Mentoring in Nepalese Context

-by Shyam  Pandey

Language teachers are anticipated to keep themselves up to date with developments in the field related to language. They need to regularly review and evaluate their teaching skills and to take on new teaching assignments according to the changing needs of the institution. Some teachers may also be expected to serve as mentors to novice teachers, to plan workshops, to present papers at seminars and conferences and to write for journals and magazines and other professional activities. Professional development is one of the key issues for those teachers because it is inadequate to talk about teachers’ performance and learning outcomes without training, evaluation, mentoring the teachers etc. Teachers’ success in professional development enhances the results of students’ learning. At the core of the training process, teachers play a key role in determining students’ outcomes.

Every year, Teachers’ Professional Development (TPD) programs are applied in universities in almost all the countries in the world. These programs are held to serve the determination of providing teachers with apparatuses and best milieu to develop their profession. They deal with TPD from different outlooks, which pressures on teachers’ engagement in inquiry as a fundamental part of their teaching practice. Similarly, they must sustain their learning continuity both with their colleagues in professional communities and with their own students inside classroom. However, it does not seem that regular workshops, trainings and conferences regarding TPD programs take place successfully and effectively.

In the current climate of systemic alteration, the professional development of teachers has taken on new status. There are many reasons for this new urgency, ultimately centering on the importance of the classroom teacher in promoting successful student learning. Without the continuous improvement of teaching (and of professional teachers), the reforms will fail. Professional development must serve the purpose of promoting teachers’ continuous learning of integrating new knowledge about teaching and learning within the social contexts in which teaching takes place.

When English as Foreign Language (EFL) teachers are aware of the different strategies and techniques of TPD, it helps to achieve the anticipated goal of the educational institutions. The teachers can adopt many strategies and modes for their professional development. In the context of Nepal, some of the models like classroom observation, case study, assessment, etc. are familiar and being used by many language teachers. Many colleges and universities like Tribhuban University (TU) (mainly), Kathmandu University (KU) launch the pre-service program to prepare teachers. They give good theoretical knowledge. After the completion of certain level like I. Ed., B. Ed., and M. Ed., the student teachers go to teach in the real classroom. However, when they try to teach the theoretical knowledge (inputs) which they have taken from colleges and universities, they face certain problems. They expect some help, guidance and coaching. Nevertheless, at that time they do not find anyone to support them. When I was in teaching practice (B. Ed.), I did not get proper mentorship from my teacher. After that, I joined M. Ed. in Kathmandu University where I got to know a lot about mentoring which gives good platform to the new teachers develop them professionally.

Mentoring can be defined as helping, guiding, assisting and coaching to novice teacher by the experienced one. Darish (2003) says, “Mentoring is a means of assisting and guiding the work of others” (p. 47). The very help, guide or support could be of about the problem of the novice teachers inside school or outside school as well or even sharing their success. In course of time, I joined a school as a teacher of English language. When I was a novice teacher, I faced lots of problems; sometimes finding resources which were available in the school periphery, sometimes I even did not know how to use such materials, sometimes classroom management, etc. and sometimes to apply the strategies which I had learnt from my university. I did not get any help from anyone until I requested them. Sometimes I consulted to my senior teacher but I was in dilemma whether I should consult him or not because my senior teacher may not have such willingness to help me. Therefore, I did not ask all my problems and concerns because I had a fear if they would rate me as an unqualified teacher. Neither had I seen my school having formal mentoring program nor any teacher groups or organizations helping the novice teachers. This is because “there is no any formal mentoring educational institution in Nepal which has separate course or program and mentoring to the new language teachers” (Pandey, S.B. 2009; p. 88). In the context of Nepal, mentoring can be one of the best tools that the language teachers can use to develop them professionally and personally but it is still not being practiced in Nepal formally which is an urgent need now. Portner, (1998) says “Mentoring is a powerful and effective way to provide support and assistance to neophyte teachers during their first year on the job” (p. xi). As Pandey, S.B. (2009) has discussed the English teachers of Nepal are well familiar with the concept of mentoring which helps them to adjust in the new situation and cope with the problems, get new ideas of solving the problems. Therefore, it is a platform for new and experienced teachers to share the things, to understand the new situation (p. 84). But Nepalese teachers have not formally practiced mentoring in their institutions yet which is a burning necessity now.

References:
Daresh, J. C. (2003). Teachers mentoring teachers: A practical approach to helping new and experienced staff. New Delhi: Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd.
Pandey, S.B. (2009). Mentoring for Teachers’ Professional Development in Nepal: A Status Study of Kathmandu District. Unpublished M.Ed. dissertation, Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Portner, H. (1998). Mentoring new teachers. New Delhi: Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd.

Use of Authentic Materials in Language Classrooms: A Fashion or Compulsion?

-by Suman Laudari

What is authentic material? What is the authenticity of a material? How do you determine whether a material is authentic or not? We had had a lot of prolonged discussion on the authenticity of the materials that we use in our classes to teach a language, in particular English Language.
For the last one decade or so, in Nepal, the communicative approach has been widely discussed and now, more or less, it has clearly substituted more traditional methods of teaching English like Grammar-Translation Method. Communicative approach advocates the use of real English in situation that is close to reality. This emphasis on the real English influences the choice of language matter that we use in our classroom and also the materials that we use in our textbooks.
With the booming of communicative approach, authentic text has gained much attention. Authentic texts, which were defined as those which were designed for native speakers, make it feel that the text being used in the classroom is real. Harmer, in his book “The Practice of English Language Teaching,” rightly says that authentic texts are real texts designed not for language students, but for the speakers of the language in questions (Harmer, 1991)
However, the perception towards authentic materials has changed now. Nowadays, people just do not see whether it was designed for the native speakers but whether the language used sounds authentic in part or in its entirety and also whether students are likely to hear or read it in real situations. Thus, anything a native speaker of English would hear or read or use can be described as authentic such as the news cast of BBC, 103 F.M., or online version of New York Times or local newspapers that are published in English. These materials can rightly be called authentic materials of English because these materials are not designed for the EFL learners. They are also not graded to fit the need of the learners. However, teachers have to be very much careful while selecting such materials because the uses of such materials demoralize students if they are higher than the level of the students. However, according to Harmer (1994), the use of authentic materials helps learners in the following three ways.
1. It helps them become better readers and better learners which ultimately helps them produce good language
2. The acquisition will be better and faster
3. Students feel triumphant over their accomplishment because the skills that they acquire make them feel that they can handle the situations in the real life too.
Non-authentic materials, in my opinion, are the materials which are especially for language students. Such texts sometimes concentrate on the language we wish to teach but not on what students’ need are. These types of materials, what I feel is, are highly artificial because the language items being used are perfectly formed sentences all the time (as I am doing in this piece of writing). Yet, in real life the language is not used just like that. If one studies the structure of the language he/she is likely to find the language extremely unvaried. Hence, such kind of language, if taught, does not encourage students become better learners. The language is manipulated in such a way that the students will, at certain points of time, feel that they are not going to encounter such language in real life.
It is easy saying things that you should not use graded materials because it does not contribute in language learning but how do teachers use authentic materials. So, now, in this section I would like to share some of my personal experience which I think will make teachers realize that they can do it too.
The first idea is about using ‘English Songs’ in an ELT classroom. Here, English songs do not mean the songs that have been sung in the class for a long like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’, ‘Humpty Dumpty’ etc but popular music, country rock or Blues. For example Michael Jackson’s ‘The Earth Song’ or Shakira’s ‘World Cup Song’ or Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’.
Many teachers might just wonder how could it be done in the classroom and what will their headmaster do or it is not my cup of tea or they might have many more excuses. But, if the teachers really want it they can do it making it the part of their lesson. When you talk about environmental issues like depletion of Ozone Layer, in ‘How Sane Are We’ in BBS first year’s course book you could play Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’ in which he expresses how human beings have changed the Earth and so many environmental issues. You could provide your students with incomplete lyrics with some gaps in it; play the song; have them listen to it and complete the lyrics. After that you could give them task (which is designed on the basis of your student’s level of English) based on the song; put them in group and get them to complete the tasks. And, as the production activity, you could ask them to write how they felt about the song.
Similarly, you can exploit local newspapers that are published in English to teach English. Newspapers are great source of learning in many ways. To mention few you can use newspaper to teach reading, writing, vocabulary and cultural issues. One can also use newspapers cutouts for other fun activities which can be used as starters. For examples, newspaper cutouts can be used to make picture jig-saw; you can have an activity to match pictures with captions or headline.
So, using authentic material should be a compulsion; an inner compulsion from the inner self of the teachers. When you use authentic materials you expose your students to real discourse (real discourse in the sense that they become aware that that is the kind of language used in a language classroom. Use of authentic materials reflects the language change in the classroom which helps teachers and students keep aware of such changes. On top of all, use of authentic materials, as said earlier, acquire English better than those who do not. Thus, use of authentic materials must be a compulsion not only fashion.
References
Harmer, J. 1991. The Practice of English Language Teaching. London: Longman
Harmer, J. 1994. The Practice of English Language Teaching. London: Longman

