July Issue Editorial

Dear readers,

Greetings!

We are extremely happy to announce our July edition of the NELTA ELT Forum!

There are three articles of very different perspectives for this July issue.

Our first article is a study by D.N. Joshi on the use of technology in education in Nepal. It is called “ICT and ”. The study reflects on the teachers’ perceptions and on some challenges faced by them, and suggests that the use of technology is a need, but still teachers need some training on technology to be able to use it efficiently in the ESL/EFL classrooms.

Our second article entitled “National Conference of NELTA”, by Sarita Dewan, is a reflection about the NELTA Conference that was held in March 2019. The author gives a detailed overview of the keynote and plenary speeches, and shares some glimpses of the conference.

And the third article “Listening is not passive: A focus on listenership in backchannelling”, by Mirian Fuhr, in which the author makes use of the theory related to the Conversation Analysis to interpret extracts from a real everyday conversation, focusing on the role of the listener in the conversation.

Enjoy the readings!

For ease of access, the link for each article can be found below:

  1. ICT and ELT Perspectives: Practices, Challenges And Motivation As An Impetus by D.N. Joshi.
  2. National Conference of NELTA by Sarita Dewan.
  3. Listening is not passive: A Focus on Listenership in Backchannelling by Mirian Fuhr.

We hope that the articles included in this issue may contribute to continuous education, reflection and future research.

You are all invited to write comments on the topics discussed in the articles.

Best regards,

from the NELTA EZINE  Issue Editorial Team,

Maricarmen Gamero and Mirian Führ

 

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ICT and ELT Perspectives: Practices, Challenges And Motivation As An Impetus

*D.N. Joshi

Abstract

This is the era of Information and Communications Technology. Technology is not in our hand, but we are in the hand of technology. It has invaded almost every sphere of human interest and activities, may it be industry, may it be culture, or may it be science. Education is no exception in this regard. But the extent to which ICT has been in practice in Nepal is really deteriorating even in ICT accessed places like Kathmandu, Lalitpur or Bhaktpur. Even the institutions themselves seem to lack due concern in integrating ICT and education.

This paper aims at presenting an overview of ICT, its importance as well as teacher perception in ICT application. Similarly, it aims to highlight institutional inclination towards the use of ICT and strategies used by ESL/EFL teachers in using ICT in the classroom. Further it equally aims at presenting challenges encountered by the ESL/EFL teachers on ICT based classroom. 

Introduction

Information and communication technology denotes computers, the internet, and different electronic delivery devices such as radio, television, and projector. These 21st century devices or tools have created revolution in the field of teaching learning since they have optimized  activeness and effectiveness both for teachers and learners. In this regard, Kenning (2007) opines that as technology has become woven into the fabric of everyday life, so language study has come to rely on forms of technological enhancement, from audio to video recording to world wide web resources. This is the reason why I prefer to say ICT is an incarnation in ESL/EFL classroom because the infusion of ICT has really brought about a shift in paradigm. No matter whether in developed or developing country, ICT has become indispensable.

However, influence of ICT is superficial in the context of Nepal, especially in the context of Lalitpur district. Although Lalitpur is assumed as academically sound city and even though people call it educational hub, the scenario of ICT seems quite passive there. Salehi (2012) say, “Although ICT is of paramount importance in teaching and learning, teachers are faced with some barriers like lack of technical skills, lack of knowledge of integration of ICT in teaching and learning.” (p.41). Similarly, teachers are lacking dense knowledge on strategies of using ICT in classroom. This may be because of the lack of baggage on it, lack of pre-service and in-service trainings and so on.

Why ICT in the classroom?

ICT has beautified the teaching and of course English language too. Gone are the days teachers used to teach while students listened and tried to comprehend. Gone are the days when Black-Board and white boards were used and gone are the days when domination of teacher was prevalent and students were confined to listening and presenting the same learning in the form of copy pencil test. In reference to it, Atmanegara et al. (2013) assert: “The use of technology is the way to get information related to the study and also as the effective communication tools used in the teaching and learning process” (p.117). Of course, explosion of knowledge has compelled pedagogues and others to use ICT, without which we will be unable to confront the updated knowledge rather we will remain outdated. In its significance, Atmanegara et al (2013) further put their argument:

The implementation of ICT in this process is to overcome the problem in the area of education. One of its problems is the use of printed materials performed conventionally by the teachers. While in EFL learning teachers are supposed to be creative to adapt the materials by using sophisticated media to achieve their learning objectives.

Therefore, its importance cannot be denied as it can bring better results with better input. Similarly, it provides diverse content with vivid learning.

Regarding the importance of ICT, Hartayo (2008) says that the technology in this era has been grownup not only from the quality but also from the efficiency. The need of technological innovations has brought the communication revolution and rapid development of technological application in teaching and learning. His view repeatedly claims that technology i.e. ICT brings the quality and efficiency and they are quite effective in teaching learning. Undoubtedly, there are few academic institutions which, through optimum use of ICT, have brought quality and efficiency in teaching and learning both. Therefore, I can say that ESL/EFL teaching and learning can be fostered and can be made output oriented through optimum use of ICT.

