The Use of English Loan Words in Teaching ESL in Jaffna

University of Jaffna,
Sri Lanka.

The contact between English and Tamil, one of the national languages of Sri Lanka, and the consequent expansion of bilingualism caused the borrowing of many English words into Tamil. The verbal communication between bilinguals and monolinguals in different situations led to the penetration of English words into the speech of monolinguals. The variation in the sound systems and the number of phonemes of English and Tamil is the main reason for assimilation. Especially, the Tamil monolinguals who are not concerned about the root of the English words employ them comfortably in assimilated forms.

Although equivalent Tamil terms have been made available for some technical terms, the English terms are enjoyed in the casual communication of Tamils due to the reputation of English words. The translated or transliterated forms of English words are used in written texts. A severe decline of English bilingualism can be seen in Jaffna now, especially following the introduction of Tamil, the first language as the medium of instruction in government schools and other higher educational centers in 1945. There are many other factors that hamper the acquisition of English in Jaffna. Jaffna students do not have chances to have a good contact with English. Because of the long standing civil war, tourist industry and business and cultural activities have been paralyzed. Interruption in the transport service obstructs free contacts with those living outside Jaffna peninsula. This kind of obscured and culturally confined surrounding in Jaffna turns out to be shutters against the English oriented world.

The purist feeling of Tamils also posed restriction on the use of English. There have been propagandas emphasizing the use of Tamil technical terms possibly for all general concepts and common objects. A lack of enthusiasm can be seen among the Jaffna people in acclaiming the English programmes delivered by the electronic media like radio and television and internet. Indifference to English programmes and materials might be attributed to the deficiency of English proficiency.

However, influx of several hundred household articles, electronic tools, consumable goods and so on cause innumerable English terms to penetrate into the communication of speaking and writing of Tamil. In business transactions and bargain, financial institutions such as banks and normal social interactions, the mingling of many English words can be seen. The economy in usage and assimilation of such English words urge people to mix them. There are instances where speakers make effort to use English words with prestige motive in showing themselves as literate ones in order to create a social identity.

The authors of modern literature make effort to introduce new genres and adopt western literary modes in their works. They try to bridge the divisions which are found between the themes, language, and style of the conventional literature and western literature chiefly the English influences which are becoming more and more a part of the experience and a way of life. To attain this goal, they focus on the new literary language that is flexible enough to put across the experience of the changing set up of social and intellectual trend that can reach out to large middle class reading public that is anxious for reading material but not intellectually competent enough to read classic literature. At present, social relevance has become an important issue. All works on literature whether fiction, poetry, or play concentrate on political and social matters and themes.

The application of English borrowings as part of the English impact over the social and political experience of people has turned out to be unavoidable in the modern Tamil literature generated particularly by writers of Jaffna. The use of English borrowings is adopted as a literary tool to emphasize ideas and form impression of humour and mockery. Moreover, the unavailability of Tamil equivalents or translation and in case of certain borrowings the greater familiarity of people with the practice of these borrowings make writers select borrowings to insert in their works. The use of English borrowings in the modern Tamil literature makes it easy for the writer to convey the theme effectively.

The infiltration of English words has in fact enhanced and extended the Jaffna Tamil lexicon. The use of English borrowings has facilitated one’s expression of ideas with ease and effect. Despite certain degree of criticism with regard to the language purism that may be damaged by the fusion of borrowings from other languages, the very truth that the scope and a merit of a language expand and flourish through addition of foreign linguistic elements. Unequivocally, the linguists and philologists with the positive perspective would recognize the presence of English borrowings in Tamil. The following discussion illustrates how the presence of English borrowings in Tamil could facilitate ESL teaching.

Through the adoption of certain manipulation pertaining to teaching, the ESL teacher can focus on teaching some language areas like vocabulary, phonetics and to some extent English grammar. For instance, the ESL teacher in Jaffna context, when teaching vocabularies can quote a borrowing that deals with its different shades of meanings in different contexts. The spelling and correct pronunciation of words must be treated properly, since in the case of totally assimilated forms, the pronunciation is vastly deviated while interpreting the meaning of an English word. It is advisable for the teacher to offer a Tamil equivalent for the English word, so that the students will be able to understand the meaning more easily. The presence of a Tamil equivalent would enable the students to identify the concept for the object and associate it with its social and cultural background in the better sense. For example, the word ‘cigarette’ is pronounced as ‘si:krat’ ,when it is used as a borrowing. Here, it is a responsibility of a teacher to make the students aware of the spelling of the word and the actual pronunciation of the words as well. Then, students will be mentally more comfortable in getting the right pronunciation through linking the spelling of the word with a pronunciation of the uttered word by the teacher. A Tamil equivalent for cigarette does not exist in usage and the students will not expect the teacher to give an equivalent for it, as the frequency of this word is very high. Another interesting example that somehow baffles the teacher is that, when the teacher looks for its Tamil equivalent, is the word ‘boycott’. An equivalent frequently used in Tamil for ‘boycott’ is ‘pakiskarippu’ that is not of Tamil origin. Despite its origin, being of another language other than Tamil, when the teacher equates ‘boycott’ with ‘pakiskarippu’, students are psychologically at ease. Here, the teacher’s effort to supply the available equivalents in Tamil for English borrowings is stressed. It is very much essential that educationists and curriculum designers should venture in creating technical terms in order to eliminate famine for Tamil equivalents. The need of the availability of technical terms or Tamil equivalents for English borrowings is felt necessary, since the literary compositions or research pursuits in Tamil compulsorily require Tamil terms instead of translated forms of English borrowings.

The use of English borrowings in Tamil can be successfully applied in the English classes to teach certain portions of English language structure, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. The Tamil ending ‘-ai’ is added to the borrowings in Tamil, if it is a noun: for example, in Tamil ‘vayarai ǝu’ (Take the wire), the ending ‘-ai’ is added to the English ‘wire’. Further example, ‘tiai kui’(Have the tea). If the borrowing is a verb, word ‘paṇṇu’ (Do) goes with ‘vayarai yoin paṇṇu’(Join the wire). Similarly, test paṇṇu(Test).If the borrowing is an adjective, the Tamil ending ‘a:na’ goes with ‘ni:a:na velai’ ( Neat work). In case the borrowing is an adverb, it is combined with the Tamil ending ‘a:ha’ as in ‘silova po:na:n’(He went slowly) and visia: irukkiraan(He is busy).

Highlighting the above features which are involved in the Tamil expression entailing English borrowings, teacher can explain as to how English nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs can be distinguished and identified. Sometimes, it is difficult to differentiate distinction code-mixing from borrowing due to lack of linguistic evidence. It is encouraging to say that currently a greater stress is given to the production of technical terminology in Tamil. Immense efforts are made in India and Sri Lanka in this regard.
Special focus needs to be given to produce a set of standardized technical terms at least in the academic discipline to evade puzzle caused by the presence of various Tamil translations for the same English word. Further, in some texts, Tamil translations and in some other texts Transliterations are used for the same terms. Hence, it is necessary to plan whether an English term, whether it is borrowed word or not, needs to be in transliterated form or it should be restored by a Tamil translation. Considering the economy of effort in pronunciation, proper meaning expression needs to be taken into account.


Canagarajah, S. (1995). Use of English borrowings by Tamil fish vendors: Manipulating the context. Multilingua 14: 5–24.

Canagarajah, S. (1997). Challenges in English Literacy for African-American and Lankan Tamil Learners: Towards a Pedagogical Paradigm for Bidialectal and Bilingual Minority Students.Language and Education, no1,Vol.11.

Gunesekera, M.(2005).The Post colonial Identity of Sri Lankan English .University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.
Karunakaran, T. (2008). English Borrowing in Jaffna Tami from 1993 to 2006.
Unpublished Mphil thesis, University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya.

Three-Day Teacher Training in Tanahu and Siraha

-Shyam Bahadur Pandey

This training course was especially designed to the primary level English language teachers of public schools who possessed very low level of English language proficiency. Based on the teachers’ needs, the course consisted of some basic understanding of English language teaching methodology as well as some teaching techniques viz. classroom language, English sounds, four language skills/grammar/vocabulary and reflection. Classroom language sessions were based on the book titled Classroom English and sessions on four language skills/grammar and vocabulary were focused. These sessions were believed to provide guidelines to the teachers to deliver their class in communicative approach. These sessions were also implemented by Action Plan; a reflective session which helped teachers to reflect over the techniques they had experienced/learned. Sessions on classroom language/four language skills/grammar/vocabulary was basically designed and practiced considering the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) techniques (pair work, group work, role play, dramatization, gestures, facial expressions, games, rhymes, etc.) so that the training would be the blend of teaching pedagogy and language input in order to improve the teachers’ proficiency of English language and their classroom practice simultaneously.