Reflective Learning

-Ganesh Gnawali

Introduction

Reflection is great tool which leads us towards better learning. It is important aspect for teacher as well students. Being both I’m observing this issue from the near and practising this in my current days which is certainly enhancing my teaching and learning activities. As a teacher or lecturer throughout the year we can share our ideas about teaching and learning in staff meetings, conversations in the staff room, and outside the classroom. It is truth that most of us know the theory of reflective practice. In order to take this theory into practice, teachers should become aware that within their own teaching routine they have the main tools for personal professional progress: their own teaching experience and their reflections on it, and the interaction with other teachers in the institution. I believe that “teacher development takes place when teachers, as individuals or in a group, consciously take advantage of such resources to forward their own professional learning” Ur (1999: 318). Development does not just happen with time, it happens with awareness. An awareness of a need to change. Why we are back to take advantage from our own resources i.e. colleagues?
Bashyal (2007) expresses Reflective practice is a mode that integrates or links thought and action with reflection. It involves thinking about and critically analyzing one’s actions 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. It is interesting to note that Ur (1999) also considers that the Reflective Model can tend to over-emphasize teacher experience, with a relative neglect of external input – lectures, reading, and so on – which can make a real contribution to understanding. She comes to the conclusion that a fully effective Reflective Model should make room for external as well as personal input. She calls this model “enriched reflection”.
Professionalization has become a very important issue in the field of e education. Reflection on one’s own work is a key component of being a professional and is essential to teacher education. Teachers must examine their beliefs, assumptions and biases regarding teaching and learning, and determine how those beliefs influence classroom practice. Reflection improves a teacher’s ability to make appropriate and sound judgments and, therefore, become an empowered decision-maker.
Reflection refers to the ongoing process of critically examining and refining practice, taking into careful consideration the personal, pedagogical, societal and ethical contexts associated with schools, college, classrooms and the multiple roles of teachers.So reflection can be summarized as a natural process that facilitates the development of future action from the contemplation of past and/or current behavior.
The Collaboration in Reflection
The opportunity to share with colleagues and friends is important in becoming a more reflective practitioner. Feedback, comments, and discussion about your reflections might come from your mentor or supervising teachers, your university supervisor/coordinator and/or your peers in the program. Reflection, as a method of inquiry into teaching, can be collaborative. For example, questions from a friend can help clarify an issue for you, just as a probe or comment from a university supervisor can help you look deeper into the situation. Collaboration when developing a portfolio includes requesting feedback from you mentor, university supervisor, or colleagues and peers. It can also take the form of discussion with colleagues who will assist you in identifying appropriate artifacts to or to help you clarify your beliefs and dispositions. The feedback option provides opportunities for peer evaluation and editing as part of this collaborative process.

It has been noticed that teachers talk about their students in particular, whenever they meet their colleagues. In addition, it is quite revealing that the topics teachers touch on are frequently related to some problematic classroom situation, some negative attitudes or some difficulties students have in their learning process. Rarely do teachers speak about their student´s achievements in a spontaneous way. We often hear teachers say: “They don´t feel like studying and therefore they are getting low marks.” “They never get the initiative in oral interaction; I have to push them on all the time!” “They make too many spelling mistakes.” “Nothing seems to interest them.” “They don´t care about their homework”, “they are not serious about their study.”etc. On the other hand the principal, head teacher and managements committees blame teachers that they don’t prepare well. This motorbike teachers have not enough time so they hardly manage the time and they do not attend the meeting regularly and so on. It’s better to assign to self reflect on their own teaching of the teachers for their and institutions’ professional development.
Although we may agree that teachers´ complaints have become commonplace, we are inclined to think that when teachers talk to colleagues about their students´ problems, difficulties or attitudes they are expressing what they are really worried about or dissatisfied at. Such conversations drawback to struggles and disappointments which must be attended to in a reflective and professional way.
I found the clear idea that Neupane(2006) expresses the purpose of reflection is to allow the possibility of learning through learning. The experience may be the experience of meeting, project, a disaster, a success, a relationship or any other internal and external event. Certain kinds of experience create particularly powerful opportunities for learning through reflection. To make new sense of our experience through the process of inquiring into it is another aim of reflection. So that we can move forward in practical ways that make a difference. The basic idea of reflection in teacher development is that a teacher learns about her/his teaching by observing and understanding what is happening in her/his own classroom and reflecting in it. Reflection involves a structured approach to learning experiences.
Approaches to develop Reflective Practice
Underhill, 2006 presents the following most frequently adopted approaches for developing the skill of reflecting practice:
a. Self monitoring
b. Writing a teaching journal
c. Peer observation
d. Teacher support group
e. Reflective conversation
f. Action inquiry
g. Teaching portfolio

So reflection is a developmental learning process which can be acquire through practice teaching, attending seminars and conferences, subscribing to professional journals and publications. There are other important issues to be taken into account are individual or group reflection and interaction with colleagues, learning through experience etc.
A reflective approach to teaching involves changes in the way we usually perceive teaching and our role in the process of teaching. As the examples above illustrate, teachers who explore their own teaching through critical reflection develop changes in attitudes and awareness which they believe can benefit their professional growth as teachers, as well as improve the kind of support they provide their students. Like other forms of self-inquiry, reflective teaching is not without its risks, since journal writing, self-reporting or making recordings of lessons can be time-consuming. However teachers engaged in reflective analysis of their own teaching report that it is a valuable tool for self-evaluation and professional growth. Reflective teaching suggests that experience alone is insufficient for professional growth, but that experience coupled with reflection can be a powerful impetus for teacher development. I’m realizing this as a fact, though I’m in the beginng stage.

References:
Bashyal, G.P.(2007) Reflection and critical pedagogy, Journal of NELA: NELTA
UR, P. (1999) A Course in Language Teaching: Practice and theory. Cambridge. CUP
Neupane, M. (2006) Reflective learning and teaching .Young Voice in ELT: Faculty of Education. T.U.

Outrunning the Unknown

— Hem Raj Kafle

During the early days of teaching in a private boarding school one gets to come across diversity of odd but exciting moments. The time is full of tests and cross-examinations. People around you — founders, administrators, colleagues, staffs, students, and students’ parents — try to know your knack in their own ways. Or, at least, you appear after a time to consider the need of ensuring such multifaceted satisfaction as the only secret of becoming a teacher. This is my understanding, which, I admit, need not resemble anyone’s. Experiences vary.

My actual, substantial teaching career began in a private Boarding School at Urlabari, Morang. The entry was interesting. I went to ask if there was a vacancy (In fact, I had had a hint that there was or would be one). The principal, J.B. Rai as I recall now, told me to drop an application. When I did, they asked me to prepare for a short demonstration class. I did it, and taught in grade three for about ten minutes. This was the first time I had spoken English to students to my satisfaction.  Then they took a sort of interview –  if I could join instantly as a an assistant hostel warden cum teacher. I said yes. I got the appointment letter after a brief meeting with the founder the following day.

I was only an I. A. with English major, and had nine months teaching experience in a primary school. Everything was so fast and more than expected for me. I knew later that people had taken it to be really fast and more than I deserved.

When people keep watch on you in a workplace, you must also watch how they try to crisscross the lines of responsibilities.  You must first be clear about your line(s), and see where they go closer to and farther from others’. One morning I was teaching English in the same grade three, which was next to the staff room in the old tin-roofed block. I was only half-way with the new teacher’s vigour when a man (a colleague, of course) who had happened (or pretended/wanted) to hear the fun we were making, came to the door, excused himself (in English) and began to scold the students for making noise. Then he again excused himself, called me out and began to counsel me on how to handle small kids. I was a bit puzzled because I had never seen him. “Maybe he is someone with such responsibilities — to watch on a newcomer.” “Who knows what boarding schools do to keep things straight!”

Some colleagues had seen this from the adjacent staff room. I knew from them that he was junior to me in qualification and equal in designation. They said he used to do so with almost all newcomers. One of them even remarked, in his absence, of course,  “I would thrash that snob. But you are new and humble. Check from next time.”

I thought if I had known him well, I would have spoken more fluent and better English to the hearing of everyone around. But I had just listened to and thanked him ‘for his valuable words’.

This little thing spread like a wild-fire and reached the Vice Principal, my one-time English teacher. He called me to say, “He knows you were my student. Some other teachers know it, too. You can expect a few more such tests. And next time, with him or anyone else, argue strongly and with the best English you have. Make sure you know more and speak better than your juniors and equals here.”

Working in this school gave me the best opportunity to test my self-confidence.  It was a big place for my age and qualification but had swift chance of promotion. And promotion was ensured in working hard and emulating others. It was a time when a locally educated lad like me was brought face to face with Darjiling-born ‘experts’ highly sought-after in English boarding schools. I was an alternative to one of them to start with, and made swift progresses in the probation year. People tested me time and again. The Hostel warden, whose assistant I was, tested me half a dozen times with queerest of orders and admonitions, the hostellers tested me for my anger and patience, the cooks and peons did that to check my capability to exercise authority. Colleagues who spoke and taught English kept on evaluating my English. I remember one English teacher coming to the hostel tutorial time in the evening just to check how well I wrote and spoke. He gave a question to answer as if I were a student. I wrote and explained. He confessed he wanted to see how  the Vice Principal’s disciple would actually fare in his proficiency parameters.

I had started as an assistant hostel warden, which demanded a lot of going around and quarreling with kids, which some people satirically called an ‘opportunity’ for twenty four hour English speaking. I hated this after a time because it overtook my study, and snatched me off the friends’ circle.  At the end of the session I requested the founder to set me free from the hostel. He agreed to let me stay out, but said I had to continue as a primary level teacher with the earlier salary. This meant I was not going to get a promotion to the lower secondary though there was a vacancy and I was eligible. For me leaving the quarrelsome kids was a better reward than a promotion for that time.

A year passed. I ‘topped’ my batch in the Bachelor first year exams. My young colleagues advised me to reveal this fact in the upcoming start-of-the-session staff meeting. We bought some kilos of oranges and distributed at the end of the meeting. The friends disclosed the reason for this humble treat.  I did not really bother how it worked. But friends said my success was a lesson to my competitors. The Vice Principal later reminded me the optimism of the myth of  “a needle-like entry for a ploughshare’s exit.” This success added to my image. But I had to prove that I could top the second year also, which I did. There was no celebration for this since I left the school along with the results.

During a short farewell gathering on my last day in the school, the Principal and Mr. Regmi, both respectable old teachers, enumerated the phases of my growth in those two years and four months. For the first time I realized the accuracy and weight of the judgment of experienced people. They said they were happy for my beginning ahead though the school would welcome my longer stay. They only expected me to acknowledge how the school had prepared me to explore new opportunities in Kathmandu. It is during this farewell moment that I first heard the principle of “forgiving and forgetting” unpleasant encounters of the past at the start of a new journey ahead.

Thus, with B.A. and confidence, I left Urlabari the winter of 1997.  I have always made it a rule to visit the school whenever I go home. When I reach there, I get a feeling of being around all these fourteen years though a lot of things have changed. I will cherish those 28 months for the rest of my life.

And, I continue to value the early tests and cross-examinations. If similar cases occur today also, I just take them as the new editions/reprints of those valuable old books.  Working there, I learned this simple maxim for life: Professional life is a race. Whether you like or not, there always is a pressure to run faster. You may not know others’ speed, but must constantly try to outrun them without tresspassing their trails. When you win, the person who deserves both thanks and congratulations is you yourself.

