Editorial

Dear Readers,

It’s our great pleasure to present you the November 2022 issue of the NELTA ELT Forum. We would like to thank all our insightful authors, diligent reviewers, and valued readers. This issue has maintained the diversity of its contents by bringing to you a variety of pieces for the readership.

We sincerely hope that you will take the time to go through every article in this issue, as they each promise to introduce you to new perspectives, ideas, strategies, and insights for teaching the English language. Nevertheless, with an awareness of the room for improvement, we also expect your feedback for us to work better and publish a better version of the upcoming issues.

This issue includes a training session plan, an experience-based lesson plan and teaching tips, and research-based articles.

Elaborately, Ms. Samjhana Aryal brings to you a lesson plan Teaching a Recipe: A Lesson with Listening Activity which is an outcome of her own experience of teaching at the secondary level. She gives the impact of each and every activity at the end in the form of her reflection.

Similarly, Ms. Durga Maya Rai offers some Vocabulary Teaching Techniques drawn from her teaching experience. According to her, vocabulary can be built effectively when teachers focus on teaching pronunciation, meaning, the form of the words, and word formation.

Next, Innovation in Teaching through Exploratory Action Research by Ms. Gyanu Dahal investigates the reasons behind her students’ low participation and attendance in her remote classes during the pandemic and consequently develops an innovative technique suitable for her classroom context.

Moving on, Karma Yoga: A Pedagogical Dimension written by Mr. Sudan Dotel enlightens us on how Karma Yoga, an important theme of the Bhagvat Geeta, can be an effective tool in enhancing the qualities of both the teachers and students. In other words, it highlights the pedagogical implications of the Bhagavad Gita.

Further, Mr. Surendra Lama, in his exploration of Students’ Views on Messenger as a Language Learning Tool, finds that they have a positive view towards it. He, thereby, suggests using it to enhance students’ language learning experience.

Finally, A Session Plan by Mr. Pramod Subedi is a stepwise guide for teacher educators to adopt while delivering an online as well as an in-person training session for teaching the poem ‘The Awakening Age’ by Ben Okri.

Henceforth, we are hopeful that this issue is yet another professional development platform for all of us: writers, editors, and readers as part of the ELT practice community of Nepal, and it becomes another step of learning, sharing, and growing together.  Thank you all once again for your significant contributions in supporting NELTA ELT Forum’s progress in its journey of documenting various trends and issues of English Language Teaching in Nepal.

The future generation may use it to reference, learn from, and fill in the gaps with their further research and writing. We look forward to your continuous support.

Let’s keep reading, learning, writing, sharing, and growing together!

Editor-in-Chief

  • Mr. Kamal Raj Lamsal

Editors

  • Ms. Sikha Gurung (Issue Coordinator)
  • Mr. Parshu Ram Shrestha
  • Ms. Ranjana Jha
  • Mr. Rudra Bahadur Thapa
  • Mr. Sudip Neupane

For the convenience of our valued readers, we have hyperlinked the articles on this issue as follows.

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Teaching a Recipe: A Lesson with Listening Activity

Ms. Samjhana Aryal

Teaching listening is one of the neglected and thereby challenging tasks. Nevertheless, teaching listening skills is significant as it sets the path for teaching/learning other skills of language. Moreover, integrating listening activities can be an alternative way to teach writing in ESL (English as a Second Language) or EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classrooms.

Students can perceive information, understand and respond to it in both written and spoken forms by using the perceptual talent of listening. Activities in the classroom that blend listening and writing abilities have a favorable influence on students’ proficiency in language acquisition and material competence. As a result, this session incorporates listening exercises while teaching to write a recipe; one of the topics covered in the Secondary Level English Curriculum. The lesson plan below is based on my experience of using listening exercises to teach recipe writing.

Introductory Parts

Proficiency Level: Secondary level

Age Group: 14 – 16 years

Class Time: 90 minutes

Objectives

On completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Learn the vocabulary of ingredients to cook an omelet
  • Watch a related video without sound and identify the ingredients used in the video.
  • Match the ingredients with their appropriate quantity.
  • Arrange the recipe in the correct order.
  • Write a recipe for their favorite food.

Resources

  Flashcards, Video Clip, Worksheets, Cutouts

Procedure

  1. Warm-up: (10 minutes)

Ask personal questions to students such as,

  • Do you like to cook? Why? Why not?
  • Who taught you to cook?
  • What are your favorite dishes to cook?

2. Pre-Listening: (15 minutes)

  • Introduce the vocabulary of ingredients to prepare an omelet.
  • Display the flashcards with pictures and names in English and, if necessary, in the mother tongue.
  • Write the words on the board.
  • Let the students pronounce the word.

3. Listening Task 1: (15 minutes)

  • Distribute each student a sheet of paper with the list of different ingredients used for cooking.
  • Play a video of preparing an omelet without sound.
  • Ask the students to tick the ingredients they see in the video.
  • Finally, share the ingredients used in the video with the students.

4. Listening task 2: ( 15 minutes )

  • Provide each student with a sheet of paper with the name of the ingredients in column A and the quantity needed in column B to prepare an omelet.
  •  Now, play the same video with sound this time.
  • Ask the students to match the ingredients in column A with their quantity in column B.
  • Finally, share the answers.

5. Listening Task 3: (15 minutes)

  • Group the students; five in each group
  • In each group distribute the cutouts of the recipe for an omelet.
  • Play the video again.
  • Let the students discuss and share in the groups about the procedure to cook an omelet as in the video.
  • Ask them to arrange the cutouts in the correct order and present them to the class.

6. Extended task: (20 minutes)

  • Ask students to prepare a recipe for one of their favorite food.
  • Tell them to share it in the class.

My Reflection on this Lesson Plan

This lesson plan is an outcome of my own experience of teaching in secondary-level ESL classrooms. The main objective of this lesson plan is to help students write a recipe conveniently through various listening activities. Asking students to share about their personal lives related to the topics generates interest and motivates them towards the topic. Playing videos without sounds helps students to focus on one particular aspect at a time. Assigning tasks in groups assist students to learn the subject matter collaboratively and co-operatively which indirectly aids their soft skills. The students participated actively and were well-engaged in each activity. Finally, they were able to write a recipe and share it with the class.

Appendices

Listening Task: 1

Tick (√) the ingredients you see in the video and cross (X) those you don’t see.

S.N.Name of the IngredientsTick/ Cross  
1Eggs   
2Onion   
3Garlic   
4Tomatoes   
5Flour   
6Sugar   
7Salt   
8Butter\oil   
9Milk   
10Pepper   
11Chilies   
12Water   

Listening Task: 2

Match the ingredients in column A and the quantity in column B

Ingredients                                                                          Quantity

Egg                                                                                     half slice

Onion                                                                                a pinch

Tomato                                                                              two

Salt and pepper                                                               one small size

Green chili                                                                       one tablespoon

Butter/ oil                                                                       as per your taste    

Listening Task: 3 (Cutouts)

  • Beat eggs well in a bowl.
  • Add chopped onion, tomatoes, green chilies, salt, and pepper to the eggs in the bowl and mix it well.
  • Melt butter or oil in a frying pan on medium-low heat, and tilt the pan to grease the sides and the bottom of the pan nicely.
  • Pour the eggs into the pan, and tilt to spread the butter to the sides. Cook on medium heat till it sets and the underside is golden brown.
  • Gently lift the egg with a spatula and turn immediately to cook the other side. Cook till golden brown on both sides.
  • Slide on a plate. Fold into half and serve hot with bread.

About the Author

Ms. Aryal is an English teacher in Tikapur with fifteen years of experience in the teaching field. She has completed her master’s degree in English education from Tikapur Multiple Campus, Tikapur. Her aim is to be a professional educator to improve English language teaching in Nepal. She has served as a Headteacher at Karnali Secondary School, Tikapur for three years. She is a Fulbright Teaching Excellence Achievement Program (TEA) fellow of 2022 who participated in six weeks of an intensive program at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, USA. She is a life member of NELTA, Nepal Red Cross Society, and Tikapur Academic Society. In her free time, she likes listening to songs, watching movies, and chatting with friends.