This training was conducted in two different NELTA branches viz. Tanahu and Siraha which were selected based on the exposure of teachers. The life members have been rarely getting chance to involve in such trainings. The sponsor of the training was Ms. Kate Miller who is from the UK and she has been proved herself as a true NELTA family member who did not only sponsor the training but also accompanied with the trainers to Tanahu. She minutely observed the training sessions, guided them and delivered one/two sessions in Tanahu, too. Her guidance, mentoring and suggestion to the trainers, to NELTA center, NELTA branches are really praiseworthy. She sponsored for the training and came to Nepal from UK to observe and see the training personally on her own eyes. In short, this training was a joint venture of the sponsor Ms. Kate Miller, NELTA, trainers and the teachers of Tanahu and Siraha.
NELTA selected four teacher trainers who have spent a long time in training the school teachers. These trainers were in different NELTA branches many times through NELTA. They have been actively contributing to NELTA in other such programmes, too. The selected four teacher trainers were Mr. Janak Raj Pant, Ms. Sarita Dewan, Mr. Uddab Bhattarai and Mr. Shyam Bahadur Pandey.
1. Janak Raj Pant: Mr. Pant has done M.ED. in English Education from Tribhuwan University and he is a teacher trainer cum training coordinator of Global Action Nepal (GAN), as well as NELTA teacher trainer. He has been to different parts of Nepal with short and long term training packages. Recently, he has been doing the TESOL Diploma from Kathmandu, Nepal.
2. Ms. Sarita Dewan: Ms. Dewan, is working as the head of department in Little Angels’ School, she has done PGDE from Kathmandu University, Masters in Sociology from TU, has devoted more than 10 years to NELTA, has visited different NELTA branches with short term teacher training packages. She is a master trainer of Student Quality Circle (SQC) Nepal. She has done the TEFL International TESOL Course from Kathmandu, Nepal. She is a member of creative writing. She is the Scholarship Winner of the 46th IATEFL Conference too who participated the conference held in Gloasgow, Scotland, UK in March, 2012.
3. Mr. Uddab Bhattarai: Mr. Bhattarai has done M.ED in ELT (English Language Teaching) from Kathmandu University and he is a professional teacher trainer who has conducted more than 10 long-term school level teacher trainings in different parts of Nepal through different INGOs and NGOs (Good Neighbors Nepal, COSAN, RRN, WVIN, GAN, NELTA and so on). He is also a roster trainer at Training Institute of Technical Information (TITI). Recently, he has been doing TESOL Diploma Course from Kathmandu, Nepal.
4. Mr. Shyam Bahadur Pandey: Mr. Pandey has done M.ED in ELT (English Language Teaching) from Kathmandu University, Nepal and he has been actively serving to NELTA since last 5 years and has been to different NELTA branches to conduct school level teacher trainings. He is a lecturer at Brilliant Multiple Campus, Chabahil, Kathmandu who teaches English literature and grammar to the students of tertiary and Bachelor of Arts. He is a Program Coordinator of NELTA as well as English Access Microscholarship Program (The U.S. State Department sponsored program implemented by NELTA into the different parts of Nepal). He has done TESOL Core Certificate and Young Learners Course from Wisconsin University, USA and Teaching English to Teenagers (TET) Course from University of Maryland, Baltimore, USA. He is also a TEFL International TESOL graduate and recently he has been doing TESOL Diploma Course from Kathmandu, Nepal. He is the Scholarship Winner of 46th IATEFL Conference who presented a paper in the Conference held in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
Selection of Location
NELTA centre selected two NELTA branches; Tanahu and Siraha, which are newly established branches. These branches have not got any such chances of conducting trainings yet. People in Tahanu and Siraha do not know much more about NELTA. Based on the especial request of the branches: Tanahua and Siraha, NELTA centre selected these two branches for the three day training.
This training was totally focused on the teachers who have been teaching in the primary level because comparatively primary level teachers get less chance to get involved in training. Generally, they enter in teaching right after their SLC or intermediate. Therefore, they mostly are not familiar with the newly practiced teaching techniques. Since primary level is the base of other levels of education, it is a very crucial phase in the foundation of education. Until and unless the primary level teaching gets improved, one can/should not expect the progress in education. Considering this fact, the participants were selected from primary level only. Although some participants’ level of English was not up to the desired level and some of them were higher than others, most of them were similar in their level of English which added plus point to make the training more effective.
This training was grand to achieve the specified objectives. Similarly, it was able to give a kind of impression to the teachers about the language teaching techniques. Though the training is was not long, it is expected that the teachers got maximum benefit through the training because the modality of the training was not ‘top down’ rather ‘bottom up’ as it was based on the needs of the teachers. Prior to the training program, it aimed to achieve certain objectives which were as follows:
a) This training will make aware about the different language skills of language teaching in the participants’ class e.g. four language skills, grammar, and pronunciation.
b) This training will enable the participants to use communicative language teaching techniques such as pair work, group work, role play, dramatization, gestures, facial expressions, songs, games etc. in their classroom.
c) The participants will be able to use classroom English confidently with their students.
17—19 November, 2011: Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) organized a three day teacher training programme for the primary English teachers in Tanahu. The training was inaugurated by Ms. Kate Miller, the sponsor and Mr. Chakra Adhikari, the NELTA Tanahu Branch Chair. There were two NELTA trainers; Ms. Sarita Dewan and Mr Janak Raj Pant who facilitated the training simultaneously turn by turn. On the middle of the training sessions, Ms. Miller took one session on pronunciation. The training basically focused on modeling the teaching skills along with the content that the primary English language teachers need to deliver in their classroom so as to make them familiar with the different teaching techniques and activities that are more fruitful for their classroom practice. The content of the training basically focused on was the two major areas; English language improvement and English language teaching techniques. For example: the basic concept of grammar along with the language teaching tips, reading, writing, listening and speaking/ vocabulary along with some useful techniques, pronunciation, classroom dynamics and classroom English.
Based upon the aforementioned major areas, the training was guided by the participatory approach. In other words, this training was designed to highlight some teaching tips for the primary teachers; no matter they might have heard some of the techniques previously. The reflection at the end of each day gave some insight to the trainees and trainers both about the adoptability of the techniques in the local context. The training modality adopted was very close to loop input method in which content as well as process was focused using the same session. The trainers tried to make the sessions maximally participatory and reflected over those activities immediately after the activities so that they can relate it to their training context. Regarding the delivered sessions of the trainers, refer to the appendix I please.
24—26 November, 2011: NELTA organized three-day teacher training for the primary level English language teachers in Lahan, Siraha. The training was inaugurated by Dr. Anil Kumar Yadav, Chair NELTA Siraha. Dr. Yadav briefly highlighted the importance of training in teaching English. There were two NELTA trainers; Mr. Uddab Bhattarai and Mr. Shyam Bahadur Pandey. Mr. Pandey shortly talked about the generosity of Ms. Kate Miller, the sponsor of the programme. Ms. Miller has been to Nepal many times with different teacher training programs into the different NELTA branches. She is a life member of NELTA as well as a true friend of NELTA.
The content and nature of the training was quite similar to the training of Tanahu in terms of the objectives. This training was focused to use everyday English, to use different language teaching techniques in the classroom such as pair work, group work, role play, gestures, facial expressions, songs, games, matchstick figure, etc., to teach students using the phonic method to improve pronunciation and to make them able to help themselves to develop their professional development in teaching. The training basically focused on modeling the teaching skills along with the content which teachers’ need to deliver in their classroom so as to make them familiar the techniques and activities that would be fruitful for their classroom practice. The major two aspects of the training were English language improvement and English language teaching techniques. For example: the basic concept of grammar along with some useful language teaching tips, reading, writing, listening and speaking/vocabulary along with some useful techniques, pronunciation, classroom dynamics, and classroom English.

Standing upon the aforesaid major parts, the training was guided by the participatory approach. In other words, the training was designed to highlight some teaching tips for the primary teachers. The training modality adopted was very close to circle participation method of training teachers in which content as well as process was focused using the same sessions. The trainers tried to make the sessions maximally participatory and reflected over those activities immediately after the activities so that the trainees could relate it to their teaching context. It was completely workshop based. The participants were active throughout the day. They listened less, involved themselves more in different activities. The reflection at the end of each activity gave some insight to the trainee and trainers both about the adoptability of the techniques in the local context. English was the medium of training. Please refer appendix II for sessions’ details.

There were 27 participants who were the primary level English language teachers. They have been working in the local public schools of Lahan, Siraha. Although they were good enough to understand the instruction in English, they were hesitant to speak in English. Since the training was based on participatory approach, they were expected to actively take part in the training which went in accordance to the objectives. The participants were really active and worked hard during the training. They made an action plan and assured to implement the ideas in their classroom. They were impressed very much by the nature of the training. Almost all the branch executive committee members actively took part in the training even though some of them were veteran ELT experts for example Dr. Anil Kumar Jha, Mr. Pawan Kumar Shah and others. These people are University teachers but they used to ask to the trainers if the trainers could allow them to stay in the training session. They were allowed to stay in the training but they were not counted as participants because the training was not focused to them. The logistic support was very nice. It proved that the local people understood the spirit of the training which was for them to utilize the ideas in their local context. All the participants were provided the necessary stationery with free of cost, transportation and accommodation cost to the trainers were covered by the fund sponsored by Ms. Kate Miller.
The three-day programme was aired by the different local F.M. Radio stations. They did not forget to announce the name of the programme sponsor; Ms. Kate Miller.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Conclusion: Therefore, the trainings were able to achieve the specified objectives. It again proved by the remarks expressed by the teachers in their reflection sessions, too. Most of the participants were assuring and informing us that they first time in their life attended such trainings where they got many handy tips to teach English as well as they got some ideas to develop their level of English and professionalism together. Previously, they were hesitant to speak in English but at the end of the training, there were excited to speak in English. They had a kind of perception that training is meant to get some abstract philosophical and theoretical ideas but this training added training is/should be focused on the needs of the teachers. This training was able to give to the participants some useful teaching techniques which might be useful to their daily classroom. Before starting to the training, the participants were elicited different speaking tests but could not speak. Later, they were asked how they would engage their students in speaking activity and they were excited to share and promise to the trainers that they are going to engage their students into the different activities which they learnt in course of the training.

• Although almost all the participants were from the primary level, some of them were high and low in their level of English language. This factor should be considered in the future. There should be need analysis before going into the training either it was short term training or long term.
• No matter for what level the training was focused on, if any teacher trainer minutely observes and takes interest into the sessions, he/she might learn something new and use those ideas in the future. Even though the training was especially designed to the primary level English language teachers in Tanahu and Siraha, there should be some local NELTA branch representatives so observe the effectiveness of the training as well as they can cash cede the ideas to the other local teachers. It was not found in Tanahu.
• In spite of the good coordination between NELTA Center and the NELTA branch there were some lapses regarding the logistic matters e.g. program banners, logistic support to the participants and signatories of the completion certificates, etc. which shouldn’t be repeated in the future.

Appendix I
Program Schedule
Date: 17, November, 2011
Location: Tanahu Day: First
Session Topic Remarks
First Session Introducing: interactive activities useful in language class Janak Raj Pant
Second session Teaching alphabet Sarita Dewan
Third session Classroom management: Job chart
Tea Break
Third Session Pronunciation: sounds Kate Miller
Fourth Session Janak Raj Pant
Fifth session Reflection Session Sarita Dewan

Location: Tanahu Day: Second Date: 18 November, 2011
Session Topic Remarks
First Session Grammar lesson Sarita Dewan
Second session Reading lesson [incorporating dramatization activity] [Three big fish] Janak Raj Pant
Third Session Teaching Vocabulary Sarita Dewan
Tea Break
Fourth Session Making letters Sarita Dewan
Fifth session Reflection Janak Raj Pant

Location: Tanahu Day: Third Date: 19 November, 2011
Session Topic Remarks
First Session [10:15-11:15] Listening through story telling
Running dictation] Janak Raj Pant
Second session [11:20-12:50] Writing Sarita Dewan
Third Session [1-2] Classroom English and manner teaching
[Starting to use classroom English: when English and when Nepali
Checking understanding
Teaching classroom English and Development
Classroom English
Practice ] Janak Raj Pant
Fourth session [2:30-3:00] Action plan
Now please think about:
What new things
Kate and Janak

Appendix II
Program Schedule
Date: 24 November, 2011
Location: Siraha Day: First
Session Topic Remarks
Preparatory Session Workshop management:
Workshop Agreement
Responsibility Distribution
Appreciation Box
Expectation & Objective Sharing Uddab Bhattarai
Introductory Session Introducing myself through using five fingers
Introducing our group members
Shyam Bahadur Pandey

Uddab Bhattarai
Team Building Activity Two Truths and a Lie
Uddab Bhattarai
Tea Break
First Session Reflection our English Language Teaching Practices Shyam Bahadur Pandey

Second Session Material Development : the Dice and its usages in language teaching Uddab Bhattarai
Reflection Session Reflection on the Day’s Activities and Learning
Feedback Sharing Shyam Bahadur Pandey

Location: Siraha Day: Second Date: 25 November, 2011
Session Topic Remarks
Preparatory Session Report Presentation
Job Distribution Shyam Bahadur Pandey

Team Building Activity The Cocktail Party Uddab
First session Understanding and Eliciting Classroom English Shyam Bahadur Pandey

Tea Break
Second Session Techniques to use Classroom English Uddab Bhattarai
Third Session Material Development: Easy Learning Roll and its Usages in Language Classroom Uddab/ Shyam
Reflection Session Reflection on the Day’s Activities and Learning
Feedback Sharing Shyam Bahadur Pandey

Location: Siraha Day: Third Date: 26 November, 2011
Session Topic Remarks
Preparatory Session Report Presentation
Job Distribution Shyam Bahadur Pandey

First Session Ten Little Ducks: Using Rhymes/Songs in Language Classroom Uddab Bhattarai
Second session Life at the Age of Ten: An Speaking Activity
Uddab Bhattarai
Third session Writing our Own Story
Using Stories in Language Classroom Shyam Bahadur Pandey

Tea Break
Fourth Session Using Matchstick Figures in ELT Uddab Bhattarai
Reflection Session Reflection on the Day’s Activities and Learning
Feedback Sharing Shyam Bahadur Pandey

Closing Session Closing and Celebration NELTA Siraha, Trainers, Participants and others

Appendix: IV
Participants’ Feedback
Participants’ feedback has been always crucial to evaluate the effectiveness of the session/training/workshop. It not only helps the trainer to explore out what efforts remained effective and what are the areas to improve but also gives an insight for further works. We as practitioner trainers also collected feedbacks from the participants at the end of the workshop using focused group discussions and feedback sharing cards. The feedback sharing cards were given to each participant in which they had to write down two areas they appreciated and an area to improve. After they wrote their feedback individually again they were asked to discuss in their respective groups and come up with their groups’ feedback. Since there were four groups, each group’s feedback after some language edit is mentioned below in their own words:
Group A says,
“The training organized by NELTA followed a participatory approach from which we learnt how to make our teaching participatory. The contents which were delivered remained very fruitful to the teachers who are trying to enhance fluency in speaking. We as primary level English language teachers would be grateful to have similar kind of trainings time to time.”
Similarly, group B states,
“First of all we would like to thank to the sponsor Ms. Kate Miller who became so generous to us and NELTA for organizing this kind of training for us. We have learnt a lot of classroom English expressions in this training which would certainly influence our teaching in the coming days. Stories, jokes, songs and dances during the training created a comfortable learning environment. We are really thankful to you both trainers.”
Group C mentions,
“We learnt many things from the training such as the new and interesting way of introducing each other, the responsibilities distribution to make all the participants feel responsible for their learning, classroom English expressions etc. We also came to know that how to use classroom English expressions in our teaching so that students could use them in their day to day communication. We thank to trainers and the NELTA and the sponsor Ms. Miller from the bottom of our heart.”
Group D says,
“In this short period we learnt a lot. We never forget the lesson that we learnt from this training. We will always try to use classroom English expressions in our classroom teaching and maintain English speaking environment in our classroom. We had really enjoyed all the activities during the training. We are very grateful to Ms. Kate Miller and NELTA trainers for giving us this opportunity.”
Finally, group E, states,
“This NELTA training is really good for the teachers. It taught us new techniques to use classroom English expressions in our classroom along with so many refreshing activities. After attending this training, we came to know that there is still a lot to learn as English teachers. We, therefore, request you and NELTA to organize this type of training time and again. Thank you very much for this wonderful training.”
Training Glimpse

Figure 1) Ms. Kate Miller, UK inaugurating the three-day teacher training programme in Damauli, Tanahu on 17 November, 2011.