The Role of Local Culture and Context in English Language Teaching

-Mabindra Regmi

The Relation between Language and Culture
The structuralists portrayed language as an entity that could be segmented and through learning these segments, the totality would also be learnt. This method has been tested, challenged and in many cases discarded in the world of linguistics. The conception, propagation and inevitable discontinuation of ever new methods has prompted Sowden to express “there has indeed been methodological fatigue, leading many to the pragmatic conclusion that informed eclecticism offers the best approach for the future.” (Sowden, 2007, p. 304). Perhaps, eclecticism is the right trend while implementing ELT methods. One of the factors that should be considered, however, is that there seems to be a deep connection between language and culture unlike the belief of the structuralists.
The concept of language teaching now is that of concentration in what the learners learn or want to learn rather that what is to be taught. As the classrooms get more learner-centered, it can be assumed that the attitude and the initiatives from the learners’ side will be more prominent. Since a person is shaped by ones culture and local setting, we can assume that the importance of cultural context in language teaching will grow as learning becomes more learner centered.
It is in conjunction with this shift of emphasis away from teaching and towards learning, that there has appeared a growing awareness of the role played by culture in the classroom.
(Sowden C, 2007, p. 304)
It is not only the learners that come with their own culture in the classroom, the teachers also bring their own culture. This is particularly true if the language teacher is not from the locality. Sowden warns the teacher “to be aware not only of the cultures of their students and their environment, but also of the cultures that they themselves bring to the classroom” (Sowden, 2007, p.305).
Thus, it can be seen, however inconclusive, that culture of both the teacher and learner plays an important role in the language learning environment and they have to be addressed for effective learning to take place. This intricate mutual relationship between language and culture may be the key to unlock the language teaching methodologies of the future.
Whenever we talk about language and its use, it is important to figure out the relation between language and culture. There are few things we need to ask ourselves in this regard.
Can language exist independent of culture?
Is learning a new language (English) definitive of learning the culture of native speakers of English?
Who are the native speakers of English?
Will the culture of the native speakers be appropriate in the setting of the language learner?
Can language exist independent of culture?
A language cannot exist in vacuum. It has to express some objective function when utterances are made or some text is written. When we do make use of language, the production made is generally about what we know or what we have experienced. What we know and experience mostly confines within the local setting that we have grown up and where we are residing. Thus, local context becomes inseparable from the use of language.
Is learning a new language (English) definitive of learning the culture of native speakers of English?
When we learn a new language, we need to adopt the culture of the target language to a certain extent because the cultural aspect comes amalgamated with the target language. But what about the learners? The learners have their own set of cultural experiences and objectives of using a language. They have their own cultural amalgamation which has to be addressed during target language learning process to make it meaningful and relevant to the learners. We can assume that integration of local culture and context is inevitable while learning a target language.
Who are the native speakers of English?
The distinction that makes a native speaker is generally very vague and often misleading. It might be important to look into the terminology if we are to explain what English is. A dictionary definition might say that native is belonging to a certain geographic location. In the case of English we must consider the fact that it is spoken in many parts of the world and more and more people are adopting it as the first language of communication. In this setting we must consider the appropriateness of calling certain speakers native and others not. Furthermore, even within the native speakers we find many varieties as in the British English, American English, Australian English, or South African English. If the English language is to be made a truly global one, one must leave the notion of ‘native speakers’ behind.
Will the culture of the native speakers be appropriate in the setting of the language learner?
The culture and context of the learner and the native user of English may differ very contrastively. The traditional native speakers of English have their own cultural and contextual setting and it creeps into the language that they use. It should not be surprising thus, that the English used in non-native setting has the purpose of academia without much cultural interference. But can English have the same purpose if it were to only transfer the cultural and contextual nature of the target language? In order to make English learning a holistic experience, it is important that culture and local context are integrated so the learner has a more comprehensive grasp of the language.
Different Views Regarding the Role of Culture in Language Class
Different people have expressed their opinions regarding the role of culture in language class. Phyak, P has collected four such opinions from various personnel in his article integrating local culture in the EFL context of Nepal: An ignored agenda?
The first view expressed by Byram and Flemming (Byram, 1997; Byram and Fleming, 1998) states that the target language culture should be taught in ELT in order to help learners to acculturate into the culture of English countries. The second view expressed by Karchu, Nelson and Canagaraja (Kachru, 1986; Kachru and Nelson, 1996; Canagarajah, 1999) opines that there is no need of teaching target culture especially in the contexts where different institutionalised varieties of English are in practice. Similarly, the third view by Kramsch and Sullivan (Kramsch and Sullivan, 1996) states plainly that ‘local culture’ in TEFL should be taught. Finally, the fourth view by Alptekin, Jenkins and Seidlhofer (Alptekin, 2005; Jenkins, 2005; Seidlhofer, 2001) says that since English is a lingua franca, it should be taught in a culture-free context. In the same article Phyak gives a fifth opinion regarding the use of culture in language class by assimilating the highlights of the above opinions where he advises the teachers to use both target and native cultures with priority to local culture (Phyak, P).
Whatever the views of applied linguists all over the world, we cannot disregard two core realities. The first is that while learning a second language, the influence of the culture of that language is inevitable. The second fact is that the learner of second language comes equipped with the culture of the first language. If no association is made between the culture of the first language and the learning of the second one, the learning will not be as effective. Therefore, inclusion of local culture and context should be more prominent in the initial phases and gradually gear more towards the target culture so that the integration is seamless in the end and language skill transition is more comprehensive.
English as an International Language
Hegemony of English language is a global phenomenon and the onset of modern technology, the computer; and as the choice language of the academia will further strengthen it. Eventually, the spread of English will probably be the root cause for disappearance of majority of world languages. Having said that, one must accommodate the fact that the use of English in international communication is increasing, and thus, it is gaining momentum as being an international language.
The rise of English as an international language has created many concerns among the laymen, experts, anglophiles and chauvinists alike. The concerns can be divided into two factions. The first leads us towards convergence of all world languages into one giant English language. Because of the advent of printing, and more recently, media; languages, specifically English; are being standardized so that there is uniformity in the manner we write and speak. Many believe this to be a positive step towards world unification. There may be advantages to uniformity, but the question is; does it outweigh the disadvantages that it might bring in the form of ‘language death’ as expressed by David Crystal or loss of identity? The other faction is made up of personnel who are asking this very question. The prominence of English might be an indicator of decline of other languages. When a language is lost, it is not only the means of communication that is lost with it. There are contextual and cultural associations with languages, and in addition; it also forms the corpora of accumulated knowledge of a community. All this will also be lost with the dying language. Moreover, there is a strong affinity of the language with the identity of a person or a community. Although English may provide with alternate identity, as shall be discussed later in this paper, the primary form of identity shall be lost, especially if the learning of English is subtractive in terms of the first language.
Discrepancies aside, internationalization of English is inevitable. The question now remains is how we are going to bring about policies for other languages that are in existence. In order to understand why English is fast becoming a global language, we must try and analyze why is it important for us to learn English.
There are many reasons why an individual would want to learn English.
i. English may be a factor for obtaining better employment opportunities.
ii. English is the medium of communication for business, recreation and competitive tournaments.
iii. English is almost mandatory for learners pursuing higher academic achievements and publishing of one’s findings.
iv. The knowledge of English may provide higher social standing or identity in many cases.
We can see that English language empowers a person both in terms of social and material power. Thus we can see the attraction towards learning English. The choices that the language communities have is either to have subtractive learning of English and forget one’s own linguistic heritage, as is happening mostly in developing countries like Nepal; or to make the learning process additive by retaining one’s own language intact. It can be assumed that the later alternative is more acceptable.
The reason for the long windedness of the explanation above brings us back to the core discussion of this paper: local context and culture in teaching or learning English. Now as we have made a huge circle from the inevitable internationalization of English to the better alternate of additive learning of English; it is time to ponder over how we are going to teach English language.
English Language, Local Culture and Social Identity
If we want to have mastery over English language, then I believe we must find a way to make the language practical to its learners. Just reading the literature of the language or using the language in stereotype British or American cultural setting will not hold much significance to the learner of English as a foreign language. What needs to be done is to bring about association between the language being learnt and the experience of the learners. This will provide platform for practicality of the language being learnt. In order to understand why local context and local culture must be integrated into teaching of English language, we must also be familiar with how culture and local context plays a role in language learning.
Culture and Language Reflect each other
The common notion regarding the purpose of language learning has been related to communication. Because of the researches done in sociolinguistics and discourse, we should consider the fact that language is not only ‘understanding’ what the other person is expressing but it is also necessary that we understand the text at a discourse level where cultural and individual background conveys deeper meaning to the language items used. Language is not only communicating with words but we have deep rooted cultural and contextual schemata and frames which are reflected in the language that we use. Thus it is important to analyze the meaning of discourse at cultural and contextual level.
The reason that we should consider the Frame and Schema theories of discourse analysis when talking about the language is that if we are not able to express or comprehend the schema created through cultural setting, only understanding the text in communication will not be able to justify the meaning that should have been understood. Only through associating and integrating the language that we are trying to learn (English) into social and cultural setting shall we be able to exploit the nuances of the expression made in a language. Englebert believes that there is a cultural variation between the learner and the language and that the “teacher hosting foreign students must come to terms with the fact that those students are immersed in a culture with which they are not familiar, and that they bring with them not only their limited knowledge of the language, but a myriad of assumptions based on generations of cultural indoctrination”. (Englebert, 2004). These assumptions based on “cultural indoctrination” are at the core of schema of the learner.
Not only the culture of the target language but even the prescribed packaged methodology might create confusion in teaching English as a foreign language. In her study among the Asian students studying in New Zealand, Li found that “the interactive teaching methods adopted by New Zealand teachers are culturally incompatible with Asian students’ learning conceptualizations. The findings suggest that some teachers’ adoption of the communicative or interactive teaching approach led to Asian students’ negative learning experience in New Zealand” (Li, 2004). This shows that the cultural background and the mindset of the learner should be considered while teaching English. Subsequently, it also indicates the integration of local context and culture of the learner for smoother and more effective teaching learning experience.
If the learner of English is only familiar with her own experience based on her own cultural and local setting, trying to incorporate a different language with a different setting will make it literally ‘foreign’. The ‘foreignness’ can be significantly eliminated if local context and culture of the learner is being used in the target language. Thus integrating the cultural and contextual setting in language learning will be important.
English Language and Social Identity
Bonny Norton has explained that in the current social situation, English language helps create a more powerful identity for the individuals because of the advantages associated with the proficiency of English Language (Norton, 2007). She further explains that construction of identity through learning English are complex and dynamic. The five examples that she has taken in her article all give different perspectives people have for English language based on their cultural and contextual backgrounds.
If individuals from different social and ethnical backgrounds have different concepts about how English should be taught and learnt, then we can assume that it is the experience of the learner that is influencing such perspectives. An individual is the product of the local culture and context, so we cannot ignore the importance of inclusion of local context and culture in English pedagogy. Norton recommends that we should not overlook the focus on individual account while teaching English. She further explains that the researches on language teaching and identity is fragmented and it has to be made more organized, and if English belongs to the people who speak it, expansion of English in this Global era is better (Norton, 2007).
Inclusion of Local Context and Culture in ELT in Nepal
Along with the gathering momentum of inclusion of local culture and context in language teaching across the world, an initiative has been started in Nepal where linguists and social activists are advocating for inclusion of local context and culture, namely, ethnic languages in mainstream education. Alongside with this initiative there are many linguists and teachers of English language who are advocating for inclusion of local context and culture in English Language Teaching.
The problem that the Nepali society is facing is how to bring about the implementation of such content and context in English language. Looking at the coursebooks and educational materials, it is evident that the English teaching is heavily influenced by the culture of target language users. Although some content and stories seem that they have local context, but the exercises that follow again reflect to the target language culture. On the other hand, the teachers are also imparted trainings and education aligning with the target language culture. In this ambience, it will be difficult to implement inclusive local content and culture while teaching of English. In order to overcome this impasse, some measures can be taken so that there is a momentum towards progressive implementation of the discussed issue.
First, the language policy makers and the educators of the country need to come together to make a master plan on how to develop materials, train teachers and set objectives on inclusion of local culture and context in ELT. Only when a concrete set of objectives and a clear vision of the implementational procedures have been codified, the initiative can move forward.
Second, there has to be a mass drive for collection of local content in the form of stories, poems, articles and the like which also reflects local culture. The content corpus has to be exhaustive so that all the major aspects that need to be covered are covered. Agencies like Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association, NELTA, can be instrumental in taking the necessary initiatives. It is wise to include people from different academic, professional, age group, ethnic, gender, and geographical backgrounds to make the corpus comprehensive and complete.
Third, the gathered content has to be carefully cataloged, edited and selected for practical use. There may be many ways by which the content can be used. The content can be an integrated one where a little of everything is included, or it might also be ethnic or locality specific where different communities make use of different relevant parts of the corpus.
The fourth, which might also be the most important, is to enable the teacher of English to believe that local content and context is not only necessary but is the most effective way of teaching or learning a language. The teacher should also have autonomy to develop content from her own locality adjusting to the need of the learners there. Perhaps the most difficult part of this endeavor will be to discard the prevalent target culture based content in favor of local culture based one. But once the importance is felt and the initiative commenced, language learning process will take a meaningful and applicable turn. The learners then will not be learning English in vacuum but they can associate their own life experiences to the language being learnt.
Finally, a monitoring and evaluation mechanism should be developed in order to judge how successful the implementation of the initiative has been. The monitoring and evaluating body can also make necessary changes in the whole process as the problems arise.
Association and Comprehension through Local Context in ELT
If there is association between the local context and culture, and English Language teaching; the learners might benefit in many different ways. As Lengkanawati states “we can conclude that the choice and the intensity of using language learning strategies is influenced by many factors, one of which is the students’ cultural background” (Lengkanawati, 2004), the association of local culture and English language teaching might help the learner build better learning strategies. It will lead the learner to grasp deeper meaning of the target language and use it efficiently and productively. Moreover, the differences that lie within the variations of English will make the learner appreciate that context and culture are essential for language learning. All this will lead to a global culture where one retains her native culture while learning that of the target language and thus of the whole world.
We have discussed previously about the nature of association between language and culture. In addition, we also discussed about the emergence of English as an international language and the advantages of learning it. Then we went on to how local context and culture can be integrated into teaching English in Nepal. Now, we shall focus on advantages there might be in integrating local context and culture while teaching English in three different stages.

