Category Archives: Teaching Tips

Exploring the Transformative Impact of Technology on Language Teaching and Cross-cultural Understanding across Borders

Bibas Thapa

As societal shifts occur, education undergoes corresponding changes. Modern technology has changed not just how we live our everyday lives but also how classes are run, giving teachers access to a multitude of tools and resources. Modern technological development is vital in helping young people acquire and enhance cross-cultural understanding and communication skills necessary for effective day-to-day interactions in the twenty-first century (Schenker, 2013). With the use of synchronous and asynchronous modes of online resources, educators can design classrooms that closely resemble actual situations, encouraging students’ active participation. By connecting schools via platforms with synchronous modes of online learning like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Team, Google Meet, etc., educators can connect their students with classrooms across the world to collaborate and enhance their English language skills. In this blog, I share my classroom practices of integrating technology to teach the English language and develop cross-cultural understanding by connecting my students with other students across the globe.

The Genesis of the Borderless Session

Image 1: Students in a Hungarian class connecting with the students in my class through Skype

The development of information and communication technology has widened opportunities for educators and teachers to connect with the world geographically and culturally. As a result, schooling must prepare pupils for a world shaped by globalization (Darling-Hammond, 2010; Walsh, 2016). In line with this reality, I dabbled in technology throughout my early teaching career, illuminating the classroom with projectors and PowerPoint presentations. The students began to routinely sway to the beat of my digital waltz as they grew accustomed to it. However, my students grew restless as the months went by, demanding a new technology tool and a new approach to learning instead of the regular use of PowerPoint. On Friday, during an extracurricular speech competition about the effects of Facebook use, students’ desire became quite apparent. A maximum number of secondary school students used Facebook to network, learn about current events, as well as to create new acquaintances. It is evident from their speech that students found technology to be intriguing in their learning and that they also asked for more information, communication, and technology-integrated programs in schools. That speech day got me thinking about displaying fresh concepts using technology or the same projector instead of just teaching information.

When I was skimming through my Facebook, I came across a school in Punjab, India. I reached out to a teacher regarding my interest in connecting students from each other’s classrooms, opening up opportunities for them to practice their communication skills and cultural understanding. I received a response from the teacher after a week. I began brainstorming with my students and science teacher, Kumar Rumba, about possible projects. To make the session more interesting, the country name was not revealed, as they needed to guess themselves by asking yes-no questions. Students were assigned different roles as speakers, dancers, singers, etc. Some of them were anxious and hesitant to communicate with students from another country. We did not have a computer lab or a well-managed classroom but also we decided to commemorate International Dancing Day by collaborating with other teachers in our school.

Image 2: First connecting class with the school in Punjab, India, and students from a school in Hetauda.

On a Friday afternoon, my students dressed in traditional attire waited for a Skype call. It was a new experience for all of us, and I had mixed feelings. I was worried about my laptop’s data connection and whether the Skype call would go smoothly. We gathered in an office room with ‘Yes’, and ‘No’ cards, a flag, and a globe. We received their Skype call at noon and saw teachers seated on a beautifully decorated stage, accompanied by a dancer. At first, we played a guessing game where each student tried to guess each other’s countries through a series of yes/no questions. They were not allowed to provide any clue; they just needed to show a yes or no card. After asking a series of questions, students from Punjab guessed our country correctly, and our students displayed Nepal’s flag. Later, our students also guessed their country, and they displayed their national flag. The guessing game enhanced cognitive and communication skills in my students.

Next, our students and teachers (from my school) introduced themselves to each other. The students from Punjab greeted us in their native language, and my students did the same in Nepali. They described their country’s flag, traditional attire, and the school. When my students heard simple English sentences, their confidence level increased, and those students who hesitated to speak also actively took part in the conversation. One of my students exclaimed, “Ini haruko pani English hamro jasto raichha” (their English language is also like ours), demonstrating their confidence to communicate with their counterparts. Soon, they engaged in the conversation as if they had known each other for a long time.

Following this exchange, students took turns sharing ethnic dances. This experience fostered a sense of global community. The students who were reluctant to discuss Facebook’s influence during the speech competition jumped at the chance to express themselves via dancing, like a narrative twist. It made me think about multiple ways of engaging students to cater to their multiple intelligences. The inaugural international dance between Nepal and India unfolded through the lens of Skype. Students on both ends shared not just dance steps but stories of their cultures, peering into each other’s classrooms with curiosity. 

Fueled by the spirit of connection, I embarked on a mission to virtually unite my classroom with the world. Through this project, I forged ties with international acquaintances, joined online communities, and explored the connection with other classes beyond the borders through collaboration with fellow educators. This initiative was not just about crossing borders digitally; it was crucial for nurturing listening, speaking, and cognitive skills. In this dance of learning, every step was a bridge to understanding, and every word was a note in the symphony of global education. The tale of technological integration and cultural exchange emerged as a tapestry of growth, where simplicity met depth, and every breath carried the essence of learning and unity.

Language and Cultural Exchange through Skype Video Calls

Video: My students sharing cultural dance with Vietnamese students.

When we think of a classroom, we usually think of an enclosed space with four walls devoted to teaching and learning. However, in an age where technology affects human relations, communication between language teachers and students transcends traditional classroom boundaries (Romaña, 2015). This change involves moving our daily relationships into computer communication (CMC) through email or phone calls such as WhatsApp or Skype (Romaña, 2015, p. 144). Its unique features include global connectivity via video calling and student chat options. 

After having connections with more than ten countries like Vietnam, Hungary, India, Japan, Spain, Portugal, and the USA, technology and learning through it is no longer a mystery to my students. They conversed with their international student counterparts and learned about one another’s way of life. They learned about other cultures and communities, and my students also shared their customs and cultures with their global counterparts, fostering characteristics of global citizens. They taught the international students Nepali language and cultures such as Namaskar (नमस्कार), Dhanyabaad (धन्यवाद), and Sanchai (सन्चै). My students also became familiar with Sati Sri Akala (Punjabi), and HaMacTe M. (Russian) from international students. Respecting one another’s identities and cultures eliminates communication barriers and fosters greater understanding of each other. This bridges the gap between classroom content and real-world situations. The Skype sessions also helped to improve their speaking, listening, and pronunciation skills. Since my students have taken virtual international tours to different classes, Europe is not a mystery to them. 

The Skype Sessions promoted my students’ speaking skills and self-assurance. They practiced speaking in a real-world situation and engaged with both native and non-native English speakers worldwide by utilizing Skype in the classroom. Additionally, this cooperative and methodical approach contributed to their cognitive skills, geographic awareness, and cultural comprehension in an engaging and dynamic environment. 

Conclusion

To sum up, the borderless Skype session exemplifies how engaging students with diverse cultures worldwide facilitates cross-cultural understanding, language learning, and global connections. It offers Nepali students a remarkable opportunity to learn about other cultures while sharing their own, creating an inclusive and enriching educational experience in an interconnected world. Reflecting on my journey, technology has profoundly transformed education in my class. Platforms like Skype have fundamentally changed the way I teach and learn languages, eliminating spatial and cultural barriers. Through virtual exchanges such as Skype sessions have become an effective means of fostering cross-cultural understanding, communication, and language acquisition. 

However, it’s essential to recognize the challenges and responsibilities of connecting classrooms globally. Teachers must manage cultural sensitivities, coordinate across time zones, and ensure clear communication to foster meaningful relationships. Teachers and students together need to learn about the cultural norms and expectations of the communities they are going to interact with and collaborate with. Likewise, they need to communicate in advance the plan, activities, time zone, and so on for the sessions. We also need to assign different roles to students to make them accountable for their learning and organizing sessions. 

Looking forward, I am excited to explore more innovative virtual exchange programs within and outside the nation. I aim to develop new strategies to overcome technological challenges and further enhance their educational experiences by integrating technological tools.

Author: Bibas Thapa is an MPhil scholar in English Language Education at Kathmandu University. He is an English lecturer and also works as an ICT facilitator. He has connected in borderless sessions with dozens of countries, such as the USA, Brazil, Portugal, Greece, Vietnam, India etc.

References

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press

Romaña, Y. Skype™ Conference Calls: A Way to Promote Speaking Skills in the Teaching and Learning of English. PROFILE, 17, 143 -156.

Schenker, T. (2013). The effects of a virtual exchange on students’ interest in learning about culture. Foreign Language Annals, 46(3), 491–507. http://doi.org/10.1111/ flan.12041

Walsh, L. (2016). Educating generation next: young people, teachers and schooling in transition. Houndsmill, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Experiences of Flipped Teaching Through Messenger Group: A Teacher’s Reflection

Baburam Shrestha

I have been teaching English at the basic to secondary level at government schools for more than a decade. With the advancement of technology, I have observed that teachers and parents have perceived that students are less engaged in reading textbooks and books. They think that students are more engaged in playing virtual games or using social media on their phones rather than completing assignments or engaging themselves with educational materials. Both teachers and parents have raised the question whether the ubiquitous presence of mobile phones has been a curse or a boon for students. In my perspective, it is a supporting device for them. In today’s society, it has become a fundamental tool for students to access information, communication, entertainment, and knowledge. However, by only engaging on mobile phones for games and fun can be counterproductive to their study. So, a serious question always hits me: if they like to engage on their devices, why not integrate the devices in their study. So, I created a messenger group with my students to integrate technology in their study. In this blog post, I am going to share my practices and reflect upon them.

Messenger group to integrate technology in low-resourced contexts

Schools came to closure during the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought many challenges for my colleagues and students. I was pensive as I was in a dilemma about my teaching profession. As there were no chances of opening schools, schools came up with the idea of opening learning centers across students’ communities. My colleague and I visited learning centers twice a week to assign homework package but that was not sufficient for secondary-level students. We could only accommodate 25 students in one learning center because of health protocols. During our visits, we would grade their homework, provide feedback, teach them challenging contents and assign homework for next week. I explored some of them having mobile phones and internet access at their home though a few did have access to the internet. However, they would manage to go to their peers’ house to access the internet. My observation revealed that most students were already familiar with mobile phones, they only required some ideas about using the devices for their study. Despite some limitations, I proceeded with the messenger group initiative, recognizing its potential to bridge the gap in access to educational resources and take students beyond textbooks to explore knowledge. Then I created a class messenger group and invited them to join. The group was a convenient forum for us to share resources, interact, communicate and learn. I shared study materials and assignments, and they were able to go through

A screenshot of sharing resources through messenger group

them at their own pace and time even though it was impossible to meet in school due to the pandemic. It also helped students to get some ongoing support and resolve questions as I would respond to their questions and concerns.

My approach of engaging students in their study through technology aligns with flipped learning (Flipped Learning Network, 2014) which is one of teaching approaches in classrooms today. In flipped learning, teachers provide concepts to students using either videos, audio, or presentation apps, so that students study the contents and prepare before class (Al- Samarraie et al., 2020). So that in the classroom they can spend their time collaborating with teachers and other friends to advance their knowledge and understanding about the contents, which makes the classroom activities and time more productive. In my case, I did not record and share audio and videos, instead, I used texts and visuals to summarize texts and exercises and assign the tasks to them. I also used PowerPoint slides, text, snipping tools, movies, interesting Ted Talks, Benime apps, and other tools to facilitate teaching-learning. I joined workshops offered by some teachers’ associations to enhance my knowledge and skills in using ICT in my classrooms.

I continued using the messenger group even after the pandemic. I used the forum to share the contents and assignments of the day beforehand so the students would be familiar with the contents and become prepared for the class. Then they would share their ideas too by engaging in different kinds of activities in real class. Gradually, they became

A screenshot assigning homework.

interested and accustomed to studying the shared materials and completing their homework on time. It also helped them to learn independently as they could learn in their own way at time and place. They also used the messenger group as a forum to ask follow-up questions about things they did not understand in class. I would reply and confirm the answer in the group, and they would share ideas and work with me and their peers. 

Benefits of flipped teaching

Flipped classroom vs traditional classroom

Flipped teaching is one of novel approaches where contents are shared before class with tasks assigned. Hariri et al. (2021) have illustrated that flipped learning is one of the recent and effective approaches that increase students’ interactivity and enhance the understanding of content in foreign language classrooms. I also observed some noticeable differences in student engagement and performance between traditional classroom settings and the flipped teaching approach. Unlike traditional classrooms, in flipped classes, students get direct access to knowledge with flexible contents and instructions. It was student-centered, making them active in the learning process and they were interested in studying by using mobile devices, whereas traditional classrooms are more teacher-centered where students would get less chances to interact with their teachers and peers. Similarly, they would get extra time to do their tasks and share their perspectives unlike traditional classes. In the same way, flipped teaching created an equitable opportunity for performing the tasks for students with diverse backgrounds as they would be able to study contents at their own time and pace. I also noticed that students became more independent in doing their assignments.

Benefits for my students

Parents and teachers blamed students for spending too much time on their devices and with our virtual forum, they also used their devices for study purposes. One interesting observation I made was that those who had previously neglected reading began showing interest and followed up for classroom assignments with their friends in the messenger group. Additionally, some of the students shared their work in the group. Similarly, students who had difficulty with exercises were able to comprehend complex questions

Students submitting their works through the messenger group.

and share answers due to conversation and scaffolding in the group. Even absentees shared their assignments in class as the class materials and homework were shared through the group. The class had various student types, including shy ones, who felt comfortable expressing curiosity to teachers and developed a habit of engaging with messages and reading contents. It boosted their confidence, heightened reading awareness, and accelerated learning via social media. 

Benefits for teacher

I used the virtual group to share some learning materials including content-related videos, PowerPoint slides, books, and podcasts online in advance which helped them to understand assigned materials and get ready for the next class. It also helped them in following home assignments as they could ask follow-up questions, leave their comments, and share their learning. It was also convenient for me to follow them up for their assignment through messenger. Likewise, I reused the materials and resources for other classes, so that I did not have to create another set of materials again. Embracing new technology, I further developed my teaching skills and sparked my interest in using technological tools.

Some challenges of flipped teaching

Although I was able to build a virtual students’ community to support each other in their learning, my students and I faced some challenges. Students, especially from remote parts, faced some difficulties in the internet connection. Students with internet access joined the group, but not everyone did. Those without internet access used mobile data, which proved costly and sometimes caused issues with downloading materials. Consequently, some were initially not involved in the messenger group, while others, despite being in the group, showed little interest. Gradually a few student ambassadors’ word-of-mouth brought more students back to the group and they started engaging in conversation and submitting their assignments through it. Additionally, it was a little challenging for me to make sure that they did not post irrelevant materials and messages to the group. So, the takeaway is to orient students to the dos and don’ts of virtual forums in the classroom. 

Closing thoughts

Flipped classroom teaching through messenger groups is one of the recent teaching approaches that I adopted in my classroom. It can cater to multiple learning styles of students as it opens up both synchronous and asynchronous doors of learning. In my experiences, it has been valuable for both teacher and students as it helped me to share digital resources which are not possible to share in the classroom due to lack of technology. Moreover, I was able to clarify their doubts and confusion through the group chat. Students also had opportunities for collaboration, conversation and acquiring knowledge through shared resources independently. It was helpful in making students independent in their study and confident in expressing their ideas. Additionally, I was able to teach them how they can use their mobile devices beyond communication and entertainment to access knowledge and integrate technology into education. Logistically, teachers need to have some digital literacy, but they do not need to be highly skilled in using technology though having more knowledge and skills is always helpful. I had a general idea of operating computers or mobile devices and creating a messenger group. Similarly, I was comfortable working with slides or word files, designing activities and sharing them in our virtual group. Also, we can also always find useful resources and activities online and use them.

Author: Baburam Shrestha is an MPhil scholar in English language Education at Kathmandu University. He has been teaching English from basic level to bachelor level since 2017. He is a published author in national and international levels. He is a life member of NELTA and an executive member of NELTA, Sindhuli. His areas of interest are literature, multilingualism, autoethnography and narrative inquiry.

References

Al- Samarraie, H., Shamsuddin, A., & Alzahrani, A. l (2020). A Flipped classroom model in higher education: a review of the evidence across discipline Education Technology Research and Development, 68(3), 1017-1051. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-019-09718-8

Flipped Learning Network. (2014). The Four Pillars of F-L-I-P™. Flipped Learning Network Hub. https://flippedlearning.org/definition-of-flipped-learning/

Han E. & Klein KC. Pre-class learning methods for flipped classroom. Am J Pharm Educ 83: 6922, 2019. doi:10.5688/ajpe6922.

Haririe Asl. Mafton, P. & Marandi, S (2021). Collaborative Flip Learning Through Call. A Recipe for Realizing Social Presence in Virtual Learning Environment. 

Reidsema, C., Kavanagh, L., Hadgraft, R. & Smith, N (2017). The Flipped Classroom. Practice and practices in higher Education. Springer.

Managing a Chaotic Classroom: A Memoir of an Early Career Teacher

Surendra Prasad Ghimire

Context

I faced challenges in managing an effective, interactive classroom and creating learning atmosphere in my early teaching career as an assistant lecturer of English at Hetauda School of Management and Social Sciences, Nepal. Due to my overconfidence, I used to think that knowing contents of teaching was enough for effective teaching. Therefore, I prepared for the classes by focusing very well on the content of the prescribed English textbooks and allied materials. I mostly used to adopt lecture methods for teaching; therefore, students would receive very little time to interact in the class. On the other hand, students’ seating arrangement, two rows of fixed desks and benches, was designed in a way to facilitate teacher-centered and lecture-based instruction. There was a projector for displaying slides, videos, and other related digital materials in the classroom. There would be an average of fifty undergraduate students in the classroom with proper uniforms. However, the environment of the classroom until the middle of the academic session became chaotic and messy. Therefore, I had to spend a long time systematizing the classroom before beginning the lecture, and time and again I had to stop because of an unpleasant classroom environment. Despite the various attempts to manage the classroom, it remained messy and chaotic. In this narrative , I reflect on how I effectively managed such a noisy and chaotic classroom in the middle of the academic year.

Introduction

In contrast to behaviour management, classroom management is a broader concept that focuses on the management of all the students in the classroom (Stevenson et al., 2020). Classroom management incorporates all the actions of the teachers in constructing the classroom environment to promote students’ academic growth and social behaviour (Velásquez et al., 2023). In addition, effective classroom management encourages the students to obtain maximum benefits from classroom activities and controls the unwanted behaviour of the students in the classroom (Bozkuş, 2021). Therefore, a well-managed classroom has wider implications as it aims to organize an orderly teaching and learning environment to enhance the learning outcomes of classroom activities and promote students’ social relations (Brophy, 1983; Marzano & Marzano, 2003; Shank et al., 2022; Wubbels, 2011). Moreover, some studies reported that managing the classroom at the beginning of the academic session made it easier for teachers to handle the class successfully during an academic session (Emmer et al., 1980; Lopez-Pelcastre, 2023). However, from the beginning of the academic session, I encountered various obstacles in managing a well-organized classroom environment. I found that the students were almost not concentrating in my class. They began making noises in the classroom including personal talks with their friends, which didn’t contribute to the learning vibes in the classroom. Some of the students developed unique ways to disturb the class, such as tapping their shoes on the floor, making a sudden unusual sound etc. Others would zone out, which indicated that they did not have motivation to attend my class.

