It is our great pleasure to release the fourth quarterly issue (October-December) of 2022 as language planning and policy issue.
Language planning and policy is the widely discussed and researched discipline of applied linguistics. Decisions and plans about languages made at the highest level by the government can be termed as language planning and policy. McGroarty (1997) claimed “the combination of official decisions and prevailing public practices related to language education and use” (p.1). Language planning is not static but rather embedded in the changing social context. It is inevitable for any government in the present world because it is associated with the notion of language development in a country.
Nepal is a multilingual country because different cultural groups speak different languages. While administrators consider multiple languages of students as a challenge and try to avoid them using dominant language/s, researchers and scholars on the other hand consider home languages of students as a rich resource and urge to use them in teaching learning. In order to explore more on this policy practice tension and contribute some in the ongoing discourse, we are presenting you this special issue on ‘language planning and policy’. In this issue, we have incorporated an interview and four articles related to language planning and policy in Nepal from researchers, scholars, educators and practitioners to bring multiple perspectives on the issue.
In the exclusive interview, Prem Prasad Paudel has argued that Nepali parents and stakeholders have a false belief that education in English is of better quality and higher status. He dives deep into the motivations, impacts of EMI and offers some future directions to policy/practices/research direction in it.
Mohan Singh Saud in his article explored the EMI practices of some public schools in Nepal. He asserts the need of mother tongue-based education, especially up to basic level (1-5) education for preserving the linguistic human rights of children.
Similarly, Tek Mani Karki has discussed some examination practices in EMI policy adopted by community schools in Nepal through his qualitative study. Students struggles to comprehend test items in English questions the students’ accessibility to content learning in classroom and performance in assessment. He has also discussed washback effects of such assessment practices.
Moreover, Basanta Kandel has critically reflected on the mismatches in educational language policy and practices in schools in rural Nepal by adopting the critical ethnography research design. He argues that the local government’s educational language policy and practices in the schools seem inconsistent, with spaced conflicts amid monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual educational policies and procedures.
Additionally, Dinesh Panthee has discussed the processes and practices of language in education policy in the local governments of Nepal and argues of having inconsistency between policies and procedures of language in education policy in local governments of Nepal. He brings up the administrative and managerial inability/ignorance to implement local language policy in schools.
For your ease of access, below is the list of hyperlinked articles:
Finally, I would like to thank our co-editor, Ekraj Koirala, for extending invaluable support throughout the entire process. We jointly are thankful to all our editors and reviewers, Ganesh Kumar Bastola, Mohan Singh Saud, Ashok Raj Khati, Jeevan Karki, Sagar Poudel, Jnanu Raj Poudel, Karna Rana and Rajendra Joshi for their relentless effort and contribution.
ELT Choutari is a platform for researchers, scholars, educators and practitioners to share their perspectives, practices and stories from classrooms and communities. We encourage you to contribute to our anniversary issue (Jan- March) and send your articles and blogs at email@example.com
If you enjoy reading the interview, articles and reflective stories, please feel free to share in and around your circle, and of course, drop your comments in the boxes below.
McGroarty, M. (1997). Language policy in the USA: National values, social loyalties,
pragmatic pressures. In W. Eggington & H.Wren (eds.), Language policy: Dominant English, pluralist challenges. John Benjamins.
Prem Prasad Poudel is a recent PhD graduate from The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (2021/22). He is an Assistant Professor at Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He has experiences teaching at higher education in Nepal and Hong Kong, and has been continuously engaged in research with national and international teams on the issues of privatization in education, educational outsourcing, whole-child development, postgraduate students’ aspirations and well-being, medium of instruction policies, educational equality, and equity. He studied language policies, planning and the associated sociological issues during his PhD, and explored issues like language and social justice especially in the bi/multilingual social spaces nationally and internationally. Recently, he has been diving deeply into these issues to understand language and education issues from a socio-historical perspective.
Choutari editor, Nanibabu Ghimire has initiated a conversation with Dr. Poudel on language in education policies and practices, mother tongue education, English medium instruction (EMI) and its multiple facets. Enjoy this exclusive interview at Choutari.
Q: What do you think about the practices of medium of instruction (MOI) in school education in Nepal?
Starting from 1990s, we have seen significant developments in making language policies including MOI more people centric. The current constitution of Nepal allows the schools to use Nepali, English or the other languages of the nation as a medium of instruction in schools, up to the secondary level. Despite this policy, schools are aggressively (and sometimes blindly) shifting towards English medium instruction (EMI). The consequences of such shifts are adverse, especially for a multilingual and multicultural context. For instance, in Nepal’s case, even Nepali, the national language, has been displaced in many contexts from schools and has only been taught as a subject, and its (and several other languages) role as the MOI has been displaced by English. Hence, the practice of MOI in Nepal’s schools is highly English dominated. We have recently explored this issue from decolonial perspective and have published a paper, especially the colonial power of English in school and the efforts for the decolonization of it in school education in Nepal, which can be accessed here.
Q: Why are people attracted to English medium instruction (EMI) in school education in Nepal?
Good question. There is a craze toward adopting EMI in all levels of school education. This case is more serious in the early childhood education (the so called Montessori education). Several factors have driven this trend. First, EMI is our history, as it emerged along with the beginning of formal education in Nepal, which set a false belief that education in English is of better quality and of higher status. Second, the globalization and neoliberal marketization projected English as the language of opportunities, a key to cross-border employment opportunities and social mobility. The third factor is our social psychology. For example, in our case, perhaps similar to many non-native English-speaking countries, an ideology deeply rooted in Nepali society is that English is the language of prestige and higher social values such as being standard, educated or elite— an indicator of being an elite. This belief of projecting English as a high-valued language implies that languages other than English deserve less value and prestige. The main problem here lies in the superior-inferior labelling assigned to English and other non-English languages. This has affected our language choice in media, trade, education, family language practices and our lives in the public. For instance, if you walk around our marketplaces, most signboards are written in English at the top (perhaps in larger fonts) followed by Nepali (or none). This practice is intended to expand business and establish English as one of the commodities salable in the market. You know this is a form of hierarchization of languages in public places. It’s seemingly simple but has long-term implications for language policies.
Q: Despite having policy to provide basic education in learners’ mother tongue, people want to educate their children in English medium schools. How do you perceive this trend?
You’re right. There are legislative and educational policy provisions about using learners’ mother tongues or the most familiar language as a medium in schooling, which is good from a linguistic human rights perspective. However, people these days are attracted by the utilitarian values attached to languages. Some simple questions people have in their minds are, “What do I get by learning in my mother tongue? What are the benefits?” In my perspective, people today look for ‘socio-economic’ benefits out of learning in and learning of a language. This is a force coming in as a product of the neoliberal market that gives people a choice but simultaneously projects the economic gains or the material and social capital attached with learning a particular language as essential elements of an individual’s life. So, the growing trend of parents uncritically preferring to educate their children in EMI is unfortunate for contexts like ours, where children are taught the contents in the English language since the beginning of formal schooling.
Q: Meanwhile, language-minoritized parents are found to be motivated in teaching their children in EMI instead of their home language. What can be the reasons behind this?
I think the concerns should not be about majority or minority language speaking communities, rather, it should be about what structural conditions led these communities with less power to choose the dominant languages such as English for educating their children. In non-native English-speaking contexts beyond our national context as well, no matter the demographic strength of communities, they are driven by ‘English fever’. For example, in South Korea, as Choi (2022) pointed out, despite the deliberate efforts made by the governments, English continues to be the language of social prestige and quality education. Look at the Nepali native-speaking communities here in our context. People are more concerned about access to English, thinking access to English will widen their global space. The communities are abandoning or at least minimizing the use of their native languages in education. For them, it is not about whether their children learn English but the widening inequalities caused by English. Several researches in Nepal (e.g., Poudel & Choi, 2021; Phyak, 2016, 2021; Sah, 2022) have demonstrated it. While I was in the field for my doctoral study, I remember two EMI schools; one private and the other public. However, both students and parents of the public school were projecting the private school in the vicinity as of better quality. They thought that the English in these two EMI schools was unequal. They were anxious about the future life chances of their children due to the unequal exposure to English. Isn’t it interesting? So, what I mean is, people are not worried about the coercive impact of English on their ethnic/indigenous languages, rather, they are concerned about the consequences that their children might experience due to not getting exposed to zero or unequal English education. The main driving factor is their false assumption that ‘if you have English, you have everything, and if you don’t, you miss everything’, which is so unfortunate.
Q:So, does EMI improve the students’ English as parents/stakeholders think?
Schools today are intentionally or forcefully shifting their medium to English. To my knowledge, extensive research evidence to claim that the practice of EMI improves students’ English is still missing, especially from the Nepali context. However, there are mixed arguments regarding the benefits and side effects of EMI. For instance, since the 1990s, critical linguists have been questioning the inequalities in schooling posed by aggressive and unplanned adoption of EMI for children whose home language is other than English. At the same time, there are claims at the grassroots level that if EMI is appropriately implemented, extensive exposure to English may improve students’ proficiency in English. However, I would say no evidence claims that teaching English as a subject does not improve their proficiency. I think, we need more research evidence to answer your question in terms of Yes or No.
Q: How can we convince the people to teach their children in the home language (mother tongue) as mentioned in our policy documents? Or is that impractical? If yes, how?
Again, I would say that we should not think about convincing. This ‘ideology of convincing’ sounds more like a hegemonic idea, and it creates an impression of a ‘ruler-ruled’ relationship, which is impossible in an ideal democratic society. The most important thing we need to consider now is ‘what structural conditions enable the use of children’s home languages in education vis a vis English?’ Regarding policy, yes, there are relatively favourable policy conditions at the macro level, but the support systems for such policies to be implemented well are not sufficient and also are not owned by the parents, who are the key influencers in school policies. Unless we counter or challenge the prevailing ‘deficit ideologies’ concerning minority languages, we cannot realise the agenda of mother tongue education. To do so, I think one of the essential steps to be taken is enhancing the social and functional values of minority languages.
Q: Why is there a gap between MOI policy and practice in basic education in Nepal? How can this gap be eliminated?
As I also mentioned previously, the main problem is about ownership of the well-intended policies at the grassroots level. For instance, several reports of the Language Commission of Nepal have also highlighted that parental ownership concerning the use of local/indigenous languages is negligible, which invisibly forced the schools to adopt the dominant language the community gives priority to. This shows that there are instances of resistance (albeit invisible) from the bottom up, and the top-down policies have not been able to find their way. Consequently, we have missed a good policy action and positive response to the policy at the implementational level. Unless we address the factors that create this condition for policy-practice gaps, and establish causal relationships between policies and policy outcomes, such as the impact of the implementation of MOI, we will have hard times in bridging the policy-practice gaps.
Q:How do you perceive the current research practices of MOI in the global and local context? What would you suggest to researchers in language policy and planning moving forward?
Starting from the 1990s, language policy research gravely took a critical gaze, raising issues of inequalities and inequities caused by language policies of several nations. I remember one of the monumental works in language policy is J. W. Tollefson’s book, published in 1991. He raised critical concerns about challenging the structures that promote monoglossic ideologies in policy making. Since then, there are significant advancements in researching language policies such as MOI, for instances the works of Tollefson and Tsui (2004), Liddicoat and Baldauf (2008), to name some. The research trend in MOI has moved towards exploring sociological issues such as MOI and social classes, MOI and social hierarchies, inequalities, elitism, and commodification of language(s) (Block, 2021; Heller, 2010; Menken & Garcia, 2010). I am very happy to see that such issues in Nepal’s case are also increasingly explored by several applied linguists and critical scholars like Dr. Lava Deo Awasthi, Dr. R. A. Giri, Dr. Prem Phyak, Dr. Pramod Kumar Sah and several other emerging scholars including you. I cannot name every work of everyone of the language policy scholars here in this short interview, but I know that emerging scholars are exploring several socially embedded issues in language policy such as MOI. The critical scholars have also questioned the threats generated by English on the very existence of other languages in their respective community contexts at the global level. Another important development in our case is that universities (e.g., Far Western University) have developed very specific courses on language policy and policy research in M. Phil and PhD programs. I am sure that such developments will expand our context-specific research on language policy and associated concerns.
One of the critical concerns we need to explore is the intersectionality of language policies (e.g., MOI) with broader historical, structural, cultural and economic conditions of the society. We have initiated a discourse in this direction through a publication (see Poudel & Choi, 2022- entitled “Discourses shaping the language-in-education policy and foreign language education in Nepal: An intersectional perspective). I would suggest future language policy researchers direct their research on identifying the relationship of the forces such as nationalism, neoliberal marketization and ethnicity and their impact on language policy decisions and implementation. It would also be interesting to see (even question) the roles of national and international organizations (e.g., The World Bank, OECD, EU etc.) promoting the neoliberal agenda that aims to homogenize the world while also advocating for diversity and equity. Future research could also explore the ways of enhancing community participation and engagement in establishing an equitable society by promoting the local languages and cultures so that the local epistemologies can be preserved and used in uplifting the lives of people who are living under conditions of the feeling of inferiority, minoritization and hatred. To be frank, we need to engage in critical dialogues at all levels of governance to realize the agenda of multilingualism.
As you have come to this point, you might have thoughts, feelings, and views about Dr. Poudel’s opinions and the issues raised here, so we invite you to drop your comments and questions below to advance the discourse.
Schools can today participate in committing linguistic genocide through their choice of the medium of formal education – and they do. (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2010, p. 212)
The above quotation by Skutnabb-Kangas (2010) ought to be self-evident. The situation in some public schools in Nepal is that they are running after English medium instruction. In Nepal, the official language is Nepali and English is taken as a foreign language. It shows that the language of instruction in schools should be Nepali as it is the formal language in Nepal. Yet English as a medium of instruction policy has been adopted by some schools especially in urban areas believing that English medium brings so-called quality. Are they bringing quality in education or committing linguistic genocide as Skutnabb-Kangas says?
The medium of instruction (MOI) policy has been a controversial issue in the context of Nepal. Nepal has adopted a neoliberal policy regarding the MOI. CDC (2019) states that the MOI at the Basic Level (Grades 1-8) will be either mother tongue or Nepali. NCF states that social studies and Nepali should not be taught in English; however, other subjects can be taught in English at the Basic Level (p. 36) at the secondary level (Grades 9-12), the MOI will be Nepali or English. The government policy mentions that children can get education in their mother tongue since it is their right; or Nepali can be the MOI as it is the lingua franca of Nepal. Neglecting the linguistic human rights (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2006) of the children to get education in their language, there has been a shift to English Medium Instruction (EMI) in some public schools in Nepal. Is it justifiable to do so or are the public schools violating the language rights of the school children? This is a debatable question to be discussed in public discourses. Considering this issue, this paper discusses whether EMI is for quality education or the destruction of minority languages in Nepal.
It is agreed that students learn better when they understand what the teacher is saying (Brock-Utne, 2010; Klaus, 2001), and this is possible only through the learners’ mother tongues. If the children are provided education in other languages, they often remain silent or become puzzled. Let me relate this issue to the experience of one of my colleagues. When my colleague (Tamang as the mother tongue) was admitted to school, he didn’t understand anything that the teachers said or taught. There was another Tamang student who also knew the Nepali language. Then he used to ask what the teachers said. This example clarifies that students learn better in their language only. What we infer from this event is that we are destroying the knowledge of the students. Learning is for the knowledge of the subject matter. It does not mean that we can get better knowledge in English only. If this was true, Chinese, Korean and Japanese learners would be the weakest ones in the world, but it is not so. These countries are far forward in science and technology including education. Therefore, adopting EMI and compelling the learners to get education is destroying their clear-cut knowledge in content areas.
Another argument is that indigenous languages are destroyed through the adoption of EMI policy in schools. Languages get protected, survived, and promoted through their use, especially in education. Skutnabb-Kangas (2010) argues that schools can kill languages that had survived for centuries when their speakers were not exposed to formal education. This is what happened through the adoption of the EMI policy in the public schools of Nepal. Nepal is a multilingual, multicultural and multiracial country with 131 indigenous languages spoken by 125 ethnic groups (Language Commission, 2020). Since there has been a growing trend of using EMI in public schools in Nepal, learners’ mother tongues are endangered. Once when I was in the field collecting data for my research work, one Rana student (Rana language is one of the indigenous languages of Nepal) who was studying in a public school in Kailali district where EMI was implemented said, “I don’t want to learn and speak my mother tongue. If there is no use of my language in school and in the market, then why should I use it? Only my parents speak it but I use Nepali to talk to them at home.” This shows that the use of EMI is one of the causes that obstruct students to use local or other indigenous languages at home. In my neighborhood, one family belonging to the Newar community. Both the father and the mother are educated and job holders. Their children study in a private English medium school. I have never heard them speaking the Newari language even with their children. When I asked, “Why don’t you use the Newari language at home with your children?” The father replied, “Sir, what’s the use of using our language if it has no value in society? So we want our children to learn only Nepali and English.” Thus, there is linguistic genocide (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2000) or the policy that encourages language shifts in multilingual societies. EMI in education is playing a crucial role in this case. Skutnabb-Kangas (2001) argues that linguistic human rights are necessary for maintaining linguistic and cultural diversity on earth. Only the use of mother tongues in education can support the maintenance of linguistic diversity, thereby preserving and promoting indigenous languages.
English is taken as a killer language (Gutiérrez Estrada, & Schecter, 2018; Khaled, 2020; Schrijver, 2013). If so, how can EMI policy in education remain its exception? Although English is a global lingua franca, it is an agent of making other languages disappear because of people’s attraction towards the use of English in education, media, public spheres, tourism, and other sectors.
I argue after Brock-Utne (2010) that English in education is the language of destruction rather than instruction in two senses. First, the use of EMI in education is destroying and limiting the knowledge of education in the learners since they do not get a clear-cut concept of the subject matter in English. Second, the use of EMI in education is destroying the learners’ mother tongues.
I conclude my argument that the only way to preserve and protect the indigenous languages thereby imparting crystal clear knowledge to the learners about the subject matters is through the use of mother tongue-based education especially up to basic level (1-8) education. It is believed that the more languages the learners know; the more cognitive development they have. Following this assumption, I propose that some subjects related to local knowledge can be taught in the learners’ mother tongues, the subjects of national importance can be in Nepali, and the subjects like Maths, Science, and Computers can be taught in English. It is the responsibility of the nation to protect the indigenous languages of the country. The linguistic and cultural diversity of a country is the property and identity. Therefore, the linguistic human rights of children must be preserved. We can never imagine this through the use of EMI in education.
Brock-Utne, B. (2010). English as the language of instruction or destruction–how do teachers and students in Tanzania cope? In Language of instruction in Tanzania and South Africa-Highlights from a project (pp. 77-98). Brill.
Gutiérrez Estrada, M. R., & Schecter, S. R. (2018). English as a” Killer Language”? Multilingual Education in an Indigenous Primary Classroom in Northwestern Mexico. Journal of Educational Issues, 4(1), 122-147.
Khaled, D. Y. A. (2020). English as a killer language: South Africa as a Case Study. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 3(3), 72-79.
Klaus, D. (2001). The use of indigenous languages in Early Basic Education in Papua New Guinea: A model for elsewhere? Paper presented the Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society held in Washington DC. March 17, 2001.
Language Commission (2020). Annual Report (5th). Language Commission.
CDC, (2019). National level curriculum framework for school education in Nepal. Sanothimi: Curriculum Development Center, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Government of Nepal.
Schrijver, P. (2013). Languages Competing for Speakers: English as a Killer Language. In Language Contact and the Origins of the Germanic Languages (pp. 20-22). Routledge.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2000). Linguistic genocide in education – or worldwide diversity and human rights? Routledge.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2001). The globalisation of (educational) language rights. International Review of Education, 47(3), 201-219.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2006). Language policy and linguistic human rights. An introduction to language policy: Theory and method, 273-291.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2010). Language rights. Handbook of pragmatic highlights. Society and Language Use, 7, 212-232.
Mohan Singh Saud is an Associate Professor of English Language Education, ELT trainer, book writer, poet, editor, and researcher from Nepal. He is the visiting faculty at Chandigarh University, Panjab, India. His areas of interests in research include grammar teaching, teachers’ professional development, medium of instruction, English medium instruction (EMI), mother tongue-based medium of instruction, teaching English as an international language, English language teachers’ training and education, linguistic diversity, and globalisation.
[To cite this: Saud. M.S., (2022, October 15). Is English in Education a Medium of Instruction or Destruction? [blog post]. Retrieved from https://eltchoutari.com/2022/10/is-english-in-education-a-medium-of-instruction-or-destruction/]
The use of English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in schools has become a growing issue in the context of Nepal. This paper explores some examination practices in the EMI policy adopted community school (EMI school) in Nepal. Considering an EMI school as a case, I have collected qualitative data using multiple methods such as observation, interview, and informal interaction concerning the issue, and analyzed and interpreted the data thematically. The students need explanations of every question in the Nepali language before they write the answers. The negative washback seems to be extended to the examination hall. The examination practices employed in the EMI school raise a serious question about the way they learn the content using EMI.
Due to globalization, the use of EMI at school and university levels has become a contemporary and emerging issue in the global context and so is the case in the context of Nepal. Several studies from home and abroad show that the stakeholders of schools and colleges are shifting the medium of instruction (MOI) used in the schools and colleges to English, especially in the countries where the native languages being used are other than English, like Nepal. For this reason, the EMI issue has been a fresh area to study for researchers and academicians.
A number of studies (e.g., Baral, 2015; Bhatta, 2020; Brown, 2018; Ghimire, 2019; Gim, 2020; Joshi, 2019; J. Karki, 2018; Khanal, 2020; Khati, 2016; Ojha, 2018; Paudel, 2021; Phyak, 2013, 2018; Poudel, 2019; Ranabhat, Chiluwal, & Thompson, 2018; Sah, 2022; Sharma, 2018; Weinberg, 2013, to name a few) have been conducted concentrating on the EMI/MOI issues in Nepalese context. These studies especially focus on the assumptions, teachers’ identity, ideology, agencies, opportunities, challenges, possibilities, policies, and practices of EMI/MOI issues in general; however, less attention is paid to the examination practices in particular. So, in this paper, I endeavor to explore the examination practices employed by the EMI school selecting a secondary community-based school in a rural area of Bagmati Province, Nepal as a case.
