Category Archives: Teacher Training

Inspiration to Transformation: My Academic Odyssey

Dammar Singh Saud


Growing up in a middle-class family with five siblings, my formative years were shaped by the love and care of my elders, instilling in me a sense of confidence and freedom. Among them, my father emerged as the most influential figure, guiding me with his hard work and selfless values. As I reflect on my educational journey and professional life, I realize how my father’s schooling continues to resonate, impacting my academic pursuits and shaping me into an educator who seeks to inspire and transform the lives of others.

The Enduring Legacy of My Father: Inspiring Values in My Academic Journey

Growing up in a modest family in the Baitadi district, my father’s determination, love for education, and selflessness left an indelible impact on my values, beliefs, and personal growth.

Despite their humble circumstances, my father’s family recognized the transformative power of education, impressing upon him the importance of prioritizing learning for a brighter future. Embracing this wisdom, he excelled academically and obtained top honours in the Kanchanpur district, the western part of Nepal. Working part-time to support his further studies, he completed B.Ed. in mathematics from Tribhuvan University, Nepal, and devoted over 36 years to teaching secondary-level mathematics in rural areas.

My father’s life experiences taught me the value of hard work, honesty, and unwavering determination to achieve my goals. His struggles also instilled in me a sense of gratitude for the opportunities I have today. His most profound lesson, however, was selflessness, his unwavering dedication to his family and society left an indelible impression on my character. As I pursued my academic journey, my father’s influence continued to guide me. Although my circumstances were more privileged, his lessons taught me that diligence and integrity make success possible.

His teachings not only shaped me as a good person but also as an authentic individual. I am determined to pass these invaluable lessons to my future family and students. With his enduring legacy as my compass, I seek to inspire and transform lives, just as my father has done throughout his remarkable journey.

Empowerment Through Education: A Personal Academic Journey

My academic journey commenced at home, where my family played the role of my first teachers, introducing me to alphabet belts and basic numbers. Though I began my formal education in a government school like my siblings, I had the privilege of studying in private (boarding) school (first in my family). This choice garnered public attention and prestige in our village, underscoring the value of education.

During my primary education, I excelled in memorization-based learning, securing top positions in my class. However, the system of rote learning limited my true understanding of the subjects. Shifting to government education posed initial challenges due to larger and more diverse classes, but I adapted over time, benefiting from a more flexible learning environment, albeit lacking student-centred approaches.

Upon completing my SLC, I went to Nainital India for my I.Sc., however I realized that my I.Sc. didn’t align with my interests, and faced language difficulties and homesickness. My family, understanding my predicament gave me the freedom to decide my academic path, leading me back to Mahendranagar, my hometown.

Embracing my interest in English, I pursued I.A. with English as my major subject. My academic journey continued rapidly, culminating in a B.A. with a major in English from Mahendranagar. My pursuit of higher education led me to Kathmandu, where I completed my M.A. in English literature from the central department of English in Kirtipur, achieving a first division. During my master’s studies, I harboured aspirations of becoming a police officer, inspired by the bold heroes of Hindi movies. However, my passion for teaching gradually surfaced, steering me away from the police force.

In this journey, education has played a pivotal role in empowering me intellectually. It provided me with knowledge, skills, and critical thinking abilities, enabling me to navigate various academic pursuits successfully. Furthermore, education has empowered me economically by opening doors to career opportunities and professional growth, allowing me to contribute meaningfully to society.

Education also fosters social empowerment, equipping me with the ability to share knowledge, mentor others, and contribute to the transformation of education in Nepal. Through my role as an educator, I have had the privilege of training teacher educators, presenting research papers at national and international conferences, and integrating innovative teaching strategies with ICT in language classrooms.

As I reflect on my academic journey, I recognize that education has been the key to my empowerment in multiple dimensions. Not only has it enriched my personal and professional life, but it has also instilled a deep sense of responsibility to empower others through the dissemination of knowledge and a commitment to transformative education.

Empowering Teaching Through Innovative Integration of ICT

As I embarked on my teaching journey at Darchula Multiple Campus, Khalanga, Darchula, Nepal in 2009 after completing my M.A. in English Literature from Tribhuvan University, I initially questioned whether teaching would become my true passion and profession. Not having an ELT background, my first experiences in university-level ELT classes left me feeling somewhat apprehensive. However, the positive responses and appreciation from both students and colleagues ignited a newfound enjoyment in teaching, leading me to realize that teaching was indeed my passion.

To improve my teaching skills and enhance my expertise in English Language Education further, I pursued a one-year B.Ed. and M.Ed. from Tribhuvan University. Determined to stay up to date with the latest pedagogy and educational technologies, I delved into integrating ICT into my ELT classrooms. The availability of ICT infrastructure, including computer labs, laptops, projectors, multimedia smart boards, and internet facilities, provided valuable tools to enrich the teaching and learning process.

The integration of ICT, though initially challenging, proved to be a motivating force in my teaching practices. Participating in various training sessions, workshops, webinars, and conferences, and learning from online resources like YouTube videos, I gradually adapted to using ICT more effectively in language classrooms. My colleagues often sought technical support from me when incorporating educational software such as MS Teams and Zoom during the transition to online classes amidst the pandemic.

Witnessing my students’ satisfaction and a keen interest in my classes further fueled my motivation to innovate in teaching by strategically incorporating ICT. A significant incident that highlights this impact occurred on 5th July 2021 when I was allowed to conduct ICT training for my colleagues at Far Western University Darchula Multiple Campus Khalanga Darchula. The training focused on using MS Team for upcoming online classes, and it became evident that many faculty members lacked familiarity with ICT in education. Their enthusiasm to learn and improve their ICT practices was inspiring. Guiding them through the basic functionalities of MS Team, such as creating class schedules, adding students as members, conducting quizzes, and facilitating group discussions, the session proved to be both engaging and fruitful, garnering appreciative comments from the participants and the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Despite facing challenges within the academic environment and culture, where well-performing teachers are sometimes undervalued or discriminated against based on political affiliations, I have remained steadfast in fulfilling my professional duties honestly and responsibly. The support and belief from my family, friends, and students have been instrumental in sustaining my resilience.

Through the transformative power of education and the innovative integration of ICT, my passion for teaching has flourished, empowering me intellectually and professionally. Beyond my personal growth, I aspire to be an agent of change, promoting the meaningful use of ICT in education and contributing to the advancement of the educational landscape in Nepal.

M.Phil. at Kathmandu University as a Gateway for Transformation

I decided to pursue an MPhil in English language education from Kathmandu University with the unwavering support and encouragement from my family, friends, and students. Their belief in my abilities and the significance of advancing my academic journey propelled me to seek an institution that would catalyze personal growth and transformation. In this esteemed institution, I got amazing mentors, whose mentorship equipped me with both theoretical knowledge and practical competencies, instilling in me the confidence to implement cutting-edge teaching strategies and adapt to the ever-evolving needs of my future students. Through their guidance, I deepened my understanding of English language education and acquired the necessary skills to become a proficient teacher for 21st-century learners. Engaging in teacher professional development activities, I was exposed to innovative teaching methods, educational technologies, and effective pedagogical approaches that are most relevant in today’s dynamic classroom environments.

Furthermore, the vibrant academic environment at Kathmandu University fostered a strong sense of community among fellow students. Collaborative projects, discussions, and academic events enriched my learning experience and provided me with diverse perspectives on educational practices. This supportive network of peers and colleagues further contributed to my personal and professional growth, creating a nurturing environment for exploration and intellectual development.

During my M.Phil. journey at Kathmandu University, I experienced a profound personal transformation and achieved notable professional growth. Embracing innovative teaching strategies, I contributed to the academic field through publications and disseminated knowledge to a broader audience. Additionally, my academic journey extended into teacher education and research, as I provided training and presented research papers at national and international conferences, contributing to the advancement of Nepal’s education system. This transformation has empowered me with the confidence to foster positive change and cultivate a passion for learning among future generations.

Summing up

My academic journey has been a transformative experience, catalyzed by the influence of my father’s dedication to education and selflessness. From the early years of learning at home to my pursuit of higher education at Kathmandu University, I have been intellectually and professionally empowered. By integrating innovative teaching methods and ICT in the language classroom, I have witnessed heightened student engagement and satisfaction. This journey has also enabled me to contribute actively to the field through my publications and knowledge-sharing endeavours with fellow educators. Supported by the unwavering belief of my family, friends, and students, I am determined to leverage the transformative power of education, creating a positive impact on the lives of students, and fostering progress within Nepal’s education landscape as I continue to evolve as an educator and researcher.

About the Author: Dammar Singh Saud is an assistant professor at Far Western University, Nepal. He holds an M.A. in English Literature and an M.Ed. in English Language Education. Currently pursuing an MPhil in English Language Education at Kathmandu University, his research interests include ELT Pedagogy, ICT in ELT, Teacher Professional Development, and Translanguaging.

My Journey to Become a Textbook Writer

Bishow Raj Joshi*

On the very first day of my teaching career at Shree Bhairab Secondary School, Lamjung where I was appointed as a teacher of English in 1999, I found a book written by Vishnu Singh Rai in the school’s bookshelf. When reading his profile on the cover page, I wished I had had my name as Mr. Rai on the cover page of a textbook. But I had another important responsibility of pursuing Masters Degree and achieving it before starting any other works.

So far I remember the day I found a notice: “call for sample lessons to select grade eight textbook writers” in Gorkhapatra, a national daily newspaper from where my life of writer began. After reading the notice, I contacted my several friends, prepared required documents together and submitted them to Curriculum Development Centre, Sanothimi, Bhaktapur within the notice period. Fortunately, our team was selected to work for Curriculum Development Centre. I still feel how much I was excited to be a part of writers’ team.

We were given a time period of fifteen days to gather necessary materials to develop a textbook. In such a short timeframe, we had to work out of limited sources in rush. As a beginning to develop the textbook framework, the team scheduled a meeting to review national education policy, curriculum and previous textbooks, and in the meeting, the team decided to organize contents into each language skill: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Technically we planned to present contents into three sections based on the framework: Engage yourself-Study-Activate yourself. In the meeting, we distributed tasks of collecting materials to each of us in the team and agreed to meet with assigned works the following week.

Immediately after three weeks of our book development journey, our team briefed our ongoing activities and preparation of the textbook to Curriculum Development Centre. We provided our preliminary drafts of some lessons to CDC. It led us to a meeting with subject committee members in CDC. The committee’s feedback helped us develop a draft of the book. Ultimately we were able to submit our book draft on the 45th day of our book writing journey. Then, we developed a task force including school teachers, collected their feedback and made some changes in the draft of the textbook. The further meeting with subject committee members provided valuable feedback to improve the draft and we included some images and diagrams with their suggestion.

When the final draft was produced as a textbook, it was sent to one hundred government schools for piloting the project. The pilot project provided significant feedbacks and then the comments collected from the school teachers were reviewed subsequently. The feedbacks helped rectify errors in the textbook. Then the textbook was published as a final version and distributed throughout the country.

Main structure of the book

We structured the materials under ESA (Engage -study-activate) lesson sequence in the textbook. Engage activities are presented as motivational activities, study activities as main texts, and activate activities as real-life activities. Reading texts in the textbook provide with opportunities for developing various reading skills such as skimming and scanning, and vocabulary development.  Practical activities set in the book provide the students with basic writing skills. Likewise, listening and speaking activities are entirely based on the communicative skills. We also expect that the students enhance grammatical competence through grammatical items presented in each unit. Some project works in the textbook drive teachers and students to field activities such as social events, environmental and community studies which may develop socialisation skills in the learners. Finally, to address the multiple intelligences of the students, fun activities are included in the textbook.

Personal experience in writing textbook

When I was selected and involved in the team of textbook writers, I got a load of priceless joys. Eventually, I started to dream to be a popular writer after being a part of a national level textbook. My dream to publish about my social, cultural and contexts were gradually happening to be actually concrete in real life. This opportunity reminded my teacher, Mr. Kalika Koirala, who encouraged me to study English and start teaching career. Since I became a member of writers’ team of the textbook, I have been popular among many people and my village has been recognised by many.

How I had thought in the beginning of starting to write the textbook did not go easily while gathering materials and working in the textbook. I thought 45 days would be enough for developing a draft of a textbook but actually, it was not. However, it was the allocated time for our team which was a pressure for everyone in the team. I have explained the major difficulties we faced when developing the book draft below:

Word choice: The guidelines for textbook writers had explicitly explained the maximum number of syllables in a word and the number of words in a sentence. We had to follow it strictly. This created problem while selecting the authentic reading texts. We had skipped many interesting texts due to the frequency of sentences consisting of more than twenty-two words and words consisting of many syllables. Therefore, there might not be more interesting reading texts in the book.

Framing the materials within the prescribed number of pages: As per the guidelines, we had to present all the materials within 176 pages. The areas to be addressed were really difficult to squeeze within the prescribed number of pages. To maintain it, we left many interesting texts. Therefore, we had to supply the book with short texts without the careful consideration of the interest of the students.

Searching for texts with prescribed language functions: There were particular language functions to be addressed in the textbook. While selecting the texts for different language functions and aspects, the texts had had at least some language exponents addressing the language functions prescribed in the curriculum. Finding such texts within a limited time was almost impossible. So we wrote some reading texts to address such problems.

Selecting the pictures and drawing in the textbook: When we submitted the draft copy within a given time frame, the textbook designer was handed over the document. The designer was assigned to supply the book with the pictures as per our description. We had no role in drawing pictures. Sometimes we changed the texts due to the lack of some pictures. In some cases, we changed the descriptions too. So we could not present the materials as we wished before.

However, being a textbook writer brought me both pleasure and pain. The pleasure relived the pain and generated more energy to be in the team of Grade 9 and 10 textbook writers.  The first writing experience not only strengthened my writing skills but also taught me what the writer should consider while writing a textbook.

* The author is a Lecturer at Sanothimi Campus, Tribuwan University, Nepal and a textbook writer of English textbooks for grade VIII, IX and X (CDC).

School Based Teacher Training: My Experience in the Khumbu Region

Ekraj Koirala (Siddhartha)
Ekraj Koirala (Siddhartha)


I have been working in the mountainous regions for four years in the capacity of teacher trainer for REED (Rural Education and Environment Development Centre) Nepal. It is a national level non-governmental organization, primarily working in the field of teacher training in rural areas of the country for one and a half decade. The organization has been implementing whole school modality where all teachers gather at a venue. This year, I got an opportunity to coordinate a school-based teacher training program in Kharikhola of Solukhumbu district. This model is a new intervention of our organization and a new approach in Nepali context.  In this brief essay, I discuss the steps of implementation and my observations toward the training model.

At the initial phase, we had an intensive discussion among teacher trainers, representatives from Ministry of Education (MoE), and experts from other parts of the world. The discussion highlighted the needs to focus on students’ progress through training rather than teachers’ attractive presentation in a simulated environment. The training has been divided into three phases: pre-training, while-training and post-training stages.

Pre-training stage (Preparation)

This is a preparation phase. In the first place, we invited a meeting of the head teachers from 17 schools in Kharikhola area. It was a very good discussion over the basic principles, processes and preparation for the training. I found myself excited as the head teachers were positive toward this model.  Then, teachers from 17 schools were invited in three venues, the leader schools in the area. Therefore, the venues were the schools, not the teacher training centers nor were they resource centers. Teachers from two to three academic subjects attended at the assigned venues; other teachers continued teaching in their schools. In this regard, trainers worked with a small number of teachers at a time; it was all six times we worked in these three different venues. A teacher had to work at the venue for three days.

 While Training Phase (Operational)

This phase is more collaborative in nature and a real operational phase. Once the teachers attended at the venue, they had to be present in the Morning Prayer with students. Then, they worked with trainers to prepare lesson plans for presentation. The lesson plans were based on learning outcomes specified by the curriculum and followed in Continuous Assessment System (CAS). All the lesson plans were done in terms of identified and analyzed needs. While developing the lesson plan, there was a good discussion among teachers and trainers over learning outcomes, teaching strategies and activities.  The trainees also developed necessary teaching materials and set time for each activity of the lesson plan with the help of trainers and fellow trainees.  Then, the trainers and teachers in each subject group went to the real classroom. One of the teachers led the lesson in the classroom and rest of them including trainer observed the classroom teaching. In some cases, they assisted teacher and students in various activities. During observation, students’ involvement and learning were the key elements to be considered. No matter how efficient and excellent lesson delivery took place, the key part of observation was to diagnose the learning of students. Mostly, students’ eagerness in learning, their participation in different activities, creativity and engagement in all sorts of learning processes were the major elements of observation in relation with the objectives set in the lesson plan.