This situation had been going on for a few months, which made me almost frustrated with the teaching profession. I also did not have personal satisfaction, and even I could not sleep very well at night. Sometimes, these noisy students would bother me even in my dreams. To get rid of this, I read several books about managing the classroom and realized that teaching profession requires numerous qualities to be successful, and having only knowledge about the content of teaching would not be adequate. Then I began pondering how to effectively manage the classroom. And I argue that noisy and chaotic classrooms can be effectively managed by understanding the students properly, reviewing our teaching methods and classroom activities, and receiving feedback from the students even in the middle of the academic session.

Why behind what

Gradually, I began exploring the reasons behind such chaotic and disturbing classrooms through formal and informal communication with the students. Some reported that they were feeling bored because of long lectures, and due to lack of classroom activities, etc. Based on what they shared and my experiences, the following were some of the possible reasons for my classroom mismanagement:

  • The lecture method to deliver the textbook contents made the class monotonous and didn’t give them space to share their ideas in the classroom. They received limited opportunities for questioning and arguments in the classroom.
  • Lack of activities to engage students was another reason as they did not receive an opportunity to construct knowledge by interacting among them. They were limited with my lectures, handouts, and prescribed textbooks.
  • The inability to understand and address students’ interests and passion and merely emphasizing the textbooks.
  • Lack of adopting student-centred teaching methods and adopting teacher-centred approaches. Students had fewer opportunities to interact with each other and had to participate in the classwork on the basis of what I instructed them. They received less opportunities for creative and constructive activities in the classroom; instead, they became passive listeners.

Ways Forward

By exploring the actual reasons behind classroom mismanagement, I transformed the ways of teaching, focusing on student-centred teaching approaches. The following were the ways forward to overcome the problems of mismanagement in my classroom:

Establishing Friendly Relationships with Students

I established friendly relationships with the students by properly understanding them and respecting their ideas. I spent adequate time listening to their responses about their various issues within the classroom and outside the classroom, such as in the interval time, in the canteen, library, etc. Gradually, I realized that establishing better relationships with students supported my ability to receive feedback from the students and ultimately assisted in transforming the classroom into a more interactive learning space. In addition, such relationships helped the students develop a positive attitude toward each other and provided enough room for understanding. As a result, I found greater participation of students in classroom activities and a change in their attitude toward being more positive, supportive, and collaborative inside and outside the classroom. Consequently, the previous noisy and chaotic classroom disappeared instead; a more interactive, collaborative, and learning classroom appeared with the positive vibration of exploring insightful information both in me and the students. In addition, I found that such friendly relationships with the students established a solid foundation of academic excellence and transformed the students into more responsible individuals for their work. However, I found that very few of the students attempted to misuse such friendly relations by involving themselves in the debate out of context in the classroom and making various excuses about their classroom activities and home assignments.

Teaching with Fun

I transformed my ways of teaching by focusing on various approaches such as discussion, interaction, collaboration, presentation, argumentation, and so forth. I minimized my long, monotonous lecture method and focused on mini-lectures if they were required. As a result, students began participating in learning activities as I promoted group discussion, sharing, interaction, and collaboration in the classroom. I formed some groups in the classroom to have discussions on various issues related to solving the problems. From the few days’ practice, the majority of the students learned to be engaged in classroom activities and developed their power of patience by waiting their turn and respecting each other’s ideas. In addition, I blended some sort of humour into the classroom by cracking jokes and sharing some real and imaginative stories if I realized students were feeling bored. Moreover, I began to display English videos associated with ongoing classroom discussions that assisted me in creating an interesting learning environment in the classroom by boosting their English language power and providing fun for them. Teaching with fun with the support of various videos and sharing jokes and stories in the classroom helped me energize the students for learning by involving them in various classroom activities instead of making unnecessary noises. These findings, to some extent, aligned with the study of MacSuga-Gage et al. (2012), who claimed that effective teaching helped manage the classroom.

Individual Care for the Students in the Classroom

I found various kinds of students in the classroom with unique manners and ways of learning. I began to think about them, particularly focusing on how to motivate them in classroom activities. I started individually supporting the students, mainly selecting those who rarely participated in classroom activities. Instead of staying in the same place in the classroom, I visited individual students, particularly during classroom activities, which helped me understand the real problems of the students. During such visits, students asked even simple problems that they could not ask in the mass (perhaps they feared that their friends would laugh at them). Such practices assisted me in developing personal relationships with the students, which ultimately contributed to managing the classroom. As I began supporting them, they also became supportive in the classroom. They started listening to my instructions and following the procedures of the activities without disturbing the entire learning environment in the classroom. In addition, I prepared their individual portfolios, which helped me understand the students better and helped them in the classroom. Ultimately, such individual care in the classroom assisted the students to be more proactive and interactive in classroom activities, which gradually supported me in transforming the previously chaotic and noisy classroom into a more innovative and interactive space.

Conclusion

Establishing friendly relationships with students and teaching with fun and individual care for the students in the classroom, as discussed above helped me in creating an effective learning environment in my classroom. Pondering over the mismanagement of the classroom, receiving feedback from the students, and transforming the classroom teaching and learning process accordingly contributed to solving the problems of mismanagement in the classroom. As a result, my noisy, chaotic classroom gradually turned into innovative, interactive, collaborative classroom.

References

Bozkuş, K. (2021). A systematic review of studies on classroom management from 1980 to 2019. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.26822/iejee.2021.202

Brophy, J. E. (1983). Classroom organization and management. The elementary school journal, 83(4), 265-285.

Emmer, E. T., Evertson, C. M., & Anderson, L. M. (1980). Effective classroom management at the beginning of the school year. The Elementary School Journal, 80(5), 219-231.

Lopez-Pelcastre, A. (2023). The influence of classroom management on student learning and behavior in the classroom.

MacSuga-Gage, A. S., Simonsen, B., & Briere, D. E. (2012). Effective teaching practices: Effective teaching practices that promote a positive classroom environment. Beyond Behavior, 22(1), 14-22. https://doi.org/org/10.1177/107429561202200104

Marzano, R. J., & Marzano, J. S. (2003). The key to classroom management. Educational Leadership, 61(1), 6-13.

Shank, M. K., Santiague, L., & ideas. (2022). Classroom management needs of novice teachers. The Clearing House, 95(1), 26-34. https://doi.org/org/10.1080/00098655.2021.2010636

Stevenson, N. A., VanLone, J., & Barber, B. R. (2020). A commentary on the misalignment of teacher education and the need for classroom behaviour management skills. Education Treatment of Children, 43(4), 393-404. https://doi.org/org/10.1007/s43494-020-00031-1

Velásquez, A. M., Mendoza, D. F., & Nanwani, S. K. (2023). Becoming a competent classroom manager: A case study of a preservice teacher education course. Teaching Education, 34(2), 147-169. https://doi.org/org/10.1080/10476210.2022.2048646

Wubbels, T. (2011). An international perspective on classroom management: What should prospective teachers learn? Teaching Education, 22(2), 113-131. https://doi.org/org/10.1080/10476210.2011.567838

About the Author: Surendra Prasad Ghimire is an MPhil Scholar at Nepal Open University, Nepal, and a Lecturer of English at a QAA-certified college, Hetauda School of Management and Social Sciences, Makwanpur, Nepal.

My Experience as a Motivator in my Teaching Career

   Sangeeta Basnet

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.’’ ~ Lily Tomlin

As a teacher, every day I enter the class, I feel like it is my first day in my teaching career. I have been teaching for more than 13 years. My greatest inspiration is my father who served at the same private school in India for 25 years. I sense that I have inherited strong qualities from him for instance, to motivate the students, listen to them and help them with some suggestions. Back in my childhood days, I used to hear lots of stories about students’ lives and problems shared through my father and how he supported them throughout. Back then I didn’t really focus on those stories much, but now as a teacher, I am experiencing the need for motivation in my students. Along with being a great motivator for his students, my father was also strict in his principles. As time changes, the way of teaching method also changes. However, the role of a teacher as a motivator for students always remains the same. Students’ life is not only limited to their academic achievements, they are to be prepared for their lives.

One of the most significant aspects of a student’s educational experience is their academic performance, which is determined by a variety of psychological factors that might create an impact on their cognitive, emotional, and behavioural functioning. Among those psychological factors, motivation is one of the most important psychological variables that might affect student performance.

Motivation is what pushes them to participate in learning activities, finish their assignment and be prepared for their future. It is one of the psychological factors that affect students’ performance. Firstly, most of the students’ lives are full of chaos since the widespread pandemic has left many negative effects on their lives. Secondly, they are unable to set up a fixed goal for themselves and they are easily distracted by common factors. Lastly, their attention span and patience level are very low and they are hardly able to possess a determined mindset.

A real-life example of this is one of my students who had been affected in her academic performance due to a lack of motivation. Before the pandemic, she was one of the top ten students in her class. She was not only good at academics but was extremely creative. We were very satisfied and impressed with her creativity. She was a happy and lively child. During the lockdown, we weren’t able to meet physically and we were obligated to conduct the online classes. It seemed everything was going well during the online classes. However, when the physical classes resumed, I noticed a drastic change in her behaviour. I felt that it was because of the gap in which we were not able to keep in touch with students’ activities during online classes.

Last year, she was in grade 8. I was her English teacher. The charm on her face, her lively and radiant personality and her curiosity to learn new things were no longer visible on her face. I noticed but waited until the result of the first terminal examination. When I saw the result, I was stunned to see that her performance was not as good as before. The next day, I decided to have a conversation with her parents. Unfortunately, they didn’t come to school to meet me. After two days, I called her in my leisure period and had a talk with her. At first, she was reluctant to share her feelings with me. She gave me a fake smile and told me that she would try her level best in the upcoming examinations. I knew that she was hiding something from me and felt uncomfortable to share it. I reminded her about the days when she was very cheerful, ready to take part in all extracurricular activities and make us happy with her creative work on various occasions. Her eyes were filled with tears. And she wept in front of me. My intention wasn’t to hurt her but to help her. She revealed her family issues, which demotivated her to do anything related to her studies and all. Her family environment wasn’t favourable enough for her to concentrate on her studies well. Her family issues started during the pandemic. She loved to come to school every day, meet her friends and teachers. However, she wasn’t able to concentrate on her studies. I talked to her for around 30 minutes that day and asked her to go to class.

I discussed her issue with my colleagues and came up with many solutions to motivate her and to recover her own position on academics from that day on. In my class, I encouraged my students in various ways for at least five minutes before I start teaching. Furthermore, I managed to engage her in creative activities during the leisure time. She is interested in painting, journaling and crafting. I encouraged her to present some decorative articles for classroom decorations. I felt that other students might also be going through similar situations. I tried to build a strong rapport with everybody, sometimes communicated with them casually about their problems and made them feel comfortable to start conversations with me. I became a friendly figure for my students and they were comfortable sharing their concerns. Besides studies, I came to know that students’ achievement was affected by various psychological factors which provoked me to adoption of different ways to motivate my students and assist them to solve their problems for at least five minutes during my class.

After 2 months, I noticed that the previous charm and the similar curiosity that she possessed before had thread recovered. From that time to time, I talked to her and made her feel at ease and motivated her. Sometimes, I spent my classes just listening to them. I felt that being a teacher, my responsibility won’t be complete if I am unable to motivate my students and help them to overcome various obstacles in life. The girl came to her original position and she was very happy with the small efforts that I made for her. She started to show her good performance in studies and other aspects. I was very happy and felt like my small efforts helped my student to recognize her talent and to regain her academic success.

Now the girl is in Grade 9 and luckily, I am her class teacher. She is very happy to be in my section. On that day, I learnt a great lesson that a teacher’s responsibility is not just limited to teaching a class. The greatest achievement in a teacher’s life is when they are able to make a difference in their lives. I have learnt to motivate the learners from my father and am always determined to prepare for a better future. This is one of my best experiences that I will never forget in my life. Various students are often impacted by many psychological factors that affect them academically. As the teaching-learning process is a continuous process, I should continue to explore the problems of my students and the ways to help them overcome their difficulties which keeps them to achieve their best performance in academic achievement.

To conclude, I experienced myself as a motivator besides an English language teacher in my teaching career by understanding the psychological problems of my students which were invisible to me that caused deterioration in academic performance. My father’s experiences assisted me to play the role of an effective motivator. To elevate the academic performance of my students, I played the role of a motivator.  To motivate my students, I analyzed the problems of my students, heard their past stories, communicated with the parents and teachers and created a favourable learning space for the students. I strongly suggest all the parents and teachers make a healthy environment for them to share their problems, hear their past stories, and always encourage and inspire them to do better in their academics. As a teacher, let’s give students something more to think about at home than just burdening them with homework.

About the Author: Sangeeta Basnet is an English Language Teacher. She has been teaching English for more than 10 years. Currently. She is serving in one of the renowned private schools in Birtamode. She holds a Master’s degree from Manipur University, India. She is a life member of NELTA and STFT. Her professional interests include teaching strategies used in ELT classes.

Inspiration to Transformation: My Academic Odyssey

Dammar Singh Saud

Introduction

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.

Bridging the Gaps of Learning Through Learner Centered Integrative Approaches (LCIA): A Reflection 

Abstract

In the changing paradigm of pedagogies, learners’ involvement and engagement has been considered primarily. Learners are the key components and their different aspects of knowledge and skills need to be incorporated in teaching learning activities. With reference to the aforementioned remarks this paper aims to explore learner centered integrative approaches to bridge the gap of learnability. This study is conducted in Chandigarh University, as a research scholar, I got opportunity to deal with MBA students with Professional Development Skill course and reflected in-self and collected students experiences towards the courses. Classroom teaching learning strategies and situations are the main interventions in which learner centered diverse skills were integrated and studied. The study revealed learners’ motivation, self-preparedness, enhanced communication and problem-solving skills followed by language skills. Moreover, learners were found engaged and encouraged to participate into activities as a result they could bridge the gap of learnability of language, content and context.

Keywords: Collaboration, Learner centered, Learner centered integrative approaches, soft-skills, self-preparedness

Introduction

Learners are the agents of growth and development, similarly, they intend positive changes in them followed by the surroundings. In our traditional mindset we control the learning situations and it is judged in terms of achievements made through some basic formal tests. My mind is looking for the answer of a genuine question raised by one of the graduate students after examinations. She asked me, till when we will be experimented with the dilemma of frameworks of formal tests? Will there be any provision of addressing our needs, thoughts and existing inner capacity? Can you suggest me any places where there is the respect of the practice-based knowledge? I think these are the representative questions of the learners of 21st century, once I read the lines in (Carrillo & Flores, 2020) I found the motives of learners engagement in self-pace situations. Similarly, (Bovermann & Bastiaens, 2020; Johnson, 2006; Wong & Jhaveri, 2015) in different situations and time indicated learning as a psychological and sociological preparedness to the learners where the teachers are facilitating the situations with changing paradigms and new dimensions. Furthermore, the world is shrinking in the course of knowledge economy and practices. The learners are believed the first source of peeping down the world and the teachers, parents, surrounding are the supporting agents. The present context demands learners’ visible involvement in learning process with due respect of their thoughts and skills they equipped with. Therefore, this reflection paper aims to explore the learner centered integrative approach through the intervention of practical activities in professional development course.

Methods

The method of the study was based on the intervention implemented as per discussed in the course file. I got interested to observe the learners’ activities and activeness in this practical course. As per the nature of the course, plan and guideline I taught students. I observed students’ engagement in developing soft skills and other skills such as language skills and communication skills. I prepared journal for reflection of the daily activities. Similarly, interaction with students made me able to reveal the students’ experience towards the course and intervention. The intervention is presented below here in the diagram.

Diagram 1: Intervention model

Intervention for learner centered integrative approaches

During the Covid-19 crisis, the teaching-learning process in the classroom with physical presence was not totally possible in all regions of the world. Many Educational institutions from basic level to higher education have devised a strategy for incorporating new technologies and alternative teaching methods to engage students in the learning process.  According to statistics presented by UNICEF (2020), more than one billion pupils are stuck in classrooms throughout the world owing to lockdowns and school closures in more than 188 nations. In the UNICEF (2020) COVID-19 survey, more than 73 percent of 127 nations said they use internet platforms and more than 75 percent said they use television to deliver remote learning for education. Many of these countries are experimenting with alternative methods of providing continuous education to pupils through the use of various technologies such as the internet, television, and radio. However, inadequate internet connectivity, lack of teachers’ and students’ digital knowledge and skills provide a barrier to online education. Concerning to the issues during pandemic, there could be varied alternative ways that we could own and develop as per the need of curriculum, context and social framework. On the other hand, Murtikusuma et al. (2019) discussed that teachers’ and students’ attitudes, actions, activities, and cultural and economic values are all linked to technological adaption. Computer technology, online learning communities, and ICT tools have all been identified as new paradigms in education that promote classroom connections through a virtual setting, allowing students to acquire collaborative and interactive skills. Although, there were several possibilities through Online Learning Community (OLC), learning process needs to be contextual and learner centered integrative approaches need to be incorporated to the new paradigms in the 21st century.

Lerner centered integrative approaches (LCIP) enabled learners to participate in virtual learning context as an alternative modes of teaching learning. For example, as a research scholar I observed students’ participation in classroom activities and motivation towards learning and sharing through blackboard in Chandigarh University in India. It’s a new experience to me and taking this as an example of paradigm shift. Align with the ideas of (Lamont et al., 2018; Lantada & Nunez, 2021; Leite et al., 2022; Leshem et al., 2021) learners’ readiness, institutional plan and teachers’ responsible thoughts following by the behaviors could introduce alternative learning possibilities. It is obvious that the learners are the change agents and teachers need to facilitate the situation in the realm of practicality and relevancy. Here I am presenting one sample activity conducted in 90 minutes session describing how learners participate into activities and integrate the language skills and technology within the class framework in the following diagram.

Diagram 2: Learner centered integrative approaches (LCIP) implementation model 

Diagram 2 depicts the overall situation of intervention and implementation to introduce learner centered integrative approaches in professional development skill courses. Particularly, the session focused to the language development, interpersonal skills, soft skills and learnability. As mentioned in the diagram the role of the teacher is faciliatory and the manager and students are the conductors of all events take place in the classroom. Teachers support and encourage learners to participate. The main responsibility of the teacher is to clarify the concept of the topic and instructions for the activities. The rubric-based evaluation and clear instructions create interactive situations. Another beauty is the situation of Question and answering. Both the teachers and students ask and respond to the questions mutually. Similarly, learners’ motivation and enthusiasm to involve in the activity is effective as they are evaluated based on their performance in the classroom. Therefore, I claim that the process given in the diagram resemble to the Learner centered Integrative approaches (LCIP) and make learners responsible to their learning.