The association of local context and culture can be done in three levels: using local context and culture while learning English, Using the context and culture of the target language, and integrating the two cultures to create multicultural or global comprehension.
1. Using the local cultural and contextual setting while learning English.
Using local context and culture will enable the learners to grasp the deeper meaning of English because they can associate the cultural and contextual meaning that they are familiar with. In Barfield and Uzarski’s findings, “the classroom observation showed that students in pair and group works were more interactive when they had to discuss on their local cultures than when they had to discuss on different stories or texts which they were not familiar with.” Contextualization will further enable the learner to be proficient in the language at a faster pace. The learner will understand how a different language is not very different from one’s own. This methodology needs to be applied on the learners at least at the beginning. The learners must be given ample opportunities to interact in the target language. This is only possible if the content that is being used is related to local context or culture. If target language culture is given as a topic of interaction, the learners may have nothing to contribute and will be less willing to proceed further.
2. Using the culture and context of the target language
The users of the target language are varied. There is no single context or culture that defines a language like English. Therefore, it will be difficult to identify the target culture when we talk of English. This also indicates that even within the same language there is influence of local context and culture. This will make the learner understand that the language is not entirely free from the culture and context of a community. For example, we can take metro English that the Londoners’ use. It is very different from the traditional Standard or BBC English that we learn in Nepal or the other parts of the world. Sometimes there is a discrepancy in lexical meanings and pronunciation too. A pavement for the British might be sidewalk for the Americans. A mate is a friend in Australia and spouse in England. The fact that even among the native speakers of English in different countries the linguistic items have different meanings will enable the learners to realize that culture or local context is the key factor in using and understanding a language. It will also give an insight that language is culture and context specific and not medium specific. To clarify this statement we can safely assume that the people coming from same cultural and contextual setting will share more meanings than people from cross-culture sharing the same language.
This demarcation will be of vital importance because the learner will be able to comprehend that to understand a person is not only understanding the language but understanding the local context and culture as well. It will further inspire the learners of English to be familiar with different cultural settings of the people that use the language.
This kind of interpretation of language should be carried out at intermediate and advanced levels where the learners have been made familiar of the inclusion of their own cultural and local contexts while learning English.
3. The emergence of a Global culture
When more and more people start becoming familiar with the local culture and context of more and more places, then a common, integrated culture will emerge. This is the Global phenomenon that has been extensively discussed in every sphere of modern human civilization.
This global concept of the language and cross-cultural integration should be the ultimate outcome of language learning. When we are able to identify issues of global importance and contribute to it in a local way, then we will be adherent to the
post-modernist maxim of “think globally, act locally”.
This is a concept that might be difficult to understand for many learners. There is also a paradox of going local to harbor a global outlook. This in turn complicates the nature of language that we use in the modern world. The learners of languages, and specifically of dominant language like English, should consider the integration of local context and language. Considering the complexity of the process and inputs, learners of the tertiary level of English should be taught at this comprehensive level.
Assimilation of Various Cultures for Global Interpretation
Barfield and Uzarski have a very interesting notion regarding language integration when they opine that even if an indigenous language is lost, which is happening at an alarming rate all over the world, through integration it can be preserved within another language like English.
Interestingly, despite the loss or future loss of an indigenous language, the “roots” of that indigenous culture can be preserved through the learning of another language, such as English.
(Barfield and Uzarski, 2009)
This is one notion that can be construed as positive aspect of assimilation of local culture into a Global one. Even though we might have strong opinions regarding local languages and cultures that we have inherited, and feel strongly towards dominance and ultimate displacement that a language like English will do to other local languages, the only way to actually save a part of the culture and local form of language might be through English. In order to achieve this, it would be important to integrate local context and culture in teaching languages like English.
On the other hand, because English is fast becoming the lingua franca of the world, there should also be a global ownership of the language. If we consider only one of the cultures of the native speakers then the globalization of the language will not be possible. In order to truly make a language like English a global one, and for all the cultures to feel that they are also a part of this global phenomenon, integration of local culture and context is important. So, at the end, every individual language community can feel the ownership of global English through integration and assimilation.
Contrastively, the cultural and local contexts of societies that use English language are varied and it would be impossible to integrate everything about all the cultures. To make it comprehensible in the global arena, we should find out commonalities that exist in all the cultures and localities across the world and try to establish a common contextual and cultural condition for the language to evolve into a Global Language. Such understanding and cohesion will provide “the abilities to perform effectively and appropriately with members of another language-culture background on their terms” (Barfield and Uzarski, 2009).
Conclusion
This article has assumed certain developments in English language based on current global trends. It has assumed that English is fast becoming a global language and it will become more so in the future. It has also assumed that the local languages will decline and decay in the face of English as their adversary. Considering these base assumptions, the article has provided insight into understanding the importance of English language and equal importance of using local context and culture while teaching English. In conclusion, we can reaffirm the essence of the whole discussion in the following manner: first, we need to understand that we use English as a method of communication and this language is fast becoming a global language. Because we use it in our communication, the language cannot be excluded from the local context and culture because they are what we are likely to be communicating about. There may be differences in opinions regarding how or if local context and culture should be used in teaching English, but it is essential that we integrate local context and culture. Second, use of local context and culture in teaching English will depend on the nature of the local setting. Same system may not be applicable in all communities. Therefore, how the integration is to be done should be tailored to suit the needs of a particular community or a country. In case of Nepal, this can initiate with development of content corpus based on multilingual communities existing in the country and making a broad plan on what and how to integrate the content thus collected and selected. Third, the use of local context and culture can be done following a procedural format where local context and culture can be given more priority in the earlier stages of learning English language. Slowly, learning of the culture and context of the target language is to be achieved for more comprehensive understanding. When integration is done among various communities and language groups, then English will emerge as a true global language with global ownership. Finally, we should also consider the possibility that many present languages of the world might one day die. And the only possibility of its context and culture to be passed on may be through integration into a dominant language like English. All these expositions make the use of local context and culture in English Language Teaching a necessity.