Methods of the Study
This study employs the “case study” (Stake, 2008; Yin, 2016) research design selecting an EMI school as a “case” and the “examination practice” of the school as a phenomenon of the study. Multiple methods (i.e., nonparticipant overt observation of examination activities, interviews with three teachers teaching in Grades four and five, and informal interaction with two students of Grades four and five) were used for information collection. The data were transcribed and translated into English and interpreted categorizing them into themes.
Results and Discussion
The information was interpreted categorizing them into two themes: dependent on the teachers, and the existence of negative washback effect. They are discussed with supporting details below.
Dependent on Teachers
The students participated for the examinations in the hall seemed to be dependent on the teachers for writing the answers. The students started writing the answers to the questions only after the subject teachers’ explanations of the questions with the clues to write the answers. The students seek clarification of the instruction of each question written in English for understanding in Nepali language used in the paper. They wanted the meaning of the particular question, and meaning and spelling of the words, from which the students got the clues for writing the answers to the objective questions particularly. Regarding this, I have mentioned two short pieces of discourse held during the examinations of Class 5, Science and Class 4 Social Studies respectively in the hall.
Examination discourse # 1
S1: Miss, esko question sarnu parchha? (Miss, should we copy the question? [in the answer paper]?)
T: timiharule question sarnu pardaina answer-answer matra lekha (No, write only the answers).
S2: Miss, jo duiko (a) ke bhaneko ho bhanidinuna (Miss, please, tell me what Question 2 (a) means).
T: pani dherai chiso bhayo bhane ice banchha ,thik ki bethik? (Water can be converted into ice on cooling, true of false?)
S2: e… (um. . .)
S3: Miss, question no 3 ko (a) ko meaning bandiununa (Miss, please, tell me the meaning of Question 3 (a)).
T: J-u-p-i-t-r [spelling the letter] jupiter, jupiter bhaneko grahako naam ho thaahaa chhaina? (Jupiter is a planet, don’t you know?)
S4: Miss, aath  number ko (a) ko bhandinuna (Miss, please, what is meant by Question 8 (a)).
T: What are amphibians? Amphibians ke lai bhaninchha?
S4: amphibians ko meaning ke hunchha, miss? (what is the maning of amphibians?)
T: jamin ra paani dubai thaaumaa basne janawaar ho ni asti nai class maa padheko hoina? (amphibians live both on land and water, don’t you know?)
Examination discourse # 2
S1: Sir, “maaghi”ko meaning ke ho? (Sir, what is the meaning of “maaghi”?)
T1: “maaghi” bhaneko parbako naam ho (“maaghi” is a name of a festival)
S2: Maam, “gaura” bhaneko ke ho? (Maam, what is the meaning of “gaura”?)
T2: “gaura”bhaneko euta chaad ho (“gaura” is a festival).
S3: Miss, “mother” ko spelling bhandinununa (Miss, please, tell me the spelling of “mother”)
T2: lu hera tyeti pani najaaneko? “m-o-t-h-e-r” hoina? (Oh! You don’t even know the spelling of m-o-t-h-e-r mother?)
S4: Miss, yo (C) number ko ke bhaneko? (Miss, please, tell me what question C means?)
T2: “alcohol ko prayogale ke asar garchha” bhaneko ho? (It means-what are the effects of consuming alcohol?)
Note: The expressions written in italic are the Nepali words used by the participants and in the square brackets are my explanation.
During an interview, concerning the use of Nepali language, a teacher, Tarun expressed that they often used it “due to the low level of students’ knowledge in English”. He added “you saw in the examination hall, they could not write anything unless we [teachers] explained each question in Nepali”. The interesting point is that no single English sentence was used in the conversation though the EMI policy is adopted in the school.
There can be many reasons for behind the use of Nepali language in the discourse. One reason can be the teachers’ low proficiency in English which is similar to some studies in the past (e.g., British Council, 2013; LaPrairie, 2014; Mohamed, 2013; Sah & Li, 2020) and they feel difficulty in teaching and making the students comprehend in English. The other can be the students cannot understand due to their low level of English language knowledge (Wirawan, 2020). Whatever the reason may be, the students fully depend on the teachers for the use of Nepali language to understand the questions and solve the problems. The shreds of evidence in the discourses held in the examination hall and with the teacher imply that there is enough space for suspicion of accomplishing the learning outcomes set in the curriculum with the use of EMI.
Extended Negative Washback
The “negative washback” refers to the undesirable effect of the test on teaching and learning activities (Alderson & Wall, 1993; Chan, 2018; Cheng & Curtis, 2004) that precedes and prepares for the assessment. The negative washback seems to have been extended to and reflected in the examination practices in the EMI school. That is to say, the teaching-learning activities were performed keeping the testing system in mind, and during the examination, the problems to be solved in the examination hall were frequently signaled referring back to the classrooms activities as a clue to the examinees to solve the problems.
Once in the examination hall, Lila, a teacher, responded to a question made by an examinee “Didn’t I ask you to read the same answer some days ago in the class while practicing for the exam?” She added, “Do it in the same way” in a reminding tone. This expression signaled the extension of negative washback effect to the examination. Moreover, in the examination hall, it was seen that the answer to one of the subjective questions of many students was written exactly the same way in terms of its content, length, and structure.
With reference to this issue, one student expressed, “our teachers provided the questions and their answers just before the examination started” and she added that the students “memorized the answers for writing in the examinations” while I informally interacted with her. In line with the same view, another student, showing the evidence in his book, put his remark that “the teachers ticked the questions to be asked in the exam when the examination schedule was published” he further stated that they read the same answers to prepare for the exams. They both agreed that they normally get help from the teachers to solve the questions in the examination hall.
Teachers even agreed with the statements shared by the students. In an interview, a teacher, Jina, remarked that she normally selects “some possible questions with their answers to be asked in the examinations” and asks the students to memorize the answers. Relating to the issue, a Social Studies teacher, Lila stated, “I pick out some questions from the important chapters and repeat them many times for the examinations”. She further added “the students feel difficult to write the answers unless we provide them with the answer clues.” Her statements reflect the extension of negative washback to the examination practices. The pieces of evidence mentioned reveal that replicating the questions, which were practiced and asked the students to memorize earlier in the classes for the examination purposes, and helping the students to solve the questions in the examination, in other term, extension of negative washback effect, appeared to be a common strategy prepared and applied by the teachers in the EMI adopted school.
The extension of negative washback effect to the examination practices in the EMI school may not be favorable for learning because they may well miss the mark to reflect the “learning principles or the course objectives to which they are supposedly related” (Cheng & Curtis, 2004, p. 9), they oppose to “learning through exploration or discovery” (Tania & Phyak, 2022, p. 141), and they do not match the examination policy (T. M. Karki, 2020) prepared by the concerned authorities. Supporting the issue, Manocha (2022) views that it may not be a good strategy because it does not allow the students to use their “prior knowledge of language” and discourages them to share their “stories and experiences related to the text”, as a result people may question in the effective implementation of EMI policy from the teaching and learning perspectives.
In this study, I have explored the examination practices employed by the EMI-adopted community-based school. The students seem to be reliant on the subject teachers and their Nepali explanations of instruction mentioned in English and each problem appeared in the English-medium question paper. The extension of the negative washback effect to the examination hall was observed in the study. Although this study is limited to a single but discontinuously upgraded EMI policy-adopted school located in a rural area of Nepal selected for the case study, it provides information that can be true to the other EMI school more or less in a similar context. For more wide-ranging, trustworthy, and extensively applicable outcomes, similar but larger-sized studies in the future are recommended.
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Tek Mani Karki is a Lecturer at Tribhuvan University, Department of English Education, Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal, Kathmandu. Currently, he is pursuing his Ph.D. degree entitled “English as a Medium of Instruction in Community Schools of Nepal: Policies and Practices”. His areas of interest in research are language education policy and teacher professional development.
[To cite this: Karki. T. M., (2022, October 15). Examination Practices in English as a Medium of Instruction School [blog post]. Retrieved from https://eltchoutari.com/2022/10/examination-practices-in-english-as-a-medium-of-instruction-school/]
This article critically reflected the mismatches in educational language policy and practices in the schools located in the rural part of Nepal. Adopting the critical ethnography, I observed the classes of two basic level schools as a participant observer, conducted semi-structured interviews with four teachers, organized an FGD with teachers, maintained field notes, and reviewed the policy documents of local government to collect the information. The study revealed that the language policymakers and arbiters have mismatches on educational language policy ideologies, the local government’s educational language policy and its practices in the schools seem inconsistency that spaced conflicts amid monolingual, bilingual and multilingual policies and practices in education.
Keywords:Educational language policy, critical ethnography, ideological and implementational space, mismatches
Educational Language Policy (ELP) is defined as “the official and unofficial policies that are created across multiple layers and poor institutional context and have an impact on language use and education in schools” (Johnson, 2013, p. 77). Since 1970s, the ELP has attracted the attention of Language Policy and Planning (LPP) scholars (Tollefson & Tsui, 2018), especially, how language policy creation, interpretation, and appropriation in schools impact educational processes and pedagogy (Johnson, 2013; Johnson & Pratt, 2014). The school as a broader site of language policy processes (Johnson, 2013) and the teachers and students as prime policy arbiters have greater responsibilities for the effective implementation of policies. In addition, the teacher as the major agency of ELP generates authority to allow or restrict the use of multiple languages in their classrooms, assures the ideological and implementational spaces, and creates an equitable linguistic environment. However, in the context of school sited in the rural part of Nepal, the ELP seem to have been implemented and practiced haphazardly that has resulted mismatches and conflicts among languages. The Constitution of Nepal (2015) has legally authorized the rights of decision-making on ELP to the Local Government (LG) (Poudel & Choi, 2020) with reference to the contexts, demands, and necessities of the stakeholders. Therefore, the LG is the authoritative organ to devise and implement ELP corresponding with the federal and provincial governments’ acts and policies. Conversely, the schools at local level have diverse policies and practices of languages that have impacted the content and quality of education. With this backdrop, the article focuses on how the teachers in remote schools create, interpret and appropriate language policy in their classrooms. Employing the ‘critical ethnography research on ELP’ (McCarty, 2011) at Vyas Municipal Government, Tanahun, I disclosed how the teachers and students acclimatize educational language policy and practice in multilingual school/classroom settings since ethnography of language policy as a method used to explore the multiple layers of language LPP processes with a focus on the power of individuals within educational contexts (Hornberger and Johnson, 2007).
Methods of the Study
This study has applied critical ethnography research design (McCarty, 2011) of the qualitative research approach under the critical-interpretive paradigm. For the study, I collected information using participant observation of basic level classrooms, semi-structured interviews with teachers, FGD with teachers, and policy reviews of the local government (i.e. Vyas Municipal Government, Tanahun). Four basic level teachers and a group of students were the participants in the study. The data were transcribed in participant’s mother tongue and translated in English. They are coded and three major themes were developed based on the codes for data analysis and interpretation.
Results and Discussions
The information has been critically analyzed, interpreted, and reflected in three major themes such as ‘mismatches in ideologies’, ‘mismatches in policy and practice’, ‘conflicts amid monolingual, bilingual and multilingual policies’ that have been presented in the subsequent section.
Mismatches on Ideologies
During the fieldwork, I encountered multiple and divergent ideologies of teachers and students on language policy process. The teachers’ determinations, interests, and vested ideologies on ELP have created ideological tensions among them and impacted teaching-learning activities. Vyas Municipal Government has promulgated Education Act (2017) and Education Bylaws (2018) that instruct to adopt ‘trilingual policy’ (i.e., Nepali, English, and Mother Tongue) in education, and have created ‘ideological and implementational spaces’ to local languages as well. However, the teachers have reflected divergent ideologies regarding the ELP in their contexts;
Nepali Language Policy (NLP) is good, the field of knowledge becomes wider and students learn a lot. Students’ knowledge is narrowed down due to ELP). English Medium Instruction (EMI) gives 50 percent knowledge, I believe. (From interview transcript, T: 2)
Contrary, the next teacher participant (T: 1) expressed his agency focusing on the demand, need and necessity of ELP in education;
ELP in education is necessary to produce manpower who can grab the opportunities in the world market; therefore, we have adopted English in education for five years. First, it was the demand of time, second, the pressure from parents ignited to adopt the policy. (Form interview transcript, T: 1).
The multiple and divergent ideologies of teachers regarding the creation, interpretation, and appropriation of ELP have produced ideological discrepancies and created tensions and challenges for the effective implementation in the classroom rather than a compromise. The diverse expressions and ideological variance challenge policy creation and implementation in multilingual classroom settings. Most importantly, the policy arbiters’ ideologies have been divided into multiple groups in terms of language used in the classroom. Because of ideological clashes, the ELP is a blazing issue of debate in the multilingual classroom environment in Nepal.
Mismatches in Policy and Practice
School is the center of language policy practices, and teachers and students are the final arbiters (Johnson, 2013) and policy implementers. Moreover, teachers create their own ideological and implementational spaces in the classrooms which have resulted mismatches between local ELP and its practices. For example; the schools have adopted a bilingual policy (i.e., Nepali and English), however, the local government’s ELP has instructed them to use mother tongue compulsorily in basic level classes. I observed that the LG’s ELP has not been thoroughly implemented and practiced in schools; consequently, there exists inconsistency between policy and practices as instructed by LG. The school teachers have been interpreting, appropriating, and practicing ELP unfairly, for example; in English subject, the teacher and students adopt a bilingual policy (i.e., English and Nepali) but Vyas Municipal Education Act (2017) instructs languages (as a subject) shall be taught in the same language.
# Vignette 1: Language policy in the classroom (School: A, Grade -6)
(Topic: Biography of TS Eliot)
T: (students, please listen to me, ok?) TS Eliot was a playwright. You know playwright?
S1: No miss. What’s the meaning?
T: A Playwright is a person who writes drama or plays.
T: Playwright bhnaeko drama arthat natak lekhne byakti ho ke. Ho ababujyeu timiharule?
Ss: Yes, Miss. Aba bujhiyo. Nepalima bhanepachhi. (We understood after you said it in Nepali)
T: Ok, now say a playwright is a person who writes drama or plays…
Ss: (Then students follow the teacher) …
(Field note, July 24, 2021)
The policy provisions that basic education will be compulsorily provided in the mother tongue of the students; however, the schools do not have such practices rather they create and implement ELP on their own. The local ELP attempts to alleviate gaps in policies and practices but no proper implementation has been done in schools. The teachers state that the schools have mismatches among English-only, Nepali-only and Hybrid (mixed) language polices (Giri, 2015) but no consistency. The majority of schools have followed hybrid language policy (Kandel, 2021) as the teachers advocate “hybrid language policy has made the students easier to understand contents; therefore, the policy have been effective in our contexts” (FGD with teachers, July 24, 2021).
Conflicts amid Monolingual, Bilingual, and Multilingual Policies
There is a challenge to maintaining uniformed ELP because of linguistic and ethnic diversification of students and teachers. The varied ‘ideological awareness’ (Bakhtin, 1981), linguistic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds of policy arbiters in schools have spaced the critical perspective on ELP; consequently, the teachers revealed conflicting ideologies regarding the use of languages in education. Ultimately, the schools in the territory have adopted monolingual, bilingual and multilingual policies and practices in their classrooms. See verbatim of the teachers in the FGDs;
The classes from nursery to class ten are taught in English…First, it was the demand of the time, second, the pressure – the people from other places came to our school and demanded English medium. EMI has been adopted for 5 years. (FGD, T: 2, July 24, 2021)
We do not have a 100 percent EMI policy in school; we use about 70 percent English and 30 percent Nepali. Teaching in both English and Nepali has made it easier to understand contents. So the bilingual policy is very good. We have been adopting mixed medium. (FGD, T: 3, July 25, 2021).
In English subject, if the students don’t understand, I translate it into Nepali and Hindi as well. I also prefer students’ mother tongues. Therefore, I use three to four languages in my class. (FGD, T: 4, July 26, 2021)
The above excerpts reveal the fact that there is a dilemma whether to adopt EMI or NMI or MTB-MLE policy in education (Phyak, 2013), which has created tensions and mismatches to the teachers to deliver the contents. The disparities in policies have spaced and raised linguistic conflicts and unhealthy competition among languages and their users.
In Nepal, ELP has raised a national debate; especially in the multilingual school/classroom contexts. The policy arbiters (i. e., teachers and students) have created, interpreted, and appropriated ELP in the classrooms without analyzing the consequences and results. Similarly, the ELP adopted by the schools and teachers is divergent to LG’s education act and policy, national education policy, and constitutional provisions; as a result, there seem mismatches and gaps in policies and practices. Therefore, the local governments seem failure to utilize local linguistic capital and are inactive to implement the local ELP in schools/classrooms. To conclude, I suggest the local government, school authorities, and policy arbiters need adequate interaction and discussion for the ‘ideological clarification’ before, while and after the creation of ELP.
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Basanta Kandelis a Lecturer of English at Aadikavi Bhanubhakta Campus, Tanahun, and a Ph. D. Scholar in Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He is the Vice-chair of NELTA Tanahun, a Member of IATEFL, and the Editor of vyasshree.com. He has published dozens of articles, edited journals, and presented papers at national and international conferences (IATEFL, UK and LPP, Canada). His areas of interest include language policy and planning, linguistics, ELT, and research methodology.
[To cite this: Kandel. B., (2022, October 15). Mismatches on Educational Language Policy and Practice: A Critical Reflection [blog post]. Retrieved from https://eltchoutari.com/2022/10/mismatches-on-educational-language-policy-and-practice-a-critical-reflection/]
This paper tries to explore the process and practices of language in education policy in local governments of Nepal. For the study, I selected a local government of the Rupandehi district and took the mayor and deputy mayor as respondents who have been working in the area of local policy-making activities. I performed in-depth interviews for the qualitative data with semi-structured interviews based on the education and language policies they had prepared before. The finding of this research revealed that there is an inconsistency between policies and practices of language in education policy in local governments of Nepal. It is also found that policymakers are positive to promote the local languages but inattention is found by the local language communities.
Key Words: Language in education policy, language planning, local government, locallanguage, English as the medium of instruction
Nepal is a little nation with a wide variety of cultures, languages, ethnic groups, and biological areas. According to Census 2011, there are more than 123 languages and 125 ethnic groups in Nepal. These languages are genetically affiliated to four language families: Indo-European (Indo-Aryan), Sino-Tibetan (Tibeto-Burman), Austro-Asiatic, and Dravidian. The Indo-Aryan family is the largest language group in Nepal in terms of the number of speakers. Among these languages, “most Indo-Aryan languages have literate traditions and share a well-developed writing system” (Giri, 2009, p. 34). According to the Census 2011, there are eight major languages spoken in Nepal. They are Nepali (44.6%), Maithali (11.7%), Bhojpuri (5.78%), Tharu (5.11%), Tamang (5.11%), Newar (3.2%), Magar (2.98%), and Awadhi (2.47%). Nepal’s inherent and historical identity is its multilingualism. Diversity in language, culture, and ethnicity has long been a defining characteristic of Nepali society. The same type of characteristics is found at the local levels of Nepal. Different languages function as symbols of ethnic identity and each speech community wants to preserve and promote its language. As the primary governing body, the local level should be aware to protect local languages, script, culture, cultural civility, and heritage in its territory. The Constitution of Nepal (2015) article 32(1) has provisioned the basic right to each community, the right to get basic education in the mother tongue and to preserve and promote the community’s language, script, culture, cultural civility, and heritage. The Constitution of Nepal (2015) has also taken local government as an autonomous body that can formulate the policies and laws to preserve the language, script, sculpture, art, music, literature, and another custom of their community. Due to high linguistic diversity, local governments find autonomously managing language in education policy rather challenging, though they also welcome the new opportunity to address local issues related to language in education (Poudel, & Choi, 2021).
Language-in-education policy is one of the fundamental issues of language planning studies. According to Shohamy (2006), language in education policy is a method of imposing and manipulating language policy since individuals in positions of control use it to put ideology into practice through formal education. Nepal became a Federal Republic Democratic country after the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal (2015). This constitution provisioned three levels of the elected governments in Nepal: federal government, provincial government (seven provinces), and local government (753 municipalities). Local governments have given decision-making power in several educational matters under this Constitution. They have been given the authority to design and develop their education policies, including language in education policy, though these governments need to line up with the fundamental framework provided by the federal government. Due to high sociolinguistic diversity, local governments are facing challenges in implementing education policies in their municipalities (Panthee, 2021). There is an education committee that actively participates in formulating policy which is made up of professionals, legislators, head teachers, and education authorities. This committee along with the local government are responsible for planning, implementing, and monitoring locally developed courses and appropriate policies, as well as providing financial support to their educational institutions. The objective of this study was to explore the inconsistency between policies and practices of language in education policy in local governments. This paper is significant in the sense that how the local governments are involving formulating and implementing the language in education policy in the multilingual context.
This paper is based on the theoretical lens of ‘the critical ethnography of Language in the education policy of the local government of Nepal. Critical ethnography is a method of examining the spaces for agencies, actors, contexts, and processes across the multiple strata of language policy creation, interpretation, and appropriation espousing a critical approach focused on the educational context (Hornberger & Johnson, 2007). I engaged in a research site which was a municipality in Rupandehi district. I was involved in the field with the mayor and deputy mayor who were key persons in formulating different policies including language in education policy. I performed in-depth interviews for the qualitative data and conducted semi-structured interviews based on the education and language policies they had prepared before. The interview was conducted in a natural setting without being judgmental according to their convenience. I recorded the information in audio recording supported by note keeping. I employed qualitative data analysis process which includes transcribing, editing, summarizing, organizing, categorizing deriving conclusions from the information collected from various sources.
Results and Discussion
LEP at the Local Level Beyond the Practice
The local governments have been given the authority to design and develop their education policies. The research site of this study has prepared its education policy as Municipal Education Act 2018. Article 7 of the act has provisioned that the medium of instruction to be provided by the schools shall be the Nepali language, English language, or both languages. Primary education can be given in the mother tongue. Languages [as a subject] shall be taught in the same language. The medium of instruction for English language teaching must be English. The municipality has the concept of monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual education concept for the transformation (Education Act 2018). The municipality has concerned about the national policy on language and education. It has prepared the education policy according to the essence of the constitution of Nepal and tried to formulate education policies to mitigate gaps in policies and practices. In this regard mayor of the municipality stated that we are careful to protect local and indigenous languages and prepared the policy according to the constitution of Nepal. The municipalities have mentioned and focused on mother tongue-based education, multilingual education, and English as mediums of instruction but it is very difficult to apply in the real sense. According to Poudel and Choi (2021), the Constitution of Nepal-2015, which offers a suitable legislative framework for substantive legal protection for the national indigenous languages as a medium of instruction, addresses the challenges of protecting and promoting historically existing linguistic variety. In the same way, the deputy mayor showed devotion to protecting the indigenous language and said;
we are aware to protect the local languages and made the policy according to the constitution of Nepal but it is very difficult to apply the policy because of the fascination with English as an international language and Nepali as an official language.