Reflection and conclusion

With reference to the intervention, I discussed with the students regarding their experience and perception to the practical courses, nature and potential challenges informally. This study’s students used blackboard as a virtual mode of learning and Learning Management System (LMS), which helped them develop communication and teamwork skills with their classmates. Many participants viewed classroom interaction through integration of language, content and context as a useful, suitable, accessible, and student-friendly.  During the intervention time, I examined students’ activities and found that they were engaged and motivated to solve problems through interaction, teamwork.  They were actively involved in completing assignments and submitting them by the due date. My observation revealed that a teacher’s instruction, orientation, and regular engagement can be useful in involving students in a learning situation.

I found that the learners are encouraged with the practical courses and the course is helping them in placement in multinational or the reputed companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and many others. Similarly, they explained the collaborative efforts they developed. For example,

S1: I am very much delighted with the Professional Development skill course. Initially, I doubt myself as thinking introvert student because I need to participate in every activity. With the encouragement of the teacher, I could participate in discussion in any forums.

S2: By the help of the professional development skill course, I am able to tackle with the challenges as I improved language, interpersonal skills and soft skills. Similarly, I experienced the real learning situation.

S3: Obviously, I am encouraged with the course and teaching learning activities. I personally feel I am learning something for me and hopeful of getting good placement in good companies. if I rate myself, I improved my language and interpersonal skills with the help of the course. 

S4: The content, language and context integrated activities enabled us to engage and collaborate with friends remotely. Our participation remained task-based as per the teacher’s instructions and course materials posted in the blackboard. The most significant aspect of learning was that we gained communication and collaboration abilities.

As per my observation the practical course is linked to the life changing goals because students experience seems motivating towards the integrating of several skills and aspects of language learning. Students collaborated, coordinated, and communicated ideas among the groups independently and now they are habitual to present and share ideas integrating listening, speaking, reading, writing skills in every section. They found improvement in language and social interaction perspectives.

Following the ideas of (Kerres, 2020; Scott & Palincsar, 2013; Vygotsky, 1978) socio-cultural perspectives and technological integration could lead to increase learner’s independency as a result learners can interact with several elements such as society, language, content and emotions any critical situations like COVID and any others. Learners’ participation, motivation and interaction regarding to the situation enable them to intervene newness in learning as a result learner centered integrative approaches (LCIP) could be existed and they prepare themselves to face the challenges to rectify new motives of learning for personal and professional development.

 References

Bovermann, K., & Bastiaens, T. J. (2020). Towards a motivational design? Connecting gamification user types and online learning activities. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41039-019-0121-4

Carrillo, C., & Flores, M. A. (2020, Aug). COVID-19 and teacher education: A literature review of online teaching and learning practices. European Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 466-487. https://doi.org/10.1080/02619768.2020.1821184

Johnson, K. E. (2006). The sociocultural turn and its challenges for second language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 235-257.

Kerres, M. (2020). Against all odds: Education in Germany coping with Covid-19. Postdigital Science and Education, 1-5.

Lamont, A. E., Markle, R. S., Wright, A., Abraczinskas, M., Siddall, J., Wandersman, A., Imm, P., & Cook, B. (2018). Innovative methods in evaluation: An application of latent class analysis to assess how teachers adopt educational innovations. American Journal of Evaluation, 39 (3), 364-382. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214017709736

Lantada, A. D., & Nunez, J. M. (2021). Strategies for continuously improving the professional development and practice of engineering educators. International Journal of Engineering Education, 37(1), 287-297.

Leite, L. O., Go, W., & Havu-Nuutinen, S. (2022). Exploring the learning process of experienced teachers focused on building positive interactions with pupils. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 66(1), 28-42. https://doi.org/10.1080/00313831.2020.1833237

Leshem, S., Carmel, R., Badash, M., & Topaz, B. (2021). Learning transformation perceptions of preservice second career teachers [Article]. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 46(5), Article 5. https://doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2021v46n5.5

Murtikusuma, R., Fatahillah, A., Hussen, S., Prasetyo, R., & Alfarisi, M. (2019). Development of blended learning based on Google Classroom with using culture theme in mathematics learning. Journal of Physics: Conference Series,

Scott, S., & Palincsar, A. (2013). Sociocultural theory. Education. com.

UNICEF. (2020). Resources on education and COVID-19. UNICEF. https://data.unicef.org/topic/education/covid-19/

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. Readings on the Development of Children, 23(3), 34-41.

Wong, L. T., & Jhaveri, A. (2015). English language education in a global world: Practices, issues and challenges. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Researcher’s Bio: Yadu Prasad Gyawali is the Assistant Professor under the Faculty of Education at Mid-West University (MU), Surkhet Nepal. Mr. Gyawali is also a teacher trainer, consultant, and editor for different journals. Moreover, Mr. Gyawali is  a Ph.D. scholar at Chandigarh University, India. His areas of interest include teachers’ professional development and ICT in second language education.

Exploring Creative Response in ELT: A Vignette of an English Teacher

Bishnu Karki*

Context

English is taught and learnt as a foreign language in Nepal. I teach students from varying levels ranging from school to university. Teaching English at school and university is a tough and tedious job for every practitioner. It has been more challenging for all many of us. Normally, we believe that students in our context lack competency and proficiency in English language learning contexts. Motivating such learners to learn the English language is a very aspiring as well as a rigorous task for teachers like me. I often try to bring innovative ideas and activities to my classroom context. Unfortunately, my students do not pay proper attention to their studies and at some point, I feel as if they are studying English just to score passing grades. I realized that the students having ‘Nepali’ as the specialized subject focus only to score required grades or pass marks in comparison to students having ‘English’ as the specialized subject. . As an EFL teacher, I have to fully depend on prescribed course books’ task and activities to complete on time. This nature of the course has given no freedom for teachers to apply tasks and activities based on classroom explorations and context. The administration timely does an inquiry about the course progress whether the teacher has met the target of the course for terminal examination or not. Students also have developed their mindset to read any topic or lesson from an exam viewpoint. One of my students asked me during the teaching phase, “ sir, is this exercise important for the exam?” I replied yes to know the response of the student and how important he/she gives to that particular exercise. I found the students who asked me whether this exercise is important for exams or not prepared notes on that topic. From this classroom scenario, I realized to motivate my students to engage in the creative and critical tasks and activities beyond course books.

Fostering the creativity of learners plays a vital role in developing their analytical, critical, and problem-solving skills to enhance effective communication with peers and teachers naturally. In this regard, Tomlinson (2020) pointed out the significance of being creative for EFL teachers in-order to encourage their learners to be creative. Maley (2016) has  suggested the following principles for developing various forms of creativity:

Use heuristics at all levels- do the opposite, reverse the order, expand or (reduce ) something,

Use the constraints principle

Use the random principle

Use the association principle

Use the withholding-information principle

Use the divergent thinking principle

Use feeder fields

Regarding the notion of being creative teachers, we have to come out of the comfort zone to discover and explore newness for teaching creatively having a strong belief that creative teachers are not born and have to abandon the fear of being wrong.   The ongoing trends and shifts in teaching expect teachers’ willingness to be creative and demonstrate innovative concepts, beliefs, methods, and skills in teaching. How can a  teacher teaching with low resources and less professional opportunity familiarize him with creative and critical aspects of teaching?  To address the issue of the above question, I believe, there should be passion among teachers for self- continuous professional growth and learning. Teachers have to be motivated themselves and always devoted and committed to bringing significant changes in their classroom practices forming their own agency.

The rationale for my reflection

Rationalizing the status and ability of students in English, I happened to inquire how I could inspire my learners to be responsible for their own learning.  Many questions are stuck in my mind:- Are there any ways I could apply in my teaching to achieve transformative learning? Are there any explicit and creative activities that I could employ in my classroom context for better learning outcomes? Are there any specific ways I could apply to engaging students interactively and collaboratively?

These are some of the leading questions that made me reflect critically on transforming my teaching from content provider/ knowledge transmitter to knowledge explorer and reformer through dialogic interactions with interlocutors. In this write-up, I share my classroom practices on how creative response in ELT can foster students’ creativity, critical thinking, analyzing skills, and problem-solving skills, as well as develop communication skills to integrate various language aspects. The objective of this reflective writing is to rethink and critically reflect and analyze our classroom practices whether or not we are creating a favourable learning environment for our learners to develop their creativity. Moreover, this paper also encourages teachers teaching with less access to professional opportunities and fewer resources to be responsible for self-learning and grow professionally to connect with a wider ELT association of professional networking.

Vignette

I began my teaching career without job induction training and mentoring. I struggled for my survival in the teaching profession during my initial days. There was no staff development programme and professional development opportunity for teachers. Teachers were seniors/experienced based on their years of teaching rather than updated skills and knowledge. I realized proficiency and competency-based training, seminars, workshops, webinars, and short-term practical courses empower teachers to advance their teaching careers. I also became a member of ELT associations like NELTA and TESOL for my continuous professional development and networking with the wider community. The following anecdotes illustrated my professional development activities.

I attended a six-day intensive course on “Fundamentals of Teaching” organized by the British Council on March 25-30, 2018. It was my first experience participating in a 6 days long training for individual professional growth. The takeaways from the training helped me shape my teaching to keeping learners at the centre of the learning process by applying recent approaches to language teaching, group division techniques, designing tasks and activities for lesson planning, managing heterogeneous classes, fostering creative and critical aspects of learners, Think, pair share technique and ways of maximizing interaction and collaboration.

Based on the skills and knowledge from this training, I presented a workshop on Designing Activities for Teaching Reading at the National Conference of NELTA held at Solidarity International Academy, Hetauda, Nepal on March 2-3,2019. TESOL-NELTA Regional Conference and Symposium held at DAV Sushil Kedia Vishwa Bharati Higher Secondary School, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur on November 20-23 was another professional development opportunity to participate and interact with scholars from home and abroad for professional networking. At this conference, I presented a workshop on Using Short Stories for Enhancing Reading Comprehension of EFL Learners. I got an opportunity to participate in a Creative Writing Workshop facilitated by an ELT expert Alan Maley on November 24, 2019. That creative writing workshop engaged me in various ways of writing creative poems and also inspired me to apply the technique in my classrooms to foster creative writing for my students. It is my belief that the best part of learning is sharing in a wider community. I presented a workshop entitled Enhancing Creative Writing in the EFL classroom at the Third Annual ELT and Applied Linguistics Conference on February 21-22, 2020 organized by the Department of English Education, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Recently, I also successfully completed a nine months-long online course entitled “TESOL Certificate: Advance Practitioner (TCAP) getting a scholarship from Regional English  Language Office (RELO) US Embassy, Nepal. This course provided theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed for teaching the English language effectively and innovatively by applying modern approaches, methods, and skills.  I got an opportunity to participate TESOL convention and English language expo virtually in 2021 and 2022. Attending the TESOL convention virtually made me familiar with recent practices of teacher education, teacher research, innovative classroom practices, and more importantly ELT in the present world. Scholars across the globe shared their beliefs, knowledge, practical ideas based on their classroom exploration, and research findings to empower teachers like me to rethink English language teaching. I was the award recipient of ‘Rosa Aronson Professional Learning Scholarship’ of TESOL 2020.

My classroom practices

My classroom practices focus on the development of the creative and critical skills of the students. In order to enhance creativity and critical thinking, I create a conducive learning environment to foster engagement from the students. I use Icebreaker to initiate the discussions, sometimes during the while phase of teaching and at the end of the class. Using icebreakers in English language class incorporates different language skills. Icebreaker is one of the effective strategies for generating new ideas. I spend around 5-10 minutes on the icebreaker with a clear purpose. The selection of the icebreaker is based on the nature of the text. I use prompts, quotations, riddles, and questions for engaging students in productive learning.

Social media are also the best platform for learning new ideas and concepts for self-professional development through professional networking. I have added many ELT scholars from home and abroad as my Facebook friends. They post innovative concepts of ELT, call for proposals and abstracts for international conferences, seminars, and workshops, and share resources, practical teaching ideas, and links for joining webinars. I found the following activity in the Facebook post of Marjorie Rosenberg, past president of IATEFL. I found this activity engaging so I used it in my classroom.

 Activity 1: Icebreaker

I asked the students to complete the following information using the first letter of the last name.  They were a bit confused about how to be engaged in this activity. To make them understand how to explore information for completing it, I asked for the last name of any students in the class and wrote the last name on the board. For example, if the last name of the student was Gurung, he/she had to complete the given items using the first letter of their last name (G).

Wear……………..

Drink………………

Place……………….

Food………………..

Animal……………..

Girl’s name…………………..

Boy’s name…………………….

Profession…………………………

Describe someone………………………..

Something in your home…………………….

Body parts………………………………………

Your last names………………………………….

Students actively participated in this activity. I found that students were very curious to share their responses. After the sharing session, I ask the students to write the names of the animals (donkey, elephant), a place to visit (Dharan, Illam), Favourite food (momo, biryani), clothes (sweater, T-shirt) on a piece of paper. I provided them with the structure (If I were a (insert the word generated above), I would……) to write sentences based on the words they generated above. For example: If I were a donkey, I would carry your goods.

If I were a sweater, I would keep you warm from the cold.

Students constructed creative and surprising sentences and compared and evaluated their generated sentences with their peers. This activity energized them to create new sentences based on the structures.

Activity 2: Using Acrostic poems for introduction to new students

An acrostic poem is based on a word written vertically. I used acrostic poems to introduce newcomer students. This activity of writing poems encourages students to write poems about themselves. Acrostics poems can be used to write poems on objects, things, places, and so on. To make my students familiar with writing acrostics poems, I present some samples to make them clear on how to write them. During the sample presentation, I address the query raised by the students.

For Example: Dog

Docile

Obedient

Growling

After presenting the above example, I ask the students to write an acrostic poem based on their own name or about someone’s name they know well.

For example: Ganesh

G Goal-oriented

An Active achiever

N Nurturing naturally

E Excellent endeavour

S Sincere Sociable

H Honest humane

After students wrote poems about their names, I asked every student to share how they wrote them.

Activity 3: What Makes Me Happy?

I use this activity to promote positive thinking and also want to know the sources of my students’ happiness. I write “What Makes Me Happy?” on the board and asks the student to write their happiness based on the stem I wrote on the board. To make them clear, I write ‘Eating momo at a restaurant with my friends makes me happy.’ Based on this information, students explore their happiness and write creative and surprising sentences and chunks individually. I divide them into groups with five students in each. Now, students select one writer and the remaining students do the work of editing to shape their poems. Each group shares their final product of ‘What Makes Me Happy?’

 

Activity 4 : Bio poems

Bio poem enhances students’ creativity to write poems about a place, concept, event or individual they learnt through reading texts. Students write poems about the characters of the story or novel based on the sample. Students have read biography or autobiography of famous people, historically and naturally popular places or any events or concepts introduced in the text. In the form of poems, students organize and synthesize a large number of ideas creatively. The following template can be used to write a poem:

Line 1: First name

Line 2: Four traits that describe the character

Line 3: son/daughter relative of

Line 4: who feels/ verbs………….( 3 items)

Line 5: who needs/verbs……….( 3 items )

Line 6: who gives/verbs………..( 3 items)

Line 7: Who would like…………..

Line 8: Resident of………………….

Ending: Last name

Activity 5: Story Wheel

I attended a workshop on ‘Creative Response to ELT’ last year. In that workshop, the facilitator introduced the concept and practical ways of assessing the ‘story wheel’ in our classrooms. The story wheel required paper and pencil and can easily be used without overnight preparation and planning. Baker (2021) emphasizes that the story wheel can be used to expand learners’ retelling capacities, as well as to hone critical-thinking skills, and provide oral language practice. I use this activity in my class to retell the story students read or heard. Before I use this tool, I ask the students to read the story. I draw a circle on the board and divide the circle into segments. In the segment, I write the name of the story and its writer, the characters of the story, the setting, the plot, the picture that describe the best scene of the story, and key vocabulary. The segments in the story wheel depend on the nature of the story and the level of learners. I distribute pencils and A4 size paper to the students. I form a group with five students in each. They discuss in a group and make the story wheel based on my instructions. I offer my help to them if needed. The story wheel is easily transferable to a post-reading strategy with adaptations.

 Reading Activities

Enhancing the reading comprehension of my learners is another challenging part of teaching due to the complex nature of reading texts. Students develop their critical and interpretive skills through maximum exposure to readings texts. In our context, we have given very less amount of reading practice to our learners to improve their comprehension. Students seem bored and passive in reading lessons. This classroom scenario made me re-evaluate my teaching on how to design engaging, creative, and critical activities and tasks to assess reading interactively and collaboratively to motivate demotivated learners.  Reading texts enhances the interpretive abilities of the students. In my reading lesson, I begin my class by creating a learner-friendlier atmosphere motivating them to participate in the discussion to share their prior knowledge they have about the topic. I initiate the interaction and elicit information shared by the students by making a connection with their previous knowledge about the reading text.  I use the K-W-L chart (What I  know-K, What I want to know- W and What I learned-L) to engage students individually in organizing ideas of the text at pre, while, and post phases of the reading topic. Agreeing and disagreeing is another effective reading activity I prefer in my class to express the opinions of my students. For example, I write ‘ Arranged marriages are usually stronger than those based on love’ On the board. I ask the students: To what extent do you agree with the statement- strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, and strongly disagree. Students think individually and share their responses with their classmates.

Questioning the author helps students develop inquiry about the text to understand it. Students explore the meaning that the author wants to convey through the text. It also develops the students’ interactive, explorative and interpretive ability to construct meaning based on their reading of the text (Beck, McKeown, Sandora, & Worthy, 1996, 387).

Visualization, summarizing, predicting, making connections, and inferring are frequently used reading strategies in my classroom. While designing tasks and activities for reading texts, I follow the stages of reading illustrated by Lazar ( 2009) to achieve learning goals through interactive tasks and activities. I also use a plot diagram to map the events of the story. Students organize their ideas based on the elements of the plot diagram- exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Conclusion

Exploring the creativity of the learners in the EFL classroom is the cry of a day. To address the issue of creativity in the EFL classroom, I have applied learnt skills and knowledge to bring positive learning outcomes to my learners giving them maximum exposure through engaging tasks and activities. Creating a democratic classroom scenario will motivate the students to be responsible for their own learning believing they are an integral part of teaching which builds a good rapport between teachers and students.

References

Maley, A. (2016). Creativity: the what, the why and the how. ELT Council: Malta

Baker, A. ( 2021 ). Using story retelling wheels with young learners. English Teaching Forum, 59(3), 14-24.