References
Barfield, S. C., and Uzarski, J. (2009). Integrating Indigenous Cultures into English Language. Englsih Teaching Forum, 2009, Number 1
Englebert, M. (2004). Character or Culture? Implications for the Culturally Diverse Classroom. Asian EFL Journal March, 2004
Lengkanawati, N S. (2004). How Learners from Different Cultural Backgrounds Learn a Foreign Language. Asian EFL Journal, March 2004
Li, M. (2004). Culture and Classroom Communication: A Case Study of Asian Students in New Zealand Language Schools. Asian EFL Journal, March 2004
Norton, B. (1997). Language, Identity, and the Ownership of English. University of British Columbia Tesol Quarterly Vol. 31, No. 3, Autumn 1997
Phyak, P. Integrating local culture in the EFL context of Nepal: An ignored agenda? Education Quarterly, Vol. 1 No. 1 Dean’s Office, Faculty of Education, TU
Sowden, C. (2007). Culture and the ‘good teacher’ in the English Language classroom. ELT Journal Volume 61/4. Oxford University Press

Schools and teachers: Motivate children

–Kamal Poudel

The older the people grow the more curious and inquisitive they become about the childhood days especially of their own. In many instances, they try to remember the events and activities that they were involved in. They still love those activities in which they were actively involved. Most of the adults of all ages in the societies like ours consider the activities in which children are involved in on their own as the ‘unschool’ activities. They can, as the societies believe, harm the growing children’s lives. To make it conspicuous, the children generally love the unschool events and activities which in general encompass playing locally available games and sports, listening to the music, watching movies, joining clubs to meet friends, visiting unfrequented places and so on. In my case, I never realized that those things were bad or would have some adverse effect on my personality. Interestingly what my society considered the ‘adverse’ was favourable to me, which always encouraged me to create a certain distance between myself and school, although I was always at school literally. Perhaps I had a kind urge that somebody would come up to me and ask whether I liked school where I was required to do the ‘school’ activities, which always meant ‘do your home assignment, come to the school in proper uniform, follow the school instructions strictly, do not make noise in the class, do not miss the class and listen to your teachers as long as they teach you’ and so on… In the meantime most of the children’s heads would feel the way students feel in the following picture presented by Ken Wilson at the IATEFL Conference Harrogate in 2010.

In our ELT or more generally educational scenario, thousands of people jump into the field of teaching without any plan and remain as teachers throughout their lives perhaps hardly understanding the urge of the students. This case may not apply to all schools, teachers and children. However, by and large, the students are always forced to follow the footsteps that their teachers create in the course of teaching. The students’ lives are always at stake as we train them to follow us and become like us. We claim that we are the role models for the students, so they need to follow us. I may not agree with this because following this principle, we are creating followers and not the creators. In many cases, I encounter a lot of problems and it is quite difficult to find the ways or solutions, perhaps there still remain the residuals of being a follower of my tutors. This might have forced me to become more dependent on the tutors, and interestingly the society has made us believe that the teachers and indeed in some cases seniors (in terms of age) are permanent guru for us. Mr Shyam Sharma argues against this idea in article which posted along with this. At this point, I would like to link this with TS Eliot’s expression and claim that teachers are simply catalyst and they should not attempt to leave the footprints of their personality into the personality of the students. Obviously, students can be impressed by their teachers’ personalities, but they should not bear in the mind that imitating or mimicking the teachers can make up the students. Unfortunately, knowingly and unknowingly we have created such situation that our students are forced to believe that what the teachers have said are the school things and what the students do or bring up are the unschool things, this is why we tend to think that ‘playing locally available games and sports, listening to the music, watching movies, joining clubs to meet friends, visiting frequented and unfrequented places and so on’ are the unschool things. We are preoccupied with the idea that just reading books (in our cases parroting the pages) is the school activity or say education activity.

The footprint following principle never allows people to become creative and develop the sense of self esteem. People without self esteem tend to be afraid of their teachers. In general the teachers and fathers in our societies are fear factors. Also they hold the position of godlike personalities in the society. Although the oriental philosophy advocates that the children over sixteen should be treated as friends, the practice is quite opposite. We hardly treat them as our friends, let alone celebrating the friendship day. Where mind cannot work without fear, there is little possibility of creation. The more relationship is informal the more likelihood of sharing feelings and knowledge. The passion and hope that we find among the people accelerate the increase of knowledge. Teaching students creating fear and translating oneself into a fear factor mean dehumanizing the learners, and making the mockery of teaching. How can the children consider that they are dealt with democratically? While ironically they are told that their societies are practicing democratic norms and values. I believe these students get confused with the meanings of democracy. These situations lead the children to feel that the institutions where they go in search of knowledge are actually ‘prison’. Citing Daniel T. Willingham the writer of Why Don’t Students Like School?, Peter Gray deliberates, ‘Everyone who has ever been to school knows that school is prison, but almost nobody says it. It’s not polite to say it. We all tiptoe around this truth that school is prison, because telling the truth makes us all seem so mean. How could all these nice people be sending their children to prison for a good share of the first 18 years of their lives? How could our democratic government, which is founded on principles of freedom and self-determination, make laws requiring children and adolescents to spend a good portion of their days in prison?’ In prison, you are not allowed to violate any established rules. You need to follow the footprints of the rules exactly the way you are asked to do. No logic, no reasoning, no arguments will be allowed. The schools treat the children in the same way. The prisoner is perhaps not allowed to look into the eyes of the jailor. Are the children practically allowed to speak to their teacher looking into the eyes with the cheerful face? I would say no. The question of how naïve you are, how gentle you are and how argumentative you are will not be of any concern. In the present context of the mushrooming of private schools, these facts speak more loudly and vehemently too. For example, ‘Dear students, you are not allowed to speak in Nepali or your mother tongue in the school premises, and if you speak, you will be fined, understand? Speak in English, English and English only … you know?’ What crime have they committed that they are not allowed to speak in their tongue when they are with their friend chatting over a cup of tea? And English for them is an alien. How can you be with the alien if you do not get any assurance, suggestions or problem solving skills? We know and should know, ‘Children don’t like school because they love freedom’. When you learnt/acquired your tongue, you were with your people at home and there was no fear. Now you are in fear. A frightened hunter or hunting dog cannot hunt the deer, rather the hunter gets hunted. The schools are becoming more and more prisonlike places. It’s relevant to read a few lines by Gray which describe the difference between the school and prison. He argues ‘The only difference I can think of is that to get into prison you have to commit a crime, but they put you in school just because of your age. In other respects school and prison are the same. In both places you are stripped of your freedom and dignity. You are told exactly what you must do, and you are punished for failing to comply. Actually, in school you must spend more time doing exactly what you are told to do than is true in adult prisons, so in that sense school is worse than prison.’ Modern teachers must be trained how to reduce the level of fear of teachers in students. Also speaking in one’s language is not a crime. The knowledge needs to be increased, for which there must be favorable situation for the receiver. There is no harm in using the native tongue even while you are in the English language teaching situation. This idea has been highlighted more conspicuously with illustrations and examples by P Baker in her article ‘Jumping the barrier: the fifth skill’ which is attached along with this writing.

The aforementioned unschool activities are the incredible sources for creating deep sense of motivation in students. The activities themselves can be the source of teaching. If good parents think of ‘likes’ of their offspring, it’s the job of teachers to think of the likes of their students instead of thinking that their students are unteachable. To take an example, if the students like the sports and other similar activities, we can increase their understanding of L2 by means of bringing the aspects of those sports and activities. We can increase the vocabulary items for example. Similarly, we can create the texts which deliberate the issues of the items that the students like. This can easily activate the learning motor of the students. If we speak against the likes of students, it can easily have the adverse effect upon the psychology of growing children. In many cases the false learners terminate their school. I have already mentioned that they feel dehumanized. To speak in a straightforward way, no human has rights to dehumanize another human. To change the students in a positive way the motivation always matters. In order to motivate the students, the so-called unschool things need to be brought into the educational lives of the children in a positive way, for example. In this context, we need to understand deeply that motivation matters; indeed both extrinsic and intrinsic. The extrinsic motivation is also equally important but if we are able to increase the intrinsic motivation, the students can effectively be changed and developed in a nice way. While creating the extrinsic motivation, the teachers should never bear the idea of fear factor which can be seen in the following picture that was presented at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate.

Dear readers, have you ever experienced the situation represented in the picture on the right here, or have you practiced that way while teaching? I do not know your case. But many teachers have had both experiences. At the same time let me ask you seriously do you really want to dehumanize the children? I know your answer will be ‘no’. If so, let’s remember our childhood days and honestly say together loudly ‘Schools are the second home for the children. Dear students, let’s cross the mountain together. Let’s have harmony among us. Let’s learn from each other. Knowledge for all is what we want.’

Please come up with your arguments and constructive ideas that we share with other fellow teachers.

Cheers.

“Teacher, how do I improve my vocabulary?”

— Laxman Gnawali

“How many English words do you know?” I ask participants of a short-term English teacher training programme. There are smiles, squeezed foreheads, I-have-no-idea expressions. I ask a further question, “Do you know at least two thousand words?” Again there is no clear response. “I think I do,” one of the participants says. Then, I announce a test to decide whether they know at least two thousand words. Everyone seems excited but not without some sense of self suspicion. I have brought a list of “Most Frequently Used First Two Thousand Words in English” which I found on the Internet with the help of Google search. These are words which are most frequently used in written English and the list was developed after an exhaustive survey with the help of a computer software. I announce that the participants will have to go through the list and underline if they come across a word which they do not know. Heads start rising after ten minutes and I go to those who have finished and try to find out what words they have underlined. When all have finished, I ask individuals to share which words they found new or difficult. Actually, they did not have many. Only a few words such as forbade, molten, cast, sawn have challenged them. I ask, “Do you know two thousand English words?” Everyone goes loud, “YES!” This experience has boosted their morale that they know at least two thousand words. I promise to bring “Most Frequently Used First Three/Four/Five Thousand Words in English” when I come next. They are excited.

