“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”
-Zora Neale Hurston
Welcome to NELTA ELT Forum, February 2018 Issue.
Probably English language teaching and research on different seeds of it has triggered ESL/EFL learners to work on very subtle aspects of it. May it be English as medium of instruction, may it be on teacher development, may it be on code-switching or mixing, such critically involved work has evoked all of the English language teaching Cosmo.
Learning to delve into depth through networking, Nepal English Language Teachers Association (NELTA) has been working collaboratively with ELT teachers, researchers and practioners. Every year it brings all the English language teachers from home and abroad at one place where they discuss on various heard and unheard, learned and unlearned issues. It has been called “Kumbha Mela” by some wellknown scholars. I prefer to call it ‘NELTA Carnival’ which is going to take place at Galaxi School on February 15-17 this year. We will cover some stories of upcoming conference in the March issue.
This February (2018) issue features the articles by Gyanendra Yadab, Raju Shrestha, Kamal Adhikari and Kumar Narayan Shrestha.
The article by Gyanendra Yadab, entitled Issues in EFL Teachers’ Development in Nepal’ attempts to familiarize readers with training situation in Nepal by sharing his experience of attending training and introduces them with the notion of teacher development. Further, It focuses on the issues relating to widely used teachers’ development strategies such as pre-service and in-service trainings, conferences and also some other strategies from socio-cultural and economic perspectives. This piece testifies, the need of redefining teacher development to make it more contextual and need- based. Similarly, Raju Shrestha in his article ‘Impacts of English only policy on learners’ creativity’ highlights on the inevitability of mother -tongue based education, quality of education with emphasis on learners’ creativity. He further asserts that in spite of enhancing learners’ creativity, critical and analytical thinking, English as a medium of instruction from very early schooling promotes rote learning. As a result, the learners become unable to solve critical problems analytically and creatively.. Similarly, Kamal P. Adhikari in his article ‘English in Nepal: Code-switching and code-mixing on live Nepali TV show’ explores the use of code -switching and code- mixing in Nepali live television show “Call Kantipur”. He discusses the types of code switching and code mixing used by program presenters. His study is guided from the bilingual theory and, it followed a qualitative descriptive method to analyze the data collected from three different episodes. His finding shows that the factors like bilingual manner, social prestige and habit of individual presenter in using language had a direct influence on the frequency of code- switching or code-mixing.
Likewise, the article by Kumar Narayan Shrestha entitled ‘Preview of Literature review: As a corner stone of a research’ presents the general introduction of the literature review. It presents clear tentative steps of the literature review: conceptual review, theoretical review and empirical review. Moreover, the article backs up the theme comprising purposes, contents and sources of literature review. This study also reiteratively concludes that literature review provides a link with the past correlating the existing body of knowledge, at the same time it points to the new direction for future.
Once again NELTA ELT Forum team invites all the ELT professionals, practioners from home and abroad to join NELTA Carnival ‘NELTA International Conference, 2018 on February 15-17 at Galaxy School, Kathmandu where we will be interacting with hundreds of presenters and ELT Veterans form home and abroad.
Please enjoy reading this issue and drop your comments if you have as regards any articles published so far.
For your ease, we have hyperlinked the articles below:
D.N. Joshi and Mirian Fuhr
*Kumar Narayan Shrestha
Literature review lays the foundation stone of a research study. It helps to determine the significance of the study and the limits the topic of the study. It develops a concrete concept on the topic, presents relevant theories and synopsizes the related researches. On this ground, it locates research gap(s) and paves the way for the research in the question. This paper begins with the general introduction of the literature review. As a crux of the article, it presents clear tentative steps of the literature review: conceptual review, theoretical review and empirical review. Moreover, the article backs up the theme comprising purposes, contents and sources of literature review.
