Tag Archives: English Language Teaching

Assessing English language learners in remote teaching-learning

 

Puskar Chaudhary

This paper aims to explore the techniques and tools used for assessing the English language learners in remote teaching-learning and to discuss the challenges and obstacles faced by the teachers while assessing the learners. Based on a collective study design, this paper presents a study on the assessment practices in remote teaching-learning. Data were collected from three English language teachers of basic education level using online interviews. The results showed that many English language teachers transitioned to remote teaching learning because of the  COVID -19 pandemic and whether it is a face to face class or remote teaching-learning, assessment is an integral part of the teaching-learning to check the understanding of the subject matter and to evaluate whether the educational goals and standards of the lessons are being met. The assessments were taken more or less similar to the face-to-face mode via written or oral practices with the help of technologies and while assessing the learners, the teachers faced the Internet connection issues, investment of ample time for designing and organizing the assessment with the help of technologies. The teachers gained less support from the parents and students for conducting the effective assessment.

Keywords: Assessment, remote teaching-learning, techniques and tools, educational goals, integral

 Introduction

This study assessed the English language learners based on their mode of acquiring learning that is either through face-to-face or remote teaching-learning.  Remote Teaching -Learning (RTL) offers teaching learning beyond the physical classrooms. It is the learning process where the teachers are separated from the learners in time and distance. According to Graham (2019), RTL is the practice of teaching a language interactively via videoconferencing. He further describes that it differs from telecollaboration which mainly focuses on enabling language teaching and learning to take place rather than on intercultural collaboration. In remote language teaching, both students and teachers interact through two-way communication technologies. Similarly, in Belz and Thorne’s (2006) view, RLT supports learners’ interaction with the teachers and peers, encourages them to have more dialogue, debate, and intercultural exchange. Remote teaching is also referred to as live online language teaching to refer to synchronous (i.e. in real-time) computer-mediated communication for language teaching (Swertz et al., 2007). In RLT, teachers focus on both pedagogy and technology to provide huge opportunities for effective learning and collaboration beyond the physical classroom. They involve approaches and techniques that are more connected with the technologies. Whereas, Whyte and Gijsen (2016) argue that there is an ample burden for the teachers to conduct the classes remotely than for regular face-to-face classes. Teachers are committed to helping the learners with these different ways of working and teaching them in the most effective way possible. Teachers require and prepare designed and written materials to take advantage of the teaching and learning context and delivery method (i.e. video conferencing). Therefore, remote teaching is an innovative way of bridging cultural and geographical distances and enables the teaching and learning of languages to students who would otherwise not have the opportunity.

At present, most English language teachers had to opt for remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many teachers had transition to remote learning with no advance notice or preparation earlier this year. Some are planning for remote learning in the fall when they return to school. It is important to remember that remote learning refers to a class that intends to meet face-to-face. The teachers have been practising to replicate remote learning as far as possible into the real face-to-face classes. It is not just enough with the engagement of teaching-learning activities. The learners should be assessed to check the understanding of the subject matter and to evaluate whether the educational goals and standards of the lessons are being met. The learners must be able to think critically, analyze, and make inferences. Hence, assessing them is the most challenging factor in RTL. Nitko and Broookhart (2013) opine that organizing assessment helps the teachers to collect the information about teaching-learning and well as the students’ performance to make the certain decision teaching. Assessment in English language teaching has been defined as “involving professional judgment based upon an image formed by the collection of information about student performance” (Stanley, 2019, p. 8). Similarly, Wolf (2020) states that assessments are a critical means of identifying learners and monitoring their achievements. Assessments also play a fundamental role in teaching and learning, since it helps to gather the important information about students’ needs, which helps teachers provide appropriate support and interpret their academic performance accurately. Assessment is one of the important aspects which is being treated as a teaching-learning process as well (Stiggins, 1991). Assessing learners is a very important and essential part of a teacher’s teaching (Nitko, 1996). It is an integrated process for determining the nature and extent of student’s learning and achievement (Linn & Gronland, 2005).