Vocabulary Teaching Techniques

Ms. Durga Maya Rai

All languages build on their vocabulary. To speak any language fluently, a list of vocabulary is necessary. Similarly, students require extensive vocabularies that can help them convey their emotions, feelings, behaviors, etc. While communicating in English. So, teachers have to teach vocabulary to students using different smart techniques so that they may be tactful, playful, and analytical regarding vocabulary, and they don’t struggle with their limited words. Thus, based on my teaching experiences, I have tried to explore some vocabulary-teaching techniques.

There are some techniques that teachers must not avoid while teaching new vocabulary items. Vocabulary teaching techniques, primarily, should cover four aspects. That is to say, four broad techniques of teaching vocabulary are pronunciation, meaning, form, and root. The students can enhance their vocabulary power and can play easily with them, too, according to the situation if we teach vocabulary with the following four broad techniques. They are abbreviated as PMFR.

P = Pronunciation

M = Meaning

F = Form

R = Root

Pronunciation

Pronunciation is the first technique of teaching vocabulary. At first, the teacher should make students read the books. At the same time, he should monitor their pronunciation. If they struggle to pronounce any word, then, he corrects their mistakes without using any discouraging words. To improve pronunciation, the teacher should use pronunciation games, role plays, and different kinds of drills within a realistic context. Similarly, the teacher should take the listening test, encourage them to read aloud at home, and motivate them to listen to new and difficult vocabulary on Oxford or Cambridge dictionary app, etc.

Similarly, according to the level of the students and their class, the teacher should introduce two types of globally used English accents: British and American. It is very important to tell students which accent we follow. In Nepal, it is said that we normally follow the British accent. But, in my experience, we use both accents in spoken form. There are lots of differences, but the most important and common difference in spoken forms, for example, is the pronunciation of the last letter ‘r’ as in the word teacher /ˈtiː.tʃə/ in British English and /ˈtiː.tʃə(r)/ in American English and in written form is the spelling of ‘colour’ in British English and ‘color’ in American English. Other differences in written form are ‘ise’ vs. ‘ize’, ‘re’ vs. ‘er’, etc. Therefore, teachers must address these things while teaching the pronunciation of words.

Meaning

Meaning is introduced to students after pronunciation. As pronunciation, meaning is also an essential aspect of teaching vocabulary. Meaning can be taught in different ways according to the form of the words. If a word is a noun, the teacher can use flashcards, or realia (real things), for example, a whiteboard, pen, marker, etc. The verbs can be taught through the Total Physical Response (TPR) technique too. The teacher may perform or ask the students to perform the actions of the verb, for instance, run, jump, laugh, etc. In this technique, the teacher moves his body parts to make students understand the meaning of words. So, these all are techniques for teaching vocabulary.

Furthermore, according to the level of the students, two major types of meanings should be taught: denotative and connotative. Denotative meaning means the primary or direct meaning of the words. This is the dictionary meaning. However, Connotative meaning is the secondary meaning, which is associated with emotions, feeling, and suggestions of the context, which is not dictionary meaning. For example, the denotative meaning of the word ‘Red’ is just a type of color but its connotative meaning may be danger, love, etc. For practice, the teacher may ask the students whether the given meaning of the given word is denotative or connotative.

Form

The third method for teaching vocabulary is form. Students will be brighter and more analytical if the teacher teaches the form of the newly presented words. They will play with words according to the context and content. There are many forms (parts of speech) of words. Some of them are as follows.

  • Noun      
  • Verb          
  • Adjective      
  • Adverb
  • Pronoun        
  • Preposition  
  • Conjunction
  • Interjection
  • Etc.

When the teacher introduces new words, at first, they should ask their students what the forms of the words are. For example, the teacher may ask the students to identify the forms of the words in the sentence ‘Ram speaks vulgar words.’ The teacher helps them to identify the forms. For example, ‘Ram’ is a noun, ‘speaks’ is a verb, and ‘vulgar’ is an adjective. If students don’t know what types of words they are, they will never be able to use them in practice. So, this technique is one of the best techniques for teaching new vocabulary in a smart way.

Root/Base Word

The fourth technique to teach and improve students’ vocabulary power is word formation. While introducing new vocabulary, the teacher should tell the students how the given word is structured or constructed. The teacher should help them to identify its root, prefix, suffix, etc. The root word is an original word that is unaltered. The prefix is a combination of letters that are added at the beginning to alter the meaning. In contrast, the suffix is a combination of letters that are added at the end of the word to alter the meaning. For instance,

Root word      Vocabulary meaning             Prefix /Suffix                          Vocabulary meaning  

Visit                go to see something                re+ visit = revisit                    visit again                  

Complete        bring a task to the end               in + complete= incomplete      not to bring a task to the end

Free                 able to do as one wishes         free+ dom= freedom        the state of not being a slave

Voice              express something in words    voice+ less= voiceless             not able to speak

In the above examples, we can see the root word’s meaning and its modification in meaning after adding a prefix/suffix. If we introduce our students to this vocabulary teaching aspect as a teacher, they will be able to recognize it with ease and can develop their vocabulary. At the same time, the teacher should tell the students that prefixes and suffixes change the root word’s parts of speech, as well.

Conclusion

To sum up, we can easily teach vocabulary using these four methods. These techniques may be used in any class and at any level to help students become more diplomatic, fun, and analytical with words. This process of teaching vocabulary may initially take a little longer; but after they get it, it is incredibly effective and quick. As a result, students may choose words based on their context and content. In this way, the goal of teaching English can be accomplished.

About the Author

Ms. Rai is a Secondary Level English Teacher from Ilam. Now, she has been teaching in Kathmandu for ten years. She has her master’s degree in English Literature from TU. She has attended many teacher training courses. Besides, she is a poet and article writer as well. Her articles have been published in the national English newspapers “The Kathmandu Post” and “Republica”. She has done some online courses from foreign universities.

Innovation in Teaching through Exploratory Action Research

Ms. Gyanu Dahal

Abstract

Universally approved classroom teaching methods and techniques sometimes do not fit in some classrooms. Different second language teaching methods have emerged ranging from Grammar translation to the Communicative method. Similarly, there are different techniques of teaching – some are teacher-centered and others are student-centered. However, there is no single right method or technique that has been suitable for all teachers, all students, and all classroom settings (Doggett, 1986). Therefore, teachers need innovation to make their classroom teaching and learning process successful. Classroom-based Exploratory Action Research (EAR), as Smith (2015) argues, helps teachers to innovate the techniques and methods suitable for their classroom settings, their students, and themselves. Therefore, through this article, I am sharing my innovation in teaching through EAR. During COVID-19, I found students’ low participation and attendance in my remote classes. So, I conducted an EAR to find out the reasons behind the issue. I collected data and based on the findings, I planned for innovation, and when I evaluated my innovations, I found it successful to solve the issue. In this article, I am sharing my experience of developing an innovative technique suitable for my classroom context.

Keywords: Innovation, teaching, exploration, classroom, reflection

Introduction

Designing something new and replacing the old one whether it is an idea, method, or technique is an innovation that is fundamental for professional lives (Liddicoat, 2020). It is a continuous process that can be conducted on the small scale using local resources in a short period from bottom to top management using participants as stakeholders and can bring significant change in the classroom (ibid). Through this piece of writing, I am presenting my plan for a small-scale innovation that has brought changes to the classroom.

My Context

Teaching is gradually becoming a challenging job (Doggett, 1986) and more challenging for those who do not want to be updated with innovations. Teachers are facing many problems inside the classroom due to various reasons (Rebolledo et al., 2016). When they can’t solve these problems, then, the problems are multiplied. Therefore, Smith and Rebolledo (2018) suggest that teachers step back from the problem they are facing, look at the problem carefully, and then reflect on and explore the problem to understand the situation better before taking any actions.  Like all the teachers around the globe, I also face puzzles and problems, and sometimes successes and achievements too.