Figure 2) Teachers in Siraha in a group work activity on 24 November, 2011 which was facilitated by Mr. Shyam Bahadur Pandey.

Figure 3) Participants in Siraha at the training session learning to sing and act the children song which was facilitated by Mr. Uddab Bhattarai.

Figure 4) Participants enjoying with the balloons after winning the classroom expression making competition and the two trainers enjoying with the trainees.

Figure 5) Trainers and trainees in Siraha after the group presentation.

Figure 6) Participants after the completion of the three day teacher training in a single lens.

NeltaChoutari October 2011: Developing Teachers’ Professionalism: An Ongoing Process

Dear Readers, this issue focuses on professional development of English teachers in settings like ours. It includes a great set of experience-based reflections by our fellow teachers.

In “Beginning Teaching in an EFL Class: a Novice Teacher’s Experience,” Ed Saul deliberates that becoming a teacher, especially a teacher of English, is a task which enriches one’s own mind while additionally bringing about the opportunity to constantly enrich the minds of others. As long as you keep your determination, feel ready to face the challenges given to you, and remember to have fun with the subject, you’ll be guaranteed success in this, your chosen career. Smile, put your best foot forward, and be prepared to be professional.

In his article “Teacher Development, its Nature and Classroom Observation as a Tool,” Thakur P. Bhusal discusses how as teachers we learn from our own experience of teaching and through personal engagement with ELT scholarship as well as through formal training, conference, networking, using ELT publications to guide our teaching, experimenting new curricula, taking on new roles in professional development initiatives, adapting our teaching strategies when curricula change, collaboration in teaching like team teaching, collaborative projects, peer observation, supervision and so on. Mr. Bhusal’s essay discusses in greater detail classroom observation as a strategy of teacher development.

Taru Budha’s article “Teacher Development through Reflective Practice” explains how teacher development is a process of becoming better teachers, while also seeking to facilitate the growth of fellow teachers, understanding teaching as well as themselves as teachers or individual persons. Development means a continuous and dynamic process that involves making sense of and interpreting one’s experiences as a teacher.

In his essay “Reflection on Monthly Talk on Professionalism and a Professional Organization,” Praveen Kumar Yadav shares a reflection on professionalization of teachers based on his participation of a monthly talk series in Kathmandu, presented by Ganga R. Gautam, immediate past president of NELTA, upon his return from the US where he completed his one year Humphrey scholarship at Boston University. Yadav asks, “Do you know who a professional is? What are the characteristics of professions?”

In his entry “Self-Directed Professional Development: Success Mantra or a Myth?,” Tika R. Bhatta discusses the values and importance of self directed professional development. He delineates that self-directed learning acts as a scaffolding device for a professional to augment his or her knowledge base and competency. His article deliberates on how adoption of certain strategies assists teachers to gain professional development thereby making teachers self-directed. The strategies discussed in this article are applicable to teachers teaching any subjects at any level, but they are most relevant to teachers of English as a foreign language. The essay presents a few strategies for self-directed professional development of teachers.

Please read the articles and leave your suggestions and comments. This will encourage the writers as well as give us the opportunity to share ideas.

Happy Dashain!

On behalf of NELTA Choutari team
Kamal Poudel

Beginning Teaching in an EFL Class: a Novice Teacher’s Experience

-By Ed Saul

The United kingdom

So, what’s the big secret behind Teaching English? The short answer: there is none. English, like any other subject, is completely open to the learner with an open mind and a strong will. Granted, it’s not the easiest subject to grasp though no one knows which the easiest actually is – but it is, on the bright side, one of the most rewarding.

Why exactly was it that you decided to become a TEFL teacher in the first place? It’s likely that your interest stems in a general interest in teaching, in a need to help others, in a need to broaden your horizons and see other places, and/or a need to have a steady, accessible job. You’ve made the right decision! However, all of these things come about through a steady and admittedly rough schedule of hard work. Most of it is enjoyable, luckily, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble!

What is English if not one of the most convoluted and constantly changing languages in the history of the Globe? English is rooted in Ancient Greek and Latin, and over the years it has spread through thousands of Nations across the world, from Ireland to the USA to Australia, and absorbed words from many other languages and dialects, such as French, Hebrew and Greek. Why is it that this Frankenstein’s-Monster language has survived all this time? No reason, other than simply because it’s so childishly easy to learn, and therefore just as easy to teach.

Granted, the Grammar and Pronunciation of English are no picnic for anyone to learn – take it from a bewildered native speaker – but they grow easier through constant practice and through learning to associate them with the innate knowledge already lodged within your own mind. Learning, for instance, the Phonetic Alphabet can be achieved in a matter of two or three steady afternoons of copying, reading out and writing practice sentences if the learner is able to properly assign the symbols to the sounds and letters which they have remembered since childhood. This is made especially simple by the fact that many of the consonant symbols of this alphabet (F, T, C, etc.) are basically the same as their regular English equivalents.

Grammar is similar though it may seem odd to think of words in terms of ‘Prepositions’, ‘Conjunctions’, ‘Complements’ and ‘Adverbials’, these are simply terms that the quick-minded learner can grow used to over time and become comfortable with in terms of their definitions; for instance, a Conjunction seems far less daunting when you are reminded that it simply means a word which connects two sentences, such as ‘And’, ‘Or’, ‘So’, ‘Then’. Eventually these difficulties become second nature, just as the more basic elements such as Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives are to a speaker of English.

But Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or alternatively, Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages, is not merely about the terminology or the work on paper. Over the course of your learning and teaching career, you’ll find that simple practice does a world of good towards improving upon even the most advanced skills as a language instructor. Your skills are only as good as the amount of times you’ve been able to use them, to test them out and improve upon them for lessons in future. So, don’t be afraid to go into a lesson and make mistakes! The worst that can happen is that you’ll learn something, and the best is that the students will learn something else.

What about the students themselves? This is your chance to make a genuine difference in their lives. Teaching English in a foreign country – or even in your own country of origin – can open up its learners to a world of possibilities that might otherwise be denied to them. By enabling them to converse in this simplistic tongue, one which, to reiterate, is spoken all over the world and used as a bridge between individuals from all the different cultures, races, and walks of life that you can think of, you are at the same time enabling them to seize a promising future for themselves and reach out towards a stable career.

For this reason, you’ll find that many of your students can and will be responsive and enthusiastic during your first few sessions of teaching. You can’t expect 100% performance from every class, and if you make allowance for the standards of teaching and school resources in some areas of your chosen field, you’ll find that at times either you or your students may be poorly equipped or badly prepared to carry out a lesson to your satisfaction. This is bound to happen for a number of reasons, not least the fact that certain schools are better funded than others.

But you cannot allow this to discourage you. Even during the most disastrous lesson (which isn’t usually all that disastrous – more like slightly different than as planned), students usually are attempting to try their best and to participate. A small amount of gentle encouragement, accompanied by fun games and warmers such as ‘Hangman’ or ‘Chinese Whispers’ to break the ice, will help them to come out of their shell and help you to gain their trust as a teacher.

Depending on the locale, your overall experience in becoming a qualified teacher may place you up against a cultural barrier, so that you find that many words, concepts and/or practices that are part of your everyday life are alien to your students – and vice-versa, particularly in stringent, tightly-run schools or institutions set up and managed by a church, such as Islam or Catholicism. This, too, need not be a great difficulty as long as you keep an open mind.

Alienation and a lack of communication between teachers and students are easily solved when the teacher focuses their methods on approaching from an equal footing – introducing English through universal, simplistic concepts (such as ‘Rain’, ‘Lion’, ‘House’) and building on that foundation towards more complex sentence structures (“The frightened Lion ran into the Three-Storey House to get out of the sudden rainstorm”).

Ultimately, becoming a teacher, especially a teacher of English is a task which enriches one’s own mind while additionally bringing about the opportunity to constantly enrich the minds of others. As long as you keep your determination, feel ready to face the challenges given to you, and remember to have fun with the subject, you’ll be guaranteed success in this, your chosen career. Smile, put your best foot forward, and be prepared to be professional.

Good luck!

Teacher Development, its Nature and Classroom Observation as a Tool

-By Thakur Prasad Bhusal
SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, Kavre

Teacher development can be taken as a process of becoming “the best kind of teacher and it starts from the very beginning and continues until the retirement professionally and until the deathbed personally. Generally, we as teachers, learn a lot from our own experience of teaching and being acquainted with new ideas and development through personal reading, formal training, conference, net working sharing, following the guidelines from course book, experimenting the new curriculum, taking a new role, changing the course books, collaboration in teaching like team teaching, joint work, peer observation, supervision and so on. This paper mainly talks about teacher development, its nature and about classroom observation as a strategy of teacher development.

Teacher Development, as its name suggests, means change and growth of teachers in terms of his/her professionalism during his/her profession. In this sense Teacher Development is the ongoing process of keeping on learning, always to keep alive a sense of challenge and adventure in his/her career and to avoid getting into rut (Underhill, 1988 as cited in Head and Taylor, 1997, p.7). It intends to increase the skills, knowledge or understanding of teachers and their effectiveness in schools. It also maintains a certain level of professionalism and it has positive impact on teachers’ belief and practices. For this, although, we can benefit from being trained by people with more experience or expertise, we have to be innovative in terms of motivation, planning, decision making, research, focus, implementation, updating ourselves .So, it is the process of becoming “the best kind of teacher that one personally can be with changing context regarding curriculum design, materials selection, teaching methodology as well as testing and evaluation (Underhill, 1986, as cited in Head & Taylor, 1997, p.1). This definition mainly focuses teacher development as to refer to the teachers’ own inner respire for change. In other words, it is mainly centered on personal awareness of the possibility for change. Here, it is better to link the idea of Underhill (1986, as cited in Head & Taylor, 1997) that teacher development is a continuous process of transforming human potential into human performance, a process that is never finished (p.12). This transformation is a lifelong process. So, teacher development starts from the very beginning and continues until the retirement professionally and until the deathbed personally (Gnawali, 2008).
Gnawali, (2008) states that teacher needs to be update themselves as a part of their development to adjust themselves in the new kinds of issues and challenges coming by and new ideas and concepts coming up in the disciplines and also to act accordingly with the changing needs and desires of the learners with time and economic, social and technological change. He says without teacher development, the profession will be monotonous, tedious, slow and uninspiring.
We, as a teacher, ourselves are responsible for our own development. Wanjnryb (1992) is of the opinion that teacher development is voluntary and it comes from the individual teacher or the group and that nobody can force teachers to develop. Supporting this idea Gnawali (2008) argues that development is voluntary and they can not be forced but they can be helped to develop because not every teacher will be able to diagnose their problems and areas of weaknesses and be able to find appropriate solutions. Many teachers knowingly or unknowingly develop themselves learning from their own experience, working with and learning from the experience of others and becoming more active in their own continuous process. However, there are some common strategies a majority of teachers adopt to develop in their professional development.
Many teachers in our context think that when they start teaching after having certain degree, they have attained their own personal best and have nothing more to learn. Some decide to go on to a further course of academic study such as master degree or some kind of in-service training so that they can and should advance in their professional experience and knowledge throughout their career. However, adult development is voluntary; no one can force a person to learn and grow (Wajnryb, 1992) and also each teacher is unique in important ways. Thus, it is impossible to create single centrally administered and planned strategy of professional development that meets everyone’s needs and desires. Generally, we as a teacher, learn a lot from our own experience of teaching and being acquainted with new ideas and development through personal reading, formal training, conference, net working sharing and our own classroom research. Sharing and discussion among the colleagues is another important strategy for teacher development. James (2001) says …. “teacher can best learn through their own experience, following the guidelines from course book, experimenting the new curriculum, taking a new role, changing the course books and trying out different ideas in classroom practice”. He also says that collaboration in teaching like team teaching, joint work, peer observation, supervision, support, discussion plays an important role in teacher development. Similarly, according to him innovation and research help in developing professionalism in teaching (p. 161). It is difficult to discuss about all these strategies in a single paper. So, I discuss about classroom observation as a strategy of teacher development in this paper.
Classroom Observation
Wajnryb (1992) defines observation as a focused activity to work on while observing a lesson in progress which focuses on one or a small number of aspects of teaching or learning and requires the observer to collect data or information from the actual lesson ( p.7). It is done with some aim, goals so a teacher and the observant may have pre-conference, post conference as Gaies & Bowers (2010) presents the three stages of observation like pre- observation consultation, observation itself and post observation analysis and discussion which they call clinical supervision; a process by which teaching performance is systematically observed, analyzed and evaluated (p.167). Regarding the purpose of observation, Maingay (2010) presents the four purposes of observation like for training, for development, for assessment and for observer development where as Sheal (1989) presents three types: diagnostic, formative and summative. It can be done as SOI (supervision of instruction) by administrator or coach or senior teachers, in fact to observe and to suggest. In fact, in broader sense, Peer Observation is very useful to learn from each other’s idea in terms of methodology, teaching materials design, preparation, selection and their effective use, studentsteachers interaction and so on. .Highlighting the significance of observation, Maaggioli( 2003, p. 7) writes:
“….. through observation, teacher can explore the effectiveness of their own practice or incorporate new methods and techniques into their teaching. Similarly, expert coaching is ideally suited for marginal plateau and collaborative coaching can become a mutually beneficial process”.
But as Sheal (1989) highlights the common trend of not using the observation tool as development but as evaluation, specially, and says many observations have been conducted by administrator, are seen as, judgmental observers use themselves as a standard impressionistic and are used as teacher evaluation purpose and the feedback from observers is often subjective, impressionistic, evaluate and teachers tend to react in defensive ways (p.242-47). In fact, this kind of trend in observation doesn’t help in teacher development. In this regard, Wajnryb (1992) states that one needs to remember that the observation experience has to be meaningful, rewarding and non-threatening to all involved: teacher, observer, learners, colleagues, tutors etc. Thus, observation’s focus needs to shift more towards colleagues working together and toward teacher development rather than teacher evaluation.