Post Training Phase (Reflection)

The third phase was the reflective one. We discussed over the delivered lesson. Firstly, the teacher, who led the lesson, shared his/her feeling on the lesson. Then, every trainee was invited to put their views over the lesson on the basis of observation checklists. If the lesson objectives were not fulfilled, the lesson needed to go for revision, re-plan and deliver next day. Again, the revision went in collaboration with facilitator and fellow participants in some cases. In other cases, participants needed to plan for new lesson.

Major Characteristics

I was involved in this training program in all phases. In my observation, I have found five major features:

Training in real situation: We organized most of the face-to-face training programs and practised teaching skills in artificial settings in previous years. This time the training was organized in a natural situation i.e. in the real classroom. Teachers and trainers got opportunity to work in schools with students.

Focus on students’ progress: How teachers presented lesson does matter little but what learning outcome was seen on students is a major focus of this school-based teacher training model.

Lesson plan: Trainees worked on lesson plans instead of session plans.

CollaborativeThe model is highly collaborative in nature as trainees received a lot of opportunities to work and collaborate with fellow trainees and trainers in different phases of the training.

Focus on local context: It is obvious that facilitators and participants work in a specific context in this training model so that it could be more effective and teaching skills are transferable. Sometimes, training received in a different context may not be applicable in other contexts.


The school-based teacher training model we implemented is definitely time consuming than previous face-to-face model.  It took twelve days to cover a six-day previous training model. However, the model provided an ample opportunity to teachers to improve their teaching. It is participatory and student-centred as it involved students within the framework. In addition, the training was more economic in terms of money we expended there than previous models. Therefore, school-based teacher training approach could be replicated in other contexts. However, further researches need to be carried out in its theoretical and practical aspects.

Mr. Koirala is an MA in English and an LLB from Tribhuvan University. He has been working in the capacity of a senior teacher trainer of English for REED Nepal. His area of interest also includes writing, theatre performance and art.

Project NIITE: Developing Better Teachers for Implementing EMI

Ishwor Kadel
Ishwor P. Kadel

English as a medium of instruction (EMI) has been a burning issue  in community schools in Nepal these days. Nepali language has been the medium of instruction for the academic subjects like mathematics, science, social studies and so on. Although English is said to be taught in the same language, it is also not found to be fully implemented. In this backdrop, some community schools in Nepal have initiated the practice of EMI for teaching-learning. To support and enhance EMI, NCED has  recently launched a project called National Initiative to Improve Teaching in English , known as Project NIITE. The project has made many teachers, academicians and administrators aware of implementing EMI in classrooms. Yet, some regard that content knowledge that students learn is more important than the medium of its delivery.

After the completion of secondary or higher secondary school education, students have to face colleges and universities in English medium. Those  students, who want to go abroad for further study need to  sit for English language tests  like IELTS, TOEFL, SAT and GRE. This is  when they realize the importance of English language and feel inferior  before their competitors. Students with higher academic scores also cannot meet the entry requirement in language tests and get deprived of international academic opportunities.  It is not the knowledge that stops them from such opportunities but the language.

On the other hand, students from English medium private schools find these tests easier in comparison to the students from  community schools. The textbooks of community schools do not go any changes and revisions for long, whereas they are  modified each year with up- to- date information in private schools.

The policy of the government has given freedom to schools to use either Nepali or English as a medium of instruction. Basically, private boarding schools practice EMI and government public schools use Nepali language. They use Nepali language to teach subjects like English, mathematics, science and social studies. They have limited resources and the teachers ignore their everyday tasks before, while and after they are in their classrooms. The students, though they learn English language from primary level cannot communicate in English and they do not easily comprehend the texts they use. The students and most of the teachers in primary level do not have good command over English language. But many public schools have started introducing English language as a medium of instruction. This has made EMI training to public school teachers a must.

The recently launched project i.e. Project NIITE by NCED  with support from British Council has a main objective to enable primary level teachers from all over the nation to use English as a medium of instruction. The EMI training also follows the same modality of TPD training of NCED except for its focus on developing English language proficiency to deliver classes in English language.

The developing craze for English language among students and parents brought most of the students from community schools to private boarding schools. The number of students in public schools has been decreasing gradually in Nepal. According to the latest data, 417 public schools were merged because of having less students than supposed to be. It has also shown the importance of English language and its craze  in a developing country like Nepal. It is because of this, most of the community schools not only  decided to shift the medium of instruction but also managed school uniform that look similar to English medium private schools. However, implementing EMI has not become comfortable for teachers and the students at once. Therefore, the government decided to run EMI training for primary level teachers as EMI begins from primary.

In Primary level, students cannot understand and use English properly. The teachers know English but they have not used it as a medium of instruction. As they have been using Nepali language, which has lowered  their confidence in using English language. The teachers are hesitant to communicate among themselves and in the classrooms. Now, EMI training supports primary school teachers to use English in a simple and clear way. It teaches them how to maximize students’ participation and minimize teachers talking time in class. EMI gives them skills to maximize students talking time and minimize teachers talking time. It helps them better understand that the role of a teacher in classroom is to demonstrate, give clear instructions and engage all  students through pair work, small group work or whole class activities. In my experience as a teacher trainer in Nawalparasi and Gulmi districts of Nepal, the EMI training was much favored by the primary level teachers and they looked very much excited after six-days training was over. From the third day onwards, they communicated among themselves in English and used English language to talk with the trainers. The trainee teachers learnt how to use English rhymes and language games in classroom. They learnt to make useful classroom materials and became eager to go to school and implement what they had learnt in the raining. In the last two days of the first phase of the EMI training, they were also involved in a short micro teaching. This micro teaching and the feedback from fellow teachers and the trainers made them confident in six days.

EMI training under Project NIITE  lasts at least for three years and a master trainer from NCED and one from British Council work together to train teachers effectively. This project has its own training manual having 12 main units and many sub units under them. EMI  covers all the subjects except Nepali. This training mainly focuses on how to give clear, short and simple instruction to the students in English. It focuses on learner-centered classroom where students take active participation in classroom activities. The training focuses on the use of English language as a means of communication between teacher and  students, and students and students. EMI focuses on the use of four skills in every class. After the completion of EMI training, the trained teachers can use English as a medium of instruction, plan their own lessons, prepare teaching materials, train other teachers and become more creative.

A good lesson plan with specific objectives, teaching materials, time management of a teacher in classroom, use of classroom language by teacher and students, and the use of language skills are the highlights of EMI training. In the same way, involvement of students in learning activities such as a pair work, small group and whole class work, feedback and error correction, better monitoring, building good rapport between students -students and students -teacher and reflection are also the contents of  EMI training. The main focus of the training is the use of  classroom language, language for instruction,  and evaluation. EMI also focuses on child friendly, anti- racist and gender equality in classroom.

The schools which are willing to shift their medium of instruction must provide EMI training to their teachers so that it equips them with skills to teach subjects like English, mathematics, social studies and science through EMI. This is a pilot project in Nepal aiming to provide training to seven thousand basic level teachers in the country within three years.

Some people think that it makes no difference whether schools use English or Nepali as a medium of instruction but what matters most is the transfer of content knowledge. This is is right but EMI is a demand of school teachers  in community schools to stop the huge transfer of  students to  private English medium schools. EMI is not against using mother language in classroom. It does not promote ‘only-English’ policy in classrooms. However, a teacher can use mother language to help students comprehend the texts and contexts.

Finally, under the project NIITE, EMI training is  aiming to make teaching-learning effective basically in primary level in Nepal. The increasing curiosity among teachers regarding EMI training, and their motivation and active participation during the first phase of training has made us optimistic of its upcoming success. It seems to me that, EMI will surely help community schools to minimize the gap noticed in education between private schools and community schools.

The author is Master Trainer (Project NIITE) British Council, Nepal.

Teacher Training: One of the Best Ways of Self-development

-Parista Rai

Since the day I joined M.Ed. ELT program, it was my dream to be an ELT trainer and fortunately for me, it came true recently. As a part of Teacher’s Development course, I conducted training sessions in Janakpur and Tanahun in July and although it was my first experience of delivering training, I gained tremendous knowledge and experience. I experienced that conducting a teacher training session is a very challenging job where a trainer has to manage everything for the sake of in-service teachers’ satisfaction. In this article, I am very glad to share my experience.

I had heard about ELT teachers’ training before getting enrolled in Kathmandu University but when I got an opportunity to be a part of the ELT program here, I learnt many things related to English language teaching, learning and training. I neither had experience of a trainer nor a trainee but once when I got a chance to attend an in-service teacher training delivered by our seniors, I got many ideas about the teacher training and started dreaming to be a trainer. And at the same time, I became more interested in teaching and learning English as a foreign language.

Continue reading Teacher Training: One of the Best Ways of Self-development

Choutari Workshop: Photo Blog

Texts by Praveen, Photos by Umes

NeltaChoutari organized a workshop titled Behind Academic Publishing: Why, How and What at King’s College, Babar Mahal in Kathmandu on June 28, 2014.


Bal Krishna Sharma, a founder of NeltaChoutari and a Ph. D. scholar at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA, facilitated the one-day workshop, attended by over 30 emerging authors, especially English teachers and students from Kathmandu University and Tribhuvan University. Continue reading Choutari Workshop: Photo Blog

Nelta Conference Hetauda Phase – A short report

Narayan Prasad Tiwari


The 19th International Conference of NELTA (Phase II) began on March 3, 2014 in Hetauda.

One of the key speakers, Prof Stephen Stoynoff (US) presented on the theme: Language Assessment and the path to Crystal Mountain. Using the metaphor of a trek through the Himalayan Mountains, the speaker considered the paradigm shift that has occurred in language assessment over the past few decades and its implications for EFL teachers. He emphasized psychometric and socio-cultural perspectives on assessment. Prof. Stoynoff further presented “Classroom based Language Assessment: Improving the Design and Use of Teacher Developed Assessments” during plenary session. He reviewed key trends in language assessment and their complications for teacher constructed assessments of second language ability.

Prof. Keith Morrow (UK) presented on “What does ‘authentic’ assessment mean? How do we do it?” His talked about genuineness and authenticity while focusing on assessment, testing observation, self assessment and individual growth over time. His plenary session proceeded with awareness and activity in ELT. The primary focus was on learners and teachers who need to strengthen awareness and what they could learn from it.

Prof. Z.N. Patil (India) mainly focused on assessment as an integral part of ELT through story telling techniques. He stressed on day to day assessment in teaching by citing some relevant examples of poems and dramas. In the presentation “Enriching Linguistic, Communicative and Pragmatic Competence through Literature”, he presented audio- visual text and interacted with the participants and gave specific procedures to be adopted in classroom activities.

Mr. Brenden Mcsharry (British Council) presented on “21st Century Learning Skills and Assessment: the Implication for Nepal” stressing on thinking skills, working skills, working tools and living skills. Besides, he focused on 21st century themes like global citizenship, human rights, intercultural awareness, equality and diverse, healthy living and peace studies.

Laxman Gnawali and his team of Kathmandu University presented “Pechha Kuchha Fun Show” to all the participants that ultimately focused on insightful learning with innovative ideas.

Apart from the key presenters, there were around thirty presentations from different ELT practitioners from nation and abroad as well for two days. Around 450 English teachers actively took participation in different concurrent session according to their field of interest.


Narayan Prasad Tiwari
Hetauda branch

A Report on plenary “Do We Still Need Dictionaries?” by Dr. Elaine Higgleton

Suman Laudari

Do English teachers still need dictionaries, especially printed dictionaries? Because internet gives access to the online form of most of the monolingual and some bilingual dictionaries, do English teachers need to buy and ask students to buy dictionaries? Dictionaries are usually bulky and voluminous, so should we ask students not to buy them, but rather suggest them to use mobile or web dictionaries? This write-up will attempt to answer these questions in relation to the talk given by Dr. Elaine Higgleton, in the 19th International Conference, L.A. School, Hattiban, Lalitpur.

Laudari Article--Dr. Elaine Higgleton

Dr. Higgleton, who is one of the chief editors of Collins Advanced Learners’ Dictionary, focused on the importance of dictionary and significance of their use in this age of digital media. She started her talk presenting an account of how the buying of printed dictionaries has declined over the decade from around 250,000 to 35,000 copies annually. She attributes the reason to the easy availability of large free online dictionaries. Having talked about the history of dictionaries, in which she concluded that the notion of dictionary is always changing based on the perceived needs of the users and the intention of the compiler, she went on to say that the online dictionaries complement the print versions of them. Most of the online dictionaries, according to Dr. Higgleton, are traditional in form and are not user friendly. Hence, learners of English as a foreign language might find it very hard to use online dictionaries and make a sense out of them. Yet, on the other hand, millions of hits have been recorded by different online dictionaries web pages, and it is reported that people seem to be contented with what they get from those online dictionaries.

Moreover, learner’s dictionaries also provide free access to their online dictionaries. Most of these dictionaries do serve purpose as they can aid learners in their effort to learn spelling, hear spelling or check grammar. Nonetheless, Dr. Higgleton claimed we should encourage learners to buy dictionaries because most printed dictionaries offer “more bespoke and tailored content” for users having special needs. Secondly, printed dictionaries are user friendly given that we do not need to depend upon lights of internet connectivity to use them. Thirdly, they can be carried to the classroom and used as per the requirement. Also, she stressed that the lexis chain that the dictionaries provide can be useful in creating other vocabulary related activities. Next, the printed dictionaries can be used in creating grammar exercise to simple writing exercise. And, they also aid learners if they would like to score higher in English examination. Lastly, she added that bespoke and tailored designed traditional dictionaries address the specific content needs of learner most of which are driven by their context and L1.

In line with the arguments of Dr. Higgleton, I as a teacher and learner of English feel that dictionaries have a high significance in the successful learning of English. Reflecting back to my language learning experience, I can vividly remember that I used to have oxford dictionary placed near to my bed while I sat on my bed to read. I can recall noting down words, in class while teaching or while attending university classes, to find their meaning and the usage in the dictionary. I have used dictionaries for multiple purposes. I have used them to decide whether I should use one word over another; whether I should use a particular preposition or conjunction after the given words; to find out how a particular word is used in sentence.

One of my fond memories related to the use of dictionary goes back to the first year of my teaching career, when I bought a dictionary and a self-help grammar book to brush my English language with the first salary that I received. Obviously, dictionary alone does not help, but having one may aid language learning task. I used that dictionary for reasons mentioned above. Since then, I have bought multiple copies of dictionaries. I feel that buying dictionaries is an investment, which worth it.

Hence, I conclude that yes we still need dictionaries, and we should encourage our learners to buy printed dictionaries. We can do multiple, language related activities in class if all our learners bring their dictionaries. Further, we can also request the school/college administration to buy newer version of dictionaries. Because, language is dynamic and so are the needs of learners, the newer versions can address those needs.



Suman Laudari
Adjunct Faculty at Kathmandu University, School of Education
Lecturer at Ace Institute of Management, Baneshwor.

Language Testing and Assessment Workshop: A reflection

Ganesh Datt Bhatta

On February 23, 2014, I attended a one-day workshop on ‘Language Testing and Assessment’ conducted by NELTA in association with the American Embassy at Kathmandu University, School of Education. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Stephen J. Stoynoff from Minnesota State University Mankato USA, one of the key note speakers for the 19th International Conference for NELTA.


It was a very lively session by Dr. Stoynoff as he presented on how learners who learn English as the second or third language struggle in learning the language in the classroom.  He shared an example of his own friend, Mr. Carlos who had immigrated to America from Nicaragua in 1950s. He belonged to a Spanish speaking community and was already 14 when he joined a school in Texas, US. It was difficult for him to learn and adjust in the classroom with his peers who were much younger by age and he did not know English either. As a result, he could not succeed in his sixth grade and he had to repeat the same grade. As English was not his first language, it was obviously difficult for him to understand what the teachers taught in English medium that followed “sink-or-swim” model.

Dr. Stoynoff asked all the trainees to find out the factors that influenced language development and reasons for Carlos’s failure in grade six. The discussion ended with findings of the factors like home environment, societal environment and individual factors of language learners influence the language development.  A learner learns language if the educational level of the family is higher. The families which give priority to learn different languages helps a child to values towards education is also important for the development in a learner. It was amazing to find that Carlos earned a PhD later, though he had tough time in school in the early years of migration. The turning point in his life was at his school where a teacher appreciated his work in Spanish. Those inspiring words from the teacher guided him to choose Spanish for his further education and he earned a PhD in the same area. Now he is regarded one of the important experts in the field of Second Language Learning and Teaching.

