“We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way.” – John Caldwell Holt
Welcome to NELTA ELT Forum, July 2017 Issue.
Probably the fastest-spreading language in the human history, over the last few centuries, English has become the world’s lingua franca. Today, English is spoken by almost one fourth of total population of the world; and, this number is only set to grow. By 2020, the British Council forecasts that two billion people will be speaking or learning English. This number is likely to grow as the English language works as a gateway or a springboard. From the time it became the language of global trade under the British Empire, and its popularity after the postwar economic growth in America, UK and Europe, English has ridden the wave of globalization, urbanization and technology. With insurmountable variations in the use and usage, adjusting with the effects of nativism and assimilation, English has now come to stand as the most viable means of expression. It is, undoubtedly, more so in the field of academics.
As a result, from a teachers’ perspective, English language learning has become ever more exciting and challenging. It is exciting because the number of opportunities and resources are more easily available compared to the past, and it is challenging because technology has made it possible for learners to access resources outside the classroom and learn the language by themselves. With the overflow of information- knowledge sharing made readily available, the lives teachers are also greatly impacted on. The overarching transmission model of professional growth is fast reversing to a downward rooted- classroom based- one. The great narratives of ‘content’ and ‘pedagogy’ are fast giving way to small narratives of the day- to- day accounts. Discussion and theorization of these ‘actual narratives’ has been made possible with the vast possibilities offered by the cloud system of networking. Micro-narratives come from people- from the teachers’ lived experiences, their reflections, mini- researches and from what they actually do together to change the lives of the learners. They are the bits and pieces of story teachers tell to each other each day- about their successes, strategies and challenges. These are the pains and pathos teaching professionals all over the world co- incidentally share in common. As the quote by famous educator John Holt in the beginning of this post also implies, we actually learn to teach by teaching, and sharing of our teaching makes our learning- to- do- teaching better . This July (2017) issue focuses on the ways teachers attempt to grow professionally so that they learn to teach in a better way, i.e. teachers’ professional development. Thanks discussion forums! Sharing of such and learning from each other has been made possible. The only requirement in this respect is for us to be mindful of those.
Hence, forum like this, which promotes sharing of teachers’ knowledge, has more relevance and pertinence in accessing culturally contextual information which can enhance our practice. With this note, we would like to welcome you to the July (2017) issue of the ELT Forum of NELTA. This issue features articles from the ground- the micro- narratives of the visions and realities, and experiences and hopes of the teachers living in the Nepalese EFL context. We have included write ups of Dr. Keshav Raj Chalise, Mr. Gyanendra Kumar Yadav , Mr. Pramod Sigdel, Mr. Chet Nath Panta Ms. Nibedita Sharma, Mr. Mahesh Adhikari and Ms. Muna Thapa, and Mr. Gokul Ghimire Sharma. Articles included here form a neat mosaic of tastes, shading light on the expanding gyre of the realm of language teaching, which ELT educators need to be mindful about. The correct path of professional growth rooted into the unique teaching context demands one’s engagement in interpretation, reflection and research. These are after all teachers’ accounts of their ‘micro- narratives’- their unique attempts to understanding the ELT world in a better way. However this journey is a never ending one- it is full of dreamy flashes, undertones and undercuts. We want a straightforward model of professional growth which can be replicable all for once, but the main route to is not so. Higher reality is deeper than our superficial know- how. Therefore teachers do not limit to a single activity: they make perspectival criticism; they critically reflect on what they themselves are doing; they delve into their own lives; they create narratives of their own; and they share and learn from others. These all are nothing other than the teachers’ desperate attempts to know their own profession in a better way and to grow professionally. Aligned with this philosophy of professional growth, this July (2017) issue has included papers ranging from critical commentary on literary texts to reflective commentary on teachers’ convention. In between come the attempts for professional development through mentoring, teacher evaluation and reflection. We believe these are the common ingredients in the Pandora- package of English language teaching professionals.