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Teacher Development through Reflective Practice


Generally, the term development refers to general growth or change. The concept of teacher development is thus a process of becoming better as it seeks to facilitate the growth of teachers, understanding of teaching and of themselves as teachers or individual persons. Development means a continuous process i.e. dynamic that involves the making sense and interpretation of one’s selves and experiences. Thus, education or learning is an ingredient for the teacher development. It is an ongoing learning about how to teach and to help the learners’ learning. The teacher needs to have an extensive repertoire of classroom skills and the judgmental skills to implement in the real classroom situation as required.
Pennington (1990, cited in Gnawali 2008, p. 219) states that every teacher needs professional growth throughout his or her career. So, the teacher development is necessary for dealing with the different new pedagogy or theories and practices that exist in the teaching system. Without learning, there is no possibility of professional growth of the teachers, and will lack the latest practices and principles of teaching. When the professional growth or changes stops the teacher will not be able to deal and tackle with the new practices and theories. Similarly, Underhill (1988) says that it is to keep learning always to keep alive a sense of challenge and adventure in one’s career, and to avoid getting into rut (p. 4). From this, we can understand that the teacher development brings changes in the teacher and this will enable the teachers to impart the knowledge better in the learners and also the teacher will learn himself or herself better. When the teacher stops growing or learning he or she will not be in position to sustain the career further and unable to help the learners learn in the teaching field. Therefore, the teacher needs to face challenges and it can help them in developing an understanding of different styles of teaching and teaching pedagogy and determine the learner’s perception of classroom activities of learning. It is a teacher who has to understand his roles according to the type of the learners he or she is teaching since demand of teaching way varies according to the context.
Change is inevitable in the life of the teachers as the adapting of changes or developmental outlook will help the teachers to deal better with the problems or changes they are facing within and around their work environment and enhance the capacity to deal with new techniques or strategies and enable the learners learn effectively according to demand of time and situation. Therefore, the aim of education is to enable the learners understand themselves where they are and what they are now. Until a teacher tries equipping herself or himself with such skills the goal cannot be achieved. For teacher development, there are many different ways or strategies that teacher can use for himself or herself. Among various strategies of teacher development, Reflective Practice is one.
Reflection means flash back of the teachers’ own daily classroom activities, practices and experiences for his/her professional growth. Ur (1999) says that the first and most important basis for professional progress is simply the teachers’ own reflection on daily classroom events. So, she gives emphasis on the personal progress through reflecting on own activities and practices that happened in the class and think when talking about personal reflection which will certainly lead towards change and growth in the teacher. According to Whitton et al (2004), “Reflection is a threefold process comprising direct experience analysis of our beliefs, values or knowledge about that experience, and consideration of the options which should lead to action as a result of the analysis”. This statement clearly states that the teacher’s professional growth is possible only if they reflect and analysis their actions and that will enable them to find other options for better teaching styles or behaviors. Supporting the idea of Whitton, Walkington (2005) further states, “Reflection is one’s own perception, beliefs, experiences and practices is a core activity for all the teachers pre-service and in-service, in schools and universities” (p.59). Therefore, personal growth is pre-requisite for either pre-service teacher or in-service teacher in order to teach effectively according to the demand of time and change of principles or theories so that one can survive and impart the ideas or knowledge by motivating the learners. Through reflecting, the teacher can not only teach and impart the knowledge but can interact with the learners and with their needs in learning process. When the teachers use reflective practice in their professional development they can improve their own teaching by reflecting on their own teaching experiences and daily activities in the classroom since the teachers can use the data gathered from the systematic reflection. Thus, teachers will make meaningful change in their profession. When the teachers try to reflect on the situation that he or she faced and ask themselves what needs to be done and are able to find the new way to deal with the situation and certainly brings changes.
Similarly Pennington (1992) relates development of the teacher to reflection where he views reflection as the input for development while also reflective as output of teacher development. So from this, we can clearly understand that when the teacher reflects it instills lots of input in the teacher for professional growth, and if the teacher practices that in the action gives output of the teacher’s growth and becomes able to instill good input in the learners as well. Therefore, the use of reflective practice enables, as a teacher is not only to experience but also to the new teachers to make his or her class effective which enhances the further development of the teachers. It enhances the discussion and evaluate their own practices as well as implication of different strategies or theoretical perspectives in the teaching learning process so that they can have deeper understanding of their own teaching style and techniques and finally greater effectiveness as a teacher to impart knowledge into the learners part and own self development. Practitioners engage in continuous cycle of self-observation and self-evaluation in order to understand their own actions and the reactions they prompt in themselves and in learners in reflective practice (Brook Field, 1995, Theiel 1999 cited in Cunningham, p. 17). In order to bring changes in one’s practice one has to do self-observation and self-evaluation which is essential for finding one’s weakness in the teaching learning and innovate new ideas to apply in the action. Without self observation and evaluation the teacher won’t understand how he or she acts or teaches in the class and understand the impact on the learners. Therefore, when they are curious or interest for changes or their personal growth the teachers certainly involve in observation and evaluation to think about his or her way of teaching and actions and to understand its impact on the learners so that he can think about other alternative ways to do teaching differently and effectively and interact with the learners in different way than he used to do in previous classes or days. If teachers don’t try to do instead of growth will lead into rut. Furthermore, Reflective practice occurs when teachers consciously take on the role of reflective practitioners, subject their own beliefs about teaching their own beliefs about teaching and learning to critical analysis, take full responsibility for their action in the classroom, and continue to improve their teaching practice (Farrel, 2007; Jay & Johnson, 2002; Valli 1997). Further, Dewey talks about the responsibility of the teacher (as mentioned in Pollard & Triggers, 1997). He said, “Responsibility means to consider the consequences of a project step; it means to be willing to adopt these consequences when they follow reasonably. Intellectual responsibility secures integrity”(p.13). Further Pollar and Triggs(1997) said that the Reflective teaching requires attitude of open-mindness, responsibility and whole heartedness(p.9). Therefore, every teacher has a responsibility to extend the boundaries of professional knowledge through reflective practice and systematic engagement in continues professional development from the very beginning to the end of their career to instill and impart the knowledge in the learners. Every teacher should do rigorous reflection which will enable them to discover their strength and weakness. So the teacher should be always open and whole hearted to take the responsibility. When they take on personal responsibilities for their own development, the teachers will be able to achieve better personal and perspective growth just like learners appear to make better progress while making their own learning decision. Further, Dewey talks about the responsibility of the teacher (as mentioned in Pollard & Triggers, 1997). He said, “Responsibility means to consider the consequences of a project step; it means to be willing to adopt these consequences when they follow reasonably. Intellectual responsibility secures integrity” (p.13). Further Pollar and Triggs(1997) said that the Reflective teaching requires attitude of open-mindness, responsibility and whole heartedness(p.9). Therefore, every teacher has a responsibility to extend the boundaries of professional knowledge through reflective practice and systematic engagement in continues professional development from the very beginning to the end of their career to instill and impart the knowledge in the learners. Every teacher should do rigorous reflection which will enable them to discover their strength and weakness. The teacher needs to be always open and whole hearted to take the responsibility. When they take on personal responsibilities for their own development, the teachers will be able to achieve better personal and perspective growth just like learners appear to make better progress while making their own learning decision. Valli (1997) further says that the teacher can look back on events, make judgments about them, and alter their teaching behavior in light of craft, research and ethical knowledge (p. 70). Because of reflection, the teachers will know how to monitor their own practices or activities in the classroom. They will be conscious of exploring and doing research on their practices and beliefs for a personal growth as a teacher.
So to understand herself or himself her/his teaching practice and other people, s/he needs a rigorous reflective practice. The teachers need to look back on their teaching behaviors and actions. According to Gnawali (2005), “Through reflection teacher can explore their selves and that of others. When teachers carry out systematic enquiry into themselves they will understand themselves, their practices and their learners (p.69)”. It’s true that the teachers and learner will be able to achieve their goal as well as adopt the changes for n their development if they carry out the systematic self inquiry. Similarly, Claxton stated (as cited in Bell & Gillbert,1996) that teachers must look outwards, to gain insight into the dynamic of their own stress; and they must look outwards, to understand better social forces that surrounds them(p.39). So for the development the teachers needs to see or understand not only within but also outside so that it will be easy for him or her to understand himself or herself and the learners as well. As the teachers need to be able to relate the classroom world to the outside world while learning and helping learners learning. Ruddock (as cited in Gnawali, 2008) on professional development stated “Not to examine one’s practice is irresponsible; to regard teaching as an experiment and to monitor one’s performance is a responsible act (p. 70)”.
Prabhu (1987, as quoted in Gnawali 2008, p. 70) conceptualizes the idea of professional responsibility as “equipping” which means providing teachers with pedagogical knowledge and skills for immediate use, and ‘enabling’ meaning helping teachers to develop ability to independently handle professional affairs. Training can ‘equip’ teachers with low inference skills but to ‘enable’ them with high inference skills teachers need to be involved in reflective practice”. Thus, the teacher needs to develop and equip with the new skills, theories and competences according to its new roles and time demand. It is most necessary to have quality education and a systematic process of continuous professional development to keep the teachers up-to-date with the new skills and strategies required in the teaching society. Without updating self the teachers will not be able to survive.
As Day (1999) states that professional development consists of all natural learning experiences and those conscious and planned activities which are intended to be direct or indirect benefit to the individual group or schools and which contribute to the quality of education in the classroom (p.4).Thus professional development cater both for the individual needs of teachers and for the institutional needs of the whole school (Bell, 1991). So through reflective practice the teacher herself or himself, the learners, and the schools will benefit from such a process of professional development or changes.
Reflective teaching is the teachers’ thinking about what happens in the classroom lessons and thinking about alternative means of achieving goals or aims; he sees it as a means to provide students with an opportunity to consider the teaching even thoughtfully, analytically and objectively (Cruickshank & Applegate, 1981; as cited in Bartlet, p. 171). It clearly states that the development of teaching techniques is the most important means to enable the teachers in improving their practice. Larsen-freeman (1983) said that awareness is the first step toward being able to change out teaching practice. Through reflecting on their own practice the teachers will be able to learn and bring certain level of awareness. Nunan & Lamb (1996) further states that “reflecting on one’s teaching and in the process, developing knowledge and theories of teaching, is essential component” in the lifelong process of professional growth. They further added that teachers “are capable of monitoring, critiquing and defending their actions in planning, implementing and evaluating language programs (p.120).we can understand from the that reflection provides teachers with knowledge and skills necessary for a lifetime of teaching. For professional development, the teachers need to learn new skills and knowledge and also to develop them continuously. The professional development of the teachers is a lifelong task and it should be therefore structured and resourced accordingly. Ur (1999) also talks about the awareness of the teacher. He said development doesn’t just happen with time, it happens with awareness. So there should be an awareness of a need to change. This means that awareness is a tool of change and improvement for the teachers. Gnawali(2008) said, “Reflection is the key to raising focused awareness and a pre-requisite for any altering of personal construct”(p. 70).
Richards (1990) see reflection as key components of teacher development. He says that self-inquiry and critical thinking can help teachers move from a level where they be guided largely by impulse, institution or routine to a level where their actions are guided by reflection and critical thinking. Similarly in an interview with Farrell (1995) Richards said that critical reflection is a response to a past experience and involves conscious recall and examination of the experience as a basis for evaluation and decision making and as a source for planning action. Reflection is thus a key component that enables to bring changes and growth of the teachers and in their teaching learning theories and practices in the classroom. Similarly, Ur(1999, p. 318) states that the teacher teaches or observes lessons and recalls past experiences then reflects, alone or in discussion with others in order to work out theories about teaching; then tries these out again in practice. Such cycle aims for continuous improvement and the development of personal theories of action. When teacher makes a self inquiry to understand the process that’s going around her/his and tries to keep himself or herself into consideration as objective; the teachers development will take place which will certainly help the learners in learning process. Therefore, it will encourage the teachers to innovate or produce and share their theories of teaching. Barlett(1990) in Farreell(1998) says that in order for teachers to become critically reflective, they have to “transcend the technicalities of teaching and think beyond the need to improve their instructional techniques”. The teachers can improve their teaching practices and change the techniques or ways of teaching styles if s/he does critical reflection of his/her work every day. Only then, the teacher will be able to deal according to the social and cultural context of teaching practices and principles. Thus for further skill development and personal growth the teachers needs to adopt any approaches in the teaching as through reflective practice.
Kelley talks about personal construct psychology. Each person constructs a representational model of the world composed of series of interrelated personal constructs, or tentative hypotheses about the world, with which past experiences is described and explained and future events are forecast. One can construe or understand another person’s construct system”(1969, cited in Bell & Gilbert, 1996, p. 46). As said above each person tries to make or construct his/her own sense of understanding and interpreting of himself/herself, about the learners and events on the basis of personal psychology. So they act according to their own sense and understanding and adopt the new changes in their teaching profession. Whereas Bartlet says, “A teacher’s action are influenced by intentions in the social setting and by the beliefs and chains of reasoning that are held before and after the occurrence of the action”(p.173). So teaching through reflective inquiry requires deliberation and analysis of our own ideas about teaching as a form of action based on the basis of our changed understanding. This doesn’t mean that externally imposed directions bring changes in the behavior. Hence teachers need to reflect to explore their potential of acting or teaching according to their own beliefs and experiences in the classroom. Therefore, reflection is in fact an important part of the effective and meaningful teaching as it motivates the teachers in being more aware of their views or theories and tries to analysis them and restructures or generates new ideas or styles if possible to do. So the teachers will be able to deal with new and various problems that might occur in classroom situation if they engage themselves in learning for their development and familiarize themselves with the new innovative techniques and strategies. According Head and Taylor (1997) said, “Teacher development is a reflective way of approaching whatever it is that we are doing as teachers and at whatever level of experience we are doing it”(p12). Therefore, being a teacher one needs to reflect on the experiences or activities what they are doing for their growth.
In short, by developing knowledge and understanding the setting practice and the ability to identify and react to the problems the teacher can become effective teacher. Teachers can deal with needs and different issues of the learners and demand of time if he reflects his daily teaching learning activities for his professional growth. To deal and survive in their professional filed the teachers need to grow and bring changes in their behavior and style. Reflection is flash back that the teachers need to mediate for their development.