It can be inferred from the story of Carlos that a teacher can inspire students to pursue their career in proper field of education and the motivating environment of the family also contributes in effective learning of languages. The interaction of the factors like home environment, societal environment and individual factors of age, proficiency of the first language, attitudes towards the second language and access to the Second Language and culture affects the rate of second language development of the learners. The first session ended with one open topic to debate on the pros and cons of teaching other languages than first language at early age of learning.

The second session of the workshop focused on the current trends in the field of Language Testing and Assessment. Assessment is a process based activity to ensure that a learner is developing his/her learning that continues throughout the daily classroom activities. The trainees were divided in groups to make a student profile having some questions to check the background of students in academics performance and to design the learning environment on the bases of it to expect possible development in the pursuit of the course.

Dr. Stoynoff shared the current practices of Language Testing and Assessment in the USA and some other countries. The trainees were asked to make comparisons between the classroom tests and the standard tests (high stakes tests). The discussion gave us idea about the types of testing in classrooms and beyond classrooms in terms of their procedure of conduction.


Nepal has been following the decade-long practiced assessments and tests in all levels of education from nursery to university level for different purposes whereas the other countries have updated their testing mechanism to enhance the ability and strength of the learners. But there is no such standard test for Nepal to check the ability of Nepalese students. We came to realize that there is enough space for ELT practitioners and language experts for research in Nepal to design a standard test to check the ability of our students in Nepal vis-à-vis the students of other countries.

The one-day workshop was an eye opening program for the participants where we got to know the recent trends of language testing and assessment. I, on the behalf of all trainees would like to thank NELTA President Mr. Hemanta Raj Dahal and Ms. Sara Denne-Bolton, Regional English Language Officer (RELO) from Embassy of the USA for providing such an opportunity to discover our strengths as teachers of English language and find our students’ potentialities in learning second language comfortably.

Photos: Umes Shrestha


Ganesh Datt Bhatt
Life Member-NELTA Kanchanpur
HimalayanWhiteHouseInternationalCollege, Kathmandu


Towards Multilingual Education in Nepal

Reflections on MLE Conference 2013

Praveen Kumar Yadav

We not only use language for daily communication; we also use language to express our identities and cultures and to represent our lifestyles and communities. So, as we all know, the loss of language is loss of both culture and identity of the community speaking the language. Because communities that lose their languages–and thereby their culture, identity, and pride–also lose their status and confidence in society, the process of language loss often leads to broader and adverse social consequences such as marginalization, poverty and poor health, social evils such as drug abuse, and so on. Hence, it is important to preserve languages in the world, especially the languages of the minority groups.

Those who are ignorant about the value of language diversity tend to believe that communities that adopt a more dominant/mainstream language “gain” new power and opportunity; they even go to the extent of arguing that linguistic minorities shed the burden of multiple languages when they leave behind their local languages. The truth about multilingualism, however, makes such understanding absurd. Language is the key to engagement and therefore to sustainable development. The World Bank Research Report titled “Assessing Aid: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why” (1998) showed that development initiatives that sought beneficiaries’ involvement achieved 68 percent success, while those that did not achieved a success rate of just 10 percent. Engaging with the beneficiaries needs the use of their local languages. Such a linguistic and cultural immersion with the target communities contributes to establish two-way communication for people’s meaningful participation and to adopt bottom up approaches in order to achieve sustainable results. Trying to supplant local languages with outside language (whether that is done for efficiency or in the name of “empowering” local communities) is like trying to make one’s neighborhood greener by cutting down existing trees and planting new ones–or worse.

Language is the key to inclusion and inclusion is a must for democracy. For instance, Nepal being a multiethnic and multilingual country will become a true democratic nation when it fully overcomes more than 250 years legacy of linguistic and cultural discrimination against indigenous and minority groups. It is only possible when children of minority groups are provided with the access to education in their mother tongues. Promoting multilingual education in the country–where minority language communities can build upon their local linguistic, cultural, and knowledge resources even as they learn new languages–is a roadmap for true democracy.

In particular, the promotion of local languages is the key to effective education. Education is a basic human right in international law, widely accepted by governments throughout the world, and language is a medium of instruction as well as a subject matter to achieve the basic human right of expression and self-realization.

MLE Conference in Bangkok

Insights like the above brought together hundreds of educators, linguists, government and civil society delegates and development workers from the Asia Pacific region and beyond at the fourth international conference on language and education recently convened by the consortium of organizations ‘Multilingual Education Working Group (MLE WG)’ in Bangkok, Thailand from Nov 6 to 8, 2013.

Representing a development activist and educationist from Nepal interested in MLE, I attended the conference on the theme ‘Multilingual Education for All in Asia and the Pacific: Policies, Practices and Processes’. The theme was very relevant as it provided a common platform to adopt a common understanding of MLE and its importance in Asian context. This conference did showcase promising practices so as to increase understanding of the importance of expanding access to effective MLE and strengthen the momentum for this issue in the AsiaPacific region. The event did not only determined the factors that enable effective, efficient and sustainable MLE by sharing challenges and lessons learned from current MLE practice but also identified recent policy developments in the Asia-Pacific region. The researches and papers presented in the conference revealed that the role of MLE network and collaboration with the governments, non-government organizations, universities and language association played a significant role in making the government formulate and revise education policies in respective countries and putting the MLE practice into action at schools.

Towards Multilingual Education in Nepal

The research studies and papers on policies and practices towards multilingual education in Nepal occupied a substantial space in the conference. Altogether eight different research studies and papers were presented by Nepalese MLE practitioners, academician and NGO activists. Director General Dr. Lava D. Awasthi from Department of Education, Nepal and profound linguist Prof. Dr. Yogendra Prasad Yadava from Tribhuvan University, Nepal talked on multilingual education in terms of policy manifestations and pedagogical practices in Nepal and MLE policies and practices in Nepal as an appraisal respectively. Both the papers showed the variations, challenges and gaps in MLE practices introduced by Government of Nepal as well as national and international agencies in the country.

Even though Nepal is a multilingual and multiethnic country with 123 languages and more than 103 ethnic communities, children in most ethnolinguistic communities are deprived of basic education in their respective mother tongues. Teaching in unfamiliar languages has hindered cognitive development in the children. Language not only helps promote equality and empowers people but also is a key factor for the social inclusion in ethno-linguistic communities. MTB-MLE is the most important mechanism for achieving the goal of education for all among minority communities. However, the policy adopted by the government is not conducive for such a purpose. Curriculum and textbooks as well as reading materials are not compatible to the socio-cultural setting of the communities. Making these arguments in her paper, Dr. Ambika Regmi from Tribhuvan University concluded her sharing claiming that only appropriate strategies can access to MTB-MLE be guaranteed in all ethno-linguistic communities of Nepal.

Reviewing the education policies addressing minority language use in basic education in Nepal, Pushker Kadel, director of Language Development Centre, an NGO shared the impact on the community, students and teachers of pilot MLE programs initiated by Department of Education in eight languages and MLE projects initiated by I/NGOs. Blending his own experience of MLE initiatives taken by local NGOs and the reported outcomes of the existing MLE projects, kadel made recommendations for effective MLE practices in Nepal.

MLE Practice: Case of Rajbanshi

Pamar Rajbansi from Nepali National Languages Preservation Institute

(NNLPI) an NGO and Kimiko Abe from Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) Nepal presented a case study of a multilingual education (MLE) program implemented in the Rajbanshi speaking areas of Jhapa and Morang in southeast Nepal. This case study showed how a quality MLE program can provide efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability of education for students who speak non-dominant languages. The case study also illustrated that high quality program can persuade local governments of the value of providing education in the students’ strongest language, creating a sustainable policy and funding environment for MLE program. The three key factors that made the Rajbanshi program successful included community involvement as implementers of the program, child-friendly teaching methods and environment and capacity building and professional development support to the teachers.

Similarly, undertaking another case study of a Rajbanshi medium school in Jhapa of eastern Nepal, Surya Prasad Yadav from Tribhuvan University Nepal shared MLE practices in Nepal through his paper. The findings of his studies showed that children from Rajbanshi-medium school are more motivated towards education and are more regular in class attendance. Owing to the use of the mother tongue, the rate of their dropouts has decreased and there has been a reduction in the number of out-of-school children. Finally, he discussed the ways to address the challenges of MLE practices in that case and further claimed that such a case could be replica for other similar schools in the country.

MLE: A Case of Rana Tharu

The Rana Tharu language spoken by Rana Tharu community, indigenous inhabitants of Kailali and Kanchanpur districts from far western Nepal, is gradually being lost due to dominant language Nepali, which is only medium of instruction used in schools and literacy class. Children from such community face difficulties in education due to Nepali and English being the medium of government and private schools respectively.  Literary rate of the community is lower than that of Nepali-speaking communities. Presenting the above linguistic contexts, Prithivi Chaudhary from Transformation Nepal, an NGO shared another case of MLE practice from Rana Tharu Community, which showed a perspective on language development for the sustainable use of Rana Tharu in schools and literacy classes. The findings carried out from a linguistic survey utilizing participatory tools, informal interviews and observations conducted in Kailali and Kanchanpur in 2012 show that Rana Tharu community lacks access to education, particularly in the mother tongue and lags far behind other Nepali communities in awareness, development and technology.

MLE for Adult Literacy in Nepal: A Case of Lhomi

Literacy programs in rural Nepal are quite common, but practitioners often experience low literacy rates among these rural communities. One difficulty related to literacy programs in Nepal is that many people do not speak Nepali as their first language, but literacy programs are required to teach literacy in Nepali. However, the joint presentation by Yee-may Chan fromSIL Nepal and Chhejap Bhote fromNepal Lhomi Society (NELHOS), an NGO strongly argued that literacy programs are allowed to teach literacy in another language, as long as literacy in Nepali is included at some point. Their paper explained how the Lhomi Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) Adult Literacy program applied principles from MLE programs designed for children to literacy programs for adults. For instance, culturally appropriate mother tongue teaching materials relevant to the participants’ daily lives were created and used; teaching materials used in the classrooms moved from simple to complicated, from known to unknown; the participants’ mother tongue was the medium of instruction. The experience of the program showed that participants mastered basic literacy, numeracy skills, and simple mathematics within five months. Their experience further showed that after participants learned to read in Lhomi, they quickly learned to read Nepali (which uses a similar writing system). Some participants went even further, learning English, which uses a different writing system. The Lhomi program has demonstrated that best practices of language acquisition for children can be relevant for teaching adults as well, a finding that makes the local community, funding partners, and government authorities satisfied.

Alternative models of MTB-MLE for multilingual classrooms in Nepal

The language composition of the local communities in Nepal shows that most of the schools are linguistically diverse, with the presence of two or more languages. And, the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) program with a single mother tongue as medium of instruction fails to ensure equal access to quality education and linguistic rights for all students. Effective implementation of a MTB-MLE program depends on the appropriateness of the model in each school environment. Some innovative strategies have emerged in the multilingual classrooms from the continuous interaction between the principles of MTB-MLE and classroom language situations during the initial phase of program implementation. These strategies shared by Laxman Ghimire from Tribhuvan University, Nepal include development of multilingual textbooks, preparing multilingual teachers and allocation of school hours for each language in the classroom. His sharing added another insight that some other strategies were employed informally, such as policy negotiation and reformulation in the local context. Although these strategies have been emerged in the local context, it can be crucial for the development of an appropriate model of MTB-MLE in the linguistic and sociolinguistic context of Nepal.


Education acquired through mother tongue alongside other languages, which is termed as multilingual education (MLE), is stable, that it greatly bolsters children’s cognitive development, and that it prepares them to face the challenges of real life through education in much more effective ways.  The practice of MLE has shown that it is very useful for addressing global educational challenges like low participation and high dropout rates. The studies have already shown that use of mother tongue has powerful pedagogical and social justifications. Recognizing the profound importance of language for education and development, British Council has recently changed its position to English language teaching with a multilingual framework.

Nepal, where about ten dozen languages are spoken as mother tongue can serve both as opportunities, and by virtue of it being a developing nation with limited resources and sticky political problems, as challenges for the implementation of MLE. Despite of linguistic diversity, Nepali is the sole official language used as the medium of instruction in primary education throughout the country. However, there have been recent initiatives on multilingual education in Nepal’s primary and adult education. The MLE policy is enshrined in the various constitutional and legal provisions in Nepal in relation to MLE-related international laws and human rights obligations. Nepal has recently shifted the monolingual ideologies and established linkage between Nepal’s MLE policies, plans, programs, and interventions and their manifestations in schools. MLE piloting and local-level initiatives have significantly contributed to developing models for MLE expansion and mother tongue based pedagogies in different languages with the focus on creating indigenized materials, setting strategies and processes, and identifying good practices that have shown visible results in multilingual classroom settings.

In the context where community schools are shifting their medium to English from Nepali languages and guardian’s growing tendency of sending their children to English medium private schools, there are a lot of challenges of multilingual education in Nepal. However, the replica of best MLE practices along with local linguistic and cultural immersion, substantial awareness and advocacy at grassroots level and extensive MLE intervention for basic education and literacy class followed by proper joint monitoring by concerned GOs and I/NGOs could be the ways for effective MLE in Nepal.

Acknowledgements: I am grateful to Mahidol University, Thailand and Multilingual Education Working Group (MLE WG) for providing me the scholarship to attend the international conference in Bangkok. I am equally thankful to Plan Nepal for creating conducive environment to attend the event.

Creative Writing for Students and Teachers: Some Practical Ideas

 Alan Maley



Writing creatively is a joyful component of learning a language in real life. Creativity, as creative writers have tasted, adds flavor to writing. Many more language teachers might have a rigid mindset because of having had to be bound to the framework provided by syllabi, textbooks, exams, etc. Anyway, they can be hopeful for the change they really wish by introducing at least some elements of creativity in their teaching.


There are a number of general points which will help make implementing creative writing activities more likely to succeed:

Try to establish a relaxed, non-judgmental atmosphere, where your students feel confident enough to let go and not to worry that their every move is being scrutinized for errors.

Ensure that the students’ work is ‘published’ in some way. This could be by simply keeping a large notice-board for displaying the students’ work. Other ways would include giving students a project for publishing work in a simple ring binder, or as part of a class magazine. Almost certainly, there will be students able and willing to set up a class website where work can be published. Performances, where students read or perform their work for other classes or even the whole school, are another way of making public what they have done.

Encourage students to discuss their work together in a frank but friendly manner. We get good ideas by bouncing them off other people. Help them establish an atmosphere where criticism is possible without causing offence.

Explain regularly how important accurate observation is, and encourage ‘noticing’ things. They also need to be encouraged to be curious and to follow up with ‘research’ – looking for more information, whether in books, on the Internet or by asking people.

Make it clear that what they do in the classroom is only the tip of the iceberg. To get real benefit from these activities, they need to do a lot of work outside class hours. Most of what we learn, we do not learn in class. You can capitalize on that fact.

Do the activities regularly in order to get the best effects. Maybe once a week is a sensible frequency. If you leave too long between sessions, you have to keep going back to square one. That is a waste of time and energy.

The following are simply a sample of some possible activities:

Hello/Goodbye poems

  1. Tell the class that they are going to write a poem. It will have only two lines, and each line will have just two words. The first line will start with ‘Hello’, the second with ‘Goodbye’.
  2. Give students one or two examples:


Hello sunshine,

Goodbye rain.


Hello smoking,

Goodbye health.


Hello paper,

Goodbye trees.


Then, ask if they can think of any new ones. Note them on the board.

  1. Ask students to work in pairs (or alone if they prefer), and try to come up with at least two new poems. Allow 10 minutes for this task.


  1. Ask for their examples and put them on the board. Ask students to give feedback on each other’s examples.


  1. Collect all the poems. Display them on the class notice-board or upload them onto the class/school website.

The activity is very simple yet it does require students to call on their vocabulary store and to think about words that have a mutual or reciprocal relationship of meanings (smoking/health etc.) If you prefer, this can be used as a short warm-up for other activities.

Stem poems

  1. Explain to students that they will be writing some lines that will fit together into a poem. Then, write up the stem you intend to use. For example: I wish I could…

Elaborate further by eliciting samples of completed sentences, as in these examples:

I wish I could have an ice cream.

 I wish I could speak French.

 I wish I could visit Australia.


Then, ask each student to write three sentences following the same pattern.

  1. After about 10 minutes, ask students to work in groups of four and to share their sentences. They should choose six sentences that they think are most interesting and then decide what order to put them in to form a 6-line poem. There is no need for the poems to rhyme but if they do, fine. Lastly, tell them to add one final line, which is: But I can’t.
  2. Ask groups to read their poems aloud to the class. Can they suggest any ways to improve the poems?
  3. Collect all the poems. Display them on the class noticeboard or upload them onto the class/school website.
  4. You can decide on other stems to use in subsequent classes. For example:


Loneliness is…

 I used to… but now…

 I love the way…

 Nobody knows…

 Who knows…?