According to Stanley (2019), there are two types of assessment: formative and summative. Assessment can be formative when it is to improve learning and assessment is summative when it is for monitoring and certificating performance or achievement. During the year, formal and informal instances of the formative assessment provide information to Remote Teachers (RTs) and Classroom Teachers (CTs) about student learning so adjustments can be made to teaching.

Assessment is an important aspect of teaching-learning. It offers the teachers to go up to the next class and to figure out whether the students are included. It also helps to get the results of the teaching-learning activities. On the other hand, it makes the teachers ready to take a proficiency test and provide the students the grades.

Research Questions

This study sought to answer the following research questions:

  • How do English Language teachers assess students in remote teaching-learning?
  • What challenges do English language teachers face while assessing students in remote teaching-learning?
Methodology

This is a qualitative study that used a collective case study design to explore the questions. According to Stake (1995), a case study is the study of the particularity and complexity of a single case, coming to understand its activity within important circumstances. It helps to collect the information in detail and understand the problem in-depth with its real-life context. The case study design is an important tool for exploring and describing a phenomenon in context while refining theory and identifying areas for more exploration (Yin, 2018). Data were collected from three English Language Teachers of Basic Education Level who were assessing students by using different techniques and tools and while assessing them in remote teaching-learning in one of the schools of Kathmandu Valley. The teachers were a diverse group in terms of their ethnicity, gender, and grade level experiences. I collected data, which included notes of observation and interaction during online classes and interview with synchronous tools like Zoom Cloud Meeting (5 times in total); written reflections for each teacher related to assigned articles, email and Facebook messages correspondence with pupils, and transcriptions of semi-formal small group interviews. I conducted two rounds of interviews individually with teachers and three rounds of interviews in a group. Each interview lasted approximately 40 minutes. I followed them twice a week. The data occurred in two phases. First, I divided the data sets for coding purposes. In this initial phase, I examined individual cases, techniques, and the tools used for assessing the students in remote teaching-learning. Comparing the responses, I coded and analyzed them into the four themes: Observations, Discussion, Feedback, and Self-assessment.

Next, I collectively asked the participants what challenges they were facing while assessing the students in the remote teaching-learning. The responses were kept under different themes in which the individual cases were combined and compared to create a collective case study. After collecting data by qualitative technique, the data were analyzed and interpreted qualitatively. The following sections represent the results obtained from data analysis.

Results and discussion

This study aimed to explore the techniques and tools adopted by English Language teachers for assessing students in remote teaching-learning and to find out the challenges English language teachers face while assessing students in remote teaching-learning. Therefore, the results gained via the interview data were put into two sub-sections: Assessment for learning techniques and Challenges.

Techniques and tools for assessing in remote teaching-learning

This section presents the data derived by observing the English Language Teaching (ELT) class to answer the first research question, exploring the techniques and tools adopted by English Language teachers for assessing students in remote teaching-learning.

Observations

Informal teacher observations: In remote teaching-learning, the teachers were found observing different things in their classes. They observed how well the students managed to focus when doing the tasks. Furthermore, how much time do the students need to do certain tasks? And whether the students were willing to volunteer or respond when called on. The teachers in the interview also added that they observed the students if they were prepared for the task or provide help.

Student-led observations: Teachers assessing English language learners using remote methods checked the students’ autonomy and responsibility in their learning. They were asked to follow the netiquettes as it was remote teaching. They were given responsibilities where they took attendance and gave their opinions on what was happening in the class. Furthermore, they were asked to provide the class report either to the class teacher or the subject teacher.

Discussions

Teacher participants in the interview shared that they assessed the students in remote teaching-learning by giving different learning situations. They assessed through the discussions in the live classes. Discussions were done on the usages of techniques and digital tools by the teachers, about the language usage L1 or L2. In addition to this, the discussion where the students did share in a peer, small group, or the whole class was also assessed. Lastly, the assessment was made when the students were provided with options during controlled practice.

Feedback

Students in remote teaching-learning were assessed based on the feedback given by them. Following things were taken into considerations when assessing the feedback given by them. Students were asked to give feedback when their peers participated or did any work. They would give feedback on their friends’ thinking process, presentation, content, gestures, etc. They were asked to provide positive and critical feedback which could motivate their friends to perform better and which would help to create a healthy atmosphere.