But questions trigger my mind: What is the significance of ICT, if strategies are lacking? How does ESL/EFL teachers’ attitude affect in the use of ICT and learning of students? How is the Baggage on ICT with teachers and students? On these questions Hartayo (2010) further puts his view “English language teaching has been shaped by the search for the ‘one best method’ of teaching the language.” Here, his focus is on method along with strategies to teach reading, grammar, vocabulary and so on. And I feel method can be made the best through use of ICT as ICT is vibrant tool in terms of activities, motivation and encouragement.

I can make my argument more strong claiming that the more the ICT centered learning and teaching activities, the better it becomes effective. To be more specific, teacher works as an impetus for language teaching and can enhance language learning which can be given ground reality using ICT. In this regard Thamarana (2015) says that ICT provides learning goals, tools to improve students’ ability and encourages reflection in language learning and provides model of good teaching performance. But I personally feel, teachers of ESL/EFL in a country like Nepal are still lacking the knowledge about technology and  therefore, they  need trainings whether pre-service or in-service to become crystal clear in the use of ICT and strategies on the same to be used by the teacher. Even the schools or colleges can conduct trainings.

This is the techno-friendly age where learners tend to be tech – savvy and teaching learning gets enhanced with the help of technology. So, ESL/EFL teachers need to be technocrat and uplift teaching learning activities through the same.

According to Brown (1994), Technology is concerned with “designing aids and tools to perfect the mind” (as cited in Patil 2014, p.1).  It means technology indeed can help to create the teaching learning materials so that learning will become fruitful. Therefore, ICT has become indispensable in the present day world.

ICT and ELT in Nepal

Technology had boomed the world around.  In Nepal too Language teaching has been influenced by the modern advancements in technology. Although significance of technology is realized in Nepal, perception, skills, instruments and infrastructure seem  lacking. Acharya (2014) says that there are disparities. These disparities are clearly seen within a country and within a region which are serious and problematic. Therefore, disparities are the results of poor economic conditions, commercialization in education. Further he uses  the phrase “digital divide” which refers to techno gap among the people of rural and urban areas. Still our teaching is chalk and talk oriented although in city areas it seems less so in the international context.

Trends of ICT use

Technology-enhanced learning is not new. Even the grammar translation method used to be practiced using the technologies like overhead projector and software programs. And when the era of audio lingualism came, labs were established to practice listening. During1980- 1990 the changes in technology were spurred radically as communicative language teaching and learning came into practice. Warchauer and Meskill (2002) describe the four major forms of technology as a tool to enhance communication in the classroom: text construction software in which the teacher sets up the text and students fill the gap, concordance software which facilitates in locating the usages of words, telecommunication and multimedia simulation software by which learners get lived experiences about English language and culture (as cited in Maryam et.al, 2013.). The last one is the internet which really helps to keep learners outside of the classroom.

Now, the spread of mobile phones with different applications, wide use of laptop, access to internet, e-library, etc. have influenced the teaching and learning a lot.

Research approach

My overreaching questions were:

  1. What ICT based materials do you use in the classroom?
  2. What are the challenges you have encountered in the use of ICT in the classroom?

My intention was to get vivid scenarios of use of ICT in the ESL/EFL classrooms of the target schools and I was adhered to qualitative approach. So, I was basically focusing on interview technique using questionnaire as a tool. Before data production, I went through the process of participant selection, where I used purposive sampling technique. Selected respondents were the teachers teaching English in five different colleges of Lalitpur districts. There were altogether 5 respondents between the ages 30 to 35. All of them were teachers who had been using ICT in their classrooms for more than two calendar years.

Research Participants

Name Number of  years using ICT Employment Work Location
Anil 4 College Kathamndu
Binita 3 College Lalitpur
Dinesh 4 College Lalitpur
Geeta 2 College Kathmandu
Hem 3 College Bhaktpur

Table 1.

As I have mentioned in the table all the teachers have been using ICT in the classroom ranging from 2 to 4 years. And all were the college teachers teaching in Bachelor’s or Master’s level in Lalitpur district.

Perspectives on the use of ICT

Perception determines how in-depth and how much indulged we are in the use of ICT. Since perception is the matter seed to practise ICT tools, it must be clear and concrete.

Teacher’s perspective

When asked questions on the concept of ICT, Anil, Binita and Dinesh were found to have almost similar notions since they answered ICT as tools that represent the modern era such as computer, laptop, cellphones,  projector, video chatting softwares, websites, search engines like Google through which we can teach students a lot. The answer of Hem was more powerful. He states:

“ICT, for me is, a tool that can increase business, teaching learning, using Google, computer, mobile, language learning sites, use of PowerPoint, using dictionary through mobile, teaching language skills using ICT and the like.

To summarize, therefore, the analysis shows that the teachers even in Lalitpur district don’t have sound concept of ICT although they have blurred concept of ICT. Schools and colleges of Lalitpur district seem limited although they realize the importance of using it. The rest of the participants were found to be superficial in defining ICT. The way they defined ICT did not seem broad to me. When I asked them the preliminary questions on ICT, they answered it basically focusing on the use of PowerPoint. Even if they were able to define ICT, their definitions were superficial.