In this article, I’ll talk about a challenge I had when teaching remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic. I taught English to ninth and tenth graders, aged 14-16, in a private school in Kathmandu, Nepal. In each classroom, there were 40- 45 students, who were balanced from a gender perspective, and had good English. They had various levels of motivation though.

The school, where I taught, used its online Learning Management System (LMS) for teaching during the pandemic. I tried my best to conduct classes interestingly and effectively. In the beginning, students’ attendance was good, but, later, it gradually decreased. I spoke with both the parents and the school administration. My efforts to motivate them also did not work well. The students showed frequent power cuts as their excuse for their absence from class. However, I planned to explore the reality of the problem so I conducted teacher research (EAR).

Teacher research (TR) is a teacher-initiated research that assists teachers to improve their practice for their professional growth (Smith et al., 2014). They further argue that TR helps teachers to explore more about their teaching and learning processes by being more active and reflective. After reading some teachers’ blogs, articles, and books, I learned that teachers should be engaged in an exploration of problematic issues first rather than immediately trying to solve problems. Exploratory research, according to Allwright (2005), advances pedagogy and improves teachers’ understanding of what they do in the classroom. Inspired by this argument, I planned to explore my existing situation.

The Issue I wished to Address

The issue I liked to search for was the reason behind students’ low attendance in remote classes. I believed it was very important for the students to attend classes regularly so that they would not miss the information shared in class. Their academic success would depend on their classroom attendance. In the classroom, students would learn many useful things to upgrade their knowledge, skills, and understanding of the different topics, and that upgraded knowledge and skills would help them to upgrade their academic level. Therefore, I planned to conduct an EAR which could be effective for my kind of issue.

Methodology

I used EAR for this research. It is a method of inquiry that teachers may use to better understand their situations and make improvements. According to Smith and Rebolledo (2018), EAR can be an effective way to address students’ learning challenges enabling teachers to gain a better understanding of their classroom context. I found EAR as a kind of research that began with questions about classroom experiences, issues, or challenges. It is a highly reflective process that encourages teachers to examine their practice and discover what will or will not work for their students in their classrooms. It refers to stepping back from the present situation and beginning to look at one problem at a time and spending some time trying to understand the problem itself rather than acting quickly to solve it (Smith & Rebolledo, 2018). Further, according to Smith (2015), the EAR is action-oriented research carried out by teachers to address their classroom issues and develop their understanding of classrooms. EAR supports teachers to understand and improve their classroom practices. Smith and Rebolledo (2018) state that exploratory action research has two phases: the exploration phase and the implementation of actions phase. During the exploration phase, I explored the classroom issues and problems and in the implementation of the action phase, I planned for suitable action to solve the classroom issues and implemented them.

What I discovered?

At first, I narrowed down my topic. Before a week of research intervention, I collected data every day about the students’ attendance while taking notes on how often students remained absent, and whether they completely disappeared from the classes, or appeared and disappeared frequently. I discovered that most students’ attendance was below the average. Then, I prepared exploratory questions to examine the reasons behind the issue. My exploratory questions were as follows.

  1. Why do I think it’s important for learners to attend online classes regularly?
  2. What do my students think about online classes and English lessons? and
  3. What do other subject teachers say about this issue?

After setting up the exploratory questions, I worked in manageable ways of collecting data for myself, my students, and other teachers (Smith & Rebolledo, 2018). I chose four different tools for collecting data. They were reflective journals, observation forms, interviews, and focused group discussions. At first, I started keeping a reflective journal with my perception of regular classes. I requested six of my colleagues to write reflective journals on their perception of students’ low attendance. I also planned to explore students’ perceptions of the topic; so, I requested ten of my students to be in a focus group discussion. While choosing the focus group of students, I gave priority to the average and the low attendees. Then, I also conducted a focus group discussion using Zoom and interviews with four of them and noted down their responses. My interview questions were about the reasons behind the students’ low attendance in online classes. I also explored students’ behavior and attitude by observing the class videos I had recorded.  I observed mainly the students’ facial expressions, body language, and responses to the class. In my research, I also included other subject teachers because I wanted to know whether students did not attend English classes only or other subject classes too. I collected different ideas from different participants and clustered them to analyze based on their themes.

I categorized the data based on the keywords I had used in each statement. Smith and Rebolledo (2018) illustrate finding keywords and coding or labeling them helps the researcher separate similar ideas in one group and other similar ideas from other groups. At first, I grouped the data and categorized them into teachers’ perspectives and students’ perspectives. Most teachers, in the first category, explained that students preferred to play online games and talk with their friends rather than attend online lessons. The students did not attend the classes due to the lack of proper monitoring by their parents at home. Students were not serious about their classes because they took the classes lightly as they thought they would be upgraded without taking the physical test. The teachers also sometimes seemed in a hurry to complete the syllabus and did not create a fun learning environment. As a result, the students were bored with lecture-based classes. On some occasions, the teachers did not mind the students’ absences.

In the second category, I found that most students did not like the lecture-based classes that lacked interaction. They noticed that the teachers just read the slides and explained. The classes were more theoretical than practical. The family environment, poor internet connection, load-shedding, and bad equipment were other nuisances. Some teachers behaved rudely, lectured, or shouted at the students who made the mistake. So, the students left the class.

I also reviewed both perspectives on the bases of learning preferences, resources, motivation level, management, content delivery, and organization. I found that more than 90% of learners preferred to attend physical classes than online. They did not like to attend online classes as the teacher did not notice them. Around 75% of participants (both teachers and students) mentioned problems in content delivery i.e. the teachers read and explained the content in slides without any interaction. More than 60% of contributors stated that the teacher’s behavior was rude and not motivating and the classroom management and organization part seemed ignored. Similarly, more than 25% of participants mentioned that they were sometimes unable to attend classes due to frequent power cuts and network issues.

Thus, I explored that I was only expecting something from the students but not giving what they had expected from me. I realized that when something wrong occurs in my classroom, I should stop, reflect on the situation, collect data, analyze it, and plan activities accordingly. Then, I planned to focus on content delivery.

Action

EAR is classroom-based research carried out for professional development by teachers for teachers. After I conducted the exploration part of the EAR, I got to know about my classroom situation. I asked myself what my research findings tell me.

My research helped me decide my actions as follows.

  1. Conduct online classes with some creative and fun activities.
  2. Speak politely and respectfully to students and show love and care for them.
  3. Appreciate the students for their regular attendance.
  4. Conduct interactive classes with elicitation, group work, pair work, etc.

I started appearing in my classes with a welcoming smile, speaking politely, and doing some informal talk. I started classes with some warm-up or lead-in activities like telling stories, sharing news, asking riddles, etc. I supervised my students’ attendance by asking them to use the reaction button according to their mood, or typing in the chat box. I also requested parents to monitor their children during online classes as they would be with them most of the time. I anticipated problems and constraints of my action plans in completing the syllabus within the academic year, monitoring my large-class students’ attendance daily, and treating all my students equally.

I collected ideas to address those problems and constraints from ELT journals and other teachers’ blogs. Similarly, my students also supported me to minimize them since they were happy and satisfied with my loving and caring behavior. I divided the course contents into two categories: those the students could do themselves and those they needed my support on. The rest I discussed with my students in classes.

I assigned the class monitors to supervise regular attendance. I divided the classes into groups and instructed them to choose different leaders/presenters from each group to present their thoughts. I started addressing them by their names and appreciating them for their regular attendance, active participation, and their presentation.

After three weeks, I collected the data again, analyzed them, and finally evaluated my success. I requested one colleague to observe my class using the same observation form as before and critically comment on it. After that, I collected notes from a focused group discussion with ten students.

Results

I saw various improvements in my lessons, including better attendance and more engaged and motivated students. I found that the students had experienced changes in my content delivery and behavior. So, they started being regular in my classes. I realized that successful teaching is when my students are engaged and participate actively in my classes, and when they make targeted progress in their learning. Rebolledo et al. (2016) mention that when we can see our students smiling while doing a task, or when we can hear them speaking to each other about a task, the quality of life in the language classroom will surely improve and be excellent. EAR supported me to discover my classroom issues and solve them. It made me aware of my classroom situation and finally helped me to become a successful teacher.