Self-assessment

Self-assessment is another technique used by the teachers to assess English language students in remote teaching. They explained that they used active recall questions to check the students’ progress. The students were asked to do the self-assessments by preparing PowerPoint presentations, using digital tools to do their project works, encouraging them to write journals, blogs, etc. They were also asked to take objective tests with the help of google forms and other online platforms. Furthermore, they were asked to appear for the written subjective tests. Recording the voice or video on any academic topic was promoted which they had to send to the teachers. Finally, some teachers asked them to attend the class on time.

Challenges in assessing students in remote teaching-learning

This section presents the data derived by observing the ELT class to answer the second research question, exploring the challenges and the obstacles faced by the teachers assessing the learners in remote teaching-learning.

Students with the internet issues

The teachers have found that most of the learners had the Internet with low bandwidth. There were also the chances of power cuts and disconnection while taking the synchronous class. The teachers responded that because of low connectivity they had to turn off their camera and be connected with mobile data.

Students with not enough support

The teachers revealed that the students were getting less support from their parents and seniors regarding the use of laptops and digital tools while taking the classes. The children were also less supervised by the parents while taking the classes. There were more chances of getting distracted and being engaged in playing online games.

Widening gaps between students’ proficiency

The teachers explained that there was an individual difference in remote teaching-learning. All the students did not have the same digital literacy and level of competency. The children faced problems while submitting the assignments, communicating with the teachers, and handling the tools.

Difficulty in supporting individuals

It was very time-consuming for the teachers to prepare the lessons and spending more on screen. The teachers had to spend more time preparing PowerPoint presentations and giving feedback to the students because of the technical issues the teachers were unable to give the class and communicate with the learners properly.

Conclusion

The present study investigated the assessment techniques and tools used by the English language teachers for assessing the learning in the remote teaching-learning and the challenges and obstacles faced by the teachers while assessing them in the remote teaching-learning. Results of the study showed that assessment was an integral part of teaching-learning to check the understanding of the subject matter and to evaluate whether the learning goals were achieved or not. The teachers did the planning, implementing, and organizing of the lesson by using digital and printed materials to assess the learners. The teachers engaged the learners in the discussion in the remote learning, observation of the lesson, engaging them in the feedback and self-assessment. While following those techniques, the teachers also encountered challenges related to the technologies and with the students’ well-being.

About the author

Mr. Puskar Chaudhary is an MPhil practitioner at Kathmandu University. He works as a full-time faculty and coordinates with the Digital Literacies Programme at Triyog High School, Tokha, Kathmandu. He is also a life member of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) and International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL). His current interests include digital pedagogy, digital literacies programme, and teachers’ networking, and professional development.

References

Nitko, A. J. & Brookhart, S. (2013). Educational assessment of students. Pearson.

Belz, J. A. & Thorne, S. L. (2006). Internet-mediated intercultural foreign language education. Thomson Heinle.

Coniam, D. (Ed.). (2014). English language education and assessment: Recent development in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. Singapur: Springer-Verlag.

Hill, C. & Parry, K. (2014). From testing to assessment: English an international language (Applied linguistics and language study). Routledge.

Linn, R. L. & Gronland, N.E. (2005). Measurement and assessment in teaching. Pearson Education.

Rahman, M., Babu, R., & Ashrafuzzaman, M. (2011). Assessment and feedback practices in the English language classroom. Journal of NELTA16(1-2), 97-106. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3126/nelta.v16i1-2.6133

Rivera, C. (2006). State assessment policy and practice for English language learners: A national perspective. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers Inc.

Shrestha, P. (2014). Alternative assessment approaches in primary English language classrooms. Journal of NELTA18(1-2), 148-163. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3126/nelta.v18i1-2.10337

Stanley, G. (Ed). (2019). Innovation in education remote teaching. British Council.

Stiggins, R. J. (1991). Relevant classroom assessment training for teachers. educational measurement: Issues and Practice, 10(1), 7-12.

Swertz, C., Motteram, G., Philp, H. & Gonul, S. (2007). Language learning with certified live online language teachers: Teacher Manual. Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/document/198458088/LANCELOT-Teacher- Manual

Unruh, S. & McKellar, N. A. (2017). Assessment and intervention for English language learners: Translating research into practice. Springer International Publishing.

