An Anecdote of an English Language Teacher

Dipak Tamang

Introduction

Nepal is multilingual, multicultural and multiracial country with different ethnic groups that come from various linguistic backgrounds. Geographically, Nepal is a small country with myriad cultures and linguistic diversity (Aryal et al., 2016). According to the Census (2011), there are 123 languages spoken as the mother tongues in Nepal.  Being a multilingual nation, Nepal presents a unique case for its language policies and practice. Nepal has become one of the richest language laboratories in the world (Bhattarai & Gautam, 2007). When Nepali language is spoken as a lingua-franca among diverse linguistic groups in Nepal (Khati, 2011), English language, as a medium of instruction, has used in Nepalese government and private school. So this kind of trend has been developing still now.

Teaching English language has been integrated for language teacher socially and culturally. English language teaching has significant value in the foreign language learning. Only effective ELT can help the students to grasp the knowledge and skills in a proper way by developing positive attitudes towards school and self. Effective ELT classroom always provides more opportunities for students. After students’ engagement in the classroom of effective ELT, language learning can be meaningful. To support effective ELT, Bell (2005) says that “there is no single accepted definition of effective English language teaching. Effective English language teaching is a complex, multidimensional process that means different things to different people”. Effective English language teaching is not simple but it is full of complexity due to multidimensional process.

There are some aspects for effective teaching which are medium of instruction, active and creative learners, effective use of teaching learning materials, appropriate use of modern information technology and teacher training that I experienced in my teaching career.

Medium of Instruction in the Classroom

I used Tamang language as a medium of instruction to teach English at grade one for better understanding in learning English. Our students come from Tamang language background. They have no more English language exposure at home and in other places due to the majority of Tamang language spoken in society. When I use Tamang language as a medium of instruction in English class, they get motivated and get interested in learning, they interact with me without having any hesitation, fear and frustration. Teaching English by using Tamang language has played a vital role in students’ learning in English. I experienced that using mother tongue as a medium of instruction in teaching English has become fruitful, helpful and meaningful learning. In addition, the first language (L1) has a facilitating role in the process of second language acquisition (Schweers, 1999), and mother tongue has an active and a beneficial role in instructed second language acquisition (Ferrer, 2002).

Active and Creative Learners

I applied student-oriented teaching approach, participatory method, inductive teaching method, discussion method and interactive teaching method to make my students active and creative in their learning. Using student-oriented teaching approach helps the learners to be autonomous in their learning, be practical, motivated and interested in their learning. I used an inductive method for their better understanding in learning. For example, I taught simple present tense by giving many examples before telling the structure of simple present tense. When I taught English grammar in this way, most of the students in my grade four class learnt actively. When I used an interactive teaching method, my students constructed knowledge by interacting with their friends. Only an active and creative learner can set and complete his /her own goals (Karen, 2001). In addition, Zamani and Ahangari (2016) suggest “Good teaching is clearly important to raising student achievement, if teacher is not aware of the learner’s expectation and needs related to the course, it will have negative outcomes regarding the students’ performance”. The English language teacher should have a clear-cut mindset about managing child-oriented environment in the classroom with maximum relevant activities and teacher should have knowledge, skills and experiences to make the students active and creative in course of teaching learning process.

Effective Use of Teaching Learning Materials

I used Total Physical Response (TPR) cards to teach English vocabulary, theme pictures to interact and to discuss with students about the pictures in my class. I used TPR cards while teaching English vocabulary in my English class. I experienced that TPR cards and theme pictures were really useful and effective materials to teach English for Tamang students. When I used theme pictures and TPR cards at the time of teaching English, my students got more opportunities to involve in learning English words.

Teaching learning materials are the main sources that should be appropriate as per students’ level, age, background, need, interest and learning capacity. The materials available are textbooks, audio-visual aids, visual aids, pictures and the Internet. Only effective and attractive materials become meaningful to the learners. In this respect, Johnson (1989) states that “designing appropriate materials is not a science: it is a strange mixture of imagination, insight, and analytical reasoning” (p. 153). Designing material is a combination of imagination, insight and analytical reasoning with purposes. Pardo and Tellez (2009) emphasized as:

Effective materials make learners feel comfortable and confident because both the content and type of activities are perceived by them as significant and practical to their lives. However, the teaching materials by themselves are not sufficient to create effective teaching and learning settings since a lively EFL/ESL classroom depends largely on good materials used in creative and resourceful ways. Therefore, in the materials designed, language teachers need to lead their students to have materials interact appropriately with their needs and interests in order to facilitate learning.

According to above mentioned expression, when teacher uses effective materials in the classroom, the students feel comfortable and express their ideas confidently. Effective materials have content and activities. Only effective materials facilitate the students to fulfill their interest and need. Following Tomlinson (1998), these materials can be effective when these materials enhance learners’ knowledge, experience and understanding.

Additionally Murray (1991) claims that the teachers should play a vital role in facilitating the students’ learning by using materials and the teacher may influence the students’ learning process. When teacher designs and uses materials in the classroom of English language, he/she should address local culture-based contents within the English language subject, then only localization can take place globally in ELT. Curriculum designers should think up of including local contents when they develop curriculum and other pertaining stakeholders should also pay attention about including local content within the textbook.

Use of Information and Communication Technology

Information and communication technology (ICT) comprises of computer, laptop, mobile, voice- recording and so on. To teach English in an effective way, demand of ICT all over Nepal is found. In this context, I used a laptop to teach English pronunciation in my class two, my students got motivated and interested to learn about good pronunciation of English words. They learnt easily the pronunciation of English words by means of audio-video aids which was really effective in learning pronunciation. In this regard, Wang (2007) explained the importance of technology in learning as:

Technology, as a powerful and convenient tool which can provide learners with a rich resource, a visual environment as well as an instructional platform, plays a vital role in language learning. Technology stimulates learning motivation through collaborative learning and it also improves learning efficiency by integrating classroom learning.