 I don’t know why…


It would be a good idea to choose stems that give practice in language points you are working on with the class at that time.


An acrostic poem is based on a word written vertically. The letters then each form the first letter of a word, and all the words are related to the meaning of the original word. For example:





  1. Explain what an acrostic is and write up one or two examples on the board. Then, ask them to write an acrostic based on their own name or the name of someone they know well. The words they choose should somehow describe the person. For example, Vuthy:


 V Very

 U Unlikely

 T To

 H Help

 Y You

  1. Collect all the poems. Display them on the class notice-board or upload them onto the class/school website.
  2. Ask students to write at least one more acrostic before the next class. This time, they can choose any word they like (it doesn’t have to be someone’s name). For example:



Everywhere –




Acrostics involve a kind of mental gymnastics that engages students in reactivating their vocabulary in an unusual way. Acrostics do not usually produce great poetry but they certainly exercise the linguistic imagination.

Acknowledgement: Some of the ideas were developed by Tan Bee Tin.

If you were …

  1. First you make copies of this outline:

If I were a fruit, I would be ….

 If I were a vegetable, I would be…

 If I were a tree, I would be…

 If I were a flower, I would be…

 If I were a fish, I would be…

 If I were a bird, I would be…

 If I were a book, I would be…

 If I were a song, I would be…

 If I were the weather, I would be…

 If I were a season, I would be…


Then distribute the sheets that you have prepared. Ask students to work individually for about 10 minutes, completing the outline of the poem with words they prefer. For example: If I were a fruit, I would be a grape.

  1. Let students share what they have written in groups of four. Then conduct a class discussion and go through the poems line-by-line, asking for examples of what they have written.


  1. Ask students to think of someone they like and to write the person’s name as the title of their poem. They then write a 12-line poem addressed to that person using the following format:

Line 1: describe the person as a kind of food.

Line 2: describe the person as weather

Line 3: describe the person as a tree

Line 4: describe the person as a time of day

Line 5: describe the person as some kind of transport

Line 6: describe the person as an article of clothing

Line 7: describe the person as part of a house

Line 8: describe the person as a flower

Line 9: describe the person as a kind of music/a sound

Line 10: describe the person as something to do with colour

Line 11: describe the person as an animal

The last line should be the same for everyone: ‘You are my friend’.

So, their poem would look something like this:


For Sharifa

You are mango ice-cream

You are a cool breeze on a hot day

You are a shady coconut palm

You are dawn

You are a sailing boat crossing the bay

You are my comfortable sandals

You are the sunny verandah

 You are jasmine

 You are a soft gamelan

 You are light blue

 You are a playful kitten

 You are my friend.


Metaphor poems

  1. Make copies of this list of words and phrases for use during the class:

Love an egg Hate a tooth brush Disappointment a vacuum cleaner Marriage a spoon Friendship a knife Hope a mirror Life a window Work a cup Time a banana

  1. Check that students know what a metaphor is – a form of direct comparison between two things. Give examples of metaphors in everyday life:


  • A blade of grass
  • A sharp frost
  • Spending time
  • Save time
  • Opening up a can of worms
  • She’s a snake in the grass
  • He clammed up
  • He shelled out
  • A wall of silence

In fact, everyday language is so full of metaphorical expressions that we hardly notice them. They have become an accepted way of speaking. Explain that poets make great use of metaphor to make their words more vivid and easier to visualise.

  1. Hand out the sheets. Tell students to write three metaphors by combining one item on the left with another on the right (students will have to join the words using ‘is’). They should not spend time thinking about the combinations. For example:
  • Life is a window.
  • Friendship is a knife.
  • Love is a vacuum cleaner.
  • Marriage is a banana
  • Hate is a mirror.


  1. Now, ask them to choose just one of their new metaphors. They should now write two more lines after the metaphor to explain what it means. For example:

Marriage is a banana:

 when you’ve eaten the fruit,

 only the skin is left.


 Hate is a mirror:

 it reflects back

 on the one who hates.


Tell students not to use ‘because’ as it is unnecessary, and to keep the lines short.

  1. Ask students to share their metaphor poems with the class. Students should then make an illustrated display of their work. Acknowledgement: This idea is adapted from Jane Spiro’s brilliant book, Creative Poetry Writing (OUP)

Now we can have a good start to enjoy learning some ‘real’ language.  Creative writing promotes self-motivation and makes language teaching and learning effortless. You are always curious to find out something and encounter new things and learn them willingly. How interesting this can be! Good luck and happy writing!

Motivation Through Writing

Myrtis (Doucey) Mixon, Ed. D.

University of San Francisco


How can we motivate our students to be excited about their classes? One way is to tell them stories. Another way is to ask them to write stories.


Stories educate, enrich, and entertain everyone.  Find easy stories in English.  But for now, I will whet your appetite by sending you two of the stories that will be published in the forthcoming book of stories called “Untold Tales” written  by English ACCESS Microscholarship Students in Nepal, These are the stories that they wrote at the winter camp in 2013 in Pokhara.


These anecdotes and tales of exprience provide an enjoyable opportunity to increase vocabulary, reading comprehension, listening and speaking and, ultimately, writing. The stories and exercises together are a whole-language anthology designed to improve communication skills. These stories include exercises that employ the cooperative/collaborative learning philosophy and address multiple learning styles.


Using stories is a magical way to teach, effective at any age.  Here’s a summary of how stories aid language-learning:

  • provide motivation for reading
  • heighten listening skills
  • develop speaking skills
  • use cooperative learning strategies
  • foster creative language growth
  • provide content-based material
  • Serve as model for further writing

All learners, from babies to grandmothers, learn better with stories; they are energizers. Integrating stories as an adjunct to the teacher’s repertoire in the classroom setting is not only simple, but makes perfect sense.  We hope you use these stories to open new worlds of content and learning possibilities.  We also hope they serve as a springboard to motivating your own students to write stories.


Enjoy the stories. If you want some more, write to me at “” and I will send you more. These two are from Kathmandu and Gorkha, but I have many  others, some from Butwal and Birgunj.


My Story


One early morning, on my way to temple, I saw sparkling eyes in ragged clothes.  I saw their creative hands and bright smiles.  These children are strangers to me but no different from our own children whom we always love and support.


Two days later, I visited the prison of Sundhara, Kathmandu, for my class in social work.  I saw many such faces who reside in prisons alongside their incarcerated parents and I became sad.  These children have done nothing wrong.  They are simply caught up in something they don’t understand.


I couldn’t forget them so a few months later, along with some friends, we opened up a child daycare centre in a rented house.  My parents were not happy and they told me to leave it.  However, I was determined to take those children out of prison and look after them and educate them for the future.


When I started this, I was 21, and nobody believed in me.  People thought I was crazy.  They laughed at me.


After two years, in 2005, I established The Butterfly Home for the children.  Then, I travelled to many other places, speaking with jailers, parents and authorities, preparing to bring children out of prison.  My own parents now understood and helped me.  We were so touched by the children’s plight, that they are forced to live with their impoverished, incarcerated parents because there is no one to look after them on the outside.


It has been eight years since I began gathering the children from Nepali prisons and bringing them to live in a centre in the capital, Kathmandu, providing them not only with food and shelter, but also education and motherly love.  I am happy to be recognized as their mamu.  Now I have become the second Nepali woman to win the 2012 CNN Hero Award at the star-studded award ceremony held in Los Angeles.  But still 80 children are living in prison and I am going to take them out of the prison soon.


My name is Puspa Basnet and children are my hope.  I believe the world is their place where they can carve their future with their own hands.

Prashanna Mahat, 15




Understanding the Story

How did Puspa Basnet get involved with helping the children?



sparkling    reside    incarcerated         determined   plight    impoverished  carved

1. The stars were ______________________________________________ in the sky.

2. The children’s parents  are __________________________________ in the prisons.

3. The children have nowhere to ____________________________ out of the prisons.

4. Puspa Basnet was _______________________ to get the children out of the prisons.

5. Many people were affected by the ______________________ of these poor children.

6. To make something out of something can be to ____________________________ it.

7. The parents in the prison have no money; they are __________________________ .


Now you Talk

1. What would it be like to be one of those children living in the prison?

2. Where do they go to school?

3. Is there a way you could help these children?


Now you Create

1. Write a letter to the mayor of your town asking for help.

2. Draw a cartoon strip about this problem.


Role Play

1. Mother in prison, her son: talking about his going to school.

2. That son, another student: talking about where he lives.

3. Two Girls who live with parents in prison: talking about their lives.

4. Two guards in prison: planning to help the children

5. Puspa Basnet, mayor of town: talking about helping more children.




The Kidnappers


This is a true story that happened in Dada Gaun village near Laxmi bazaar in 2012.


One Saturday, Rina and Rehan, a brother and sister asked their  parents if they could go to the park.  Their parents said, “Please, go safely.  There are so many bad people in the road.”


Rina said, “Don’t worry.  We will be careful.”  They crossed one town where many busses went here and there.  They went to the park.  While they were walking on the road, a micro bus stopped just beside them.  The door opened and a man jumped out, grabbed them both and put them in the micro bus.


They were taken to the jungle which is near the park.  They were so afraid and they cried a lot.  Many hours went by.  The kidnapper went near Rina and laughed. Rina asked, “Why are you laughing?”


The kidnapper said, “You are my one corore rupees.  That is the ransom we will get from your parents.  Give me your phone number.  But Rina didn’t give it to him.  He slapped her and said, “If you don’t give me your father’s phone number, I will kill you right now.”


Rina was afraid of him and gave the number.  Meanwhile, the children’s parents were worried when they didn’t come home by evening time.  Then their mobile phone rang.  The kidnapper demanded one corore rupees as a ransom.  The kidnapper said to him, “If you don’t give me the ransom money, you will see your children’s dead bodies.”

Hearing this, the father became more afraid.  Then the father thought of a trick.  “Where are you?”  asked Rina’s father.  The kidnapper said, “I am in the jungle near the park.”


While the father kept talking to the kidnapper, the mother called the police station and said,  “Please save my children.  They have been kidnapped.  They are in the jungle near the park.  The kidnapper demands one corore rupees as ransom.  I don’t have even thousands.”


The police hurried and drove very quickly.  They stopped the car in the park and walked into the jungle.  They surrounded the microbus and caught the kidnapper.  The children were saved.


Their parents gave many thanks to the police.  They told the police not to let the kidnapper free because if he is free he would kidnap other children.  After that he was put into the jail for his whole life.


Kasam Ale,  15




Understanding the Story

What is a moral for this story?



Fill in the blanks of the summary with the words below.

ransom     surrounded      kidnappers     tricked

microbus     worried      careful      grabbed


The children wanted to go to the park.  Their parents were __________________ They said, “Be very _________________ .  While the children were walking, a _________________ stopped and a man jumped out and _______________________ them.  The men were __________________________.  They demanded  a _____________________ .  The father ________________  the bad men.  The police ____________ the kidnappers.


Now You Talk

1. What would you do if a kidnapper grabbed you?

2. How can you solve a crime with a mobile phone?


Now You Create

1. Draw a picture of the kidnappers.

2. Write another ending to this story.


Role Play:

1. Mother, girl: warning about bad people.

2. Girl, kidnapper: he asks for her phone number.

3. Sister, brother: planning how to get away from kidnappers

4. Father, police: planning to catch kidnappers.

5. Mother, girl: talking about their capture.

Effective Practice for Vocabulary

William Wolf

Chittagong, Bangladesh

Students often ask me, “How can I learn English better and faster?” and I have trouble giving them an answer. I have taught English for more than 20 years and I have been a student of languages for more than 30, but I am still not sure how to answer their question. The problem, I think, is that they are looking for the one way to learn a language. But learning a language effectively requires that we use a number of different methods. In this blog, I want to address what I think is the single hardest part about learning a language to a high level—vocabulary—and to suggest a number of ways that learners can improve their knowledge and skills in this area.

Learning vocabulary is a real problem

In my experience as both a teacher and a student, the most time-consuming part of learning a language is usually vocabulary. People often worry about the problems of learning a new alphabet, script or other writing system, but although this is a problem in the beginning, it is really something in which we can make a lot of progress in just hours. There are some exceptions, Chinese being the most famous. But if someone wants to learn Arabic, Greek, Russian, Burmese, or some other script, ten or twenty hours of careful practice spread out over a few weeks will usually be enough. People also often worry about grammar, and it’s true that this will take longer. Here, it’s a matter of many months of practice.

But when it comes to learning vocabulary, it’s a matter of years, not of weeks or months. Many language learners discover that when they’ve reached a high intermediate level, they’re able to discuss, with some difficulty, many topics, but that even books written for ten-year-old native speakers are often too hard for them to understand. Why? When I ask students to take a page from a text and then to use two different colors to mark the grammar and the vocabulary problems they have with this text, they quickly see that they usually have only a small number of grammar problems per page, but they might have 20 or 50 or even more words whose meanings they cannot understand.

Reading even a book for a fifth grader requires a knowledge of thousands of head words. Ordinary conversation probably uses no more than one or two thousand head words. This means that simply relying on conversation will not give us a vocabulary large enough to read even texts that teenage native speakers can understand. If our goal is to be able to read university level materials, our work will be even harder.

Of course, if the language we are studying has a vocabulary that is closely related to a language we already know, then learning vocabulary won’t be so difficult. Spanish and French share a large percentage of their vocabulary. Both are descended from Latin and both have borrowed many technical words from Latin, so a person who knows one will find it quite easy to learn the vocabulary of the other. Similarly, most North Indian languages are closely related. Hindi, Bengali, Nepali, Gujarati, and many other languages are both descended from Sanskrit and have borrowed many of their specialized words from Sanskrit. A knowledge of one of these languages helps immensely in learning any of the others.

But when we are learning a language whose vocabulary has few connections with other languages that we know, we will have to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of hours reading, using dictionaries, memorizing, and practicing if we want to be able to function at a university level.

Learning vocabulary is a real problem. So what to do about it?

1 – Choose the right things to read

The simplest piece of advice for learning any skill is “practice…a lot.” But it’s not enough to simply practice, we must use effective practice, and this is where things start to become more difficult. In addition to the problem mentioned above—the very large number of vocabulary that must be learned—there’s another problem, namely, that to effectively learn vocabulary we need to concentrate on words that are appropriate for our level. The best way to do this is to find texts that are at the right level. If the texts are too easy, we won’t find enough new words to learn, but if the texts are too difficult, there will be too many new words and these words will often be too hard for us to use (that is, to practice) in our own speaking and writing.

The most important thing we can to do make learning vocabulary more effective is to choose texts that have about the right number of new words. Dr. Willy A Renandya is a senior lecturer at Singapore’s National Institute of Education, and he has done a great deal of research on extensive reading. He argues that the best texts to use are ones that are rather easy for the learner. What does “rather easy” mean? In percentage terms, this means that for extensive reading we should be using texts where only about 2% of the words are unknown to us. A paperback novel might have about 250 words per pages, so he suggests the Rule of Five. If the text is the size of a paperback novel, count the number of unknown words on page, and these should be fewer than five. If they are more than five, the learner will probably only be able to read a small number of pages before giving up in frustration.

There are several ways we can find such “rather easy” texts. One way is to use texts written for younger native speakers or language learners. Children’s books and school textbooks are two obvious choices. Poetry and songs will usually be harder than prose, and comic books are often not a good choice since they use so much slang.

Another source is graded readers. Graded readers are books that are written to match different levels (here called “grades”) in terms of both vocabulary and grammar. There are many publishers of graded readers: Oxford, Cambridge, National Geographic, as well as South Asian publishers. Most of them use some form of a 6-level scale to describe the difficulty of a text. They also publish a wide range of titles and genres; there’s fiction (both original and adapted), travel, science, geography, history, and many other topics. I urge my learners to start with a book at level 3 and read a few pages and apply Dr. Renandya’s Rule of Five. If the book is too hard, then they should choose a level 2 book and try it. If the book is too easy, then they should try a level 4 book.

But choosing the right level is only part of the solution. It’s also important that we chose the right kind of book. If we have a very specific purpose in learning a language, we should concentrate on texts connected with that purpose. For example, if our only interest in learning a language is to read biology texts, then we should focus on vocabulary connected with that field. Of course, we need to find levels at the right level of difficulty, so we could use graded readers about science and the environment or books for primary and secondary school students. However, if our goal is to function at the level of an educated person, we should not limit our reading. Instead, we should read texts from a variety of genres and about a variety of topics: science, fiction, travel, politics, religion, movies, food, sport, family, holidays, everything.