Whyte, S. & Gijsen, L. (2016) ‘Telecollaboration in secondary EFL: A blended teacher education course. In S. Jager, M. Kurek,  and B. O’Rourke,  (eds.), New directions in telecollaborative research and practice: selected papers from the second conference on telecollaboration in higher education (pp. 163-170). Research-publishing.net.https://doi.org/10.14705/rpnet.2016. telecollab2016.503

Wolf, M. K. (2020). Assessing English language proficiency in US K-12 Schools. Routledge.

Can be cited as:

Chaudhary, P. (2021, May). Assessing English language learners in remote teaching-learning [Blog article].  ELT CHOUTARI. Available at: http://eltchoutari.com/2021/04/assessing-english-language-learners-in-remote-teaching-learning/

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: http://eltchoutari.com/2021/04/what-makes-english-language-teaching-effective/

Enhancing patriotism through the local contents in ELT materials

Bhan Singh Dhami

Abstract

This article attempts to explore how the local contents in ELT materials can be utilized to enhance patriotism among English language learners in Nepal. The purpose of this study was to explore how the local contents in ELT materials support to enhance patriotism. By employing a phenomenological design of qualitative research with purposive sampling, the three graduate level English language learners were interviewed to collect the information for this research. Collecting audio-recorded interviews, the information was coded, analyzed, and interpreted thematically linking the information with relevant theories and previous studies. The results of this study indicate that the local contents and the texts of Nepali English writers’ in ELT materials and English courses can contribute to enhance patriotism among Nepali English language learners. This study also signals that all the stakeholders of Nepal’s ELT such as curriculum planners, course designers, and textbook writers should maximise the contents from Nepali contexts and culture in ELT course in Nepal.

Keywords: Patriotism, Local contents, Nepal-based contents, and Nepali English learners

Introduction

In this rapidly materialized era, education system of the country can play a major role to strengthen patriotic feelings in its citizens. In the context of Nepal, the local contents in ELT can contribute to orient students towards working for the welfare of their nation. Recently, the government of Nepal has released the actual map including the Nepali territories Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura that lie in the east of the Mahakali River. This new map is included in our recently published school-level English textbooks which is highly appreciable. Similar initiatives and the contents from Nepali contexts and culture can contribute to enhancing patriotism among students in ELT classroom.

ELT in Nepal should go beyond the teaching of how to listen, speak, read, and write in English. ELT should include how to reform society, preserve our own culture, and enhance patriotism. Nussbaum (2013, p. 3) focused on “an education that cultivates the ability to see full and equal humanity in another person, perhaps one of humanity’s most difficult and fragile achievements.” ELT should primarily promote Nepal-based knowledge and culture. Giri (2015) asserts that English has become an indispensable part of life for the Nepali people in recent years. As English is introduced more and more early and widely, the contents in ELT materials should be carefully selected and graded to promote Nepali cultures and languages.

As far as my knowledge is concerned, there is scarcity of studies conducted in this area connecting patriotism with ELT in the context of Nepal. Therefore, perceiving this gap in the literature, I conducted this research so that it could help the major stakeholders especially English curriculum planners, English syllabus designers, and English textbook writers of Nepal to design curriculum and syllabuses to address this issue in the future.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study is to explore how the local contents in ELT can be utilized to strengthen patriotism in English language learners. This study specifically aims to explore the perceptions of Nepali English language learners on ELT in the light of patriotism.

Research question

This study aims to answer the following question:

  1. What are the perceptions of Nepali English language learners on ELT and patriotism?
Theoretical framework

Taking constructivism as a philosophical standpoint for this study, I take Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory as a main theoretical base and ‘patriotism’ (Bar-Tal & Staub, 1997) as supportive theory.

Vygotsky advocates for socially constructed knowledge that can be obtained in society. In this sense, learning is considered a social process. Therefore, social phenomena and events have a significant role in learning a native or a foreign language. Learners live in their own societies; they have the feeling of intimacy with one another and they have deep love and respect for their society and geography. As Vygotsky considers learning as a social activity and the knowledge is socially constructed through interaction among the learners in social settings. Therefore, Vygotsky’s theory is widely popular in the sector of educational research which seems to be very useful in socially situated investigations of educational development and transformation (Marginson & Dang 2017). Furthermore, education should bring reformation in the mindset of learners to unite the nation in this rapidly globalized educational world.