The article by Dr. Keshav Chalise, entitled “Hadaha Daha: A Mythical Surrealism in Koirala’s Modiāin, presents a commentary on the popular Nepali novel “Modiāin” by renowned litterateur B. P. Koirala through a surrealistic historical- mythical perspective. This piece testifies an attempt to understand the deeper reality of the text, and the author’s interpretation of the cultural myths ingrained in the novel. Similarly, Mr. Gyanandra Yadav in his article “Mentoring for EFL Teachers’ Professional Development” presents an overview of the context of mentoring for professional development of EFL teachers in Nepal. Beginning with the writer’s personal narrative of professional journey, the article focuses on the effect of mentoring on the professional development of teachers along with its importance in the Nepalese EFL context. Although it is still a neophyte practice in Nepal, Mr. Yadhav has attempted to establish that mentoring can be a promising paradigm for teachers’ professional development in Nepal. Similarly, Mr. Pramod Sigdel in his article “Promises of Action Research Paradigm for Teachers’ Professional Development” focuses on the need for changing the paradigm for teacher development from the so- called ‘expert- cascading’ model to ‘teacher- initiated reflective model’. Mr. Sigdel presents an evidenced advocacy that teachers are the professionals who should design and plan the activities which can facilitate and accelerate the learning opportunities for their learners. Imposing theories and philosophies in the guise of training is not transformative in essence. Likewise, the mini- study by Mr. Chet Nath Panta, Ms. Nibedita Sharma, Mr. Mahesh Adhikari and Ms. Muna Thapa entitled “Practices of In- service Teacher Evaluation in Public Schools of Nepal” critically examines the situation of in- service teacher evaluation practices in the mainstream community schools in Nepal. This study also reiteratively concludes that teachers, including English language teachers, are the key to transforming the schools for quality education. However, investment on continuous evaluation, performance appraisal and support to the teachers is a must for realizing the goals of education. Finally, Mr. Gokul Ghimire Sharma in his piece “Innovations and Co-teaching in Nepalese EFL Classroom” presents a narrative account of how teachers can create innovations in teaching employing a co-teaching methodology. This piece includes Mr. Sharma’s reflection on his involvement in the TESOL International Convention and Language Expo 2016 in Baltimore, USA.
For your ease, we have hyperlinked the articles below:
1. Hadaha Daha: A Mythical Surrealism in Koirala’s Modiāin by Dr. Keshav Chalise
2. Mentoring for EFL Teachers’ Professional Development by Mr. Gyanandra Yadav
3. Promises of Action Research Paradigm for Teachers’ Professional Development by Mr. Pramod Sigdel
4. Practices of In- service Teacher Evaluation in Public Schools of Nepal by Mr. Chet Nath Panta, Ms. Nibedita Sharma, Mr. Mahesh Adhikari and Ms. Muna Thapa
5. Innovations and Co-teaching in Nepalese EFL Classroom by Mr. Gokul Ghimire Sharma
We would like to thank all the contributors for their articles. We are hopeful that our tour with this July 2017 Issue around the concerns of teachers will find relevance in the context of upcoming ‘Guru Purnima’ (Teachers’ Day) in Nepal. We hope readers will enjoy going through this issue. Comments and suggestions to the posts are always welcome!
Dinesh Kumar Thapa
* Keshav Raj Chalise, Ph D
B P Koirala’s Modiāin is a novel written from the viewpoint of a boy and his experience of visiting Darbhanga with Misirji. The narrator of the plot is a matured man, but he tells the whole story based on the memory of the past. One of the major issues of in the novel is the description of Hadaha Daha, its association with Mahabharata myth and the mysterious presence of a woman at the edge of the pond. This article tries to examine the picture of Hadaha Daha and its historicity from mythical surrealistic approach.
Key words: surrealism, myth, fiction, imagination, eastern culture
Myth is a term derived from Greek word, ‘muthos‘ with complex history and meaning in which “Greek muthos is used to mean fiction” (Cuddon 525). Myths generate certain religious or spiritual narratives with the explanation of supra human features of life. Not only that, they have typical aspect of truths because “myth is always concerned with creation. Myth explains on how something came to exist” (526). Myth is not just for simply reading the form of narrative but it can also be interpreted. So there is not a single myth; there are many myths. Abrams supposes that “mythology is a religion” (Abrams 179), however myths that relate the narrative of creation necessarily talk about nature as one of the powers of creation. Such myths “are primitive explanations of the natural order and cosmic forces” (Cuddon 526). Therefore, the narratives that provide explanation on and about nature and its origin are nature myths.
These nature myths pass for many generations through the religious beliefs. So, sometimes the mythical stories and the religious stories are misread as the same. Religious and mythical narratives also provide the base of interpreting the things in the universe. The oldest interpretation of nature and the universe, therefore, is found in the way religion is perceived by the people of any particular period and place.
Myths are the stories of ancient or religious origin and are believed to be true in any particular cultural and social group. They are not merely fictional but are the experiences through which “a given culture ratifies its social customs or the accounts for the origins of human and natural phenomena” (Baldick 163). They provide the insights on the mode of understanding the things. They represent social and cultural belief of any particular period. They also represent the views of the people as the socio-cultural phenomena.