2 – Find the definitions

Finding the definitions sounds easy but actually can be the most boring part of learning vocabulary. There are a number of common mistakes people make but also several solutions.

The worst thing to do is to stop everyone time we find an unknown word and to then look it up in a dictionary. This completely breaks our attention. What should we do? I recommend using a highlighter (I happen to use an orange one for this purpose) to mark the unknown words as one reads. After I reach the end of the chapter, I’ll then go back and choose which of the highlighted words to actually look up in a dictionary. If I’ve chosen a book that’s not too difficult, there should be no more than five unknown words per page, which would mean perhaps 20 to 100 words per chapter.

I am a big believer in using flashcards. These are pieces of stiff paper on which we can write things that we want to memorize. I should emphasize three things. First, many language learners think that all they need to do is make flashcards and memorize the words in order to learn a language. That’s not true. We also need to practice how to use these words correctly, an issue I’ll address a bit later. A second problem is that many native speakers of English don’t like using flashcards and urge their students not to use them. In my experience, these native speakers tend to recommend that learners simply use context to guess the meanings or that they just absorb new vocabulary from books, TV, movies or other sources. In my experience, such people very often fail to learn any language to a university level. Although using context to guess meaning is very important, most learners are not able to learn thousands of words simply through methods like these. Third, many monolingual native English speakers insist that their students only use English-English dictionaries. I have little patience with this. Although once we reach an advanced or superior level, we might use such dictionaries, for lower levels the best choice is a bilingual dictionary.

Once I have finished a chapter or some other part of the text, I will choose which of the highlighted words to learn. Often I will try to learn all the words, especially if I’ve chosen a text with not too many unknown words. I use flashcards that are 3 centimeters by 6 centimeters and that are made of stiff paper like that used to make business cards. Some people prefer to use larger cards, but I find that this size, although small, is easy to hold in my hands. I write the unknown words on the cards and then I organize them alphabetically. Next, I use a dictionary to find definitions and I write these on the cards. I know that the next point will sound foolishly simple, but it’s important. When you write the definition on the card, make sure you write it on the back of the card (English on one side, and your own language on the other) and also be sure to turn the card upside down. Having the words on one side written upside down with respect to the other will make it much easier to flip the card for learning and reviewing.

3 – What kind of information to include on the flashcards?

For learners of English, it will often be necessary to write the pronunciation of the word on the flash card. If you are right handed, you will probably be holding the cards in your right hand, so I suggest writing the English word in the center of the card and then writing the pronunciation in the bottom right corner. This way, you can hide the pronunciation with your right thumb and use it to help to guess and study the pronunciation.

It also makes sense to write irregular forms (especially for verbs), and for this I recommend also using the lower right corner. And for the small number of irregular plural nouns (child – children, ox – oxen, woman – women, etc), you can do the same.

Another kind of information to include is derivatives. For example, for the card with the word reason on it, you might also want to write reasonable and rational on the English side and then to give the definition of each on the back.

It can also be useful to include together words that you often confuse. For example, beginners often have trouble with kitchen and chicken. Putting both on the same side of one card can help you practice them and can help you remember that they’re different.

4 – Collocations are important, too

Learners should certainly also include collocations. A collocation is a fancy word for a group of words that often come together. Some of these might be phrasal verbs: get over, get across, break up, break through, come off, drag into, see off. Others can be phrase: have a good time, be on top of the situation, find a solution to the problem. It’s not possible to learn all of these, but when we’re making flashcards, we should probably include some collocations.

5 – Moving beyond the dictionary: finding useful phrases

A dictionary won’t have every phrase that we want to say, but a could source to find this is our extensive reading. When we are reading, many times we’ll see a phrase or a sentence and think, “I didn’t know this before, but I can guess the meaning and I really need to learn how to say this!” When I read, I underline these useful phrases with a green ink pen (green = “go forward” in my mind, so I use green since I want to be able to go forward with these phrases). For example, when I was studying Bengali, I didn’t know how to ask “What does this word mean?” but one day I saw a sentence in a Bengali book and I was able to use context to understand that sentence. I immediately underlined it in green and also made a flashcard so I could practice it.

6 – Going from the discrete to the holistic

So far, most of the things I have emphasized have been discrete skills or discrete pieces of knowledge. “Discrete” means “in small pieces”. Although important, we also have to practice more holistic kinds of language. “Holistic” means “in wholes, not in pieces”.

One way to do this is to make short sentences from the words we see on our flashcards. We shouldn’t always just memorize these words as discrete (isolated) items but should also use them holistically (to make sentences, to have conversations). It’s especially easy to do this with collocations, but we should also try to use individual vocabulary items in sentences.

And what next?

Learners will find that after they get about a thousand or more flashcards, they will have trouble organizing them. It will no longer be possible to review all of these cards each day, nor will it be effective. Many words won’t require daily review to be remembered. In a future blog, I’ll consider the issue of how to organize one’s flashcards. I’ve been using flashcards regularly since the 1980s and for at least half a dozen languages I have more than 5,000 flashcards (for each of these languages). I agree that organizing them and also using them to maintain one’s knowledge of vocabulary is a real challenge, but I think I have some useful ideas. But that will have to wait.

Translanguaging to teach English in Nepal

Ofelia García*



            English language teaching throughout the world has suffered from a monoglossic bias; that is, the view that English could only be taught in isolation and separated from the languages spoken by students. This was, of course, the pedagogical tradition that emerged from the West, and especially from North American and British scholars in particular, who saw the teaching of the English language as a monolingual imperialist enterprise. But in the 21st century, English teaching has gone global, no longer in the hands of colonial masters, but taught throughout the world by many who share language and culture with students. And yet, our pedagogies have remained as monolingual as ever, robbing students of opportunities to use their home languages to make sense of the complex use of English that is demanded in the world today.

            I argue here that we need to adopt a translanguaging lens, a lens which allows us to think about language, bilingualism and learning from the perspective of emergent bilingual students themselves. I start by considering the concept of translanguaging.  Using the translanguaging lens, I then provide counterarguments to some of the constructions about English language speakers, English language acquisition and learning, bilingualism, and language education that have been responsible for much failure in the teaching of English to students throughout the world.


The term translanguaging was coined in Welsh (trawsieithu) by Cen Williams. In its original use, it referred to a pedagogical practice where students are asked to alternate languages for receptive or productive use; for example, students might be asked to read in English and write in Welsh and vice-versa. Since then, the term has been extended by many scholars (e.g. Blackledge & Creese 2010, Canagarajah 2011, García 2009; García & Sylvan 2011, Hornberger & Link 2012). I have used the term to refer to the flexible use of linguistic resources by bilinguals in order to make sense of their worlds, and I have applied it mostly to classrooms because of its potential in liberating the voices of language minoritized students.

I use translanguaging here to refer not to the use of two separate languages or even the shift of one language or code to the other (for simple Questions and Answers on translanguaging for educators see my introduction to Celic and Seltzer, 2012). Rather, translanguaging is rooted on the principle that emergent bilingual students select language features from a repertoire and “soft assemble” their language practices in ways that fit their communicative situations. Translanguaging in education can be defined as a process by which students and teachers engage in complex discursive practices that include ALL the language practices of students in order to develop new language practices and sustain old ones, communicate and appropriate knowledge, and give voice to new sociopolitical realities by interrogating linguistic inequality. In today’s globalized world what is needed is the ability to engage in fluid language practices and to soft-assemble features that can “travel” across geographic spaces so as to enable us to participate fully as global citizens.

Counter-narratives about English, its speakers, learning English, bilingualism, and teaching English

            The education of emergent bilinguals suffers from five major misconstructions about English, its speakers, the learning of English, bilingualism, and the teaching of English that can be counter-narrated through a translanguaging lens as follows:

  1. English is not a system of structures.
  2. “Native” English speakers are neither the norm nor objective fact.
  3. Learning English is not linear.
  4. Bilinguals are not simply speakers of a first and a second language.
  5. The teaching of English cannot be enacted in total separation from other language practices.

I will develop these counter-narratives to deconstruct some of the myths with which we have been operating in educating emergent bilinguals.

English is not a system of structures

English forms and meaning are not auto-sufficient, but arise in and through social practice, as linguistic practices get used repeatedly in local contexts for meaning-making. Language is a series of social practices and actions that are embedded in a web of social relations and that orient and manipulate social domains of interactions.  Pennycook (2010: 9) explains:

A focus on language practices moves the focus from language as an autonomous system that preexists its use, and competence as an internal capacity that accounts for language production, towards an understanding of language as a product of the embodied social practices that bring it about (my italics).

English is not a system of language structures; rather, languaging through what is called English is practicing a new way of being in the world.  This understanding of what English is and is not has enormous implications for our conceptualization of English speakers, the next counter-narrative that I propose.

“Native” English speakers are neither the norm nor objective fact

It is important to recognize that monolinguals are not the norm in the world. Although estimates are difficult to make, well over half of the world’s population is bilingual or monolingual. In the second language acquisition literature, the “native” speaker is always held as the ideal. But the notion of who is a “native” speaker has been questioned in the fluidity of today’s global world. Often “native” has become indexical of being white. The ideology of the existence of a monolithic “native” English creates an order of indexicality (Blommaert, 2010) that favors the language practices of white prestigious monolingual speakers. Thus, the other “native” practices are reduced to being “corrupted,” “stigmatized,” “deficient,” “needing remediation.” As many have argued, there is no “native English standard.” Being a “native English speaker” is not simply being monolingual or speaking a certain way. At the same time, learning English does not happen in a vacuum, and is not linear. This is the misconstruction addressed by the counter-narrative in the next section.

Learning English does not proceed from scratch, is not linear

The learning of English has often focused on an end point, the ultimate attainment of a “native English standard.”  When students haven’t achieved this, they are said to have a “fossilized interlanguage”; that is, their language system is said to be permanently deficient. Rarely has the learning of English paid attention to the resources students bring and to the dynamic process through which language practices emerge. But students are much more than just blank slates that are subsequently filled with English structures. They bring to classrooms knowledge, imagination, and sophisticated language practices. In addition, they do not forget what they know in order to take up English. These students are emergent bilinguals with full capacities. Their new language practices do not surface from scratch, but emerge in interrelationship with old language practices.

If the English language is not, as we have seen, simply a system of structures, then it follows that it is not possible just to add up structures in linear fashion in order to learn. Instead, English learning emerges as a flexible continuum, as students take up practices in interrelationship with others. The result is never an end point at which students “have” English. Rather, emergent bilinguals “do” language, languaging in ways that include practices identified as “English” in order to negotiate communicative situations and meet academic expectations. Emergent bilinguals are not simply in a stage of “incomplete acquisition.” The next section questions the misconstructions about bilingualism held by schools that have served to alienate the complex language practices of emergent bilingual students from English learning and provides an alternative narrative.

Bilinguals are not simply speakers of a first and a second language

Bilingualism in schools is often understood as being additive. Additive bilingualism refers to the idea that a “second language” can be added to a “first language,” resulting in a person who is a balanced bilingual. The views about languaging that I have been developing here lead us to reject the idea of “first” and “second” language, as well as balanced bilingualism.

Although most bilinguals may be able to identify which language they learned “first” and which language they learned “second,” the assignment of a “first” and “second” language to bilinguals is as much a theoretical impossibility as is the concept of being a balanced bilingual.  New language practices emerge in interrelationship with old ones, and these language practices are always dynamically enacted.

I have argued that bilingualism can be better seen as dynamic.  In contrasting dynamic bilingualism to an additive perspective, I go beyond simply the perspective of language systems and refer to the multiple and complex way in which the language practices of bilinguals interact and form a complex language repertoire. I have used the image of a banyan tree to suggest that language practices emerge and develop in intertwined ways.

As bilingualism emerges, the identification of language practices belonging to one or another “language” has to be questioned. Bilinguals translanguage, disrupting conventional ideas of what languages are or of the languages that bilinguals have. Bilinguals are clearly not two monolinguals in one. They use their complex language repertoire to fulfill the communicative needs that emerge from the different landscapes and speakers through which they shuttle back and forth. I have used the image of the All Terrain Vehicle to suggest that bilinguals use their complex language practices selectively as they adapt to the ridges and craters of communication in different languagescapes.

Traditionally, bilingual use has been understood as following a diglossic compartmentalization, with one language spoken at home, another one in school. But the translanguaging lens we have adopted makes clear that the language practices of bilinguals are transglossic, and that their full repertoire of practices is used in homes, and often “invisibly” in schools. The structures of language and education programs and their pedagogies have to respond to greater fluidity. This is the misconstruction addressed in the next counter-narrative.

The teaching of English cannot be enacted in total separation from other language practices

Traditionally, the teaching of English has taken place in English only. But as the complex translanguaging practices of bilinguals are made more evident, structures and pedagogies that separate languages artificially have to be abandoned. The language separation approach that is often used has to be abandoned.

All teachers must adopt translanguaging strategies in teaching.  It would be important for English teachers to leverage the children’s entire language repertoire in making meaning and to develop the children’s metacognition and sense of self-regulation as they translanguage.

Oral discussions that include all students’ language practices enable their class participation, deep and reflexive thinking, and rigorous cognitive engagement with texts. The reading of difficult text is facilitated when students can access background material about the content of the text in other languages. Engagement with writing English texts is also facilitated when students can discuss, read and write first drafts that may include other language practices besides those that are in English.  Translanguaging is an important tool.

A translanguaging lens enables us to understand the teaching of English to emergent bilinguals in new ways. Focusing on translanguaging practices enables us to shed notions of system structures that can be linearly taught, of the proper usage of natives, of the value of monolingualism, of bilingualism as simply double monolingualism, of the teaching of English without considering the entire language and semiotic repertoire of students.


Blackledge, A. and Creese, A. (2010) .Multilingualism. London: Continuum.

Blommaert, J. (2010). The Sociolinguistics of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Canagarajah, A.S. (2011). Codemeshing in academic writing: Identifying teachable strategies of translanguaging. The Modern Language Journal 95(iii), 401-417.

Celic, C. and Seltzer, K. (2012). Translanguaging: A CUNY-NYSIEB Guide for Educators. New York: CUNY-NYSIEB. Online document:

García, O. (2009). Bilingual education in the 21st Century: A Global perspective. Malden, MA and Oxford: Wiley/Blackwell.

García, O. and Sylvan, C. (2011). Pedagogies and practices in multilingual classrooms: Singularities in Pluralities. Modern Language Journal 95(iii), 385-400.

Hornberger, N. and H. Link. (2012). Translanguaging and transnational literacies in multilingual classrooms: A bilingual lens. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 15(3): 261-278.

Pennycook, A. (2010). Language as a local practice. London and New York: Routledge.

*Ofelia García is Professor in the Ph.D. program of Urban Education and of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.   She has published many book chapters, articles, and books. She is the Associate General Editor of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language.

What should one do in a language classroom?

Rama Kant Agnihotri*

What students and teachers should do in a language classroom is best left to them. Language teaching is so complex and so contextually rooted that except for very general guidelines, nothing may really help in the actual task. What language professionals can at best do is to make available in as accessible a manner as possible content, form and format (oral, printed, digital etc.) material about the potential of the learner, aspects of nature, structure, acquisition and change of language, features of language variation, nature of learning processes, materials, methods and evaluation procedures. In this short article, I focus only on one issue that may be of some use to language teachers: How languages of learners in a given classroom is not an obstacle in the trajectory of language learning; it is in fact a resource not only in language teaching but also in enhancing cognitive growth and social tolerance.

Most teachers and several language professionals believe that languages of students are an obstacle in the process of learning another language. Many actually believe that they cause major interference and therefore students should not even be allowed to use their languages in the class and the school. The typical paradigm in which they work could be defined as ‘a class, a teacher, a text and a language’. Nothing if you reflect for a moment could be further from the truth. All classes are by default multilingual. Examine your own and examine your own language profile and that of your friends. Secondly, languages student bring with them are and can be used as a resource rather than dismissed as an obstacle. Languages always flourish in each other’s company; they suffocate in prisons of isolation and purity. English today is rich because it keeps its doors open; so were Sanskrit and Hindi till they started closing their doors. Thirdly, it is not at all difficult for all teachers and students to appreciate that all languages are equally rule governed and rich. This is something which is so effortlessly achieved if the strengths of a multilingual class are recognized. For example, all languages will have some technique to indicate the relationship between the subject and the verbal elements. That some languages may look more powerful than others is NOT a linguistic matter but one of history, sociology and politics and these aspects can also be easily demonstrated if the teachers are open to such a discourse. Languages like Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Persian etc. were once very powerful; the power of English is only a few decades old and there is no reason to believe that it would stay like that. If you leave out china, Russia, Africa, India etc., the English speaking world is actually very small.

