Teacher professional development has been redefined in the present context. There has been a paradigm shift and many teachers and students are aware on themselves. The way we learn is indirectly related with our professional identity. The books are not only the sources of learning. The training, workshops, sharing, etc have the part of our learning and professional development. The practices of popular culture have been realized in the educational practices in order to brush up our teaching-learning skills. When we teach, we not only learn from the books or other sources but also from our students. When we share or reflect, we know whether we are doing well on the areas we need to brush up further. We teach and learn English language either to reflect our location- specific, situation- specific or culture- specific values, needs, wants and ideologies. Our own stories or the learners’ stories provide insights into language learning, they can also offer the means to apply this knowledge to practice. Regarding the practice of learners’ stories in language classroom and in self-access centers, the conference is the best place to share, reflect and learn. Teachers’ stories and practices can help us to understand the process of teaching and in this way better equip pre-service or prospective teachers to meet the challenges they face in the teaching field. Likewise, learners’ stories also help us to make ‘provisional model’ for language teachers and integrate newly discovered facts in relation to the teaching field. There are several learning strategies, content, methods and so on which could be made possible to apply in teachers’ local settings to suit their needs or ignore them in favor of other strategies they feel are a better fit. This issue is based on the 20th International NELTA conference which brings out sharing and reflections. As stated earlier, this conference has been a platform to share the several practices or successful stories in the teaching ELT practices all in home and aboard.
As this issue is based on the reflection of 20th international conference, the first entry by Ashok Sapkota on conference : A glance tries to cover the major coverage in the conference and focuses on the major events in the conference including presentation, support and feedback from home and abroad. The second part of this issue focuses on some moments in a pictorial form that describe the conference. The reflection by Laxmi Prasad Ojha on ‘ Adding Spices to the Conference: ‘Panel Discussion on Policy Issues in ELT’ focuses on three great scholars from neighboring countries sharing their ideas on a single stage. Although having different history of English language teaching, Nepal, India and Pakistan have so many similarities in the policies and practices of English language. The reflection by Keshari Rana on ‘Stepping into the Professional World’ explores activities that one need to do in the professional gathering like NELTA conference. Finally, to answer a quest of many of us have in our mind, ‘What will I learn after I participate in the conference? , it is well captured in the reflection written by Umesh Shrestha.
This webzine issue has been a sharing issue regarding how conference can enrich our professional growth as well as professional networking being aware of the global context and using the idea adapting or adopting those in the local context.
We would request you all to share your thoughts and reflection so other would be benefitted and you would grow more in the academic world. At last but not least, we , a Webzine team, would like to congratulate all the newly elected committee members headed by Ms. Mira Shrestha for their successful tenure.
Dr. Shiv Ram Pandey
Mr. Ashok Sapkota
20th NELTA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: A Glance
There is a growing thirst amongst ELT practitioners to be a part of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA). Since its inception, NELTA has been trying our best to provide ELT practitioners with an academic and professional platform for sharing their ideas and networking. However, there are several challenges to address such aspirations of the professionals. In order to address their diverse needs, it has expanded the organization through its 43 branches across the country. Consequently, district and regional conferences are being held to enhance the knowledge and skills of English teachers at the local level. These conferences – through paper presentations, workshops, publications and talks – have been instrumental in disseminating current trends in ELT.
This year, NELTA organized its 20th International Conference in Kathmandu at DAV Sushil Kedia Vishwa Bharati Higher Secondary School, Lalitpur, Nepal on February 17,18 and 19,2015. The theme of the conference was “The Quest for Quality ELT: Riding the Waves and Creating the Landscapes.”
NELTA is honored to have the presence of Prof. ElkaTodeva, SIT Graduate Institute, Brattleboro, United States and Prof. David Hayes, Brock University, Canada. Prof. Todeva is delivered her key speech on “Riding Waves and Scaling Mountains: Ecological Approaches to ELT”. Likewise, Prof. Hayes delivered his key speech on “The Quest for Quality ELT: The Contribution of Continuing Professional Development”. Continue reading →
20th NELTA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: Capturing Some Moments
Key Speaker, David Hayes Presenting in the Conference
Key Speaker, Elka Todeva Presenting in the Conference
Prof. Abhi Subedhi Presenting his Plenary
Participants in the Conference
Prof. Zakia Sarwar, Prof. Z.N. Patel and Prof. Jai Raj Awasthi releasing the journal of NELTA Branch Surkhet
The presenter Presenting in the Concurrent Sessions
The panelists, Prof. Zakia Sarwar, Prof. Z.N. Patel and Prof. Jai Raj Awasthi with the moderator Mr. Bal Krishna Sharma
NELTA Central Executive Committee Members 2015-17
Adding Spices to the Conference: Panel Discussion on ‘Policy Issues in ELT’
*Laxmi Prasad Ojha
I have been attending NELTA International Conferences for about a decade now and have learned so much from colleagues from home and abroad. I attend conferences to share my ideas, listen to other people’s ideas and network with people from around the world. The beauty of these conferences is that they give us energy to advance our professional life.
This year’s NELTA conference was another mega ELT event in my life. The conference hosted two key note speeches, 10 plenary sessions and 161 concurrent sessions. But, two penal discussions were the most highlighted events of the conference and many people waited for these two events eagerly form the beginning of the conference. Because of my interest in the area of language policy, I was anxious about the penal discussion on “policy issues in LET”. Although there was a change in the panelists scheduled initially, one could not afford missing it. As penal discussions are not a regular part of NELTA conference, these events gave a new flavor to the participants.