Local governments have to choose bi- and multilingualism as a minimum requirement to teach children at the primary level as basic education for the creation of this strong foundation to take place. But it is very difficult to successfully implement this provision due to the global political economy, interdependence, and diversity of the municipalities. Kadel, (2015, p. 196) states that there is a huge challenge for the local governments of Nepal to implement the plans and policies effectively. The deputy mayor said, “We are encouraging local people to promote their language but they are not giving priority to the languages they send their children to English medium schools from ECD”. It demonstrates how the locals have neglected to promote their languages. Three-level governments are silent on this issue, leaving parents, educators, and school management committees to decide whether to stick with their mother tongue-based multilingual education strategy or transition to English (Phyak, 2013, 41).
Mother Tongue-Based Language Policy but Lacks in Practices
Mother tongue-based multilingual education is a form of multilingual education built on the learners’ mother tongue. Kandel (2010) argued that mother tongue-based multilingual education is significant not only to develop a strong educational foundation but also to strengthen the cognitive development of learners at the beginning of education. Mother tongue-based multilingual education helps strengthen the first language and provides a smooth transition from the first language to the second and the third language. In this regard, the mayor said
We understand providing education in the mother tongue is the best way of educating children at the primary level so we have stated the provision as every Nepali community residing in our municipality shall have the right to acquire education in the mother tongue. But local people are not positive about it and they send their children to Nepali and English medium schools so we are unable to apply the local curriculum in local languages.
Above mentioned saying states that the policymakers are positive to protect local language but local people neglect to use their mother tongue in education. Where education is not provided in a child’s first language this is increasingly seen as a form of discrimination, limiting the application of this right. UNESCO (2011) referring to Skutnabb- Kangas (2003) states that if teaching is in a language that an indigenous child does not know, the child sits in the classroom for the first 2-3 years without understanding much of the teaching. Language-in-education policymaking is complicated primarily due to its unique demographic structure, i.e., the multilingual and multiethnic population of the municipalities. The federal, provincial, and local governments are focusing on MT-MLE policies but the parents are not emphasizing it. They are not convinced of the value of the MLE program. Speaking one’s mother tongue, as well as the national language and the international language, not only gives one more option in life but also promotes national cohesion (Baker, 2011).
Positive Attitude toward Local Languages, but Emphasis on English Medium
Both policymakers have a strong positive attitude toward protecting local and indigenous languages. They feel more prestigious to protect and promote local culture, language, and art. But local people themselves are embarrassed about speaking their native languages in the presence of speakers of the dominant language. They believe that educating children in their mother tongue has created a children-friendly atmosphere in the school but the mayor claimed that ‘Parents are not ready to send their children to their mother tongue-based school even Nepali medium school.’ There is a trend of sending children to English medium school because they believe that studying English medium gives better results. Deputy Mayor argued that her municipality encouraged English medium instruction since English is an international language and learning it would help students in the long run. Parents have a mindset that their children receive quality education only when they go to English medium schools. Slowly and gradually community schools are shifting into English medium schools from Nepali medium schools. The mayor said ‘We are allocating enough budget to strengthen community schools to improve English as a medium of instruction. Therefore, English-medium instruction at institutional schools and some community schools in Nepal is currently being evaluated for quality in terms of instruction. So we can find that the policymakers are positive to protect local languages but local language communities are not aware to protect their mother tongue. They want to send their children to English medium schools and they focus on English as a subject and medium of instruction. In the name of quality and parents’ demand, community schools are shifting to English medium schools.
Nepal is facing the complexity of language policy-making in education. The promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal (2015) officially transformed the country into a federal republic democratic nation that delegated the authority of decision-making in many educational issues to local governments. The local government has been preparing the policies as per the constitution of Nepal. They are struggling to implement its educational policies and plans. This study found that federal, provincial, and local governments made different provisions concerning language in education but it is difficult to implement in real practices. There is an inconsistency between policies and practices of language in education policy in local governments. Even though local governments have made various provisions to respect the local languages, students and parents do not go with the MT-MLE policies. It is dominance of English as a sign of dominance and linguistic capital.
Author’s note: This paper is a part of my M.Phil. study at the Graduate School of Education, Tribhuvan University, Nepal.
Baker, C. (2011). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism. Multilingual matters.
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Education Act (2018). Sainamaina Municipality Lumbini Province Nepal.
Giri, R. A. (2009). The politics of ‘unplanning’ of languages in Nepal. Journal of NELTA, 32-44.
Kadel, P. (2015). Reviewing multilingual education in Nepal. Multilingual and development, 189-204.
Kandel, P. (2010). Mother tongue-based multilingual education. Nepal: Language Development Centre (LDC)
Panthee, D. (2021). Language in education policy in local governments: A case of Rupandehi district. Journal of NELTA Gandaki, 4(1-2), 119-132.
Phyak, P. (2013). Language ideologies and local languages as the medium-of- instruction policy: A critical ethnography of a multilingual school in Nepal. Current Issues in Language Planning, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14664208.2013.775557
Poudel, P. P., & Choi, T. H. (2021). Policymakers’ agency and the structure: The case of the medium of instruction policy in multilingual Nepal. Current Issues in Language Planning, 22(1-2), 79-98.
Ricento, T. K., & Hornberger, N. H. (1996). Unpeeling the onion: Language planning and policy and the ELT professional. Tesol Quarterly, 30(3), 401-427.
Shohamy, E. (2006). Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. Routledge.
UNESCO, (2011). Multilingual education in Nepal: Hearsay and reality? A report. Kathmandu: UNESCO. https://bangkok.unesco.org/content/multilingual-education-nepal-hearsay-and-reality-report
Dinesh Panthee is an Assistant Professor of English Education at Sahid Narayan Pokharel Ramapur Campus Sainamaina, Rupandehi, Nepal. He is an M Phil scholar at Graduate school of Education, TU. He is interested on language in education policies, methods and techniques in education, teacher professional development, ICTs in education, and eastern philosophy including Buddhism. He is the membership secretary of NELTA Butwal.
[To cite this: Panthee. D., (2022, October 15). Language in Education Policy at Local Level of Nepal[blog post]. Retrieved from https://eltchoutari.com/2022/10/language-in-education-policy-at-local-level-of-nepal/]
It is our great pleasure to release the third quarterly issue (July-September) of 2022.
While working for ELT Choutari we realized that teachers are reluctant to writing despite the fact that they are good communicators. Their experience remains undocumented, causing a situation where the grassroots realities of ELT classes are not reflected well in academic discourse. There are two main reasons behind this case; the first is that the teachers do not consider writing their work. Second, they think they cannot write. However, we believe that teachers can write and must engage in the practice of writing because writing is paramount for teachers’ professional development.
It is argued that the teachers who do not engage in the writing process themselves cannot adequately understand the complex dynamics of the process and cannot empathize with their students’ problems (Hairston, 1986). While engaging ourselves in writing, we better understand writing as a process since we become more conscious of the writing process, its mechanisms, and its importance, which is very important for a successful teacher.
Writing as a process helps the ELT practitioners share their experiences. The habit of sharing creates multiple platforms for both parties; the writers and the readers. In this light, writing helps to maintain professional solidarity. Similarly, reflection through helps them enhance their professionalism since they carefully note their successes, failures, and plans for improvement.
Writing does not necessarily equal a fine-tuned final product; instead, it is a recursive process that allows reflection and revision, and includes a series of processes like planning, drafting, editing, reviewing, revising and preparing final draft (Harmer 2006). While working to develop ideas, organize them and incorporate comments and feedback, the writers understand their strengths and weaknesses, which helps them refine their writing strategies and hone their creativity and confidence.
Teachers do not always need to research and write a well-formatted research article. They can start writing from their day-to-day experience, practice, and challenges they tackle in their professional life. While dealing with them, they think and work on multiple possible solutions and finally discover the best one. The teachers can make an issue about their challenges and explore this issue based on their practice with possible answers in their writings. Initially, these things look simple but can be an asset in academic discourse.
Writing a fine-tuned scholarly article can be an intimidating experience for school teachers and novice writers. As a beginner writing practitioner, the teacher can choose to write blog posts since they are flexible in length, structure, and themes and are beneficial for their professional development. For it, ELT Choutari can be a good choice for novice writing practitioners since it encourages local scholarship providing a common platform to communicate in academic circles. It prioritizes narrations and reflections from ELT practitioners to full-fledged research-based papers. Moreover, it gives space for local methods and practices, which in turn assists other related practitioners boost their classroom performance practically rather than merely enlarging their theoretical knowledge horizon.
Last but not least, one cannot be a good writer over night. It needs a step-by-step process. Writing blogs can be the first step. We can pick up a simple idea, prepare a writing piece, reach a broader audience, receive constructive feedback, and address them judiciously while revising it. This practice of our writing assists us in developing our writing habits in academia.
Papers and post on this non-thematic issue covers professional development ideas, reflections of teachers on online teaching and teachers’ exploitation in higher education.
Yadu Prasad Gyawali in his article Bridging the gaps of learning through learner centered integrative approaches (LCIA): A reflection explores how learner centered integrative approaches bridge the gap in learnability. Moreover, he reveals how these approaches result in enhanced learners’ motivation, self-preparedness and learners’ engagement.
Likewise, Rajendra Joshi on his post Online education during COVID-19 pandemic: an experience of a teacher reflects on the challenges the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic entailed and the opportunities it brought. He further explores alternative learning platforms and strategies schools incorporated in the pandemic, which can be useful in the future crisis too.
Similarly, Bimal Khatri on his paper Part- time teachers’ well-being in urban community campuses: a narrative inquiry raises questions on discriminatory treatment to teachers at higher education, and unfolds how teachers’ well being affect both teachers’ and students’ academic performance.
Finally, in the editor’s pick post, we have included a multimodal blog, in which an English teacher and teacher trainer shares some ideas of teaching grammar to students
Here is the list of posts for your further exploration:
Finally, I would like to thank our co-editor Nanibabu Ghimire for extending invaluable support throughout the entire process. We jointly are thankful to all our editors and reviewers, Ganesh Kumar Bastola,Mohan Singh Saud, Ashok Raj Khati, Jeevan Karki, Sagar Poudel, Ekraj Koirala, Jnanu Raj Poudel, Karna Rana and Rajendra Joshifor their relentless effort and contribution.
If you enjoy reading these blog posts, please feel free to share in and around your circle, and of course, drop your comments in the boxes below. Likewise, please write and send us your teaching-learning experiences for which we will be happy to provide a platform at Choutari. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Hairston, M. (1986). When writing teachers don’t write: Speculations about probable causes and possible cures. Rhetoric Review, 5(1), 62-70.
Harmer, J. (2006). How to teach writing. Pearson Education India.
In the changing paradigm of pedagogies, learners’ involvement and engagement has been considered primarily. Learners are the key components and their different aspects of knowledge and skills need to be incorporated in teaching learning activities. With reference to the aforementioned remarks this paper aims to explore learner centered integrative approaches to bridge the gap of learnability. This study is conducted in Chandigarh University, as a research scholar, I got opportunity to deal with MBA students with Professional Development Skill course and reflected in-self and collected students experiences towards the courses. Classroom teaching learning strategies and situations are the main interventions in which learner centered diverse skills were integrated and studied. The study revealed learners’ motivation, self-preparedness, enhanced communication and problem-solving skills followed by language skills. Moreover, learners were found engaged and encouraged to participate into activities as a result they could bridge the gap of learnability of language, content and context.
Learners are the agents of growth and development, similarly, they intend positive changes in them followed by the surroundings. In our traditional mindset we control the learning situations and it is judged in terms of achievements made through some basic formal tests. My mind is looking for the answer of a genuine question raised by one of the graduate students after examinations. She asked me, till when we will be experimented with the dilemma of frameworks of formal tests? Will there be any provision of addressing our needs, thoughts and existing inner capacity? Can you suggest me any places where there is the respect of the practice-based knowledge? I think these are the representative questions of the learners of 21st century, once I read the lines in (Carrillo & Flores, 2020) I found the motives of learners engagement in self-pace situations. Similarly, (Bovermann & Bastiaens, 2020; Johnson, 2006; Wong & Jhaveri, 2015) in different situations and time indicated learning as a psychological and sociological preparedness to the learners where the teachers are facilitating the situations with changing paradigms and new dimensions. Furthermore, the world is shrinking in the course of knowledge economy and practices. The learners are believed the first source of peeping down the world and the teachers, parents, surrounding are the supporting agents. The present context demands learners’ visible involvement in learning process with due respect of their thoughts and skills they equipped with. Therefore, this reflection paper aims to explore the learner centered integrative approach through the intervention of practical activities in professional development course.
The method of the study was based on the intervention implemented as per discussed in the course file. I got interested to observe the learners’ activities and activeness in this practical course. As per the nature of the course, plan and guideline I taught students. I observed students’ engagement in developing soft skills and other skills such as language skills and communication skills. I prepared journal for reflection of the daily activities. Similarly, interaction with students made me able to reveal the students’ experience towards the course and intervention. The intervention is presented below here in the diagram.
Diagram 1: Intervention model
Intervention for learner centered integrative approaches
During the Covid-19 crisis, the teaching-learning process in the classroom with physical presence was not totally possible in all regions of the world. Many Educational institutions from basic level to higher education have devised a strategy for incorporating new technologies and alternative teaching methods to engage students in the learning process. According to statistics presented by UNICEF (2020), more than one billion pupils are stuck in classrooms throughout the world owing to lockdowns and school closures in more than 188 nations. In the UNICEF (2020) COVID-19 survey, more than 73 percent of 127 nations said they use internet platforms and more than 75 percent said they use television to deliver remote learning for education. Many of these countries are experimenting with alternative methods of providing continuous education to pupils through the use of various technologies such as the internet, television, and radio. However, inadequate internet connectivity, lack of teachers’ and students’ digital knowledge and skills provide a barrier to online education. Concerning to the issues during pandemic, there could be varied alternative ways that we could own and develop as per the need of curriculum, context and social framework. On the other hand, Murtikusuma et al. (2019) discussed that teachers’ and students’ attitudes, actions, activities, and cultural and economic values are all linked to technological adaption. Computer technology, online learning communities, and ICT tools have all been identified as new paradigms in education that promote classroom connections through a virtual setting, allowing students to acquire collaborative and interactive skills. Although, there were several possibilities through Online Learning Community (OLC), learning process needs to be contextual and learner centered integrative approaches need to be incorporated to the new paradigms in the 21st century.
Lerner centered integrative approaches (LCIP) enabled learners to participate in virtual learning context as an alternative modes of teaching learning. For example, as a research scholar I observed students’ participation in classroom activities and motivation towards learning and sharing through blackboard in Chandigarh University in India. It’s a new experience to me and taking this as an example of paradigm shift. Align with the ideas of (Lamont et al., 2018; Lantada & Nunez, 2021; Leite et al., 2022; Leshem et al., 2021) learners’ readiness, institutional plan and teachers’ responsible thoughts following by the behaviors could introduce alternative learning possibilities. It is obvious that the learners are the change agents and teachers need to facilitate the situation in the realm of practicality and relevancy. Here I am presenting one sample activity conducted in 90 minutes session describing how learners participate into activities and integrate the language skills and technology within the class framework in the following diagram.
Diagram 2: Learner centered integrative approaches (LCIP) implementation model
Diagram 2 depicts the overall situation of intervention and implementation to introduce learner centered integrative approaches in professional development skill courses. Particularly, the session focused to the language development, interpersonal skills, soft skills and learnability. As mentioned in the diagram the role of the teacher is faciliatory and the manager and students are the conductors of all events take place in the classroom. Teachers support and encourage learners to participate. The main responsibility of the teacher is to clarify the concept of the topic and instructions for the activities. The rubric-based evaluation and clear instructions create interactive situations. Another beauty is the situation of Question and answering. Both the teachers and students ask and respond to the questions mutually. Similarly, learners’ motivation and enthusiasm to involve in the activity is effective as they are evaluated based on their performance in the classroom. Therefore, I claim that the process given in the diagram resemble to the Learner centered Integrative approaches (LCIP) and make learners responsible to their learning.
Reflection and conclusion
With reference to the intervention, I discussed with the students regarding their experience and perception to the practical courses, nature and potential challenges informally. This study’s students used blackboard as a virtual mode of learning and Learning Management System (LMS), which helped them develop communication and teamwork skills with their classmates. Many participants viewed classroom interaction through integration of language, content and context as a useful, suitable, accessible, and student-friendly. During the intervention time, I examined students’ activities and found that they were engaged and motivated to solve problems through interaction, teamwork. They were actively involved in completing assignments and submitting them by the due date. My observation revealed that a teacher’s instruction, orientation, and regular engagement can be useful in involving students in a learning situation.
I found that the learners are encouraged with the practical courses and the course is helping them in placement in multinational or the reputed companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and many others. Similarly, they explained the collaborative efforts they developed. For example,
S1: I am very much delighted with the Professional Development skill course. Initially, I doubt myself as thinking introvert student because I need to participate in every activity. With the encouragement of the teacher, I could participate in discussion in any forums.
S2: By the help of the professional development skill course, I am able to tackle with the challenges as I improved language, interpersonal skills and soft skills. Similarly, I experienced the real learning situation.
S3: Obviously, I am encouraged with the course and teaching learning activities. I personally feel I am learning something for me and hopeful of getting good placement in good companies. if I rate myself, I improved my language and interpersonal skills with the help of the course.
S4: The content, language and context integrated activities enabled us to engage and collaborate with friends remotely. Our participation remained task-based as per the teacher’s instructions and course materials posted in the blackboard. The most significant aspect of learning was that we gained communication and collaboration abilities.
As per my observation the practical course is linked to the life changing goals because students experience seems motivating towards the integrating of several skills and aspects of language learning. Students collaborated, coordinated, and communicated ideas among the groups independently and now they are habitual to present and share ideas integrating listening, speaking, reading, writing skills in every section. They found improvement in language and social interaction perspectives.
Following the ideas of (Kerres, 2020; Scott & Palincsar, 2013; Vygotsky, 1978) socio-cultural perspectives and technological integration could lead to increase learner’s independency as a result learners can interact with several elements such as society, language, content and emotions any critical situations like COVID and any others. Learners’ participation, motivation and interaction regarding to the situation enable them to intervene newness in learning as a result learner centered integrative approaches (LCIP) could be existed and they prepare themselves to face the challenges to rectify new motives of learning for personal and professional development.
Bovermann, K., & Bastiaens, T. J. (2020). Towards a motivational design? Connecting gamification user types and online learning activities. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41039-019-0121-4
Carrillo, C., & Flores, M. A. (2020, Aug). COVID-19 and teacher education: A literature review of online teaching and learning practices. European Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 466-487. https://doi.org/10.1080/02619768.2020.1821184
Johnson, K. E. (2006). The sociocultural turn and its challenges for second language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 235-257.
Kerres, M. (2020). Against all odds: Education in Germany coping with Covid-19. Postdigital Science and Education, 1-5.
Lamont, A. E., Markle, R. S., Wright, A., Abraczinskas, M., Siddall, J., Wandersman, A., Imm, P., & Cook, B. (2018). Innovative methods in evaluation: An application of latent class analysis to assess how teachers adopt educational innovations. American Journal of Evaluation, 39 (3), 364-382. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214017709736
Lantada, A. D., & Nunez, J. M. (2021). Strategies for continuously improving the professional development and practice of engineering educators. International Journal of Engineering Education, 37(1), 287-297.
Leite, L. O., Go, W., & Havu-Nuutinen, S. (2022). Exploring the learning process of experienced teachers focused on building positive interactions with pupils. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 66(1), 28-42. https://doi.org/10.1080/00313831.2020.1833237
Leshem, S., Carmel, R., Badash, M., & Topaz, B. (2021). Learning transformation perceptions of preservice second career teachers [Article]. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 46(5), Article 5. https://doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2021v46n5.5
Murtikusuma, R., Fatahillah, A., Hussen, S., Prasetyo, R., & Alfarisi, M. (2019). Development of blended learning based on Google Classroom with using culture theme in mathematics learning. Journal of Physics: Conference Series,
Scott, S., & Palincsar, A. (2013). Sociocultural theory. Education. com.
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. Readings on the Development of Children, 23(3), 34-41.
Wong, L. T., & Jhaveri, A. (2015). English language education in a global world: Practices, issues and challenges. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Researcher’s Bio: Yadu Prasad Gyawali is the Assistant Professor under the Faculty of Education at Mid-West University (MU), Surkhet Nepal. Mr. Gyawali is also a teacher trainer, consultant, and editor for different journals. Moreover, Mr. Gyawali is a Ph.D. scholar at Chandigarh University, India. His areas of interest include teachers’ professional development and ICT in second language education.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected every aspect of human life, including education. The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education system in human history. Social distancing and restrictive movement policies has significantly disturbed traditional educational practices. It has changed education for learners of all ages. Nepal has also suffered a lot due to the lack of adequate and appropriate sustainable infrastructure for the online system. In addition to this, the limited internet facilities in remote and rural areas were the other challenges for virtual academic activities. Many schools remained closed for a long time during the lockdown and some managed alternative ways of teaching. However, the teaching learning activities could not be made effective as expected. The impacts of the pandemic has directly affected the students, teachers and parents.
In the context of Nepal, many children from low income families and disadvantaged groups could not afford even the necessities of learning such as textbooks, notebooks and other required stationaries. Modern digital devices including smartphones, iPads, laptops, and computers were far from their expectations. On the other hand, the people in the remote and rural areas were deprived of online access due to limited internet facilities. In this context, providing equal opportunity for virtual learning to all groups of people in all the parts of the country was challenging. The online programmes shifted the education from schools to families and individuals. In some ways, educating children at home made the life of parents challenging. The school closures impacted not only students, teachers and families but had far-reaching economic and societal consequences. This closures in response to the pandemic shed light on various social and economic issues including students’ responsibility, digital learning, food security, homelessness, childcare, health care, housing, internet and disability services. The impact was more severe for disadvantaged children and their families, causing interrupted learning, compromised nutrition, childcare problems and consequent economic cost to families who could not work.