As an English teacher, we are often approached by students with a usual expression, “I am not good at words. How do I improve my vocabulary?” Definitely, they are in need of proper guidance. As teachers, we try to give them meanings thinking that that is what helps. We do that with good intentions. But, if we do not use proper scaffolding, our efforts go in vain. So, in this article, I try to share with you how we can help students to learn new vocabulary as well as retain them for use as and when required.

There are three important things we need to be doing in teaching vocabulary: raising awareness, presenting new vocabulary and consolidating the vocabulary students have learnt once. Let me explain them briefly.

a. Raising awareness

Learners need to be aware of possible ways of learning new vocabulary on their own. This is what is called study skills: how can I learn new vocabulary? What is my style of learning vocabulary? What resources are available for me? In raising awareness, we can train students to use of dictionaries, provide information about local libraries, radio programmes, cassettes and CD’s, and if possible connect students with students of the same level in English speaking countries. Once they follow any of these, students will realize that they can improve their vocabulary on their own and start undertaking their own initiatives. This will ease our burden as teachers. In the experience I mention in the beginning of this article, I have tried to raise awareness about a few things: helping teachers to know how much they know, we need to learn the most useful words and the Internet can provide a lot of information. For the teachers and learners who have no access, I would do something else.

b. Presenting new vocabulary

This is actually what we do most in the classrooms. If we can present the words in a proper way, students can learn them and add them to their repertoire. Usually, we focus on the meaning and leave out the aspects like their usage and etymology. We may not know etymology of all words we are teaching, but if we present the etymology of those we know, it is easier for learners to remember. The word boycott means to stay away from. In the 18th century, there was a Navy Admiral, Mr. Boycott, who was very unsociable and unfriendly. No one wanted to be with him, and as a result, he was never invited to social gatherings. The word boycott was used with the meaning we know after his name. Together with the meaning, if we can tell this etymology, students will easily remember this word. For this, we need to have a dictionary that gives etymology of words. In presenting the meaning, we need to use a variety of techniques not just explanations such as these: draw pictures, miming, giving synonyms and antonyms, demonstrating, using a model, bringing the real thing into the classroom, giving a context and letting students guess, and if nothing else works, translate into the local language. We need to decide wisely what works with which words.

c. Consolidating

It is not always possible to remember all words we have learnt once. We need to use them again and again, play with them and hear them in context. Then, only they go in to the repertoire. Creating situations in which the words learnt once have to come in use, we can help students to be better familiar with the words. In the classroom setting, we can get students to form sentences with the words, to find antonyms and synonyms by themselves, to unscramble the words, or to write a composition in which these are practically required. Spelling contest are very useful for learners to remember the shapes of the words. The other way particularly for the school level is to use language games. There are a variety of games we can choose from: Bingo, Hangman, Tell-me-the-meaning, etc. When we use games we need to make sure that they not only become fun but also help us in moving on with the syllabus and the textbook.

I would like to share with you an activity which I have been using in my English language classes with success. I have chosen this activity as it serves all three purposes discussed above.

Realia in the bag

I have used this vocabulary activity several times with students of different ages. Every time I use it, I see that all types of students have similar fun in learning new words when the learning involves some suspense. Adults are usually surprised that they do not know the names of the objects they always use or see.

Preparation

Find a cloth bag. It should be as big as a school bag and made from normal cloth, not hardened. Collect at least 20 different objects. They can be anything that you can find around you: chalk, duster, stapler, box of staples, match box, ruler, keys, small bottle, shoe brush, tooth brush, paperweight, magnet, board marker, potato, onion, spoon, fork, lime, paper clips, perfume bottle, kettle lid, wooden block, bottle opener, can opener, corkscrew, tin opener, ladle, etc. You can choose items that you want to teach about. Put all of them in the bag and button it up.

Procedure

Tell your students that they are going to find out what objects there are in the bag without looking. They will feel the items from outside and name them. When they feel and decide what the item is, they have to say:
It’s thin and long, so it must be a ruler.
It’s heavy; it’s round, so it must be a paperweight.
Whenever we do an activity, we need try to integrate different aspects so the learning is rich. Here, if we can get students to use a particular structure in naming the objects, they not only learn vocabulary but also consolidate the structures.
OR
It’s thin and long, so it is a ruler.
It’s heavy; it’s round, so it is a paperweight.
OR
I have found a ruler.
I have found a paperweight.

If you are using this article with lower classes, you can ask them simply to name the item they think there is. The difficulty level of the structures of the sentences can be raised depending upon the level of the students.

Get one student to name three to five items only so that many students get a chance. As they name the objects, list the names on the board. When most items have been named, display all items one by one and get the class to name them aloud and spell the words. If the students have named any items wrongly, correct the list on the board.
Depending upon the level of students, you can either ask them to make sentences using the words, to copy them in their exercise books or to draw some items.

Useful books for teaching and learning vocabulary
Carter, R. & McCarty, M. (1988). Vocabulary and language teaching. Harlow: Longman.
Flower, J. & Berman, M. (1989). Build your vocabulary. Hove: Language Teaching Publications.
Gairns, R. & Redman, S. (1986). Working with words. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McCarthy,  M. (1996). Vocabulary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Morgan, J. & Rivolucri, M. (1986). Vocabulary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Taylor, L. (1992). Vocabulary in action. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall.
Wallace, M. (1987). Teaching vocabulary. 3rd ed. London: Heinemann.
Watcyn-Jones, P. (1993). Vocabulary games and activities for teachers. London: Penguin.
Willis, D. (1990). The lexical syllabus. London: Collins.

[First published in the Shikshak Magazine, April-May 2010]

Jumping the language barrier: The `fifth skill´

— Philippa Baker

Defining the `fifth skill´

Bettina is an elementary student in an in-company Business English class. She enjoys her lessons, but the hard part for her is walking into the classroom and making the switch between German and English. For her, skills work is a long and laborious process of word-for-word translation, and she would like to know how to eliminate the need to move between the two languages, in other words, how to jump the language barrier. Removing the need for translation is an entirely realistic goal, one that involves putting classroom emphasis on precisely the process Bettina describes, moving from one language to the other, referred to here as the ‘fifth skill’. I contend that the fifth skill not only deserves as much attention as the other four, but is in fact key to mastering the language.

Traditional communicative methodology advocates students ‘thinking in English’. For students like Bettina, this goal may seem impossible, but there is no doubt that some of her colleagues are entirely capable of doing so. In an informal discussion with these students, a total of twenty people from elementary to advanced level, the pattern was clear: elementary students felt they translated word-by-word from German in production activities, and back again in receptive activities, intermediate students felt they usually translated but experienced moments of ‘taking flight’ and thinking in English about 5% of the time, and advanced students reported that the majority of their language processes took place in English.

If we accept that most learners follow this pattern, would it not make sense to focus on the process, to treat is as a fifth skill in addition to the other four, and by drawing students’ attention to it during class time, speed up the ‘automatisation process’?

Reasons to teach the fifth skill…

Perhaps the weightiest argument in favour of focusing on translation skills is that as reported above, use of the fifth skill is a fact of life for many students much of the time. Asking a student to think in English is superfluous if his vocabulary amounts to two hundred words. Asking him to translate a short sentence into English is not only possible, but mirrors what the student claims to experience as he learns.

Regardless of the student’s level, translation exercises are also a fascinating tool for comparative study of L1 and L2. Let us imagine a business student who has to write a formal letter to his English client. By asking him to draft the letter himself in German, we ask him to concentrate first on ideas rather than language, thus generating a checklist which ensures that all his ideas will be included in the English version. We could then ask the student to draft his own English translation and compare it to our own, drawing also attention to the letter conventions. The discovery approach applied to translation makes for a more memorable introduction to the topic, and of course generates a fully proof-read business letter which the student is then ready to send. We could even take things a step further, as suggested by Luke Prodromou in his recent article on mother tongue use in the classroom and have students translate back into the original language (as a final check, perhaps, or to reinforce mental links between equivalent phrases).

An added benefit of using translation exercises in class is their inherent value as an indicator of how well the student has assimilated a new item of vocabulary or grammar. Incorporating a translation exercise as homework after the free practice stage of a grammar lesson, for example, could draw attention to areas which are still unknown. Such an exercise used with sensitivity could give students the opportunity to close lexical gaps, and also to reflect on the information they can express in English. In a recent intermediate class, students were so delighted to find they could express ‘je… desto…’ in English that they produced a spontaneous stream of (correct) examples of the construction without any prompting.

Another argument in favour of translation in the classroom would be that this is what students often expect. Germany is a country where teachers are presumed to be proficient in the language of their students: surely this knowledge should be exploited for the students’ benefit? After a detailed explanation of a new vocabulary item, students are often left muttering to one another or arguing over potential German translations. Perhaps the quickest check question is ‘German?´. In conversation with my students, it transpired that even the most assiduous student, regardless of textbook advice to the contrary, still records vocabulary in English-German pairs: they should at least have an accurate translation. No less useful as an exercise in sensitising students to nuances of language is having them compare and justify their personal or group translations (for concrete suggestions see Language Learning in Translation Classrooms and Learner-Based Teaching).

… and why some hold that we should not

The most commonly cited argument against translation in the classroom is that is not a real-world activity. Businesspeople are not usually confronted with a mass of text which they must translate to a deadline, and they are rarely required to interpret the words of their colleague for a visiting business partner. A quick look at the work of Bettina and her colleagues shows that this is very far from truth. Translation, in various forms, in fact forms a regular part of their work. Few companies use English exclusively as an official language: the more common scenario is for people to work with their immediate colleagues in German and with – usually non-native-speaker – colleagues or business partners in English. An e-mail arriving from Sweden would for example be summarised in German for a colleague, the result of a meeting passed on to the boss briefly in German. A less confident English speaker might formulate his e-mail in English, then forward it to his colleague for checking. An executive sent to a conference in Vienna might listen to native speakers focusing on the gist of their speech rather than the specifics before reporting these back in an e-mail in German to his boss in the evening. If we aim for our classes to mirror the real world of businesspeople then it is precisely this kind of summary translation exercise which we should be practising.

