Theme: Adventure in Teaching and Learning: Exploring and Renewing in English Language Teaching
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
To have adventure is always fun in real life, and in English language teaching and learning, it is coping with the challenges exploring noble strategies and approaches to yield productive outcome by scaffolding our own learning incomes.
We are always having meaningful professional adventure as a teacher, teacher trainer and teacher educator. The one who wants to bring newness in his/her profession always tries to go beyond being mediocre. For this, he/she explores the noble path with some purpose as Carroll states in first two lines. At times we need to risk ourselves while having exploration yet it is purpose-driven.
As a teacher, teacher trainer and academician, we need to be in a position to learn and update ourselves, which is renewing. So exploring and renewing go together. The one who updates and explores is a learner for his/her profession and further he/she can enjoy in his/her career path utilizing his expertise built through new learnings.
In this issue, you can explore our authors’ experiences, perceptions and research works in ELT. These were their adventure in teaching and learning. You can find how they have explored and renewed themselves to march forward in the ELT trajectory. To begin something new, we too have started publishing British Council resources. Teacher’s confession coordinated by Umes Shrestha is always of your interest as we have learnt from your response.
In the first blog entry, Sarita Dewan confesses how she transformed herself to stand in a position to prepare global citizens from merely teaching ABCD in her early career. She states journey of teaching is like a roller coaster for her. Similarly Prabha Khadka has brought a new taste to the ELT Forum. She has reviewed ‘Ann Frank’s Diary’ which was published in 1947 and translated in several languages. She says it will help the students of grade eight as the diary’s extract is there in grade eight Eglish textbook of Nepal. We consider it will equally help teacher to collect some background information before they go to the ‘Ann Frank’s Diary’. As stated earlier, we are trying to make you explore different resources. For this we are publishing British Council ELT resources and this time we have the article by Kevin Thomson on Assessing learning 1: Self- and peer assessment. It contains some assessment-related vocabulary items, classroom phrases, some useful activities on self-assessing and peer-assessing writing and training students to give their classmates feedback. Laxmi Prasad Ojha is coordinating the British Council Series. Another blog entry is by Kunjar Mani Gautam on creativity in language classroom in which he has dealt what creativity is and its positive impact in the learning situation. Rajeev Shrestha in his article has maintained the difficulties in English language teaching. In his article, he has reflected how different ELT experts and practitioners have dealt this issue in international conferences of NELTA. He has also suggested how these challenges can be coped with. Last but not least, Pitri Raj Bastola has analysed the techniques prescribed in the bachelor’s course designed for English specialization in Nepal. He has also suggested some techniques that can be implemented while teaching this course to the adults.
And as always, Umes Shrestha in Teachers’ Confession series, has brought the confession of Surya Prasad Ghimire who is an author, teacher and teacher trainer based at Makwanpur, Nepal.
Dear valued readers, we hope this issue will definitely instigate you to think about yourselves and have adventure to renew your learning through exploration. Please do comment on articles, and send us if you have any unpublished articles which are related to our themes. We notify call for articles to you through NELTA official facebook page and yahoo groups.
For your ease, we have hyperlinked a list of the contents incorporated in this issue of the NELTA ELT Forum.
- From Teaching Students ABCD to Preparing Global Citizens by Sarita Dewan
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Prabha Khadka
- Assessing learning 1: Self- and peer assessment by Kevin Thomson( Series Coordinator: Laxmi Prasad Ojha)
- Creative Teachers: Creativity in Language Classroom by Kunjarmani Gautam
- Difficulties of English Language Teaching by Rajeeb Shrestha
- English Language Teaching Technique: A Discussion by Pitri Raj Banstola
- Teacher’s Confession: Surya Prasad Ghimire (Series Coordinator: Umes Shrestha)
Finally, we would like to offer you Alan Maley’s creation here.
Outside the Box
Being inside the box
was comfortable –
warm and cosy.
We curled up
with cushions of routine,
wadded with words,
blanketed by books,
swaddled in certainties.
A bit stuffy perhaps,
and we sometimes felt cramped,
but never mind,
we were so used to it
that it felt normal –
and, as I said,
Out here we are exposed,
and cold winds blow.
We need to hold on tight,
keep our eyes open
for sudden snow squalls,
It’s a precarious existence now –
but here we can move and breathe,
see clear to the far horizon.
And if we come to a cliff,
we know we can step off it into empty air,
trusting it to bear us up.
