Dear Valued Readers,
Welcome to the September Issue of NELTA ELT Forum. Traditionally, teachers were just an active agent of imparting the textbook knowledge to the students, and those textbooks were the only source of knowledge. With the advent of other innovative teaching approaches and technology, there has been a drastic change in this mode. Dynamic teachers rely on myriad issues and concern that center around their teaching; recently, rather than just considering teachers as knowledge imparting agent, they are considered as an autonomous agent who sensitizes themselves depending on the local context of their classroom. This idea goes against the traditional notion of the role of teachers. Today’s teachers do not confine themselves to the textbook knowledge; instead, they play different roles depending on the situations. Teachers of this age are researchers, motivators, guides, mentors, friends, administrators, and managers. More importantly, they update their knowledge relying on multiple sources. In this regard, almost all of our blog issues are guided by this latest definition of teachers—what role teachers can play, how the local issues are addressed, and how we can bring diverse classroom challenges into our global village.
Our current issue is guided by the principle of considering teachers as active and dynamic agents of the entire education process. The articles and reflective accounts we have in this issue cover multiple concerns of classroom teaching. For example, we have a contribution from, Ganesh Kumar Bastola, who talks about the content knowledge and its role in Nepalese language teaching context particularly—i.e., he centers his discussion on the significance of content knowledge in language teaching in Nepalese context and teachers’ perception of such knowledge in their classroom delivery.
Variation is a dynamic idea that changes with time and context. Therefore, we cannot generalize language variations in different linguistic contexts, i.e., the way the English language differs from Nepali and any other language is likely to be different. Although language variation is a huge area, language teachers should be mindful of this notion so that they can better address the classroom challenges that arise as a result of the language differences. In this light, we feel honored to present you an article entitled, Language Variation in Afghanistan by Somaiyar Meer who speaks contextually on the issue of language variation. There are multiple examples which are grounded with some theoretical understanding, Ms Meer illustrates how the very idea of language variation has been taking place in Afghanistan including the example of the current President of Afghanistan.
In line with these arguments, maybe it’s the first time that we have brought an issue with three very unique reflective accounts from three different emerging language scholars, Kyle Lucas, Parva Panahi, and Qiusi Zhang.
Kyle Lucas, in his reflective piece, discusses the role critical thinking plays in the second language. He notes that while critical thinking is associated with different aspects of students’ activities in a language classroom but is not stressed enough as a skill to be taught in the classroom. He then notes how such skill can be fostered by drawing on his personal experiences. Because, it is an area that EFL language teachers pay less attention to, this article is expected to provide a point of reference to reflect and develop your viewpoints centering your teaching context.
Parva Panahi talks about the role of self-assessment in a writing classroom particularly. She argues that self-assessment can provide students with opportunities to think about their performance and find ways to change, adapt or improve, and points to need for teachers to support students’ self-assessment practices by training them systematically in ways of assessing their performance and learning. The piece is hoped to provide motivation for teachers to try self-assessment in the writing class and help students enhance their writing skills.
In the third reflective piece, Qiusi Zhang shares her experience of introducing innovative teaching practices in test preparation classes in China. She discusses the dilemmas that she faced as a teacher and the confusions that students had when she introduced communicative language teaching practice in her class. The article by Ms Quisi will offer teachers ideas on how they could bring changes in their classroom approaches regardless of the challenges.
Please click on the links below to access the articles in this issue.
We hope that the issue will help the readers conceptualize the idea of teacher research and inspire them to reflect on their pedagogy to improve their classroom practices. Please write your ideas on the issues discussed in the articles in the form of comments and feedback.
Shyam B. Pandey & Suman Laudari
Ganesh Kumar Bastola*
The study explores the pedagogical capital of English teachers in the context of Nepal. More specifically, it explores how content knowledge is paramount in language teaching in our context and how teachers perceive content knowledge in their classroom delivery. In doing so, I enriched my study by amalgamating thorough review of the relevant, resourceful, and recent literature. I adopted a narrative inquiry as a research method to generate information. A closer reading of the narratives indicated that each participant had different perceptions, experiences, and capital; however, they believed content knowledge as a pedagogical capital.