Teachers’ and guardians’ perception on ICT

The above discussion shows that ESL/EFL teachers are still lacking clear the clear concept regarding the use of ICT. When asked what sort of perspectives they found among guardians regarding the significance of ICT, they straightforwardly said guardians were not conscious about the use of ICT. Anil said “Dim use of ICT is also the result of dim inclination of guardians to it.”  In the same matter, Dinesh further adds, “guardians so far don’t want their children to use it since they are afraid of misuse. Even they don’t want their children to use mobile phones.” It means guardians forget that ICT can be used as a tool to play language games. Geeta makes both the teachers and guardians responsible for indifference towards ICT despite its significance. She states that teachers are not fully aware in this matter, so the question arises how the guardians will be. Therefore, Yunus et al. (2009) state that  factors affecting the less use of ICT are attitude towards it, lack of technological skills, technophobia and wrong perception towards ICT.  Of course, there are few guardians who have good knowledge of it. But maximum guardians of my college do not have much awareness on it.

So, although the use of ICT is indeed a burning need of the day, teachers and guardians must be conscious of it. They all should work for better techno-friendly classes. Guardians must encourage teachers and children to use laptops, mobile phones and the Internet in teaching learning activities. If this sense increases, it will undoubtedly enhance ICT-based language teaching and learning.

Practice of using ICT in the classroom

ICT enhances teaching and learning both. So, its use must be maximized. In this regard, Yunus et al. (2009) assume that  any successful transformation in educational practices requires positive attitude towards new technology but the adoption process is slowed  due  to various reasons like limited access to computer, unaffordability of computers and connectivity, telephone and electricity infrastructure etc.

Participant responses show that despite their guts to use ICT in the ESL/EFL classroom, they lack exposure on variety of ICT tools and its application. But it can be lessen if teachers build the trend of using it in classroom since school can bring any sort of reform in and outside premises. To be more specific, we can widen the dim consciousness towards ICT my increasing practices of using it. However, practice of using ICT is less among teachers. Maximum respondent reply they use laptop for power point presentation and language related videos, but not daily. Hem responded that projector he used LCD projectors, slide shares, and more often mobile phones and digital dictionary. He often practices teaching learning through mobile phones in the classroom. One interesting response from all the participants was that lack of the Internet connectivity leaves them with no other alternative than to resort to PowerPoint presentation in the classrooms.

An interesting phenomenon was highlighted in the response of Hem:

“I generally prefer to use ICT in the classroom. But I have to teach 6 periods. To prepare ICT-based content for six classes takes nearly 10 hours which is really hectic. Further, it is tougher to teach in techno-friendly classes because students lack devices.”

It is really interesting as Hem put his argument because work load and large class situations most often prevent the teacher from practicing ICT-based classes. Although Hem is interested in teaching using ICTs but access to ICT-based environment is crucial. Similarly practice of using PowerPoint is not sufficient; we should also use language learning applications, YouTube, Skype, language learning sites like livemocha.com,  http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish,   tolearnenglish.com, learnenglish.britishcouncil.org, and even Facebook, email and virtual classrooms like nicenet.org to enhance student learning.

ICT, teaching strategies and language skills

Teaching strategies are the effective techniques used by ESL/EFL teachers which make learning easier. Therefore, use of ICT cannot remain aloof from strategies. The respondents of my research gave almost similar reply when I asked them about the strategies to be taken into account. They believe that strategic part is quite abstract, still more for all of them. When I asked them to recall their use of Facebook, Skype, and Video chat in their teaching, they became aware that these are indeed ICT strategies they had actually been using in the class, though they had no systematic theoretical ideas about these strategies. In this respect, Hennesy, Deaney and Ruthven (2005,) say “Task must be pre-structured” (pp.3-12) i.e. the task in the ESL/EFL classroom must be fixed earlier and should be well planned and those must be centered around students’ activities. Similarly, learners’ needs must be considered by teacher. In this regard, Hennesy, Deaney and Ruthven (2005) say, “Teacher must evaluate and accommodate learners’ shifting needs and those activities must be based on student’s active participation, experimentation and independent thinking. Furthermore, teachers must focus on subject content through exploiting benefits of ICT, otherwise teaching becomes static.

On the basis of these above mentioned points, it can be inferred that teacher must think for strategies before he enters the classroom. He must prepare plan and divide into pre-teaching, while-teaching and post-teaching phase. Similarly, he must think of learners’ needs and strategies to make it more participatory, otherwise neither teacher will be able to give appropriate input nor students will be able to show output. For this too, what ESL/EFL teacher needs is in-depth knowledge on ICT and its relationship with EFL/ESL classroom which I feel is lacking in most of the teachers.