Conclusion

EAR brought innovation to my remote teaching and learning strategies that I had not practiced before. It assisted me to be more aware of what I was doing, what was going well, and what was not in my classroom. It reminded me to think carefully and deeply about my work. This innovation enabled me to be polite, loving, and caring to my students and be more concerned with them. Overall, this research helped me to develop my professional career by improving my skills, and it also taught me not to assume the reasons for anything happening in the classroom.

References

Allwright, D. (2005). Developing principles for practitioner research: The case of exploratory practice. The Modern Language Journal89(3), 353-366.

Doggett, G. (1986). Eight Approaches to Language Teaching. ERIC. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED277280.pdf

Liddicoat, T. (2020). Thinking about Innovation [Lecture recording]. Moodle@Warwick University. https://moodle.warwick.ac.uk/mod/book/view.php?id=1330793

Rebolledo, P., Smith, R., & Bullock, D. (2016). Champion Teachers: Stories of exploratory action research. British Council.

Smith, R. (2015). Exploratory action research as work plan: why, what and where from. Teacher-Researchers in Action, 37-45. https://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/75297/

Smith, R., Connelly, T., & Rebolledo, P. (2014) Teacher-research as CPD: A project with Chilean secondary school teachers. In Hayes, D. (Ed.). Innovations in the Continuing Professional Development of English Language Teachers, pp. 111-128. British Council.

Smith, R., & Rebolledo, P. (2018). A handbook for exploratory action research. British Council.

About the Author

Ms. Dahal holds Master’s Degrees in both English education and English literature. As a Hornby Scholar, she is presently pursuing her MA TESOL at the University of Warwick in the UK. She has experience as a teacher, trainer of teachers, mentor, and trainer of mentors. She has also worked with CEHRD, the government of Nepal, as a virtual class and a radio class teacher. She is currently working with the British Council’s EAR project in Thailand as a mentor, too.

Karma Yoga: A Pedagogical Dimension

Mr. Sudan Prasad Dotel

Abstract

Karma Yoga is one of the chief themes of the Bhagavad Gita. It is the theory of cause and effect that advocates the concept of Stith Pragya. Relatedly, this article explores the precious knowledge that Lord Shree Krishna delivered to Arjun on the battlefield,. On the other hand, it attempts to dig up different layers of Karma Yoga by analyzing the major verses from pedagogical perspectives. It thereby focuses on how Karma Yoga, the science of work, can be a tool to enhance the qualities of both the teachers and students.

Keywords: Karma Yoga, pedagogy, Niskam Karma, Stith Pragya

Introduction

The word Karma derives from the Sanskrit root ‘Kri’ which means work or action. Here action includes physical as well as mental activity. The term ‘Yoga’ means union which is to connect one’s soul to the super soul called Brahma. This term encompasses both the objective and the process of achieving it. When we refer to it as a goal, we refer to it as “union with God,” and when we refer to it as a process; we refer to it as the “path” to union with God. Hence, ‘Karma’ plus ‘Yoga’ is Karma Yoga that was first introduced by Lord Shree Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita.

The Bhagavad Gita is the song of God that was delivered to Arjun at the onset of the Battle of Kurukshetra, which brought the division between the two cousins, Pandavas, and Kauravas. It all starts with the mighty warrior Arjun, who, upon having sight of the warriors on both sides, overwhelms with anguish and compassion for the dread of losing his relatives and friends, as well as the sins that would follow. Arjun finds himself in an ethical dilemma and wants to give up his professional duties. He, then, asks Lord Sri Krishna, the charioteer, to show him the right path. The Bhagavad Gita mainly focuses on the four paths:

  1. The Karma Yoga
  2. The Gyan Yoga
  3. The Raj Yoga
  4. The Bhakti Yoga

Karma Yoga

Among the aforementioned paths, this article focuses on Karma Yoga. To put it in simple terms, Karma Yoga is the science of action. The phrase ‘Karma Yoga’ refers to doing our worldly responsibilities and maintaining heavenly realization in our minds. As a result, whatever task we complete becomes an offering to God. Mukundananda (2019) states, “We keep our minds attached to god, no matter where we go and what we do. Then every work we perform becomes an offering to Him” (p.133).

The Bhagavad Gita is said to be the source of all knowledge. In this regard, Frauwallner (1973) argues that the Vedic philosophical tradition is older than the Greek civilization. Tilak (1959) has also interpreted that among all religious scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita is the brightest and the purest diamond. It offers a synthesis of many existing Vedic teachings within an overall framework of belief in God (Thompson, 2011, p. 14).  Therefore, the Bhagavad Gita is the essence of all the Upanishads in which Lord Sri Krishna is presented as milking the cow. The cow here symbolizes all the Upanishads as (Prabhupada, 1972, p.30):

सर्वोपनिषदो गावो , दोग्धा   गोपाल नन्दन:|

पार्थो वत्स: सुधीर्भोक्ता , दुग्धं  गीतामृतं महत् ||

 (Gita Mahatmya 5)

Lord Sri Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita advocates that one should be Karma Yogi to attain liberation and that the Karma Yogi is always positive and satisfied with what God has provided and continues the devotion to the supreme. In this regard, Datta and Jones (2019) stress that the essence of Karma Yoga is that an individual is duty oriented, indifferent to rewards, and imbued with equanimity. 

There are two types of karma: Sakam and Niskam

Sakam Karma: Every action we perform that is motivated by desires is Sakam karma. This karma reveals the selfish nature of humans. Sakam karma originated from the ego and promotes hatred, jealousy, and greed.

Nishkam karma: Nishkam means desire less action or action without desire. This Nishkam karma is a prominent theme of Karma Yoga and, in fact, of The Bhagavad Gita as well.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |

    मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि |(2.47)

In this very popular verse, Lord Sri Krishna states you have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your action. Never consider yourself the cause of the result of your activities and never be attached to not doing your duty.

This verse is often quoted whenever the topic of Karma Yoga is discussed. The verse gives us the following firm instructions regarding the science of work:

  1. Do your duty, but do not concern yourself with results.
  2. The fruits of your actions are not for your enjoyment, but for God.
  3. Even while working give up the pride of doership.
  4. Do not be attached to inaction (Mukundananda, 2013, p.133).

Thus, it advocates the principle of duty for duty’s sake, regardless of the outcome (Vivekananda, 2009, p.24). This Nishkam karma concept is an important part of Karma Yoga. Lord Sri Krishna reveals the law of Karma through Nishkam Karma. The mind is restless when the wishes remain unfulfilled according to the law of Karma. It is because our ambitions bring stress and sadness since they invite greed, which leads to discontentment, disappointment, and suffering. One cannot accomplish one’s duties perfectly unless one is free of mental agitations. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Sri Krishna reveals:

यदा ते मोहकलिलं बुद्धिर्व्यतितरिष्यति |

तदा गन्तासि निर्वेदं श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च | (2.52)

This means while contemplating the objects of the senses, one develops attachments to them. Attachment, in turn, leads to desire, and from desire arises anger.

The law of karma is a cause-and-effect theory (Shankar, 2013, p.5). It refers to any action that is the result of the cause. This law influences the punishment or reward in the next life in the never-ending cycle of birth and death. As a result, the law of Karma is highly valued in the moral, ethical, and spiritual realms of existence.

Karma Yoga does not imply that one should quit working; rather, it entails a shift in one’s attitude about duty. In other words, understanding Karma Yoga alters one’s attitude regarding work. As a result, the work remained the same, but the attitude got changed. The distinction was in his awareness. Initially, he intended to battle for his state’s return; but afterward, he fought with detachment, that is, for the delight of Lord Sri Krishna. So, Karma Yoga involves the change of consciousness toward the fruit of our work. In a nutshell, when devotion is added to our work, it becomes Karma Yoga.