According to Karsten (1908, p. 61), “For patriotism is not only a legitimate instinct of every healthy human being; it is the sacred duty of every citizen.” Kodelja (2019) highlighted that education and patriotism are closely connected to the learners. Therefore, patriotism can be taken as an indispensable part of the citizens’ life and this feeling is important and should be spread among the learners.

Methods

I conducted this research by using the phenomenological design of qualitative research. I collected the data required for this study using the unstructured interview technique from the Master’s level English language learners from Kailali district ranging from 25 to 30 years age. They were selected using the purposive sampling technique. They are mentioned as participant A, participant B, and participant C in this research. They were informed before, after, and during the research process about the aim of the research. Using two-step procedures, firstly, the information was collected, and secondly, it was analyzed by making different themes.

Tools

The information collection instrument consisted of background interviews and open-ended oral questions which were answered orally. The background interview covered the questions about their name, experiences, and present level of study. Mainly open-ended interviews were conducted by including research questions relevant to this study. The participants were asked to express their ideas and views on enhancing patriotism through ELT. Their views were audio recorded and transcribed.

Results and discussions

The results of the qualitative analysis are reported in three main themes: a) Patriotism as a backbone of Nepali ELT and learning, b) Patriotism as a lifeline of Nepali English language learners, and c) Patriotism as a guideline of Nepali ELT and learning.

Patriotism as a backbone of Nepali ELT and learning

When the researcher asked the question related to the connection of ELT and patriotism, participant A stated, “English is one of the foreign languages for Nepal. It is a language . . . for communication with foreigners. I hope we don’t forget our originality. For that the connection of patriotism with English language is essential.” Therefore, Nepal-based contents should be highly valued and included in both school-level and higher-level ELT materials. By including such contents in the materials, ELT classes can contribute to enhance love towards nation and its culture to the students. Saud (2020) stresses that the inclusion of local writings in academic courses will help to protect Nepali diverse cultures and the Nepali English literature will gain a new height. In fact, through the translation in English, we can showcase our culture and diversity globally.

Likewise, participant B expressed “In my view, without patriotism, the use of foreign language becomes meaningless. I don’t want to learn English to make my country a foreign land for me.” As participant B expresses ELT materials must include the local texts and foster the feelings of belongingness to the texts in the classroom. Therefore, English materials should prioritize patriotism in its contents, which can contribute to a dignified life of students in modern society.

Similarly, the participant C clearly stated “Where I was born and . . . where I stand determines patriotism. It is a backbone of English language teaching and learning and English should be taught and learned in this way. This is my understanding.” From the view of participant C, it is clear that patriotism should be the backbone of ELT materials and teaching- learning. Therefore, English can also be used as a tool to make Nepal known to the world. Saud (2020) states that ELT should be culturally sensitive and socially responsive valuing multicultural contexts. Eventually, patriotic contents help to strengthen any sort of solidarity for the welfare of the country and its people.

Patriotism as a lifeline of Nepali English language learners

Many Nepali learners are interested in English language learning due to its dominance in the whole world. However, many learners are leaving the country after learning English. Through the inclusion of patriotic contents, ELT materials can help to strengthen the students’ love towards the nation.

When the researcher asked another question regarding Nepal-based contents in English textbooks, participant A replied “In my opinion, the texts in English textbooks that we study are written by foreign writers. We should promote English texts written by Nepali writers. I think patriotism should be the lifeline for us.” Participant A reveals the status and representation of texts in our ELT materials and textbooks. In response to a similar question, the participant B opined:

In some English textbooks, I find some contents related to Nepal which we count on fingers. However, I think these are good signs of hope. Some of the Nepali English textbook writers prioritize Nepal-based content in English which is appreciable. I think so.  