Gabay, L. ( 2017). I raise my voice: Promoting self-Authoring through a curriculum-based project. English Teaching Forum, 55(4),14-21.

Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., Sandora, C., & Worthy, J. (1996). Questioning the author:

A yearlong classroom implementation to engage students with text. The Elementary

School Journal, 96, 385–414.

Lazar, G.( 2009). Literature and Language teaching. Cambridge University Press.

Tomlinson, B.(2015). Challenging teachers to use their coursebooks creatively. www.teachingenglish.org.uk

Author’s Bio: Bishnu Karki has an M.Ed. in English Education from Tribhuvan University. He is an Assistant Lecturer of English Education at Janta Multiple Campus, Itahari, Sunsari and Secondary level English teacher at Chandra Sanskrit Secondary School, Dharan. Mr Karki is joint secretary of the NELTA Sunsari branch and a global member of TESOL. His special interest lies in fostering creativity in ELT, teaching literature in the EFL classroom, and teacher education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What makes English language teaching effective?

Prakash Bhattarai

Abstract

Due to the widespread use of English language throughout the globe, teaching and learning English language has got really surprising importance. This has raised a number of questions related to effective English language teaching. In this scenario, with the help of the author’s own experience in teaching English language for more than a decade, this article elaborates different factors that are responsible for effective English language teaching. Teachers, methods and techniques, teaching materials, and learners themselves are such factors that are responsible for effective English language teaching.

Introduction

English has been developed as a global language due to globalization in recent decades. It is the language of international trade, tourism, education, and diplomacy. Similarly, it has been developed as an international lingua franca. It is being a must to learn and speak English language to be one of the members of this globalized world.  Due to the growing spread and need for the English language throughout the world, there is an amazing trend in learning English language. This amazing trend in learning English language for different purposes has resulted in the teaching of English language widely. Many institutions and language schools are active to teach the English language throughout the world.

In order to make learners achieve the goal of learning English language, the learners should be taught English language effectively. No doubt, effective English language teaching makes effective learning but there arise genuine questions i.e., what is effective English language teaching and what makes it effective? Defining effective teaching is difficult since it is a complex and multidimensional process that means different things to different people (Bell, 2005). Though it’s difficult to define, we can simply define ‘effective’ as being successful in producing a desired or intended outcome. Effective teaching involves the ability to provide instruction that helps the students to develop different knowledge, skills, and understandings intended by curriculum objectives and students learn irrespective of their characteristics (Acheson & Gall 2003, as cited in Uygun, 2013).

Effective English language teaching makes learners learn English language with ease. It means to say that learners become able to communicate in English language effectively within a short period of time. Students demonstrate an understanding of meanings rather than just simply memorizing facts in an effective English language teaching classroom (Ghimire, 2019).

Factors making English language teaching effective

After defining effective teaching in general and effective English language teaching in particular, there is still an unanswered question i.e., what makes teaching effective? There are a number of factors that make English language teaching effectively. In order to make it effective, there is a direct and/or indirect hand of all the stakeholders involved in English language teaching. Teachers, students, parents, institutions, and administrators are the stakeholders to name a few.

My experience of being an English language learner for ages and English language teacher for a decade reveals that different factors play a pivotal role in effective English language teaching. As per my experience, a teacher’s personality, knowledge (content and pedagogical), and learners’ activation, motivation, and readiness are prerequisites for effective teaching. Moreover, teacher’s knowledge of technology and being updated with the recent trends in English language teaching are must for effective teaching in this era. In this section, I have explained four factors i.e. teacher, methods and techniques, teaching materials, and learners.

Teacher

There is a pivotal role of teachers for effective English language teaching. For effective English language teaching, English language teacher/instructor needs to be effective. An effective teacher is the one who possesses different components like content knowledge, general pedagogical knowledge, curriculum knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, knowledge of learners and their characteristics, knowledge of educational ends, purposes, and values, and knowledge of educational contexts (Clark & Walsh, 2002 as cited in Uygun, 2013). This shows teachers should have content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and socio-affective skills. To put it another way, an effective teacher is the one who has good command over the subject matter, good knowledge of the methods and techniques for the effective delivery, and good rapport with the students. Similarly, an effective and dynamic teacher should be enthusiastic, creative, tolerant, patient, kind, sensible, open-minded, optimistic, and flexible, and have a good sense of humour, positive attitudes toward new ideas, and some other personal characteristics (Ghimire, 2019).

Having content and pedagogical knowledge and some other personal characteristics as mentioned above is not sufficient for effective teaching in this era. Since this is the era of science and technology, it has a great deal of impact on teaching as in other sectors. Information and communication technology (ICT) has impacted each and every aspect of human life from which education sector in general and teaching-learning activities, in particular, cannot be an exception. Defining ICT Hafifah (2019, p. 21) states, “…ICT is defined as the activities of using technologies, such as; computer, internet, and other telecommunications media… to communicate, create and disseminate, store and manage information” and ICT in education means teaching and learning by the use of different ICT devices. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are being used in education to support students to learn more effectively by providing teachers with access to a wide range of new pedagogy (Dhital, 2018). Due to the use of ICTs in education, it has changed a number of factors like pedagogy, student-teacher relationship, the concept of literacy, and students’ learning achievement. Students and teachers who were only exposed to the traditional way of teaching-learning activities have shifted their way of teaching and learning. It helps students compete in this global market. ICT in education enhances learning, provides students with a new set of skills, facilitates and improves the training of teachers, and minimizes costs associated with the delivery of traditional instruction (UNESCO, 2014). Therefore, teachers should have the technological knowledge for effective language teaching. He/ She should be ICT literate along with the ability to use and incorporate ICT in language teaching. The teacher needs to be updated with the technological knowledge since it is always in a state of flux more so than content and pedagogical knowledge (Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009). In a nutshell, the teacher of this era should be ICT literate first and updated with the changing trends in ICT so that effective language teaching can take place.

Similarly, English language teachers should have a good command of English language. It does not mean that teachers should be native speakers of English. Even a non-native speaker who is good at English can be an effective English language teacher. The teacher should know the students (level, background, interest, need) and have a good rapport with them. The knowledge and command of the target language, ability to organize and clarify the contents, arouse and sustain interest and motivation among students, and fairness and availability to students are the desirable features of an effective second language teacher (Uygun, 2013). Moreover, an effective English language teacher should be clear and enthusiastic in teaching, provide learners with phonological, grammatical, lexical, pragmatic, and sociocultural knowledge.

Methods and techniques

Teaching methods and techniques used in language classrooms play a vital role in effective English language teaching. A method is often regarded as the heart of teaching-learning activities. It is the overall plan for the orderly presentation of language material. Different methods can be used for effective teaching. Since the methods which work best in one context may not be effective in the next context, a teacher should use methods that are context and culture-sensitive. It means the teacher should use the methods and techniques being based on the context where he/she is teaching. In this line, Kumaravadivelu (2001) writes; “Language pedagogy to be relevant must be sensitive to a particular group of teachers teaching a particular group of learners pursuing a particular set of goals within a particular institutional context embedded in a particular sociocultural milieu (p. 538)”. For this, teachers should use self-generated methods which best fit their context. Action research and reflective practice help teachers generate such methods. Teachers need to be autonomous, dynamic, reflective, and intuitive. In a nutshell, teachers should practise what they theorize and theorize what they practice (Kumaravadivelu, 2001).

Teaching materials

For effective English language teaching, the teaching materials teachers use in language classrooms also play a vital role. Since the materials used in English language classroom make teaching lively and effective, teachers rely on different materials to support their teaching and their students’ learning. The teaching material, let it be commercially produced or self-made should address the needs, levels, and interests of the students. The materials used in language classrooms should be content and context-sensitive. They should stimulate interaction and be generative in terms of language, encourage learners to develop learning skills and strategies, allow for a focus on form as well as function, offer opportunities for integrated language use, be authentic, link to each other to develop a progression of skills, understandings, and language items, be attractive and have appropriate instructions and be flexible (Howard & Major, 2004).

Learners

Like other factors, a learner is also one of the factors that make teaching effective. Learners should be active and creative to carry out the activities conducted both in and outside the classroom. An active and creative learner is related to a successful learner who sets and accomplishes his  or her own goals (Karen, 2001). According to Zamani and Ahangari (2016), “Good teaching is clearly important to raising student achievement, if teacher is not aware of the learner’s expectation and needs related to the course, it will have negative outcomes regarding the students’ performance” (p. 70). So, for effective teaching, a teacher should make the students active and creative. Making learners active and creative means engaging them with materials to work collaboratively with their friends making themselves responsible in the classroom activities. A teacher should provide such tasks which promote learner autonomy on one hand and collaborative learning on the other.

Conclusion

Being based on the above ideas, it can be concluded that there is not a single factor that makes English language teaching effective. The first and foremost requirement for effective English language teaching is an effective teacher. Teachers should possess content, pedagogical and technological knowledge, and socio-affective skills to make teaching effective. Secondly, the materials and methods the teacher uses in the language classroom should be context and culture-sensitive because the prescribed methods and materials developed by other experts may not work properly in all the contexts. For this, the teacher should develop their methods and materials that best fit their contexts with the help of action research and reflective practice. Finally, the learners should be active and creative for effective teaching and learning. For this, a teacher should use the tasks which foster learner autonomy and collaborative learning.

About the author

Prakash Bhattarai is pursuing his M.Phil. in English Education at the Graduate School of Education, Tribhuvan University. He has a decade-plus experience in teaching English language from primary to university level. Currently, he has been teaching at Kirtipur Secondary School, Kathmandu. To his credit, he has published a few academic articles in national and international journals. His professional interest includes ELT, Language planning and policy and English and multilingualism.

References

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

Dhital, H. (2018). Opportunities and challenges to use ICT in government school education of Nepal. International Journal of Innovative Research in Computer and Communication Engineering, 6(4), 3215-3220. doi:10.15680/IJIRCCE.2018.0604004

Ghimire, N. B. (2019). Five facets for effective English language teaching. Journal of NELTA Gandaki (JoNG), II, 65-73.

Hafifah, G.N. (2019). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in English Language Teaching. Proceedings of MELTC (Muhammadiyah English Language Teaching Conference). 21-38. Muhammadiyah Surabaya:  Department of English Education, The University of Muhammadiyah Surabaya.

Harris, J. B., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed.  Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(3), 393-416.

Haword, J. & Major, J. (2004). Guidelines for Designing Effective English Language Teaching Materials. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237476568

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

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2001). Toward a Post method Pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly, 35(4), 537-560.

UNESCO. (2014). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education in Asia. Canada: UNESCO Institute of Statistics.

Uygun, S. (2013).How to become an effective English language teacher. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 3 (7) 306-311. doi:10.5901/jesr.2013.v3n7p306

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

Can be cited as:

Bhattarai, P. [2021, May]. What makes English language teaching effective? ELT CHOUTARI. Available at: https://eltchoutari.com/2021/04/what-makes-english-language-teaching-effective/

Dear teachers, you can write and publish!

Jeevan Karki

In my past nine years of association with ELT Choutari as a reviewer and editor, I reviewed and edited hundreds of manuscripts, and communicated with dozens of teachers to encourage them to write. Based on this experience, I argue that teachers are undoubtedly the right professionals to write and publish and every teacher (including schoolteachers) can do so.

ELT Choutari generally gives space to new and first-time authors, hence it encourages teachers and teacher educators to share their experiences through writing. While exploring the potential teachers to write and publish, I have come across different types of teachers. When I approach them, initially most of them show interest, gradually some of them drop with some excuses and a few of them try, nonetheless. Interestingly those who give it a try, majority of them produce publishable write-up when they are guided through a series of writing processes.

I would like to recall a case of a particular teacher here. He is a schoolteacher of English language having rich experiences of teaching English to speakers of other languages from a variety of backgrounds. He used to show interest in writing and publishing on ELT Choutari. Once I personally approached him and discussed the possible issues and areas to write following the call for articles. He was all set to go. The next week, when I followed up, he responded that he was going to start soon. Later, when I followed up, he said he had just begun writing something and would finish by the next week. The next week was the deadline but he didn’t respond. I told him that we could give a few days more if he wished to finish but he quit stating he would contribute in a future issue.

In the next issue, with multiple follow-ups and reinforcement, he submitted a write-up on teaching vocabulary. It was a well-organised write-up in about 2000 words. However, there were two major issues with it- structure and content. Structurally, it was heavily influenced by the format of research-based journal paper as he included even an abstract section for a blog piece. Talking about the contents, he went on giving an introduction to teaching vocabulary and explaining different methods and techniques of teaching vocabulary, which was followed by a few tips of his own. When I anlyased it, the majority of the content in it was merely the reproduction of what was already available. So, where is the voice of the author? He was only explaining and summarizing other’s ideas, which is readily available on Google.

Then I realised why teachers like him are anxious about writing and publication in Nepal. Instead of narrating his own real practices and experiences of teaching vocabulary, he went on explaining and summarizing others’ ideas, which can be challenging for first-time authors for two reasons. First, the ideas of others should be well reproduced and paraphrased to avoid plagiarism. Second, such a write-up is less likely to be published because it is commonly available on the Web. If I were him, I would compose the write-up on my first-hand experiences of trying out different methods and techniques. Sometimes teachers also devise their own techniques or strategies to fit in their context. Capturing the same experiences and practices would be fantastic content to write about as it would be easier to write one’s experiences, which would have enough space for the author’s voice.

Most of the Nepali English teachers are anxious about writing and publication and consider that it is not their cup of tea. One of the major reasons behind it is the lack of a culture of reflection and journaling. They have decades of teaching experience and they even teach their students how to write a good paragraph or an essay but paradoxically, they are unable to produce reflective writing themselves. They teach different language skills using multiple methods (including some local methods), but they rarely reflect upon their practices. Like, what’s working and what’s not working? What’s going good and what’s not? Which methods or strategies should I continue and which to drop? This culture of reflection and making notes would also develop writing habits and boost their confidence. However, they are simply following the teaching-learning principles and practices of their gurus, where there was rarely any scope of reflection and writing. Therefore, the present generation of teachers must break this tradition and should start the culture of reflection and documentation, which would enable them to write and publish with ease.

What to write and what not ?

There is a popular saying, which goes, “cut the coat according to the size of your cloth.” The same is true in the case of writing too. So rather than choosing a heavy topic or summarising others’ ideas, the easy way is to write what you do, see, face, or experience in your everyday classroom. Therefore, it is better to choose the issue or topic, in which you feel comfortable to write. In the above case, for example, the teacher could have focused on the challenges he was facing while teaching vocabulary and strategies he used to overcome the challenges. Or he could also have highlighted the methods and strategies, which were the best working in his context. Similarly, he could also have critically examined the popular teaching methods and strategies and their applicability in his context.

Writing issues and topics are right in your classroom, all you need is to reflect on your own practices and classroom phenomena. Please remember that classroom is a lab from where very powerful theories and practices have been developed. Therefore, the easy way of reflection is to ask questions like below to yourself:

  1. Why am I doing what am I doing?
  2. Why am I using this method instead of another?
  3. What if I try this over that?
  4. Is this method facilitating the learning of my students? If yes, why? If no, again why?
  5. Which methods and techniques do my students enjoy and learn from the most?
  6. Why don’t my students sometimes learn the way I want them to learn? What’s wrong with my process?
How to write?

First, we should remove the illusion that all writing and publication must be research-based and formal. Please remember, publishing papers in the journals could be your goal but initially, you can start with something as simple as a reflective narrative or a blog, which don’t necessarily require any research frame or literature review. Take this blog for instance. Is there any research frame or literature review in it? No, I’m just reflecting on my experiences, and adding my voice to it. So, you can also simply write about the good practices in your classroom, challenges, or striking moments in your professional life.

The simple way to write powerful writing is to choose simple but meaningful and relevant issues from our everyday practice and narrate it in a captivating way like the way you narrate something orally to someone. Choosing the right issue and narrating in the form of a story is one of the easiest ways of writing, which any teacher can do. Voice your ideas instead of summarizing others’ ideas. If your story is engaging and relevant, readers will read and enjoy it. I also started my writing journey with narrative reflections. For instance, see HERE.

Narrative reflections and blogs are the stepping stones in one’s writing journey. Our experiences serve as content in such writing and narration works as the writing style. And there is nothing right or wrong about the narration technique. Narrating is way easier than writing some formal academic composition. Reflective narrative and blogs are informal in styles, juicy to read and yet they can raise important issues. For instance here is one by Karna Rana , another here by Alban S. Holyoke, and here is another by Yashoda Bam. Once you are confident and comfortable on writing them, then you can gradually move towards other scholarly writing and research papers.

Concluding remarks

Writing can be as easy as narrating an interesting event to our friends and family. Therefore, choosing interesting practices, challenges, striking events, or observations from your classroom and putting them in the form of a story would produce a good write-up. Moreover, reading related literature also provides ideas and confidence in writing, so read a few blogs and guidelines HERE before starting your own. Write and show it to your colleague, who cares for writing. Hear his/her feedback, review, and finalise.

Dear teachers, writing and publication on the blogs and web magazine like ETL Choutari is not as hard as you think. Therefore, before wrapping up this piece, I would like to note the following:

  • Teachers have rich experiences and issues to write about. So why not to write?
  • Reading and writing are part of the teaching profession, so, let’s make it our professional practice.
  • If teachers don’t write, how can they expect their students to write?
  • Writing helps us to better understand and to be better understood.
  • You definitely have some good practices and success stories and if you document them, others will benefit, and you will develop a writing habit.

Now looking forward to reading your reflective narrative and blogs on future issues.

[Note: since you have come up to here reading it, please share your feeling, feedback, or any question related to it in the comment box below, which will encourage the author. Thank you!]

Can be cited as: Karki, J. (2021, April 20). Dear teachers, you can write and publish. [blog post]. Retrieved from: https://eltchoutari.com/2021/04/dear-teachers-you-can-write-and-publish/

The Author: Jeevan Karki is a freelance teacher trainer, researcher, and writer. He serves as an expert in designing materials and developing training for the literacy program at Room to Read. He has authored several op-eds and blogs including some national and international journal articles. He is also an editor of ELT Choutari and the Editor-in-Chief at MercoCreation.

Techniques of online teaching

Thinh Le Van

Community of Learning

Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000) presented the online teaching model as a Community of Inquiry with three main elements: Teaching presence, social presence and cognitive presence.

