Monthly Archives: October, 2014

Welcome to the NELTA ELT Forum October Issue

Editorial

Education is not merely acquiring knowledge, gathering and correlating facts; it is to see the significance of life as whole…Education should help us to discover lasting values so that we do not merely cling to formulas or repeat slogans. These are not our ideas but the ideas of Jiddu Krishnamurti in Education and Significance of Life. Life is the collection of several experiences and facts. It is believed the experience is the real origin of theories, paradigms,methods and techniques. If we recap our past memories, every individual’s life is a complete film in itself. Some reveal their feeling which turns into the script and later turn into a screen as films. Some do not like to reveal their thoughts, which remain secret and unknown to this (virtual) world. This world is the world of sharing. It is often said that the more we share the more we receive feedback; the more feedback –the more ideas to strengthen our ideas. Drawing these thoughts, Chomsky in 1957 began the era of generative linguistics with a seminal publication of Syntactic Structures, known as 1957 model. Several scholars around the world criticized and provided the feedback and he revised the very theory and formulated the revised version of 1957 model in 1965 known as 1965 model. Here, we can draw the ideas that how a reflection and feedback plays a paramount role in one’s life. No matter whether we travel the different parts of this world or not, but our writing or reflections obviously travels the world. The ideas of sharing help us to share our thoughts, re-learn, re-reflect and revisit or re-formulate the new ideas.

This issue has also become an issue of reflection and sharing of interdisciplinary fields: Grammar, research, teacher development and e-technology.Madhu Neupane shares her ideas on Vocabulary and Grammar: Why? How? and believes that vocabulary and grammar are two interdependent aspects in language learning. They are required while using different skills of language (listening, speaking, reading and writing). Drawing her own experiences and the context of Nepal, She believes that the instruction on vocabulary and grammar does not seem to have been integrated with language skills but are essential to explore learners’ language development.  Likewise, Ashok Sapkota’s article on Exploring Issues and Problems in Preparing a Research Proposal focuses on the several ideas in which a thesis student needs to take into consideration while preparing a research proposal. Based on his experience and research, he presents a self-analysis rubric where the students can self-assess their thesis proposal on their own rather than depending upon the supervisor. Relating the hunches and ups and downs of a novice teacher, Kiran Thapa recaps her past teaching days of that of novice teacher to the today’s position as an experienced teacher who takes challenges and problems as component of self-monitoring in teacher professional development in her article, Growing as professionals: A Need for Today in TeacherDevelopment. In the same way, Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto in her article High Tech Ideas for Low Tech Classrooms relates her experiences with the techno experiences from Japanese context.  She draws her experiences of handling and sharing of technological challenges in teaching environment in home and abroad, and presents three simple ways in which we use technology to enhance our teaching. The closing article of this issue, Some Internet Resources Useful to Language Learners and Researchers by Terry Doyle from United States presents several internet resources where the learners and researchers can explore for their professional development sharing his experiences from NNEST of the Month blog and TESOL’s EVOs (Electronic Village Online).

Let us share and travel with these scholars. As, this month is also a month of most celebrated festivals of Nepal: Dashain, Deepawali, Chhat and Nepal Sammat. Wish you all,

HAPPY SHARING!

HAPPY READING!

& HAPPY CELEBRATION!

 

Editors:

Madhukar K.C.

Ashok Sapkota

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Madhu Neupani

Vocabulary and Grammar: Why? How?

* Madhu Neupane

 Language is made up of vocabulary and grammar. Vocabulary provides flesh while grammar provides skeleton to language. Something can be communicated without grammar but almost nothing can be communicated without vocabulary. However, these two aspects are interdependent and interrelated that is both aspects are required while using different skills of language (listening, speaking, reading and writing). In the context of Nepal, the instruction on vocabulary and grammar does not seem to have been integrated with language skills. With vocabulary instruction is mostly meaning focused with rather low emphasis on form and use while with grammar instruction is form focused. Such approaches for teaching vocabulary and grammar, guided by textbook and examination, have reduced the effectiveness of grammar and vocabulary instruction in the development of language proficiency learners in real sense.

Knowing a word means knowing more than its meaning. Nation (2004) has underscored this fact by mentioning that knowing a word means knowing its meaning (form and meaning, concept and referents and associations), form (spoken form, written form and word parts) and use (grammatical functions, collocations and constraints on use). The similar concept is highlighted by Harmer (2008) when he mentions that knowing a word means knowing word meaning (meaning in context and sense relation), word use (metaphor and idiom, collocation, style and register), word formation (parts of speech, prefixes and suffixes, spelling and pronunciation) and word grammar (information like countability with nouns, patterns with verbs, position with adjectives and adverbs, etc.). However, in our context much emphasis seems to have been placed on meaning. Even meaning is found to be presented without context neglecting the fact that a word may have different meanings in different contexts. The common strategies that are used to present meaning include L1 translation or simple definitions. Though the trend towards integrating vocabulary with other skills especially reading and listening is increasing, and the examination in school (e.g. SLC) tests vocabulary in contexts with reading texts, the situation is different in colleges where less emphasis is given on vocabulary as such. Continue reading →

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Exploring Issues and Problems in Preparing a Research Proposal

*Ashok Sapkota

Abstract

This article tries to explore on the issues while writing an academic proposal in common. It tries to provide the theoretical explanations followed by the major problems students encounter while accomplishing proposal writing by students at graduate level, particularly in the four sections: preliminaries, body, references and appendices. The article focuses on the basic rubric of writing a proposal where a student can have a self-reflection to their proposal.