Keywords: Conceptual review, empirical review, literature review, theoretical review
Review of literature is one of the most important steps in the research process.It is an account of what is already known about a particular phenomenon. It is a critical look at the existing information, especially study that is significant to the ongoing research. The main purpose of literature review is to convey to the readers about the work already done, the knowledge and ideas that have been already established on a particular topic of research. Although literature review mostly concerns with the existing knowledge, it equally emphasizes on its probable use in the future. In this regards, it can be compared to Roman God Janus, who possesses two heads and is worshiped early in the morning. Therefore, a strong literature review gets insight from the existing or current knowledge and paves the way for the ongoing study which will be noteworthy for the future.
Different scholars have different opinions regarding literature review. Henn, Weinstein and Foard (2008) who say “When we talk about ‘the literature’ in research we are referring to anything which provides us with background information relevant to our research area, whether this be definition of terminology, results of previous research, or methodological guidance” (p.224).Flick (2012) has even further categories of literature review. He has mentioned that the literature review needs to review the literature in several areas, notably: Continue reading →
*Kamal P. Adhikari
This paper entitled “Code-switching and code-mixing on live Nepali TV show” aims at exploring the use of code switching and code mixing in Nepali live television show“Call Kantipur”. First, the paper discusses on the types of code switching and code mixing used by program presenters. This study is guided from the bilingual theory and it applies a qualitative descriptive method to analyzethe data collected from three different episodes. In those three episodes, the presenters switched and mixed the codes several times and most of them were grammatical code-switching comprising intra-sentential, inter-sentential, extra-sentential. However, the use of code-switching from a sociolinguistic perspective (situational and metaphorical) was rarely used. The finding shows that the factors like bilingual manner, social prestige and habit of individual presenter in using language had a direct influence on the frequency of code- switching or code-mixing.
Keywords: Code switching, code-mixing, bilingual, multilingualism
Language is a system of arbitrary verbal arrangementwhich is primarily used to communicate among the members of a speech community. Through language we interact and express our feeling and thoughts. In fact, language is the means to make other people know as what and how one feels i.e. sad, happy, angry etc. There are several languages spoken in the world and each country uses at least one distinctive language which every individual of the country possibly masters over as their native language. Some people can use more than one language whereas some other can use more than two or three too. The one who speaks only one language is called monolingual; one who speaks two languages is called bilingual, and one who speaks three or more languages is called multilingual. The ability of an individual to learn several languages is determined by region and environmentwhere s/he has been brought up.In bilingual and multilingual society people are indirectly forced to learn two or three languages. For instance, Newars of Kathmandu can speak Newari as their first language, and Nepali as their second language.
Communication is an essential quality of all humankind which helps to strengthen relationship with each other. Communication makes people understand about the use of common language through which they get information or send and receive the message. Normally, people communicate in two ways; either in written form or oral form. The process of sending and receiving message through letter, newspaper, book etc. are the means of written communication, whereas oral form of communication usually takes place in face to face context. Oral communication these days has been possible even from distance because of the invention of telecommunication, social medias like Skype, Imo, Viber, Facebook messenger and internet etc. Continue reading →
Gyanendra Kumar Yadav
These days, the notion of teacher development (TD) has gained a significant place in an academic discourse around the globe. However, teacher development appears to be myth in the Nepalese context. In this paper, I attempt at exploring pertinent issues in EFL teacher development in Nepal based on its social, cultural and economic realities.This paper can be roughly divided into three sections. In the first section, I seek to familiarize readers with training situation in Nepal sharing my experienceand introduce them with the notion of teacher development. In the second section, I focus on the issues related to widely used TD strategies such as pre-service and in-service trainings, andconference from socio-cultural and economic perspectives. And in the final section, I express the need of redefining teacher development to make it more contextual and need based.
Key Words: Teacher development, trainings, Issues in teacher development, bottom up approach
Recently I attended a training session organized by a renowned teacher organization. It was a huge gathering of about five hundred teachers from private schools of Lalitpur district.The training was supposed to orient all teachers on new curriculum and evaluation system adopted by ministry of education. Divided into two parts, the first part of the programme began with a formal sessionincluding lighting candle and putting garland. Then, the experts shared their experiences and general ideas on curriculum and evaluation. It continued for two hours; so, most participants were found sleepy and tired listening to lecture by the experts.