As per my experience, the institution where I work consists of students from different parts of the country. They come from different family backgrounds. When the government made an announcement of the school closure to prevent the spread of the pandemic, we did not have any idea of what to do. Later on, when the government issued a notice to resume the teaching learning activities virtually, it was very difficult for us to begin as we were not prepared for it. It was a challenging task for the teachers as well as the students. We did not have any exposure and special training to start the virtual mode of learning. The school provided a short training on how to use zoom app. Then, the teachers invited the students of their respective classes and guided them to use different digital applications. It took us about two weeks to get started. We conducted two periods a day which were of forty minutes each, as the trial version of zoom got disconnected after every forty minutes. In the beginning, the students were excited about the online classes. Many of them asked their parents to buy multimedia mobiles to attend online classes. As the parents were worried about the disconnected study of their children, they somehow managed to continue their study. It was not so easy for all the parents to buy new mobile and to pay for the mobile data. All the students did not join the classes as their parents could not manage mobiles and internet data. A few students were out of network access. They had to climb up a hill to take their classes. Later on, we increased the number of periods to four each day. But we found that the number of students gradually decreased after the second period and in the last period we could find only a few students attending the class. It was hard to manage the classes as there would be frequent problem of power-cut and the low bandwidth of the internet.
The students and the parents complained that they had to spend a lot of money on data and had to charge their mobiles every few hours. We fortnightly contacted the parents of the students to get feedback about online classes, especially the problems that their children were facing during the online classes. Many parents provided positive feedback, thanked teachers for continuing the teaching learning activities. Some complained that their children played mobile games throughout the day. They also requested us to counsel their children for not misusing mobile phones. We also conducted the interaction between the teachers and the parents virtually. We got mixed responses from the parents. Some of them explained that the online teaching was effective as their kids were being engaged at least for a few hours, while others said that it had not been effective as their kids did not have access to the online classes conducted by the school. We tried our best to explain to the parents that the teaching learning activity through virtual means was the continuation of learning. Instead of searching for perfection we had to support the virtual mode of teaching learning as it was totally new to everyone. We used to be obsessed with the behaviours and activities of some students as they did not respond when they were asked questions and they did not turn on their videos. It was very hard for us to find out whether the students were paying attention or not. It was really difficult to ensure the progress of those students.
Teachers in my school tried to find out the different techniques on how the participation of the students could be increased and how to make the students active in the class. Several extracurricular activities were also conducted virtually. The home assignments and project works were also assigned to the students. Later on, our school launched a systematic virtual learning application and we started teaching through this application. However, during conducting examination, we faced problems as many students got disconnected time and again due to the poor internet connectivity. It was a very tough time for the teacher like me because we had to prepare the materials for each and every class. E-learning tools played a crucial role during the pandemic by helping teachers facilitate teaching and learning. While adopting to the new changes, the readiness of teachers and students needed to be gauged and supported accordingly. The learners with fixed mindset found it difficult to adapt and adjust, whereas the learners with a growth mindset quickly adapted to the new learning environment. There was no one-size-fits-all pedagogy for online learning. Different subjects and age groups required different approaches to online learning. Therefore, it was not easy in the context of our country.
Despite the adverse effects posed by the pandemic, there were some positive impacts on academia. It has allowed reshaping the pedagogical strategies and adopt to innovative e-learning techniques. The schools and universities decided to introduce a digital education system which seemed to be one of the most outstanding achievements in the history of education in Nepal. The educational institutions as well as the learners used media such as TV, radio, YouTube and other social media. During the pandemic, teachers and students increased the digital literacy and expertise in virtual platforms. Many trainings were conducted for the teachers and students for the online system to join the virtual classes effectively. Many institutions expanded ICT infrastructures to support ICT associated with teaching learning. Many institutions prepared their guidelines for facilitating online classes and assessment under the direction of the government of Nepal. Schools also collaborated with local to national media such as Radios, TVs and local Radio networks. Many teachers who did not have any knowledge of ICT, also took the trainings and started using laptops and mobiles. They also learnt many techniques on preparing educational materials which helped them grow personally and professionally.
In conclusion, COVID-19 has taught many possible ways which can be adopted to tackle the crisis and build a resilient education system in the long run. This pandemic has taught us how the blended modes of education system could be implemented to improve the quality of education at an affordable cost with limited trained human resources. Furthermore, how different learning activities such as homework, assignments, open-book exams, take-home exams, quizzes or small projects can be taken into consideration as the alternatives of conventional paper-pencil based examinations.
Researcher’s Bio: Rajendra Joshi is an M. Ed. (English) from Tribhuvan University. He has more than a decade experience of teaching English from primary level to secondary level. Mr. Joshi has also published an article in the Journal of NELTA. He is currently working as an English teacher at Sainik Awasiya Mahavidyalaya Teghari, Kailali and Shree Krishna Secondary School Gulariya, Kanchhanpur.
I am currently a faculty of English at QAA certified public campus situated in the district headquarter of Tanahun. I have worked there for over five years as a part-time teacher. I started my service at the campus in 2016 with two periods assigned, and then I have been working continuously. In 2016, when I was appointed to the campus, I was satisfied with the benefits offered by the campus since that was the initial phase of my career, and I did not have so much pressure from my family. Moreover, I was optimistic that the benefits, along with the payment made to me by the campus, would be revised logically. As I read them, I went sound in my deliveries for a couple of years, and students were satisfied. I always kept my head high and focused on my preparation and deliveries; as a result, more than 95% of students passed the exam in my paper. I was free from any anxiety though I had to spend many hours on preparation.
In recent years, most of the time, I have been passing through mental stress. Now it has been almost six years of my service at the campus, but I am paid the same with no additional benefits, and still, I am a part-time teacher. It has been challenging to sustain in the profession. I have been excessively anxious for a few years, and sometimes I imagine quitting my work. To free me from mental and professional deficiencies, I joined M. Phil. in 2020 A.D. Most of the time, I spend reading books to gain professional capital, but it does not work well as I have anxiety shaped by the unfair treatment made to the part-time teachers and other teachers at the campus. Except for that individual attempt, I have never witnessed any TPDs or other programs supporting teacher well-being. I do not feel comfortable in my profession and have been unable to concentrate on my deliveries. To make sustainable earnings, I have been taking ten periods daily, which is quite tough to maintain quality. Preparing the teaching force is a crucial concern of the government and concerned institutions worldwide (Gautam, 2016). Still, our teachers working in public campuses, especially part-time teachers, are ignored.
A teacher’s well-being refers to the state where the teacher experiences personal, professional fulfillment, satisfaction, purposefulness, and happiness (Acton & Glasgow, 2015). The student’s learning outcomes largely depend upon the teacher’s performance, and his well-being influences the teacher’s performance. Students’ learning outcome is at the core of the teacher’s work. Ryan & Deci (2011) define well-being as “open, engaged and healthy functioning.” A teacher’s well-being is a strength or power to energize teachers to work. His smiling and cheering face matters a lot in his performance. A teacher’s stress directly hinders students’ learning outcomes (Ramberg, Laftman, & Mordan, 2019). But the issue of teachers’ well-being is ignored by the concerned authorities. Educational actors, including policymakers, do not look serious about the subject. The condition of teachers’ well-being in Nepal is not pretty good, both in a rural and urban settings. The situation in a rural setting is tremendously critical than in an urban context. In my observation, permanent teachers working in community-based schools, especially school-level teachers, are slightly well supported by the government, so they are less angst-ridden compared to those teachers working in community campuses as part-time teachers. Several teachers working at the tertiary level in a public institution are very outsized, but the campuses leave out the issue of their well-being. Part-time teachers in public campuses are not open and well-functioning since they are mistreated. Benefits made to the part-time teachers in the public campus are personally manipulated. The policies of campus are running dysfunctional. They are entirely unsympathetic toward the ongoing sufferings of those teachers.
The current policies and practices look unsupportive to the part-time teachers working on public campuses. First, no ample research is done on teacher well-being out of the Kathmandu valley. If they are, they haven’t addressed the issue of teacher well-being working on higher levels, especially in public campuses. Hence, this paper aims to explore the problems of tertiary level teachers regarding their well-being and its influence on teachers’ and students’ academic performance. Part-time teachers working in the public campus are paid significantly less than full-time teachers and permanent teachers working at the same institution. Full-time teachers and permanent teachers within the institution are enjoying the good benefits. Part-time teachers are not provided any additional financial aid except their salary but are just made fun of. Part-time teachers at the public campus from all over the country must have gone through the same situation. Most of the public campuses in Nepal are running a profit-oriented mentality where the issues of teachers’ well-being are ignored. Teachers with the same duties and responsibilities in the public campus are treated individually. The salary and other benefits provided to them looks heavily imbalanced and unfair. Teachers having more than ten periods in a day for more than five years are still part-time teachers and are paid just a half to the full-timer and permanent teacher without other support, is not an injustice? Is it not intellectual exploitation? How can they supply their sound deliveries to satisfy their students in such a miserable condition? Hence, this paper aims to examine the narratives of some part-time teachers working in public campuses regarding the issue of their well-being.
Methods of the Study
This research is based on a qualitative research design under the interpretive paradigm. The interpretive paradigm is emphasized in this research to bring out tertiary teachers’ stories on their well-being. To explore the real-life experiences of those teachers, I employed Narrative Inquiry as a research methodology. I conducted online interview (Denzin& Lincoln, 2000) to get their narratives. Vyas Municipality from the district headquarter of Tanahun was purposively selected as a research site, and two part-time teachers working at the public campus in the urban setting of Tanahun are the research participants. Along with the data from the participants, this study further incorporates secondary materials such as books and journal articles.
Analysis and interpretation
A healthy body only isn’t sufficient to stay alive in any profession, and a sound mind complements well-being. The excellent reciprocal interaction between body and mind is always most for professional delivery. The teaching profession requires a creative mind free from any mental stress. Teaching in a tertiary-level course is challenging, and it is impossible to sustain professionalism without a sound mind. Due to the growing stress in the profession, the number of teachers leaving work is increasing (Brunsting, Sreckovic, & Lane, 2014). Stress manifests in teachers and most prominently affects their sense of efficacy, job satisfaction, burnout, attrition, student engagement, and physical health (Shernoff, Mehta, Atkins, Torf, & Spencer, 2011).
As a higher education teacher, I observe that kind of stress myself. The day I enter the classroom free of stress, I see my students’ smiling faces, which satisfy me throughout the day. That satisfaction further inspires me to make classes come meaningful. But sometimes I don’t want to talk even for fifteen minutes if I am stressed. I feel a single forty-five minutes to be long enough. Generally, family issues, managing financial problems of a family, health issues, untimely payments, additional payments among the teachers having the same responsibility, and excessive workload make me stressed. One of my respondents, ’X,’ told me that he forgets everything unfair that goes with him until his salary is dispersed. Still, the day he learns about his salary deposited in his account, he goes suffocated. As he reported, his salary is just half of some other teachers though he completed 5/6years of his life in the institution (variations caused by the nature of appointment). Another respondent, ‘Y,’ responded that he feels he serves the institution free of cost. He said, “It is not a job but a voluntary service…”. Too low payment made to him by his campus makes him feel so. This situation sometimes made him forget what he was speaking to his students. The financial problem, according to him, destroys his mental and professional well-being.
Moreover, teaching a large heterogeneous group of learners, urban poverty, teacher preparation, and managing students’ hyperkinetic behavior make teachers stressed (Shernoff et al., 2011). Since he has to handle higher graders, a tertiary-level teacher often goes through this situation. Research conducted in national or international educational set up suggested lower learning outcomes resulting from teachers’ ill conditions.
The financial issue comes first in teacher well-being. Most teachers working in the public campus as part-time teachers are stressed about their financial status. The amount paid to them looks insufficient and lower than that paid to secondary-level teachers. Permanent teachers working in the government schools are provided additional benefits as per the provision made by the government. The statistics suggest that the current basic salary for the secondary level first-class teacher is Rs. 47380. As per the financial provision of Tribhuvan University, the recent basic pay for an Assistant lecturer is Rs. 35500, which is lower than the salary of a primary level first-class teacher (Rs. 35990) (source: edusanjal.com). Mr. X, my respondent, said, “I have five periods in a day, excluding the day shift for grades 11 and 12, and I am paid just 25,000 per month. Still, the permanent teacher in the same campus is paid 44,000 for three periods excluding additional allowances…”. The data above shows a massive injustice for the part-time teachers in the public campus. Another part-time teacher from another public campus from the same district is paid just 4000 for one period.
The situation with the teachers working in the same institution is supposed to be more complicated regarding the well-being of teachers working there. They have to take 9/10 classes to earn equivalent to full-time and permanent teachers of the same campus with a basic period of 3. Due to this discriminatory attitude of the public campuses to ignore the contribution made by those teachers, they are stressed a lot. Both of my respondents plight fully revealed that they don’t get their salary on time; sometimes, they may stay penniless for 4/5 months. The Covid-19 pandemic made the situation more intricate since they didn’t get their salary for 7/8 months. First, the part-time teachers are less paid by the institution they work in, and then they aren’t paid on time, resulting in poor deliveries inside their classroom. Despite this poignant situation with the teachers, concerned authorities look indifferent toward the plight of teachers.
I started my tertiary-level teaching career in 2016 A.D. at a public campus in Tanahun. Since I was a novice in the field of teaching at the tertiary level, I was not well competent in pedagogical skills. I desired to have some training to impart my delivery to my students. My campus organized a faculty development program, occasionally focusing on leadership development and the use of ICT, which would provide me solace. It has already been five years of working at a campus. Still, I have never experienced an attempt to enhance the professional development of a faculty from the government or the university except for the campus. Teachers’ professional competence—their professional knowledge, skills, beliefs, and motivation—is a critical predictor of teachers’ professional well-being and success (Laurmann & Konig 2016). Mr.’ X’ and Mr.’ Y’ never witnessed programs assisting in their professional development and well-being. Secondary Education Development Centre (SEDP), Distance Education Centre (DEC), Primary Teacher Training Centre (PTTC), and National Centre for Educational Development (NCED) are some government-funded programs to train teachers in Nepal. Besides them, Women Teacher Training (WTT) , On-Spot Training, Teacher Training Through Distance Learning, B-Level (Under SLC) Teacher Training, and Vocational Teacher Training Program are run by the government and non-government organizations. They all are confined to school-level teachers; instead, there are no special programs to train teachers from higher education (Awasthi, 2010). My respondent Mr. X said,” I spent more than five years at my campus teaching for bachelor’s, but I do not know any programs run at the campus for our professional well-being…”. Mr. Y had quite a different experience regarding the teachers’ professional well-being. He said, “my campus occasionally offers some training on leadership development and the use of ICT but not on teaching skills and curricular issues…”. It suggests that tertiary teachers do not have access to professional development programs, so they do not feel professionally sound.
Teachers’ autonomy is practiced globally as a supportive tool for teachers’ professional well-being. Action Research (A.R.), Reflective Practice (R.P.), Teacher Research (T.R.), and Exploratory practice (E.P.) are practiced in the international educational market to assure teachers’ autonomy (Dikilitas & Griffiths, 2017). Recently, Tribhuvan University has initiated to adopt those innovations to develop teachers’ professionalism through teacher’s autonomy, but it is confined within the center; However, one of the public campuses of Tanahun has been encouraging its faculties to write a research article on current ongoing affairs related to their professional issues. Similarly, the culture of campus to sponsor the faculties (permanent) financially to gain higher education degrees with a paid study leave is another central effort made for teachers’ professional well-being. This internal support of a campus assists in acquiring professional skills and exploring existing problems with their classroom teachings. The campus makes financial assistance of five thousand for the faculties who write a paper. It is a magnificent effort made to enhance teachers’ professional well-being. But this kind of culture is not practiced in other institutions providing tertiary education.
Teacher’s well-being and students’ academic well-being
Many kinds of research and surveys made in the times of yore indicate that teacher well-being is essential to students’ well-being. If the teacher goes inside the classroom with a stressed mind, it doesn’t deliver anything meaningful to the students. A survey by Wellbeing Australia (December 2011) found that of 466 respondents, 85.9 percent strongly agreed. A further 12.1 per cent agreed that a focus on student well-being enhanced an effective learning environment and 74.5 per cent strongly agreed. An additional 21.9 percent agreed that focusing on teacher well-being promotes student well-being. 73.9 percent of respondents were teachers, of whom 20.5 percent were school principals (Roffey, 2012). It reveals that the issue of teacher well-being needs to be considered for students’ sound learning outcomes.
Hwang et al. (2017) write that students’ learning outcomes depend upon the teachers well-being, so teachers’ intervention is suggested to provide to teachers to enhance their well-being. There are large numbers of teachers working as part-time teachers in Nepal, and they are suffering from the issue of their well-being. Most of them are tormented by their financial problems. Their financial satisfaction determines mental and professional soundness. If the financial crisis haunts one, no professional development program works to keep him strong in his profession. Mr. X narrates, “Throughout the month, I forget everything unfair that goes with me, and I find myself focused in my profession. I find my classes strong enough, and my students look satisfied with my deliveries. But for a few days after I get the message of my salary deposited into my account makes me unpleased, and I lose my professional control”. He further says it is the financial issue that influences his mental well-being and professional well-being. As a part-time teacher, he is made a complete payment just for ten months in a year and paid one-period equivalent for two months. It means he has been paid just Rs. 5000 each for the last two months, which he opines is unjustifiable. These two months are particular for students since they are provided revision classes at that time, but he could not make any meaningful contribution to his students. And as a result, unexpected students failed his paper. It shows that it is essential to address part-time teachers’ issues regarding their financial well-being to keep teachers free from mental and professional deficiencies and students’ good performance.
The teachers working in community campuses of Nepal as part-time faculty are anguished from several aspects of their well-being. Teachers working in the community campuses as part-time teachers experience very rare personal and professional fulfillment, satisfaction, purposefulness, and happiness. Untimely payment, variation in payments among teachers having the same responsibility, excessive workload, and teacher preparation made them stressful. Teachers working in community campuses as part-time teachers are segregated from the offerings made to the full-time and permanent teachers within the same campus. Even after many years of service in the institution, they are not promoted. They have been working with minimal internal support from the campus since no meaningful attempts have been made for their professional development. Mentally, financially, and professionally those teachers are not sound, and as a result, the student’s learning outcome has been degraded. To ensure the quality of education, discriminatory attitudes to look at the part-time teacher should be corrected.
Acton, R. & Glasgow, P. (2015). Teacher well-being in neoliberal contexts: A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Teacher Education
Awasthi, J. R. (2010). Teacher education with special reference to English language teaching in Nepal. Journal of NELTA.
Brunsting, N.C., Sreckovic, M.A., & Lane, K.L. (2014) Special education teacher burnout: A synthesis of research from 1979 to 2013. Education and Treatment of Children, 37, 681–712.
Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). The sage handbook of qualitative research. Sage publication. New Delhi.
Dikilitas, K. & Griffiths, C. (2017). Developing language teacher autonomy through action research. Palgrave Macmillan.
Gautam, G. (2016). Teacher training in Nepal: issues and challenges. Researchgate.
Grainger, A. S. (2020). Teacher well-being in remote Australian communities. Australian journal of teacher education , 21.
Laurmann, F. & Konig, J. (2016).Teachers’ professional competence and well-being: Understanding the links between general pedagogical knowledge, self-efficacy and burnout. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305828549_Teachers’_professional_competence_and_wellbeing_Understanding_the_links_between_general_pedagogical_knowledge_self-efficacy_and_burnout
Ryan R.M., Deci E.L. (2011) A self-determination theory perspective on social, institutional, cultural, and economic supports for autonomy and their importance for well-being. Cross-Cultural Advancements in Positive Psychology, vol 1.Springer, Dordrecht.
Ramberg, j., laftman, s. B., & mordan, t. A. (2019). Teacher stress and students’ school well-being: the case of upper secondary schools in Stockholm. Scandinavian journal of educational research .
Roffey, s. (2012). child wellbeing-teacher well-being; two sides of the same coin? education and child psychology , 8.
Shernoff, E.S., Mehta, T.G., Atkins, M.S., Torf, R., & Spencer, L. (2011). A qualitative study of the sources and impact of stress among urban teachers. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227324157_A_Qualitative_Study_of_the_Sources_and_Impact_of_Stress_Among_Urban_Teachers/link/09e4150c8ac8a074c3000000/download
Author’s Bio: Bimal Khatri is a lecturer of Aadikavi Bhanubhakta Campus, Damauli, Tanahun since last six years. He is currently having M.Phil in ELE in Kathmandu University. Moreover, he is a life member of NELTA Tanahun. He is currently working on the issue of inclusion and equity in English Language Teaching in Nepal. He has published one article in peer reviewed journal of Aadikavi Bhanubhakta Campus in 2020. He can be reached at email@example.com, Bimal.firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are pleased to release the second quarterly issue (April-June), 2022 of ELT Choutari believing that the varied resources will benefit you.
We are moving ahead rejoicing the Nepali New Year with new thoughts, aspirations and with enthusiasm. We wish you a happy, productive and historic new year, 2079 B.S. to you and take this moment to thank our readers and contributors for inspiring us in the continuous journey of 14 years.
The world is constantly changing and the classroom pedagogies, teaching-learning principles and practices, research and resources should also change with the rhythm of time. Rationalizing this belief, Choutari explores resourceful ideas and pedagogical innovations and presents you in the form of articles, blogs, reviews, interviews, reflections, scholarly ideas, glocal practices, and indigenous knowledge to broaden our academic horizon.
Every classroom is diverse, so the educators in this millennium expect/are expected to be abreast with recent and relevant materials/resources for effective teaching-learning. We believe that the resources and materials shared on our forum can support you to be abreast in your field and contribute in your continuous professional development. Besides, writing your experiences/reflection and sharing your perspectives and scholarly ideas is another great tool for professional development. So, we encourage and welcome your writing/composition on the contemporary educational/linguistic issues, pedagogical practices and most importantly your teaching stories.
In this non-thematic issue, we present you the scholarly ideas, educators’ experiences and reflection and pedagogical practices useful for teaching, writing, researching, critiquing and professional development. We are hopeful that the ideas are replicable in our English language teaching-learning context. So, there are six articles and an exclusive interview in this issue.