Community of Inquiry by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000, p. 2)

Teaching presence is the responsibility of the teachers to select, organise materials, design the course to encourage students to interact while social presence refers is to show as a real person in the community. Cognitive presence refers to the construction of meaning by students through participating in the course. Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000) stated there was a correlation between these three types of presence. Since then, many studies have been conducted to examine the relationship among these three elements. Students gave a higher rate of the overall quality of interaction when instructors gave immediate feedback which means that course instructors were highly evaluated when they showed more teaching presence in an online course (Khalid & Quick, 2016; Richardson & Swan, 2003). Teaching presence was reported to be correlated with social presence because when teachers showed more teaching presence, students showed more social presence (Kanuka & Garrison, 2004; Shea & Bidjerano, 2009) and social presence was reported to correlate with learning outcomes (Hostetter & Busch, 2013; Romanov & Nevgi, 2008). These students concluded that students who participated more in the course, their learning outcomes were better than those who did not. In short, teaching presence affects social presence, or the better teaching presence is, the more social presence students will show. When students show more social presence, it will result in a better learning outcome. Therefore, the main responsibility of an online teacher is to organise the course so that students could show more social presence by joining online discussions, engaging in reading more materials. This essay will brainstorm some techniques to organise your teaching presence to improve social presence, which might result in a better cognitive presence or learning outcome.

The online teacher can engage students to do activities synchronously and asynchronously. Here are some techniques to enable students to interact asynchronously in an online course. To engage students to interact synchronously, some learning platforms such as Schoology, Edmodo or Google Classroom should be used. There are three main types of interactions: students’ interaction with materials, interaction among students, students and instructor interaction.

First, to encourage students to read materials, and watch a movie that the teacher should design a quiz to check whether students watch and understand the materials or not. This stage enables students to try to understand the materials. However, the quiz should include in the final assessment so that students will try their best to do it. By doing this step, students will interact with materials and show more social presence in the online course.

Second, after students understand the materials, they should be asked to interact with each other to share their understanding of the materials. At this step, some questions should be posted for students to share their opinions. To encourage students to interact with other students, students should be asked to reply at least two students’ posts. By doing this way, students will read other students’ posts and reply to other people post. The online forum is very important because students could reflect their ideas and show their deep understanding of the lesson.

Finally, the teacher could interact with students through an online learning platform. For example, the teacher could comment on students’ posts or give them some written feedback. If the teacher could give students some oral feedback, he could make a video by using Camtasia to upload on the learning platform.

Similarly, the teacher could interact with students synchronously. Synchronous interactions should also have three different types of interactions as described in the synchronous process. The interaction could happen through Zoom, Google Classroom or Skype. When the teacher gives students some materials, he should set up some activities for students so that they could show their understandings. Also, the teacher could create similar interactions such as group discussions for students such as Zoom breakout. Of course, during the online meeting, the teacher could have direct interactions with students.

These techniques are for online teaching; however, these also could apply in physical classes after COVID-19. The model for this kind of teaching is blended learning. The teacher could send students materials such as reading materials or videos that the teacher prepares in advance. However, to make sure that students watch the videos or read the materials, some tasks such as quizzes, questions or gap filling should be set up and these tasks should be a part of the final assessment to motivate students to complete all the tasks. These activities could be conducted online. Discussions could be carried in class when teacher and students see each other. The teacher can have more time for feedback and explore the lessons further.

In conclusion, the responsibility of the online teacher is to design the activities to encourage students to improve their interactions with materials, other students and teachers so that students could show more social presence which results in better learning outcomes.

 

Thinh Le Van holds a PhD degree from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He is an English lecturer at Banking Academy, Vietnam. His research interest is around language, learning with a focus on computer-assisted language learning (CALL). Email: lethinhpy@yahoo.com

References

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2), 87-105.

Hostetter, C., & Busch, M. (2013). Community matters: Social presence and learning outcomes. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(1), 77-86.

Kanuka, H., & Garrison, D. R. (2004). Cognitive presence in online learning. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 15(2), 1-19.

Khalid, M. N., & Quick, D. (2016). Teaching presence influencing online students’ course satisfaction at an institution of higher education. International Education Studies, 9(3), 62-70.

Richardson, J., & Swan, K. (2003). Examing social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Language Networks, 7(1), 68-88.

Romanov, K., & Nevgi, A. (2008). Student activity and learning outcomes in a virtual learning environment. Learning Environments Research, 11(2), 153-162.

Shea, P., & Bidjerano, T. (2009). Community of inquiry as a theoretical framework to foster “epistemic engagement” and “cognitive presence” in online education. Computers & Education, 52(3), 543-553.

 

Cite as: Le Van, T. (2020). Techniques of online teaching. https://eltchoutari.com/2020/07/techniques-of-online-teaching/

E-learning is only a means but not a replacement of physical classroom – Dr. Rana

Karna Rana, PhD

Dr. Karna Rana is an Academic Coordinator [MPhil in English] at Open University Nepal and Lecturer of English at Gramin Adarsha Multiple Campus. Dr Rana facilitates teacher training for teachers and students in and about online classes and resources. He earned his PhD degree in ICT in Education at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He did an MA in Education (E-based learning; Inclusive education; Managing teaching and learning; Research Methodology), from the University of Bedfordshire, UK. He is one of the members of the editorial board of ELT Chourati. He has authored and co-authored several academic papers and research articles nationally and internationally. He has launched different online-based training and workshop to contribute to Nepal’s ICT enhancement procedure. His interest areas include ICT in education, digital literacy, research and education.

Our Choutari editor, Ganesh Kumar Bastola, has talked to Dr Rana about COVID-19, pandemic pedagogy and its impact in and around Nepal specifically in education and explored some useful strategies to enhance online classes and resources during pandemic. Now, here is the exclusive interview for you.

1. What can be the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in our education system?

Well, if we review the history of educational development and the impact of such crisis like World War I and II on social transformation, the rise of industrial education value dominated neo-classical education value and it gradually resulted in capitalism. Before these wars, work efficiency used to be valued more than what education qualification someone had. The current industrial education system that came out of British and American neoliberal ideologies seems to be outdated as it is eventually failing to fix issues of this crisis. If the pandemic continues throughout this year, the world will be in an economic and humanitarian crisis. Many schools and universities will be shut down. Nepal will also experience it if the situation lasts long.

2. Since the educational institutions are shut down and the ‘face-to-face’ mode is put to halt. What can be the alternatives to reach students, especially school students in this crisis?

Since the world is in lockdown, several universities and schools mostly in developed countries have switched their traditional physical classrooms to online classes or distance learning mode. Unfortunately, the majority of schools and universities might not be prepared for it. Let’s observe the context of Nepal. Except for Nepal Open University, an online university, all other universities are not fully prepared to go online. It is unlikely to move schools to online in this situation as the majority of people live outside the range of broadband internet. However, we can utilise a few potential technologies like television and radio to deliver limited courses and engage students in possible projects.

3. How can we ensure and track the learning of school students if we adopt alternatives to educate them?

Let me share how schools before 2028 BS used to educate children in villages. Even the government did not know the number of schools across Nepal but these schools had their own curriculum to meet individual as well as social needs. The majority of schools particularly primary ones were never connected with the national examination system but they were efficient to educate millions of children. It does not mean to revive the system but we can explore such efficient local schooling ideas to make schools resilient and self-efficient. That was the time when there were few literate members of the community, but now we have educated or at least literate family members who can be teachers of their children. We have municipalities to follow micro strategies to engage teachers and students from their home. Probably flexible curriculum may provide schools with opportunities for developing own learning programmes, learning materials and outcomes. Of course, national education policy can provide them guidelines to maintain the education standard. Municipalities can be a focal point to manage local resources like teacher trainers, experts, teachers, learning materials and other essential materials. The wise use of ICT in education may develop our schools and education for the growing generation. FM radios and local televisions can be utilised to reach out children and their parents can be engaged with them. In cities and towns, internet facilities can be more productive. There may be challenges for ICT illiterate teachers to gather digital content and materials for teaching and learning but they can be shortly trained through radio or television to use smart mobile or personal computer to explore online materials.

4. What are the differences between online teaching-learning materials and face-to-face teaching-learning materials? As the academic session is going to kick off soon, how can we use the existing materials and resources for teaching via online, radio, TV or so on?

Teachers can bring some laboratory works and concrete materials in the traditional physical classroom but digital learning materials can be animated or real videos, audios and audio-visual. For many learners, online materials can be more productive than what they can read in library books. Unfortunately, such online materials cannot be shared without the internet. As I said earlier, the Education Unit at municipalities can look for ICT experts across the country to train local teachers on how to use digital devices and digital materials in teaching and learning. At least local authorities can train few teachers to plan and deliver lessons on TV lively and even students can be allowed to talk to the teacher over phone. It can go live on the radio too. By listening to the radio, students can work with pen and paper. In cities and towns, teachers and students can be shortly trained to use free apps like Skype, Messenger and Viber, and to communicate through emails. Teachers can utilise these free apps and emails to share learning materials and go to live interaction. Teachers need to have minimum ICT skills to operate these technologies. Unfortunately for many teachers, these advanced technologies may be intimidating. In that case, local teachers can be allowed to choose local learning materials for students. It can develop local autonomy and students’ independent skills. Both students and teachers can use print materials as a source of content. School and local libraries can be developed as a learning hub.

5. You have been facilitating the graduates at Open University, Nepal. What particular strategies do you employ for an online-based classroom to make the students engaged and make teaching-learning activities effective?

We have basic ICT infrastructure to plan and deliver lessons. We basically use MOODLE to share digital content with students, give feedback on students’ regular works and assess their works. Microsoft Teams connects students and teachers and they have a regular video conference on it. It is a dynamic tool to share screen and present works. I can create teams of any number and schedule meeting for the team. This application is highly advanced for online teaching and learning which allows us to share heavy contents like movies or large size videos and digital books. The whole class can be recorded and students can download it whenever they want to. Students from their home or comfortable place can join the class and share ideas. Actually, everyone works on their devices while they are in an online class with their teacher and friends. I teach a research course and it requires students to work on their area of research. I provide live feedback on their works and they actually work with my feedback. It is really effective, interactive and productive as we work while we discuss. I don’t go for a lecture.

6. As the pandemic hit us, we do not seem ‘prepared’ to deliver teaching-learning using alternative means. Firstly, the majority of teachers themselves do not seem to be well-equipped to employ alternative means. So, what skills should the teachers acquire to run alternative teaching-learning and how can we develop their capacity?

Yes, we may be immature to think about moving all schools online in this situation. As I explained earlier, the majority of schools don’t have ICT infrastructure and teachers may not have minimum ICT skills. We cannot expect students to have expensive internet and computers, particularly in rural remote villages. I have reported several challenges including a lack of ICT infrastructure, teachers’ ICT literacy and government preparedness in my research publications (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/KarnaRana). I wish the government would have enacted its educational policy in ICT and plan itself without relying on I/NGOs for the past two decades. If the government has a proper plan to equip teachers with ICT, the local governments can be involved in the project. In a cluster of many teachers at the local level, they can be trained to operate a computer and use internet facilities. Teachers basically need minimum computer skills, ICT literacy, information literacy, digital literacy, media literacy and communication literacy. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to train all the teachers across the country now. The educational crisis is apparently caused by unpredicted pandemic COVID-19 and such crisis may turn up time and again. Can we think a new way of schooling much more resilient than just internet-based school?

7. People also have started speculating that the online means can replace the face-to-face mode of teaching-learning in future. To what extent is there gravity in this speculation in terms of Nepal? And to what extent do we need online means?

I don’t think so. Internet can be used as a means but not as a replacement. There are predictable challenges like network crash, piracy and cyber-attack. Internet is based on the ideology of a few developed countries and they can hold the power of it. Let’s not imagine the worst but who knows if they destroy all the mechanisms of the majority of the countries. From my knowledge in this area, I would never suggest totally going to online. Of course, we can utilise internet facilities and develop the mechanism of e-learning to complement social learning strategies. Thinking about absolutely online school in Nepal may be an immature idea. The landscape of the country, weak national economic condition and expensive technology will be great barriers ahead. Poor people cannot afford such an expensive education. There are practical issues like how we can conduct actual laboratory works, how children learn to socialise and what kind of world we expect to be. I would rather think about how to develop the best practice that suits our local context.

Note: Now the floor is open for you. We encourage you to drop your comments in the box below after reading the interview. Your constructive feedback and questions inspire the interviewee. Thank you!

[To cite it: Rana, K. (2020, April 20). E-learning is only a means but not a replacement of physical classroom [blog post]. Retrieved from: https://eltchoutari.com/2020/04/e-learning-is-only-a-means-but-not-a-replacement-of-physical-classroom-dr-rana/]

Teacher-led professional development in crisis and ever

Jeevan Karki

“In addition to taking some MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on blended learning and teaching online, I’m virtually engaged to empower teachers around on how productively they can involve their students online.” –

Baman Ghimire, a high school teacher. (Ghimire. B., personal communication, 15 April, 2020)

“After the lockdown, I formed an online group of teachers and started sharing my ideas of running online classes in my district and beyond. Recently, I presented a session on Google Classroom to teachers in coordination with an English teachers’ association.” –

Bibas Jung Thapa, a lecturer (Thapa, B. J., personal communication, 14 April, 2020)

 

We are in isolation to fight COVID- 19, so our normal day-to-day activities are diverted in different ways and the classroom-based teaching-learning activities are halted. Amidst this circumstance, Baman and Bibas are not only engaged in their self-professional development but also in the professional development initiative of the fellow teachers using different routes i.e. virtual route. Whatever means has been adopted, the initiative to support fellow teachers is truly appreciable as the message is more important than the means, and the willingness to do is the most important thing. Moreover, this initiative will bring teachers closer during the isolation, which increases professional harmony and strengthens professionalism.

This initiative is an example of teacher-led professional development (TLPD). TLPD initiatives are led by teacher/s for the teachers. Professional development activities in our context are basically led by ‘outside experts’ and hence they are grounded on top-down approach. However TLPD initiative is bottom-up and customised (Diaz-Maggioli, 2004; Hills, 2017; Vangrieken, Meredith, Packer & Kyndt, 2017), aiming to empower teachers and enhance their knowledge and skills (Vangrieken, et al., 2017). The scope of TLPD is within the same schools and outside. For instance, a teacher (one or more teachers also can lead) from the same school can lead professional development activities for their colleagues or for the teachers beyond his/her schools (e.g. within their region, district, country or even out of the country). The example of Baman and Bibas fits for the second.

Why TLPD?

TLPD events emphasize on day-to-day teaching-learning issues of fellow teachers, which the facilitator deals based on his/her rich classroom experience. TLPD has been popular among teachers and school administrators for several reasons. For instance, Hills (2017) in her TLPD study explored that the fellow teachers enjoyed such initiatives for the diversified facilitators, neutral and non-threatening atmosphere and practical topics.

Wearers know where the shoe pinches. The teachers can better understand fellow teachers’ issues in teaching-learning and can respond accordingly. In the case of Baman and Bibas, as they have lived experiences of conducting day to day teaching learning with their students, they know what works and what does not work in a real classroom unlike the outside experts. I’m not undermining the role of the outside expert in professional development, they have their own value, which I will discuss later but there are certain things which these teacher leaders know better, deal better and do better. For instance, they can contextualise ideas to fit in the real classrooms based on the practices, which they have already tested. They can share their good practices of planning, preparation, teaching particular topics, assessment, remedial measures and so on. The participant teachers basically want the facilitators to offer hands-on solutions to deal with their pedagogical issues and the fellow teacher/s can do handle that better.

In addition, the TLPD reduces the gap and distance between facilitators and participants as they share the common ground, which results in increased openness, lively discussion and participation, and a joint effort for problem solving. In addition, TLPD are owned by teachers because they are customised, contextual, jointly developed by both facilitators and participants, and they emphasise on inquiry-based learning (Diaz-Maggioli, 2004). As a result, it can make teachers accountable.

Moreover, TLPD initiative can bridge the post training gap (Diaz-Maggioli, 2004). Generally, when an outside expert facilitates some training/workshop, there is scarce or no chance of follow up visit to provide on-site assistance to the teacher/s who is struggling to implement the newly learnt idea. Instead, when a teacher from the same school or neighbouring school/s leads the training/workshop or so on, they can be easily consulted as they share the same chiya pasal (tea shop) or same dhara (tap). They can even be asked to observe the classroom and assist the fellow teacher/s to implement the skills learnt in the training. Gradually, it leads to a better collaboration and a higher chance of training transfer in the classroom.

Teaching is not a competition with other fellow teachers but a competition with oneself, to create environment for children to learn themselves, not to teach! Every teacher is here to facilitate and support students to learn better and reach their full potential. So why competition? Instead teachers need a mutual collaboration with each other, a collaboration to share good practices and support each other to overcome the challenges associated with teaching and learning because the empowered teachers can empower students too. And the teacher-led professional development initiatives would do that because the future lies on the bottom-up approach but not on the top-down.

Roles of outside experts

At this point, question may arise, are all teachers capacitated enough to lead the professional development initiatives? Perhaps not, to give a quick answer. And now, here comes the role of the experts, trainers and teacher educator to strengthen their professional expertise to lead the cycle of TLPD. While leading the professional development events for adults, it is really important to be familiar with adult learning principles, key facilitation skills, converting contents into activities, interpersonal skills, latest research in the field and their implications, and so forth. Moreover, the teacher-leaders (the facilitators) also need support in school-based model of TLPD and its overall cycle, starting from planning and developing sessions to reflection and feedback collection. Therefore, the experts now need to groom school-based leaders to lead their professional development themselves and observe and study how it works.

How to start TLPD initiatives? 

The easy answer to this question is just start the way Baman and Bibas did. TLPD model seems to work better during this halt, where the outside experts are not easily reachable. Therefore, let’s start this with our colleagues, who are the nearest experts at the moment, just go through the Facebook friend list and make a team. Actually, I came to learn about the initiative of Baman and Bibas via Facebook. So, we can look for the teachers/colleagues teaching English (or related subject) in our friend list, create a group and start the conversation. Thereafter, we can only discuss on the issues we are facing while teaching our students and make notes of all the issues. The issues can be anything related to planning, methods, materials, assessment, teaching particular topics, and classroom management skills and other soft skills like communication, motivation or using technology in classroom. Then, the list can be shortened by removing repetition or the least important topics for the moment (through a common consensus). moving forward, we can ask each other to choose one or two topics, which we feel comfortable to lead the discussion/presentation. If all the topics are not covered, let’s not worry. We can always start with whatever we feel comfortable. Then, we can schedule the presentation and discussion using accessible and free Software like Messenger, Viber, Skype, Zoom or so on. Next, the session leader should take a good time to plan on his/her topic. Once the preparation is done, we can advertise a little via social media to invite other interested teachers to join the discussion. I’m sure we will find more than enough participants. Then, on the day of presentation, we can make some house rules to run it systematically, otherwise, it can go messy. After the presentation, we should entertain questions and open the discussion, which will help both the facilitator and fellow teachers to reflect upon the ideas shared and set direction future direction. And after we do it successfully, we can write our reflection and share, the way I’m doing here.