Language skills

Fruitfulness of language skills to be taught is the part of strategies. However, almost all the respondents agreed in teaching language skills by using ICT. “ICT has a potential to become language learning tool. Indeed  it has been used too,” Dinesh said. He further added, “There are some good points in the use of ICT to teach speaking and listening. For speaking practice I have created Whatsapp and Skype accounts of my students, too. Although few students join me informally to talk on particular issue, the rest of the students have problems with accessibility and operation. But when ICT is used, teaching becomes purposeful and interesting.”

This suggests that listening and speaking can be taught better through ICT if connectivity and tools are made available. And these skills can also be practised outside the class too and at home if availability of ICT is ensured. Learning takes place better in informal situation rather than formal classroom setting since students feel free. Hem urged that informal setting is far better than formal setting for students. He further suggests:

“Which skill to be taught depends on the situation in hand. We can teach any skill through ICT. I teach vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar through ICT. For example, I often use livemocha.com, the best site for language development. Sometimes if I have to teach them about interviewing techniques, I just show them videos of interviews on YouTube. They develop listening and speaking skills simultaneously and finally I ask them to prepare a questionnaire for interview for writing practice. I have even the intention to create a Facebook page of each and every student where they can have discussion on any language-skill related issue.”

In the same breath, Binita echoed this idea adding that nowadays maximum students have Facebook account. Each day they spend time on it. So it can be used for discussion as well as giving assignment.

Therefore, trend of using ICT has been increasing. However, using ICT for developing all the four skills is still lacking. It allows the teacher to access the variety of information. So, Yunus et al. (2013) assert its significance in the following terms:

“In general ICT allows the teachers to access to wide range of information in different formats. Computers, software, cameras and any range of ICT devices can all make teaching reading more effective and more fun for the students.  However, the number of activities and resources available to teachers is truly vast and judgments are needed to be made about when and more importantly why ICT should be used.”

ICT and challenges

“Diffusion of ICT in teaching has become of paramount importance. However, challenges are prevalent”, Dinesh echoed. In the same question Hem put his argument:

“ICT itself is challenging although its impacts are fruitful. I have realized the lack of coordination among management members, guardians’ narrow understanding of ICT, lack of infrastructure for ICT-based classes, load shedding, work load and many other roadblocks”

An amazing incident Binita put further was like this in her own words: “Once I was using mobile phone in the classroom to show speeches on Federalism. Immediately, I was called at office and made alert. So it is big a challenge.”

The entire respondents seemed victims of load shedding and lack of ICT equipped rooms. They uttered that 14 hours load shedding can never become techno-friendly, it is a hurdle in the context of the capital city. Further they shared that during the time of admission academic institutions spread the message of classes based on ICT full of audio- visual technology furnished environment but there are even not proper computer labs and ICT-based rooms. On average, only ten sets of computers are available for a group of over 300 students. These too are in not proper condition. On the basis of responses, the following challenges manifest:

  • Operation-based trainings, pre-service or in-service, on the burning challenges of the teachers is a crucial operational part of ICT. So, Teachers need trainings before they use ICT in the classroom. Otherwise, they will not be able to tackle it. Similarly, in-service trainings on its operation should be provided to so that they can update their knowledge on the latest ICTs.
  • Administrative authorities need to support and encourage the teachers to maximize the use of ICT in the classroom: As participants reported encouragement from administrative authorities is lacking. Administration plays key role in encouraging teachers to use ICT effectively and efficiently. Similarly, they must realize the need and benefits of using it.
  • Need of ICT equipped rooms: This is equally challenging in the context of the valley since ICT-furnished rooms are rarely available in academic institutions of Lalitpur district. Without them, the use of ICT does not become fruitful.
  • Load shedding: load shedding is a fiery problem according to the participants, which is one of the noteworthy parts of the infrastructure. Out of 24 hours, 14 hours load shedding can directly hamper on the use of technology in the classroom. It needs to be minimized by the authorities concerned.
  • Number of periods to be taught by a single teacher: Tendency of opening academic institutions with business purpose makes teachers take more load of teaching. A teacher teaching 6 or 7 periods cannot prepare materials for ICT based classes because the use of ICT requires a rigorous effort and time on the part of the teacher. It has become quite challenging for the teachers who wish to practice ICT based classes.

 

Role of motivation

The responses of the respondents clearly show that there is lack of encouragement from management body and to some extent from guardians too. All except one respondent expressed the same bitter experience regarding motivational factor. To quote R5 “Motivation is a factor that can create a desire to teach and learn. This desire to achieve some goal is the bedrock of motivation and, if it is strong enough, it provokes a decision to act.”

However, motivation is different for different age groups; for an adult this may be just about being enrolled in an English class. For teenagers it may be a matter of opting for one subject over another for special study. This kind of motivation which comes from outside the classroom and which may be influenced by a number of external factors such as the attitude of the society, attitude of the academic institution towards ICT, family and peers to the subject in question (ICT) is often referred to as extrinsic motivation, the motivation that students bring into the classroom from outside. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is a kind of motivation that is generated by what happens inside the classroom; this could be the teacher’s methods, the activities the students take part in, or their perception of their success or failure (Harmer, 2008,).