In any case, we do need to think why theories of interference hold such power and what’s wrong with them. These theories hold power because they are the most convenient answers to what is going on and they stop any deeper inquiry into the issues involved. It is a cosy corner that looks very attractive to a teacher who breathes some relief in saying: They will never learn; their languages always come in the way. What teachers don’t realize is that errors are necessary stages in the process of learning and what is being dismissed as interference may actually be a part of the UG driven way of acquiring a language or a milestone in the process of learning. Let’s consider some typical examples.

Let’s start with syntax. The fact of the matter is that there is actually no major difference between the basic syntactic structure of say Indian English and British or American English. All children, including those from the so-called native English communities, will make such errors as ‘he go to school’; the structural pressure of English syntax dictates that it should be so. Imagine everybody including ‘I, we, you, you plural, they’ ‘go’, why should poor ‘he, she, it’ ‘goes’!!! But if we stop comparing the behaviour of school or undergraduate learners with fluent speakers of ‘standard’ English, we will realize that all speakers of English, whether they acquire it as L 1 or L 2, learn to say ‘goes’ in due course. Take another oft quoted example of the invariant tag-question. When many speakers of the Asian subcontinent use ‘isn’t it’ with all kinds of statements, it is often pointed out as a major interference from say Hindi ‘hai na’ etc. Nobody takes the trouble of finding out how many ‘native’ varieties of English do the same. Some varieties of Canadian English certainly do it with a different invariant tag. Two points may be noted here. It may be a part of the standard commonly used Indian English and there is nothing wrong with this fairly understandable overgeneralization. In fact, in the speech of the teachers and the community, there may be no exposure to the variable tag question. Secondly, in the case of fluent users of Indian English, there may be many who actually use the variable tag question. What you eventually accept as a standard ‘correct’ usage is a matter that is located in a spatial, temporal, historical and sociological space.

Consider morphology. It is well attested that all children irrespective of whether they learn English as L 1 or L 2, go through a stage of using first ‘go, went, gone’ (as unrelated items) and then ‘go, goed, goed’ (as morphologically demanded items) and finally acquiring the exception ‘go, went, gone’. Imagine that all learners go through this stage and the set of irregular English verbs is rather large including such commonly used verbs as ‘come, cut, dig, do, eat, get, give, make…’ etc. Word formation strategies have nothing to do with interference. Yes, languages frequently borrow from each other, particularly cultural items. There is nothing you can do about it. English simply adds an additional appendix to its dictionary every year; speakers of course always move ahead of the dictionary.

Take phonology. Do all the so-called native speakers of English speak the same way? Will any one of you, unless she belongs to north of England, claim to understand a word of Yorkshire English? Or do you all understand rural Texan English? I don’t. I don’t even understand my grand-daughter studying in Malone in New York State. She finds it equally difficult to understand my Indian accent. Phonology is a marker of group identity and if you are really interested it will not come into your way after a while. But if you are already beyond 15-16 years of age, you will notice that your jaw is set and you may not get the ‘English English’ inter-dental fricatives, or the aspirated alveolar stops or the distinction between /v/ and /w/, which is really nothing to write home about unless you want a job at the BBC etc. Every variety has a right to its distinct identity.

So if languages of learners are not in our way, why do we make such a miserable mess of language teaching? At most places I know of, most learners don’t even manage to master the basic skills of reading comprehension and writing coherently. We do need to examine the language profile of our class. Every child brings a different linguistic and cultural resource to the class and these can indeed be sensitively assimilated into the teaching-learning process. The first requirement is of course that the teacher needs to walk out of the position of being the fountainhead of all knowledge and have faith in the ability of children to use their resources creatively. In actual classroom transactions it implies that the time taken by individual learners and their interactions in peer group would be much more than normally consumed by the teacher.

We today know that multilinguality is a default human situation and is constitutive of being human. Every classroom by default is inherently multilingual. Further, in a variety of ways, recent research has established how this multilinguality can be used not only as a resource but also as a teaching strategy and a goal. It correlates positively with language proficiency, cognitive growth, scholastic achievement, divergent thinking and social tolerance. It is also now well-established that levels of language proficiency enhance significantly with metalinguistic awareness which would tend to grow if we allow children to reflect on their languages.

What kind of strategies would be most useful in such situations? In fact, there is no limit and also no defining ‘models’. Freedom from the bondage of script is the first step. With very small effort on the part of learners and teachers, it becomes evident that all languages can be written in the same script, with some modifications. What we do need to understand is that all children and all their languages need to  be involved and the teachers need to create situations in which children can work in groups collecting data from their languages, classifying it into different categories, examine the relationships among different parts and arrive at conclusions and hypotheses that would account for their data. Consider for example, the making of nouns from adjectives in English. Adjectives like ‘dark, lazy, rough, kind, small, rich, soft etc’ can be turned into nouns by adding ‘-ness’. However, this is not where teachers would start; they would instead start by talking informally about adjectives and nouns for a few minutes. Then leave it to groups of children who share some languages to make list of adjectives and related nouns in different languages available in the class. Hindi may not have any such strategy; but it may have some others. Or take the case of making plurals. With very limited guidance children will themselves work out the problems of saying that the plural in English is made not by adding ‘-s, -es or –ies’; once it is explained to them that they should focus on the sounds with which a plural ends, they work out that significance of ‘-s, -z and –iz’ in making plural, themselves pointing that the plural of say ‘dog and baby’ is made by adding the same sound. Another group will come up with a strategy for making plurals in Hindi which has not one but 3 plurals for each noun e.g. in the case of laRkaa ‘boy’, we have ‘laRke, laRkoN and laRko’, being the nominative, oblique and vocative plurals respectively. Consider the case of making ‘negatives’ in different languages. It is possible that children would themselves (and so would the teacher) discover that negatives in all languages are made by putting the negative element close to the verb of the main clause and if a rule is discovered in this way, it is rather unlikely that children would make mistakes in speaking or writing negative sentences. Take the case of translation. Nothing enhances language proficiency more than peer-group attempts at translation, not the traditional type of ‘literally and accurately translating from language X to language Y’. A small poem for example could be taken from any language. Notice that the power structures in the classroom at once start getting democratised; teacher is at the back of the classroom listening like others to a poem in an unknown language which is then written and explained by children in the script they are already using. The poem is then translated into several languages in small groups. Stories, plays, cultural events, social issues etc. could also be treated in a similar way. The kind of phonological, syntactic, semantic and semiotic issues such an exercise raises is overwhelming. The idea is to go through the process, not to arrive at a final, perfect translation.

*Rama Kant Agnihotri, D.Phil. (York), retired as Professor and Head, Department of Linguistics, University of Delhi. He is interested in and has taught and written extensively about Applied Linguistics, Morphology, Sociolinguistics and Research Methods for several years. He has lectured in Germany, UK, USA, Canada, Yemen, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, among other countries. He has also been working with several NGOs across India in the area of elementary school education. He co-edits, with A. L. Khanna, the Sage series on Applied Linguistics. He was Chair of the NCERT Focus Group on The Teaching of Indian Languages during NCF 2005.

Action Research for EFL Teacher’s Professional Development

Manita Karki

M.Phil. in ELE

Kathmandu University

School of Education

In recent years, action research has become increasingly popular as a form of professional development for teachers. The reason is, action research helps teachers to “look behind” what they did and  provides space for teachers to correct their past mistakes and analyze needs of the students. Such work significantly helps teachers to grow as professional teachers. So doing action research is one way to solve the faced problems while teaching and to develop teachers’ professional carrier too.

For me the category “Action Research” is not new but the meaning has  changed a little bit recently.  Action Research usually refers to “the researcher doing their research in the field” . Before taking the course “Action Research and Teacher Development,” I thought action research meant  going to the  field, observing the situation and finding out the real problem among the students regarding their study (learning) and then trying to solve those problems by applying different teaching-learning techniques, methods, and strategies. But now I have realized that after completing the process, the researchers should continually look for other difficulties among the same or different level of students. What I used to think was not completely wrong but that was  just the narrow sense of my understanding , which I noticed only after completing course on “Action Research and Teacher Development.”

Action research mainly consists of self reflection as its central tenet. McNiff (2002) opines that “Action Research is a term which refers to a practical way of looking at own work to check that it is as one would like it to be or not.” Because action research is done by self, the practitioner, it is often referred to as practitioner based research and because it involves thinking about owns work, it can also be called a form of self reflective practice. “In traditional forms of research/empirical research, researchers do research on other people but now they do research on themselves” (McNiff, 2002).

Here with the help of McNiff’s idea I can say that action research is mainly based on self-enquiry: conducting research by the self about the self. For example “YOU” as a practitioner can think about  your own life and work and this involves you asking yourself why the way you work is different?, why you are the way that you are? In this way you can translate your research into practice. However,  systematic investigation into your own behavior and the reasons for that behavior is quite essential. Achieving a  better understanding of yourself can further help you to grow personally and professionally.

Action research is an open ended  research and does not begin with some sort of fixed hypothesis because researchers generate knowledge while conducting research  and they keep on thinking and (re)designing what to do next. “The research process is the developmental process of following through the idea, seeing how it goes and continually checking whether it is in line with what you wish to happen” (Norton; 2009). What we can say then is that action research is a process of a form of self evaluation.

Therefore, importance of  applying it in teaching and learning field can be immense. If we  continuously involve  in  thinking about the tasks we do, in checking what went right and what went wrong and keep ourselves busy with reflection, we will be able to see  areas of weaknesses and areas of our strengths.  In the words of Smith and Gillespie (2007), in addition to “knowing what” and “knowing how” teachers must also be competent in “knowing why” and “knowing when”. The capacity to reflect and then develop a culture of questioning (ones practice) helps a teacher to be professionally competent and practically good at teaching because it furnishes positive impact on how and what students learn, and motivates to keep learning further.

So from my own experience now I can say that doing action research is very useful for the teachers to develop his/her teaching style because when the teachers involve in doing action research while teaching then they can look behind what, how, when and why they teach and what they are missing. With the help of the knowledge of weaknesses in their teaching and of the level of students, they can develop their own best pedagogies. In this way doing action research helps  teachers to be a professionals and enhance their teaching learning activities. Because of these reasons I can say that “Action Research plays vital role in teacher’s professional development”.


McNiff, J. (2002). Action research for professional development: Concise advice for new action researchers.

Norton S. L. (2009). Action Research in Teaching and Learning: A practical guide to conducting pedagogical research in universities. London: Routledge.

Smith, C. & Gillespie, M. (2007). Research on professional development and teacher change: Implications for adult basic education.

Writing workshop: A Report

Praveen Kumar Yadav

Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) started publishing its journal annually after three years of its inception in 1993 AD. So far NELTA has published twelve volumes of its journal till 2011. All the journals are not peer reviewed, however. The Journal of NELTA became a peer reviewed journal in 2010 only. It has been an integral part of NELTA’s mission for ‘enhancing the quality of English language teaching and learning through professional networking, supporting and collaboration’. It is also a means towards achieving NELTA’s goal of providing a ‘forum for exchanges of ideas and experiences at national, regional and international levels’.

Following the NELTA’s announcement for the call for articles for the upcoming volume of the Journal of NELTA 2012, Mr. Bal Krishna Sharma, one of the editors of the journals and a former EWC fellow, who is currently doing his PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Hawaii, USA, facilitated the workshop cum presentation organized by NELTA Central Committee at its office in Kamaladi, Kathmandu on 4th Aug, 2012. Altogether fifty members of NELTA, who are interested to get their articles published in a peer reviewed journal, had enthusiastically participated in the workshop.

Mr. Sharma discussed the following issues during the presentation.

  • Things we should consider before submitting a manuscript to a journal.
  • How to Avoid Plagiarism
  • Why are manuscripts rejected?
  • Where do you find more recent academic resources?
  • What do the reviewers focus on while reviewing your manuscript?
  • How to respond to editor and reviewer comments? And many more such questions

In order to contextualize his presentation, he drew samples from the NELTA journal manuscripts and showed the audience examples of papers that were not accepted or publication. Contrary to my expectation, there were examples of research reports that cited from different sources but did not acknowledge the source. In addition, there were manuscripts that did not read like a research paper, but like a textbook chapter or a class note.

Mr. Sharma focused on two different themes in order to address these agenda: (1) formatting a research paper, (2) avoiding plagiarism

Formatting a research paper

A research paper/article usually follows an IMRD (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion) format although there are variations and different labels/names for that.

1.      Title:

The title of the article should be concise. An author should use the key terms that s/he are going to use in the paper/article. The title should be written in such a way that helps readers to predict the purpose and content of the article. A good title helps the readers predict the content of the article.

2.      Abstract:

The abstract of the research paper/article should include three moves: Purpose/objective; methods; and major findings.

 3.   Keywords 

keywords refer to technical and conceptual terms used in our paper. The keywords help readers find our article in These are the words typed to find our paper/article.

4.      Introduction (funnel shape— moving from general to specific)

  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Literature review
  • Theoretical/conceptual framework
  • Niche/hole and significance of the study
  • Research questions

5. Methods

  • To describe the theoretical approach, the material analysed and the procedure applied (Swales and Feak, 2004).
  1. is explicit about what the author(s) did;
  2. gives reasons for actions, explains procedures, specifies categories etc., may give examples;
  3. procedures normally written in the past tense;
  4. packed with terminology
  5. sometimes subdivided into sections:
  6.     Context/site of research
    1. Participants
      1. Tools and data collection
      2. Analytical procedure

6. Results/Findings

–     To describe the findings with “variable amounts of commentary” (Swales and Feak, 2004: 157).

–     Answer our research questions

–     Arrange sub-headings according to the order of our RQs

–     Do not set out to answer that you did not propose

–     Double-check if you answered all RQs.

–     Note: It  may merge into discussion

  • It goes beyond factual recount of the findings;
  • It may involve a discussion section as well as the following:

–     Justifying the methodology;

–     Interpreting the results;

–     Citing agreement with previous studies;

–     Commenting on the data;

–     Admitting difficulties in interpretation;

–     Pointing out discrepancies (Swales and Feak, 2004: 171).

7.      Discussion (Conclusion)


  1. to offer “an increasinglygeneralized account of what has been learned in the study” (Swales and Feak, 2004: 157).

i.      must go back to the research question(s) asked in the introduction;

ii.      focuses on points rather than facts;

iii.      is interpretive rather than descriptive.

8.      Conclusion (Concluding or Final remarks/Direction for future research..)

Move 1: consolidate your research space (obligatory)

Move 2: indicate the limitations of your study (optional)

Move 3: identify useful areas of further research (optional)

9.      Reference

  • Use the suggested style, e.g. APA
  • Use alphabetical order
  • Cross-check all in-text citations are in the reference section and vice versa
  • Use the latest available resources

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty. Acts of academic dishonesty include Plagiarism (representing the words or ideas of someone else as one’s own), Cheating (getting credit by deceptive means), Fabrication (making up information), Falsification (altering information/records), Multiple Submissions (using the same work to receive multiple instances of credit) and Complicity (in any of the forms of academic dishonesty above)

People often plagiarize when they do not know about plagiarism and they do not feel their language skills are good enough. Those who are do not have enough time, people often plagiarize. Dishonesty and laziness and cultural differences are also responsible factor for plagiarism.

As consequences of plagiarism, we may defame our names.  We do not get published and we may be expelled from a college. Our thesis may not be accepted and we may not be promoted in our job. Therefore, we need to avoid plagiarism.

To avoid plagiarism what we need to do is to be honest of ourselves. The strategies that can help us to avoid plagiarism are as follows.

• Summarize (and cite the source) = general meaning + our words           + citation

• Paraphrase (and cite the source) = exact words         + our words           +            citation

• Quote (and cite the source + page N) = exact words+ quotation marks+ citation +page no (APA)


Paraphrasing is used when we want to report all of the meaning of a sentence or passage, quotation should not be used while summarizing is probably the most common method used when we only want to report the main points of a passage or paper. Both paraphrasing and summarizing are similar in the way that they both involve putting information into our own words.

Quoting can be useful for showing exactly what someone has said about our topic, or when an author’s exact words are very important or interesting. While quoting, we must not quote too much but 10% of total paper –or less-in many fields. We can use quotes as the original words sound better than my words.”



Mr. Sharma concluded the workshop cum presentation with Do’s and Don’t’s in publication.

