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20th NELTA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: A Glance

Ashok Sapkota

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”.

In addition to the keynote speeches, there were 10 plenary sessions, 2 panel discussion, 161 concurrent and 17 ILF sessions. The presentations covered a wide range of ELT issues focusing on topics such as alternative assessment, learning outcomes and teaching effectiveness, ICT in ELT, creative writing, academic writing, critical thinking, teacher professional development, literacy in EFL, literature in pedagogy, mother language education and EFL, multilingualism in EFL, trends and research in EFL, resources available in EFL, methodologies for the teaching of language skills and competencies, learner autonomy and other areas in ELT and EFL. The issue based discussion on English language policies in Nepal, India and Pakistan was another interesting event in the conference. Furthermore, the discussion on Role of Literature in Language was other interesting discussion in which many participants felt innovative idea in this conference.

Around 1000 participants, teachers, professors, researchers, trainers, and other freelance professionals from the UK, USA, Bangladesh, India, Japan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, UAE, Thailand, and Nepal  participated and presented papers at the conference.

The  British Council, and the US Embassy sponsored the key speakers Prof. David Hayes from Canada and Prof. Elka Todeva, from USA, respectively. Next, the US Embassy provided funds to bring 81 NELTA life members from outside the Kathmandu valley to participate in the conference. This was a new practice in this conference. The other noble practice where most of the participants enjoyed was policy based issues discussion by three panelists from Nepal, India and Pakistan; 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)  who expressed their views on various issues related to English language teaching in their countries. It was 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. The conference was over with a new committee head by Ms. Meera Shrestha.

(*Ashok Sapkota is a faculty at central department in English Education, Tribuhuvan University, Kirtipur, and Kathmandu Shiksha Campus, Kathmandu, Nepal and a former teacher trainer at British Council, executive member of NELTA central committee, member: South Asian Teachers’ Association, ELTECs/U.K. He is one of the editorial members of NELTA ELT FORUM blog)

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