Similarly, motivation is long found to be an important factor to affect the task of learning an L2 as it provides the stimulus required to initiate and sustain the task of learning the L2. It is even argued that if learners are motivated, they are more likely to succeed in the task of language learning regardless of other factors (Laudari, 2014, p. 99). Learners are motivated to learn language in two ways or there are two basic forms of motivation: external and internal. In this respect, (Deci & Ryan 1985; Rayn & Deci 2000 cited in 2009) say extrinsic (external) motivation is typically driven by factors outside of the learners. Intrinsic (internal) motivation is free from the influence of external factors such as reward or punishment.

Extrinsically motivated students use ICT in better ways and they attain better grades in an English class or in job interview. On the other hand, intrinsically motivated learners use ICT better and learn English more efficiently because they find it interesting or enjoyable therefore motivation comes from inside and is self-determined.

Conclusion

Though limited to working with five participants, this study provides significant insight into the ICT and its use in the schools and colleges of Kathmandu valley. The study suggests that the use of ICT is a burning need of the hour and is manifestly desired by teachers too. However, still the concepts, perspectives, attitudes, orientations are severely lacking. Despite being interested in teaching using technology, teachers even in sophisticated cities like Kathmandu are still lagging behind in using ICT. Similarly, strategies are lacking. The cause of these all is lack of techno-friendly environment and policy must shift towards provoking ICT-based curriculum so that academic institutions will be encouraged to bring into practice the ICT based classes to develop language aspects and skills.

 References

Acharya, C. P. (2014). Use of ICT/Web tools in ELT in Nepal. NELTA Journal, 19 (1-2), pp.1-16

Atmanegara, Y. (2013). Web- based resources in EFL learning: An enhancement of students’ digital literacy. Advances in language and literacy studies, 4 (2), pp. 117-118.

Hartoyo, M. (2010). Individual Differences in Computer –Assisted Language Learning. Semarang: Pelita Insani Semarang.

Hessessy, S. & Deanne, R.&  Ruthven. K(2005). Emerging Teacher Strategies for Supporting Subject Teaching and Learning with ICT. Oxford: Cambridge University Press.

Kenning M. (2007). ICT and language learning/From print to mobile phone. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Laudari, S. (2014). Motivation and learning English: A study on Nepalese public high school learners. Journal of NELTA, 19.99

Maryam.,et.al, (2013). The use of ICT and technology in language teaching and learning. Applied Science Reports, 6 (7), pp. 1-8.

Patil, B. (2014). Significance of ICT in English language teaching. Review of Literature, 1, pp. 1-5.

Salehi, H. S. (2012). Challenginges for using ICT in education: Teachers insight. international journal education,e-business and e-learning,2 (1) pp.40-41.

Thamarana,S. (2015).  An Overview of the Contribution of ICT in English Language. Teaching and Learning, 3. pp.441-446.

National Conference of NELTA

Picture1

                                                                                    Sarita Dewan

                             National/ International Taining Coordinator 

                                                                                    NELTA

 

Together we can do great things-Mother Teresa

 Another milestone in the history of NELTA has been established by accomplishing the first National Conference of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association, Province, 3 with grandeur. The mega event was held on March 2-3, 2019 at Solidarity International Academy, Hetauda, with the theme Transformation in ELT Methods: Addressing the 21st Century Classroom Contexts, and several sub-themes on burning issues of ELT.

 What is there in name? Though it was a National Conference, it was addressed as the mini International Conference of NELTA by many presenters, because of paper presentations from abroad, as well as, the presence of so many presenters and participants. The hard work of the team of Province 3 was evident managing the unexpected outnumbered participants during the conference. The conference was attended by more than 850 participants; who were presenters and dignitaries from home and abroad. The keynote, plenary and other very exciting sessions have made the conference very live and fascinating.

In the beginning, in the presidential speech, Ms. Motikala Subba Dewan highlighted on what NELTA has been doing in the field of English language teaching in Nepal and also highlighted what the upcoming activities are. She reiterated by saying, “Our pride is our professionalism so, NELTA always emphasizes on developing professionalism in teachers so as to deliver quality education to students.”

The Chief Guest, honorable Chief Minister Dormani Poudel, congratulated Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) Province 3 for organizing the National Conference for ELT professionals in his inaugural speech. He further added NELTA has proved to be a forum for all the English language teachers, trainers, researchers, students, and scholars. Emphasizing the significance of English language teaching in Nepalese context, he said, “English language can open the doors of opportunities of our students in this globalization era at the international level.” Similarly, other speakers in the inaugural ceremony had appreciated on the significant work of NELTA for the professional development of English language teachers for enhancing the situation of English Language Teaching and Learning in Nepal.

Prof. Dr. Jai Raj Awasthi in his Keynote Speech entitled, ‘ELT in the Post-Method Era’ emphasized on the use of post method pedagogy to cater the needs of the postmodern learners, not sticking to the particular theorized methods but implementing the teacher generated techniques to the present context. He talked about the effect of colonialism and spread of English and various approaches, methods and techniques of ELT and the effect of methodological controversies in the west at the beginning of the 21st century, and recently in Nepal as well.

