Interview with NELTA President, Mr. Hemanta Dahal
Mr. President, You are aware that even while many of our fellow teachers across the country do not have access to the ELT resources, conversations, and communities on the web, the increasing number of Nepalese ELT professionals who have access look up to your office for supporting initiatives like Nelta Choutari from the level of policy, resources, or at least moral support and encouragement. What would you like to tell the readers of Choutari about how you have supported this or similar volunteer initiatives in the past?
NELTA has genuinely taken this issue and has adopted some strategies to address it. Part of the strategies, a number of the Journal of NELTA has been uploaded in its website in a pdf format so that many of our fellow teachers can have access to the journals free of cost. Moreover, NELTA recommends the Regional English Language Office (RELO) based in the US Embassy, Kathmandu for online teacher training courses for our members. Some of the NELTA members have already been benefited from these courses sponsored by the US State Department and conducted by the US universities. To take a few examples, some of our members from Surkhet, Dang, Gorkha, Birganj and Kathmandu have already completed the online courses, and some are doing it. Several NELTA members also got chance to participate in the series of webinars presented by the US professors and the ELT experts who have given considerable insight to our friends’ vocation.
In order to promote English language proficiency of the professionals in teaching and beyond, NELTA in collaboration with the US Embassy and Radio Sagarmatha aired English by Radio for one and half-year. The materials were developed by the NELTA experts. With the consent of NELTA, the US Embassy has arranged to air 54 episodes of the programs through ten FM stations in Nepal.
Considering the importance of Nelta Choutari, we have been disseminating some sample works in Choutari, among our fellow members on different occasions. One of the most important occasions to give its visibility is the international conference of NELTA, in which our colleagues give a plenary about Choutari to more than 700 participants. The conference will take place in Kathmandu on 18-20 February and in Chitawan on 22-23 February 2012. I would like to invite the ELT professionals to participate in the conference.
Choutari team–and other volunteer teams working for promoting professional development of NELTA members–have used approaches, platforms, and talents of its members in pursuing NELTA’s visions and missions towards supporting professional development needs of NELTA members. Please tell us a few specific ways in which you might have thought NELTA can collaborate with or support such volunteer initiatives.
First of all, I would like to take an opportunity to salute the Choutari team and volunteers for helping promote professional development of NELTA members through the regular publication of Nelta Choutari. Special thanks are due to Shyam Sharma, Bal Krishna Sharma, Kamal Poudel, Prem Phyak, Sajan Karn and Hem Raj Kafle.
NLETA highly regards the value of Choutari. However, just valuing it is not enough for promoting its visibility in the professional arena. The agenda has already entered in central committee meetings to print selected materials from Choutari and disseminate them among NELTA branches. NELTA has 33 branches across the country covering almost 50 districts. Given the need to reach widely, we are looking for resources for Choutari’s resources for teachers across the country.
Some other ways to support Choutari and similar initiatives would be to include their resources in the NELTA newsletter, journal, international conference booklet, flyers, website, etc., which is possible in terms of cost and efforts. I will certainly consider this as an agenda in the forthcoming meeting of NELTA, and I am sure my team will implement it immediately.
Choutari is a forward-looking professional development initiative in the sense that it seeks to build the platform before it even seems possible for many NELTA members to participate. What are some of NELTA’s official programs that similarly look into the future where you may want us to join hands with such initiatives?
NELTA has been exploring the opportunities for how it could be instrumental in developing the English language teaching situation in Nepal. NELTA, with the support of the RELO office has planned to donate the ELT books to all 33 branches of NELTA and 82 public schools. RELO office has kindly agreed to allocate 40,000 US dollars to buy the books and administer the donation programme. NELTA already received fifty per cent of the books and distributed them to 38 schools, many branches of NELTA, Tribhuwan University, Faculty of Education, Kathmandu University School of Education, Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal and Gorkha Campus. Rest of the books will arrive in March, and then distribution will take place in rest of the branches and the school, including some education campuses in the country. These books will certainly be useful for the teachers and teacher educators to bridge the gap between the theories and practices so that they could share their views to others.
NELTA has started brainstorming for English by Radio program with a focus on the teachers. Moreover, discussions are underway to collaborate with the British Council for providing the NELTA members the access to the British Council global products.
We are also exploring the possibilities for how the Choutari can be linked with the websites of the British Council, RELO, IATEFL and TESOL so that more and more people can have better access to the resources. British Council has abundance of global products – many of them come online. TESOL has enormous online materials which could be shared with NELTA members via uplink. TEFL International is another key institution working for internationally accredited training such as TESOL Certificate and TESOL Diploma. The entire modules of TESOL Diploma are provided online. Collaboration between NELTA and TEFL International could be insightful to look into the opportunity for sharing the training materials.
Which Choutari article that you have read in the past three years did you like most and why?
There is no single article, I could refer to that I am impressed by. However, I would like to mention the one by Mr. Kent Grosh entitled ‘So Many Textbooks, So Little Time‘. Mr. Grosh begins with the practical notion of teaching mathematics linking the ideas of teaching English as a second language. In the context of Nepal, the teachers are obliged to rely on the textbooks to the great extent whereas majority of the textbooks are far too difficult compared to the learners’ schema. Consequently, both the teachers and the students waste a lot of time rather than being self-aware of critical thinking. Therefore, there is an urgent need of revisiting what we do and what we are required to do.
Please suggest any areas of professional conversation that Choutari is yet to pay attention to.
I would suggest publishing more practical teaching and learning tips in each issue of the Choutari.
Finally, do you have any message for Choutari readers?
First of all, the more the readers could disseminate the work of Choutari, the more English teaching professionals get access to the forum. I would like to urge the readers to provide comments and feedback regarding the materials published in Choutari and also submit articles, teaching and learning tips and life experiences related to teaching and learning of English.