The next session was supposed to be more specificon preparing test items of each subject based on new evaluation system. We, more than 50 English teachers were guided into a classroom for the next session. It was a congested room where we could hardly move here and there. To begin the session, the facilitator asked us to introduce each-other but it did not work well as participant could not stand and move from the place. Next, he collected our expectations that we had from the session but moved to his slide leaving our expectations aside. He started lecturing on the differences between old and new curriculum, the importance of new curriculum and so on and so forth. Once again, the same lecture continued though the participants were not interested at all. Consequently, most participants left the session in half an hour asking for break and did not return to the session.
As an EFL teacher, you might have attended trainings and workshops in which you felt bored and disinterested and did not get what you expected from them. We participate in teacher developmental activities with an aim to learn from them and develop ourselves as professionals. However, only participating in such activities may not guarantee our development.This raises a question- is teacher development just a myth? The question seems to be unanswered in our context.Therefore, in this paper, I discuss on some pertinent issues in EFL teacher development in Nepal based on its social, cultural and economic realities. In doing so, I mainly focus on teacher training and conference and argue for rethinking in TD to make it more effective and teacher-centered.
Teacher development can simply be defined as a process of leading a teacher in a journey of professional development. Diaz Maggioli (2004) calls it as a career-long process in which educators fine-tune their teaching to meet student needs. The notion of teacher development grew with the realization that teachers want something more than just new classroom ideas or new knowledge about content and pedagogy (Wright, 2000, as cited in Gnawali, 2014). The above opinions suggest that teacher development is a means of developing teacher to make difference in students’ learning.A teacher can follow a number of individual and collaborative strategies to develop professionally. Attending trainings andconference, writing and publishing articles, joining professional groups, and networking are found to be main teacherdevelopment activities in Nepal.
Teacher development can be significant as the success of whole education system seems to lie upon the shoulders of teachers. If they develop, it can have beneficial impact on whole teaching learning process. In this line Diaz Maggioli (2004) opines that the ultimate aim of all forms of teacher development, whether effective or not, is to improve student learning. Therefore, teacher development seems to be gaining a significant space in academic discourse such as research studies, conferences and publications. But we can find a number of issues with teacher development activities in Nepal which cannot be overlooked.
Issues in EFL teacher development in Nepal
It is believed that the teachers, who participatein professional development strategies such as training and conference, can develop in their professional career. However, justparticipating in such activities might not ensure teacher development. In this line Diaz Maggioli (2004) claims, “Professional development, as we have known it for years now, has yielded little or no positive effects on student learning” (p.1). Thus, it seems to be essential to explore the reasons why teacher development fails to make difference in students’ learning. I believe the reason behind such failure can be better explored based on particular social, cultural and economic context. Since training and conferences seem to be the main options for teacher development in Nepalese context, I mainly focus on the issues related to training and conferences in the following section.
Issues in teacher training
Teacher training is mainly divided into pre-service and in-service training. Pre-service trainings, often known as teacher education course, are offered to trainee before they enter into teaching field whereas in-service trainings, as the name suggests, are offered to teachers involved in real teaching.The pre-service training attempts to provide trainees methodological options and the in-service training seeks to help working teachers to improve their teaching practice and develop themselves professionally However, when I reflect on my experience, I realized that teacher trainings, both pre-service and in-service, seem to have become a myth in the Nepalese context. We can find a number of issues relating to both pre-service and in-service teacher trainings in Nepal.
Simply, pre-service training courses aim at preparing teachers capable for the coming future. It is believed that the methodological optionsoffered during teacher training courses help them adjust in teaching field. In fact, such courses are designed with intent to develop multi-dimensional awareness and the ability to apply this awareness to their actual context (Mann, 2005). In case of EFL teacher, they are required to have specific knowledge, skills and attitudebefore they enter into teaching field. They must have knowledge of content (i.e. command over language), target and local cultures, and skills and techniques of teaching (i.e. knowledge of pedagogy). And, they also need to be aware of language learning theories (SLA). Thus, a well prepared English Language Teacher Education(ELTE) course must cover these all components or areas successfully.