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Reflection on Monthly Talk on Professionalism and a Professional Organization

By Praveen Kumar

Dear Valued Readers,
Are you a professional? If yes, do you know who a professional is? What are the characteristics of professions? If you are a professional or live in a professional society or involve in a professional organization, you must have some ethics or ethical principles. Do you know what they are? Have you ever marked what the stages of development of a professional are? Have you prepared an action plan to achieve professionalism? Dear ELT professionals, where do you fall in the professions grading if a survey is carried out in our society, the country and the world?
I was not familiar with the answer of the questions stated above and so are many of us although we have been talking about professionals and professionalism time and again. I have recently attended the talk by Respected Associate Professor Ganga Ram Gautam, (the Immediate Past President of NELTA) on “Professionalism and a Professional Organization” that opens the door of the answers of the above questions, which have left a clear imprint on me and guided me to walk on the way of professionalism. Respected Ganga Sir had a talk on the theme on September 10, 2011 at NELTA office, Kamaladi, Kathmandu, which brought together 25 NELTA members from NELTA central and branches. I would like to share in this brief post a few thoughts and reflection on his talk ‘professionalism and a professional organization’.
The word ‘profession’ comes from the Latin word ‘professio’, which means ‘to acknowledge’, ‘ to confirm’ and ‘to promise’. Oxford English Dictionary offers the following definitions of professions;
– The occupation which one professes to be skilled in and to follow.
– A vocation in which a professed knowledge of some department of learning or science is used in its application to the affairs of others. Applied specifically to the three learned professions of divinity, law and medicine.
– Any calling or occupation by which a person habitually earns his living (now usually applied to an occupation considered to be socially superior to a trade or handicraft).
He further talked about the history of professions. By medieval times, (500 CE-1500 CE.) all the classic professions (medicine, law, education and clergy) began to come near the modern conception of professions. Around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, middle-class occupations such as dentistry, architecture and engineering began to professionalize, seeking to achieve the gentlemanly status of the classic, learned professions.
The talk moved on with the presentation on perception and characteristics of professions. He referred ‘The Encyclopedia of Sociology’ to say that Professions are groups which declare in a public way that their members will act in certain ways and that the group and society may discipline those who fail to do so. The profession presents itself to society as a social benefit and society accepts the profession, expecting it to serve some important social goals.
On the perception of professions, he presented that George Bernard Shaw declared in the Doctor’s Dilemma, first staged in 1906: “All professions are conspiracies against the laity.” Similarly, Talcott Parsons defines that professionals are ideal citizens of an ideal state and are holding society together. He shared Magali Sarfatti Larson’s three dimensions of the ideal profession: cognitive, normative and evaluative dimension.
In the talk, I came to know about popular notions of professionalism and I think we must consider and follow them as they are quite inspiring for a professional individual and professional organization (here, NELTA as a professional organization and its members as professional individuals). They are

  •  “High level of knowledge and morality”
  •  “Integrity and occupational pride”
  •  “Having the ability to do what one claims to have”
  •  “To be good at what you do”

To support the notions, N. Roscoe Pound, Former Dean of Harvard Law School opines that professionals find fulfillment, self worth and true happiness in contributing to their society and improving the human condition. Your first duty is to do good.

Then he continued his talk with professional ethics. Ethics can be defined by a set up of moral principles or values. Each of us has such a set of values. We may or may not have considered them explicitly. TESOL-association of American educators claims that professional ethics express what a professional society is about. A code expresses who the professionals are, what they do, and show how this profession functions or the good of all.

Christiphor J. Cowton, Dean of Business School, University of Huddersfield puts his views, profession can defer in degree to which they serve the public interest by being ethical.

Of course, we need to be ethical in order to be professionals. There are certain ethical principles that one has to follow. NELTA, being a professional organization, its members should think of the ethical principles;
1. Responsibility: Professionals should exercise sensitive and moral judgments in all their activities.
2. Public interest: Members should accept the obligation to act in a way that will serve and honour the public.
3. Integrity: Members should perform all responsibilities with integrity to maintain public confidence.
4. Objectivity and Independence: Members should be objective, independent and free of conflict of interest.
5. Due Care: Members should observe the profession’s standards and strive to improve competence.
6. Scope and Nature of Services: A member in public practice should observe the Code of Professional Conflict.

The presentation and talk further included the Code of Ethics of the Leadership in a Professional Organization like NELTA. They are Commitment to its Members and Commitment to the Organizational Values and Missions. When the organization makes commitments to its members and the organizational values and missions, NELTA will, no doubt, have professional development.
Now I am familiar with six characteristics of professional styles: altruistic, ethical, responsible, theoretical, committed and intellectual style. There are certain stages of development of a professional shared in the talk according to Meszaros and Braun (1980).
Once we have understood about the concept, characteristics, styles and stages of professional, we can set action plan to achieve professionalism for ourselves and our organizations as well. While preparing action plans, we should keep these things in mind
– What have I learned that I can put to immediate use?
– What do I want to do in the future to improve my professional style?
-Notice your own actions and those of others that exhibit that elements of, or lack of, professionalism
– Carefully evaluate your own actions and how they relate to your internal beliefs and assumptions.
– Challenge whether the belief or assumption is valid.
– Create an action plan to work on bringing more coherence between actions and beliefs, creating greater integrity and authenticity.

Finally he talked about professional grading, for which, rating of a survey carried out of 21 professions in America was presented, wherein nurses are found highly professional.
Source: GALLUP /
Such surveys can be carried out in the context of Nepal as well and the participants explored its opportunities in the session.
In conclusion, it can be said that ELT has not yet acquired professionalism. To support, Ur (2010) puts her views, “English language teaching has not yet reached the level of professionalism (p. 390). That is to say, English Language Teaching (ELT) is in the process of professional development in the world including Nepal. Besides, the talk proved an exposure to my M. ED. Research which I am currently carrying out on the topic ‘Professional Development in Nepalese ELT through blogs: A Case of NeltaChoutari’.
Dear NELTA members- Let’s promote professionalism in us and in NELTA both. The more NELTA becomes professional organization, the more its members become professional.

Self-Directed Professional Development: Success Mantra or a Myth?

Tika Ram Bhatta

PhD Fellow
EFL University, India.