Delivering his keynote speech on Expanding Spheres of English: Challenges and Choices for ELT, Prof. Dr. Abhi Subedi opined that teachers of English should expand the spheres of English outside the classroom by including discussions in the realms of applied linguistics, critical discourse analysis, regional growth of Englishes and their autonomous status. He suggested that the way we can develop methods to teach English by incorporating its expanding sphere is by reorienting the ELT process based on the simple pedagogic experience of teachers and experts alike.  He said, “My experience says, the course planners and teachers are the most important agencies who can accomplish that.”

In his metaphorical plenary session on Two roads diverged in a wood, and, I, I took the one less travelled by Prof. Dr. Vishnu Singh Rai focused on incorporating the local contexts in teaching English rather than what the ELT experts say. He had talked about the phase of Grammar Translation Method to Communicative Method, and finally to the Beyond Method Age and the variety of Englishes. He said, “English is changing fast so much so that the native speakers have hard time to understand English spoken outside their native countries.”

Similarly, Ms. Motikala Subba Dewan on the topic Transformation through Folktales in ESL Class, shed lights on how the contents of folktale; supernatural elements like god, goddess, ghosts, and spirit and sometimes animals and nature reflect the colorful indigenous cultures and traditions of the diverse backgrounds. She emphasized the uniqueness in language discourse in terms of an individual’s style of retelling and sharing that can be integrated into the ESL classrooms as an effective tool to bring transformation in learning language and encourage less confident students.

Prof. Dr. Laxman Gnawali delivered his plenary speech on Teachers’ Readiness and their Practices of ELT in Nepali Secondary Classrooms, in which he presented his finding on teachers’ culture of writing in the classroom, their experiences of writing in their training and their current teaching practices. Mr. Ganga Ram Gautam gave a very practical plenary session on Enhancing Critical Thinking through Textbook Activities. He shared sample though effective activities from school level English textbooks and discussed how critical thinking could be enhanced through those activities.

Mr. Hemanta Raj Dahal presented on Repairing Working Memory Deficits: Implications in ESL Pedagogy, and stressed the needs and types of strategies to address working memory and deficits and attempted to reveal the implications of the strategies in ESL pedagogy. Likewise Dr. Hari Adhikari, on the topic, The Reading child, The Textual Child and The Invented Child: Interrogating the Use of Children’s Literature in Language Teaching discussed how children’s literature can be integrated in enhancing the reading abilities of our students and help them to fit in the context of globalization or post globalization. In Nepal, teachers are given nominal roles in selecting literary texts, hence resulting in the use of questionable materials, both in content and quality, and their adverse impacts upon children in the formative years of their lives. His presentation was a research study testing out the pedagogical praxis in Nepal by drawing insights from the recent theories in children’s literature and childhood studies.

Mr. Bishwa Raj Gautam presented on TESOL’s Six Principles for Learning Centered Teaching, he highlighted the six principles for exemplary learning in terms of learning-centered practices discussing the individual principle in depth. He addressed the foundations for learning-centered teaching are active engagement of a teacher as a facilitator and mentor, proactive engagement of learners to work on the construction of skills and wisdom (strategy) through information and knowledge.

Ms. Vaishali Pradhan, in her plenary Yes, This is not what I’m not good at! – How Self Reflection Helped me Become a Better Teacher, discussed on the significance of self-reflection in language teaching. She shared her experience on self-reflection in developing the pedagogical skills as well examining own’s teaching critically and keep track of improvement to become a better teacher.

Another plenary speaker, Mr. Narayan Tiwari delivered his session on ELT Trends at Present: Transformations in the Classroom in which he highlighted the use of recent technologies in teaching English at present and teachers’ diverse roles and responsibilities to create a productive and conducive learning environment in the classrooms. Lastly, Mr. Gunaraj Nepal presented his plenary on What Teaching Means to Teachers: Perspectives, Challenges and Provincial Standing. In his plenary session, he illustrated the compelling reasons why the provincial standing of NELTA should open up new opportunities for teachers to work collaboratively, making choices and present their understanding to others.

Besides Keynote and plenary speeches, 153 papers were presented by various ELT professionals from home and abroad in concurrent sessions. Interactive Language Fair was also organized in the coordination of Prof. Dr. Laxman Gnawali, where 15 ELT practitioners displayed their works on English language teaching and learning activities. Due to the exceeding number of participants from 55 districts and abroad, two halls were managed for plenary sessions.

During the AGM the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Andalus University, Indonesia and NELTA. The MoU was signed by a representative from the Andalus University, Dr. Maskota Delfi and the President of NELTA Ms. Motikala Subba Dewan amidst the life members present during the meeting. The MoU was for joint research activities (including exchange of faculty members and research students), staging of joint seminars, conferences and academic meetings,  education Abroad on the part of undergraduate and postgraduate students, including exchanges, internships, electives and practicum. The two parties will exchange academic materials and other information, collaborate academic programmes, such as cultural activities and a strong field visit component. Both parties will also provide hotel accommodation and waive the conference registration fee for two official representatives.