However, most training courses in Nepal seem to focus on the theoretical aspect and overlook the practical aspect. Actually, in teacher education course, trainees seem to learn both from their facilitators’ way of teaching and the course content. In Nepalese context, teacher trainers are often found to be giving wonderful lecture on communicative method. Therefore, the traineescan easily notice agap between what they preach about teaching methodology should be and how they teach actually. Consequently, even after taking years of training, the trainees are found to teach the way their trainers teach them or they were taught in the school. Few of them are found to use the methods they learn in their course, but in long run, they also shift their practices to the way they have been taught. They happen to be the ghost of their teachers.
Reflecting upon my experience, I found particularlythree kinds of issues related to: sessions design, delivery, preparation and impact. First, training sessions seem to be poorly designed. The session designers are not found to follow the principle and stages of training sessions design: experience, reflection and theorization(Britten, 1988) and therefore often lack to embraceawareness raising components,conscious awareness of principlesandexperiential components,the practical activities in the training session. The experiential components such as experience sharing, activities and tasks, actual teaching or simulated teachingcan be essential in training (Ellis, 1986); butmost training sessions overlook such activitiesand fail to meet participants’ needs and expectationsin our context. So participants can hardly take something concrete from training in their class. Moreover, most training sessions seem to be designed from top down approach, often by the experts who hardly know needs of the teachers working in a particular context. They are also found to be the ones who are not involved in real teaching activities.
Next, the session delivery appears to be the main issue in training in Nepalese context. There can be two reasons for it: trainers’ qualification and their experience and preparation. First, the trainers’ qualifications and skills appear to be vital in the success of training session. They must be aware of how adult learn and training frame work for delivery. In this line Brookfield (1986) mentions six ways of learning in training programme: direct input by the trainers, learning through sharing, practice and exercise, formal and informal methods of observation, and exchanges with participants and trainers. Likewise, Wright and Bolitho (2007)present a cycle of learning by Kolb (1984) to be used as a framework for training. It includes a cyclic process of planning, doing, reflecting and making meaning. This framework seems to be similar to the three stages of training session: experience, refection and theorization proposed by Britten (1988). Thus, trainers needs be awareness of these components and issues.
However, the trainers are not found to be able to pay attention to such framework and stages of training design in the Nepalese context. As participants in trainings have certain qualification such as experiences, teaching license, and knowledge of contexts, the trainers also need to have required skills. This raises questions:what are the criteria to be trainers? Do they possess certain skills and qualification to become trainers in Nepalese context? In this line Wright (2009) felt the need of ‘training for trainer’ to transform teacher into trainers which he calls the further layer of professional development for teacher.
Third and the most importantly, preparation seems to be at the heart of training but we often found it to be missing in training sessions in Nepal. In this regard,Poudel (2014) mentions copycat mentality, shortage of trained trainers, teaching condition as main issues and challenges in in-services training. Instead on preparing own materials, the trainers are found to be using others’ materials which are not base on trainees’ needs. Moreover, the sessions are mostly delivered using lecture method. Thus, poor training design and delivery seems to decrease the possibility of realizing intended outcome and hence, trainings seem to fail to meet the objectives. These seem to be the main reasonswhy teaching practices lack to reflect evidences of trainings in the classroom of Nepal although most teachers are claimed to be trained (Poudel, 2014).
Issues in conference
Attending conferences can be significant to get ourselves updated with the recent trend and issues in ELT globally. For instance, while attending NELTA conference, we get opportunity to meet with renowned scholars from home and abroad and share our ideas, living theories, and success stories. So, it seems to have become a platform to develop ourselves professionally. However, when we examine carefully, I realized that conference is all about rushing from one room to another. Sometimes we get surprised at finding good session from particular presenter and sometimes get irritated when we cannot enter into a session we want to go. We might feel bored in particular session and express anger at organizer for not being able to maintain quality in conference. Moreover, sometimes it becomes frustrating when sessions are cancelled, especially when we have already missed the other concurrent sessions in search of cancelled ones.