In a conversation with Jeevan Karki, Dr Bal Krishna Sharma unfolds the global discourse in ELT, (Second) language acquisition, English language teaching in multilingual contexts, critical language teaching, English language policy and practices in Nepal.
Dr Padam Chauhan in his article ‘Ethnography of Writing: A Basic Framework to Introduce Academic Writing to ESL University Students’ recounts the challenges faced by English as a second language (ESL) first-year academic writing students in university. He highlights the linguistic, cultural, and instructional differences between the US education system and students’ home countries to highlight the educational, social, and cultural contexts in international higher education.
In the same way, Ganga Laxmi Bhandari in her article ‘Mother Tongue as a Resource in the EFL Classroom’ argues for the use of L1 in L2 classroom and believes that L1 not only creates the foundation for a better understanding in L2 learning but also develops a positive attitude among children towards their schools and L2 (Savage, 2019). She further argues that the English-only approach has been a failure; therefore, educators should adopt bi/multilingual approaches for effective language teaching-learning.
Likewise, Shaty Kumar Mahato, in his article ‘Teachers’ Collaboration for Teachers’ Professional Development’ reflects his experiences of professional development (PD) through personal and professional initiatives in the context of Nepal. He argues that teachers’ collaboration is paramount for professional development and engagement with different organizations like NELTA, BELTA and so on can also enhance teachers’ PD.
Similarly, Nanibabu Ghimire, in his blog piece, ‘Reading Among Under-graduate Students: Problems and Ways Forward’, brings on spotlight the reading struggles of under-graduate students and offers some practical ways for advancing reading skills.
Similarly, Bishnu Karki in his article ‘Exploring Creative Response in ELT: A Vignette of an English Teacher’ reflects on the writing strategies he adopted while teaching students in Nepal. He emphasizes on the innovative roles of teachers to explore creative responses in EFL classrooms. Karki, further argues that the teachers in the 21st-century classroom to be creative, cooperative and responsive to cope with the ongoing trends and shifts their profession.
Finally, Satya Raj Joshi in his article ‘Using a Story in Language Teaching: Some Practical Tips’ presents the fundamentals of literature in language classrooms and connects his experiences of language teaching through literature. He argues that the literature is a resource offering multiple ideas and activities for students which help them to develop skills and strategies applicable within and beyond classrooms.
For your ease of access, below is the list of hyperlinked articles:
Finally, we would like to thank all our editors, Mohan Singh Saud, Jeevan Karki, Karuna Nepal, Nani Babu Ghimire, Ekraj Koirala, Jnanu Raj Paudel and reviewers Dr Karna Rana, Ashok Raj Khati, Rajendra Joshi and Babita Chapagain for their tireless effort in reviewing these papers. Most importantly, we are indebted to all the contributors to this issue.
If you enjoy reading these blog posts, please feel free to share in and around your circle, and of course, drop your comments in the boxes below. Likewise, please write and send us your teaching-learning experiences for which we will be happy to provide a platform at Choutari. Our email is email@example.com
Bal Krishna Sharma (PhD) is an associate professor of applied linguistics at English Department, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, University of Idaho, US. He is interested in the role of English in multilingual contexts. He studies the dynamics of teaching, learning and use of English in order to examine the topics of language ideology, intercultural communication, identity and pedagogy. He has been studying the issues of culture, representation, and the economy of language from the perspectives of tourism workers in the Nepal’s tourism industry. Likewise, he investigates what English, other international and minority languages mean for a workplace where the commodification and representation of languages and cultures is a major driving force. He is also investigating language-related ideologies and identities of non-native English speaking faculty as U.S. universities in STEM fields.
So, in this post, Jeevan Karki has facilitated a conversation with him, which unfolds the global discourse in ELT, (second) language acquisition, English language teaching in multilingual contexts, critical language teaching, English language policy and practices in Nepal.
Feel free to comment, ask questions and share the conversation to continue the discourse. Here is the YouTube video for you:
Here is the list of questions covered in the conversation:
Q1: What are you busy at currently?
Q2: The global conversation in ELT is very critical towards ‘standard English’, while the goal of English language education in non-English speaking countries is to develop proficiency in standard English (either British English, American English or so on). So, have the critiques been too idealistic about it or the practitioners not aware of this conversation?
Q3: Ofelia Garcia (2017) says that “there is no second language acquisition in the traditional sense but children are acquiring languages together/in totality.” What does this mean to the field of SLA? What are the future directions of SLA?
Q4: In the short history of English language teaching, 50 years or less, what has Nepal gained from it and what has Nepal forgotten in this race?
Q5: And what should be the role of English in multilingual contexts like Nepal?
Q6: Parents and stakeholders don’t seem much concerned about preserving and promoting their own languages as much as they are concerned about immersing their children in the English language right from pre-school. Why does this happen? What can be done about it?
Garcia, O. (2017, June 7). Ofelia García – Translanguaging [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l1CcrRrck0
English as a second language (ESL) first-year university students often face challenges with academic writing because of the linguistic, cultural, and instructional differences between the education system in the U.S. and their home countries (academic writing conventions in English and their first languages). This paper aims to present an ethnography of writing as a framework to familiarize the ESL first-year university students with the basics of academic writing, which directly speaks to the educational, social, and cultural contexts of U.S. higher education. The paper concludes that ESL students benefit immensely from using Grabe and Kaplan’s (1996) ethnography of writing as a framework to introduce academic writing in English to cope with their academic writing challenges.
Keywords: academic writing challenges; freshman ESL learners; ethnography of writing; U.S. higher education; linguistic, cultural, and instructional differences
My Tutoring and Teaching Academic Writing Experiences
I have gotten an opportunity to become an ESL educator for different aged students in different educational contexts. First, I have been an ESL teacher in Nepal. I have taught reading and writing to high school and undergraduate students. Second, I worked as a writing tutor at a regional level teaching university in the Midwestern region of the U.S. I tutored both domestic and ESL international undergraduate and graduate students. Third, I have been teaching reading, vocabulary, and writing courses in the Intensive English Language Program (IEP) at the Midwestern U.S. university for four years. Primarily, I follow a process-based approach (Zamel, 1983; White & Arndt, 1991) and the genre-based approach (Hyland, 2004; Swales, 1990; Tardy, 2008) to teach academic writing to my ESL students who come from diverse educational, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. I guide my students by helping them explore resources, services, and contacts in and outside of the university. These learning resources are essential to alleviate their academic writing difficulties in the U.S. higher education context (Chauhan, 2021). Sharing experiences of ESL instructors’ academic journey, including coping strategies, is critical to improving their academic writing skills (Odena & Burgess, 2017). However, existing literature shows that academic writing in English is challenging for ESL students at both undergraduate and graduate levels (Chauhan, 2021) because they come from diverse social, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds (Duff & Anderson, 2015). The diversity of their backgrounds can also be an asset to acknowledge and utilize for enhancing their academic writing skills in English.
Nature and Scope of Academic Writing in Higher Education Context
Academic writing (AW) refers to the writing used in the college and university-level writing courses (Johnson, 2016). Additionally, AW has become the primary communication medium between scholars in academic subjects and disciplines in a higher education context (Greene & Lidinsky, 2015). AW is simple, clear, focused, and formal. It is also technical, objective, impersonal, concise, logical, and well-organized. An academic writer must meet genre-specific expectations and stylistic conventions (Ferris, 2018; Giltrow et al., 2014; Osmond, 2016; Starkey, 2015). AW is specific to context, task, purpose, and audience (Ferris, 2018; Grabe & Kaplan, 1996; Starkey, 2015). In parallel with these ideas, Gottlieb and Ernst-Slavit (2013) stated that“[t]he distinct purpose, audience, and context of communication result in clear differences in terms of language use in the selection of words, formality, sentence construction, and discourse patterns” (p. 2). AW is seen differently by scholars based on the features mentioned above. Osmond (2016) argued that AW projects writers’ in-depth knowledge, critical thinking skills, and analytical skills while studying different academic subjects within their disciplines and majors. It is also seen as an inquiry because writers can discover their values, beliefs, strengths, and areas to improve when they engage in the writing process (Starkey, 2015). Grabe and Kaplan (1996) recommended that each writer understands AW from the lens of an ethnographic approach. Echoing similar ideas, Ferris (2018) has summarized the features of successful academic writers and standards of writing used in academia.
Writers must have at least an adequate grasp of the content they are writing. They must understand the rhetorical situation, including the purpose of the writing and the knowledge and expectations of their audience of readers. They need to appreciate the constraints and boundaries accompanying genres, tasks, and text types. Further, writers need advanced control of the linguistic features (vocabulary, spelling, grammar, cohesive ties) and extra-linguistic features (punctuation, capitalization, formatting) appropriate for their text’s content, genre, and target audience. (p. 75)
Ethnography of Writing as a Framework to Introduce Academic Writing
As I mainly tutor and teach academic writing to freshmen ESL first-year university students, I am well acquainted with their writing challenges based on my teaching experience and research study. Current research study has also found that ESL undergraduate students faced many challenges with academic writing in the U.S. university context.
To illustrate, Chauhan (2021) concluded that ESL “undergraduate students experienced academic writing challenges [including] content (gathering information/ideas), organization, academic vocabulary, genre awareness, grammar and mechanics, and citing and referencing sources” (p. 148) because the standards and genre-specific expectations of AW in English are different from those of in ESL students’ L1s (Ferris, 2018; Giltrow et al., 2014; Osmond, 2016; Starkey, 2015).
To address the AW challenges of my ESL first-year university students, I employ Grabe and Kaplan’s (1996) ethnography of writing, which provides a theoretical framework to understand AW regarding its social and cultural contexts in U.S. higher education. Before creating any written text, all writers must ask this fundamental question: “who writes what to whom, for what purpose, why, when, where, and how?” (Cooper, 1979, as cited in Grabe & Kaplan, 1996, p. 203). They further stated that this framework considers academic writing as a combination of writer, reader, subject matter, and text as a writing triangle in which the writer persuades the readers in terms of logos (reason/text), pathos (credibility/writer), and ethos (values, beliefs/audience). Overall, the ethnography of writing is one of the best frameworks to introduce AW to the freshmen ESL students because this framework examines the text’s audience, the writer’s purpose, the genre required by the task, and the situation in which the wiring is used (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996).
Taxonomies of Ethnography of Writing
Grabe and Kaplan (1996) introduced eight types of taxonomies of ethnography of writing to discuss further how this framework operates in a broader academic context. Their framework is further explained together with how I employed this framework to teach writing to my ESL first-year students in a Midwestern U.S. university.
Grabe and Kaplan (1996) state that the first parameter of ethnography of writing is a taxonomy of who, i.e., writers. Knowing the writer and their background is critical to understanding writing well. It is essential to understand whether the individual is a beginning writer or a mature writer and whether the writer is a student who will be evaluated by their teachers or an independent scholarly writer who writes for an academic journal. This background information of the writer influences the audience for whom the writing is produced.
Considering this parameter, I often emphasize the writer’s role in my writing class. As an L2 writing instructor, I know that my students come from different first language (L1) backgrounds. The writing system in their L1s works differently from the writing system in English. I am aware that they are beginner writers in L2 and need more explicit instruction, support, and encouragement from me. I do understand that they are at the initial phase of creating their identity in L2 writing. In the meantime, I am also aware that their authorial voice is critical. So, I orient my students to use academic language and concrete words that embody meaning in the academic context (Bailey, 2018; Brun-Mercer & Zimmerman, 2015; Johnson, 2016), which ultimately helps the writers to make their voices strong. Also, I ask my students to use active structures to strengthen their authorial voice.
The second taxonomy of ethnography of writing is writes, which focuses on the linguistic nature of writing. This taxonomy of ethnography considers the entire process of text construction, its different linguistic parts, and their organization (thesis statement, topic statements, coherence, cohesion, word choice, reference, transition words (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996), sequencing information (Atkinson, 1991), and overall rhetorical arrangement of information (Bruthiaux, 1993). Overall, in the process of text construction, the writer considers audience, purpose, context, and the genre requirement (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996), discipline-specificity, and disciplinarity (Christiene & Maton, 2011; Flowerdew & Costley, 2016). There are two approaches that I use to teach writing: a process-based approach and a genre-based approach.
First, I follow a process-based approach (White & Arndt, 1991; Zamel,1983) to teach writing in my class. For example, selecting topics (they select topics themselves which they are passionate about writing), gathering required information, creating an outline, preparing the first draft, seeking feedback from peers, writing center tutors, and teachers, addressing feedback, editing, and finally submitting the final draft to the instructor for evaluation (Johnson, 2016; White & Arndt, 1991). Each step in this writing process is equally important for them because my students need to undergo various stages of the writing process to write essays. Also, they will receive points for an outline, first draft, and final draft separately.
Another approach that I employ to teach writing to my students in my class is the genre-based approach (Hyland, 2004; Swales, 1990; Tardy, 2008) because genre-based instruction enhances L2 students’ knowledge in four main areas, which include “formal knowledge of target genres’ features and conventions, the process knowledge of the methods used to produce, distribute, and consume these genres, rhetorical knowledge of target genres’ functions, characteristics, strategies, and subject matter knowledge of disciplinary content and skills” (Tardy, 2009, p. 21). By recognising the usefulness of a genre-based approach to writing, past research studies emphasized the responsibility of L2 educators to develop L2 students’ genre knowledge (Ferris & Hedgcock, 2013; Hyland, 2004; Tardy, 2008, 2009). Highlighting the importance of genre, Hyland (2004) stated “to fail to provide learners with what we know about how language works… denies them the means of both communicating effectively in writing and analyzing text critically” (p. 42). As the L2 students are not much acquainted with different types of genres, it is imperative to teach them genre knowledge explicitly. Also, they need to know that written texts are specific to each academic discipline, program, and major (Christie & Maton, 2011; Hyland, 2017).
Therefore, I provide a sample essay to my students, and they are engaged to analyze and identify all parts of the essay. They include an introduction (hook, background information, and thesis statement), three body paragraphs beginning with topic sentences, supporting details (explanations, reasons, examples, data, experiences, observations, etc.), and a conclusion that summarizes the main points of the essay and restates the thesis statement. In doing so, my students internalize all parts of the essay, which will help them to create their essays later. Ferris and Hedgcock (2013) and Tardy (2008) also stress that it is crucial to train beginner writers with skills that enable them to participate in intertextual systems.
The third taxonomy of ethnography of writing is what, i.e., the content or message. Grabe and Kaplan (1996) emphasize that this writing parameter should be described in terms of content, genre, and register. So, this taxonomy of writing seeks to answer these questions: to what extent does the writer need to have background knowledge (content) to create a particular text, what type of texts does the writer produce, and in which fields they are used? The what aspect of writing “must take into account the phenomenological world (a theory of world knowledge), a theory of genre, and some specification of register” (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996, p. 205). In other words, the writer’s background knowledge (schema theory) is crucial in this taxonomy of writing because it provides the writer with the knowledge of the genre and the techniques to organize academic discourse for a specific purpose (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996; Swales, 1990). So, it is critical for ESL writing instructors to allow their students to choose their topics to write.
In my writing class, I do not assign any essay topics to my students. Instead, I provide them with the freedom to choose their topics themselves because I want to promote social justice in my writing class. I also encourage them to choose a topic based on their background knowledge because it is difficult for them to write on a topic that is entirely new to them. For example, the student majoring in Finance ended up choosing a topic from their field, such as Three Ways to Make Money Legally in the U.S. However, the student who is specializing in Sports Management wrote Three Strategies to Improve Cricket. Unlike these two students, the next student who is majoring in Nursing decided to write on Three Benefits of Homemade Breakfast. Besides that, I also provide them with a sample essay to follow because I follow a genre-based approach to teaching writing. This approach allows them to be acquainted with the framework of a text used in the academic context. In doing so, they can write their essays on their topics by following sample essays given to them.
Another powerful taxonomy of writing is to whom, which refers to the audience. Grabe and Kaplan (1996) call it a theory of audience or readers because the audience is always at the center of creating a text. Also, the audience plays an essential role in the meaning-making of the text. The writer needs to ponder some of these questions regarding the audience. Are the readers known or unknown to the writer? If they are known, how close or distant are they? How much-shared knowledge exists between the readers and the writer in general? How much-shared knowledge exists between them on a particular topic. Grabe and Kaplan (1996) further state that the audience’s parameter influences the writer’s writing, including the number of persons who are expected to read the text, the extent to which the readers are known or unknown to the writer, the level of status (can be either higher, equal, or lower) between them, the extent of shared background knowledge between readers, and the extent of specific topical shared knowledge between readers and writers.
Building on Grabe and Kaplan’s (1996) framework, recent research studies also highlighted the role of the audience. Before the author writes any text, they need to consider their audience because the type of audience determines their writing (Swales & Feak, 2012). Similarly, Kirszner and Mandell (2015) argued that while writing any text, the audience should be kept in mind because they determine the purpose of the paper. While writing, academic writers envision a specific audience who share knowledge regarding a topic or issue they are writing about (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996; Singh & Lukkarila, 2017). Realizing the significance of to whom parameter, I often ask my students to decide their audience because it is critical for them to know who is going to read their essays. They know that two types of audience read their essays. They include their classmates and their instructor/s.
For What Purpose
As its name suggests, this taxonomy refers to the purpose of producing a text. Grabe and Kaplan (1996) state that every written text is created purposefully. They add that when the writer thinks of purpose, they need to ask these questions: to what extent is it possible to define purpose in a writing task? Are there single or multiple purposes in the task? How does purpose interact with genre and audience? As most writings are meant for audiences, they expect the purpose of the paper when they read them. Therefore, most writers mention their goal of writing to facilitate the readers to make better meaning of the text.
Before writing anything, the writer should be clear about the purpose of writing. Kirszner and Mandell (2015) argued that it is the purpose that limits the writer what to say and how to say it. According to Bailey (2015, 2018), there are three main reasons for writing: (i) to argue on a subject of common interest and give the writer’s view, (ii) to report on a piece of research study and create some type of new knowledge, and (iii) to synthesize research conducted by others on a topic. So, AW is unique because the writer shares inquiry-based knowledge to inform a particular academic community (Singh & Lukkarila, 2017). Considering this taxonomy, all writers need to know the purpose of the academic texts they are writing.
In keeping in mind this taxonomy, I mention to my students that each piece of writing has a certain purpose. My students mostly write five types of essays, and these are five-paragraph essays. For example, when they write a cause-and-effect essay, they show cause and effect relationship of a particular topic. However, when they write a descriptive essay, the purpose is to describe a place, person, object/thing, and process. Unlike these two essays, when my students write classification essays, the objective is to describe three main categories of a particular topic in an interesting way. For example, one of my students chose to write on Three Types of Roommates, whereas another student was interested to write on Three Types of Cell Phone Users.
According to Grabe and Kaplan (1996), the notion of why people write refers to underlying intentions or motives that may or may not be revealed by functional purpose. However, if the writer’s motive is apparent, it helps the readers comprehend the text better. Therefore, genre-based texts overtly express the writer’s motive to facilitate schema instantiation. So, the why component of writing depends on the paper’s audience, topic, and purpose.
In order to make sure my students maintain the why component in their writing, I encourage them to engage in peer review. When they participate in the peer review process in different phases of their writing, they are provided with opportunities to read their course mates essays. In doing so, they not only write on only their topics but also get an opportunity to read and offer feedback on their classmates’ essays. First, they are provided with a checklist (based on a rubric) and asked to give feedback focusing on higher-order concerns such as content/ideas, organization, and vocabulary because they play an important role to convey the writers’ message to their readers. Then, they also give their feedback concentrating on lower-order concerns such as grammar, mechanics, and formatting.
When and Where
According to Grabe and Kaplan (1996), this parameter refers to text creation’s time and place. This taxonomy of writing plays a more minor role than the rest of the taxonomies. However, its relevance depends on the type of text. For example, in official emails and letters, the date and place they are sent may be more critical for both the writer and receiver (reader).
In my writing class, when the parameter is crucial for my students because every writing assignment has a fixed deadline to complete and submit to me. The deadline is clearly mentioned in my writing course which every student is provided with both printed and digital copies of the course syllabus on the first day of the class each semester. Also, the deadline for each writing assignment is also mentioned on D2L (an online learning platform used in most U.S. universities and colleges). My students strictly follow the deadline to submit each writing assignment. If students are unable to submit their writing assignments due to any unexpected circumstances, they inform me via email and request an extension of the deadline. In that case, I extend the deadline depending on each student’s situation. In that case, I also provide additional time for individual conferencing with that student to support their writing development.
Although this is the final parameter of the writing’s ethnography, this is probably the most important because it examines how the text is created. Therefore, this parameter is also called “a theory of online writing production … or a theory of writing process” (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996, p. 213). Mainly, there are two things this parameter emphasizes. First, writing is a recursive process because the writing process stages, namely planning, drafting, revising, editing, and sharing, do not come in a neat linear sequence. Instead, the writers move backwards and forward several times to create a text (Hyland, 2003; Zamel, 1983). Next, the cognitive mechanism remains at the center of this parameter because it “provides [the writers with] the means for exploring notions such as audience, content, and writer intension from a composing perspective” (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996, p. 213).
This parameter is crucial for my students. For each writing assignment, they must go through all writing stages. They also know each stage has its significance in terms of learning and assessment. For example, they are aware that they cannot create a good outline without gathering sufficient information on a topic. Similarly, no good first draft can be written without a good outline. Without seeking and addressing feedback on the first draft, the final draft does not turn out to be perfect. My students understand this process; therefore, they love to follow all phases of the writing process because they receive separate points for outlines, first drafts, and final drafts.
To sum up, I have found that Grabe and Kaplan’s (1996) ethnography of writing is a useful framework to introduce AW to my ESL first-year university students. My students have developed an understanding of the basics of AW after I employed this approach. This framework has been very effective for me for two reasons. First, this framework promotes the teaching and learning of AW by asking the ESL students to analyze the writer’s process before composing any written text. As Paltridge (2017) stated, the students are asked: “to undertake any analysis of the context in which the text they are writing occurs and consider how the situation in which they are writing impacts upon what they write and how they write it” (p. 12). Second, this approach considers the intended audience, their background knowledge, values and understanding, conventions, genre awareness, and discipline-specificity and disciplinarity (Christie & Maton, 2011; Paltridge, 2017) because of people working in the academic community share “ideas, beliefs, values, goals, practices, conventions, and ways of creating and distributing knowledge” (Flowerdew & Costley, 2016, p. 11). Therefore, the ESL writing instructor’s responsibility is to train first-year university students to familiarize themselves with these elements when writing for academic purposes.