We have no fear
Nagoya, November 2010
From Teaching Students ABCD to Preparing Global Citizens
This article is based on the experience I have received, and lessons learned from my errors during my teaching learning journey.
I started my career as a novice teacher, but the journey of teaching so far is like a roller coaster for me. Not knowing pedagogical knowledge of teaching and education, I started my career as a primary teacher in a reputed private school in Kathmandu. It was jumping in a big ocean without knowing how to swim; it was like sinking or to swim across for me. I used different models or techniques and methodologies in teaching unknowingly, until I realized many of them were deductive rather than inductive teaching, when I did PGDE and joined MEd and attended different seminars and workshops.
I still remember how I used to struggle while teaching, as I used to go to classes without any preparation, teaching aids or planning. Now I realize, whatever I did in those initial days were inducting myself for my professional development unknowingly. I wish I had some mentors or educators, like we have nowadays.
Now, each year I teach forty to forty five different individuals in a class, which is like completing the errand of Sisyphus, preparing students to appear for SLC, once they finish it another errand starts with the fresh batch.
I teach the same books and curriculum, same time constraints, same type of students with mixed ability, and multi levels. The only difference is to I try to teach using different techniques according to the changing needs of my students.
What are we teaching?
Teachers are textbook bound in Nepal. They teach only what is prescribed by the curriculum and the syllabus in the textbook. It is always assumed that the textbooks serve as the basis for much of the language input learners receive and the language practice that occurs in the classroom. We also try to balance skills of language with what we teach and the kinds of language the students practice in the real world. For an inexperienced teacher like me, initially textbooks served as a guide, as they provided ideas on how to plan and teach lessons without being prepared with teaching aids. How simple ! In other situations, the textbook served primarily to supplement the instructions to me what to teach in forty-five minutes. Teaching was far behind such concepts of child-centered or task-based or collaborate learning and other techniques and methodologies. Thanks to NELTA, different workshops and trainings I received from the British Council, the US Embassy and other national and international organizations that have given insight and vision and has helped me to be able to use them practically in my class. Continue reading →
The Diary of a Young Girl
Diary is completely a personal stuff to record one’s daily activities, as well as dissatisfaction, desire, achievements and express feelings and emotions attached to it. While writing it, one hardly thinks one day it will take the shape of a book and make them alive forever. For Anne Frank, more than just sheets of paper, it was a patient and close companion to share all that lie deep in heart even when she was surrounded with life-threatening circumstances.
Anne was born in 1939, in Frankfurt, as the younger daughter of a businessman. Her family belonged to a Jewish community which contributed to the social and economic well-being of Germany. But the rise of Hitler and Nazi party began to attack on the Jews in order to clean the land for the benefits of pure Germans.
Frank family migrated to Amsterdam; Holland in 1933 after Hitler had taken the power. The suffering of Jews started there as well as he invaded Holland too. They were excluded from public services and private practices. There were so many restrictions for them like Jews must wear a yellow six pointed star, they were forbidden to drive, visit theatre, public places and allowed only to shop in fixed time in Jewish shop, must be indoor by 8 0’clock,etc.
Like many other girls of her age, Anne also had many hobbies but she was mad on reading and writing. On her 13th birthday, she received a diary as birthday gift, which she calls “Friend Kitty”. The first entry is on 14th June, 1942.
Set out for hiding
One day, the Franks received a call up for her elder sister, Margot, just 16 years old girl, which meant she would have to go to concentration camp or lonely cell. So, they decided to go into hiding, which is in Anne’s father’s office. There was a large warehouse on the ground floor with so many rooms hidden behind the door which she calls-“Secret Annex”. She thought it was an ideal hiding place though it was damp and leaned to one side.
Van Daan couple who worked with Anne’s father with their son Peter (not sixteen yet) and a dentist also joined them. In that concealed shelter, they are helped by Anne’s father’s Dutch business partners. There was nothing to pass the time, and listening to the radio was only way of getting informed and entertained. The children were provided with varieties of books including history, biography, myths, fiction etc. They are also engaged in translation work, shorthand, learning French, etc. Continue reading →
Professional Practices Series – “Self- and Peer Assessment”
We are delighted to inform you that NELTA has come to an agreement with British Council, Nepal to publish a series of materials for the development of English language teachers. These materials contain both conceptual as well as practical ideas on improving teaching practice. The series includes 12 articles on a wide range of themes like ‘Evaluating and Assessing Learning’, ‘Using Multilingual Approaches’ and ‘Integrating ICT’ to name a few. As per our agreement with the British Council, we will publish an article every month for a year. We hope that these articles will help you develop your understanding, skills and confidence in the key areas that a language teacher comes across.
