Radio, My Coach for English Language Teaching
I grew up in a democratic, open-minded, middle-class Kirati (also known as Kirat; one of the indigenous ethnic groups of Nepal) family. Despite being a member of middle-class family, I never had to confront difficulties regarding my education. I was a curious and a talkative girl in my school and college days. I loved talking and interacting with seniors. My father was a primary level school teacher, so I got opportunities to visit school early. I used to go to school with my father and sat with other school children. Such kind of environment and opportunity truly supported me to enhance my curiosity explicitly and perhaps that led me grow personally. After completing my basic education, I left my home for secondary education. Leaving home for my further study was really difficult (moment) for me. I was very young and not much familiar with the outer world. I felt sad and I always missed my family and friends specially my Aapa (father) and going school with him
Time passed by, I changed my school and went to the district headquarter to continue my study because of Nepali Civil War (10 years internal conflict between the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).When I started my new educational journey in a new place, I had no friends with whom I could share my feelings and emotions. I experienced different facets of life .I had an old radio bought by my Kokpa (Grandfather) as a means to spend time with. I started tuning radio regularly and soon felt that the radio had become my best friend. I came to know about different innovative ideas such as child rights, child marriage, and mensuration hygiene from the radio. I tuned in radio from the morning to the late night in order to collect information. I became huge fan of Radio Kantipur during those years because I liked the ways the Radio Jockey (RJ) presented programmes. More specifically, I was impressed by their commanding voices. However, the English programmes attracted me more because I enjoyed the English speaking style of the RJs. I especially liked their pronunciation, speaking styles, confidence etc. Then I started dreaming of being able to speak like them and started tuning English programmes even if I did not fully understand what they were /talking about. However, I loved and entertained all the programmes believing that if I tune in English programmes regularly, one day I would be able to understand fully and be able to speak English fluently .So, I thought that at first I should learn vocabulary to speak or understand English. My Aapa (father) used to tell me that good command on vocabulary of any language is essential for language learning. Then, I started making note of some English words and expressions and consulted dictionary for the meaning. Similarly, I started consulting the seniors and school teachers for the new words and expressions. They suggested me that regular writing and learning new words can be a good way of learning. As a result, I attempted writing my thoughts and feeling in English as simple as I love my family, I like to watch TV/ Movies. This is my favorite color, place…etc. But I didn’t try speaking because I thought, first writing would be easier than speaking.
My eagerness of learning English became stronger even if I was very young, I used to think that if I speak fluent English I will get good respect and love in our society. It was because people having confidence in English were treated respectfully in our society. I felt English teacher was one of the most respected and prestigious persons for students and parents rather than the subject teachers of Nepali, Social, and Population.
By the time being, , I decided to study English as a major subject in college dreaming of being fluent English teacher because I understood being English teacher is to get reward respect and love (However, now I think, that I was too much inclined towards English because of the perception of the society. Now I feel that, all languages and teachers are equally important.). In the thought of excelling in English, I used to ask a lot of questions to my elder brother in English at home, which would annoy him sometimes. At night, I used to keep radio nearby me and tuned in in low volume and to my surprise; it used to go talking the whole night!
In this way, Radio had been my friend and coach which not only supported me to learn English but also taught different life skills. I learned new words and pronunciation via radio. Most importantly, the loveliest thing, I learnt is listening to others speaking fluently in English. I sometimes understood nothing as they used to speak very fast and used some informal words like guys, what’s up, rocking… etc. I found myself confused several times but it provided me a kind of opportunity of ear training. I used to open dictionary or ask to my teachers for those words, sounds and phrases.
To sum up, radio is my first inspiring coach for English language learning. Not only that, it encouraged me to choose English as a major subject. Now, people get diverse access to the means of learning such as YouTube videos, social media (Facebook, Messenger, and Imo), online courses, etc. Popularity of the radio has been sharply decreased as it has been replaced by new technologies. I think these new technologies have brought massive opportunities and exposures for learning English and many other things around the globe. Therefore, we should seize the offers and make the full ultilisation of them.
However, I still believe that there are places in Nepal where people have to still rely on radio for learning, information and entertainment the way I did during my school life.
*Sreejana Chamling is the student of M.Ed fourth semester in the Central Department, TU. Her area of interests includes research in education and teaching.