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Author’s Bio: Dr Padam Chauhan works as a Retention Specialist for the International Center and an ESL Instructor for the IEP at Minnesota State University (MNSU), Mankato, Minnesota, USA. Prior to that, Padam worked as a Writing Consultant for MNSU’s Writing Center. He has earned MEd in English Education from T.U., Nepal, MA in TESOL, and EdD from MNSU, Mankato. Before joining MNSU, Mankato, he taught ESL at the high school level and served as a high school (10+2) principal in Nepal. Padam voluntarily served NELTA Central Committee as its member, treasurer, and general secretary. Padam has presented at the NELTA, IATEFL, TESOL, AAAL, and TESL conferences in Nepal, the UK, the USA, and Canada. His current research interests include academic reading and writing, Writing Center tutoring pedagogy, and equitable access to English language education.
Whether mother tongue should be allowed or not in the EFL/ESL classrooms has been a debatable issue for many years, especially after the Grammar Translation (GT) method was considered ineffective in teaching English in non-native contexts (Paker & Karaağaç, 2015). Krashen (1981) claims that the use of the mother tongue (L1) deprives the learning of the English language (L2) in a natural setting, while the monolingual approach would maximize the effectiveness of learning the target language. Turnbul (2001) and (McDonald, 1993) are among other scholars who join Krashen in arguing that the use of the mother tongue hampers the learning of English and the best way to teach English is through English only.
However, the English-only approach – or the notion of teaching English through English (Richards, 2017) – is gradually being challenged as an impediment to teaching and learning English (Butzkamm & Caldwell, 2009; Pan & Pan 2010; Savage, 2019). The use of L1 not only creates the foundation for a better understanding of the L2 curriculum but also develops a positive attitude among children towards the schools that teach L2 (Savage, 2019). The use of L1 will be particularly relevant to the students from introductory to lower-intermediate levels (Pan & Pan 2010). According to Cook (2001), L1 creates a mental link between L1 and L2 and, thus, equips learners with the language competence they need to learn the second language.
Languages are linguistically interdependent, argues Cummins (2007), who, in the 1970s, developed the Linguistic Interdependence Hypothesis. Here,, the use of the mother tongue in the classroom reinforces the interdependence and enables the students to learn the second language through language transfer. Monolingual policies or prescriptions are actually contrary to and inconsistent with current understandings of how people learn (Cummins, 2007). In the same vein, Cook (2001) demonstrates that English-only policies and assumptions are wrong and urges instead to treat L1 as a classroom resource both for teachers and students to convey meaning, explain grammar and promote collaborative learning. Urging to use English where possible and mother tongue where necessary, Weschler, R. (1997) goes on to suggest developing a hybrid method drawing on the best of both schools of thought; English only approach and judicious use of mother tongue while teaching English.
At the beginning of my teaching career, 15 years ago, I was also influenced, like many beginner teachers, by the monolingual approach. I also used to think that English-only was the right approach, even aware that I was teaching on a public campus in which most of the students were from public schools with poor English competency. My preference for the conventional style of teaching English was to be an ideal teacher who could speak English fluently in the classrooms forbidding students from using their native languages.
Later, I realized that my approach was wrong particularly after my students started shifting to another class where the teacher used students’ mother tongue (Nepali in my context) as a medium (for instruction, teaching grammar, warming up, explaining homework and also the meaning of some technical words). Realizing the students’inclination towards their mother tongue went bilingual and saw the impact of it on the retention of students and their interactive participation in teaching-learning.
In the subsequent sections, I am sharing my own latest classroom practices in which I have used LI as a resource to teach writing skills and vocabulary. It was practised among 40 students of Bachelor of English Education at a Public Campus in Kathmandu. almost all the students were from Govt schools, with limited English proficiency. Most of them were from the ethnic communities that would speak Nepali as a lingua franca.
Practice 1: Each student was assigned to write a paragraph (8 lines) describing their own culture in English within 20 minutes. Out of 40 students, only 2 students (5%) completed the assignment. Eight students (20%) wrote some four lines of a paragraph. Twelve students (30%) wrote hardly two lines and 18 students (45%) wrote nothing (sat passive biting a pen throughout the 20 minutes). The body language of almost all students would tell that the practice was dull and dispirited.
Practice 2: Students were divided along with their cultural/linguistic background and were asked to write a half-page about their culture in LI, Nepali in this case, within 20 minutes. Almost all the students completed the assignment in time. Unlike the first assignment, students were happy, engaged and motivated to complete the exercise to the best of their ability.
Practice 3: Each group was, then, asked to translate the text into English and present it to peers. In case of difficulty finding an English term, they were allowed to retain Nepali term/s. Each group tried their best to translate what they had written, and presented among their peers highlighting the words/phrases they could not translate. I jotted down the highlighted words or phrases on the whiteboard. After the presentation, each group was asked to seek help from the other groups (using LI) to help find English words/expressions in their writing. After listening to the students, I stepped in to help them, explaining that certain cultural words might be difficult to translate, such as the name of community-specific food: Yomari (Newari food), Ghongi (Tharu Food), Sargemba (a food item of pig blood), Thekuwa (sweet cookie of terai people) and so on.
It worked well. Students were cheerful and fully engaged. No one seemed hesitant to share and express. On the contrary, everyone had something to offer and help a fellow student in need. It was truly collaborative. The mix of L1 and L2 would create a new environment of learning.
The use of LI is very helpful in EFL classrooms in a multicultural setting, like ours in Nepal. Foremost of all, it firms up the bond/connection between a teacher and students and helps create an inclusive environment in which students learn from each other (e.g., culture-specific vocabulary, writing skills, interpersonal communication) on an equal footing. It enhances inter-cultural respect among students and promotes collaborative learning.
The use of LI creates an environment in which everyone becomes an active learner. No one sees English as a burden. Instead, learning English becomes fun. As Pan and Pan (2010) rightly put it, “if L1 is utilized well and presented communicatively, it can be a facilitative tool that will improve the language proficiency of students” ( p.8 ) by motivating them to engage in learning exercises. L1 helps to develop students’ intercultural competence by providing learning content that is familiar to them (Chinh 2013). It is easy to build on familiar content, which also creates a level playing field for all to engage equally in learning without any sense of superiority or inferiority.
As argued by Weschler (1997), L1 opens the door to many possibilities for L2 while creating a natural learning environment. Learning cannot be imposed. It should not be a burden. Learning should instead be fun, which is possible through the use of the mother tongue.
The L1 versus L2 debate is not limited to educationists and teachers alone. Even our parents are drawn into it. Many of them want to see their children trained in the English-only fashion, unaware of perhaps the contribution of L1 to L2. Our teachers should also bridge the gap between the parental expectation (of L2) and the need of the students (of L1) by making the parents aware of the importance of L1 in getting their children where they want them to reach.
Butzkamm, W., & Caldwell, J. A. (2009). The bilingual reform: A paradigm shift in foreign language teaching. Narr Francke Attempto Verlag.
Chinh, N. D. (2013). Cultural Diversity in English Language Teaching: Learners’ Voices. English Language Teaching, 6 (4), 1-7.
Cook, V. (2001). Using the first language in the classroom. Canadian modern language review, 57(3), 402-423.
Cummins, J. (2007). Rethinking monolingual instructional strategies in multilingual classrooms. Canadian Journal of applied linguistics, 10(2), 221-240.
Krashen, S. D. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning. The University of Southern California.
McDonald, C. (1993). Using the target language. Cheltenham, UK: Mary Glasgow.
Paker, T., & Karaağaç, Ö. (2015). The use and functions of mother tongue in EFL classes. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 199, 111-119.
Pan, Y. C., & Pan, Y. C. (2010). The Use of L1 in the Foreign Language Classroom. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 12(2), 87-96.
Richards, J. C. (2017). Teaching English through English: Proficiency, pedagogy and performance. RELC Journal, 48(1), 7-30.
Savage, C. (2019). The importance of mother tongue in education. Independent Education Today. Available at: https://ie-today.co.uk/comment/the-importance-of-mother-tongue-in-education/ (downloaded on 30 March 2022)
Turnbull, M. (2001). There is a role for the L1 in second and foreign language teaching, but…. Canadian modern language review, 57(4), 531-540.
Weschler, R. (1997). Uses of Japanese in the English Classroom: Introducing the Functional-Translation Method. Kyoritsu Women’s University Department of International Studies Journal, 12, 87-110.
Author’s Bio: Ms Ganga Laxmi Bhandari is a lecturer of English education at Mahendra Ratna Campus Tahachal (T.U.), Kathmandu. She has over 15 years of teaching and training experience in ELT. She has also been working as a Central Committee Member of NELTA. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD degree from Tribhuvan University. Her area of research interest is teacher professional development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
One day, in the morning class, I was teaching in B.Ed. first-year students in a community campus. I asked a student to read a text given in the coursebook. She felt odd and did not get up to read the text. I encouraged her to just read the text the way she could, but was shy and showed no willingness to read. After a brief silence, she told me that she would read the text the following day. I did not force her more as I thought that she did not want to lose her face in front of her friends. I also asked other students to read. Some of them were reluctant to read. Those who tried reading lack clear pronunciation and fluency in reading. They could not even produce the simple words correctly.
Likewise, the same day, in the afternoon, I was teaching the students of the first semester of Diploma in Civil Engineering in a community technical institute. I asked some students to read a text from their English course. A boy read the text and pronounced the words as /kəmɪment/ for ‘commitment’, /mæzestɪfɪkesən/ to ‘mystification’, /skɪberd/ to ‘discovered’, /ɔ:skərd/ for ‘obscured’, /sərvɪs/ to ‘serves’, /pɪjrs/ to ‘preyers’ etc. Moreover, I also taught the students of Diploma in Agriculture (Animal Science) on that day and I asked the students to read a text of their course because it was interesting to me that the students who were studying at the Diploma level could not read the text fluently with the correct pronunciation. A girl stood up and pronounced the word ‘fidelity’ as /fɪlɪtɪ/, ‘reminiscence’ as /rɪmkens/, ‘anything’ as /enðɪs/, ‘eye’ as /ɔɪ/, ‘anthropology’ as /entolozi/, ‘spectacle’ as /spekʊlər/, ‘glorious’ as /glɪsɪrɪjs/ etc. while she was reading the text. I am shocked to see the reading proficiency of the students of B. Ed. and Diploma in a technical institute. It is found that they are too weak in reading. Thus, in this write-up, I try to explore some problems regarding this issue in my effort to improve students’ reading.
Reading is the process of decoding a message from the given text. Going through a written text in order to understand and comprehend its message can be called reading. Eye movement and word recognition are the essential factors in the reading process. Reading is the main source of information and a means of consolidating and extending our knowledge. It is a kind of practice of using text to create meaning. If there is no meaning being created, there is no reading taking place. Teachers should engage students in reading activities to develop their reading skills.
Munby (1979, as cited in Khaniya, 2005) argues that reading skill incorporates different sub-skills such as recognition of the script of a language, deducing the meaning and use of unfamiliar lexical items, understanding explicitly stated information, understanding conceptual meaning, understanding relations within the sentences, understanding relations between parts of a text through lexical and grammatical cohesion devices, identifying the main points or important information in a piece of discourse, skimming, Scanning, and transcoding information to diagrammatic display that should be internalized and learned by the students for their proper development in reading. My experience in teaching shows that the students have not developed these sub-skills of reading even if they are studying at the Bachelor’s level. It is essential that the students have to develop all these sub-skills while reading the text appropriately.
Causes of Students’ Poor Reading Proficiency
To explore this issue, I discussed it with students in the class and observed their reading practice and found the following main causes:
Effect of COVID-19 Lockdown
The COVID-19 pandemic affected all sectors of life. Education is one of the highly affected sectors. To safeguard the people from coronavirus, the government declared the lockdown. As a result, schools remained closed. The schools could not continue the teaching and learning activities smoothly. Students could not take their regular classes and reading activities halted for several months. Teachers could not engage their students in reading practice either in the face to face or online mode because most of the community schools also could conduct their classes neither physically nor on online mode. The students missed the opportunity of the practice of reading in their class. Students who I have been teaching said that they did not take part in reading activities because of the lockdown, and their teachers completed their courses in a rush without giving attention to developing their reading skills.
No exam: No Reading
Because of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government could not run the School Education Examination (SEE) and the schools also did not take terminal and annual examinations. Students were promoted to the next class without attending any formal examinations. On the one hand, students did not attend regular classes; on the other hand, they passed without giving an examination. Our students do not study hard if they do not have to take part in the exam. One of the students asserted that ‘neither we give exams nor we study hard’ because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He further mentioned that pariksha dinu parne bhae po padhnu. hamile padhne abhyas garenau ni! (If we have to take an exam, we used to read. We have not practised reading). In this context, neither they read effectively in the class nor did they sit in the exam. As a result, they became weak in their reading.
Declining Reading Culture
The main cause of students being weak in reading is the poor reading culture. Students do not want to read themselves. They want to listen to their teachers reading out the text for them. They do not like to read since reading is difficult for them because it demands the enactment of several subskills at the same time. Reading is a time-consuming and challenging task. One of my students shared her experiences of reading as ‘reading takes much time because I have to search for pronunciation and meaning of the difficult words in the dictionary which is alchhilagdo (lazily) and jhanjhatilo (troublesome) task for me’. She further said that it is also boring to read alone at home. When they are poor at reading, they lack interest in it. We can also say that when they lack interest in reading, they become poor at it. If they read regularly at home, they can develop their reading skill.
Teacher-Centred Reading Practice
Generally, English teachers in community schools just read out the text and explain its meaning to students. They do not provide an opportunity for the students to read or to work out the exercises in the text on their own. Instead, the teachers encourage their students to recite the answer to the question which have been provided by them writing on the whiteboard. Consequently, many students fail to develop their reading skills. They adopt the teacher-centred method to teach reading. They themselves become active to read, interpret and convey the meaning through translation.
My Effort for Developing Reading Skill
As a reading teacher, I have used the following techniques to address the abovementioned reading problems faced by my students at the advanced level.:
Daily Reading Practice in the Class
Normally, advanced-level students are not asked to read in the class. They are expected to comprehend and take part in reasoning and thinking after self-reading practice. However, I ask them to read the text line by line in my class. In the beginning, they felt hesitant, shy and had the fear of losing face before their friends. When they realized that they can improve their reading if they involve in daily reading practice in the class from my counselling, they began taking part in reading activities actively. Although it is time-consuming and burdensome for me, I engage them in reading practice. Regular and continuous practice of daily reading even in B. Ed. class brought a noticeable change in the students that some of them can read the text with correct pronunciation at a slow pace. A few days ago, a new student came to my class. I asked her to read but she hesitated. Seeing her hesitation, another student encouraged her “Sir le hamrailagi padhna bhannubhaeko ho, padhana, yasari yaha ra gharama padhda mero peni padhaima sudhar bhayo [The teacher has told her to read for us. Read the text. I have also improved by reading here and at home]. It was quite satisfying for me to hear such positive feedback on my effort.
Reading at Home with Dictionary
I also motivate my students to read the text at home by using dictionaries. I tell them to underline difficult words and write their pronunciations and meanings with a pencil just above the words and read continuously to develop their reading. Some of them have followed this strategy and found it quite helpful. Those who read at home using dictionaries can read the text easily in the class, and those who come to class without reading at home find it difficult to understand.
Short Oral Question-based Reading
I ask students some short oral questions which are based on the reading text. I tell them that I will ask some short questions from the reading text so that they should read the text at home. The uses of short oral questions encourage students to read the text with a clear purpose. Such questions also give them direction, which ultimately contributes to their reading skill.
Reading in Pair
In my observation, there are two types of readers in the class. Some can read the text wholesome and can not even utter the words clearly. Keeping these two types in mind, I form reading pairs of ‘able’ and ‘ weak’ students. In a pair, they read together, talk and discuss. They read the text collectively. The able student helps his/her pair to read the text. If pairs are formed carefully, they do not hesitate to share their ideas with each other. This reading practice has become beneficial for the students in my classroom
Reading is a pivotal skill to develop students’ vocabulary and content knowledge. Students cannot develop their reading skills if they do not involve in reading activities themselves actively. Continuous, and active involvement of the students in reading texts supports them to develop their reading skills. They should read the text themselves without any hesitation no matter which level they are in. Daily practice of reading in the class with the support of the teachers, reading at home using dictionaries, reading to respond to short oral questions, and reading in pairs are some of the techniques for developing the reading skill of our students. At present, even advanced students are found grappling with reading texts in Nepal as stakeholders of ELT, we need to be aware of this problem and take some concerted effort to address it. For it, I think a long-term action research-based study is needed to explore in-depth the problems of reading students and to find out practical ways of overcoming them.
Khaniya, T.R. (2005). Examination for enhanced learning. Kathmandu: Author.
Author’s Bio: Nani Babu Ghimire is a Lecturer at Siddha Jyoti Education Campus Sindhuli, Nepal. He is currently a Ph. D. scholar in English Education at Tribhuvan University.
English is taught and learnt as a foreign language in Nepal. I teach students from varying levels ranging from school to university. Teaching English at school and university is a tough and tedious job for every practitioner. It has been more challenging for all many of us. Normally, we believe that students in our context lack competency and proficiency in English language learning contexts. Motivating such learners to learn the English language is a very aspiring as well as a rigorous task for teachers like me. I often try to bring innovative ideas and activities to my classroom context. Unfortunately, my students do not pay proper attention to their studies and at some point, I feel as if they are studying English just to score passing grades. I realized that the students having ‘Nepali’ as the specialized subject focus only to score required grades or pass marks in comparison to students having ‘English’ as the specialized subject. . As an EFL teacher, I have to fully depend on prescribed course books’ task and activities to complete on time. This nature of the course has given no freedom for teachers to apply tasks and activities based on classroom explorations and context. The administration timely does an inquiry about the course progress whether the teacher has met the target of the course for terminal examination or not. Students also have developed their mindset to read any topic or lesson from an exam viewpoint. One of my students asked me during the teaching phase, “ sir, is this exercise important for the exam?” I replied yes to know the response of the student and how important he/she gives to that particular exercise. I found the students who asked me whether this exercise is important for exams or not prepared notes on that topic. From this classroom scenario, I realized to motivate my students to engage in the creative and critical tasks and activities beyond course books.
Fostering the creativity of learners plays a vital role in developing their analytical, critical, and problem-solving skills to enhance effective communication with peers and teachers naturally. In this regard, Tomlinson (2020) pointed out the significance of being creative for EFL teachers in-order to encourage their learners to be creative. Maley (2016) has suggested the following principles for developing various forms of creativity:
Use heuristics at all levels- do the opposite, reverse the order, expand or (reduce ) something,
Use the constraints principle
Use the random principle
Use the association principle
Use the withholding-information principle
Use the divergent thinking principle
Use feeder fields
Regarding the notion of being creative teachers, we have to come out of the comfort zone to discover and explore newness for teaching creatively having a strong belief that creative teachers are not born and have to abandon the fear of being wrong. The ongoing trends and shifts in teaching expect teachers’ willingness to be creative and demonstrate innovative concepts, beliefs, methods, and skills in teaching. How can a teacher teaching with low resources and less professional opportunity familiarize him with creative and critical aspects of teaching? To address the issue of the above question, I believe, there should be passion among teachers for self- continuous professional growth and learning. Teachers have to be motivated themselves and always devoted and committed to bringing significant changes in their classroom practices forming their own agency.
The rationale for my reflection
Rationalizing the status and ability of students in English, I happened to inquire how I could inspire my learners to be responsible for their own learning. Many questions are stuck in my mind:- Are there any ways I could apply in my teaching to achieve transformative learning? Are there any explicit and creative activities that I could employ in my classroom context for better learning outcomes? Are there any specific ways I could apply to engaging students interactively and collaboratively?
These are some of the leading questions that made me reflect critically on transforming my teaching from content provider/ knowledge transmitter to knowledge explorer and reformer through dialogic interactions with interlocutors. In this write-up, I share my classroom practices on how creative response in ELT can foster students’ creativity, critical thinking, analyzing skills, and problem-solving skills, as well as develop communication skills to integrate various language aspects. The objective of this reflective writing is to rethink and critically reflect and analyze our classroom practices whether or not we are creating a favourable learning environment for our learners to develop their creativity. Moreover, this paper also encourages teachers teaching with less access to professional opportunities and fewer resources to be responsible for self-learning and grow professionally to connect with a wider ELT association of professional networking.
I began my teaching career without job induction training and mentoring. I struggled for my survival in the teaching profession during my initial days. There was no staff development programme and professional development opportunity for teachers. Teachers were seniors/experienced based on their years of teaching rather than updated skills and knowledge. I realized proficiency and competency-based training, seminars, workshops, webinars, and short-term practical courses empower teachers to advance their teaching careers. I also became a member of ELT associations like NELTA and TESOL for my continuous professional development and networking with the wider community. The following anecdotes illustrated my professional development activities.
I attended a six-day intensive course on “Fundamentals of Teaching” organized by the British Council on March 25-30, 2018. It was my first experience participating in a 6 days long training for individual professional growth. The takeaways from the training helped me shape my teaching to keeping learners at the centre of the learning process by applying recent approaches to language teaching, group division techniques, designing tasks and activities for lesson planning, managing heterogeneous classes, fostering creative and critical aspects of learners, Think, pair share technique and ways of maximizing interaction and collaboration.