Looking at the above verse again:

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |

    मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि |(2.47)

https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/

We have the right to accomplish our work, as Lord Sri Krishna reveals. He asks us to put our fullest effort into our duty and leave the results for God because there are so many factors involved in the outcome, the fruits of our actions are not in our hands. Our previous Karmas, our destiny, the current condition, the karmas of others in society, the surroundings, and many other factors play a significant role in determining the outcome. So, Lord Sri Krishna reminds Arjun that results cannot be determined by him alone.

This theory also reminds us of the concept of Sthit Pragya. Sthit Pragya is the state of being perfect. Lord Sri Krishna to a question of Arjun explains:

 प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् |

आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट: स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते || (2.55)

Source: https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/

This verse means when a man puts away all the desires of his mind, and when his spirit is content in itself, and then he is called Sthit Pragya, stable in intelligence. Thus a Karma Yogi has this quality of Sthit Pragya.

Pedagogical Implications

Ghimire (2012) opines that The Bhagavad Gita can be conceived as an educational philosophy because it contains all the components to be found in the educational philosophy (p. 343). The Bhagavad-Gita has many pedagogical implications. The timeless knowledge imparted by the Lord Shree Krishna to Arjun is ever a tonic in modern pedagogy. Teachers are the pillars of the education system. They are Karma Yogi. They need to handle heterogeneous classes. They need to be very motivated both internally and externally, maintaining equanimity in the dualities of life. They need to keep focusing on their professional duties with the knowledge of duty for duty’s sake. The knowledge of Karma Yoga always inspires and stimulates them to be more devoted in their works accepting the Karmic results and knowing that every problem has a solution as Lord Shree Krishna states in the verse 2.37.

हतो वा प्राप्स्यसि स्वर्गं जित्वा वा भोक्ष्यसे महीम् |

तस्मादुत्तिष्ठ कौन्तेय युद्धाय कृतनिश्चय: || 37||

The literal meaning of this verse is:

 If you fight, you will either be slain on the battlefield and go to the celestial abodes, or you will gain victory and enjoy the kingdom on earth.

Source: https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/

 This verse symbolizes the battlefield of life, where virtues and vice constantly confront and the evils always try to overcome the virtue. It encourages and stimulates students to keep fighting a good fight to overcome the vice.

Patience is another gem of teachers. Repeatedly, they need to face critical situations that might make them lose their patience. However, the knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita, especially Karma Yoga, enables one to stay cool even in worse situations as the Lord Shree Krishna states in 2.38.

सुखदु:खे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ |

ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि || 2.38||

The literal meaning of this verse is:

Fight for the sake of duty, treating alike happiness and distress, loss and gain, victory and defeat. Fulfilling your responsibility in this way, you will never incur sin.

Source: https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/

Additionally, this verse enhances the skill of teachers. It advocates the teachers to stay focused on professional duty no matter how good or bad is the situation. A good teacher should stand beyond joy or distress, loss or gain, or victory and defeat.

In teaching-learning activities, our mind plays a prominent and critical role. Research has shown that a fearless mind can learn more effectively, breaking down psychological barriers.

If we can control our minds, it’s our best friend if not, it goes wild.  Lord Shree Krishna explains this fact to Arjun in the Bhagavad-Gita as:

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् |

आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन: ||6.5||

https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/

This verse implies that our mind is in charge of elevating or lowering ourselves. External influences are not to blame. Our ideas and deeds determine our fate. A mind is a world of its own, capable of making heaven out of hell and hell out of heaven. The mind, like the body, is afflicted with several ailments. Our Vedic texts refer to them as wrath, greed, desire, envy, and pride, and they have considerably more psychological consequences than physical ones. In his teachings, Lord Buddha states, “A man’s mind may make him a Buddha or it may make him a beast.” Mislead by error, one becomes a demon, enlightened, and one becomes Buddha. Therefore, control your mind and let it deviate from the right path.

However, the knowledge of Nishkam karma helps teachers and students with mental well-being resulting in smooth and long last learning.

Exam phobia and poor performance in the exam can drive students toward depression. Sometimes we happen to hear very horrible news of suicide committed by students due to failure in an exam. In such a critical situation, the knowledge of Karma Yoga can be the savior of life as the Lord Shree Krishna mentions in 2.55

प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् |

आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट: स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते || 55||

Karma Yogis have the qualities of Sthit Pragya. They have control over the senses and remain undisturbed by the troubles of life. This verse encourages the teachers and the students to stay positive no matter how worse the situation is. Positivity boosts our morale and thus broadens our cognitive horizon.

Teachers are role models for the students. They are the path showers. So, besides teaching, the teachers’ behaviors and attitudes affect the students. The following verse supports this inevitable fact. It explains that common people copy and follow the actions that great people perform. Great people should be accountable to society.  Thus, the understanding of this knowledge of Karma Yoga keeps the teachers in self-discipline, which is an ornament of an individual.

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जन: |

स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते ||3.21||

Finally, Lord Shree Krishna reveals a profound truth that the beauty of Yoga lies in Karma, the science of work in chapter 2.50

बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृते |

तस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योग: कर्मसु कौशलम् || 50||

This verse conveys an insightful message of learning that, if one is focused on learning being detached from other worldly things, they get the ultimate success in the mission.

Conclusion

Karma Yoga is one of the major themes of the Bhagavad Gita. It’s the science of action. Besides its spiritual and philosophical message, it has multiple pedagogical implications as well. The knowledge of Karma Yoga makes the teachers Niskam Karmi. It enables the students to be leaders, not followers. It always encourages teachers and students to stay focused on professional duty despite the complexities of life. Mind management plays a key role in learning languages or obtaining any knowledge. It’s the knowledge of Niskam karma that enables them to work under pressure handling the dualities of life. Thus, it enhances the qualities of teachers and students stimulating hope, forgiveness, patience, determination, motivation, and above all the divinity of humans, which are the key features of a classroom.

References

Datta, P., & Jones, M. T. (2019). Karma Yoga, its origins, fundamentals, and seven life constructs. International Journal of Hinduism & Philosophy, 12-23. https://www.academia.edu/40940962/Karma_yoga_its_origins_fundamentals_and_seven_life_constructs

Frauwallner, E. (1973). History of Indian philosophy (Vol.1): The philosophy of the Vedas

and of the epic- the Buddha and the Jain – the Sankhya and the classical yoga system. Motilal Banarsidass.

Ghimire, J. (2012). An arts-based educational rendition of the Bhagavad Gita (Unpublished M. Phil. dissertation). Kathmandu University.

Mukundananda, S. (2019). 7 Mindsets for success, happiness, and fulfillment. Westland Publications Private Limited.

Mukundananda. S. (2013). Bhagavad Gita: The song of God. Radha Govind Dham.

Shankar, R. (2013). Bhagavad Gita: A discourse by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Sri Sri Publications Trust.

Prabhupada, (1972). Bhagavad Gita as it is. The Bhakti Vedanta Book Trust.

Thompson, C. J. (1997). Interpreting consumers: A hermeneutical framework for deriving

marketing insights from the texts of consumers’ consumption stories. Journal of Marketing Research, 34(4), 438-455. http://www. jstor.org

Tilak, B. G. (1959). Shreemad Vagawad Geeta rahasya athawa karmayog shastra. Jayant Shreedhar Tilak.

Vivekananda, (1947). Thoughts on The Gita: Lectures and discourse, volume 4.   Advaita Ashram.

About the Author

Mr. Dotel is pursuing his M. Phil. in ELE (English Language Education) at Kathmandu University. His focus is on eastern philosophy, particularly as it relates to The Bhagavad Gita’s teaching aspects. In addition, he had previously served as visiting faculty for four years at Kathmandu University. He helped develop the Liverpool Education Network, which operates a college and school. He is currently employed there as Vice-Chairperson. He is a poet and lyricist in addition to his academic and professional careers.