Introduction

Before we begin to write something about academic research proposal, many questions arise in our mind, such as: What to write? Where should I begin to write?, Who will support me? How to write? Can I do myself? Is there any specific format to write?, How long does it take me to complete a proposal…a week, a month… a year or years?, Which book will help me?Relating these queries, we can simply define research proposal that it’s an overall plan or pre-plan to accomplish a research. It includes proposed procedures and methodologies to be undertaken in a research. Before we begin the steps involved in preparing a research proposal, it is necessary to throw light upon the nature and need for a research proposal. The research proposal, as important aspect of research process, is comparable to the blue print which the architect prepares before the work of building commences. Similarly, a research proposal outlines a plan (Olive, 2005) including main components of research. It includes general theoretical background of the topic, research objectives, significance of the study, review of related literature methodology, ways to analyze and interpret data and present data along findings and recommendation and work plan. Most of the institutions require that a proposal be submitted before any project is approved. This provides a basis for the evaluation of the project and gives the advisor or supervisor a basis for assistance during the period of their direction. Continue reading →

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Growing as professionals: A Need for Today in Teacher Development

*Kiran Thapa

Introduction

Let me begin the initial stage of struggling phase of teacher development drawing from my own reflection. One evening when we all were sitting out at the porch surrounded by our relatives and listening and replying their queries about us, someone pointed a man approaching our house as the principal of one and only boarding school of our hilly village. After exchanging the initial introduction, he inquired about our educational background. And once he learnt that I’ve recently taken my CBSE examination and for the time being sitting idly at home, he was quick to offer me a job as a teacher in his institution. I was speechless. I could not imagine how someone can offer me a job so quick when I am hardly a school pass out. A school girl teaching school kids! Can’t even picture myself as a teacher at such a young age. And when my father stated the same reasons, he simply replied that my qualification doesn’t matter. What counts is my Indian schooling and if he will have a teacher with Indian schooling background in his institution, it will definitely bring more children to his school. Hence to progress, he is ready to recruit an inexperienced teacher with minimum qualifications. This made me ponder, “Is it really the way a school progress?”

This question was still left unanswered after two years of this incident. I had just completed my high school and was looking for a job. And soon I got a job as a primary English teacher at an urban private school with no prior teaching experience and expertise in the teaching field. To my surprise, I was asked to teach grade four and five whereas other experienced teachers over there had to teach even lower levels than mine. It could be so because of my certificates and the name of the institution that I represented. The school management seemed to ignore the teaching skills, abilities and experience of a senior teacher and thus replaced her with a novice teacher with no experience, expertise or any teacher trainings. It was like the institution where you graduated from vs. your teaching skills and ability? Continue reading →

Barb head shot

High Tech Ideas for Low Tech Classrooms

*Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto

I frequently meet teachers who want to learn how to use technology and the Internet to improve their lessons and teaching skills, but don’t know how to start. In Japan, where I live, most teachers of young learners have computers and Internet access at home, but very few teach in classrooms with either. If you happen to face similar technological challenges in your teaching environment, here are three simple ways you can use technology to enhance your teaching, even if you don’t have computers or easy Internet access.

Find and create resources to supplement your lessons.

Language teachers use a lot of pictures—for vocabulary cards, for games, and for activities. When I first started teaching (pre-Internet), I kept a huge file of pictures and had stacks of old magazines and catalogs to mine for more pictures. Now, I can do an online search for public domain or Creative Common licensed photos and illustrations as I need them. One of my favorite photo collections is ELTpics on Flickr. Teachers on Twitter contribute photos on a weekly theme, using the hashtag #eltpics and teachers on Facebook share pictures in the ELTPics group. Because it’s a collection by language teachers for language teachers, the images are grouped by themes that most of us cover in our lessons: household objects, animals, appearance, actions, etc. The ELTpics collection also includes images open to multiple interpretations, perfect for generating language or as a starting point for creative writing projects. Continue reading →

Some Internet Resources Useful to Language Learners and Researchers

                                                                                                *Terry Doyle, Eugene, Oregon  

The usefulness of internet resources for language learners and researchers is quite well known and has been discussed in some detail. (See Warschauer, 1999; Wilburg and Butler-Pascoe, 2002; Aydin, 2007 for general discussions about the usefulness of the internet. See also Sinclair, 2004 for articles specifically about using corpora in language teaching. Also, see the journal Computer Assisted Language Learning.) To this ever-increasing list of resources, I would like to add some which I have encountered recently and which I think might be helpful for readers of this article. The first two were suggested to me by two of my former co-teachers (traditionally called “student-teachers”), whom I worked with just before I retired from City College of San Francisco. The other three relate to NNEST issues, a sub-field of TESOL of particular interest to me, which I hope will be interesting to readers of this article.

In the fall of 2012, while she was my co-teacher, Eun Oh did her “capstone project”, the major research study for her MA TESOL degree at San Francisco State University, on using online corpus tools to study phrasal verbs. Using a corpus tool called AntConc (http://www.laurenceanthony.net/antconc_index.htmlin) several sessions after our Film ESL class, Oh taught our students (and me, too) how to make our own corpus from the 35 movie scripts I had used in the previous 20 or so semesters and how to use this corpus as a learning tool. Continue reading →