Self-motivation and self-readiness are considered the sine qua non for teacher professional development since it does not just happen precipitately as soon as one gets involved in a profession. Self-directed learning therefore acts as a scaffolding device for a professional to augment his or her knowledge base and competency. Therefore, this article delineates how adoption of certain strategies assists teachers to gain professional development thereby making teachers self-directed. The strategies discussed in this article are more common to teachers teaching any subjects at any level; however, they have a great deal to do with English teachers in the Nepalese context where English is taught as a foreign language. The article begins with the introduction to professional development and self-directed learning and subsequently moves to introduce a few strategies for self-directed teacher professional development.
1.1 Introduction
There are several factors that substantially enhance the knowledge base, skills, attitudes and competency of a teacher causing him or her to gain professional growth. These factors may embrace both formal and informal learning experiences which contribute to the continual enhancement and maintenance of the professional skills, competencies and experiences (Guskey, 2000). Therefore, teachers assuming the responsibility as professionals need to be equipped with motivation for continuous and career-long learning which enhances sustainable, intellectual and service-oriented maturity. In order for teaching professionals to keep abreast with change – renew and review their own knowledge, skills and attitudes – they need to involve themselves in a number of learning activities such as self-directed learning, collaborative learning, reflective practices and experiential learning. Such processes can lead them along their professional trajectory whereby they gain both vertical and horizontal professional development. However, this increment or development does not happen precipitately, instead it is a time taking process, and only happens gradually in a piecemeal approach.
Professional development, therefore, subsumes not only the facilitated learning opportunities but also self-motivation, intention, systematicity and many other relevant factors. In order to sensitize professional development in teachers, they should, therefore, be encouraged to incorporate conditions of specialized knowledge, self-regulation, autonomous performance and a large dose of responsibility (Darling-Hammond & Berry, 1988) for learner welfare. Teachers, among all the stakeholders, are the only on-stage actors whose behaviour directly affects learners’ progress and accountability. Learner accountability can be strengthened only if teachers are imbued with spontaneous and self-motivated readiness to assume their responsibility for their own learning and development as lifelong learners (Knowles, 1975; Dickinson, 1987). Teacher learning, in the pursuit of their professional development, is, therefore a cornerstone in their career path. In this respect, teachers look back at their past activities and compare them with those of present and bring necessary changes in their behaviour and thereby they update their knowledge, skills and attitudes. Therefore, teacher professional development is a self-reflective process (Head & Taylor, 1997), and it extensively demands the use of self-directed professional development strategies so that teachers not only become professionally sound but also near themselves to achieve true professionalism.
The use of strategies coupled with intrinsic motivation is momentous in developing a language teacher as a self-directed learner because strategies are the specific action plans (Oxford, 1990) which essentially help teachers grow as true professionals thereby teacher-learners become teachers par excellence. Such strategies can be both self-initiated and learnt from others. Self-initiated strategies may differ from person to person. However, some strategies of language teacher development such as developing teaching portfolios, peer observation and journal writing are commonplace strategies that teachers can adopt as self-directed strategies for their professional development. In this sense, self-directed learning corroborates lifelong learning which edifies language teachers about becoming dynamic and informed adults. Self-directed learning therefore is both a crucial gateway and an essential strategy for lifelong learning (Harvey et al, 2003).
1.2 Self-directed Learning
Self-direction, according to Dickinson (1987), “refers to a particular attitude towards learning, one in which … the learner is prepared to take responsibility for his own learning” (p. 12). Guglielmino (2008) further clarifies self-direction in learning stating that it “can occur in a wide variety of situations, ranging from a teacher-directed classroom to self-planned and self-conducted learning projects developed in response to personal or workplace interests or needs and conducted independently or collaboratively” (p. 1). Therefore, the self-directed learner, as Dickinson (1987) states, is one who retains responsibility for the planning, decision making and implementation of the decisions throughout the period of learning. It does not necessarily entail that the learner is autonomous but it can be done by joining a formal course too. Knowles et al (2005) state that there are two dimensions of self-directed learning prevalent in the literature: self-teaching and autodidaxy. They say that “self-directed learning is seen as self-teaching, whereby learners are capable of taking control of the mechanics and techniques of teaching themselves in a particular subject … [and it] is conceived of as personal autonomy, which Candy (1991) calls autodidaxy” (p. 185-86).
Brockett and Hiemstra (1991), on the other hand, state that “self-direction in learning is a way of life” (p. 16). However, they further argue that it has been misinterpreted by some people. For example, it has been equated with self-planned learning, self-teaching, autonomous learning, independent study and distance education. But all these terms vary and are subtly different from each other. The early view of self-education is that it was thought to have been denoted as an achievement made by a learner without a teacher. Therefore, it needs to be taken as a lifelong perspective. This means that learning takes place across the entire lifespan. This can be made clear by comparing it with the formal education being acquired in the institution where the learner has no control over the objectives or means of their learning but in self-directed learning learners control both the objective and the means. In other words, self-education occurs outside of formal institutions but self-directed learning can occur within the formal setting too. Self-directed learning, according to Knowles (1975), describes a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies and evaluating learning outcomes.
Self-direction in learning can be taken as an umbrella concept because it refers to “activities where primary responsibility for planning, carrying out and evaluating a learning endeavour is assumed by the individual learner” (Brocket, 1983b, p. 16 as quoted in Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991, p. 24). It refers to a process in which a learner assumes primary responsibility for planning implementing, and evaluating the learning process where an education agent or resource often plays a facilitating role in the process. It centres on a learner’s desire or preference for assuming responsibility for learning. Therefore, self-direction in learning refers to both the external characteristics of an instructional process and the internal characteristics of the learner where the individual assumes primary responsibility for a learning experience.
In this sense, the self-directed learner is one who takes responsibility for the management of his or her own learning being autonomous in all the processes without assistance. Self-directed learning, as Dickinson (1987) posits, is an attitude of mind towards learning rather than any particular techniques or activities. Self-directed adults are more frequent but are probably still a minority of learners. However, “it is not the case for the school children that they are the paragons of virtue who will learn a language unaided, but that it is possible to teach them to be self-directed” (Dickinson, 1987, p. 5). He further states that Self-directed learners have many of the qualities of good language learners. So, by promoting self-directed learning one is improving proficiency in learning in general and language learning in particular. The manifestation of self-directed learning differs according to the context, i.e. how far the context has been especially arranged to allow self-direction. Self-directed learning very well fits with autonomy individualized instruction auto didaxy and self-access. The distinction between them is made by their focus upon a learner or the material. Autonomy is one possibility within self-directed learning in which the learner undertakes all of the management tasks associated with his own learning.
1.3 Self-directed Professional development
Professional development is a process of continuous growth of teacher professionalism and behaviour which they gain by actively participating in various programmes, activities, conferences and workshops, designed in order to enhance their knowledge, skills, competency and attitude, both individually and in groups. Therefore, in many countries like Nepal, a number of days of work for teachers are included in the operation calendar of the school for developing teachers professionally with no loss of instructional days for students. During these days, teachers are provided with trainings, seminars, workshops and many other professional development activities in order to hone their skills, improve practice, and stay up-to-date with changes related to teaching and learning. However, self-directed professional development not only provides an opportunity to determine his/her own learning goals but also helps to identify activities and resources required to pursue these activities. It also helps teachers to reflect on their learning experiences in order to augment their own professional expertise. The well-planned and continual self-directed professional development yields more effective professional learning than one-shot workshops and conferences. Teachers, since they have intrinsically initiated such activities of development, get involved in them wholeheartedly thereby recognizing the necessity of continuous learning and reflective practice.
Self-directed professional development enhances teacher self-reflection whereby teachers have control over their professional experiences and are motivated by tasks or problems that they find meaningful. Because teachers are already aware of their strengths as well as needs, they create a self-directed professional development plan for them. These plans can be meant to be fluid, with the ability to grow and change over the course of the professional life in response to experiences and opportunities encountered. Self-directed professional development activities may include both collaborative and entirely individual activities whereby teachers, with or without the consultation of teacher educators attempt to diagnose their needs and solve them by themselves. The other forms of self-directed professional development activities may include action research, collaborative learning teams, peer mentoring and coaching relationships or lesson studies. In this way, self-directed professional activities are listless. It can include professional reading or the discussions with colleagues or may be attending conferences either being a sponsor teacher or mentoring a beginning teacher. The development of innovative programmes for use in the classroom either individually or by joining a teacher-research-group can also be coupled with exploring resources through internet in order to hone their professional knowledge and skills. Teachers can also participate in curriculum development they can write a subject related course or maybe they can visit the subject related bookstore or a university library and the like.
Self-directed professional development encourages self-reflection, commitment and responsibility with higher motivational attitudes and thereby increases staff satisfaction. Since teachers are cognizant of their needs and strengths, and also they have freedom to interpret and pursue interests and what they consider important, it increases contingencies of personal responsibility for their ongoing professional development. The role of the institution, administrators, supervisors, teacher educators is also crucial in this respect. They should facilitate the teachers with whatever the way it is feasible for them because objective feedback is an important gateway for successful acquisition of self-directed professional growth. Pierce and Hunsaker (1996) described self-directed professional development as a model of professional development for the teacher, of the teacher and by the teacher. This model is known as the School Innovation Through Teacher Interaction (SITTI) model. In this model the teachers agree on how they would like the school to look and be then they complete a needs assessment involving administrators in the process in order to decide on who will be the experts (from within the school) on the topics chosen to work on, and elect people as team members who will participate in peer coaching. Subsequently, the team experts develop a module to address the needs and topics chosen by all those involved. However, this model has not yet found practiced. Easton (1999) described a model self-directed professional development as “tuning protocols” which was developed by David Allen and Joseph McDonald. In this model, “a teacher presents actual work before a group of thoughtful ‘critical friends’ in a structured, reflective discourse aimed at ‘tuning’ the work to higher standards” (Allen, 1995, p. 2 in Easton, 1999, p. 54), and after discussing with the group of colleagues all the positive and challenging aspects of the work, the presenter reflects on how the work could be improved.
1.4 Strategies for Self-directed Professional development
The word ‘strategy’ is derived from the ancient Greek term ‘strategia’, which means the art of leading an army in a planned campaign of the optimal management of troops. Therefore, it implies that the basic characteristics of the term strategy involve planning, competition, conscious manipulation, and movement toward a goal (Oxford, 1990). However, “[i]n a nonmilitary settings, the strategy concept has been applied to clearly nonadversarial situations, where it has come to mean a plan, step, or conscious action toward achievement of an objective” (Oxford, 1990, p. 8). Strategies have been “transformed into learning strategies” (ibid) in the educational setting. Oxford (1990) enumerated twelve features of language learning strategies, most of which can be incorporated into strategies of teacher learning as well. According to her, language learning strategies:
1. Contribute to the main goal, communicative competence.
2. Allow learners to become more self-directed.
3. Expand the role of teachers.
4. Are problem-oriented.
5. Are specific actions taken by the learner.
6. Involve many aspects of the learner, not just the cognitive.
7. Support learning both directly and indirectly.
8. Are not always observable.
9. Are often conscious.
10. Can be taught.
11. Are flexible.
12. Are influenced by a variety of factors.
The aforementioned features of learning strategies encourage greater overall self-direction for learners and, therefore, are applicable in adult learning as well. For instance, the learning teachers, in particular EFL teachers, have to deal with peculiar situations in the classrooms, also known as critical incidents, and they have to act quickly where they do not get any support of others like trainers and they should find the way out by themselves and hence use strategies for the solution or it can be that they want to develop themselves for achieving greater professional augmentation. Adult learners are self-directed because they seek out learning activities to enhance their own knowledge in order to meet their needs. Besides, the adult learner wants to draw on their rich personal and professional experiences. If the learners are involved in their learning rather than becoming merely passive participants they are more likely to master the information or concepts presented, apply them to their practice, and retain the information presented. Self-directed activities include a variety of activities before, during and after the learning experience to engage the participant in active learning. Self-direction, according to Oxford (1990), “is often a gradually increasing phenomenon, growing as learners become more comfortable with the idea of their own responsibility” (p. 10). This assists them to gradually gain greater confidence, involvement, and proficiency. Overall she talks about such strategies as cognitive, memory, compensation, metacognitive, affective and social strategies that a language learner employs while learning a language. However, Richards and Farrell (2005) examined that teacher learning has been shifted towards self-directed, more democratic and participatory forms of teacher development from an authoritarian organizational structure in schools shifting responsibility for professional development from managers and supervisors to teachers themselves. Similarly, the power of experiential learning and action-based learning has also been recognized in today’s teaching-learning environment and this has given rise to self-direction.
Wallace (1991) emphasizes the use of self-directed strategies stating that teachers ought to be encouraged to become ‘reflective practitioners’ and thereby self evaluation takes place and the teachers can become cognizant of their professional competence. He stated that “teachers should be flexible, capable of further independent study, able to solve problems in a rational way, able to combine speed of response with depth of understanding” (Wallace, 1991, p. 26). Richards and Farrell (2005) discussed the strategies of teacher professional development. These strategies include: “self-monitoring, journal writing, critical incidents, teaching portfolios and action research” (Richards & Farrell, 2005, p. 14) each of which is discussed below.
1.4.1 Self-Monitoring
Self-monitoring is a strategy that a teacher can adopt for his or her professional development. Self-monitoring in teaching involves having a teacher record his or her teaching behaviour for the future reference so that he or she can go through it for self-appraisal. Self-monitoring can make the teachers aware of their current knowledge, skills and attitudes as a basis for self-evaluation. Teachers can therefore collect information regarding their classroom behaviour for future reference to bring about necessary changes. Richards and Farrell (2005) stated that self-monitoring refers to “activities in which information about one’s teaching is documented or recorded in order to review or evaluate teaching” (p. 34). According to them, there are three approaches to self-monitoring of language lessons: lesson reports, audio-recording a lesson, and video-recording a lesson. Self-monitoring provides an opportunity in order not only to better understand one’s teaching but also to review one’s own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. Therefore, a teacher, especially an EFL teacher, should garner information about teaching behaviour and practices objectively and systematically such that this information can act as a basis for making decisions about whether there is anything that should be changed.
Larsen-Freeman (1983, p. 266) further explicated Richards and Farrell’s view saying that teachers need the heightened awareness, a positive attitude and knowledge in order to make informed choices about their teaching. She stated that:
I cannot make an informed choice unless I am aware that one exists. Awareness requires that I give attention to some aspect of my behaviour or the situation I find myself in. Once I give that aspect my attention, I must also view it with detachment, with objectivity, for only then will I become aware of alternative ways of behaving, or alternative ways of viewing the situation, and only then will I have a choice to make. (Larsen-Freeman, 1983, p. 266 as quoted in Bailey et al, 2001, p. 23).
Similarly, self-monitoring or self-observation embodies a systematic approach to the observation, evaluation, and management of one’s own behaviour (Armstrong & Frith, 1984; Richards, 1995) in order to gain better understanding and control over the behaviour. According to Richards (1995) “self-monitoring refers to the teacher making a record of a lesson, either in the form of a written account or an audio or video recording of a lesson, and using the information obtained as a source of feedback on his or her teaching” (p. 118). According to him, self-monitoring not only complements but also replaces other forms of assessment, such as feedback from students, peer, or supervisors. Richards stated that “it can help teachers in at least four ways” (ibid, p. 119). First, the amount of time available for professional development is quite short when compared to the length of our teaching careers, even though professional development should ideally continue throughout our teaching lives. Second, self-monitoring can lead to critical reflection about the work. Third, it can help the teachers to better understand their own instructional process and thereby bridging the gap between what we actually do and what we think we do. Finally, it relocates the responsibility for improving teaching squarely with teachers as an individual.
Richards and Farrell (2005, p. 38-47) present some of the procedures that teachers can employ in order to carry out self-monitoring in their pursuit of professional growth. They say that teachers can prepare lesson reports or a written narrative to record the incidents that have taken place in the classroom. According to them a lesson report serves as a way of documenting such observations as a source of future learning. Similarly, a written narrative consists of a descriptive summary of the lesson, which a teacher can go through later and make improvements in the necessary areas. Audio and video recording of the lesson or the use of checklist and questionnaires can also help teachers to make a record of the account of the classroom activities.
Dickinson (1987) also talks about the self-monitoring as an effective self-measurement device. According to him, the learner can become self-directed by keeping records of his or her own progress. It can be in the form of simple checklist of the items covered or it may include a self-rating scale on each item.
1.4.2 Journal Writing
In the pursuit of their professional development, teachers can keep a teaching journal as an effective device. Richards and Farrell (2005) explained that a teaching journal is “an ongoing written account of observations, reflections, and other thoughts about teaching, usually in the form of a notebook, book, or electronic mode, which serves as a source of discussion, reflection, or evaluation” (p. 68). Such journals are sometimes called teaching logs or teaching diaries, and, can be used as an important reflective device or the self-directed strategy for the professional development of a teacher. Journals are more elaborate and systematically written in their nature and therefore can work as an aid to “reflection on action” (Schon, 1983). A teaching journal enables the teachers to go back and see their thinking whereby creating a lasting record of thoughts that provides evidence of the teachers’ self-development. According to Blake (2005, p. 2), the goals and benefits of journaling include: “ (1) discovering meaning, (2) caring for self, (3) making connections, (4) installing values, (5) gaining perspectives, (6) reflecting on professional roles, (7) developing critical thinking skills, (8) developing affective skills, and (9) improving writing” (Blake, 2005, p. 2 as quoted in Utley, 2011, p. 92). Utley (2011) also stated that “[r]eflective journaling also provides an avenue for integrative learning experiences” (p. 93). According to her, integrative learning expands the concept of critical thinking.
The teaching journal provides a record of the significant learning experiences that have taken place. Equally, it helps teachers to keep themselves abreast with the self-development processes that have been taking place for them. The journal also provides an opportunity to foster a creative interaction between the novice teachers and the facilitator or more importantly it increases collegiality among colleagues if it is done by the experienced teachers and finally proves to be useful in their self-development process.
Richards and Farrell (2005) explicated that “Journal writing enables a teacher to keep a record of classroom events and observations” (p. 69) without which teachers hardly make substantial recollection of what happened during the lesson. They say that the experience of successful teaching can be the source for further learning. It opens up the way for a teacher to question, explore, and analyze how teachers teach. It not only serves as a device to demystify their own thinking but also clears the way for exploring their own beliefs and practices. Journal writing, in this way, offers a simple way to conscientize teachers about their teaching and learning whereby teachers gain growth and development in their profession.
Bailey et al (2001) highlighted that journal writing paves the way in furthering professional development and thereby offering an opportunity to view teaching more clearly. It not only helps teachers to explore teachers’ own teaching practices but also proves useful at probing the sources of frustrations.
Similarly, Dowrick (2007) stated that journal writing is a “gloriously self-directed source of inner development, yet it also makes the world beyond your own self more real and more vivid” (p. 2). According to her, a journal can become a companion that supports without any assessment. It can be a source of discovery, of learning, emotional relief and insight. Similarly, Stevens and Cooper (2009) define journal as a “sequential, dated chronicle of events and ideas, which includes the personal responses and reflections of the writer (or writers) on those events and ideas” (p. 5). According to them a journal has six defining characteristics that: the journal is written, dated, informal, flexible, private and archival. The journal appears in the written form consisting of information, ideas, thoughts, and questions and the like. All the journal entries are dated in a sequential order and are usually informal. Thus, teachers can write whatever they feel like in their journals because it is private and for a personal use such that they can archive information in the later phases as required.
1.4.3 Analyzing Critical Incidents
A critical incident is something we interpret as a problem or a challenge in a particular context, rather than a routine occurrence. It is a short description of an event that has taken place over a certain period of time. It can happen to anyone and anywhere in a real-life situation too. The incident is critical because it is important, essential or valuable in a way that it has some meaning. Critical incidents are based on real-life situations and typically involve a dilemma where there is no easy or obvious solution. The objective of critical incidents is to stimulate thinking about basic and important issues which occur in real-life situations. Tripp (1993) stated that “… a critical incident is an interpretation of the significance of an event. To take something as a critical incident is a value judgement we make, and the basis of that judgement is the significance we attach to the meaning of the incident” (p. 8). Tripp believes that incidents happen but critical incidents are created because of their importance. Therefore, for Tripp any lesson can be critically analysed and a particular event made critical by our reflection on it. In making incidents critical, one needs to ask not only what happened but also why it happened. This should then be situationalized for the future reference.
Critical incident in teaching refers to a particular occurrence that has taken place during a lesson. Teachers make it critical because they think it important and want to utilize it for future reference. Richards and Farrell (2005) stated that “a critical incident is an unplanned and unanticipated event that occurs during a lesson and that serves to trigger insights about some aspect of teaching and learning” (p. 113). They say that critical incident analysis refers to the documentation and analysis of teaching incidents in order to learn from them and improve practice. Such incidents compel teachers to ruminate the long-term implications they may have. This process of documentation and reflection provide opportunity for teachers “to learn more about their teaching, their learners, and themselves” (ibid, p. 114). Like Tripp (1993), Richards and Farrell (2005) also opine that the majority of critical incidents that happen in classrooms are commonplace events that are critical in the sense that they reveal underlying beliefs or motives within the classroom. At the first appearance, these incidents seem to be insignificant but soon they become critical when they are subject to review and analysis since they trigger a sense of weird occurrence in that particular situation.
Brookfield (2006) emphasizes the use of critical incident questionnaire (CIQ) in order to identify the feelings of the students regarding teaching out of which teachers can identify which incident is critical and which is not from the words of students. This activity can assist teachers to deal with similar incidents in the future. Brookfield (2006) stated that CIQ is a “quick and revealing way to discover the effects your actions are having on students and to find out the emotional highs and lows of their learning” (p. 41). Administering CIQ, according to him, is just a five-minute activity. The students are asked to write the answers to a few questions without putting their name on the form. If they do not know the answer, they can also leave the space blank. This is done on a weekly basis.
1.4.4 Teaching Portfolios
Teaching portfolios, often known as dossiers, are compilation of teaching materials and related documents that teachers employ during teaching and learning processes. Portfolios serve as tools for reflection, a way to thoughtfully document teaching practices and progress toward goals. Portfolio entries can inform professional growth plans. As actual artefacts of teaching, portfolios help teachers to systematically ponder over their practice, reflect on the problems they face, and learn from their experience. They provide direct evidence of what teachers have accomplished. Richards and Farrell (2005) defined teaching portfolio as “a collection of documents and other items that provides information about different aspects of a teacher’s work” (p. 98). The teaching portfolio not only exposes the teachers’ performance description but also facilitates professional development by providing a basis for reflection and review. The portfolios reveal how creative, resourceful, and effective the teachers are. They can also become the source of review and reflection and also they can promote collaborative work as well.
Teaching portfolio has been defined variously by various authors. According to Porter and Cleland (1995) teaching portfolio is “a collection of artifacts accompanied by a reflective narrative that not only helps the learner to understand and extend learning, but invites the reader of the portfolio to gain insight about learning and the learner” (p. 154). Similarly, Stronge (1997, p. 194) stated that “In its most basic form, a teaching portfolio is a collection of information about a teacher’s practice”. Seldin et al (2010) explicated that teaching portfolios offers an opportunity to reflect upon the teachers’ work and thereby they rethink strategies and methodologies, revise priorities, and plan for the future. Consequently, teachers get stimulated to hone and to improve their performance in a better way. They stated that:
A portfolio is a valuable aid in professional development for three important reasons: (1) the level of personal investment in time, energy, and commitment is high … and that is a necessary condition for change; (2) preparation of the portfolio stirs many … [teachers] to reflect on their teaching in an insightful, refocused way; and (3) it is grounded in discipline-based pedagogy. (Seldin et al, 2010, p. 8)
Portfolios offer a lot of opportunities for teachers for executing exercise of reflection. Therefore, apparently, portfolios and reflections go hand in hand. However, building automatized reflective skills is an arduous job; it requires huge patience in order to make reflection more natural. In this way, the most important use of portfolio is for self-reflection. Self-reflection encourages teachers to review their activities, strategies, and plans for their futures too. Broadly, the habit of keeping teaching portfolios empowers teachers with reflective strategies to help understand themselves as learners. Kerr (1999) explicated that portfolios are all about growing a person as learner. He said that “portfolio documents your growth in three areas: developing self-awareness, managing emotions, and building relationships” (p. 23). He further expounds that portfolio is all about both learning and making commitments.