Do’s in Publishing

Don’t’s in Publishing
  • Plan ahead
  • Read and follow submission guidelines thoroughly
  • Review the most recent research on the topic; Review journal articles
  • Find some gap/hole in research
  • Write to the editors if you need resources or suggestions on your research
  • Show the paper to your colleague before you submit; Extra pair of eyes are useful
  • Write to the authors if you did not hear from them
  • If your manuscript goes through the review process, read the reviewer and editor comments carefully; they have spent a lot of time for your paper. Editors ‘never’ say they accept your paper without any changes.
  • Write to them for clarification or any possible conflicting suggestions from reviewers
  • Submit the revision; mention in the email what major changes you have made to the revised version
  • Wait patiently for the final decision; Make further revisions whenever necessary
  • Do not draft your paper overnight!
  • Do not plagiarize. We have softwares and techniques to trace that.
  • Do not write a fake research report. Editors can ask real data and can scrutinize further on methodology. Fake research reads fake.
  • Do not submit a paper that you wrote 10  years ago. Update it.
  • Do not include sources in references that you did not mention in the text, and vice versa
  • Do not submit a thesis chapter!
  • Do not submit a paper that is more like a text-book chapter; Journals publish ARTICLES.  (data-based; empirical)
  • Do not submit one paper simultaneously in two journals
  • Do not challenge editors!

Bal Krishna Sharma and Prem Phyak

On May 15, 2012, we facilitated a one-day workshop on ‘critical literacy in teaching English’ for secondary level teachers in Lalitpur. We had an enthusiastic group of 16 participants for the workshop organized by NELTA Lalitpur. There were two major goals of the workshop:

—  To understand the ways of linking authentic materials to local contexts in order to develop the students’ critical literacy skills.

—  To prepare and demonstrate a lesson plan that includes the use of locally available materials, addressing a critical social issue in Nepalese society, and demonstrates the teaching of language structure(s) (e.g. grammar, vocabulary, communication skills, etc.) based on the mandated secondary school level curriculum/textbook.

We went through the following stages in order to deliver the workshop.

  1. Materials preparation and evaluation: We (Bal Krishna Sharma and Prem Phyak) first independently worked on preparing materials. Bal Krishna prepared three English language lessons for teaching critical literacy: Domestic Child Labor, Women and Girls in Education and Dowry Practice. Pictures and essays were drawn from newspapers, magazines and other online sources. Prem drew on experiences from his previous workshop on critical literacy at NELTA Conference and a published article on NELTA’s Proceedings (co-authored with Rachel Bowden). Prem himself took a number of pictures of street children in Nepal, environment pollution in Kathmandu and prepared materials and lessons following OSDE methodology in order to train teachers at the workshop. Drawing ideas and materials from these two sources, we decided to train English teachers who were teaching English at secondary and post-secondary levels.
  2. Input: Before we engage the participants in actual activities and tasks, we thought that some theoretical and conceptual information on ‘critical’ pedagogy and literacy was essential. Our experience with similar workshops shows that the participants do want to ‘learn about’ recent developments and innovative ideas on English language teaching. Some of the questions that we asked the teachers to contemplate on as we worked on during the workshop were:
    • What are some critical issues in teaching English as an international language?
    • Are we isolating the students from or making them familiar with critical social issues while teaching English?
    •  Do the activities/texts/ methods we introduce in classrooms really encourage students to engage in dialogs?
    • Do we try to explore diverse ideas or single (so-called right) idea from the students?
    • Are we imposing teachers’ power or liberating students to come up with their own ideas?

    We talked about Paulo Freire’s ideas on critical pedagogy and his criticisms of banking model of education (Freire, 1970).  We made a distinction between traditional transmission model of education and relatively modern view of student-centered teaching. With the help of powerpoint slides, we explained different technical terms used in the field: critical pedagogy, feminist pedagogy, radical pedagogy, transformative pedagogy, and pedagogy of hope/possibility/empowerment (Wallace, 2003).

    3. Issue Elicitation: It was necessary for the participants to remember that English teachers should not only be teaching grammar or vocabulary or language skills, but also be putting language in a broader Nepalese societal context and teaching critical social issues.  We asked a question ‘What are some critical social issues in your locality?’ The participating teachers volunteered to mention social issues that are very much concerned about and are interested in addressing their English lessons.  As they said, we noted them down on the board:

    Gender inequality in education; Domestic violence; Dowry in marriage; Discrimination of gender at and after birth; Caste/ethnicity/class discrimination; Brain drain; Human trafficking; Cultural pollution/ degradation/ imperialism; kidnapping ; Poverty; Child labor; drug addiction; superstition; sexual harassment; global warming; bullying; cyber bullying; corruption; unemployment; price hike; energy crisis

    Then, as part of a mini-task, we asked the participants to read a text on child labor from a national daily The Kathmandu Post: No festive season cheer for domestic child workers  and gave the following instructions:

    -Read the text and prepare one critical reading question that you can ask your students.

    -Share with your group members and discuss how you can make your questions more engaging and critical.

    -Choose one question to share with the whole group.

    We visited individual groups and overheard what they were talking about. They were discussing how they could make the questions more ‘critical’. Following are the questions that each group shared.

    —  How could you react if a similar situation happens to you at the age of 16?

—  Why is Sanju Shrestha unable to go home to celebrate Dashain?

—  Why do you think Sanju does not feel good?

—  Is the mistress doing good for Sanju? Why (not)?

In addition to these questions, group discussions showed that the following language items can be taught:

—  vocabulary: fragrance, activities, leisure, privilege, monitor, flashcards, phonetics, meaning, synonyms, use in a sentence

—  narration/reported speech: underline,

—  voice: helping verbs and active and passive: underline;

—  Expressing likes and dislikes: elicitation; underline; compare and make them work in pair or group

We followed a similar process using the following picture asked a similar question: “How will you use this picture in your class? What language item can you teach?”


4. Reading a Sample Lesson Plan on Critical Literacy:

Then we asked the participants to read a lesson plan on Gender differences in schooling and occupation. Since we wanted the participants to have a thorough reading of the lesson plan, we prepared a set of guidelines to help them focus on each component:

—  What are the teaching items for this lesson? (page 1 top)

—  What are the SLOs and instructional materials?

—  What are the main components of the lesson plan?

—  What activities, materials, and SLOs are mentioned in the lesson?

—  What do pre-reading activities include (page 2-4)? Fill out some slots in page 2, 3 and 4.

—  What activities are used for the reading text?

—  What grammar items are focused in this lesson?

—  What makes this lesson more interactive? How does this address critical literacy issue?

This sample lesson plan reading activity started with an individual reading followed by pair and group discussions. We visited individual groups to see if they have any questions.

5. Preparation of a Lesson Plan:

Obviously we wanted to let the participants choose a critical social issue on their own and prepare a lesson plan based on that. However, neither we nor the participants had materials necessary for any open-ended issues. We grouped the participants into four and provided them with the pictures (one example is given below.  We took this picture from The Kathmandu Post) and reading texts. Here are four themes and some pictures we provided: street children, elderly population, pollution, witchcraft practice. Image

The participants were expected to start with Student Learning Outcomes and work on detailed components of a lesson plan for a 45-minute class, keeping the language and social background of their students. Each group engaged in discussions and each decided to teach different language skills/aspects while simultaneously teaching a critical social issue. Here are some pictures from the event: ImageImageImageImage

6. Why This?

Classroom teaching in Nepal strictly follows prescribed textbooks because students are tested from the textbooks at the end of the academic year. While the English medium private schools make use of textbooks published by international publishing houses like Oxford, Cambridge and Longman, government-aided public schools use textbooks approved and published by the Ministry of Education. These textbooks make very little attempt to encourage local teachers to design their own materials that supplement the textbook topics. There is enough room to contextualize the materials and activities in the textbooks that make connection with the learner’s everybody life in their community. This workshop illustrates that it is possible to teach, for example, vocabulary and grammar and other language skills by linking them to broader societal contexts that the learners are part of. When the teachers include a critical literacy component in their teaching, students do not only engage with language practice; they in fact can constantly take part in making discourses that question or negotiate the power and hegemony persistent in their societies.

Here is a response from one of the participants.

I learned how to make students active and enthusiastic to read a text themselves. I knew how to engage students in asking and responding critical questions. …. I learned how to organize group works to promote classroom interaction. We can teach grammar from the text (which is related to a critical social issue). We can collect the individual report and share their knowledge among their friends through critical discussion. It helps them to experience a friendly environment in the classroom. I learned how to make an effective lesson plan within a fixed time. The workshop provided me an opportunity with designing a lesson plan in collaboration with friends. I also learned how to make lesson plans objective oriented and demonstrate them before they are really used in the classroom.   Now I feel comfortable to teach in classroom with a lot of contextualization. My students too feel so happy to read actively and creatively. It makes my students curious to know more about their society and interested to share their views in the classroom.


Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed (MB Ramos, Trans.). New York: Continuum2007.

Wallace, C. (2003). Critical Pedagogy for language teaching. In Critical Reading in Language Education (pp. 49-78). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Advanced Reading Courses: New Aspirations and Challenges

                                                                                     Bal Ram Adhikari

                                                                                    Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal

The contribution of reading to the development of overall language proficiency cannot be overrated, especially in the EFL contexts like ours where students’ contact with English is almost what they read in and outside the classroom. Our students often end up with reading, and with some vocabulary and grammar practice activities that follow. Sometimes, the position the reading skill has enjoyed in the course, classroom practice and examination is at the expense of other vital skills of English, namely listening and speaking. Despite this, written texts are the most accessible, reliable and structured source of English input for the majority of our students, who, in their attempt to appropriate the foreign tongue, are struggling in the under-resourced academic environment. The challenge that looms large in front of university teachers teaching the reading courses is how to assist their students in exploiting the reading materials at the fullest for multiple purposes. The purposes range from reading for gist, specific information, and language awareness to extensive reading for one’ pleasure as well as professional development.

Having students read a variety of texts in the classroom and encouraging them to do the same outside are motivated by the twin-goals of knowledge acquisition and language acquisition. That is, the ideal combination of knowledge component and language component leads to the organic development of language in students. It is possible when the latter is subservient to the former. The focus on the knowledge component engages students in the comprehension, analysis, synthesis, application, evaluation and most importantly creation of knowledge by employing the linguistic and non-linguistic resources at their disposal.   The courses Reading Writing and Critical Thinking, Expanding Horizons in English, Readings in English, prescribed by Tribhuvan University for its B Ed and M Ed English students reflect the emphasis on the combination of knowledge and language components, and the integration of language skills backed up by the critical thinking component. For this, the reading textbooks under these courses consist of authentic texts from the diverse fields of knowledge such as humanities, pure and medical sciences, social sciences, environment science, psychology, religion and mythology, spiritualism, language and society, gender studies, cultural studies,  mass communication and technology, to name but a few. Obviously, it is our first experience of being exposed to such a vast array of authentic texts from different fields.  As a result, the teachers and students both are overwhelmed by the demand made by the courses. The challenges they have been facing since the implementation of the courses in 2010 are many. The teachers express mixed feelings about the nature of the courses and possibility of their effective implementation.

Against this backdrop, I’d like to shed light on some of the challenges that teachers and students of these courses are facing. Also, I’d like to make some workable suggestions to overcome them.   To serve this purpose, I have drawn on my own experience of working in these course books as a contributor and trainer.  Some of the insights into the challenges faced by the teachers and students are also based on my personal communication with the teachers during the different training programs. I begin with the common aspirations expressed in these reading materials, then move to underlying theoretical assumptions before I discuss the common challenges and ways of overcoming them.

Common aspirations expressed in the course books

The prescribed books, namely, New Directions: Reading, Writing and Critical Thinking (ed. Gardner, 2005), Expanding Horizons (eds. Awasthi, Bhattarai and Khaniya, 2010) are prescribed for Bachelor’s first and second year students majoring in English education, and Reading Beyond Borders (eds. Awasthi, Bhattarai and Khaniya, 2011) is for Master’s second year students. These books contain the authentic reading materials from the diverse fields of study. The aspirations expressed by the editors of can be summarized in the following points:

  • Enriching students’ vocabulary through implicit and explicit exposure to authentic written texts.
  • Fostering critical thinking in the reading and writing process.
  • Emphasizing the role of the critical thinking component  in the English for Academic Purpose
  • Training students in reading and writing strategies through intensive reading activities in the classroom so that they can transfer such strategies to out-of-classroom reading and writing.
  • Fostering simultaneous development of English language acquisition and subject matter acquisition.
  • Encouraging students to use English as a means of accessing content information on the diverse fields of contemporary world.
  • Integration of all language skills and language aspects.

The editors are also aware of the fact that academic or advanced reading is incomplete without academic writing. That is, the tasks for students are developed in such a way that reading and writing feed off each other and the critical thinking component backs up these two processes.

Theoretical assumptions of the courses

The following theoretical assumptions seem to underpin the reading courses:

  • Reading is an interactive process.
  • Reading is a purposive process.
  • Reading is a critical process.
  • Reading proficiency calls for extensive reading habit.

Of them reading as interactive and critical processes deserve a special mention, for they challenge the traditional notion of reading as a passive skill and the reader as the mere recipient of information. Contrary to the passivity of the reader and mere receptivity of information, these two assumptions redefine reading as a highly productive, interactive and dynamic process. To be more specific, reading as a critical process has been the prime focus of the courses, at least in theory.

Reading as a critical process

Any reading which is critical is also purposive and interactive. Reading as a critical process can be interpreted from the two dominant perspectives. The first perspective deals with the cognitive aspect of reading that requires readers to engage in the higher order thinking as postulated in the Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom 1956, and Grondlund, 1970, as cited in Law and Gautam, 2012,  p. III).  The second perspective takes reading as “a social process” (Kress, 1985, as cited in Hedge, 2000, p.197). According to Hedge “from this perspective, texts are constructed in certain ways by writers in order to shape the perceptions of readers towards acceptance of the underlying ideology of the text” (ibid.). A text is a dynamic space where the ideology (i.e. socio-cultural, political and professional beliefs and values) of the reader comes in direct contact with that of the writer often in the form of either resistance or  submission. Critical reading in both cases calls for the active interaction between conscious readers and the writer. Such interaction can take place in two different but interrelated modes.

a)      Interaction with the text

In this mode of interaction, the reader interacts directly with the text. It can also be termed as the outer-projected interaction in which the reader interacts with the textual features: its theme, characters, linguistic features, cultural elements and writer’s style. This mode of interaction is active mainly, but not necessarily exclusive to, the while reading phase, which focuses on the extraction of the required information and comprehension of the gist. The strategies employed by the reader can be receptive reading, skimming, scanning and intensive reading.

b)     Interaction with the Self

Comprehension is necessary but not sufficient. Readers have to transcend the mere extraction and comprehension of information. They should relate what they have comprehended from the text to their experiential world, reflecting on what they have learned, what it means to them, and pondering how they can use it. This mode of interaction can also be termed as the inner-projected interaction. Readers who do not relate textual information to their purpose, experiential zone and existing knowledge fail to move upward in the higher order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation and creation. It is also difficult for them to challenge the writers’ viewpoints and maintain critical distance from them. This mode of interaction is active mainly, but not necessarily exclusive to,  pre-reading and post-reading phases. The reading strategies employed can be reflective and refractive.

Organization of the textbooks

The texts from different sources are structured under different thematic headings. The overall organizations of the materials can be divided into macro- and micro-levels. At macro-level, each book is thematically organized under different headings such as Intercultural Communication, Education, Mass Media and Technology, Gender Roles and Work (New Directions, 2005),  Humanities, Social Sciences, Human Rights and Freedom, Education and Language Teaching, Globalization and Postmodernism, East and West, Masterpieces, War and Piece, Travel and Adventure, Health and Medical Science, Sports and Entertainments, Science and Technology, Nature, Ecology and Environment ( Expanding Horizons in English, 2010), and Literature and Art, Democracy and Freedom, Multiculturalism, Globalization and Postmodernism, Philosophy and Ideology, Memoire and Revelation, Science and Technology, Sports and Entertainments, and so on (Reading Beyond Borders, 2011).  Each thematic heading is fleshed out with different relevant texts.  The variation in the macro-level organization seems to be the matter of choice, interest, and focus of the editors. At micro-level, each chapter is structured under the different headings such as Unit Opener, Core Readings, Making Connections, Additional Readings, and Easy Topics (New Directions); Before You Read, Vocabulary, Dealing with the Text, and    Beyond the Text (Expanding Horizons in English); Dealing with the Text, and Beyond the Text (Readings Beyond the Borders).

Classroom pedagogy

The classroom pedagogy suggested in all these course books is an integrated approach. The teachers are supposed to interpret the term integration from two perspectives: integration of content areas with the English language, and integration of major language skills and language aspects. The first implies that learning English with relevant content areas leads to deeper processing and hence ensures better output. The second implies that integration of two or more language skills is a natural phenomenon in real life language use, and vocabulary and grammar are integral components of language skills. Hence, “students might read and take notes, listen and write a summary, or respond orally to things they have read or written (Richards and Rodgers, 2001, p. 208).