Participant B acknowledges the inclusion of local texts in ELT materials and is hopeful to increase in future. It certainly signals a ray of hope, but the proportion of the local texts, discourse and culture should increase in ELT materials. Saud (2020) states that a language reflects culture. However, different cultures can also be reflected in one language. Likewise, participant C expressed “The amount of local contents is very minimal. English writers of Nepal . . . attention, please. Without knowing Nepal, how do we promote patriotism?” Considering the opinion of participant C, patriotism can be promoted if the learners know Nepal and its cultures, and students get to know more about their country and culture, if they are exposed to more reading materials with local contents and cultures.

Furthermore, the participant A (being energetic) replied “If some lessons related to Nepal are included in the textbooks, it really helps to enhance patriotism in the learners. It’s essential.” From the view of this participant, it can be inferred that the lessons related to Nepal play a great role to enhance the patriotic feeling in Nepali learners of English. Similar is the opinion of the participant B, who stressed “We must learn Nepali contents and culture in English language classroom and live in Nepal being Nepali not only in the heart but also in mind.”

Likewise, the participant C replied, “If patriotic, cultural and social contents are included in the English textbook, learners become curious and show interest in English language learning.” The view of participant C also indicates the necessity of Nepali contents in English textbooks which helps to enhance not only patriotism but also facilitate learning English with ease. When the learners find the texts and contents from their local culture, it is easy for them to comprehend, as a result, their learning gets better.

Patriotism as a guideline of Nepali ELT and learning    

Generally, common people believe that English is learned to go to a foreign country and earn money. It may be true to some extent, but it can also be learned to spread our history, culture, art, and knowledge in the different parts of the world.

In response to one of the researcher questions, the participant A says:

Let me talk about higher education. In English literature, many stories, poems, dramas, and novels written by foreigners are included in the course, but the texts created or written by Nepali writers are neglected . . . the textbook writers should include the creation of Nepali writers that represent patriotism. It can give Nepali flavor in English language teaching and learning.   

We can take the gist from participant A’s view that Nepali texts should be included in English materials, which is the need of time. Therefore, the texts of Nepali writers’ should be given priority in English textbooks. Saud (2020) urges the material developers to value local culture and include more and more local contents and texts in the materials in future. In response to a similar question, participant B expressed “In my opinion, English should be used to strengthen our country. English language should be utilized to strengthen our relations with us and others. I think . . . patriotism is a guideline for English language teaching and learning in Nepal.” The intention of participant B is that English can strengthen our internal and international relations. For that, patriotism can be taken as a guideline to ELT and learning of Nepal. In this sense, English can strengthen our country.

Bhandari (2016) argues that teaching English in multilingual and multicultural contexts in Nepal can be considered as one of the major challenges in ELT. Teachers can play a significant role to minimise it as Giri (2020) advocates that English teachers can play an important role minimize the hegemonic influence of native speakers. The hegemonic mindset can also be changed if Nepali contents get space in the ELT of Nepal.

Answering a similar question, participant C stated “ELT in Nepal should be focused on Nepali contents and contexts. At least fifty percent contents must be related to Nepal and should be included in English courses.” In participant C’s opinion, it can be inferred that Nepali contents should be kept at the centre of the ELT and learning of Nepal. Furthermore, Giri (2020) clearly mentions an example of whether the lesson is about ‘pollution’, the materials used should be the ones that are written about their own cities. Therefore, Nepal-based content should be included in the ELT of Nepal to enhance patriotism among the learners.

In this post-method era of language teaching and learning, socio-cultural contents get focused to enhance patriotism through the ELT of Nepal. Kumaravadivelu (2001, p. 545) stresses that “post method pedagogy rejects the narrow view of language education that confines itself to the linguistic functional elements that obtain inside the classroom.” As ELT is an educational activity, relevant content should be added as per the necessity of the country.

Conclusion

The inclusion of local texts, discourse and contents in ELT materials can enhance patriotism by making learners aware of their nation and culture. Learning a foreign language is a right of learners, whereas being patriotic is a duty of a responsible citizen. The results show that Nepal-based contents should be prioritized for enhancing patriotism in Nepali learners in general and Nepali English language learners in particular. As the contents are significant rather than who has written the texts and where the texts have been written. However, it is also true that the texts produced in one’s context and culture are more comprehensible, readable, and learnable for the learners. Furthermore, the results of this study also indicate that the texts written by Nepali English authors should be included in school and university level English courses which help to strengthen patriotism to a greater extent.