Students’ Views on Messenger as a Language Learning Tool

Mr. Surendra Lama

Abstract

Technocracy and its mechanisms have affected all sectors, including education. It has brought tremendous changes in English language teaching and learning and made it mandatory for us to integrate some of its applications. Many applications such as WeChat, Viber, WhatsApp, and Emails are used to share information. But, one of the most popular applications is Messenger, to which many students and teachers have access in Nepal. The messenger application is used primarily for communication and conversation purposes; but, after the pandemic, this platform has been used as a teaching and learning tool which allows students and teachers to express information, thoughts, and ideas through various features of the Messenger such as attaching pictures, sharing videos and website links, presenting slides and many more. So, this study examines the students’ views toward the Messenger app and how they perceive the application and its usefulness in learning the English language. Data were collected from a survey of 40 students studying at the higher secondary level in Kathmandu, Nepal via questionnaires. A pilot study was also conducted on 60 learners to determine the reliability of the instruments. The quantitative data were gathered and summarized to identify the usefulness of the learning tool for the learners. The findings of this study presented that the use of the Messenger app helps students to learn a language by giving them a platform to share information, exchange ideas, and have opportunities for discussion with peers and teachers. The study also shows that the students have positive attitudes toward using Messenger as a learning tool. So, this study suggests using Messenger as a learning tool as well as a language input tool.

Introduction

Technology and its social media platforms have brought tremendous changes in human lives as well as in different sectors such as business, health, science, education, etc. Advanced technology has made various applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, WeChat, etc. available to all ages and backgrounds. These social media platforms are popular in different contexts and regions based on the popularity of the application. For example, WhatsApp is a highly used application in Malaysia. Connectedly, Mister and Embi (2016) have researched students’ perceptions of using WhatsApp as a learning tool in Malaysian ESL classrooms. Their study showed that WhatsApp is significant in helping students learn the language better and enhancing their English proficiency by providing access to sharing information, images, video links, pictures, etc. Similarly, in Nepal, social media platforms are rated for tremendous societal connections between individuals to rapidly get and share humongous worldwide information (Subedi & Subedi, 2020). Likewise, the messenger is one of Nepal’s widely used smartphone applications for different purposes. Since remote lessons were introduced during the pandemic in Nepal, the messenger application has been well-liked for exchanging presentations, notes, videos, and information links as well as for asking questions and receiving prompt responses. Further, the application helps to create groups among the teacher and students and allows users to share information. Thus, this study aims to examine the significance of using Messenger as a learning tool and identify the students’ attitudes and perceptions based on their use. It also targets to explore its level of usefulness as a learning tool in the future. However, I am motivated to carry out this study since this issue is relatively new and there haven’t been many studies in Nepal.

Literature Review

The outbreak of the COVID – 19 has brought an enormous challenge to education systems worldwide at all levels of teaching. It has affected the face-to-face mode of delivery too. However, the Facebook Messenger application has contributed much to English language teaching in this crisis by providing an opportunity to collaborate and interact with the learners, supplying necessary materials, and connecting learners with global networks (Giri & Rana, 2022). They, further, state that by posting language-related films and recording voices elaborating on the material to be taught in a way that is clearer than written words, the Facebook Messenger application supports students in sharing various concepts and information learned in their classes. This application has allowed the learners to solve their problems through personal chat or in groups anytime as well as get feedback from their teachers or classmates either in written or oral form. In this regard, Samani and Noordin (2020) argue that the Messenger application provides many attractive facilities such as sharing information in the form of chat, audio, videos, and images. So, many teaching and learning activities can be done using this app.

Additionally, applications such as Messenger help transform traditional teaching and learning concepts, offering a new, interactive and innovative space such as a Messenger group for discussion (Ghimire, 2021). He further states that the use of social media platforms such as Messenger in the classroom has transformed teaching and learning activities from the traditional teacher-centered to student-centered modality. The students’ increased possibilities for participation, interaction, teamwork, and discussion on the messenger app have helped them improve their language abilities. In this way, modern technology provides a collaborative learning environment inside and outside the classroom for the students and teachers. Furthermore, Sinjali and Laksamba (2020) state that teachers can create a Facebook group where both the teacher and the learners can post information, ideas, teaching and learning content, etc.  The learners learn by accessing the virtually available materials and asking questions via Messenger either orally or in written form. Facebook and Messenger can be used as tools in the teaching and learning of the English language because of their significant features.

Research Questions

The following research questions have been designed to focus on the purpose of this study and to obtain descriptive statistical data under a quantitative research design.

  1. What are the students’ views on the integration of Messenger as a learning tool in English language learning? 
  2. What is the usefulness level of the Messenger application in English language learning? 

Research Methodology

The descriptive quantitative research technique was utilized in this study because it allowed for a systematic empirical analysis of the subject topic. This research strategy involved going deep into the study and comprehending the variables to assess their applicability to the target construct.

The data were collected using questionnaires as the primary research tool. The questionnaires were personally formulated and administered. It required 10 to 15 minutes to be completed.

The questions were based on a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response. Some questions were based on rating satisfaction such as Disagree (D), Strongly Disagree (SD), Uncertain (U), Agree (A), and Strongly Agree (SA). There were 40 participants from classes 11 and 12 from different schools in Kathmandu valley, including 20 males and 20 females.  It was purposive sampling as it was appropriate to address research questions. Before completing the questionnaires, the survey was conducted directly on a selected group of students.

The questionnaires were designed in Google form format. The questionnaire link was provided in the respondents’ email to get valid information about Messenger as a language learning tool. This instrument made it convenient for the respondents to complete the questionnaires in their own time and own ways.

Similarly, the random samples were taken from the open participation to identify the reliability of this instrument in this research. For this purpose, the link to the questionnaires was shared on Facebook, requesting to participate in the questionnaires. 60 participants from different schools in Kathmandu valley participated.

Findings

In this study, forty participants responded to the questionnaires. The participants’ usefulness levels were collected regarding the Messenger app as a learning tool and its significance in future use. The data were then processed in SPSS 22.0. The overall percentage was reported with the total size of the sample, and the result of the descriptive statistics was presented in the tables based on responses from the questionnaires as follows: 

The level of attitudes and their perception toward the Messenger app

Attitude/perceptionSDDUASAInterp.Total Participants
Learning language through the Messenger application is a pleasant idea  –  –  –  10 (25%)  30 (75%)                            High                            40                                        
Language learning via the Messenger app is a positive idea  –  –  –  15 (37.5%)  25 (62.5%)  
Messenger is easy to use 18 (45%)22 (55%)
Messenger is the fast way to share information–  17 (42.5%)23 (57.5%)
The Messenger helps to pass and discuss information…..  –  –  1 (2.5%)  8 (20%)  31 (77.5%)
My interaction in Messenger was clear and understandable  –  –  –  11 (27.5%)    29 (77.5%)
Learning the English language in the Messenger app is convenient  –  –   13 (32.5%)  27 (72.5%)
The Messenger is convenient for academic purposes  –  –   12 (30%)  28 (70%)
The Messenger application -allows for engaging and group discussion with peers and teachers at any time.    –    –     19 (47.5%)    21 (52.5%)

The data above demonstrate the high level of agreement from the participants about the use of the Messenger app as an effective learning tool. Out of 40, 31 participants strongly agreed that the Messenger app helped the students to pass and discuss information easily in language learning, which is the highest level displaying the positive attitude and perceptions of the participants. Only one participant was uncertain regarding this. Similarly, regarding engaging and group discussion with peers and teachers at any time, 19 students (47.5%) agreed, and 21 students (52.5%) strongly agreed. Overall, the data presented positive attitudes and perceptions of students in the majority.  The majority of the students agreed and strongly agreed with the items presented to identify the learners’ attitudes and perceptions regarding Messenger as an integration tool for learning the English language.

