ELT in the Himalayas : Euta Coffe Kura
A Distinct Approach?
Was it a symposium or a panel discussion? Or any new term that you want to give it to?
We tried our level best to make it a contextual cocktail discourse in ELT with coffee. We could offer a distinct ELT taste to our valued audience in the 21st International conference inviting guests speakers who are prominent ELT professionals from three different Himalayan regions: Nepal, India and China. It was basically to discuss and explore the current ELT situations in this region and to seek further the approaches that best fit in these ELT landscapes.
How the Idea Conceived?
As ELT practitioners, we often talk English language teaching and learning in general and oftentimes it so happens that we overlook to explore and reflect English language teaching situation of our own soil and particularly of the regions that share similar geographical and linguistic features. This year, we attempted to explore the ELT situation of Himalayan region and bring voice from Nepal, India and China. For this, Kunjarmani Gautam and I created an outline of the program, and with the suggestion from some other experts, we developed this event further to make a symposium mixed with panel coffee Kura.
A talk on Himalayan ELT over Coffee! It was a gripping moment. The term was given as ‘Euta Kura'(a Nepali term) to this event which means ‘A talk’. We wanted to deal with contextual ELT issues of large part of Asian Blocks: Nepal, India and China. Freeman (2000) states, ‘Different methods are suitable for different teachers and learners in different context. Such a position rings true for many teachers’. It shows that the context equally counts in English language teaching. Obviously China’s ELT situation is different than of Nepal and India whereas the latter two share similar sort of characteristics. China is gradually being open to a global lingua franca. At the same time it does value its own language in a great deal. As far as Nepal and India are concerned, they highly focus on English Education and teacher development project. Therefore, to seek the common ELT framework that fits to these areas or to some of the regions of Nepal, India and China that have similar ELT situation, we tried to explore through this coffee talk.
What Panelists Shared?
Hemanta Raj Dahal currently working as a teacher educator in Nepal gave a picture of ELT situation of Nepal through his own experience as a learner, teacher and teacher educator. He briefly stated that now the English language is introduced from pre-primary (early grades) and it has been considered as a prestige issue in Nepalese community. He further stated that it is never late to learn as his generation had to learn English from grade four and the teachers working at this time in Nepal are mostly from that ELT setting. He said it is high time that the teachers brought improved and updated techniques in the language classrooms, as there is a great demand basically in public schools to make the classroom more engaging.
Amol Padwad from India shared amply on teacher quality and teacher development giving a background of Indian ELT context. He stated that India is working for teacher quality through teacher education and yet it is insufficient. As far as teacher quality is concerned, he said it is primarily the positive learning attitude of the teacher, experiences, trainings that he/she has attended and his/her way of implementing some updated and improved classroom practices. Only after ensuring that there is a good deal of quality teachers, we can claim the quality of ELT. He equally focused on teacher training and its regular follow-up to update the teachers.
Chura Bahadur Thapa from Hongkong maintained that there is a growing trend of learning English language in China. Even the people involved in business are much interested in learning English. They too have introduced English language from Kindergarten, yet they equally value their language and try to lift it. He said China has also a lot more private schools, which focus on English language teaching.
All these three panelists maintained that the ELT situation is almost similar in this region, and effective teacher education program that ensures quality ELT is a present need to elevate the ELT situation.
This event had a very thought-provoking discussion amongst audience, moderators and the panelists on ELT context and the common approaches to better ELT. They all came to a consensus that although ELT situation is getting a good shape in this region, there is a lot more to work on teacher education to better ELT context. The teacher training and its follow –up can be the best means to ensure effective ELT practices. Since the English language is the doorway to the higher education at the present context, we have a bigger and challenging responsibility to contribute to the entire educational system in the nation. Yes, we need to discuss and share the best and contextual practices of English language teaching so that we will be able to make our class more engaging. Since our classroom is more low or no resource classrooms, the teaching aids and classroom techniques that we select must be appropriate to this teaching learning context.
Freeman, D.L. (2000). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: OUP
(*Mr. Shrestha is the coordinator of the US Embassy English Access Microscholarship Program, Nepal implemented by Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association(NELTA). He is an English Faculty at Medhavi College, Kathmandu. A teacher and teacher trainer, Mr. Shrestha has co-authered ‘English Teaching Methods’ and has worked in the capacity of Editor-in-chief of ‘ The GEM’, an annual magazine of GEMS and edited a book ‘ Enriching an English Through Plays’ and several magazines like ‘St. Lawrence Darpan’ and ‘Ankha’. He is particularly interested in learning technologies, researches in new trends in ELT and oriental and western Literature. He has presented papers in the USA, Canada and the UK and Nepal.)