teachers’ perceptions and classroom resources. MacKay (2009) claimed that research on their own classroom activities makes the teachers more efficient in their profession. It is relevant in helping teachers review previous researches, become aware of the challenges of doing research and understanding what goes on in the classroom setting.

 

Sikha Gurung is an MPhil scholar in English Language Education at Kathmandu University School of Education since 2016. Professionally, she is an English teacher at Kathmandu University High School, Chaukot and an English lecturer at K and K College, New Baneshwor. She likes exploring various issues of ELT and writing about them.


References

Calderhead, J. Shorrock, S.B. (1997). Understanding teacher education: Case studies in the professional development of beginning teachers. The Falmer Press, Taylor and Francis Inc.: London.

Richards, J.C. & Farrell, T.S.C. (2005). Professional development for language teachers: Strategies for teacher learning. Cambridge University Press: New York.

Richards, J.C. & Lockhart, C. (1996). Reflective teaching in second language classrooms.    Cambridge University Press: New York.

Kuti, Z. (2000). ELTeCS: English Language Teaching Contacts Scheme a network for developing your expertise and a forum for sharing views. Pilgrims Ltd: Budapest, Hungary.

McKay, S. (2009). Second language classroom research. In A. Burns & J.C. Richards (eds.) The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education. New York: Cambridge.

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).