Based on the skills and knowledge from this training, I presented a workshop on Designing Activities for Teaching Reading at the National Conference of NELTA held at Solidarity International Academy, Hetauda, Nepal on March 2-3,2019. TESOL-NELTA Regional Conference and Symposium held at DAV Sushil Kedia Vishwa Bharati Higher Secondary School, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur on November 20-23 was another professional development opportunity to participate and interact with scholars from home and abroad for professional networking. At this conference, I presented a workshop on Using Short Stories for Enhancing Reading Comprehension of EFL Learners. I got an opportunity to participate in a Creative Writing Workshop facilitated by an ELT expert Alan Maley on November 24, 2019. That creative writing workshop engaged me in various ways of writing creative poems and also inspired me to apply the technique in my classrooms to foster creative writing for my students. It is my belief that the best part of learning is sharing in a wider community. I presented a workshop entitled Enhancing Creative Writing in the EFL classroom at the Third Annual ELT and Applied Linguistics Conference on February 21-22, 2020 organized by the Department of English Education, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Recently, I also successfully completed a nine months-long online course entitled “TESOL Certificate: Advance Practitioner (TCAP) getting a scholarship from Regional English Language Office (RELO) US Embassy, Nepal. This course provided theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed for teaching the English language effectively and innovatively by applying modern approaches, methods, and skills. I got an opportunity to participate TESOL convention and English language expo virtually in 2021 and 2022. Attending the TESOL convention virtually made me familiar with recent practices of teacher education, teacher research, innovative classroom practices, and more importantly ELT in the present world. Scholars across the globe shared their beliefs, knowledge, practical ideas based on their classroom exploration, and research findings to empower teachers like me to rethink English language teaching. I was the award recipient of ‘Rosa Aronson Professional Learning Scholarship’ of TESOL 2020.
My classroom practices
My classroom practices focus on the development of the creative and critical skills of the students. In order to enhance creativity and critical thinking, I create a conducive learning environment to foster engagement from the students. I use Icebreaker to initiate the discussions, sometimes during the while phase of teaching and at the end of the class. Using icebreakers in English language class incorporates different language skills. Icebreaker is one of the effective strategies for generating new ideas. I spend around 5-10 minutes on the icebreaker with a clear purpose. The selection of the icebreaker is based on the nature of the text. I use prompts, quotations, riddles, and questions for engaging students in productive learning.
Social media are also the best platform for learning new ideas and concepts for self-professional development through professional networking. I have added many ELT scholars from home and abroad as my Facebook friends. They post innovative concepts of ELT, call for proposals and abstracts for international conferences, seminars, and workshops, and share resources, practical teaching ideas, and links for joining webinars. I found the following activity in the Facebook post of Marjorie Rosenberg, past president of IATEFL. I found this activity engaging so I used it in my classroom.
Activity 1: Icebreaker
I asked the students to complete the following information using the first letter of the last name. They were a bit confused about how to be engaged in this activity. To make them understand how to explore information for completing it, I asked for the last name of any students in the class and wrote the last name on the board. For example, if the last name of the student was Gurung, he/she had to complete the given items using the first letter of their last name (G).
Something in your home…………………….
Your last names………………………………….
Students actively participated in this activity. I found that students were very curious to share their responses. After the sharing session, I ask the students to write the names of the animals (donkey, elephant), a place to visit (Dharan, Illam), Favourite food (momo, biryani), clothes (sweater, T-shirt) on a piece of paper. I provided them with the structure (If I were a (insert the word generated above), I would……) to write sentences based on the words they generated above. For example: If I were a donkey, I would carry your goods.
If I were a sweater, I would keep you warm from the cold.
Students constructed creative and surprising sentences and compared and evaluated their generated sentences with their peers. This activity energized them to create new sentences based on the structures.
Activity 2: Using Acrostic poems for introduction to new students
An acrostic poem is based on a word written vertically. I used acrostic poems to introduce newcomer students. This activity of writing poems encourages students to write poems about themselves. Acrostics poems can be used to write poems on objects, things, places, and so on. To make my students familiar with writing acrostics poems, I present some samples to make them clear on how to write them. During the sample presentation, I address the query raised by the students.
For Example: Dog
After presenting the above example, I ask the students to write an acrostic poem based on their own name or about someone’s name they know well.
For example: Ganesh
An Active achiever
N Nurturing naturally
E Excellent endeavour
S Sincere Sociable
H Honest humane
After students wrote poems about their names, I asked every student to share how they wrote them.
Activity 3: What Makes Me Happy?
I use this activity to promote positive thinking and also want to know the sources of my students’ happiness. I write “What Makes Me Happy?” on the board and asks the student to write their happiness based on the stem I wrote on the board. To make them clear, I write ‘Eating momo at a restaurant with my friends makes me happy.’ Based on this information, students explore their happiness and write creative and surprising sentences and chunks individually. I divide them into groups with five students in each. Now, students select one writer and the remaining students do the work of editing to shape their poems. Each group shares their final product of ‘What Makes Me Happy?’
Activity 4 : Bio poems
Bio poem enhances students’ creativity to write poems about a place, concept, event or individual they learnt through reading texts. Students write poems about the characters of the story or novel based on the sample. Students have read biography or autobiography of famous people, historically and naturally popular places or any events or concepts introduced in the text. In the form of poems, students organize and synthesize a large number of ideas creatively. The following template can be used to write a poem:
Line 1: First name
Line 2: Four traits that describe the character
Line 3: son/daughter relative of
Line 4: who feels/ verbs………….( 3 items)
Line 5: who needs/verbs……….( 3 items )
Line 6: who gives/verbs………..( 3 items)
Line 7: Who would like…………..
Line 8: Resident of………………….
Ending: Last name
Activity 5: Story Wheel
I attended a workshop on ‘Creative Response to ELT’ last year. In that workshop, the facilitator introduced the concept and practical ways of assessing the ‘story wheel’ in our classrooms. The story wheel required paper and pencil and can easily be used without overnight preparation and planning. Baker (2021) emphasizes that the story wheel can be used to expand learners’ retelling capacities, as well as to hone critical-thinking skills, and provide oral language practice. I use this activity in my class to retell the story students read or heard. Before I use this tool, I ask the students to read the story. I draw a circle on the board and divide the circle into segments. In the segment, I write the name of the story and its writer, the characters of the story, the setting, the plot, the picture that describe the best scene of the story, and key vocabulary. The segments in the story wheel depend on the nature of the story and the level of learners. I distribute pencils and A4 size paper to the students. I form a group with five students in each. They discuss in a group and make the story wheel based on my instructions. I offer my help to them if needed. The story wheel is easily transferable to a post-reading strategy with adaptations.
Enhancing the reading comprehension of my learners is another challenging part of teaching due to the complex nature of reading texts. Students develop their critical and interpretive skills through maximum exposure to readings texts. In our context, we have given very less amount of reading practice to our learners to improve their comprehension. Students seem bored and passive in reading lessons. This classroom scenario made me re-evaluate my teaching on how to design engaging, creative, and critical activities and tasks to assess reading interactively and collaboratively to motivate demotivated learners. Reading texts enhances the interpretive abilities of the students. In my reading lesson, I begin my class by creating a learner-friendlier atmosphere motivating them to participate in the discussion to share their prior knowledge they have about the topic. I initiate the interaction and elicit information shared by the students by making a connection with their previous knowledge about the reading text. I use the K-W-L chart (What I know-K, What I want to know- W and What I learned-L) to engage students individually in organizing ideas of the text at pre, while, and post phases of the reading topic. Agreeing and disagreeing is another effective reading activity I prefer in my class to express the opinions of my students. For example, I write ‘ Arranged marriages are usually stronger than those based on love’ On the board. I ask the students: To what extent do you agree with the statement- strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, and strongly disagree. Students think individually and share their responses with their classmates.
Questioning the author helps students develop inquiry about the text to understand it. Students explore the meaning that the author wants to convey through the text. It also develops the students’ interactive, explorative and interpretive ability to construct meaning based on their reading of the text (Beck, McKeown, Sandora, & Worthy, 1996, 387).
Visualization, summarizing, predicting, making connections, and inferring are frequently used reading strategies in my classroom. While designing tasks and activities for reading texts, I follow the stages of reading illustrated by Lazar ( 2009) to achieve learning goals through interactive tasks and activities. I also use a plot diagram to map the events of the story. Students organize their ideas based on the elements of the plot diagram- exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
Exploring the creativity of the learners in the EFL classroom is the cry of a day. To address the issue of creativity in the EFL classroom, I have applied learnt skills and knowledge to bring positive learning outcomes to my learners giving them maximum exposure through engaging tasks and activities. Creating a democratic classroom scenario will motivate the students to be responsible for their own learning believing they are an integral part of teaching which builds a good rapport between teachers and students.
Maley, A. (2016). Creativity: the what, the why and the how. ELT Council: Malta
Baker, A. ( 2021 ). Using story retelling wheels with young learners. English Teaching Forum, 59(3), 14-24.
Gabay, L. ( 2017). I raise my voice: Promoting self-Authoring through a curriculum-based project. English Teaching Forum, 55(4),14-21.
Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., Sandora, C., & Worthy, J. (1996). Questioning the author:
A yearlong classroom implementation to engage students with text. The Elementary
School Journal, 96, 385–414.
Lazar, G.( 2009). Literature and Language teaching. Cambridge University Press.
Tomlinson, B.(2015). Challenging teachers to use their coursebooks creatively. www.teachingenglish.org.uk
Author’s Bio: Bishnu Karki has an M.Ed. in English Education from Tribhuvan University. He is an Assistant Lecturer of English Education at Janta Multiple Campus, Itahari, Sunsari and Secondary level English teacher at Chandra Sanskrit Secondary School, Dharan. Mr Karki is joint secretary of the NELTA Sunsari branch and a global member of TESOL. His special interest lies in fostering creativity in ELT, teaching literature in the EFL classroom, and teacher education.
Collaborative teacher development is the process of sharing together for enhancing and cooperating the quality of teaching and learning practices. It occurs when the teachers and learners work together in the process of teaching and learning. This paper is based on my presentation at the 22nd international conference of NELTA 2017. The teachers and learners have the common goal to overcome the problems occurred in the practices of teaching and learning. The teachers’ association like NELTA in Nepal is helping in energizing language teachers and researchers to be professional as well as professional growth. Personally, by joining NELTA, I am benefitted from growing professionally and academically. The teachers can play a pertinent role to collaborate with the people involved in teaching and learning practices. Collaborating together, the teachers explore more opportunities for the learners so that the learners can envision several steps of learning.
Likewise, teachers can also enhance expertise and build good confidence with their learners. The teachers exchange their ideas and knowledge with other participants in teaching and learning and that led them to be professionally sound. Therefore, collaboration is one of the ways for teachers’ professional development. Regarding collaboration, Vygotsky (1978) as cited in Barfield, (2016, p. 222) states, “Collaborative learning can be seen to occur through dialogue, social interaction, and joint-decision making with others and these shared processes contribute greatly to individual and collective growth as well as to co-constructed understanding and knowledge”. As a language teacher and researcher, I have had a similar experience in my classroom and outside of the classroom.
Similarly, Hargreaves, (1994, p.186) says, “To a point where teachers can learn from each other, sharing and developing their expertise together”. The learning becomes effective while sharing because they can generate meaningful ideas and information. Furthermore, Medgyes and Malderez, (1996), as cited in Barfield (2016, p.222), state, “collaborative teacher development is founded on dialogue, questioning, and discussion in working together towards educational change and improvement” and it is supported by Datnow (2011, p.155) that “it is at its most effective when it emerges voluntarily and spontaneously from teachers’ own beliefs that working together is productive and enjoyable”. It means teachers can feel comfortable if they apply the collaborative work to practice. Similarly, my experience in teaching is teachers can professionally forward in sustained and meaningful ways if we are able to do so together. Here, I transformed myself into a professional teacher and researcher.
This article explores the needs and importance of collaboration for teachers’ professional development. It is my own experience of encountering collaborative and non-collaborative teaching and learning. The theoretical studies of the collaboration in the field of language teaching and learning enhanced my pedagogical skills and also helped to explore more innovative ideas and skills. Likewise, this paper sets to explore collaborative teaching and learning to envision how it is one of the sources for teachers’ professional development.
Collaborative Teaching and Learning for Teachers’ Professional Development
As a teacher and a member of NELTA, I participated in seminars and conferences and understand that teacher is not only empowering her/his students but also growing professionally. I also understand that professional teachers always try and stand in search of learning knowledge. Maggioli (2004, p. 5) defines, “professional development as a career-long process in which educators fine-tune their teaching to meet student needs”. As Maggioli suggests it is clear to say that professional development is not a day or night development for one’s career, it is an ongoing process where one should professionally develop and grow through joining different minds together. It gives the vivid concept that if the teacher understands themselves as a learner and expert to fulfil the demands of the students.
Collaborative teaching and learning make a sense of learning by sharing and engaging together. It also builds harmony in our Nepalese context. The teachers’ collaboration and an active engagement with their students and different agencies could explore more innovative ways and skills of learning. The literature also focuses on collaboration which means working together especially in a joint intellectual effort so that one could stay sound and confident in language teaching-learning practices. According to Richards and Burns (2009, p. 239), “it is a social process that is contingent upon dialogue and interactions with others, processes through which teachers can come to better understand their own beliefs and knowledge as well as reshape these understandings through listening to the voice of others”. It is clearer in our Nepali context that our country is diverse which helps to understand the social phenomenon. Similarly, teaching and learning practices enhance when there is equal dialogue and interactions. Through collaborative teaching, teachers can come and interact with other people. Regarding their understanding, experience, and subject matter build confidence and broaden their skills. Likewise, it helps to exchange ideas, skills, and understanding with other fellow teachers, researchers and policymakers in the language field.
Similarly, Johnston (2003) considers collaboration as a wellspring of teacher professional development. Collaborative teaching and learning are fundamentally social processes. It creates collegiality and quality in the teaching profession. Edge (1992) states, “self-development needs other people…by cooperating with others, we can come to understand better our own experiences and opinions”. I also understand that self-determination in learning with other people enhances both confidentiality and collegiality. Likewise, we need collaborative teaching and learning for teachers’ professional development because Johnston views state collaborative teacher development as any sustained and systematic investigation into teaching and learning in which a teacher voluntarily collaborates with others involved in the teaching process, and in which professional development is a prime purpose.
Collaboration is crucial and influential in teaching and learning, which is concerned with the teacher’s professional development that gives the update and current affairs of knowledge. Cook (1981) states, “concern for the ultimate clients, the students, and for intermediaries, the teachers are apparent in all programmes, and this concern is directed toward sound educational and professional development rather than the gratification of immediate needs and desires.” Collaboration in teaching is not only meant for programme development, it is meant for individual development too. It creates an ample opportunity for the teacher to integrate and come up with the vision, increased understanding among teachers at all grade levels and in varied subject areas.
In my experience, I understand collaboration while engaging and interacting through different agencies such as NELTA, LSN, and so on. In doing so, I developed my skills and confidence not only in classroom teaching but also beyond classroom teaching. Likewise, it helps me to explore my techniques, strategies and methods to apply in and outside of the classroom. Doing collaborative works and finding its relevance in academia is described by Darling Hammond and Richardson (2009).
To make it more explicit, Cook (1981) states, “collaboration is to provide a means for improving the professional education, it is important to consider not only the meaning and implication of “collaboration” but also the nature of “improvement”. Collaboration creates an environment where the teacher can work together and learn together to improve their professionalism. The dialogue and interaction which led through collaboration also build trust, confidence and collegiality. Teaching/learning in such a way could give sound satisfaction with satisfactory achievement, which would orient them to professionalism. This could become like cooperation but not exactly cooperation. Collaboration is somehow different from cooperation. Let’s see the differences.
Collaboration and Cooperation
Killion (2012) states, as cited in the essential guide to professional learning Aitsl (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) “the more one educator’s learning is shared and supported by others, the more quickly the culture of continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and high expectations for students and educator’s grows.” Collaboration is a community where learners and teachers are involved together to share their knowledge, skills or ideas to recover the issues and challenges seen in teaching and learning. According to Aitsl, collaboration creates a community of working to achieve a common goal through the sharing of practice, knowledge and problems. And, effective collaboration encourages ongoing observation and feedback among colleagues where a culture of professional sharing, dialogue, experimentation and critique becomes commonplace. What I also observed through experiencing collaborative teaching, it makes sense of collegiality and mostly to get to know how things are going on worldwide.
Brook et al. (2007) state, “collaboration creates a base of pedagogical knowledge that is disturbed among teachers within a school as opposed to being held by individual teachers” as cited in Aitsl. It clears that if the teacher is suffering from the pedagogical problems they would get the chance to solve them through collaborative work that may not be solved by an individual. AITSL clearly defines both collaboration and cooperation where collaboration is concerned with working with another or others in a joint project. Collaborative works, it has a common goal and a high level of trust. It is a job-embedded long term program and works with joint planning, decision making, and problem-solving methods.
Cooperation has individual ownership of goals with others providing assistance for mutual benefit. Generally, cooperation is spontaneous and passive engagement by others. Therefore, cooperation and collaboration have not much comparison. Collaboration is far better than cooperation in academia. We can say that doing collaborative work makes professional growth. Therefore, to grow professionally collaboration with the teachers’ association, colleagues, researchers and teachers enhance the skills needed for professional development.
Why do we need collaborative teacher development?
Collaboration is viewed as a process that facilitates teacher development, serves to generate knowledge and understanding, and helps to develop collegiality and one of which teachers should have or share control. It is an organizational and inter-organizational structure where resources, power, and authority are shared, and where people are brought together to share common goals that could not be accomplished by a single individual or an organization independently, Kagan (1991, p. 3) as cited in Rainforth and England (1997, p. 86). The work accomplished by the group may not be solved by an individual and mostly they become unfamiliar with the phenomenon or process used to accomplish the task. When they come together they would have common goals which can be shared together and can be easily accomplished. In other words, the most common things in collaboration are it facilitates every individual to share and learn the issues one is facing.
Similarly, teacher development is a social process that is contingent upon dialogue and interaction with others, processes through which teachers can come to better understand their own beliefs and knowledge as well as reshape these understanding through listening to the voices of others. It can be viewed as teachers learning, rather than as others getting teachers to change. In learning, the teachers were developing their beliefs and ideas, developing their classroom practices, and attending to their feelings associated with changing, Bell and Gilbert (1994), as cited in Evans (2002, p.126). It seems clearer that joining hands and working together means helping an association as well as helping an association means building a nation together.
Likewise, Goddard and Goddard (2007) states, “when teachers have opportunities to collaborate professionally, they build upon their distinctive experiences, pedagogies, and content” as cited in Burton, (2015, p.6). If we collaborate, our work and ideas together in a group could bring the lived experience in the field of professionalism. I’m not sure the satisfaction that I got during a teaching in a particular situation is equal to others in their own field. However, in my experience of teaching and learning in a group, I explore more ideas and opportunities to overcome problems with solutions. We need collaboration not only for individual improvement but also for our program development.
Yarger (1979) suggests, as cited in Cook (1981, p. 99) “collaboration in teacher education is not related to quality and improvement in program development”, it should provide a breadth of perception and vision, an enrichment in terms of resources and an opportunity for increased understanding among the teachers at all grade levels and in varied subject areas. It could then lead to effective programs of professional development.
Different Forms of Collaboration for Teacher Development
Collaborative Teacher Development (CTD) can take the initiation of effective teaching/learning along with professional growth. Nowadays it is one of the major concerns to be professional in one of the fields and teaching/learning is integrated into all the other development of the people. It helps learners and teachers to explore more innovative skills to find and accomplish the task according to their interests. To decide who, where and how the teacher gets collaborates for further development is necessary to know. We could say that five fingers are stronger than one finger, in the same way, working together by involving collaboratively could bring a concrete result which is most beneficial for all.
There are different forms of collaboration where teachers are the centre point to achieving the goal. According to Johnston, (2003), as cited in Richards and Burns (2009, p. 242), there are four different forms of collaboration that teachers can involve in their professional development.
Teachers can collaborate with their fellow teachers
In this group, the teacher and their fellow (peer) teachers worked and discuss together. This is the most balanced relationship in terms of power. Collaboration among language teachers may well focus on instructional issues such as materials exploitation, classroom management, classroom language use, and other related issues. The language teachers are likely to point them toward certain common concerns and interests. Their professional understanding and depth of knowledge can help everyone involved in the group. It creates a lot of interaction related to the subject area and enhances the other further skills and knowledge. Here, we could say that meeting with different expertise minds certainly helps other minorities who have difficulties with resources and facilities in teaching/learning.
Collaboration between Teachers and University-based Researchers
As a teacher and researcher, I am much benefited from these forms of collaboration. I explore more innovative ideas and skills needed for the teachers and learners. For doing educational research such kind of collaborations are commonly initiated by the researcher to find out lived experiences of the teachers. Teachers and university-based researchers collaborate together and talk about the general and specific issues, and challenges that occur in the language field. Sometimes they do the classroom research to find the solutions; creating such an environment teacher could easily enhance their skills and knowledge whereas researcher also gets the credit for research and that could develop their professionalism as well as collegiality. Teacher and university-based collaboration may have a great inspiration for the teachers because the researcher could provide access and authentic resources to overcome the problems.
Teachers with their Students Collaboration
This type of collaboration makes an arrangement and offers fascinating possibilities for learning in-depth about one’s own classroom and who is in it. This kind of collaboration encourages the teacher and students to accomplish the goal together. Here, the learners are empowered by the teacher and the teacher also comes to know the current affairs of knowledge related understanding in teaching and learning. This form of collaboration is action and problem solving oriented which is livelier in the field of language teaching. It is problem and action-oriented therefore it could fix the problems raised by the students or teachers so that they could get the prompt feedback from their students to achieve the goal.
Collaboration with Others Involved in Teaching/ Learning
In this form of collaboration, teachers can collaborate with the administrators, supervisors, parents, materials developers and so on. Teachers and administrators collaborate together to find the issues and challenges that cause the improvement of the teachers, institutions, and programs, for the development. Similarly, the teacher and the supervisors collaborate together to recover the problems in the teaching and learning field. Supervisors can give constructive feedback to the teacher for their professional development. The teacher can also collaborate with the materials developers and share the implications of the material in the language classrooms. Teachers can also collaborate with the parents who play a vital role to achieve the students’ goals. They could share the students’ attitudes toward learning and the teachers’ teaching. In doing so, many of these collaborations, in turn, have had a significant component of the professional development of the teachers.
Sharing one’s learning is the everyday experience of human behaviour. The knowledge is hidden; it would enhance and grow when human beings take part in the discourse. Even unknown and unfamiliar things become known knowledge and familiar when people come together to share and present. Collaborative practices lead teachers to re-conceptualize the innovative process, boosting learners to continue varieties of challenges, generate cross forms, and participate in constructionist and supportive practices, including an-alternative dialogues. Collaborative teaching and learning practices help both teachers and learners to explore creativity and construct new frameworks for learning. Likewise, it creates innovative ideas and skills to know together and learn together.