Is it not possible that through a general English course, with no focus on translation skills, the ability to think in the language will be acquired automatically, with no focused input from the teacher? After all, total immersion courses where students spend time in an all-English environment, claim to deliver excellent results. Almost too good: students who have spent time abroad often find they struggle to render some expressions in idiomatic German. Ideally however they should be able to move between both languages just as easily as they can now express themselves within one language.

Translation brings with it the danger of word-for-word renditions of German, the kind of incomprehensible texts produced by most internet translation tools. While literal translations of phrases often sound unfamiliar to the native speaker ear, and also risk being incomprehensible, literal translations at the lexical level can be very helpful, especially in the German – English context when the common root of a word is clear. And by ‘teaching around the word’, by encouraging students to note similarities and differences in usage (‘Does this verb take the same preposition as in German?’), we focus on the phrase rather than the individual word.

Perhaps translation work is viewed as dry or superfluous by students raised on the communicative approach. Notwithstanding surveys suggesting that younger learners (who are more likely to have a background in communicative methodology) tend to prefer minimal use of L1 input of any kind in the classroom, many older students feel differently. Our goal should be to help all learners understand the benefits of studying the ‘fifth skill’, and offer them a chance to incorporate imagery from their own cultural background into the target language and so use it more vividly.

A suggested classroom strategy

If we accept that the fifth skill deserves a place in our classroom, where can we look for teaching material? Few textbooks devote space to issues of translation as such. The vast majority of textbooks are of course monolingual. Notable exceptions are Getting Ahead (includes bilingual word-lists), Cutting Edge (occasionally asks ‘how do you say this in your language?’), and the translation chapter of Learner-Centred Teaching.

We could use as a fifth skill task any activity which compares German and English vocabulary, grammar, or cultural conventions, for example: a conventional translation or summary of a written e-mail; a comparison of past tense forms in the two languages; or an investigation into letter-writing conventions. Other approaches mentioned above are summarised below:

— Using awareness-raising activities which give students the chance to examine their own attitudes to translation in   the classroom
— Setting investigation tasks into German and English letter-writing conventions
— Comparing tense forms in the two languages
— Reformulating German output produced in fluency activities
— Using summary translation exercises with businesspeople
— Ensuring students who record vocabulary in German have an accurate translation
— Setting ‘contextual’ translation vocabulary tests
— Instilling or developing an interest in the process of translation.

All these approaches seek to use fifth skill activities as a bridge, a tool to break through the language barrier and allow students to achieve their aim of ‘thinking in English’.

References

Prodromou, L. From mother tongue to other tongue.
http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/methodology/mother_tongue.shtml

Campbell, C., Kryszewska H., Learner-Based Teaching, O.U.P. 1992.

Translation in the classroom, Cindy Cunningham
www.cels.bham.ac.uk/resources/essays/cindy2.pdf

Language Learning in Translation Classrooms, Carol Ann Goff-Kfouri
http://accurapid.com/journal/32edu1.htm

Walter, H. C., Reading in a second language
http://www.lang.ltsn.ac.uk/resources/goodpractice.aspx?resourceid=1420

Sewell, P., Hidden merits of the translation class
http://www.lang.ltsn.ac.uk/resources/goodpractice.aspx?resourceid=1433

[Philippa Baker studied Eastern European Languages at the University of London. She speaks Russian, Hungarian, French and German. She has taught in Russia and Hungary and is currently working at International House in Hamburg.]

Active, passive, and professional voices

— Shyam Sharma

I just finished reading the book Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History, which historicizes reductionist views about writing among scholars and teachers in the disciplines across the university. The author, David Russell, argues that most scholars outside the discipline of writing itself tend to believe that writing is a transparent tool for transcribing ideas (and not a tool for exploring and learning ideas), that the problem of poor writing should be solved as early as possible by those who are assigned to teach writing (and not that teachers across the disciplines should help students learn to do increasingly specialized writing along with their advancement in the disciplines), and that one size fits all program for teaching universal writing skills, if done well, is enough to deal with the challenge of writing in the university (instead of integrating writing within the disciplines and through the learners’ disciplinary careers). That is why most scholars in most disciplines punish students for poor writing (because poor writing is caused by the fault of the student and their English/writing teachers): they don’t see poor writing in advanced levels of education as caused by their own disregard for writing as a learning tool at all levels, in all disciplines.

When I finished reading this book, I could not help thinking about similarly problematic views about scholarship, about research, and about professional discourse in general in our own scholarly communities at home. Consider this: editors of our blog magazine Nelta Choutari have been urging fellow NELTA members to please kindly contribute any teaching stories/anecdotes, general blog entries in the form of reflection on ELT, branch updates, anything—and we’ve got some very interesting and useful stories and reflections. However, on the one hand, there has been generally a scanty response to this solicitation; and on the other, even when we are lucky enough to receive contributions, which are always great, these materials do not elicit as much response and discussion from the general community as do the topics of grammatical rules on the mailing list. Of course, the mailing group is a more established forum and the email “posts” also prompt response by reaching everyone’s inbox—unlike the blog where users need to either revisit or be reminded by someone that a discussion is going on. But this technological reason aside, if we look at the level of enthusiasm towards subjects of larger import of the profession among the general members of our community, we see a striking need for us to engage more in larger discussions of the profession, to share our stories, ideas, arguments/debates on issues larger than grammar. We need to talk about grammar, but we also equally importantly need to talk about more substantive issues about our profession: we are yet to see that balance. Here I want to reflect on some possible reasons for the relative lack of interest in discussing larger issues of the profession than in the nitty gritty of language.

In general, the Nepali culture is hierarchical. What is a bit intriguing is that even teachers don’t seem ready yet to rethink the internalized hierarchy and focus on more liberal and professional relationships among ourselves. Individuals with higher academic credentials/degrees, those who have more political clout in the academic/professional community, more administrative power, more years of experience in the field, or simply more years in their lives are seen as more important, more respectable. Too often, they are respected for no other reason than due to our internalized acceptance of hierarchy for its own sake. Needless to say, people with more degrees (and sometimes more marks on their certificates), more experience, and simply more years in their lives are likely to have more knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, more refined professional skills, and more confidence. But that is only half the story, the other half of which is my subject here.

Our internalized sense of hierarchy makes us believe that older, more experienced, and more credentialed people naturally/logically have more knowledge, that they must not be challenged, and—this is my point—that the younger, less credentialed, and less experienced people must not be so “disrespectful” as to speak up, challenge, or even contribute their ideas to the professional community. Even when we do participate in discussions, we tend to stick to the ground. This sense of hierarchy, whether conscious or not, and if that is what is keeping the line of division intact, is not only irrelevant today but also harmful for our social, intellectual, and professional progresses.

To illustrate my point, let me share a story. I taught Manoj Khadka in 8th grade, when he was 14, in a public school in Biratnagar, 15 years ago. Manoj is now 29, and say he is an assistant professor of education, has done extensive research and impressive publications, and is leading a major educational project that helps develop educational resource for English teachers across the country. Now, whenever I get a chance to talk to Manoj, he not only considers me his “teacher”—not former teacher but a forever “guru,” and he is forever my “student”—but he also makes sure to praise me for things like how well I taught active and passive voice. He knows that I am still in the field of education, pursuing my own goals, but he and I have not shared much intellectual/professional substance. He found me on Facebook last year, and we are in touch through that medium, besides occasional emails. Since we reconnected, I found out about his professional works and his project, and I have tried to learn more about them—in vain. He says, “ke hunu sir, eso ali ali.” His emails are intimate but there is something fundamental in his language, and the lack of substance, in his writing that seems to inhibit him from talking to me like a fellow professional, a colleague. He rarely seems to have the confidence to describe his fascinating resource development project with me; he downplays its significance, if not refuse to discuss it altogether. I become uncomfortable because I wonder if my own internalized sense of hierarchy has made me somehow sound patronizing to him in my communication, forever guru-like, forever on a higher pedestal. I am not sure….

As evident in the above semi-fictional example of my relationship with a former student, the hierarchical relationship among the different generations of scholars in our professional community seems to me to be the most important factor behind the scholar-teacher division that is so prevalent in our discipline, as well as our society in general. Those who have PhDs are scholars, others are teachers. Those who taught you should talk like scholars, not you, in any forums where both are present. Those who are older should be listened to, not talked with. Those who do research, those who publish books, those who present conference papers, those who write in journals, and those who are capable of writing in online forums… they are scholars, the bidwans, gurus: the rest, younger, without the PhD tag, second-division walas, those who are not authors of journal articles or books, or worse those who haven’t even done a conference paper… these may at best call themselves teachers—actually, look around before you use the word “teacher,” in case there are real teachers nearby: “hoina, sir, ke teacher bhannu. Yeso ali ali jyan palne meso ni.” In between the “jyan palne” not quite even teachers and the awe-inspiring “educators,” there has been and continues to exist a great gap. In some academic disciplines, especially ELT, that gap seems to have somewhat decreased recently, for instance, as indicated by the quiet “hijacking” of the very word “educator” by younger scholars. This can be seen in email signatures and resumes: “Manoj Khadka, Teacher Educator, X Campus.” But the hegemony still basically replicates itself—it’s such a diehard thing—and even with the advent of “loktantra” and “ganatantric paddati,” the academic sphere doesn’t seem to think or act very differently.

Does this mean that we should stop giving the respect that is due to people who have spent their lives contributing to the academia and the society? NO. Should we respect them less? NO again. The question is what kind of respect makes sense and what kind of respect doesn’t make sense. Let us respect and promote ideas and productivity and contribution to the progress of our profession and the society, not respect for the person, their age, political clout, degree, region, sex, culture, class… Let the younger scholars lead new initiatives, invite the older generations to contribute and inspire.

Does this mean that we should start giving more respect to younger scholars than we are used to giving? Yes. But, again, it’s not a matter of “respect” to the person: we need to appreciate younger scholars’ contribution to the professional community, encourage them to share more ambitious ideas—and not be too humble, lacking in confidence before older scholars, just waiting to hear what guru will say. I want Manoj Khadka to share his ideas with me, to tell me how he is doing better work than our professional community has conventionally done, to engage me in much more serious discourse than his emails that simply say things like “dear sir, how are you? … I still remember how you taught active and passive voice…” I have asked him to put more substance of professional significance into his writing; but the more I do that, the less frequently he writes to me! I want Manoj to initiate discussions on subjects that have larger professional significance than the correct use of preposition or conversion of active to voice—or on top of those subjects.