Before I leave

As the situation is getting worse day by day globally, we as educators can’t just keep quiet and stay at home. Baman says that the ongoing journey of professional development goes beyond the chains of any ‘lockdown’. So, we should start thinking proactively about the alternatives of educating or reaching our students. Such teacher-led professional initiatives can help us to explore multiple ideas of reaching them during this crisis.

[Note: since you have come up to here reading it, please share your feeling, feedback or any question related to it in the comment box below, which will encourage the author. Thank you!]

[To cite it: Karki, J. (2020, April 20). Teacher-led professional development in crisis and ever. [blog post]. Retrieved from: https://eltchoutari.com/2020/04/teacher-led-professional-development-in-crisis-and-ever/]

The Author: Jeevan Karki is a freelance teacher trainer, researcher and writer. He serves as an expert in designing materials and developing training for literacy program at Room to Read. He has authored several op-eds and blogs including some national and international journal articles. He is also an editor of ELT Choutari and the Editor-in-Chief at MercoCreation (http://merocreation.com/).

References:

Diaz-Maggioli, G. (2004). Professional development today. Teacher-centered professional development. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/104021/chapters/Professional-Development-Today.aspx

Hills, D., (2017). Teacher-Led Professional Development: A Proposal for a Bottom-Up Structure Approach. International Journal of Teacher Leadership. 8(1), 77- 91.

Vangrieken, K., Meredith, C., Packer, T., & Kyndt, E. (2017). Teacher communities as a context for professional development: A systematic review. Teaching and Teacher Education, 61, 47-59.

Awareness of ICT preparatory tools: Micro management and way forward

Ashok Sapkota

Prologue

I discuss the use of technology in the educational practices in general and technology, pedagogy and content knowledge (TPACK) approach in particular in this paper. It is grounded on the author’s two-decade-long experience of using technological tools for learners’ engagement, problems in micromanagement and five major fault-lines in micro-management procedures. Moreover, it integrates various assets such as management of basic functions of electronic gadgets, blending content, context and technology, differentiating hardware and software tools, updating recent innovation and threats in technology and regulating micromanagement in using technology.

Introduction

Are we really prepared to use ICT tools? This question often triggers my mind while discussing ICT tools. Recently, I shared my knowledge and key issues in Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) approach to educators around different parts of the country using zoom software. It was a wonderful sharing with them using the common tool in the lockdown period. If we relate the classroom scenario, we are shifting heavily to the use of alternatives in technology tools (Williamson & Redish, 2009) to present and to instruct different lessons in almost all the levels. Even some schools, particularly in the urban area, both developing and under developing countries, take multimedia power-point presentation as a basic tool to deliver the content practices. Few of them make the mandatory code of conduct that 50% of the classes need to conduct using power-point and other applications. In this juncture, it is essential to take the perception of students regarding the use of such a tool. Having an experience of using Microsoft tools and other tech tools nearly about one and a half-decade, I have found the mixed versions in using it. The basic applications behind shifting to the use of online applications is the way we use it. If we use the applications as a form of supposing or imitating practices or we are forced to use, the output may not be satisfactory. The awareness we need to have is on how to make it interactive, informative and engaging. The interactive helps to make it lively, blend content, context and experience to the discussion (Schrum & Levin, 2009). The contents need to be well prepared, discussed rather than simply reading the lines or flipping the slides. It is crucial to share that powerpoint presentation is not a slideshow rather it needs to be interactive and based on the time we are allocated to discuss. This article primarily focuses on five major issues or faultlines: managing basic electronic gadgets, blending content, context and technology,  differentiating software and hardware tools,  updating recent innovations and threats in technology, regulating in micromanagement in using technology.

Problems of micro-management and flipped classroom

Using the wide range of technological tools in the classroom makes less sense when the content is not well delivered and the students are not happy in using them. As one of the psychologists, David Hurlock believes that the learners’ psychology matters more in learning, the environment of the classroom depends on what we teach and how we deliver. In few cases, the content to share might be interesting but the way we deliver, the lessons bring change in the classroom (Maddux & Johnson, 2006). Here, by the term ‘the way’, I mean the strategies we adopt along the technological knowledge in the classroom. This management can be specific and creative in nature which can be called micro-management. The use of technology is not great deal than to know we can manage further continuously for the proper applications. I have seen my colleagues using the applications time often within certain period but they fail to continue and make the classroom lively in using it. This situation means we are lagged behind the micro-management and could not address the multiple layers or changes within the single classroom to make learning effective over period of time which we call flipped classroom.

Major dimensions in managing technology

This article centers with the five major faultliness based on my experiential learning in using technology. I also discuss the misconceptions I had to overcome. My focus remains mostly on three assets i.e. tech tools in professional life, classroom discussions and off classroom environment. It is not as difficult as it shared in educational forums about the use of technology if we simply manage the basic aspects of it. In doing so, I begin my sharing with managing basic functions in the upcoming section:

Managing basic functions in electronic gadgets: It is essential to know the basic software and hardware knowledge about the device we use.  No matter it could be a desktop/laptop or a mobile phone or a tab. Having proper knowledge, functions and configurations about the device develops more confidence in working it. In few stances, we work the day, shut down the computer and when we try to open it the next day or in the evening, it does not work.  This situation creates unnecessary pressure because of having less or no knowledge about the hardware of our own device. Having a computer but having no knowledge about hardware often increases unnecessary stress than having real problems. Operating a computer is not only to open and shut down the computer or to use few programmes like word, pdf or excel file. In addition, it is to know about the hardware, programming, hard drive, C file (system file) and other files. It is essential to know about  basic operating functions, such as; Better not  to work or save any files in the desktop as it consists of system files. It has higher chances to lose documents if any system problems occur in the computer. In few incidents, the files might be transformed into temporary files and be destroyed. When the problem occurs, we take it to the technician. They solve it within few minutes and regard it as a common problem. The basic understanding about the hard disk, RAM, software installed in computer, desktop management, file sharing and saving makes us in the comfort zone than taking unnecessary stress.

Blending content, context and technology: Technological knowledge is easier when we have basic idea in using it than copying the ideas or files from others. Many people often get distracted because they could not blend content, context and technology. It does not mean that we need to use every tool in the classroom. It is worthy to identify the level of knowledge of our students, technological infrastructure, managing time to use and operate it (Dudney, 2000). For example, if I try to use moodle or Microsoft team in my institution, where there is no fixing of computer in the classroom and teacher had to manage everything; from IT support to content delivery. In this context, moodle may not be an appropriate tool to use it. We can think of the alternative resource, such as the learners have mobile phones or smart phones with limited internet access. So, the applications like closed Facebook group discussion or blogging might be useful tools. Therefore, context and the skills we select shapes way forward. Despite having low resources, we can think of the alternative resources or application to manage use of the technology to the learners and teach them to use it. It is better to be practical rather than overgeneralising the condition of the students.

Differentiating software and hardware tools: It is beneficial to differentiate between the software and hardware tools in order to manage electronic devices well-functioning. People believe that having a computer has all the same functions within it, however, it consists of both software and hardware. Being more specific, the hardware and software varies based on the purpose, field of study and use. If you are working indesign programme, you might need more features like graphics, more RAM functions, specific display, large capacity of harddisk and other software skills like graphic card, advanced adobe programming, C++ programming and other essential programming. If you are an English teacher working with research, you might need the referencing software like Zotero or if you are a Mathematics teacher, you might need a software called Geozebra. Therefore, the technological device, like laptop, can be modulated differently based on the purpose and the profession we need to function further.

Updating recent innovations and threats in technology: Having updated knowledge regarding the use of technology and its updated version helps us in the comfort zone. No doubt we are accustomed to the version we install in the computer. When we install the new version, we might have some problems in the beginning. However, after using for a couple of months, we are used to it. We find many friends using the latest version of Microsoft office 2019 but some are still in windows XP or Windows 7. This shows the variation of the use of programming. It is essential to update the software in our device as per to the global changes and disciplinary changes. For this, we can explore the new resources, ask friends, for search in the open resources in the Internet search. Time and again, I hear saying that I have found in the Internet or in the Google. We might have less awareness that the Internet is not a source but a tool to explore and Google is not a book but simply a window to look in or a browse to search things.

Regulating micromanagement in using technology: Micromanagement is far forward to sharpen and develop organising skills in using technology. Having a knowledge to manage files in a computer or in a folder or in a Google drive properly can be called here as micromanagement of ICT resources. It is easier to use a tool for the first time as a trial. However, to use effectively to engage learners in the classroom within the limited resources can be a huddle for teacher educators. Therefore, I would suggest to have more in-depth knowledge in having the micro functions of any of the tools we explore to such as managing the files in the laptop, knowledge of iPods, managing files in Google drive or maintain external drive. It is not essential to use all the tools in the classroom just because others friends have used them. But, it is us that need to know the proper function as a user and the ones to whom can be used.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, we know that having knowledge about the technology and tools is always advantageous. However, we fail to sharpen our skills in managing those tools and it creates more stress in our professional life. Having the basic knowledge to operate both software and hardware tools might bring maturity in using them. So, it is better to know yourself, best use available resources, engaging students and ourselves in micromanagement of tech tools.

[Note: since you have come up to here reading it, please share your feeling, feedback or any question related to it in the comment box below, which will encourage the author. Thank you!]

[To cite it: Sapkota, A. (2020, April 20). Awareness of ICT tools: Micro-management and way forward. [blog post]. Retrieved from: https://eltchoutari.com/2020/04/awareness-of-ict-preparatory-tools-micro-management-and-way-forward/]

 

The Author: Ashok Sapkota is a faculty in the Department of English Education, Kirtipur, TU, and Global College of Management. He has worked in several applications in using diverse forms of technology. Having experienced of using a moodle and Microsoft team for a decade, he is one of Microsoft certified teacher trainers. He is treasurer of NELTA Centre and worked as a teacher trainer of different organisations like: Ministry of education, British council, NELTA, Global Action Nepal and other organisations. For more please explore http://assapkota.blogspot.com/

 

References

Dudeney, G. (2000). The Internet and the language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Maddux, C.D. & Johnson, D.L. (eds.) (2006). Type II Users of technology in education: Projexts, case studies, and software applications. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.

Schrum, L. & Levin, B.B. (2009). Leading 21st century skills Schools.  California: Corwin

Williamson, J. & Redish, T. (2009).  Technology facilitation and leadership standards.  Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education.

 

Quality scrutiny in materials isn’t merely a formalization process: Ganga Ram Gautam, PhD

Ganga Ram Gautam, PhD

Dr. Ganga Ram Gautam, Associate Professor of English Education and Director of Open and Distance Education Center (ODEC) at Tribhuvan University, trains English teachers of all levels of education and contributes to the development and dissemination of teacher education curricula in English Education throughout Nepal. He is one of the founding members of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) and Teacher Educators’ Society Nepal (TESON). He has co-organized a number of national and international conferences and capacity building workshops for the NELTA leaders, school principals, university faculty members and trainers. Dr. Gautam has worked on a number of community development projects that focus on children’s education, school development, school governance, vocational education, women’s empowerment and girls’ education. Dr. Gautam has authored a number of articles, book chapters and presented in workshops, seminars and conferences in Nepal and abroad.

Our Choutari editor, Jeevan Karki has spoken to Dr. Gautam in the periphery of production and use of ELT materials in Nepali. Moreover, this interview also unpacks some issues like the quality of materials, teaching in low-resourced context and exploiting the online resources. Now enjoy reading this exclusive interview.

1. How is the situation of the use of resources and materials in ELT classes in Nepal at present?

There are different modes and practices regarding the use of ELT resources and materials in Nepal. In some public schools, teachers solely rely on the textbooks prepared by the government while in some other public schools, they use additional textbooks from the list provided by the Curriculum Development Center. In private schools, they use the materials of their choices. Some schools use the materials (mostly books) written and published in Nepal while some others use the textbooks from international publishing houses. So, there is no uniformity in the use of resources in the ELT classes.

Apart from the textbook, there is not much organized effort, so far, in producing, developing or preparing complementary/supplementary English language learning and teaching materials in Nepal. However, there are some organizations at the non- state level, which have been trying to produce reference materials, like reading materials. Some NGOs have produced reading materials in English and other local languages.

In terms of software or digital resources, some technology companies are digitizing the materials, both curricular and additional materials in the digital form and they’re also available in the market today, like OLE Nepal, which has digitized curriculum and textbook materials. Also, there are some commercially available digitized materials which are connected to the English language textbooks and other content area textbooks. So, there are some initiatives, but I feel that they haven’t been established as the mainstream contributors in the ELT space. Thus, there are certain very important things to be done like consolidation, streamlining, refining and polishing the materials.

2. You’ve mentioned that teachers are mostly dependent on the textbooks inside the classroom. What is the scenario of schools in the urban areas, to be specific?

I have visited some schools in urban areas too and mostly it’s upon the teachers’ proactive initiative to use the additional teaching learning materials, rather than the institutionalized efforts. So, some organizations are trying to produce the materials and resources around, but they have not been institutionally driven and guided by the system. There are also schools in urban areas, which produce their own additional materials and do not use solely the textbooks. They go for resource-based teaching. To be short, things are evolving but we need to institutionalize them and use that effort in the mainstream education.

3. How can teachers in the low resourced context give best to the students?

This is a very good question. I’ve seen that some teachers even in the rural areas are trying to find resources available online and they adapt them in their classes. At the same time, I’ve also met many teachers who only produce excuses by saying that resources are not easily available in the rural parts of Nepal.

In my observations, there are many ways teachers can give best to the students in the ELT classes, provided that teachers are aware of the availability of the resources and materials at their fingertips. Now, the mobile phone is very common across the country and internet access is very common. There are plenty of online resources teachers can access even with the low internet bandwidth. We don’t need to rely on the printed materials only. Teachers can find the materials available online and they can then connect them to the contents they teach from the textbooks. What we need to do is to orient the teachers in the low-resourced context to find those materials guide them on how they could best use those resources to integrate to the curricular contents.

4. Are we the contributors or merely the consumers of the ELT resources and materials?

Recently, there has been a growing tendency to produce the resources, particularly the textbooks, locally. But this is not adequate. We need to produce resources to teach English. We should also encourage teachers to develop their own resources in their local contexts. There are plenty of resources around and teachers can make use of those resources in their English classes but they need to be shown how they could do it. We need to develop confidence among teachers by engaging them in developing the resources, not just by asking them to do on their own. We need to mentor them and work with them so that they can gradually learn how to do it.

5. Where are the Nepali ELT scholars in terms of producing ELT resources and materials in Asia?

If we are talking about the textbooks, there are many people in Nepal who are engaged in this business. The question, however, is not a number. It’s about quality. Producing good quality materials requires a focused and systematic engagement. One has to develop expertise in it. Random picking of the texts and developing a couple of exercises from them is not materials development. There is no scrutiny in the quality aspects of the materials produced in Nepal. Without reviewing them from the rigorous quality parameters, it would be unfair to exactly say how those materials are. So, there are materials around and people have shown their interest in writing materials in Nepal but the issue of quality is still a question to be answered.

6. So, how to maintain quality in these materials?

There are quality accreditation parameters of the government. For instance, Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) has that mechanism, which consists of a subject committee and textbook writers. And the materials produced by them should go through the quality scrutiny process. However, you can obviously question about the quality of the processes itself. On the other hand, in the private publication system, there is no any established mechanism to ensure the quality of the materials produced by the local authors. If you look at the practices of the international publishing houses, they have a group of experts, who minutely go through the manuscript produced by the authors and the authors are given constructive feedback. After a series of scrutiny only, the materials are accepted and published by the publisher. Our local publishing houses have to learn many things from these practices. I’m not saying that all the materials produced by local authors so far are of low quality, what am I saying is we need to check whether the materials maintain the quality so that students learn good English.

7. Private publishers are there with a business motive. When they have a pool of experts to check the quality, that will cost money, which will affect in their profit. So, why would they go for it? In this context, what is the role of the state?

It is a managerial issue. What I’m talking about is the academic issue. So, if you ask me “Can we compromise the quality at the cost of the managerial issues?”, I would definitely go for ‘no’. So, how the private publishers maintain the quality is something they need to think of. And what the state needs to do is another crucial question. State should also develop a mechanism to check the quality of the materials produced at the non-state sector. What we have so far is only the formalizing process and preparing the list of materials from various publication. I don’t see the ‘rigour’ in this to ensure the quality of the materials.

8. How can teachers make the best use of online resources and materials in teaching learning?

Online resources could be overwhelming if teachers do not know how to use them. You can find anything online and there are so many sites where you can find the ELT resources. First of all, you need to know how you can use them to help the learners who are learning English with you. It will be unrealistic if you think that you can use the online resources as they are. Customization will be required and as teachers we need to know how we can customize them for our learners.

9. How can teachers customize these materials?

There are mainly two issues with it. Firstly, there is too much information and it’s overwhelming for teachers. It might be difficult to decide where to begin. It’s like when you have so many books on the shelf, it takes so much of your time to decide which one to start with. Secondly, in order to use the online resources, the teachers have to take a big shift from their conventional teaching approach. If you just ask them to use online materials, they don’t know how to make the shift. In order to make that big shift, moving from printed materials to online materials, they need to develop their confidence. This confidence can be developed if we can build on their existing strengths and give them some support step-wise, like Krashen’s ‘i+1’ concept. For instance, we can show them how to access the materials and resources online and download from their smart phone. So, they need a structured guidance to make the shift from print materials to online materials. Then we have to guide them to integrate and adapt the online materials with the curriculum contents.

Many teachers see and use the online resources for fun activities. They don’t see the connection between the online materials and the curriculum. Therefore, they need training/facilitation and most importantly mentoring support and guide to boost their confidence to use the online materials effectively.

10. If there are individual teachers who are trying to integrate the online resources into their curriculum, what do you suggest them?

Like there is a lesson in the textbook, which is intended to develop reading comprehension in children. So many teachers have a feeling that it’s the story they’ve to teach not the particular language skills. But if you look at the underlying principles in the curriculum, there is a particular reading agenda behind the text. There may be a reading soft skill, which is the focus of that particular story, like skimming or scanning. So if teachers understand that underlying principle behind the story, they can connect the lesson with online resources which focus on skimming or scanning reading activities. Now the teachers can take students online (if there is computer lab), find some simpler stories online, set questions based on the text and ask them to read the story and do comprehension activity. After the students do a couple of practices, now the teachers can ask them to do the same activity with their story in the textbook.

11. How can teachers utilize the online resources best for their professional development?

Online resources could contribute immensely in our professional development. We can not only enhance our English language skills but also sharpen our pedagogical skills from the online resources. There are courses for English teachers and there are online journals. We can attend the course, learn the skills that we need, publish our experiences and network with the like-minded people from around the world.