For the October 2015 issue, we have included an article by Kevin Thomson on Assessing learning 1: Self- and peer assessment. This article contains some vocabulary items related to assessment, useful classroom phrases, activity on self-assessing and peer-assessing writing and training students to give their classmates feedback.
Please do not forget to respond to the British Council about your use of the ideas mentioned at the end of the article under the heading “Over to you”. Doing so, you can get a chance to win a free seat on British Council’s teacher training workshop – Fundamentals of Teaching.
Laxmi Prasad Ojha
Creative Teachers: Creativity in Language Classroom
In the National Curriculums, the ‘Creativity and Dynamism’ are basic requirements of teachers in every schools and colleges these days. Can they hire the teachers fulfilling the requirements as they wanted? What is being creative? Is it a person, process or product? What do teachers need to do to be creative? In order to be creative and develop creativity, everyone is required to make conscious efforts investing time, money and energy. To be creative is a good thing, but the question remains there as how can we be creative? What are the basic tenets of creativity and is it inborn or acquired? Such questions require explanations and settlements with logic. In Low Resource Language Teaching environment, l Language teachers need to be creative so that they can deliver language contents with high level of achievements without making the learners feel anxiety of learning in the classrooms especially in second language learning.
In our everyday life, we hear that creative people are born with their talents. They have received it as a gift of God or nature. The fact is that Creative genius is latent within us though we fail to realize it. How can we realize it? How long journey do we have to travel to find the path of creativity? Perhaps a very long way. Do we ever realize that we are on the journey of creativity even now? Many of us fail to realize that our accustomed behaviors like ‘habitual actions’ are barriers to creativity. These activities make us feel comfortable and secure and ultimately block the ways to creativity silently paving the old well familiar paths to walk on.
Human mind is circumscribed by so-called order, rules and regulations. The continuous process of restrictions are complex blocks of creativity. Such practices are apparent in every field particularly in education: teaching and learning activities in the classrooms have fallen in the ditches of habitual actions. Conformity and habitual actions are enemies of creativity. They reduce the possibilities of creating fresh ideas and new insights .These activities have been heavily suffered due to the conventionally formed habits. These habits have to be changed with the sharing like trainings, workshops seminars and forming regular reading habits. Unless we bring changes in our concepts and thoughts, we can never bring changes in our actions and practices. Since we are accustomed to the conventional ways of teaching, teaching is one-directional flow: the jug and mug theory.
Mostly Nepalese classrooms in the rural schools are under resourced. They have very limited resources in the classrooms. Even the textbooks do not reach these schools in the beginning of the new sessions. In such situations, it is the teachers creativities on which the learners’ engagements and performances depend entirely on. So what sort of creativities are expected from the teachers in such schools? Continue reading →
Difficulties of English Language Teaching
English is a global language as it is spoken widely all over the world, thus students of English language is increasing every day but teaching English, especially in the third world and non-native countries like Nepal is a critical vocation. There are various types of difficulties in English language Teaching (ELT). Such difficulties have been documented in large throughout the different publications and also discussed in yearly seminars of NELTA (Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association).
After participating in NELTA Conferences for a couple of times, I have been able to find out some of the major difficulties of ELT in the context of Nepalese students’ situation. Here, in this short article, I would like to focus on these complications of ELT.
Large classrooms: Many teachers consider that the widespread use of information and communication technology (ICT) is one of the prime elements which is affecting teachers and students recently but in developing countries like ours, it is the size of classroom that matters the most. During the 19th NELTA Conference, Sumati Sakya and Bikash Koirala in their paper presentation, said that classroom activities become effective due to the size of the classroom. They pointed out, that it is important to put an extra effort when there are forty plus students in a classroom. In developed countries, a classroom of English language consist maximum twenty numbers of students whereas in developing countries, a teacher has to cope with over-sized group of forty to sixty or even seventy-five students. Richard Smith, a professor from University of Warwick, UK has well-recognized this problem and said in his key-speech that this trend of larger and larger classes have brought strains on resources and has probably contributed to increasing problems of teacher demotivation. Dr. Smith had addressed this in the NELTA Conference 2014 which was held in DAV Higher Secondary School, Lalitpur. Continue reading →