An English Teacher’s Dilemma
Shining Stars Boarding School, Sanepa, Lalitpur.
This is one of the common expressions students in my school use. I’ve been teaching English in a secondary school in Lalitpur for almost two years, and here are few of the problems I have come across.
The first one – the students, both juniors and seniors, have the habit of speaking in “progressive” almost all the time. For instance:
Sir, he is beating me and taking my book.
He is pushing for me.
She is pushing for him, and beating for him. And he is crying.
(Their endemic use of ‘for’, too)
I am not so sure how the students picked up this sort of English speaking habit in the school. But I think they might have picked it from the teachers in the first place. A common logic says – students learn from the teachers. May be from the English teachers, or may be from other subject teachers.
The school system says, we need to create English environment. Everyone must speak in English, both the teachers and the students (except for in the Nepali classes). This system is followed in most of the private boarding schools all over Nepal. I don’t know how far the system has been effective. But, I can’t change the system. If it was up to me, I would give the students a choice between learning other subjects in English or their mother tongue Nepali. I’m not sure if that would work either. Until that happens, the teachers need to stick with the system and try to be better at it somehow.
Coming back to my situation, the second problem – the students speak a weird form of English; a version which is a direct translation of Nepali to English and mixed with incorrect/unusual sentence structures. Some call it “nepanglish”. Some say its okay, and that we should use English in our own Nepali context. It will even help develop a new dialect of English – a native-tied version of English, they say. Some, just like me, frown over it.
I’m facing this crisis in Class 9 and 10, every single day. I’m stuck in this strange dilemma – whether to finish the course in time and prepare them for the SLC exam or to teach them right from the basic grammar and basic English expressions.
May be the whole concept of teaching English in the schools has to be redefined. May be the system (like, English Speaking Zone) needs to be discarded. May be we’re giving pointless importance on English as a foreign language.
Or may be, we should be able to use English without grammatical errors and we need to strive for it.
May be, we don’t have to speak or write correct version of English at all and we will still do well in future. Lots of may be-s, lots of opinions.
Meanwhile, here’s a list of some “nepanglish” expressions I’ve heard students (and teachers alike) use in the school.
Give fast. (Fast giving.)
I am not beating him and. (Yes, they end the sentence with an ‘and’)
Fall downing. Take outing. Get upping.
I am catching book.
Shouting much yeah?
Have must go home.
Have you pen?
Angry coming for me.
Nonsense fellow, Hero becoming?
Well, how is it at your school?
Umes Shrestha also runs a personal blog:
Personal blog: www.latebecame.wordpress.com.