Moderated by Bal Krishna Sharma, a PhD scholar at University of Hawai, the discussion captured the attention of everyone irrespective of the country they belonged to and the level they taught. There were three panelists from Nepal, India and Pakistan in the discussion. Prof. Jai Raj Awasthi, Vice-chancellor of Far Western University, Mahendranagar and past President of NELTA, Prof. Z. N Patil, a retired professor from English and Foreign Language University, Hyderabad, India and Prof. Zakia Sarwar the founder of Society of Pakistani English Language Teachers (SPELT) expressed their views on various issues related to English language teaching in their countries.
Bal Krishna Sharma raised various issues on the spread, use and future of English in South Asia besides the policies adopted by various countries regarding the teaching of English. Beyond my expectations, most of the panelists shared similar observations and views on why English is taught; when to start teaching English; what role English should be given in the education system, etc. Continue reading →
Stepping into the Professional World
Before, I started working in English Access Microscholarship Program, I knew very little about NELTA. I just knew it is an association of English teachers from Nepal. Its objectives and functions were beyond my knowledge. On the day of the teacher selection for Access center Butwal, Mr. Hemanta Raj Dahal, the president of NELTA, threw a light on the working modality of NELTA and Access program. Yet I just achieved partially. As a Chinese proverb states:
Tell me, I’ll forget
Show me, I’ll remember
Involve me, I’ll understand
Hence, this quotation has some sort of relation my academic as well as professional life. My curiosity about NELTA, Access program, US Embassy answered my query when I attended 17th International NELTA Conference in St. Xavier’s school in Kathmandu. I was amazed to see the huge gathering of ELT professionals from home and abroad in that conference. I can recall the experience of first participation on that conference till now. So many scholars, at one place; Wow!, it was really an exciting moment. All of those people were either hurried to share their knowledge or to get it. I cannot forget how much impatient I was to enter into the program hall to see the formal opening of the program followed by the key speaker’s speech but I had to be busy in registration process. Thank god, in the meantime, Access coordinator, Mr. Shyam Pandey came to the desk and told us to stop the registration process and get into the program hall so I didn’t need to miss the program much. Continue reading →
Reflection: 20th NELTA Conference
Conferences are normally hectic, crowded and chaotic. There are too many sessions one can’t attend, there are too many people one can’t interact with and there are too many hiccoughs especially for the organizers. But, that’s the beauty of a conference and the 20thNELTA International Conference was no different. For three straight days, it looked larger than life with over 1000 people in the venue, over 200 presenters and massive queues for lunch. (I can’t really imagine how the organizers could pull it off so smoothly.)
As usual, the plenary sessions were one of the major highlights of the conference. This year the keynote speakers were ElkaTodeva from US, David Hayes from UK and the regular Z.N. Patil from India. Besides them, popular ELT figures Abhi Subedi and Sanjeev Upreti from Tribhuwan University, Ganga Ram Gautam and Laxman Gnawali from Kathmandu University, Bal Krishna Sharma from University of Hawai and Marc Helgesen from Japan were also scheduled for plenary sessions.
I really liked ElkaTodeva’s approach towards teaching English as a foreign language. I learnt some practical insights from her concepts of ‘grammaring’, ‘affordance vs. input’ and ‘ecological approach’. The next session was from David Hayes where he talked about the need for effective teacher education. Building his argument on the basis of two case studies done in Chile and Bangladesh, Hayes stated that teacher education must have two crucial elements in them: self responsibility and passion to learn.
I feel really bummed that I missed the plenary sessions of Abhi Subedi and Ganga Ram Gautam on the second day. But I found a slight relief listening to Sanjeev Upreti on the third morning. He swept a brief history of English colonial legacy, connected it with how English language was seen as a sign of prestige in his hometown of Jhapa and ended with the apparent tension between cultural nationalism and English as a global phenomenon. The next speaker was Laxman Gnawali and he presented his case against Communicative Language Teaching, which is a very popular method in ELT. It was a very interesting session as he argued that CLT talks a lot about competence but it lacks proper content. His use of ‘prakriti + purush = creation’ metaphor was a very striking case against the tradition CLT approach.The third morning ended with a session by Bal Krishna Sharma where he focused on how the concepts of education can apparently be traced back to Hinduism and eastern philosophies.
Later in the evening, Marc Helgesen from Japan delivered a session on a very fresh approach towards teaching English. He talked about ‘neuroELT’ and shared about how we (teachers) can relate to brain-science while teaching in the classroom. His session was one of the best in the entire conference because I could personally relate to what Helgesen was talking. (We happened to be reading almost same books on brain and psychology). Besides the plenary session, another highlight of the conference was the International Language Fair (ILF) where over 20 presenters showcased their papers, methods and activities related to English language teaching.
I love conference chaos because you never know who you will bump into. For instance, meeting David Hayes was very surreal because I’d only known him through his articles on teacher development. Attending his plenary session and talking with him in person was a very uplifting experience. Likewise, I crashed into other teachers who I see only once in a year. Some would say “no pachak-puchuk this time?” and some would say, “I remember you because of your daari”. Of course, I was sad that we couldn’t do our regular “pecha-kucha” session this year but I was really glad that these teachers remembered me.
One key thing I learnt from this year’s conference is the power of networking. And by networking with teachers from home and abroad, there comes the chance to enhance our knowledge, skills and beliefs. And with that we can broaden the spectrum of our personal and professional development. I am very grateful to NELTA for organizing this awesome event and for giving me a chance to present my session on “Story Writing” and for this amazing opportunity for me to grow personally and professionally.
(*Umes Shrestha is a KU graduate and a co-founder of #PresentationStuffs. He is a blogger of www.latebecame.wordpress.com.)