1.4.5 Action Research
The application of research to educational problems in a particular classroom setting is known as action research. It is carried out not for the development of a theory or the generalization of the applications but it is done for the immediate application in order to find the solution of the problem. Therefore, it refers to “teacher-conducted classroom research” (Richards and Farrell, 2005, p. 171) that attempts to solve practical problems. Many teachers- whether deliberately or inadvertently- involve in conducting action research in their day-to-day classroom activities when they have to tackle a problem. Thus it is a crucial tool for a teacher for his or her self-development. Action research is, typically, a reflective process that allows for inquiry and discussion as a component of the research. Therefore, it also involves a cycle of activities such as problem identification, information collection, strategic plan, implementation of the plan and reviewing of the executed plan. Best and Kahn (2007) explicated that action research applies “scientific thinking and methods to real-life problems and represents a great improvement over teachers’ subjective judgements and decisions based on folklore and limited personal experiences” (p. 20).
The goal of action research is to improve the teaching and learning environment enabling teachers’ growth. Usually, action research is conducted in a small scale both individually and collaboratively. Rather than dealing with the theoretical aspects, action research allows practitioners to address those concerns that are closest to them, ones over which they can exhibit some influence and make change. Individual teacher research usually focuses on a single issue in the classroom or the teacher’s individual problems related to his or her professional development. The teacher, in this sense, may be seeking solutions to problems of classroom management, instructional strategies, use of materials, or student learning or his or her own professional development issues. Carr and Kemmis (1986) define action research as a “form of self-reflective enquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of their own practices, their understanding of these practices and the situations in which the practices are carried out” (p. 162 as cited in Burns, 1999, p. 30). This critical definition of action research- though reflective in nature- goes beyond classroom to society. It may therefore have some connection with the unexamined aspects of educational system rather than investigating the immediate practices. Therefore, action research being a reflective practice follows a cyclical process of planning, action, observation and reflection in which if the outcome is negative then this process begins again with a new hypothesis.
Nevertheless, like many other researchers, Burns (1999) prefers action research to be a highly collaborative practice. She has presented “not so much of the cyclical processes of doing an action research but a series of interrelated experiences involving the following phases: exploring, identifying, planning, collecting data, analysing/reflective, hypothesising/ speculating, intervening, observing, reporting, writing, presenting” (p.35). Thus, action research can also be a collaborative activity among colleagues searching for solutions to everyday real problems experienced in schools, or looking for ways to improve instruction for better student-achievement. Additionally, it helps to develop professionalism among teachers should they be involved constantly in researching and educating themselves about their expertise. However, this is different from the study of more educational questions that arise from the practice of teaching.
Collaborative action research differs from the individual teacher research in that the individual teacher-researcher may not prefer sharing the outcomes and the processes with the others like colleagues or the principals. He or she may not go for a formal presentation of the outcomes or submit written material to a listserv, journal or a newsletter. The findings may not be publicized. On the other hand, collaborative action research is done to address a common problem or an issue shared by two or several colleagues; the outcome of which is later shared and discussed. There may be a discussion during the research too regarding the issues that they come across. Therefore, action research- whether it is carried out individually or may be done collaboratively- can become a form of professional development because research and reflection allows teachers to grow and gain confidence in their work. Action research projects influence thinking skills, sense of efficacy, willingness to share and communicate and attitudes toward the process of change. Through action research, teachers not only learn about themselves and their students but also about their colleagues and administrators and the other concerned authorities such that it assists them to determine ways to continually improve. If done collaboratively, it allows time for teachers to talk with others about teaching and teaching and learning strategies. In this sense, they can share their teaching styles, strategies and thoughts with others. In this way, action research can provide teachers with opportunities to evaluate themselves in schools. It serves as a chance to take a look at one’s own teaching in a structured manner. Teachers can investigate the effect of their teaching upon their students.
1.5 Conclusion
To sum up, the professionals possess knowledge and competence acquired from highly specialized training and formal education. Professionals have respect and trust of community and peers that leads to a degree of autonomy and self-direction. In this way, they hold a set of moral as well as ethical values that allow the performance of the job to become more service-oriented. Various types of people engage in professional development, including teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, engineers, pilots and the like. These individuals often have a desire for career longevity and personal growth. They are, therefore, willing to undergo the necessary training to obtain these goals. Teachers, as professionals, therefore, go through the process of reflection to examine where they are and where they want to be in order to gain professional development. This is indeed an ongoing process.
Teacher professional development, being a self-reflective process extensively demands the use of self-directed development strategies to keep teachers abreast with the changes such that teachers not only become professionally sound but also near themselves to achieve true professionalism. Strategies such as self-monitoring and journal writing are essential wheels for driving teachers towards the realm of self-directed professionalism. Self-direction is highly found in technical field such as medicine in most of the parts of the world. However, this can add a new dimension if practiced in teaching and learning in the Nepalese context because of the barriers that relinquish teachers from attending training and other professional development activities. Self-directed learning is entirely a new phenomenon in the Nepalese education system. If the concerned stakeholders pay attention to self-directed learning, the gap that has been created in the professionalization of teaching, particularly in ELT, can then be filled in easily.
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NELTA Choutari 2011 April Issue