Burton, T. (2015). Exploring the Impact of Teacher Collaboration on Teacher Learning and Development. University of South Carolina Scholar Commons (Doctoral Dissertations). Retrieved from http://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/3107
Cook, G. E. (1981, May). Collaboration, Change and Concern: Professional Development through teacher centers. English education, 13 (2), pp. 97-104.
Evans, L. (2002, Mar.). What Is Teacher Development? Oxford review of education, 28 (1), pp. 123-137.
Rainforth, B. & England, J. (1997, Feb.). Collaborations for Inclusion: Education and treatment for children, 20 (1). Pp. 85-104.
Richards, J.C. & Burns, A. (Eds.). (2009). Second Language Teacher Education: Collaborative Teacher Development. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Maggioli, G. D. (2004). Teacher- Centered Professional Development. Association for supervision and curriculum development (ASCD). Alexandria, Virginia, USA.
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (aitsl). The Essential Guide to Professional Learning: Collaboration.
http://www.aitsl.edu.au/professional growth/australian teacher performance/and development framework.
Author’s Bio: Mr. Shaty Kumar Mahato is an MPhil graduate in English Language Education from Kathmandu University and working as an ELT teacher, researcher and trainer in the field of education. Since his Bachelor’s degree in 2005, he has been involved in teaching and research. He has presented his research paper in NELTA, LSN, TERSD and Asia TEFL. At present, he is working as a Project Coordinator-Education in Aasaman Nepal a national NGO. His area of interest is teaching methodologies, Collaborative Approach, Teacher Education, Language Policy, Discourse Analysis and Narrative Research Inquiry.
Courses designed for English language teaching have been facing problems of practical implication as per the requirement of students in their local space. In this respect, students are facing problems in Non-English speaking countries like low motivation, lack of confidence, and inadequate teaching methods. In the light of the above statement of the problem, the study seeks to provide answers to the following questions: What is the most serious problem of English literature teaching? Are school students learning the English language proficiently as required according to the curriculum? What are the techniques that would be helpful to students to learn the English language? How does the use of literature boost their language learning?
Literature has multiple functions and carries power. Regarding power, Kelly (1996) states that some of the great values of (children’s) literature are enjoyment, beauty, thinking, knowledge, understanding and language. Briefly, this idea can be explained through a good book that offers students fun and pleasure while learning. Aesthetics is about the beauty that students experience in writing. Texts are oral art that led readers to enjoy the beauty of language. It adds a lot of beauty to students’ lives, leading them to look at their own experiences in different ways. Fables, non-fiction and poetry are artistic interpretations of experiences, events and people. Texts also have value to improve your understanding of others. By reading, readers will see for themselves by showing what happens to others through this book. Also, discerning cultures guide students to learn about the bonds that unite people everywhere. People who come to understand and appreciate different cultures are more likely to see that people all over the world share similar feelings, experiences, and problems.
Literary work also works to develop imagination. Imagination is a creative, constructive, power. “Every aspect of daily life involves imagination. People imagine as they talk and interact with others, make choices and decisions, analyze news reports, or assess advertising and entertainment”(Kelly, 1996, p. 19). Creative thought and imagination are intimately related to higher-order thinking skills. Literature is essential to educating the imagination as it illustrates the unlimited range of the human imagination and extends readers’ visions of possibilities. In the same way, literature nourishes the reader’s creative process by stirring and stretching the imagination, providing new information ideas, so that readers can imagine the possibilities and elaborate original ideas. In this way, it expands readers’ ability to express their imagination in words and images.
Literature also increases knowledge and information. Learning enables them to participate in experiences that go beyond the facts. Good fiction writers not only increase their readers’ information store, but also encourage students to think about the magnitude of the ideas explored in their books, which encourages questioning and critical thinking. In this way, the texts also refresh comprehension. “Books are a way of thinking that serves as a source of information and a soundboard for intelligent children. All enlightenment promotes thinking by giving students the ability to meditate, this contributes to mental development” (Kelly, 1996, p. 10). In language teaching, the books provide a language model. “Language and thinking are so closely intertwined that the power of reason depends on one’s ability to use language.”(Kelly, 1996, p. 11). Books, however, often offer a richer language model than dialogue as a writer tends to use broad sentences and beautiful words, while the speakers often use a few of the same words over and over in conversation. Teachers, parents, and librarians often hear children use language found in their favourite stories. The literary work that will be analyzed should be interesting and has valuable things or values to be understood. Further, to explore contextual literature teaching the useful text of Richard Matheson’s Button, a short story is used here to apply in English language teaching by exploring its linguistics inputs and its application for practising language skills. This story tells about the problem of a couple in New York City. They are offered a “package” with some instruction and if it is successfully followed, it will give some amount of money to the doer. The female character is interested in doing this business. Is she successful in getting the amount of money? Unfortunately, it ends in tragedy. This is the intriguing problem that leads the readers of this story interested in analyzing and getting a valuable lesson.
Method of the Study
The study applied the ‘Text and Activities’ (Mumb & Mkandaware, 2019) method to interpret literature in language teaching. This method is the most common approach to using fiction and poetry in the classroom. In this project, the literary text is used for explaining and understanding, as well as stimulating readers for practicing their language skills. In this case, the literary text as the object of analysis is the short story Button Richard Matheson, one of the short stories compiled in American Short Stories for the EFL Classroom (1985, p.53). This text was analyzed with its use in the ELT classroom. The analysis emphasized the linguistic inputs that Readers/students can get, such as the grammar structure and vocabulary and the use of the literary work for practising four language skills.
Analysis and Interpretation
In using the literary text in the EFL classroom, the most important thing is to prepare the students to read the text. The preparation is important in giving the students the background for the reading to take place. The preparation also should help to motivate the students to read, so that there will be no student complaints on the task. This activity should cover the ideas of literary functions or power that is mentioned above. The pre-reading activities should cover the Functions of literary works such as enjoyment, aesthetics, understanding, imagination, Information and knowledge, cognition, and language.
The pre-reading activities that can be given by the teacher to lead the enjoyment, understanding, and imagination, among other are the explanation of the cultural setting of the short story, and some questions related to the cultural setting. The setting of this short story (Button, Button) is New York, a metropolitan city. This setting is easily found at the beginning of the story, “The package was lying by the front door – a cube-shaped carton sealed with tape, their name and address printed by hand: “Mr and Mrs Arthur Lewis, 217 E. Thirty-seventh Street, New York, New York 10016” (Matheson, 1985, p. 21). By explaining the cultural setting of the big city, the reader will get ideas about the context, especially the cultural context of the story. For example, the culture of sales marketing does his job in a big city, will give vivid ideas on what and how they are doing and for what purpose. This explanation to the students as the pre-reading activities will lead them to understand the problem faced by the people in such a big city life cultural context. The problem of the human being expressed by people through literary works is always interesting because it reflects human problems and their response to the problem. Moreover, the problem, often, is universal, meaning that it can happen anywhere and to any person. This understanding will help readers/students perceive the importance of reading and studying literary works to enrich their perspective of life.
The post-reading activities that can be delivered to the students are some questions they have to answer at the end of the reading. The questions are: What does the title Button mean? Does the story have a tragic end? Do you agree with the female character, Norma’s assertion that the death of someone you have never seen is not important to you? What is the message the author wants to deliver in this story? Does the author have a specific idea of the nature of the human being expressed in this story? The given questions help the reader to identify the comprehension of the story. The comprehension can be seen from the answers to the questions and the discussion further on the answers to the questions. This is also important to identify the student’s response and expression to the problems presented in the story. The students’ ideas on such problems need to be explored further in group discussions in the classroom.
The linguistic inputs that can be drawn from the stories can be described in two parts, the Vocabularies and grammatical structure. The vocabularies that can be learned from this story, for example, are as follow: vocabularies related to the ‟sales” and behaviour of the characters as well as the condition of people in such cultural context: sales pitch, monetarily, gadget, genuine offer, shudder, dismay, scope, stack, abruptly, slipper, authentic, incredulous, numb, repress, eccentric, authentic, contemptuous, ridiculous. Teachers need to know exactly the meaning of the words and ask students to find out the meaning and idea of the words. This activity can be followed up with the making of sentences using this word. The students can create their sentences, by inserting this word in each sentence. This encourages the understanding of the meaning and language-producing skills. The other grammatical structure and vocabularies that are valuable to be learned are some phrases. Some phrases are important as the linguistic inputs are valuable to observe, such as “It is a sick one” (Matheson, 1985, p. 591). “Now you are loading things”(Matheson, 1985, p. 592). Not that I believe a word. His voice was guarded. She cut him off. “…Turned over the supper steaks “(Matheson, 1985, p. 594). The teacher can ask students to find out the meaning of the phrases in the context and get a whole understanding of the story. This will enrich the student’s vocabulary and grammatical structure, as well as the understanding of the plot of the story.
The next function of literary works in English language teaching is its use for practising the four language skills, though it is not necessary to apply all of the four language skills at once. Here are some examples of instruction. In writing skills, for example, students are asked to write down one of the mentioned or discussed expressions as the prompt to write down a short paragraph. For example, the expression “It is a sick one”, in this sentence, refers to a joke. The meaning of the sentence is if it is a joke, it is a sick joke, a joke that is not amusing but sickening. Students can continue with their ideas from this prompt, to express “the sick one”. Such expression can be applied to practising speaking skills as well. The other examples can be drawn from the other phrases found in the story. By identifying the phrases, understanding the meaning, and producing it in the students’ expression, the creative reading can be reproduced into other activities covered in other language skills, such as speaking and writing.
The story as a literary text is used for explaining and understanding, as well as stimulating readers for practicing their language skills. Using literature as a resource offers teachers possibilities for language learning activities on materials that energise greater interest. The multiple levels of meaning of literary texts provide opportunities for developing inferential and interpretational skills that students need for understanding all kinds of representable materials. Using literary texts in language teaching can make the students more aware of the language they are learning, help them develop skills and strategies they can apply in many different situations and contexts, increase their interest and motivation, and make the learning of language more interesting and worthwhile experiences.
Author’s bio: Satya Raj Joshi is an MPhil in English Literature. Mr. Joshi is a lecturer, critic and translator. He began his literary career during his school days and continuously wrote poems, did translations and published critical opinions on language and literature in different newspapers and journals. Currently, he works for CG education, Nepal.
Kelly, A. Colette (ed). (1996). Children’s Literature: Discovery for a lifetime. Gorsuch Scarisbrick Publisher.
Matheson, Richard, Button, Button, in David Queen (eds). (1985). Configurations: American Short Stories for the EFL Classroom. English Language Program Division, United States Information Agency.
Queen, D. (ed). (1985). Configurations: American Short Stories for the EFL Classroom.
Stanford, A. Stanford (ed). (2006). Responding to Literature. 5th ed. McGraw hill International Edition.
Mumba, C., & Mkandawire, S. B. (2019). The Text-based Integrated Approach to Language Teaching: Its Meaning and Classroom Application. Multidisciplinary Journal of Language and Social Sciences Education (2664-083X, Online ISSN: Print ISSN: 2616-4736), 2(1), 123-142.
We are pleased to release the first quarterly issue (January-March) of ELT Choutari 2022 as the 13th anniversary issue of the blog magazine. We believe that our valued readers get benefitted through these reflective blog pieces. ELT Choutari tries to bring resourceful articles/blogs and generate discourse on education, English teaching learning, research reading and writing practices useful for novice writers, English language teachers, students, teacher educators and academicians. Choutari has been offering the articles, blogs, reviews and interviews based on the experiences, reflections, scholarly ideas, teaching-learning practices and critical outlook to our readers and will continue doing it.
This time we have released the general issue of the magazine thinking that we could cover a wide range of reflective articles from diverse fields of ELT practices in Nepal. There are five articles in this issue:
Dr. Hari Chandra Kamali in his article ‘Postmethod Pedagogy, Deconstruction and ELT Practices: Some Reflections from the Pedagogy of the Gita’ connects the pedagogy of the Gita to ELT practices as deconstruction of postmethod pedagogy. He argues that ELT practices should be like deconstructive pedagogy and ELT practitioners play the roles of a deconstructionist teacher like Lord Krishna in the pedagogy of the Gita.
Likewise, Ashok Raj Khati in his article ‘Author Identity in Academic Writing’ reflects on his academic writing experiences in higher education stressing on author identity as a social construct. He discusses Ivanic’s (1998) Framework of Author Identity in order to support his arguments.
Similarly, Jeevan Karki in his article ‘Strategic Reading to Overcome Reading Struggles in Higher Level: A Memoir’ reflects on his reading strategies that he adopted while studying at university in Nepal comparing those strategies with his recent strategies he has been adopting at a new university in US. His reading practices can be useful for university level students, researchers, teachers and other professionals.
In the same way, Binod Raj Bhatta in his article ‘Is the Process Approach to Teaching Writing Applicable at All Levels?’ argues that the process-based approach to teaching writing can be quite applicable at all levels in the context of Nepal. He concludes his arguments about the applicability of this approach by quoting the Chinese proverb ”I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand/know” and emphasizes the possibility and practicality and the guiding principles of teaching writing skills in Nepal.
Finally, Dipak Tamang in his article ‘An Anecdote of an English Language Teacher’ reflects on his own experiences of teaching English to Tamang students. He argues that his students understood better when he taught using the students’ mother tongue, here Tamang language. As he argues, the teachers need to support their teaching using teaching learning materials along with the technology for the effective use of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction.
For ease of access, below is the list of hyperlinked articles:
Finally, I would like to thank our co-editor Ganesh Bastola for his support throughout the process. We both are thankful to all our reviewers including our editorial and review team members Ashok Raj Khati, Jeevan Karki, Sagar Poudel, Karuna Nepal, Babita Chapagain, Nani Babu Ghimire, Ekraj Koirala, Jnanu Raj Paudel and Rajendra Joshi. Most importantly, we are indebted to all the contributors of this issue.
If you enjoy reading these articles, please feel free to share in your circle, and of course, drop your comments in the boxes below. Likewise, please write and send us your teaching-learning experiences for which we will be happy to provide a space at Choutari. Our email is email@example.com
Pedagogy concerns the process of teaching and learning which differs from the way it was practiced under a method which primarily focused on the delivery of information from the teacher to the students (Richards & Renandya, 2002, p. 5). So pedagogy is the conception of the post-methods practices which focus on “the dynamic interplay between teachers, learners, and institutional materials during the process of teaching and learning” (Brown quoted in Richards & Renandya, 2002, p. 6). That means, teaching, in pedagogy, is “a courageous occupation’’ and “a journey of hope based upon a set of ideals” (Day, 2004, pp. 8-20). It is an integral part of learning as Lieberman and Miller(as cited in Day, 2004, p. 105) state, “Teaching and learning are interdependent, not separate functions.” So in the process of teaching and learning as an integrated process, teachers are “problem posers and problem solver; they are researchers; and they are intellectuals engaged in unraveling the learning process both for themselves and for the young people in their charge.” That is to say, teachers are learning themselves through the process of teaching because in pedagogy learning is “not consumption’’; it is “knowledge production,” and similarly, teaching is “not performance”; it is “facilitative leadership” (Lieberman & Miller as cited in Day, 2004, p. 105). Similarly, Kumaravadivelu (2001) has conceptualized pedagogy in a much broader sense which includes not only the educational aspects of teaching and learning but also the sociocultural aspect. In this regard, he posits: “I use the term pedagogy in a broad sense to include not only issues pertaining to classroom strategies, instructional materials, curricular objectives, and evaluation measures, but also a wide range of historical, political, and sociocultural experiences that directly or indirectly influence L2 education” (p. 538). This conception of pedagogy is so comprehensive that it gives ELT practice a broad outlook which needs consideration from both educational and socio-cultural perspectives. That is, pedagogy should not be restricted to classroom boundary; it should go beyond the classroom and consider every factor pertinent to teaching and learning process. In this regard, the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the Gita captures the essence of pedagogy as the process of teaching and learning is situated in the wider socio-cultural, historical and political context.
Pedagogical Context in the Gita
When it comes to the pedagogy in the Gita, it is not that easier to understand as it has unique and multifaceted context. Being guided by the above theoretical discussion on pedagogy, the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the Gita, can be claimed to be a pedagogical discourse. So Lord Krishna, as a teacher, has both roles as a problem poser and a problem solver (verses 18:63; 18:72, Prabhupada’s Version) and Arjuna, as a learner, has been involved in knowledge production (verse18.73) rather than in consumption of knowledge. Similarly, Lord Krishna is not simply performing his role as a teacher; he is rather taking the role of a facilitative leadership (verse 18:72). As the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna took place in the battlefield before the commencement of the war, he took the leadership in guiding Arjuna in the war. All these constitute the institutional materials for pedagogy in the Gita. Thus, as pedagogy constitutes the dynamic interplay between teachers, learners, and institutional materials, we can observe the dynamic interplay between these dimensions of pedagogy in the pedagogy of the Gita.
More important, there are some studies and commentaries which identify Lord Krishna as a teacher and Arjuna as a learner. Regarding Lord Krishna’s role in the war, Radhakrishnan (2014, p. 33) identifies him as a teacher or guru as he guided Arjuna to the right path against “the forces of darkness, falsehood, limitation, and immortality which bar the way to the higher world.” As Arjuna was unwilling to take his responsibility in the battle (verse1:46), he takes refuge to higher self, Lord Krishna who is able to make him realize his duty (18:72). In this context, as teaching by Lord Krishna contains universal knowledge, Radhakrishnan (2014, p. 33) calls him ”the world teacher” or jagadguru. Similarly, Sargeant (2016, p. 2), in reviewing the role of Lord Krishna in the Gita, came to a conclusion that he is the Universal Guru who is teaching the lessons of universal significance. In the similar fashion, Dayananda (2014, p. 21) in his book, The Teaching of the Bhagavadgita, identifies Lord Krishna as a guru because, accepting Arjuna as his disciple, he has been able to teach him the practical lessons which have become most effective in solving his problems. With this background Prabhupada (1986, p. 21) also defines guru as ”the one who dispels the darkness of ignorance by the light of knowledge.” Thus, the broad conceptualization of pedagogy can be observed in the dynamic role of Lord Krishna as a teacher and Arjuna as a learner in the pedagogy of the Gita. Besides, the contents of the Gita further justifies how pedagogy should be able to incorporate historical, socio-cultural, political and academic aspects of educational project as deconstructive pedagogy (Kamali, 2021b).
Pedagogy of the Gita, Postmethod Pedagogy and Deconstruction: A Grand Confluence of Pedagogy
The pedagogy of the Gita can be compared with the postmethod pedagogy as advocated by Kumaravadivelu (2001) in his article entitled “Toward a Postmethod Pedagogy” because the methodology employed by Lord Krishna in teaching Arjuna contains many of his concepts. Accordingly, Lord Krishna’s pedagogy in the Gita can be compared with Derrida’s deconstruction as Lord Krishna deconstructed Arjuna’s psychology—he was not ready to lead the war in the beginning (verses 1:47) but in the end, after the instruction by Lord Krishna, he became ready to do his duty (18:73).Thus, as Derrida (1986, as cited in Higgs, 2002, p. 170) deconstructed the metaphysics of presence grounded on structuralism and gave way to deconstruction and poststructuralism/postmodernism, Kumaravadivelu (2001, p. 537), in the same vein, deconstructed the centralized practice of ‘method’ and opened up multiple possibilities in pedagogy. In this regard, he commends: “As a consequence of repeatedly articulated dissatisfaction with the limitations of the concept of method and the transmission model of teacher education, the L2 profession is faced with an imperative need to construct a postmethod pedagogy” (p. 537). In this way, deconstruction of methods gave birth to postmethod pedagogy as deconstruction of structuralism to poststructuralism and postmodernism in philosophy. As a result, deconstruction and postmethod pedagogy have become inseparable. Thus, both recommend practices as “an open-ended inquiry,” and “a work in progress” (Kumaravadivelu, 2001, p. 537). These features are equally pertinent in the pedagogy of the Gita as Lord Krishna has practiced the pedagogy as an open-ended inquiry and a work in progress because Arjuna is free to learn and make decision on his own and learning has been regarded as a process (verse 18:63).
Thus, method of teaching has been transformed into pedagogy as a post-method practice which is defined as a movement away from a preoccupation with generic teaching methods towards a more complex view of teaching which encompasses a multifaceted understanding of the teaching and learning process (Richards & Renandya, 2002). In this regard, Richard and Renandya (2002, p. 5) further argue that in the post-methods era attention has been shifted to teaching and learning process and the contribution of the individual teacher to pedagogy rather than the output of the process. In the same vein, Brown (as cited in Richard and Renandya, 2002, p. 6) defines pedagogy as a ”dynamic interplay between teachers, learners, and institutional materials during the process of teaching and learning. By this he has deconstructed the dominant role of teachers in pedagogy and considered the roles of multiple factors contributing to effective pedagogy; it is the same case with deconstruction as it never ends with fixity; the outcome of the deconstructive analysis is always the possibility of multiplicity— difference (Derrida as cited in Culler, 1982, p. 97)! Thus, deconstruction makes pedagogy is more process-oriented and inclusive of all factors conducive to post-method pedagogy which has been further developed into “deconstructive pedagogy” (Kamali, 2021b, p.73).
ELT Practices as Deconstructive Pedagogy: A Conclusive Remark
As a global phenomenon, ELT has divergent practices due to its variations and myriad contexts. No single approach, method and strategy seems to be overarching in present ELT practices. Thus, it is required that ELT practices be like deconstructive pedagogy and ELT practitioners play the roles of a deconstructionist teacher like Lord Krishna in the pedagogy of the Gita as follows (Kamali, 2021a, pp. 73-74): 1. A deconstructionist teacher practices pedagogy as deconstructive pedagogy founded on deconstruction; 2. A deconstructionist teacher can fully act as an autonomous practitioner; 3. A deconstructionist teacher can develop a reasonable degree of competence and confidence in performing pedagogy; 4.A deconstructionist teacher not only critically implements theories into practice but he/she also builds theories out of practices; 5. A deconstructionist teacher focuses on the interplay between theoretical and practical dimensions of pedagogy and lets it open to any possibilities to make the pedagogy more effective in context.
The author:Dr. Hari Chandra Kamali is an Associate Professor of English education at Far Western University, Nepal. He pursued his PhD from Nepal Sanskrit University. Dr. Kamali has published several articles and presented papers in different conferences at home and abroad.
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