The random samples were taken from the open participants, and 60 participants participated in the questionnaires. The data collected from open participants showed that 47% of participants stated strongly agreed, 45.5% agreed, 5.5% demonstrated uncertainty, and 2% disagreed with the statements listed to identify attitudes/perceptions about using Messenger as a learning tool in English language learning. The results are presented in the pie chart as follows:

SD       – Strongly Disagree    D         – Disagree      U         – Uncertain    A        – Agree with SA       – Strongly Agree

The usefulness of the Messenger app in language learning

The usefulness level of the Messenger appSDDUASAInterp.Total Participants
I found Messenger to be useful in my language learning  –  –  –  5 (12.5%)  35 (87.5%)  High  40
The use of Messenger increased my language learning productively  –  –  2 (5%)  7 (17.5%)  31 (77.5%)
I improved my performance in language learning having used the Messenger  –  –  1 (2.5%)  17 (47.5%)  22 (55%)
I improved my writing skills by the use of the Messenger  –  –  3 (7.5%)  19 (47.5%)  19 (47.5%)
I improved my speaking skills by the use of the Messenger  –  –  4 (10%)  18 (45%)  18 (45%)
Interaction and discussion in the Messenger group helped me to be active learners  –  –  –  25 (62.5%)  15 (37.5%)
Interaction and discussion in the Messenger group helped to increase the confidence level in language activity    –    –    –    17 (42.5%)    23 (57.5%)
I will use the Messenger application in the future to learn English  –  –  5 (12.5%)  25 (62.5%)  10 (25%)
I will stop using Messenger in my future language learning  18 (45%)  17 (42.5%)  5 (12.5%)  

SD       – Strongly Disagree    D         – Disagree                     U      – Uncertain               A        – Agree                      SA       – Strongly Agree

The survey data showed that Messenger seemed to be a highly useful tool in language learning. Among 40 participants, the data demonstrated that 35 strongly agreed with Messenger’s usefulness in language learning, representing the highest level of effectiveness in language learning. Similarly, 31 participants strongly agreed, 7 agreed, and 2 presented uncertainty concerning the increment of language learning productively via the Messenger application. Along with that, as far as the enhancement of writing and speaking skills via Messenger was concerned, the survey data demonstrated that almost 49 % of participants agreed and 50% strongly agreed. Likewise, it was found that 25 participants agreed that interaction and discussion in the Messenger group helped them to be active learners, whereas 15 participants strongly agreed with it. It was also identified that interaction and discussion in the Messenger group helped them to increase their confidence level in language activity which was agreed by 17 and strongly agreed by 23 participants. Regarding the future use of the application in language learning, only 5 students were uncertain, and all other learners showed agreement in using the application continuously as a learning tool.

Similarly, open questions were asked to find out the usefulness of Messenger in English language learning, and data showed that 96.5% of the participants responded, ‘Yes’; 2.5% answered ‘No’, and 1% were uncertain. The findings are presented in the pie chart as follows:

Discussion

The findings of this study suggest that the attitudes/perceptions of the students towards integrating Messenger as a learning tool in English language learning were highly positive. Due to its convenience in using, learning, quickly sharing knowledge, and helping in discussing the information, most of the students agreed and strongly agreed and thus gave a high level of attitudes/perceptions. The findings demonstrated that the usefulness of Messenger in language learning was at a high level. It was therefore identified that the Messenger application increases the learners’ language learning productively and improves their performance in language learning too.

Furthermore, involving the learners in interaction and discussion in the Messenger group was highly beneficial, which helped them to be active learners and increase their confidence level in language activities. The Messenger application highly assists students in delivering and receiving any information, asking questions, and getting responses quickly and effectively. In this regard, Samani and Noordin (2020) state that the Messenger application provides many attractive facilities such as sharing information in the form of chat, audio, videos, and images. So, many teaching and learning activities can be facilitated using this app. Thus, it is beneficial not only in crisis and remote teaching but also in face-to-face mode. The study also found the possibility that the students will not stop using the Messenger application in learning the language in the future too. The Messenger can also be a source for knowledge acquisition by sharing all information related to subjects learned in person or group. The shared knowledge will spread faster if it is transferred via the group in Messenger. 

Implications and Recommendations

Since the findings of this study present the students’ positive attitudes/perceptions towards the use of Messenger in language learning, this study is significant for school administrators, teachers, and students. Thus, its usage should be encouraged among other learners of the language too. It even helps to increase the collaboration among the excellent and the struggling students by forming groups in Messenger. Besides, it is helpful as a teaching tool to deliver any teaching and learning information and materials such as pictures, information links, and so on to the students. In addition, the results also showed a high level of use of Messenger among the students. Therefore, the Ministry of Education of Nepal should also focus on this situation to improve and maintain the use of Messenger as a learning tool. As more studies are not found in this area in the context of Nepal, further studies are recommended to discover other skills developed using Messenger and address learners’ problems while using the Messenger application. Finally, since this study has been conducted only on high school students, it is recommended to conduct research on other levels with other samples.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the Messenger application is an effective tool in language learning, and it increases the students’ engagement in learning through various ways such as sharing, discussing, and collaborating with others. This study was successfully conducted to determine the level of perceptions, usefulness, and attitudes toward using the Messenger app. Further studies are recommended related to the Messenger application and language learning. Overall, using Messenger in language learning is beneficial to students, teachers, and school administrators to make learning more effective.

Reference

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research Design (4th Ed.). Sage.

Ghimire, S. P. (2021). Use of social media in English Language Learning and Teaching in Nepal. NELTA ELT Forum, 5(1), 1-7.

Giri, P. C., & Rana, K. (2022). Lessons learned from teaching English through Facebook and Messenger. International Journal of Technology in Education and Science, 6(1), 14-31.

Mistar, I. B., & Embi, M. A. (2016). Students’ perception of using WhatsApp as a learning tool in ESL classroom. Journal of Education and Science, 4, 96-104.

Samani, E., & Noordin, N. (2020). Getting connected with Facebook Messenger: Exploring meaningful interaction through online chats in the ESL context. Journal of Modern Research in English Language Studies, 7(3), 23-24.

Sinjali, K. K., & Laksamba, C.K. (2020). Effectiveness of Facebook-integrated instructional method in improving learners’ English listening proficiency in schools in Nepal. Strengths for Today Bright Hope for Tomorrow, 20(5), 28-40.

Subedi, D., & Subedi, R. (2020). Practicing self-learning of ICT for resilience amidst the COVID-19 outbreak: Experiences from Kathmandu valley. Research in Educational Policy and Management, 2 (2), 78-96.

About the Author

Mr. Lama completed his M.Ed. in English Language Teaching (ELT) from Kathmandu University, Nepal, in 2013. Now, he is doing EdD in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Anaheim University, Anaheim, California, USA. He received his graduate degree in mentoring and professional leadership from Rotorua, New Zealand’s Waiariki Institute of Technology. He has been teaching English for more than ten years. He has been working as a learning advisor at Universal Community College (UCC). Through VIPKIDS, he has been instructing English to pupils from all around the world for more than three years.

Session Plan: The Awakening Age by Ben Okri 

Mr. Pramod Subedi

A session plan outlines the sequenced activities to be conducted during the delivery of the content in a training session. It also includes the sequences of information related to the content of the training. The session plan supports the trainers to present the information and conduct the activities in a logical order and in an effective way. It mainly describes the objectives of the session, contents and related information to be delivered, the trainer’s roles, trainees’ roles, required materials, and even the possible challenges. This session plan presents the stepwise procedure of delivering an online as well as an in-person training session for teaching the poem ‘The Awakening Age’ by Ben Okri.

Objectives of the Session

On completion of the poem The Awakening Age, the participants should be able to:

  • use the techniques and tools for teaching the poem and its theme, context, tone, vocabulary, etc.
  • enhance poetry  recitation skills with voice modulation
  • identify the figures of speech used in the poem
  • demonstrate their skills to explain, analyze, interpret, and summarize the poem
  • use critical thinking and creative writing skills based on the text

Stages

The trainer delivers the training session by following the following stages. Each stage demonstrates the trainer’s activities, trainees’ activities, required materials, and possible challenges along with the estimated time.

Warmer: 5 min.

Trainer’s Activities

  • Ask the trainees to write the reasons for migrating from our country to another country and vice versa in the chat box (ask the participants to answer orally in the in-person sessions)

Trainees’ Activities

  • Respond in the chat box (respond orally in the in-person sessions)

Required Materials

  • Questions from the ‘ Before reading section of the poem’
  • Map of Africa and Photo of the Poet

Possible Challenges

  • Many trainees want to contribute more.
  • The trainer should be aware of time constraints. 