Mr. Ganesh Prasad Humagain, President of NELTA Province 3 formally ended the conference showing his gratitude to all participants and his team and the NELTA Center.

This is not the end of NELTA activities for 2019, another mega event is awaiting. TESOL-NELTA Regional Conference and Symposium 2019, is going to take place first time in Nepal in November 20-23. (https://www.tesol.org/attend-and-learn/calendar-of-events).  It is going to create yet another history in the journey of NELTA. The theme of the conference is, Ecological Approach in ELT: Prospects and Challenges, with several other sub themes. TESOL is going to conduct symposium as a pre-conference program. The topics are English and Eco pedagogy, sustainability education; Citizenship learning for inclusion; English as a Lingua Franca/World Englishes. The usual NELTA conference will take place for three days (November 21-23).

The excitement and the enthusiasm are on.                                                                 

As Sir Henry Ford, said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”, the success lies on the team spirit of NELTA members who work voluntarily for the professional growth of all ELT professionals.

Long live the team spirit!

Some glimpses of National Conference

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Hon. Chief Minister Dormani Poudel addressing during inaugural Ceremony

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Prof. Dr. Jai Raj Awasthi delivering his Keynote Speech in the conference.

 

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Participants in the conference hall

 

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NELTA President Motikala Subba Dewan with two advisors Mr. Hemanta Raj Dahal and Mr. Gangaram Gautam and life members of NELTA

 

Listening is not passive: A Focus on Listenership in Backchannelling

*Mirian Fuhr

Introduction

 Conversation analysts place great emphasis on building collections of instances of a particular conversational phenomenon, according to Hutchby and Wooffit (2008). After having collected a small collection and transcribed it, the last step for doing Conversation Analysis (CA) is, as stated by ten Have (2007), analysing the data. Although Hutchby and Wooffit (2008: 89) say that “data are not necessarily approached with a particular question in mind”, they also stress the importance of establishing a focus on one interesting aspect in the data (2008: 89).

Looking closer to the data collected, it was possible to notice that the occurrences in the interaction contained a lot of backchannels, showing the partnership between speaker and listeners, it led to the interest on further studies on listenership. Thus, extracts from the data collected are analysed based on related researches in the field.

Researches show that the use of backchannelling represents good listenership. Gardener (2001), states that literature brings many ways to call the term backchannel, such as acknowledge acts and minimal responses, depending on the researchers. The pieces of interaction selected show that the participants were engaged in building up the interaction and on keeping the conversation going. It means that listening is not a passive activity, and the way the listeners react can influence in the continuity of the conversation. Speakers tend to pay attention to the listeners’ reaction and the feedback may point to the necessity of adjustments in the talk.

 

Literature Review Embracing Data

People do not always speak in sentences, which are written conventions; for speaking we use clauses; and sometimes just words, but these words are enough for the action, because it is possible to complete or predict the turn by the context, without having all the information being said. The participants engaged in the interaction analysed use these words, making completions and predictions showing meaningful listenership patterns through backchannelling. Literature in the field indicate that the term was first coined by Yngve, in 1990, who stated that people involved in a conversation take turns, but are engaged in speaking and listening concurrently (Knight, 2009).

Backchanneling behaviour in a conversation may have different functions, such as continuers, alignment and agreement, and may “include a variety of different verbal, vocal and gestural signals, a combination of which may be used simultaneously at a specific point in talk” (Knight, 2009: 37). This text focuses on the listener behaviour in backchannelling through the use of verbalised signals such as yeah, sentence completions, brief clauses and more extended responses, clarification requests or brief questions (McCarthy, 2002; Lambertz, 2011: 12), for example, the use of Huhn? as a general question to initiate a repair as exemplified below.

Extract 1

E1

Henn uses the brief general question token in line 33 as a means of repairing Shelly’s previous turn, because he did not understand what she said, maybe because she was eating while delivering the question to him. Then she immediately repeats the question giving the channel back to him and he replies.

Focusing on listenership through backchannelling is an interesting topic to be discussed once the listener is not usually the focus for much research as they tend to concentrate on the speaker (McCarthy, 2002; Gardener, 2001), even though listening affects speaking (Zimmermann, 1996). It is possible to infer that the listener is not only a recipient of the information produced by the speaker, but also a co-constructor of the interaction (Gardener, 2001; Lambertz, 2011; Yngve, 1990; Knight, 2009). In the case of this informal conversation among the housemates, there is meaning construction and a change in the roles, because one of the listeners becomes the next speaker, as all participants have equal roles. The extract below is a good example for this change in roles:

Extract 2

E2

In line 24, Api, who was a listener up to then, self-selects herself to speak after a period of laughter and makes a comment which would be a solution for the participants doubt about the dates of the event they were talking about. Then, after she makes another comment in line 27, she is no longer the speaker and becomes a listener again, making use of the utterance Oh, in line 31, showing a change in the listener knowledge, as she learns a new information and expresses her appreciation on that.