For teachers and ELT practitioners, there is a focused webinar series in Nepal, run and coordinated by Regional English Language Office of the American embassy. Teachers in Nepal can attend these webinars online and interact with the people around the world and benefit from global perspectives and ideas. Likewise, there are plenty of recorded webinars free, which focus on professional development, like the English language pedagogy of teachers and all. For example, https://americanenglish.state.gov/ and https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/ can be helpful to them.

Apart from them, conferencing opportunities are also equally helpful for teachers’ professional development. There are online announcements of such conferences, which provide us opportunities to present our work and participate. So, teachers can explore English language education conference calendar on the web to be up-to-date with these opportunities. Moreover, there are also funding opportunities to travel to such conferences and attend. Many teachers think they may not be qualified for these opportunities. Actually, these are meant for teachers and ELT practitioners like us. We should give a try.

12. Recently TU also has announced the call for distance education. Can you explain what is it and how can teachers benefit from it?

There is Open and Distance Education Center (ODEC) in Tribhuvan University (TU), which I head currently. It also runs online Masters’ program in English language education. So, working teachers who cannot come on-campus for the Master’s program, can benefit from this course from their home. They can apply for it and sit for the entrance examination to be qualified. Then they can join our online course and learn from our virtual classrooms. In the beginning of the semester, we have a two days orientation, which introduces students to the virtual classroom and its process and procedures. After that their virtual study begins, where they study, discuss, submit their assignments and so on.

The lessons are set in weekly units and in the beginning of the week, we upload the weekly lessons. Then the students will access them, download and study offline in their own time. The materials contain some readings, some audio or visual materials etc. They are given some assignments, which they have to complete. Then based on their study, they also have to contribute to the online discussion, interaction and reflection every week. Every week it goes like this. In the middle of semester, we check-in by inviting them for a couple of days but it’s not mandatory. If they don’t have any issue and if they’re doing ok, they don’t need to come for this but if they have certain issues that they want to discuss in person they can come in the middle of the semester. They also can come and see us in person, if they struggle or have any issue. At the end of the semester, they must come for the examinations. 40% evaluation is done through online assignments and the rest from the 4 hours end semester examinations.

It’s a two years course but students have flexibility to complete it within 5 years.

[Note: since you have come up to here reading the interview, please share your feeling, feedback or any question related to this interview in the comment box below, which will encourage the interviewee. Thank you!]

[To cite it: Gautam, G.R. (2020, January 25). Quality scrutiny in materials isn’t merely a formalization process: Ganga Ram Gautam, PhD [blog post]. Retrieved from: https://eltchoutari.com/2020/01/quality-scrutiny-in-materials-isnt-merely-a-formalization-process-ganga-ram-gautam-phd/]

Teaching English using locally made/available materials

Rishi Ram Paudel*

It was an immense pleasure and honour for me to attend IATEFL conference 2019 at Liverpool, UK, and present my paper on ‘Teaching English Using Locally Made/ Available Materials’. My presentation was well-received by participants. As I look back at my feedback sheet, the comments such as ‘lovely-very creative, communicative and compelling’ by Sarah Moont and ‘very engaging’ by Sue Gorton demonstrate the enthusiasm the IATEFL participants had.

The use of locally made/available materials facilitates the English language teaching and learning more interesting, engaging and interactive. In this post, I present how we can use locally made/available materials to teach English. I’m glad to share this with those who did not attend my presentation in Liverpool.

The words in bold letters show what language items are focused to teach the learners. And you can always customize to fit your requirement and make your own versions. You will be amazed just with the following miniature items mentioned below, how much language we can teach.

Materials (miniature, realia) that were used:

Carpet, round cushion, square cushion, girl, boy, bed, mattress, pen, fish, broom, ten-rupee-note, sheet, pillow, card-stand showing 10 p.m., woman, quilt/duvet, ladder, mobile phone, log, rock, house, garden

A sample presentation technique:

Hold the carpet toward the students and say ‘carpet’. Now say, ‘This is a carpet.’ (show it and say twice). As you lay the carpet on the floor, you can choose to say one of Hold the carpet toward the students and say ‘carpet’. Now say, ‘This is a carpet.’ (show it and say twice). As you lay the carpet on the floor, you can choose to say one of these:

lay the carpet or spread the carpet or fit the carpet.

After you lay the carpet, you can roll back uttering either of these sentences:

Roll back the carpet or Roll up the carpet.

Now you can lift the carpet and beat it saying: beat the carpet.  

Depending on what you want the learners to learn, you can modify the sentence and say, ‘I’m beating the carpet to dust off.’ (this expression could be in Nepali context where sometimes carpet needs beating to shed off the dust). If it is not the appropriate context in your situation, you can modify the language.

Before you ask your students to make their own version of language expressions, make sure that they have enough exposure what you do and what you say.

Example – 2

Take the round cushion and say, ‘a round cushion’ before you say, ‘It’s a round cushion.’

Put the round cushion on the carpet and say: ‘The round cushion is on the carpet.’

Now take the square cushion

and say, ‘a square cushion’. Say again ‘It’s a square cushion’.

Put the square cushion on the carpet and say: The square cushion is on the carpet.

Now say this: Both 

the round cushion and the square cushion are on the carpet-.

Hold the girl doll, show and say, ‘a girl’. Then say: She’s a student. Similarly, take the boy doll, show and say ‘a boy’ before saying the sentence: He’s a student too.

Place the girl on the round cushion and say:

The girl is sitting on the round cushion.

Then place the boy on the square cushion and say:

‘The boy is sitting on the square cushion.’ Now say this: Both the boy and the girl are sitting on the cushions.

The girl is sitting on the round cushion, whereas the boy is sitting on the rectangular cushion. Hold and show a bed and say –a bed-. Now say: It’s a bed. And now say: It’s made of metal. Place the bed behind the girl and the boy and say: Behind the girl and the boy. ‘there’s a bed’.

Show pen and say, ‘a pen’. Now say: It’s a pen.

Put the pen in front of the girl and say:

‘In front of the girl, there’s a pen.’

Also say this sentence:

‘There’s a pen in front of the girl.’

Show the fish and say- a fish. Now say – ‘It’s a fish.’

Next, put the fish in front of the boy and say:

‘There’s a fish in front of the boy’,

Next say this sentence:

‘There’s a fish in front of the boy.’

Then, utter this sentence: ‘There’s a pen in front of the girl, whereas there’s a fish in front of the boy.’

You can give other examples so that students can get ample opportunities to listen to and practice.

Show a broom and say ’a broom’. Now say:

‘It’s a broom. It is used for sweeping the floor.

Now place the broom between the boy and the girl and say:

‘The broom is between the boy and the girl.’

Next, point toward the bed and say:

‘I’m gonna make the bed.’

Let’s do the same with mattress.

Show mattress and say: a mattress. Now say: ‘It’s a mattress.’

Next, hold the mattress and press it with your fingers, and say: ‘The mattress is soft.’

Next, feel the metal bed and say: ‘But the bed is hard.’

Then, say this: ‘The mattress is soft whereas the bed is hard.’

Now show money and say ’money’. Say this: ‘This is money.’

If the money you are holding is a ten-rupee note, say ‘a ten-rupee-note’. Now say: ‘This is a ten-rupee note.’

(Note: Make sure that the students understand this clearly, and won’t say a ten-rupees note, which would be considered grammatically wrong.)

Now put the money under the mattress and say: ‘The money is under/beneath the mattress.’ You can also say: ‘I’m hiding the money under the mattress.’

You can also make the statement: ‘Some people hide their money under the mattress.’

Show bed sheet and say, ‘a bed sheet’. Now, say: ‘It’s a bed sheet.’ Lay the bed sheet and say: ‘I’ve laid the bed sheet’

Next, show the size and say: ‘It’s too big.’ Tuck in the bed sheet and say: ‘I’m tucking in the bed sheet.’

Show pillow and say, ‘a pillow’. Next, say: ‘This is a pillow.’

Next, put the pillow on the bed sheet and say: ‘I put the pillow on the bed sheet.quilt/duvet (a quilt/a duvet)

Now say: ‘It’s a quilt/It’s a duvet.

Spread the quilt/duvet over the bed and say: ‘I spread the quilt/duvet over the bed.’ ‘It’s now ready. I’ve made the bed.

Show ladder and say –a ladder.

Now say: ‘It’s a ladder.’

Now show the rungs of the ladder and say ’rungs’. Now say –rungs of the ladder.

Finally say: ‘These are rungs of the ladder.’

Now place the ladder upright beside the bed and say: ‘The ladder is beside the bed.’

Show the time card stand and say: ‘It’s ten o’clock at night. It’s time to go to bed.’

And make a dramatic expression: ‘But I’m not going to bed.’ Show the doll of the

woman and say: This woman is going to bed. Now dramatically make the woman walk toward the ladder and say: The woman is walking towards the ladder.

Now ask her to climb the ladder. Now you can say: She’s climbing up the ladder.” Make a dramatic stop as she reached the top rung of the ladder and say: She’s stopped on the top rung of the ladder. Why? Because she was too tired, and she forgot something. You know what she forgot? Show a mobile phone and say –her dear mobile phone.

Place the mobile phone on the floor so that she has to climb down the ladder. As she is climbing down the ladder, you can say:

‘She is climbing down the ladder. There’s some price to pay when you forget, isn’t there?

Put the mobile phone under her arm and say:

‘She has put her mobile phone in her armpit to hold the mobile phone.’

Now ask her to climb up the ladder again and say:

‘She’s climbing up the ladder again. Poor absent-minded woman!’

Put the woman in the bed and pull the quilt over her and say these sentences: ‘She pulled the quilt/duvet.’

Now say, ‘She was too tired and now she’s fast asleep. She’s sleeping like a log/rock.’

And now show a log and a rock and put on the floor, which are motionless. And again say: ‘The woman is sleeping like a log/a rock.’ Now say this: ‘And now she’s dreaming about a magnificent house with a beautiful garden.’ And place the house and the garden in front of it on the table.

Now you can also ask your students to make their own version of language using the items you used.

[Note: since you have come up to here reading the whole piece, please share your feeling, feedback or any question related to this article in the comment box below, which will encourage the author. Thank you!]

*The author is a freelance writer and a life member of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA).

[To cite this: Poudel. R.R., (2020, January 25). Teaching English using locally made/available materials [blog post]. Retrieved from: https://eltchoutari.com/2020/01/teaching-english-using-locally-made-available-materials/]

How to convert reading into pleasure from pressure?

Ghanashyam Raj Kafle*

Scene setting

Teaching is not telling. However, sharing a teacher’s experience on classroom success and failure while ‘teaching reading’ could be of benefit to many fellow teachers. This article offers some examples of how we can use reading materials to encourage students’ active engagement with reading texts.

My experiences of using reading materials

As usual I used to ask my students to read passage from the lesson and answer the questions given there. While doing so, I would notice clear expressions of dislike of the task on their face, and their hands moved halfheartedly to work although verbally they did not express that. Sure, that the technique did not work, and I slightly changed it into briefly explaining them how reading would contribute to secure better marks/grades. The second technique too seemed no better than the first one. Therefore, I asked them to read the questions first to make sense of what the passage is about. This time I noticed involvement of more students.

Next, I asked them to look at the pictures and then tell who the people were, what they did, which of them they liked and disliked and so on. The students sounded interested and more engaging this time than ever before. Next day, I used yet another idea to read aloud only half of the story in a way the rest half was missing. The students sounded then curious to know the outcome of the story. That’s the reason why I think teaching reading is not just exposing students to reading materials. It calls for a simple trick and twist of teacher to make the old stuff feel like new.

In my successive lessons, I told the students to watch a favourite movie and narrate the story to the class next day. They were given free choice to tell the story in Nepali first and then in English. Everybody there and then wanted to tell/write the entire story of the movie and I had to remind them of the next class to stop. It was hard to resist them otherwise. It seemed to me that they each wanted to have their turn first in the class the next day because they had so many things to tell/write about the movie they watched. Here, the point I’m making is how we teachers set aside ten or so minutes in advance to slightly devise new twists and turns in the given reading passages/materials.

Discussion

We teachers have been working hard; there is no doubt. Is it not like we are filling a jar which takes in much water still never fills up? Certainly, there is a leakage in the rear. The earlier we discover and plug in the leakage, the better it is. Similarly, when a dress of latest fashion arrives in the market, people rush to buy it no matter what the price is despite already having many sets in their wardrobe. Similarly, people love eating out in restaurant or picnic although the food cooked at home is far more hygienic and cost effective. Yes, everywhere new taste is preferred and the same applies in teaching reading too!

Now it’s high time that we teachers tried out something new to give a twist in teaching reading. Traditional stereotypical methods of teaching reading wore down the students’ interest and passion in reading. When students sense that teachers are using the same old methods and techniques always, it no longer sustains their interest. Therefore, it is rewarding to set reading materials in a way to go beyond their prediction. Sometimes, splitting the story into several bits and then asking them to arrange in order of events works wonder to engage them in reading activities. Indeed, materials themselves are just the means, not the end.

Every time the teacher deals with the same reading stuff, it is advisable for one to change activities every ten minutes to avoid monotony of the students. Listen to Roy (2013) who proposes two approaches of reading: reading for message and reading for language. Using only one approach leads to incomplete reading. On the other hand, it runs the risk of overlooking the language aspect of the reading text. For instance, look at the sentences – ‘She asked him a question’. ‘She fired a question at him’. ‘She hurled a question toward him’. ‘She projected a missile of question at him’. Not all writers use the same way to say something. They complicate the meaning under the cover of vocabulary and structure challenge.

Similarly, an essay named ‘How should one read a book’ written by Woolf (1918) must be a sure shot answer to all those who still bump about reading. Earlier I wondered if this is even a question to ask. We’ve read several books and have had higher grades and degrees. The thing to realize at this point is that we teachers should present reading materials with a clear objective for the day; say for example, meaning into words such as, how much reading do you do with answers? Students may come up with answers like, I do quite a lot of reading, I don’t do much reading, I haven’t been able to do any reading these days. In doing so, we can arise the students’ interest in how meaning is expressed with words. Most likely, every single reading text emphasizes certain vocabulary and ordering of words to deliver meaning. That is to say reading many books, preparing for test, performing in the exam best is not the same as learning/discovering how to read a book. Therefore, a teacher should offer different reading items in their reading menu. I notice it refreshes students’ reading experience. Just as we develop distaste and dislike eating the same food, students too would feel the same while exposed to the same reading text.

In addition to message and meaning approach to reading, there is yet another milestone in readers’ journey to reading: reading for pleasure and reading under pressure. Students read newspaper and generally understand the message. They hear many things during the day and remember it without missing one bit. They watch a movie and can still narrate the story even after a year. But intriguingly, how is it possible that we read a text and can’t make sense of it immediately! So, it certainly speaks of a massive leakage in the rear of our reading jar. The leakage is nothing else but ‘pleasure’ and ‘pressure’ aspect of reading. When we read a newspaper, we have no pressure followed by. So, we read it with pleasure and the memory retains for long. Similarly, when we listen to people every day, there is no burden of sitting at the exam to answer the questions. The same applies to reading too.

Doff (1988) offers three tips to handle a text as fun material: i) give a brief introduction to the text ii) present some of the new words that will appear in the text iii) give one or two guiding questions. Similarly, Harmer (1991) gives three tips of how best to teach English to the non-native learners of English. The tips include i) training students to use textbook ii) training students to use communicative activities properly iii) training students to read for gist iv) training students to deal with unfamiliar vocabulary v) training students to use dictionaries.

 Conclusion

Teaching reading by using various materials such as stories, magazines, pictures, movies or reading passages should break away from the repetitive methods with the change of activities every ten minutes. The pressure (a ghost) of reading for test spoils the pleasure of reading the text and comprehend! Making connection of the reading text with everyday life, and prior to teaching asking a few leading questions serves as a stimulates their interest.

[Note: since you have come up to here reading the whole piece, please share your feeling, feedback or any question related to this article in the comment box below, which will encourage the author. Thank you!]

*The author: Ghanashyam Raj Kafle is an English teacher and freelance translator. He also works in authoring and translating textbooks for Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) Sanothimi, Bhaktapur.

[To cite this: Kafle, G, R., (2020, January 25). How to convert reading into pleasure from pressure? [blog post]. Retrieved from: https://eltchoutari.com/2020/01/how-to-make-teaching-reading-pleasure-from-pressure/]

References

Doff, A. (1988). Teach English: A training course for teachers: teacher’s workbook. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Harmer, J. (1991). The practice of English language teaching. Longman Handbooks for Language Teachers. London/New York.

Roy, S. (2013). The impact programme. India. Retrieved on January 20, 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_ZeBr6bhyw

Woolf, V (1913). The critical reader. Kathmandu: Ekta Publication.

Collecting students’ feedback for enhancing my teaching skills

Somy Paudyal*

I’m a student of ELT but also teach Nepali language to the foreigners in Nepal for the last four years. English is considered as a foreign language in Nepal, while Nepali (my native language) is a foreign language to my students. In my university, I study how to teach English as a foreign language to Nepali students, while I also teach Nepali to the foreign students! My students (those learning Nepali) share the similar background with Nepali students learning English- both learn a foreign language. In this backdrop, I thought of sharing my experience of collecting students’ feedback for improving my teaching skills, which could be a useful resource for EFL teachers and practitioners.

I consider myself as a very hardworking teacher, but I don’t know how my students perceive me. I would literally do anything to make my students learn language. I can recall times, where I had set myself off the limits, pushed myself too hard to design lessons to make my students learn in an easy way. For instance, once I went as far as transcribing a student’s spoken discourse in order to find out what kind of errors the student produced so that the errors could be diagnosed. However, sometimes when I would try too hard, I felt that the students didn’t care very much. Sometimes, when my students wouldn’t get the expected results, I would think them of not paying heed to my hard work, which would eventually make me sad.

Sometimes, we are tuned to listening to only our praises from students that we have a hard time thinking of our teaching methods in critical way. We may want to get periodical feedback from our students, but we ask the feedback in an authoritative way that they’re compelled to give some pleasing feedback because they fear to tell their real feelings. Therefore, it’s hard to elicit the true feelings and feedback from them. Hence, I wanted to try out collecting feedback in a logbook (a simple writing copy). For this, I made a commitment that I would step out from my comfort zone and be ready to get any feedback, both positive and negative. However, my students would often consider giving feedback as an assignment and wouldn’t show much interest in it. So, I formulated one or two short questions and asked them to keep their answers short.

At that time, I was teaching Nepali language to an American and a Danish student separately three days a week. So, I separated the first section of the logbook for American student and other section for the Danish to write their feeling and feedback with date at the top to track the progress. I tried out this strategy for a month to the American student and for two months to the Danish. After that, they took a break due to their other priorities.