Dear Colleagues,

Here is the April issue of NELTA Choutari. We have an interview with Mr. Hemanta Raj Dahal, newly elected President of NELTA. The President has covered a wide area of issues about NELTA focusing on how he will lead the organization forward and address the increasing expectation of its members. Please share your thoughts and reactions to his plans and strategies on how to lead NELTA in more professional ways and how to enhance the practice and scholarship of ELT in Nepal. In addition, Mr. President highlights the significance of the role of NELTA Choutari in promoting NELTA’s professional/academic activities.

In this issue, you will also find ELT articles which address a variety of issues about teaching English in Nepal. Shyam  Pandey’s article Mentoring in Nepalese Context highlights the necessity of mentoring in the context of Nepal. The article is based on the writer’s teaching and learning experience. It stresses that mentoring as one of the best modes of teacher professional development, which is being late to be formally adopted it in Nepal.

Similarly, Suman Laudari’s article Use of Authentic Materials in Language Classrooms: A Fashion or Compulsion? explains what authentic language teaching materials are. It also highlights the importance of using authentic material in the EFL classroom. It concludes that the use of authentic materials should reflect the language change in the classroom which helps teachers and students become aware of such changes.

Ganesh Gnawali’s article Reflective Learning concentrates on the subject of reflective teaching practice which can lead us to better understanding of pedagogy and professional development. It involves one’s own critical thinking and analysis with the goal of improving professional practice. Engaging in reflective practice requires individuals to assume the perspective of an external observer in order to identify the assumptions and feelings underlying their practice and then to speculate about how these assumptions and feelings affects practice.

In his article Outrunning the Unknown, Mr Hemraj Kafle reflects on his professional experiences as a teacher by drawing an analogy between  professional life and a race. Whether you like it or not, there is always the pressure to run faster. You may not know others’ speed but must constantly try to outrun them without tresspassing their trails.

Mabindra’s article The Role of Local Culture and Context in English Language Teaching is based on the assumption that English is fast becoming a global language and it will become more so in the future. We are learning to use English in our communication; so, the local context cannot be disregarded, and also it is important to consider the cultural values. Although the opinions about how or if local context and culture should be used in teaching English are divided,  the use of local context and culture can be done at least in the  earlier stages to facilitate learning of English language. It will also enhance the feeling of ownership of English among learners which can further assist in a more progressive learning to take place.

We  hope you will enjoy this issue of NELTA Choutari April issue and leave your comments. I would like to request all the readers to leave more substantial comments than simply saying ‘Good job’, ‘Wonderful article!’, ‘Yes, I agree with you’, etc. Such comments will be only for the sake of comments. We want increase in readership and sharing among readers. As a teacher, you might have achieved much professional success through learning and training yourself, but it is our responsibility to contribute to the professional development of other teachers as well. Substantial comments can be a good resource for others, now and in the future.

(If you are unable to upload your comments, please send your comments to or )


Kamal Poudel

Coordinator for NELTA Choutari April Issue

General Secretary, NELTA

Contact: 9851060155

An Interview with Mr Hemanta Raj Dahal, President of NELTA

NELTA Choutari had an interview with Mr Hemanta Raj Dahal, newly elected president of NELTA for the tenure 2011-2013. In the interview, he has addressed a number of questions that are directly related to institutional and professional development of NELTA, English Language teaching in Nepal, Choutari’s role in promoting ELT activities and its support to NELTA, present challenges and opportunities and many other issues. Please go through the interview, and leave your comments which can be instrumental in giving right directions to NELTA in the future. Your voice matters to shape the ways of NELTA. Please, come up with innovative ideas after reading the interview with Mr Dahal.

1. Choutari: You have been serving NELTA for long. How the organization has been instrumental in enhancing the professional skills of the teachers in Nepal? What challenges have you foreseen as it is a volunteer orgaisation and there is always a substantial expectation from the people. Also, what are the opportunities? To address this situation, what are your plans and visions so that NELTA will be able to achieve the goals?

Mr. Dahal: NELTA has been providing a platform to the ELT professionals which could be instrumental to learn and let learn. The core of our modality is the exchanges of knowledge and skills on English language pedagogy not only limiting ourselves within the domestic periphery but beyond. As regards to the challenges, NELTA has grown so big and it is still growing in terms of its size and the scope. All the members are expected to contribute voluntarily. Naturally, every member has aspirations. One of the opportunities is to be able to contribute NELTA voluntarily because there are set examples that the NETLA volunteers have been better recognized by national and international institutions professionally and socially. However, what has been getting tougher is to convince the roles of the members without expecting any special individual gains. I have a strong feeling of a need to decentralize NELTA programs and activities so that every member will own the institution. Consequently, the members will explore opportunities to better qualify and meet their expectations while the institution will support their mission.

2. Choutari: What are your plans for the institutional growth of NELTA in order that it meets its goal? Institutionally, how are you planning to work with NELTA partners? To what extent the partnership has been successful for NELTA?

Mr. Dahal: NELTA has envisioned to contribute for quality education in Nepal through English language as a powerful tool. Though the institution has been distinctly standing amidst the crowd of professionals and the other key stakeholders – national and international both, we have yet to build up a rapport so that NELTA will enhance not only social and moral recognition but also institutional one. It reminds me when I presented the General Secretary’s report in the Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the 16th international conference venue on 19th February 2011 when one of my key concerns for future direction of NELTA was to institutionalize it. Our partnership with other key stakeholders in ELT has been successful in the institutional level to some extent where we have been chiefly collaborating with Ministry of Education, the US Embassy, British Council and private and boarding school associations. However, we have yet to convince these communities regarding our professional expertise and the contribution NELTA can make to this country. Our institution is being expanded from Sankhuwasabha, the far eastern part to Baitadi, the far western part of Nepal where NELTA has been working through its branches. Now is the time to enhance quality within ourselves first. Our members by now have already become very receptive. Therefore, we do not have to wait for long to achieve this goal.

3. Choutari: What are your plans to develop NELTA as a consultant for the government so that education in general and English teaching in particular will be more effective and meaningful?

Mr. Dahal: The 21st century has become extremely competitive in every discipline. NELTA has been working for last 17 years without any full time human resources but taking time of those professional members who have been generous, stealing some of their times either from their academic pursuit or from their jobs for subsistence, not leaving any moment for their family. Of course, this modality has one significant advantage that every member would like to look for some opportunities how he or she could support NELTA. However, we have yet to prove with our concerted effort that we are the appropriate entity so that the government will be ready to buy our expertise. NELTA has discovered that only a few of its members have been involved in research, developing manuals and materials and doing project reviews and monitoring. Moreover, we have yet to create atmosphere to bring them in a boat so that instead of working on individual basis they can join hands with the institution. We should be proud that the editorial team of NELTA journal  has undergone a considerable transformation in its working modality. As a result, the journal has been peer reviewed which is worthier than ever before. However, our publications are very limited and they are mostly circulated among our members only. Therefore, the government should have very little knowledge about the strength and quality of NELTA. I would therefore encourage the NELTA family to adopt special strategies that help develop our strengths, recognition and network. As a president, I look into the opportunities how I could contribute towards this direction.

4. Choutari: How does our effort for promoting professional communication relate to NELTA’s goals and how might we be able to enhance them?

Mr. Dahal: We should first establish the norms of professional communication. Communication is the most powerful tool to help break the digitally divided world. Consequently, quality of education will not be superseded by the notion of its access. To me, the professional communication has two-prongs. One is for the network and another is for sharing of the culture of developing capacity and the best practices. The more efficient is the communication, the faster is the global recognition of the institution. Again, our performance and commitments should be reflected in each and every communication. One of the ways of promoting our professional communication is learning from other organisations of similar nature, for instance, IATEFL, TESOL and Asia-TEFL. I am sure my colleagues in the central committee have better ideas in this area.

5. Choutari: Do you have any suggestions for conducting networked discussions in better ways so that branches and members can contribute better? Where do you see the present strength (academic and institutional) of NELTA to help teachers enhance their professionalism?

Mr. Dahal: Despite unbearable power cut hours in Nepal, many English language professionals including the learners have started using the medium of IT. If you ask which one is odd man out in  rice, vegetable, computer, lentil, yogurt, I am sure the answer will not be ‘computer’. Therefore, Wiki can be the easiest and effective means for such network. Mr Prem Phyak, the Secretary of NELTA has already initiated the design of Wiki. In my experience, many ELT professionals mainly outside the Kathmandu valley would like something specific that how to teach particular content from their courses. Our Wiki modality then should address the expectations of the ELT community looking for resources so that the benefit of our effort will go to the real learners of English.

6. Choutari: Choutari is a volunteer mission that works as per the core missions of NELTA, for which it is cost and labor free; but Choutari’s organizers would greatly benefit if NELTA could help us promote the forum through its existing communication mechanisms. What could be, for example, one significant way in which NELTA can help us in increasing our reach, readership, and involvement where there is more limited access or recognition of professional conversation?

Mr. Dahal: I am sure the Choutari involves a lot of cost if we convert our colleagues’ valuable time and use of their brain. It is free only because they have sponsored it. This is one of the most striking issues at the moment. I would recommend to motivate more and more contributors to the NELTA Choutari mission and also to disseminate it more widely. Some of the modalities I could suggest are to link Choutari to the NELTA website and also request the  British Council, the US Embassy, TESOL and IATEFL to link to their websites as well. Moreover, it would be very exciting to publish it as a booklet  or bulletin form either on regular basis or occasionally as an special issue. We can then receive feedback from the readers. Consequently, we will have better opportunity to learn what our readers want.

7. Choutari: We have got good support from NELTA in the past. How do you plan and intend to support Choutari as NELTA’s new President? Do you have any new ideas as per your presidential vision as our new leader?

Mr. Dahal: I have a feeling whether we did a proper justice to NELTA Choutari in the past. I am always aware that Bal Krishna Sharma and Shyam Sharma in the US and Prem Phyak, Kamal Poudel, Hem Raj Kafle and Sajan Karn in Nepal have been rigorously contributing to bring it out. They deserve special recognition from NELTA. Now is the time NELTA has to disseminate the core value of the Choutari mode of professional development. I would like to support the Choutari team to make this noble work more visible among the ELT communities and heighten the level of ownership of NELTA members. I would expect the Choutari materials to be combination of some theoretical notions  with more practical tips, professional reflections of the members and the guest contributors and the best practices in ELT. I can see the opportunity to forge partnership and collaboration with other similar sort of network and agencies so that quality of this e-platform can be enhanced.

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