The backchannelling forms in the data collected represent that listeners and speakers were engaged in the conversation in such a way that they were cooperating to the conversation flow by helping each other to express the ideas and to keep the conversation going, exactly as described by Knight (2009). It becomes clearer looking back at Extract 2 when Shelly backchannels Hen in line 30 by asking him a clarification question, and then she immediately asks him a full question, in line 32, showing interest in what he stated, right after showing also acknowledge of a new information through the use of Oh, overlapping with Api.

The data collected would be considered an example of a successful conversation by Zimmermann (1996) and by Lambertz (2011) as, for them, the quality of the interaction depends a lot on the person to whom the words are said. This listener should demonstrate interest by being active, polite, and supportive, as participants can give each other opportunities to develop themselves, find solutions, and feel supported (Zimmermann, 1996).

Furthermore, even though there were interventions in the speaker talk, there were no interruptions that could represent some kind of competition among the participants in this interaction to get access to the floor. Therefore, these utterances are known as backchannels, once “the recipient turns do not take the conversational floor” (Lambertz, 2011: 12). On the opposite, backchannelling is a social need activity which can motivate the speaker to keep talking. Listeners’ responses to speaker’s talk illustrate that we are not alone when talking, which is the activity that most characterises us as human beings on the words of Gardener (2001). The following extract indicates clear examples of interventions and illustrates good listenership behaviour.

Extract 3

E3

The use of yes as a continuer can be observed in line 41 and uhum in line 45, showing that the listener recognizes that the utterance has not ended, encouraging the speaker to continue talking. Another possible interpretation for the use of yes in line 41 is that it could also be a response to the hesitation of the speaker in line 40. Perhaps the speaker is indicating that they know the referent to which Mi is trying to recall in line 40. There is also a possible completion in line 46, when Henn collaboratively guesses the word that Mi was struggling and hesitating to say. There are also several overlaps which are showing engagement, not being considered problematic. Extract 3 proves Gardner (2011) who says that continuer tokens are usually present when there is a long turn, as Mi’s turn only finishes in line 63.

 

Conclusion

Even though this research has its limitations as for the small amount of data collected and for its extent, it was very profitable to relate some theory and practice related to conversation analysis. Studies on listenership show a totally different behaviour when compared to the original idea of communication with the listener receiving the information passively. It is agreed that the use of a continuer when backchannelling in a conversation is a kind of overlap, but this is not a problematic one, as it usually happens when there is a place for speaker change to occur in a possible end of turn talk or it is a collaborative completion, not a floor competition.

This study showed that backchannelling is an important listener behaviour which influences directly in the conversation flow, as the speaker is seeking for signals that represent understanding of what is being said. A suggestion for further studies is covering backchannelling in English classes. Teachers could give special attention to good listenership, providing examples and opportunities for practicing of backchannelling in dialogues, allowing students to get prepared for performing it in real-life conversations.

 

References

Atkinson, J. M. and Heritage, J. (eds). (1984). Structures of Social Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gardener, R. (2001). When Listeners Talk: Response tokens and listener stance. University of New South Wales. Amsterdan/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Have, P. ten. (2007). Doing Conversation Analysis: A Practical Guide. 2 ed., London: Sage.

Hutchby, I. and Wooffitt, R. (2008). Analysing Data I: Building Collections and Identifying Phenomena. In: Conversation analysis. 2 ed., Cambridge: Polity, Ch.4, pp. 88-112.

Jefferson, G. (1989). Preliminary notes on a possible metric which provides for a ‘standard maximum’ silence of approximately one second in conversation. In D. Roger and P. Bull (eds), Conversation, pp. 166-96. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Jenkins, J. (ed.). (2003). World Englishes. London: Arnold.

Knight, Dawn. (2009). A multi-modal corpus approach to the analysis of backchanneling behaviour. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham, degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Linguistics. School of English Studies. 390p. Access from: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/10786/1/Phd_Knight.D.pdf.

Lambertz, K. (2011). Back‐channelling: the use of yeah and mm to portray engaged listenership. In: Griffith Working Papers in Pragmatics and Intercultural Communication. 4, 1/2 , pp 11‐18. Access from: https://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/384017/Lambertz-backchannelling.pdf.

McCarthy, M. (2002). Good listenership. British and American non-minimal response tokens in everyday conversation. In: Reppen, R. et. all (eds). Using Corpora to Explore Linguistic Variation, pp. 49-71. Amsterdan/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Richards, K. (2003). Qualitative Inquiry in TESOL. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schiffrin, D. (1994). Approaches to Discourse. Oxford: Blackwell.

Yngve, V. (1970). On getting a word in edgewise. Papers from the Sixth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society (pp. 567-577). In Knight, Dawn. (2009). A multi-modal corpus approach to the analysis of backchanneling behaviour. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham, degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Linguistics. School of English Studies. 390p. Access from: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/10786/1/Phd_Knight.D.pdf.

Zimmermann, H. (1996). Speaking, Listening, Understanding: The Art of creating Conscious Conversation. Translated by Hindes. Hudson: J. Lindisfarne Press.