Keywords: content, pedagogy, capital, teaching, pedagogical capital
Pedagogical capital is an asset in which an individual teacher owns different experiences and expertise during his/her tenure to educate his/her learners. It is believed that a good teacher needs to have better artistic techniques to make his/her delivery effective, meaningful and long-lasting. Yousif and Aasen (2015) state that pedagogical capitals are the assets activated and emerged in a social situation which is attached and integrated individually. They further added that strengthening self- esteem among students is very much crucial for teachers or teacher educators to make a vision to assist their students to ensure their awareness for their progress. It is believed that the teachers’ pedagogical capital embeds various assets such as teachers’ overall language teaching strategies and policies, students’ encouragement and motivation, maintaining the child-friendly environment, adopting new techniques and approaches as per the need and interest of the learners. Continue reading →
This article mainly talks about dialects, culture, and speech communities research that focuses on language variations in English, Dari, Pashto, and other languages of Afghanistan. It also informs how the language variation occurs in the context of Afghanistan. The finding of the paper illustrates some of the subcategories of a language in Afghanistan with some real-life instances on language varieties, dialects, speech communities, code-switching, language and culture, language planning, and acquisition planning from different languages of Afghanistan. As Afghanistan is a multilingual country, it presents some of the best examples of language use and its varieties which can, eventually, help language teachers to implement these examples in their multilingual context.
Language variety covers any of the overlapping subcategories of a language. For example, in each society, we have literary languages and common people’s languages. Even in literary and common languages, we do have varieties. Many people believe that varieties are incorrect ways of speaking but that is not true, because varieties have their own ways of pronouncing words, their own special vocabulary and even their own grammatical rules. For example, in American English, we say, “She’s gotten better.” But in British English, we’d say, “She’s got better.” Similarly, in Dari and Pashto languages, we have such varieties. Therefore, in this article, I have highlighted some of the common languages used in Afghanistan, especially Dari and Pashto.
Critical thinking is a buzzword in undergraduate studies in the U.S., especially in first-year writing contexts. For instance, at both Northern Arizona University and Purdue University (where I have taught freshman composition), learning to critically think about writing and rhetoric is included as one of the core learning objectives. What’s more, critical thinking is often treated as a sort of panacea for the shortcomings of students: If they produced an underdeveloped argument, critical thinking is the cure; if they used a bad source, critical thinking would have helped them select a more credible one; if they seem to be uncompromising and dogmatic in their views, critical thinking could help them see other perspectives; so on and so forth.
Writing—a critical tool for intellectual and social development—constitutes an essential part of thinking and learning in educational settings and is recognized as an area in which students need to do well. Therefore, writing is assuming an increasing role in literacy education and is assigned for a variety of educational goals such as supporting cognition, promoting critical thinking, and stimulating creativity.
Whenever instruction in a specific language skill is seen as important, it becomes equally important to assess that skill, and writing is no exception. Thus, as the role of writing in language education increases, there is also a demand for valid and reliable ways to assess writing ability. Hughes (1989) believes that the best way to assess students’ writing ability is to get them to write. If we agree with this statement, it follows that writing assessment involves instructions that help students learn how writing works and a means of evaluating student writing. In other words, writing instruction and assessment should be fully integrated. This integration occurs as interaction/intervention is embedded within the assessment procedure in order to interpret individuals’ abilities and lead them to higher levels of functioning.
This is the first summer vacation I’ve ever spent back in my home country since I started my PhD studies at Purdue University in the U.S. In a beautiful coastal city called Qingdao, with nostalgia, I visited the language school, or more technically, a test preparation school, where I worked full time from 2013-2017. During this visit, I happened to have a conversation with my previous boss and was invited to teach a few classes for two weeks. Not surprisingly, the classes included one TOEFL Listening class in the first week and two IELTS Speaking classes in the second.