The author: Mr. Bhan Singh Dhami is an M. Ed. fourth semester student of Kailali Multiple Campus, Dhangadhi, Kailali under Tribhuvan University of Nepal. He has been teaching since 2006 AD. Currently, he is a secondary level English teacher at Shree Khare Secondary School Gaurishankar RM -8, Dolakha. His areas of interest are academic writing, creative writing, English Language Teaching (ELT), learner autonomy, teacher identity and teacher professional development.  

References

Bar-Tal, D. & Staub, E. (1997). Patriotism: Its scope and meaning. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259389114

Bhandari, B. (2016). Teaching English in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts in Nepal. Tribhuvan University Journal30(2), 17-24. https://doi.org/10.3126/tuj.v30i2.25542

Giri, R. A. (2020). English is one of the local languages in Nepal. http://eltchoutari.com/2020/10/english-is-one-of-the-local-languages-in-nepal-dr-giri/

Giri, R.A. (2015). The many faces of English in Nepal. Asian Englishes, 17:2, 94-115, DOI: 10.1080/13488678.2015.1003452

Karsten, G. E. (1908). Folklore and Patriotism. The journal of English and Germanic philology Vol. 7 (2), pp. 61-78 Published by: University of Illinois Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.com/stable/27699914.

Kodelja, Z. (2019).  Education and Patriotism. In: Sardoč, M. (ed.), Handbook of patriotism, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-30534-9_19-1

Kumaravadivelu (2001). Toward a Postmethod Pedagogy. TESOL quarterly Vol. 35 (4) winter.

Marginson, S. & Dang, T. K. A. (2017). Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory in the context of globalization. Asia Pacific journal of education, 37:1, 116-129, https://doi.org/10.1080/02188791.2016.1216827

Nussbaum, M. C. (2013). Political emotions: why love matters for justice. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA

Saud, M. S. (2020). Rethinking authenticity in ELT texts and materials: A perspective of an author. http://eltchoutari.com/2020/10/rethinking-authenticity-in-elt-texts-and-materials-a-perspective-of-an-author/

Saud, U. (2020). Undermining of “local” in new English textbook for Grade XI. http://eltchoutari.com/2020/10/undermining-of-local-in-new-english-textbook-for-grade-xi/

Ward, S. J. A. (2017). Patriotism and Journalism. In: Sardoč, M. (ed.), Handbook of patriotism, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-30534-9_39-1

Can be cited as:  Dhami, B. S. [2021, May]. Enhancing patriotism through English language teaching and learning in Nepal. ELT CHOUTARI. Available at: http://eltchoutari.com/2021/04/enhancing-patriotism-through-the-local-contents-in-elt-materials/

This is how mentoring worked for me

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Bal Krishna Sharma,   PhD Scholar   University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

I went to pursue my graduate studies at the University of Hawaii in 2008. Since I was in a new academic environment, any academic help extended to me would be tremendously helpful. I first had little idea on how the US academic system would work, for example, choosing academic advisers, completing assignments, presenting at conferences, finding and using scholarly resources and connecting to the local ELT professional venues. Thanks to the East-West Center, my scholarship sponsor organization, that connected me to an experienced and very helpful mentor, Elaina. Also thanks to the Second Language Studies Students’ Association that provided me an opportunity to work as a mentor for a BA student. In the following sections, I will briefly describe my experience and learning opportunities from these mentoring programs.

Being a Mentee

The East-West Center Alumni Association asked me to fill out a mentoring form providing details of my academic and professional background, academic interest and my expectations from my mentor. However, I had little idea regarding how this would work and help with my graduate studies at the university. I thought at least I would have an opportunity to connect to an ‘American’ professor. The alumni association also asked the potential mentors to fill out similar forms. By matching common interests between the two parties, I was assigned to a mentor at a local community college. I was excited. I wrote my mentor an introductory email and told her that I was her mentee and wanted to know who she was. Elaina took me to an Indian restaurant for dinner for our first meeting. We chatted about our personal and academic interests, family background and future goals. Continue reading This is how mentoring worked for me