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.
It is really difficult to provide ‘individual care’ in a classroom that has multitudes of forty to forty-five students. But a smart teacher can solve this crisis by implementing some of the teaching strategies like dividing the class in smaller choral groups and giving them pair work. Similarly, the teacher can also form an advanced group of talented students and take help from them in providing group task. Stephen De Giulio, the Linguist from Mexico State University has suggested these ideas in his paper entitled “Effective English Language Teaching in Nepali Schools”.
Students with multicultural background: The students in a single classroom comprise of different ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds. They use their mother language most of the time. Madhav Prasad Timalsina, an English teacher of rural public school has pointed out this problem clearly while presenting his paper in a seminar- “Nearly four different communities are available in the catchment area of my school. Students from Newari community speak Newari language as their first language and Tamangs, Magars and Paharis have their own language and culture.” He has also suggested his own method of resolving this problem positively. He uses students’ linguistic and cultural identity while teaching aspects of language teaching. He was sharing his conceptions with Richard Smith in 2015 as a part of paper research. Actually, it may not be an appropriate method for all the teachers in other parts of the country but still, the English language teachers can create and transform some kind of activities in order to tackle with multiple cultural students.
Lack of teaching materials and time: One of the problems that ELT teachers face is insufficient time, materials and resources. First of all, many English teachers working at both private and public secondary level schools are not provided with appropriate Teaching-Learning methodologies and also they are loathed with administrative work and correction of answer sheets. In some parts of our country, there is no access to English Newspapers which most of the English Language teachers use as a great source for developing teaching materials on their own. Definitely, in our country, we are still using human resources, chalk-boards and text-books. There is an old proverb- “You can never be too rich, too thin or have enough English or foreign language vocabulary.” If we are charged with the responsibility of teaching English language, within few hours of the week, we cannot surely make our students competent with their vocabulary and other aspects. Although, there are major changes in education system in advanced nations, while there are not sufficient textbooks in many parts of our country. In this context of zero materials, certainly, the teaching-learning process becomes critical. In this context, Sabin Shrestha, an English teacher of a private school in Kathmandu says that his school does not have a library and thus the teachers are obliged to use their own resources to build teaching materials. However, there is a way where there is a will, a teacher can always produce his/her own teaching aids in a very low budget. To solve such problems, we can use pamphlets and brochures of any subject published in English as teaching aids. For instance, ELT teachers can collect pictures and information from old-used books, newspapers and magazines which can be used as teaching materials in English classes. Such materials can be used for creative writing classes as well. We can also collect free brochures and pamphlets from different organizations and use them as teaching aids in our classes.
ELT conferences and teachers’ meetings have been proved a useful forum to discuss the problems of ELT in wide range. Prof. Abhi Subedi, the famous poet, critic and TU professor in his speech as a keynote speaker in 20th NELTA Conference had thanked the organizers for being successful to collect the mass of English teachers from all over the world because it provides all the participants to share their perceptions of teaching English language in their own perspectives.
There are several other problems in ELT such as introducing English as a foreign language (EFL), scarcity of proficient teachers, lack of teacher training and linguistic and rhetorical imbalance. In fact, all of us have seen that the measures to solve these problems by the concerned educational institutes, NGO’s and Ministry of Education always have turned out to be a great failure because they are not constructive, teacher-oriented and contextual. For instance, the Nepal Government, Ministry of Education has announced back in 2007 that all the public schools will be turned into an English Medium School which is still a far fetch insight for those schools. Thence, the remolding language teachers themselves in identifying their positive potential and using good practices in their classrooms can bring out an ultimate solution to the difsficulties of ELT.
(*Rajeeb Shrestha is an English teacher at Little Angels’ School, Nepal)