Context Setting/ Pre-Activities: 10 min.

Trainer’s Activities

  • Play the short video about Nigeria’s civil war and ask the trainees to write about it in a sentence/ phrase.
  • Ask a few questions to check the participants’ background knowledge about the poet, and the context of the poem.
  • Write about Ben Okri in one or two words.
  • What are his poems mostly about?
  • What is this poem about?

(Ask the participants to answer orally in the in-person sessions)

Trainees’ Activities

  • Respond in the chat box after/ while watching the video or respond orally after the video is played.
  • Respond based on their prior knowledge.

(Respond orally in the in-person sessions)

Required Materials

Possible Challenges

  • Trainees might have heterogeneity of background knowledge.
  • They might not have read the poem.
  • The trainer should inform about the topic the previous day.

Presentation/ While Activities: 15 min.

Trainer’s Activities

  • Read the poem aloud with proper rhyme/rhythm/tone.
  • Ask participants to recite the poem with voice modulation (2-3 participants recite assigned parts) and provide feedback on their reading.
  • Ask the participants to find some new vocabulary for their students, and even ask them how they present vocabulary in the class.
  • Ask the participants to share the meaning of some words from the poem.  After getting the responses, present the meanings and pronunciation of the difficult vocabulary in slides.

(Ask the participants to answer orally in the in-person sessions)

Trainees’ Activities

  • Listen attentively.
  • Recite the poem aloud (the given stanza).
  • Find some difficult vocabulary and share ideas for presenting new vocabulary in the class (2/3 of them do this).
  • Respond in the chat box.

 (Respond orally in the in-person sessions)

Required Materials

  • The poem in the PowerPoint slide
  • List of difficult vocabulary from the poem

Meridian line: A meridian is an imaginary circle line from the North Pole to the South Pole.

Rage: violent uncontrollable anger

Glory: public praise, honor, and fame

Ascend: to go up; move upward; rise

Perceptions: the way you think about or understand someone or something

Wisdom: ability to make good decisions using knowledge, experience, and emotions

Harvest: the process or period of gathering in crops

Possible Challenges

  • Some participants may be reluctant to recite the poem and to be involved in activities.
  • The trainer should motivate the less active participants.

Practice/ While Activities: 20 min.

Trainer’s Activities

  • Divide the trainees into six groups (breakout rooms in online sessions): brief them about the activities that they need to do during a group discussion:
  • There will be six breakout rooms/groups.
  • After you enter your assigned room/ group, select your group leader and a secretary.
  • Spend 1-2 minutes reciting the poem loudly.
  • Then discuss the literary/poetic devices used in the poem.
  • Discuss one question from understanding the text and one question from reference to the context. Room 1 will discuss the first question (a) of both sections; Room 2 will discuss the second question (b) of both sections, and so on.
  • The group secretary will note down and finalize the answer.
  • Finally, summarize the poem in some points.
  • Move to different breakout rooms/ groups, observe, and provide feedback,

Trainees’ Activities

  1. Do the activities as instructed and assigned.
  2. Recite the poem individually on mute mode.
  3. Explore the literary devices/ poetic elements in the poem.
  4. Discuss and write answers to the assigned question.
  5. Discuss and summarize the poem in a few sentences.

Required Materials

  • Set of instructions for group discussion/breakout rooms (in PPT).
  1. There will be six breakout rooms.
  2. After you enter your assigned room, select your group leader and a secretary.
  3. Spend 1-2 minutes reciting the poem loudly (keep muted while reading aloud).
  4. Then discuss the literary/poetic devices used in the poem.
  5. Discuss one question from understanding the text and one question from reference to the context. Room 1/A will discuss on the first question (a) of both sections; Room 2/B will discuss the second question (b) of both sections and so on.
  6. The group secretary will note down and finalize the answer.
  7. Summarize the poem in some points.
  8. The group secretary will have to present the group’s answers in the main session.

Possible Challenges

  • All participants may not be equally active.
  • The trainer needs to move to different groups and inspire all group members to contribute.

Production/ Post-Activities (20 min.)

Trainer’s Activities

  • Bring the participants in the main session back/ End the group discussion.
  • Ask each group secretary/ group representative to share the literary devices/ poetic elements found in the poem. Then, present the list prepared in the PowerPoint slide.
  • Ask each group secretary/ representative to present the answer to assigned questions one by one.
  • Ask 1/2 group secretary/ group representative to share the summary or ask 1 or 2 participants to share the summary of the poem if they have prepared it previously.
  • Share a sample summary of the poem and ask the trainees for a quick reflection.

Trainees’ Activities

  • Each group secretary/ representative shares the literary devices/ poetic elements found in the poem.
  • Each group secretary/ representative presents the answer to assigned questions one by one.
  • 1/2 group secretary/representative or 1/2 participants share the summary of the poem if they have prepared it during the discussion or previously.
  • Reflect on the summary provided by the trainer.

Required Materials

  • List of literary devices/ poetic elements found in the poem.
    • Rhymes:
      • Line-shine
      • rage-age
      • hope-rope
      • height-light
      • gain-pain
      • poverty-creativity
      • rhyme-time
    • Rhyme pattern:
      • AABBCCDDEEFFGG
    • Symbols:
      • awakening age
      • ascend
    • Simile
      • Like a mountain rope
    • Metaphor
      • Flowering of Truth
      • Loving harvest
    • Meter?
    • Sonnet?
  • Sample  summary of the poem

This poem shows the hardships and problems of the Nigerian people. To overcome these hardships caused by the Civil War, the poet makes an appeal for unity, peace, and solidarity not only among the Nigerian people but also among all human beings all over the world. The poet shows his hope for a harmonious, peaceful, and developed society.

After the Nigerian Civil War, many Nigerian people migrated from one place to another place in search of a new world with better opportunities. They had a hope that they could overcome the problems of poverty, hunger, scarcity, conflicts, unemployment, etc. In the past, the Nigerian people fought each other during the civil war. So, they had very miserable conditions with hunger and poverty. But, now the civil war has ended. So, they believe that the awakening age started when they have a hope to reach success.

The speaker thinks that the Nigerian people have now changed their narrow-mindedness. Now, they are ready to use their work, wisdom, and creativity, and make their life happy and successful. For this unity, peace and solidarity among people are needed.

Possible Challenges

  • Trainees may want to share more and that may lead to time issues.
  • The trainer should be aware of time constraints. 

Post-Production Activities: 15 min.

Trainer’s Activities

  • Assess the trainees’ participation through multiple choice questions in quizzes/ PPT slides.
  • Ask the trainees to share some innovative ideas/ activities that can be used to teach the poem better.
  • Ask them to design a lesson plan to teach a poem to their students (home assignment).

Trainees’ Activities

  • Participate in the quiz.
  • Review the session and share some innovative ideas/ activities that can be used to teach the poem better.
  • Design a lesson plan to teach a poem to their students (home assignment).

Required Materials

(Or teachers need to prepare)

  • Lesson plan format

Possible Challenges

  • Some participants may feel uneasy about using quizzes. The trainer needs to provide instructions properly.
  • The trainer should be well prepared technically too.
  • Besides, participants may neglect the home assignment.

This plan lays out a tentative strategy for presenting the processes of teaching poetry in a training program. However, depending on the training situation, the trainer may alter the method.

About the Author

Mr. Subedi, an experienced ELT practitioner, leads the department of practice teaching in addition to teaching English education at the Bageshwari Multiple Campus in Kohalpur. He is currently an M.Phil. Student in English Education at Nepal Open University. He is a former teacher for the NELTA Bank Access Center’s English Access Micro-scholarship program in Nepal. He has 15 years of teaching experience at all grade levels, across a variety of sites and institutions. He has also finished a few MOOCs and online ELT courses, such as TESOL Advanced practitioner. Additionally, Mr. Subedi has led several workshops and training sessions for English instructors at all levels both physically and virtually, including Capacity Building Training for grades 111 and 12.