Major challenges

The type and the magnitude of challenges faced by teachers and students vary depending on the nature of texts and the amount of schematic knowledge the readers bring in, and resources available to approach these texts.  The common challenges can be discussed under the following headings:

1)      Nature of the texts

The text is what students interact with for the enrichment of language and subject matter knowledge. The output from this interaction cannot be high if the the text itself poses a problem for students.  The interaction between students and texts can be negatively affected if the text has its origin in the culture almost unknown to the students and if its language and subject matter are too taxing for them to process. Povey (1979, as cited in Celce-Murcia and Hilles, 1988, p.123) has used the terms cultural, linguistic and intellectual humps or barriers for these constraints imposed by the reading text itself.

a)      Cultural barriers: Cultural barriers include imagery, tone and allusion (Celce-Murcia and Hilles, 1988, p. 123), along with myths, folk tradition, religion, national history and a way of life embedded in the text. The reading materials which belong to foreign cultures are more difficult to interpret than those belonging to readers’ national or regional cultures. Because of the cultural elements embedded in them, the chapters such as Paradise Lost, Contemporary Writing in Arab Countries, Death Valley, and Iliad from Expanding Horizons are obviously more challenging for our students than OM, The Bhagvat Gita and The Necessity of Religion. The texts with foreign cultural elements require sufficient contextualization before students deal with them.

b)      Linguistic barriers: Linguistic barriers include complexity of syntax, lexicon and style of the text. Language used in the text can be seen as one of the major barriers to the effective interaction between text and students. This barrier seems formidable, especially for those (both students and teachers) who lack extensive reading in English. The chapters such as The New Age of Connectivity, What is a Novel? , Contemporary Writing in Arab Countries, The Birth of Sex Hormones, etc. from Expanding Horizons do not lend themselves to easy interpretation because of their jargon, complex sentences and formal style.  Similar is the case with the chapters like  Post-structuralism, Asymmetries of Commerce and Culture, Religious Tolerance- Peacemaker for Cultural Rights, and Japan included in Reading Beyond Borders. Because of area-specific words, lengthy and complex sentence structures, and highly formal style, many texts in the course books are linguistically too challenging for the readers to process the content. These texts call for a lot of language preparation work before making entry into them.

c)      Intellectual barriers: Intellectual barriers occur when the reader lacks “intellectual maturity and sophistication necessary to appreciate, relate to, and comprehend the subject matter” (Celce-Murcia and Hilles, 1988, p. 123).  The texts such as The Birth of Sex Hormones, The Science of Heredity, The Promise of Global Institutions, The Age of Connectivity and Cubism are not intended for general readers. These texts represent the recent findings in their respective fields. The editors seem to presuppose that students have sufficient knowledge in the fields like genetics and anthropology, Information Technology, and painting and sculpture. The teachers during the training often complained that the issues discussed in these texts are too difficult for them to understand, let alone their students.

2)      Attitudes to reading skill

The prevailing attitude towards reading as a receptive skill has also remained as one of the major barriers to the successful implementation of the courses. As discussed above, the courses embrace the recent trends in teaching reading as an interactive and critical process while the prevailing classroom practice shows that all that a good reader needs is the ability to answer the comprehension questions given in the course book. Similarly, there seems to be a gap between what the teachers and students expect from each other. The teachers expect their students to read the text and answer the questions that follow. Students, on the other hand, expect their teachers to read the text for them and supply summary and answers.  This classroom practice fails to see the value of pre-reading and post-reading activities and is almost confined to the comprehension phase of reading. As a result, the integration of other language skills with reading is missing.   For such teachers and students the reading activity begins from and ends with the given text itself, i.e. for them the text is the end not the means.

3)      Text as an end: Those we consider reading as a mere receptive process tend to take the text as an end to itself. Such a view undervalues the multiple purposes that the prescribed reading materials can serve. A text should be taken as a means to access information and language resources. In other words, a text is a means to   activate the reader’s schematic and language knowledge, to play with various writing styles and strategies, and to create another text that either conforms to or resist the writer’s stance. Its classroom implication is that readers should begin from and end with the non-textual world vial the textual one.

4)      Institutional constrains

Lack of adequately trained teachers, sufficient orientation to them, sufficient preparation time available for them, and the large class size have remained other challenges to the teachers and students.

Insights into the nature of the courses, organization of the reading materials, the suggested classroom pedagogy, and challenges faced by the students and teachers in the actual classroom can help us to think of the areas to be addressed and design effective classroom procedures.

Some basic questions to be addressed

It is important that the teachers address the following issues before engaging students in the actual act of classroom reading:

  • What to do before, during and after students read the text.
  • How to guide students   through the text to read meaningfully, purposively and critically.
  • How to have students read/learn cooperatively in pairs and groups.
  • How to assist students in connecting what they already know to the text and what they have learned from the text to the real world.
  • How to integrate the reading skill with other skills.

Classroom procedures

The prescribed course books Expanding Horizons in English and New Directions have followed the established practice of the three-phase procedure: Pre-, While-, and Post-reading. These phases can also be termed as anticipation phase, building knowledge phase and consolidation phase respectively (Crawford et al., 2005). Crawford et al.  have used the organic metaphors to highlight the value of these phases of critical thinking and productive learning. In the anticipation phase a wheat seed is planted in rich soil, the seed sprouts and a plant grows in the building knowledge phase, and finally in  the consolidation phase the head of wheat is mature, and contains seeds of many other plants (2005, p. 4-5.)

New Directions and Expanding Horizons both are rich in the variety of reading tasks under each phase. However, Reading Beyond the Borders has skipped the Pre-reading phase, leading the students to an abrupt confrontation with the text. If not handled by an experienced and trained teacher, the students are likely to experience a sense of bewilderment for want of background information required to enter the text.

a)      Pre-reading phase

This is the preparation or schemata activation phase. While engaging students in the pre-reading or anticipation tasks given in the books and teacher’s manuals or designed by the teacher himself, the he should

  • respect and capitalize on the student’s experiences, knowledge and language resources.
  • assess informally what they already know, including misconceptions (Crawford et al, 2005, p. 2).
  • provide a context for understanding new ideas.
  •  ask them to write down what they Know about the topic and what they Want to learn or expect from it.

b)     While Reading Phase

The students in this phase deal with the text. The teacher should set tasks that require them to inquire, find out and make sense of the reading materials. The while reading tasks should encourage students

  • to indentify the main points and their supporting details.
  • to find new pieces of information from the text.
  • to compare their expectations with what is being learned, and to revise them or raise new ones (Crawford, et al. 2005, p.3).
  • to react to the opinions expressed, ask themselves questions, and to predict the next part of the text from various clues (Hedge, 2000, p.210).

c)      Post-reading Phase

This phase takes the students beyond the text. However, the tasks in this phase should be tied up with pre-, and while-reading phases, and should lead to writing and speaking tasks.  That is, this phase has both backward-looking and forward-looking purposes.  The instructor in this phase should set the tasks that require the students:

  • to reflect on what they have learned by summarizing the main ideas in their own words.
  • to interpret the main ideas.
  • to share opinions in groups
  • to agree or disagree with the writer’s stance.
  • to role-play major situations or characters given in the text.
  • to create a parallel text.

Although the classroom reading procedures are divided into the three different phases for the theoretical convenience, these phases and activities under them lie in the continuum. In the actual classroom practice, it is almost impossible to say when one ends and another begins. Such compartmentalization is not desirable either.


Compared with the previous ones, the courses Reading, Writing and Critical Thinking, Expanding Horizons, and Readings in English prescribed by Tibhuvan University for its Bachelor’ and Master’s programs mark a paradigm shift in English Education . The reading texts under these courses have embraced current trends in ELT that gives priority in flooding ESL/EFL learners with relevant, contextualized and authentic texts.  However, it goes without saying that the effectiveness of these courses depends on how the course books are exploited in line with the aspirations expressed in them. Both teachers and students should bear in mind that there is no easy and direct route to journey into the textual world.  Much depends on how clear we are about our destination, how well prepared we are for it and how skilled and experienced we guides are.

Awasthi, Bhattarai and Khaniya (Eds.) (2010). Expanding horizons in English. Kathmandu: Vdhyarthi Prakashan.

Awasthi, Bhattarai and Khaniya (Eds.) (2011). Reading beyond borders. Kathmandu: Vdhyarthi Prakashan.

Celce-Murcia, M. and Hilles, S. (1988).  Techniques and resources in teaching grammar. Oxford: OUP.

Crawford, A.,  Saul, E.W., Mathews, S. and Mkinster, J. (2005). Teaching and learning   strategies for thinking classroom.  Nepal: Alliance for Social Dialogue

Gardner, P.S. (Ed.) (2005).  New directions: Reading writing and critical thinking. Cambridge: CUP.

Hedge, T. (2000). Teaching and learning in the language classroom. Oxford: OUP.

Law, Barbara, and Gautam, G. R (2012). Teachers’ manual: Expanding Horizons. Kathmandu: NELTA.

[1]  I am grateful to Dr. Barbara Law and Ganga Ram Gautam with whom I had an opportunity to work as a contributor to the teachers’ manual for Expanding Horizons.  The basic outline of this article was developed during the training we (Barbara and I) conducted together in Gulmi.

The Training and Trainees!


Suresh Shrestha

Executive Member

NELTA Birgunj

Training!!! There are two inter-related ways of defining it. One – “What is training?” and the other – “What do you mean by training?” The answer to the first question is widely explored, rigorously developed with a broader coverage, so it is supposed to be authentic unless and until something related but a newer one is unearthed in the same way. And, the answer to the second question is self-centered, self-experienced and self-explained, so it may differ from person to person based on the individual insight. And, what is worth-emphasizing is that the second case has much higher practicality that directly affects the upshot of training which evaluates training itself. As a simple example, some training is given to some targeted group with a view to causing some expected change, but as a baffling surprise, the result may not be what may have been expected to happen – just opposite! Why so? Trainees’ perception may act as a pivot to rotate the training to the desired effect. The training might be of great importance and trainers might hold great expertise, yet the result may be poor. It is crystal clear that it is all because of how trainees mean training, i.e. the way of getting leave granted, enjoying some gossip and receiving some allowance – that’s it! But, it may not occur so in each case because the trainees’ perception may not remain the same all the time. Yes, I had the same experience in the second week of April.

It was on the 8th  and 9th of April that US Embassy Regional English Language Office (RELO) and Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) jointly organized a two-day training for +2 English teachers in the premises of Birgunj Public College in Birgunj with the theme “English Language Enhancement for Teacher Professional Development”. It was facilitated by Ms. Jocelyn White, holding the outstanding 32-year experience of teaching in the United States and around the world, being engaged in the fields of international education systems and intercultural education environments and Dr. Meg E. Infiorati, a multifaceted personality, working as a facilitator of various seminars in organizational teamwork, disaster management, personality types, leadership styles, program management and conflict management, and as a teacher at several local colleges as well. It was a part of nearly one-month training schedule across the country. Luckily or unluckily, I was assigned to co-ordinate the program. I felt lucky because it was a good opportunity for me to grasp and learn a lot. But, on the other hand, I felt unlucky since it was the first time I had had such a responsibility and those who had already had the experience of co-ordination were not physically present for instant support and suggestion. Several times I asked myself what was going to come about. And I consoled myself recollecting someone saying whatever was to happen would turn fair at the cost of our ‘true attempts’, and brushed off all the anxieties. There is a wise saying: a problem appears with its solution following behind. So was the case in that regard. In spite of being away from Birgunj, Sajan Sir initiated the co-ordination by letting us know about the program and giving due guidance about what to do and how to. To be frank, I was reluctant to holding the program owing to mainly two factors: first, most of the executive members were so busy with their own jobs that it felt me quite odd and alone; second, it was time to publish the exam results at several schools so it was a big challenge to collect enough participants even from secondary and +2 levels, whereas the training was mainly focused on +2 level. Anyway, I must congratulate myself on receiving warm support from Kedar Sir, Praveen, Kamalesh, Jyoti and Preksha. We managed to have over thirty participants. It was in fact a good indication of positive attitude towards such training of professional enhancement. Enthusiastic participants from Rautahat, Bara and Parsa turned up to mark the training with a good success.

In the inaugural session on the first day of the program presided by Mr. Kedar Prasad Sah, Chair of NELTA, Birgunj, as our token of love and honor, we offered ‘Gamchha’, the invaluable cultural recognition of Tarai dwellers, to the Chief Guest Mr. Yugalkishor Prasad Sah, Academic Director of Birgunj Public College, the Guest of Honor, trainer duo, Ms. Jocelyn White and Dr. Meg E. Infiorati, and the Distinguished Guest Mrs Shobha Benargee, retired Reader of English of TU. And, the session was closed with the vote of thanks by Mr. Prveen Kumar Yadav, executive member of NELTA, Birgunj.

The first-day sessions included reading, personality types and graphic organizers. I understood reading as something interactive to gain energy that fuels the continuity of our action. Reading doesn’t mean merely reading some written stuff, but also trying to decipher some drawings and some facial expressions in different situations. So it refers to reading something else. Introverts are supposed to energize themselves by means of their thoughts that they gain by reading different matters, whereas extroverts gain energy from the environment, i.e. by ‘reading’ the surroundings. ‘If so, are you an introvert or extrovert?’ The question may really put anyone into a dilemma. But, what about the answer ‘Both’? One may explain ‘When I am alone in my room I am an introvert, and when I am in a gathering, I am an extrovert!’ Such a clever answer had no space there when we took a test to chalk out what personality type we had. There were sixteen types of personality based on eight factors: E – Extraversion, I – Introversion, S – Sensing Perception, N – Intuitive Perception, T – Thinking Judgment, F – Feeling Judgment, J – Judging and P – Perceiving. It helped us to find out what type of personality we have. I was interestingly useful to judge ourselves psychologically and act and improve ourselves accordingly. The next one – graphic organizers – was focused on the way we may explain what we perceive through reading. It was indeed implemental in our teaching field. It was all about how we make a graphical presentation of what we have read and understood. Selecting several chapters from the books “The Magic of Words” and “The Heritage of Words” and offering different graphic organizers namely Web, Tree, Flowchart, Fishbone Map and Venn Diagram, the participants in different groups were made to select the organizer that might suit the particular chapter chosen and to simplify the complex information into different small easy-to-understand bits of information. It laid emphasis on the various ways of learning learners may adopt according to their different perspectives. It was of course of great use for teachers to conduct a big class by dividing the students into different groups, engaging them in interaction on certain reading, and reflecting their understanding logically.

On the second and last day, the program was to begin at 8:30 A.M. Although it was delayed by about one hour, almost all the participants attended it with good spirit. From teaching view-point, many more found the session effective. It was all about the different levels of knowledge in Bloom’s Taxonomy: Remember Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create, arranged from the basic level to the advanced one. They were explained how to apply to form right questions from easy ones for the students’ comprehension to challenging ones for their analysis and creativity. Each pair of participants selected a new topic, read it, made several related questions according to the levels of knowledge and arranged main pieces of information on cardboard paper using a suitable graphic organizer. All observed each other’s and interacted how clear and consistent the presentations were. It gave lots of space for us to put our logics, dispel doubts and mark the shifts in understanding having discussions with each other and with the trainers directly. Since we had to wrap up the program by 1 pm or so, we had to shorten it; yet we could grasp the gist of each and every presentation. Had we had more time, we could have enjoyed broader workshop practice. The facilitators-cum-trainers were so amicable and conscious about our moves and inclination to the learning. Personally, Meg asked me how long we could run the program. Had we been allowed to hold the program two weeks later, each of us would have had enough time to enjoy the training in its full length with much better arrangement and Meg and Jocelyn would have been much happier by benefiting us much more. But, sorrowfully, they were scheduled to fly back to the capital so we could not make any instant decision to extend the program. Anyway, it was so wonderful, fascinating enough for the participants to realize the genuine aspect of the workshop training.

One thing that has been sensed noteworthy is that the concept of training among young energetic people seems to have had its own impression. They seem to have understood the value of such trainings and seminars. Previously there were some bitter experiences of trainings and their implications. They were the sources of income and opportunities to have leaves granted. So the outcomes of such trainings used to have several shortcomings. But, nowadays, especially young teachers or would-be teachers are getting ahead to spend money willingly in participating in trainings, since I am optimistic that they are now more serious about their professional step-up through all-around talent. They seem to have realized that degrees and jobs might be secured but the talent is something they must hunt rigorously. I can’t help thanking them for the rise in their perception, those dedicated trainers-cum-facilitators-mentors, and all the contributors!

Could I hope for the same helpful hands from you all on the pedagogical journey ahead?

Thank you all so much!