Technology has become a powerful tool in relation to a rich and comfortable source for a visual instrument having a vital role. The teachers and learners use information communication technology to learn new things directly and indirectly by motivating themselves.

In this regard, Mohammadi et al. (2011) said, “As the world progresses, the use of e-learning, electronic devices, internet, computers in teaching and learning process increases too and we have to synchronize ourselves with it and increase our abilities to be able to work with technologies to increase our knowledge”.  Electronic gadgets are being used in English language classroom which are available around the surrounding. Most of the private schools have been using all the devices of technology for teaching English language from the classes of play group and nursery. The importance of using technology has been pervasively utilized. Technology provides opportunities for interaction, allows for immediate feedback, increases learner autonomy, simulates real-life situations and experiences through video, audio, and graphics. Regarding the appropriateness of ICT for effective ELT in the context of Nepal, Pun (2013) stated as:

The use of ICT in language teaching promotes students’ motivation and learning interest in the English language. If students are too dependent on their mother tongue, they should be motivated to communicate with each other in English through the use of ICT. The utilization of ICT can fully improve the students’ thinking and practical language skills and, thus, it can be used effectively in the English language teaching classrooms for non-native speakers of English in the context of Nepal. (p.29)

The scope of ICT has extended to promote students’ learning with motivation and interest in the process of English language learning. The students can learn freely new vocabulary with meaning in case of learning English words by themselves with the help of ICT in the classroom or at home. Therefore, ICT provides more information about learning any languages.

Participating in Teacher Training

When I participated in English teacher training, I came to know about my weakness about theoretical knowledge and practices of different teaching methods, using an appropriate teaching approaches, techniques and skills while teaching English. After participating in three/four times of English teacher training, I could become clear about using teaching materials, using methods, skills, approaches with having theoretical knowledge.

Teacher training is a platform of teacher development. It is a process which never stops but goes forward with different experiences, sharing knowledge, skills by doing self-reflection, self-evaluation and self-learning and self-discovery. Teacher training should happen time to time for refreshment and retreat.

Conclusion

In the context of effective teaching English in the pre-primary and primary level classes, English teachers should be aware of using medium of instruction in the classroom while teaching English for better understanding in learning English, using creative and constructive teaching activities that help the students to be active and creative in learning, using appropriate teaching materials for effective teaching in the classroom, participating in teacher training time to time for teachers’ development and building up teachers’ competencies in using pedagogical knowledge and practices in the classroom and use of  ICT while teaching English in the classroom for contextual and effective teaching practices in the present context.

The author: Dipak Tamang is a PhD scholar at Graduate School of Education, Tribhuvan University Nepal. Mr. Tamang also works as an MTB-MLE consultant at SIL International and Nepali National Languages Preservation Nepal.

References

Aryal, A., Short, M., Fan, S. & Kember, D. (2016). Issues in English language teaching in Nepal. S. Fan & J. Fielding-Wells (eds.), What is next in educational research? 141–155. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-94-6300-524-1_14

Bell, T. R. (2005). Behaviors and attitudes of effective foreign language teachers: Results of a questionnaire study. Foreign Language Annals, 38 (2), 259-270.

Bhattarai, G.  R. & Gautam, G. R. (2007). The proposed ELT survey: Redefining status and role of English in Nepal. Journal of NELTA, 12(1-2), 32-35.

Central Bureau of Statistic (2011), Population Census National Panning Commission Kathmandu, Nepal.

Ferrer, V. (2002). The mother tongue in the classroom: Cross-linguistic comparisons, noticing and explicit knowledge. Teaching English Worldwide10, 1-7.

Johnson, R. K. (1989). The second language curriculum. In Appropriate design: The internal organisation of course units. Chapter 9. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Karen, S. (2001). First year experiences series: Being a more effective learner. University of Sidney Learning Centre Publishing. Australia: Sidney. Retrieved from http://sydney.edu.au/stuserv/documents/learning_centre/EffectiveLearner.pdf

Khati, A. R. (2011). When and why of mother tongue use in English classrooms. Journal of NELTA,16 (1-2), 42-51.

Mohammadi, N., Ghorbani, V ,& Hamidi,F. (2011) .Effects of e-learning on Language Learning Procedia Computer Science 3, 464–468.

Murray, H. G. (1991). A time for local perspectives. In J. Murphy and P. Byrd (Eds.), Understanding the course we teach: Local perspectives on English language teaching,3-10. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Pardo,A. N. & Tellez, M. F. T. (2009). ELT Materials: the key to fostering effective teaching and learning settings. Profile: Issue in Teachers’ Professional Development, 171-186. Retrieved from: https://revistas.unal.edu.co/index.php/profile/article/view/11449/36802

Pun,M. (2013). THE use of multimedia technology in ENGLISH language teaching: A global perspective. Crossing the Border: International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies,1(1),15.

Schweers, W. (1999). Using L1 in the L2 classroom. In English Teaching Forum, 37 (2), 6-9.

Tomlinson, B. (1998). Materials development in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wang, Y.J. (2007). Are we ready? A case study of technology-enhanced, collaborative language learning. Proceedings of the World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science. Retrieved from: http://www.iaeng.org/publication/WCECS2007/WCECS2007_pp499-503.pdf

Zamani, R. & Ahangari, S. (2016). Characteristics of an effective English language teacher (EELT) as perceived by learners of English. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching & Research, 4, 14, 69-88.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.