I started with simple questions for both. Sometimes, I changed a bit depending upon the lessons. The questions were like ‘How was today?’ ‘What did you learn today?’ ‘How well do you remember the last lesson?’ In this way, there would be a question each day and the students could write their responses as short as they wished. Sometimes, they would elaborate and some other time, they would just write one-word answer. For instance, to the question, ‘How was today?’ the Danish wrote Very good. And the next day, she wrote her reflection as, Good. Helpful to chat over the new words. Also good to try to explain the movie. A good challenge. Also some words stick to my brain others not. When lot of new words other words go somewhere behind so good to practice use of your words.

These comments were a way good feedback for me as I could know what they thought of my teaching. It also provided a way for the students to express their achievement and frustrations regarding language learning. This gave me a lot of insight about my teaching. I came to know that, in second language learning, we talk about exposure a lot. We say that if we give students a lot of exposure in the target language, he/she will learn better. But Danish student’s comment tells that there shouldn’t be a lot of exposure at once because too many words made her forget the former words. She emphasized the need of more practice with the new Nepali words.

Other day, responding to the question ‘How was today?’, the Danish wrote, Very good. I think we are doing so many different things know that I know I will lose something though. Love all the things we do but we could dwell more with the things. For my brain’s sake. Her English may not be highly comprehensible, but we can clearly understand what she is trying to say. Her feedback made me realise many things about my teaching methods. On that day, I had planned my lesson in this way:

  • Conversation for 30 minutes: she would explain a Danish cartoon in Nepali. The new words she learnt would be recorded and taught for the next 15 minutes,
  • Chat again for 30 minutes or so,
  • Read the passage and do comprehension questions for 45 minutes: read the passage I had designed in Nepali and attempt comprehension questions.

When I reflected on the lesson plan, I found that I had tried to incorporate a lot of contents in the lesson of that day. My intention to plan this way was to give a variety to her, so that she would not feel bored. However, after reading the comment I realized that though I spent a lot of time on lesson planning and designing activities, the student wasn’t benefited because the contents were overloaded.

Likewise, the feelings and the feedback from American student were also equally useful for me. One day, having asked, ‘how was today?’, he wrote, it was okay. I was tired so it made focusing difficult. This comment took out a lot of burden from me. I had tried to make him understand some Nepali words and he was simply not able to grab them. In this comment, he clearly wrote he was tired, so he couldn’t focus and that had nothing to do with my teaching strategy. And I was relieved to some extent.

From some of the excerpts from my feedback logbook and my reflection above, you must have already thought how such practice can help us to find out what’s working and what’s not in our classroom. This exploration can help us to plan, re-plan and review our teaching activities and strategies. Maintaining logbook worked well for me and I’m planning to develop this strategy in my classes in future too.

I think that feedback logbook can be used cautiously in large classes too. Firstly, we should encourage students to limit their writing from one phrase to few sentences. Or in place of writing in the logbook, sometimes we can simply ask them to write in a paper anonymously, fold and give that to us. This will build their confident to write freely and truly. Secondly, we can reduce the frequency in the large classes. Instead of doing daily, we can go for fortnightly, monthly or even bi-monthly. Moreover, it shouldn’t be assigned to them as a homework, they should be given chance to write voluntarily in the classroom.

[Note: since you have come up to here reading the whole piece, please share your feeling, feedback or any question related to this article in the comment box below, which will encourage the author. Thank you!]

*The Author: Somy Paudyal is an M.Ed. student of Central Department of English Education at Tribhuvan University, Kritipur, Kathmandu.

[To cite this: Paudyal, S. (2020, January 25). Collecting students’ feedback for enhancing my teaching skills [blog post]. Retrieved from: https://eltchoutari.com/2020/01/collecting-students-feedback-for-enhancing-my-teaching-skills/]

Some of my techniques to teach speaking skills

Rishi Ram Paudyal

Background and challenges

I teach English language to Bachelor level students. And it’s quite challenging to teach them because they come from the public schools of rural areas with negligible English proficiency. English teaching- learning experience is not only challenging for teachers but also sort of daunting task for many students’ for some reasons. Firstly, the students don’t have enough exposure to English language during their school life. Secondly, the prescribed textbooks for undergraduate students is way higher than their levels. Last but not least, there isn’t not appropriate place and environment for them to practice English. To overcome this challenge, I employ some techniques and strategies. Here I’m going to discuss few techniques that I use with my students.

Icebreaking and warming-up

When we enter into anything unknown, fear grips us and we may suffer from nervousness. Because English in my context is considered a ‘haau-guji’ (bugaboo) to my students. Therefore, my first role is to create a safe, comfortable, and friendly environment. For that I do various things in the class before starting my lessons. As we know, a teacher has many roles to play – sometimes I’m their friend; sometimes I am their facilitator; sometimes a companion to their academic journey; sometimes an instructor; sometimes a guide; sometimes a supporter, and other times a nurturer or a gardener. Let me illustrate below some of the activities I carried out.

Now let me discuss an activity that I do in class as a warm up or an ice break.

Once I was going to teach a lesson called ‘The Joys of Motherhood’, one of the lessons in compulsory English course in the first year of Bachelor level. On that day, I put on a different get-up.  Instead of wearing my usual checkered coat, I donned a black hoodie. When I entered the class, all of my students were staring at me surprisingly. Needless to say, my hoodie had succeeded in grabbing their attention. For a minute or so, I walked silently up and down the aisles holding my jacket. Then I came to the front and smiled at them maintaining eye contact. After that, I asked a question, “Do you know what it’s called?” Surprisingly, majority of my students’ couldn’t respond the right answer. It’s perhaps they were not getting the right word to say or because of their poor schooling background. Then I told them that it was a hood and wrote it on the whiteboard. Then I further told them that jacket with a hood is called a hoody and I wrote on the whiteboard again and they copied. I could see their faces beaming with new vocabulary. First of all, they learnt a new word ‘hood’ in an interesting way. After they learnt, I added one more new word ‘hoody’ to their mind which they received well.

After that I told them that ‘hood’ is not only a noun like the head cover of the jacket, it could also be a suffix to turn a word noun. Therefore, I wrote a word ‘mother’ on the whiteboard and I told them that ‘mother’ was a noun, whom they could see and touch. Then I added ‘hood’ with the ‘mother’ which became ‘motherhood’.

Here, I told them. “Look! now ‘mother’ became ‘motherhood’.” It’s still a noun but not like the previous one. You can’t see or touch ‘motherhood’. You can only imagine or think of it. Just to make sure they understood the meaning of the newly formed word I also translated it into Nepali (Maatrittwa). Those who were doubtful about the meaning of the newly formed term before were clear now and looked satisfied. Then I showed them, how they could form abstract noun adding ‘hood’ as a suffix. For instance, fatherhood, parenthood, womanhood, manhood, childhood, neighbourhood, brotherhood, sisterhood, girlhood, boyhood, and likelihood. After this was done, I encouraged them to search more words in their dictionaries or mobile phones that end with hood. This made the environment ripe i.e. ready for teaching and learning. Now I could begin the lesson with more elicitation from students. I could continue the lesson by engaging their attention and involving them.

Now I would like to share with you another techniques that I use to teach English language.

Use of pictures to tell stories

When the beginner or intermediate students’ can speak chunks of a sentence or a paragraph without looking at the written script, it’s a good achievement for them. They need support on how and where they could chunk. For this, I chose a video of a native speaker titled ‘’ Emmma Fierberg’s Account’’ and transcribed a paragraph. Then, I chunked the paragraph and sentences so that my students and I could do the reading without looking at the text. After this was completed, I gave them a task where they could chunk paragraphs and sentences to enhance their speaking skills. Here is the transcript of the video.

I wanted to test out for myself how waking up at 4:30 affected my productivity. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. for one week, like a Navy SEAL. I’ve read a lot about how Navy SEALs like Jocko Willink wake up at 4:30 in the morning. Jocko famously says that discipline equals freedom. It is Friday, two days before I start this experiment. Normally, my alarm goes off five minutes before 8:00 a.m. Setting my alarm a full three and a half hours earlier is gonna be really scary. Will I survive? (Source Link: https://youtu.be/5Kp–rm7N2M)

To tell the above story, I made 14 cards out of two A-4 size papers. Then, I drew pictures so that I could tell the story looking at them and even without looking script on it after some practice. Furthermore, after practicing telling the story at the pictures repeatedly, I wouldn’t even need cards to tell the story. The pictures don’t need to have perfection. Rather, they would be just a means to achieve the goal. Therefore, I didn’t waste much time to draw them. And hence, the drawings don’t look funny to you. Here are the fourteen images drawn on the cards along with the script below them.

1) I wanted to
2) test out for myself
3) how waking up at 4:30
4) affected my productivity.
5) I woke up at 4:30 a.m.
6) for one week

                              7) like a Navy SEAL.

8) I’ve read a lot about

                    9) how Navy SEALs like Jocko Willink 

10) wake up at 4:30 in the morning.
11) Jocko famously says that discipline equals freedom.
12) It is Friday, two days before I start this experiment.
13) Normally, my alarm goes off five minutes before 8:00 a.m.
14) Setting my alarm a full three and a half hours earlier is gonna be really scary. Will I survive?

After showing the above examples, I divided the students into group and assigned them different texts to try to represent the texts through pictures so that they would be confident to try any other texts themselves.

I divided a text in the following way to give them to practice. Here are some samples.

A

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. She had put it aside, one cent and then another and then another, in her careful buying of meat and other food. Della counted it three times. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was nothing to do but fall on the bed and cry. So Della did it. (Source: The Gift of Magi by O.Henry)

B

While the lady of the home is slowly growing quieter, we can look at the home. Furnished rooms at a cost of $8 a week. There is little more to say about it.

In the hall below was a letter-box too small to hold a letter. There was an electric bell, but it could not make a sound. Also there was a name beside the door: “Mr. James Dillingham Young.” (Source: The Gift of Magi by O.Henry)

In the same way, I divided the story into eight other parts in the same way and assigned them to read the text and represent that through the pictures.

In a nutshell, I experience myself that the better images we produce the interesting our learning outcomes becomes. We can encourage our students’ to produce better thematic pictures/images then we can ask them to write a short story looking at the images. In doing so, the students’ get benefitted in two ways. The first thing is that they improve their drawing skills and also they develop story writing proficiency.

The author is a freelance writer and a life member of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA).

 

Photos for Language Teaching: Part IV

It is the fourth post of its kind aiming to promote the use of photos in English language teaching learning. The photos can serve the multiple purposes in our classes such as writing (paragraph/essay writing, story writing etc.), speaking (conversation, describing photos etc.) and other kinds of group/ peer works. In this part IV, we share the photos of Choutari editor Jeevan Karki taken during his visits in different parts of the country.

Children enjoying the water © Jeevan Karki
Now it’s time for four wheeler to sail: a car stuck in rain water in Kathmandu. © Jeevan Karki
An aeroplane before flying in the Tribhuwan International airport, Kathmandu, Nepal. © Jeevan Karki
A busy worker to black top the road. © Jeevan Karki
Children playing with their locally made motorcars. © Jeevan Karki
Aim high, leap high: children in a school playing during their recess. © Jeevan Karki

Some Ideas of Developing Reading Habits in Children

Babita Chapagain*

It is always important for the teachers and parents to read children’s literature themselves, understand the effectiveness of extensive reading and create an appropriate environment for children to read books. This article presents the existing teaching reading culture to young learners in Nepal and ideas for teachers and parents to provide opportunities to read and support their children’s learning.

The Context

Several studies have been done globally in the field of language teaching regarding the importance of the use of children’s literature for their learning. However, in the context of Nepal’s public primary schools, this is a very rare practice. (Koirala & Bird, 2004: 128). Koirala and Bird (2004) mentioned that the culture of reading for pleasure is very limited in the context of Nepal. It does not mean that people do not read books or other publications.

The government has invested a large amount of money in primary education and showed a willingness to reform the education system. However, the education system is conventional, and it needs to be transformed to meet contemporary global education. For instance, the government provides textbooks for the school children and the children follow the texts and instructions of the textbooks which they have to do for getting promoted to the upper grade every year. There is a rare access to the library of reference books and additional reading materials for the children in schools, and neither the schools (excluding few schools,  having managed fund for the library), have managed resources to develop a library in their schools. Although some international organizations such as Room to Read and Nepal Library Foundation have been working to enhance educational opportunities through public libraries by donating English as well as Nepali story books in rural communities, their work in limited areas is unlikely to reach every corner of the country and most of the children in Nepal are still far away from such opportunities. Unless the government invests massively in education particularly in providing learning resources, the current support for the schools by a limited number of non-governmental organisations may not result in the immediate change in the traditional culture of reading. In addition to this, a lack of awareness among teachers and parents is another obstacle to foster a reading culture of children. For instance, when a question is raised about reading culture at home and at school, the majority of Nepali people consider reading means reading prescribed textbooks and understanding a text refers to enabling children to answer the questions based on the text. Moreover, it is a general tendency of the people that they tend to treat their children in the same way once they were treated.

In addition to this, the education system in Nepal lacks a holistic approach to teaching and learning a language and it is focused on teaching one aspect of language at a time in isolation entirely based on textbooks in general. For instance, the students are taught Nepali or English alphabet in preschool which can take over a year as it has no meaning for the children. Similarly, the students may know prepositions, but they have no idea of presenting it in context and it takes many years for them to internalize and use language in their everyday life. Beard’s (1991) study in children developing literacy found that a fundamental support of parents and teachers can help children set up their learning goals. Therefore, parents and teachers need to feel that young learners need exposure to develop their reading habit which serves as a vehicle to make a tremendous difference in their language development, intercultural understanding.

My Experience as a Teacher Trainer

When I was a teacher trainer at one of the organizations at Kathmandu, I worked in a training project ‘Bringing English to Classrooms’. During that training period, I conducted some story-based activities to provide the teachers with hands-on knowledge regarding the effectiveness of using literature throughout the curriculum. Teachers also wrote stories themselves for their students and made books using the local materials available. The teachers enjoyed a lot in my sessions and seemed to believe that stories can play a powerful role in language learning. However, in the beginning, many of them were not sure if they could take what they learned in the training centre. They came up with questions such as ‘how is extra reading possible while both teachers and students are busy completing the course syllabus fixed by the school administration and preparing for exams?’ So, it was still challenging to persuade the teachers that reading widely does not mean it has to be separated from their everyday task based on the syllabus but the two can be integrated. During our monitoring phase, I found some of my trainee teachers who implemented what they had learned and some of them were still not sure how it would exactly work in their school where they still lacked enough books, time and concrete ideas. From the training programme, I learned that some teachers could not transfer the skills they had learned from the training to their classrooms. And the limited time the project had did not allow me to go for regular mentoring.  Had I got further opportunities to follow those teachers, the result would have been far better than what our project really achieved. On the other hand, the teachers who were aware and who could internalize the process succeeded in implementing what they learned. It made me believe that it is possible for the teachers to establish a new culture if the teachers are aware, self-motivated and are mentored carefully.

Why is child literature important?

Literature not only helps children learn to read but also helps them develop an appreciation for reading as a pleasurable aesthetic experience. Likewise, a team of researchers (as cited in Pantaleo, 2002) claimed that “literature entertains, stretches imagination, elicits a wealth of emotions, and develops compassion.” (pp. 211). A piece of story stimulates readers to generate questions, can give new knowledge and provides encounters with different beliefs and values.  Good stories can work as a powerful device to show children right direction, help them make decisions, learn to empathize and become good humans. It can change their perception and attitude towards certain things. For instance, from the story ‘The Grouchy Ladybug’ written by Eric Carle, children learn the importance of being friendly and interacting politely with others in the community. Literature also opens the springboard for discussions. For instance, after reading ‘The Giving Tree’ children can discuss for hours regarding human development, their behaviour, selfishness and so many other issues. Thus, using literature is a natural medium of teaching children a second language, developing a love for literature in the learners and motivating them to read and grow as a ‘human’.

Why extensive reading across the curriculum and what teachers can do?

An act of reading extensively is likely to produce positive attitudes and interest towards reading. Materials, which are interesting at the appropriate linguistic level, always motivate students positively. Such materials give pleasure and generate interest in reading and support language learners to develop their overall language skills and progress academically. Day (1997) compares the pleasure and achievement the students get from extensive reading with a garden where it is always spring. Children’s literature or real books used in language classrooms and across the curriculum also contributes to foster their lifelong reading habits, good problem solving as well as decision-making skills (Ghosn, 2013). The more children get to read books, the better speaking and writing competence they acquire. In this regard, Harmer (2001:251) argues that “what we write often depend upon what we read” and so do the children as they draw attention to the structure of written language and begin to internalize its distinctive features of language when they read or listen to stories. Thus, they also learn to speak simultaneously when they get to participate in the activities where they require speaking skills such as dramatization and making predictions.  Therefore, it is very important for the teachers to read books, promote reading and give children enough opportunity to interact with books by surrounding them with good texts in the school.

It becomes easier for the students to understand the concept of the curriculum content and it broadens the horizon of their understanding if they get to participate in such activities based on stories. For instance, children have fun by listening to the story; ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and simultaneously they get the concept of the lifecycle of a butterfly. Thus, through the practice of reading extensively across the curriculum, teachers can encourage young learners to read and have the love for literature. This way, the teachers can scaffold them to acquire competence in language as well as the subject content.

Conclusion

Teachers can start collecting reading materials through various sources or develop stories themselves working collaboratively in co-ordination with the headteacher despite the difficult circumstances with lack of resources. Most importantly they should be aware and make themselves familiar with child literature. Teachers can make a difference in the language classrooms for young learners if they have a good selection of stories with beautiful pictures, various sentence structures and repetitive patterns and stories that represent a various culture of Nepal. Therefore, the teachers need to realize it is important to maximize reading opportunities in school and encourage parents to read to and/or with their children at home.

*Ms Chapagain is working as a freelancer teacher educator. She earned her Master’s degree in English Language Teaching (ELT) from Kathmandu University. She has also completed MA in ELT (with specialization in Young Learners) from the University of Warwick, the UK as a Hornby Scholar 2014/2015.

References

Beard, R. (1991). International perspectives on children’s developing literacy.  In C. Brumfit, J. Moon and R. Tongue (Eds.), Teaching English to Children: From Practice to Principle. Collins ELT.

Day, R.R., & Bamford, J. (1997). Extensive reading in the second language classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ghosn, I. (2013). Humanizing teaching English to young learners with children’s literature. CLELE journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, 39-57

Harmer, J. (2001). The Practice of English Language Teaching. (3rd Ed.) Longman: Pearson Education Limited. Longman: Essex England.

Koirala, N. & Bird, P. (2004). Library Development in Nepal: Problems and prospects. EBHR-38, 128

Pantaleo, S. ( 2002). Children’s literature across the curriculum: An Ontario survey. Canadian Journal Of Education, 27, 2 & 3: 211–230