Surrealism, also known as super-realism, is an artistic movement close to twentieth century’s ‘Dada’ experiment. It was introduced and its idea was explained by Andre Breton in his book, Manifesto on Surrealism in 1924. It is a successive movement of Dadaism emerged in 1916 “out of disgust with the brutality and destructiveness of the first world war” (Abrams 319). As opposed to the artistic constants, “the expressed aim of surrealism was a revolt against all restraints on free creativity, including logical reason, standard morality, social and artistic conventions and norms and all control over the artistic process by forethought and intention” (319). The surrealists believe on the automatic writing that promotes the expression of unconscious mind, hence, a psychological expression of a person. Continue reading →
* Gyanendra Kumar Yadav
Mentoring is gaining momentum in the teaching field as a means for teacher professional development throughout the globe. However, it seems a new approach to professional enhancement for language teachers in the Nepalese context; though, it has been in practice in other fields such as nursing, business and military. This paper attempts at analyzing the importance of mentoring for professional development of EFL teachers in Nepal. The paper is divided into three parts: first, it presents writer’s personal narrative of professional journey focusing on how a mentor shaped his life; next, it tries to define mentoring, its process and reasons behind it; and finally, it seeks to sheds light on the importance of mentoring in the Nepalese EFL context before going to conclusion.
Key words: coaching, mentoring, novice teacher, teacher development,support
I did my schooling from a governmental school in Nepal, where the medium of instruction was the Nepali language. Throughout my schooling, I got little exposure to the English language since there used to be only one period for English subject and even that would be taught in the mother tongue. As a result, I did not have a good proficiency in English even after completing my schooling. I could neither speak fluently nor write even a couple of paragraphs properly. Those days are still fresh in my memory when I would speak a sentence and struggle to frame other sentences to add further. It was not easy for me to do major in English. Above all, I had nothing except a dream to be an English teacher and strong passion to pursue it.
I met my mentor in the intermediate level, who taught me English for nearly a half decade. During this period, he helped me to enhance English language proficiency and guided me to achieve the best I could. After completing the intermediate level, I started teaching in a private school, while continuing my study side- by- side. During the early period of my teaching career, I had a tough time to balance both my study and teaching. No matter how much I tried, the tired body and mind, as a result of the whole day’s teaching, would refuse to pay attention to the college lectures at night. This bitter experience of teaching the whole day and attending college at night can hardly be understood by them who do not have such an experience. Sometimes, I would just think of quitting the job. During this critical period of my life when I had no hope for my career, my mentor was the one and only person to encourage, inspire and support me.
My mentor advised me to be a life member of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) for my professional development. Joining NELTA happened to be a significant step in my professional career. It not only connected me with the wider ELT community but also gave me opportunities to meet ELT scholars from home and abroad during training and conferences. As a result, I got exposure to advanced ELT trends, approaches, methods and techniques. These assisted me immensely in my early period of teaching career. Continue reading →
This paper discusses on one of the modalities of teacher’s professional development. As the teachers are the key persons to enhance quality learning, they must be empowered with knowledge, skill and attitude towards teaching and learning. A teacher only knows his or her classroom situations and obstacles hence, he/ she themselves must design and plan the activities which can facilitate and accelerate the learning opportunities for the learners. So, teachers should be empowered with the skills of identifying real classroom problems, designing intervention strategies to cope the problems and execution of their plan, rather than imposing theories and philosophies in the training. It is also because yesterday’s best practices are considered as obsolete today because of the rapid change in time and technological advancement. So, students’ needs and styles of learning are also getting diverse rapidly. Hence, to fulfill the present need of the students and to foster quality education, teachers must be equipped with action research skills.
Key words: Teachers’ Professional Development (TPD), action research, in-service training, intervention
Relating the activities done in the training sessions and taking them back to the real classroom is the most challenging task for the teachers who are working as in- service teachers in the context of Nepal. Last year, I went in one of the resource centers to deliver my session as a facilitator. We had to deliver nine sessions within three days and next two days would be our observation session as per the requirement of the program. Thinking that transfer of skills is the most challenging task for the teachers, we planned each session in such a way that all the teachers can get time to reflect back on their teaching practices, their setting and the ways to incorporate those learnt activities in their classes. We also asked our participants to think in which lesson they can use those activities and which learning need of the students a particular activity can address. Then, the participants had to share their reflective thinking being framed on those clues. As the sessions were delivered, that cycle would repeat. By the end of nine sessions, teachers did have different action plans to cope with the problems which they were facing earlier. Through their personal reflections, we came to know that they were eager to take back those learnt skills into their classroom practice. However, we were in doubt: how far they could mould these activities according to their situation, and how they would modify activities to achieve their intended objectives.
After a gap of three days, we went to the schools of the participants to observe their classroom teaching. They were able to use those activities tactfully even in a different environment from that of the training hall. Teachers were able to choose right activities to fulfill the intended aim of the lesson. They were able to modify the activities according to age level of the students, school environment and the physical environment of the classroom. We were astonished to see the performance of the teacher. This forced me to reflect back on the session plan we designed. I thought: why are people saying that training does not go back to the class? But here, it is absolutely transferred in a meaningful way. Then I thought about the action plan and the reflective thinking frame-work for the participants which we provided after each of the session. I became sure that this kind of practice helps teacher to develop professionally. Continue reading →