I am not entirely sure—and I want to offer this for discussion (please comment)—but it makes me very uncomfortable when I think that Manoj’s participation in our discussion forums is limited to active and passive voice, preposition, articles because he doesn’t consider himself qualified to engage in discussions of larger issues of our profession. It is possible that Manoj is uninterested or unwilling to go beyond grammar in our discussions because he has a limited view of the profession, or because he subscribes to the division of roles whereby the scholars play the “higher” roles of scholarly discussion, research, and publication and the mere teachers should stick to talking about grammar.

The separation of scholar and teacher is in itself a very troublesome problem for any profession, and it is not unique to Nepal. But that separation becomes even more troublesome when it is reinforced and perpetuated by an internalized acceptance of hierarchy and hegemony and not just due to conscious choice to remain “practitioners” on the part of younger scholars, the non-PhDs, those who don’t have first division written in their certificates, those who live/teach outside Kathmandu, those who don’t have cozy connections with the “big” people at the center, and so on.

Therefore, dear Manoj,
As much as I love to read anything you write—including when you write about articles and prepositions—it would be even nicer of you if you could initiate and participate in other larger subjects about our profession and our development as a professional community.

Your once-upon-a-time teacher, and today a fellow ELT scholar/teacher,

Shyam Sharma

Networking Matters: Message from Surkhet (15th NELTA Conference)

Networking matters.

Kamal Poudel, Secretary, NELTA

‘I came, I saw, I conquered’. Many modern people may not be aware of the first speaker of this simple sentence which bears a strong sense winning a battle but in an easy way. The battle might have been fearful, but the speaker never felt like that. There were strong teams around him to face the challenges together; they fought the battle bearing the meaning of team spirit to achieve the success. The success and team works are now intricately interwoven, which has been the main driving force for the successful operation of NELTA across the country. Along with this, NELTA has been quite successful in spreading the idea that NELTA believes in the concept of multiple centers. We would like to reiterate that NELTA has been breaking down the compartmentalizing barriers that were raised in the Nepalese society for long. Breaking the barriers, the teachers involved in NELTA have now realized that they are in the dire need of networking among themselves. The meeting of NELTA delegates during the conference itself is the indicator of the need of networking. Their overwhelming presence and the relationship they establish among themselves should be seriously taken by the people who are leading NELTA, no matter what level. Also, its imperative value needs to be addressed as significantly as possible. The NELTA delegates from the different corners have already proved this that they want to be the part of wider network as far as possible. We agree that NELTA delegates were not satisfied with the gathering in the centre only, or they must have thought that now it’s a high time that they broke the concept of  one center and establish the concept of multiple centers.  Here, the concept of NELTA’s multiple centers bears the idea of helping strengthening the teachers’ professionalism and thus finally enhance the teaching-learning situation in the country from the different parts. These facts finally led the NELTA Surkhet branch colleagues and the other like-minded NELTA colleagues to host the second phase of the 15th International Conference of NELTA from 24 to 25 February 2010.

The Surkhet conference brought the same spirit of dedication from the different parts of the world (India, China, Australia, Poland, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Romania, UK and USA) to the enhancement of ELT in Nepal. The conference drew the attention of local people widely and clearly conveyed the message that the existence and improvement of English in the local level is essential, as it is a tool to see interact with the rest of the world.

Certainly, all languages in a multilingual society and setting have the same prestige and importance. All language speakers have the equal right to preserve and speak their own language as per their desire in their daily life situation; however these people have the right to be informed about the grave value of and to have access to the language that they think is important in the given situation and the relevant age. The people of the present day are required to understand the fact that English is now nobody’s language so it is everybody’s language. Being everybody’s language, it has been able to bring the people of the world together and thus share their diverse ideas on the same platform. To note, we are able to expose ourselves to the outer world through the common means. We are aware of the fact that thoughts/ideas are the core/end of our life while language is the ‘dress of thought’. But, if we are not equipped with the common means, we may not be able to share our ideas efficiently; the sharing of ideas can make this world a better place to live. It is worth noting the words of the welcome speech delivered by Mr B R Khadka, the campus chief of Surkhet Education Campus. He expressed that we have seen that English language has become indispensable to the modern life as it is a global language, which needs to be acquired by all who would like to be interconnected with the world. In this reference, we also need to be quite aware of the significance of the enhancement of the English Language in our country. At this point, I would like to stress on the word ‘interconnection’ which bears the essence of networking. The people now locally and globally have realized that interconnection is the key thing in order to enhance oneself, so the concept of networking among the ELT members needs to be addressed by the NELTA delegates for the overall development education. English is not now for the sake of English. At the same time, English is a language which co-exists with other languages, so the English language should be considered as a factor which helps the diversity grow in a harmonious way. To create harmony in the diversity is the task of ELT stakeholders of the present day world.

Whether we have been able to create positive attitude towards English among the users is an important question. We have seen that English is an indispensable to the modern life. In the name of its importance, we may have been erasing the meanings of life of many young citizens across the country. Because we have been stressing on the value of English language, and at the same time we have not able to teach this language to the students in an effective way, as a result thousands of Nepalese students have failed in the test of English. No doubt, NELTA is not the only stakeholder of English teaching, along with the government agencies there are many. But in some ways, we are also responsible for the failure of English in many schools. We have been playing the role of watchdog as well. But, has this been enough? Or is it that we have not been strong enough to wake up the government agencies to accelerate the teaching of English and make it better? It’s a high time that we started evaluating and reviewing what we have done so far. These questions could be sensed in the inaugural speech delivered by Prof Khaniya. It’s never too late, if we start acting from the time we have realized. Again, for this as well, we the teachers are required to get together and move ahead in a harmony to address the existing problems to bring positive changes in the society. We all realize that it’s our responsibility if we are professionally committed. The professional development matters, which is one of the key statements NELTA has always been raising. So, dear ENLTA colleagues come forward and get connected and widen the networking, share your ideas and finally help each other; and we develop professionally!!! Also, learning is the prerequisite of professional development. Learn with your colleagues and learn from your pupils are the facts of modern education, which we all are aware of. Get interconnected to learn, I would say.

‘What did you learn my lord?’ was answered as ‘Words, words, words!’ These often quoted question and answer are always relevant to the teachers. In addition to what, how do you learn is also an important question. To take an analogy, there was a priest who was to preach in a new place for his new audience. As he got to the temple, there was a huge gathering of people to listen to him. He wrote a word/title on the board and asked his people, ‘Do you know what story I am going to tell you today?’ The people were puzzled and answered together ‘No.’ The priest said, ‘If you do not know anything about the story, why should I tell you?’ Saying this, he left the place. It was on second day, he asked the same question. The people wanted to listen to him. So, this time they decided to say the answer ‘yes.’ They said yes. To their great surprise, the priest said, ‘If you know the story, why should I tell you?’ This time too he went away. Everyone was puzzled again. The same thing happened on the third day as well. He came and asked the same question. This time, the people answered differently. Some half of them said ‘yes’, and some half of them said ‘no’. The priest was satisfied with the answer and said, ‘Good! Now those who know the story tell to those who do not know the story.’ Then, he carried on his work. Now the question is, how should you be rated, if you are the same type of teacher? I believe the teacher like him is a modern teacher. S/he believes in the principle of group work. Further, s/he believes that there are more than thirty people in class, and then there are thirty diverse sources of knowledge. A single person may not be the good source of all different types of knowledge. This is the age of diversity, and diversity is the abundant source of knowledge, indeed authentic knowledge. Enter the world of diversity to achieve the authenticity of knowledge. Connect yourself with more people. Start learning now. Prof Awasthi rightly asked the question in his plenary speech ‘Do Teachers Teach or Learn?’ The classroom itself is the source of knowledge for the teachers and students themselves. Learning from each other is a fun. We teachers, as Prof Awasthi stressed, too need to expand ourselves further widely and get connected more for the self-empowerment.

In this context further, if  there is diversity, can we assure that there is only one English? No, never is it possible. Mr Uttam Gaulee, the chair of Surkhet NELTA branch said that English is used more by non-native speakers than the native ones. This also indicates that English is living with various languages. The moment we talk about the existence of a being or a language in diversity, we automatically assume that there is sure to be the birth of another type, which again contributes to the development of diversity. This has been proved by the development of Nepali language itself. We do not speak the same language that Bhanubhakta Acharya or his contemporary spoke. Along with the self development of Nepali language, it has borrowed a lot of features from other languages spoken in Nepal. Certainly, its features have also been borrowed by other languages. Thus, there are different varieties of Nepali language. So is the case with English. We are, indeed, developing our own English, and one day there will be a palpable variety of English spoken in Nepal in the long run. Concentrating on the concept World Englishes, Dr. Numa Markee, the keynote speaker of the conference deliberated that English is growing very fast round the globe and therefore it has a number of variations. He also stated that English teachers can play crucial roles in the language policies of Nepal as the new constitution of Nepal which is to be drafted soon. He also added that bringing about pedagogical innovation is the most challenging task to be done in course of introducing curriculum innovation. So, I would like to stress on NELTA delegates should now take the deciding role what kind of language policy we need. The fact is we need English and we need diversity.

Finally, knowing the value of diversity is essential for the modern teachers. In order to feel the value, the criss-cross matters. Your movement from one point to another point will prove to what extent you would like to see the diverse world: be it seeing different cultures across the country or wathching birds in Chitwan National Park. Or make another plan to meet another centre after Kathmandu and Surkhet. In the conference (in Kathmandu and Surkhet), NELTA participants came, NELTA participants saw and NELTA participants conquered. Move from your place to see the diversity, and thus strengthen the networking of multiple centers, share the ideas of those centres through various means, and finally become a conqueror. One of the ways of sharing is to visit the NELTA Choutari. Post your comments and ideas. We would like to welcome the diverse ideas from different centres. Remember you are one of the centers. Please tell us what is there in your centre.

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