From my experience, I found two issues related to conference. First, we look for presentation by foreign presenters which may not necessarily be effective and applicable in our context. Sometimes, it is just sharing of thesis finding which we might not be interested in it. Next, generally the sessions by local presenters are found be avoided even though they can be motivating and contextual. Participants may find their ideas suitable to be used in their context as local presenters are aware of it. But sometimes, such presentations seem to lack standard and may fail to meet participants’ expectation.Above all, in conferences, one may not find everything interesting or important but they can have something for them to take into their class if they make conference plan effectively(Diaz Maggioli, 2003).
Issues related to other TD strategies
Besides training, workshop and conferences, EFL teachers are found to be engaged in other professional development activities like networking, observing each other’s class, mentoring, reflective practice, writing journal, joining professional associations, and collaborative teaching etcetera. Maggioli (2003) mentions six different options for professional development such as conference plan, peer coaching, action research, dialog journal, collaborative study group, and individual development plan. When I reflect on these options, I found that very few teachers are found to be involved in action research and writing journal and have individual plan for development. And there is almost no practice of peer coaching and collaborative study group. So, most of these options are not found to be practised in our context. Likewise, reflective practice seems to be mostly used approach in teacher development around the globe, however,in Nepalese context there is no tendency among majority of the teachers to reflect on their teaching behaviour and try to learn from them (Gnawali, 2014).Moreover, they also hesitate to participate in collaborative practice (Poudel, 2014) as well. Above all, besides pre-service and in-service training, the other strategies for teacher development strategies seem to be less used in Nepalese context.
When we analyse the issues related to training, conferences and workshops, we can find them guided by our social, cultural and economic realities. In our context, teaching is found to be a less paid job and this is often taken as last options as a profession. So, a number of teachers are found to be engaged in teaching profession as they do not get job in other field. They are not found intrinsically motivated to make difference in their life as a professional and improve their teaching learning process. Moreover, they are forced to be engaged in other business besides teaching. If they are only involved in teaching, they work at multiples places.
Teachers come to school directly from their farm and enter in the classroom. In this context, can they implement something they learn in training and conferences? They hardly know the topic to be taught in particular class. Even if someone is a conscious teacher and wants to improve their teaching practice, can he/she do so? In my own case, I have been engaged at three different institutions as a teacher. How can I manage time to prepare my lesson effectively?
Context seems to be vital in teacher development. When we deeply analyse the above literature, we find they focus on the global need. They talk about what to teach, why to teach, when to teach but often miss where and whom to teach. Thus, context is one of the overlooked parts in teacher education. This might be one of the reason the brought/foreign methods, techniques, ideas remain foreign to us and cannot used effective in our context.
Therefore, there is a need of bottom up teacher development approach where an individual teacher can develop based on their needs and resources. One should be encouraged to change as Brookfield (1986) adult development is voluntary – no one can force a person to learn and grow;each teacher is unique in important ways. It is impossible to create single centrally administered and planned programmes of professional development that meet everyone’s needs and desires. Thus it is time to redefine teacher development focussing on individual, social, cultural and economic realities. So, I argue for bottom up teacher development where each individual will have space to plan and grow based on their own realities. Thus, teacher development needs to be defined based on what we do in classroom. It must be directed to bring change in teaching behaviour. What we do in classroom defines the kind of teacher we are; so a developed teacher isone who can make differences in classroom based on their own realities.
Britten, D. (1988). Three stages in teacher training. ELT Journal, 42(1), 3-8.
Brookfield, S. (1985).A critical definition of adult education. Adult Education Quarterly, 36(1), 44-49.
Diaz-Maggioli, G. (2003). Options for teacher professional development.English Teaching Forum, p. 1-22.
Diaz-Maggioli, G. (2004). A passion for learning: Teacher-centered professional development. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Ellis, R. (1986). Activities and procedures for teacher training. ELT journal, 40(2), 91-99.
Gnawali, L. (2014). In-service training for EFL teachers in Nepal.Retrieved from:https://www.academia.edu/3373901/InService_Training_for_EFL_Teachers_in_Nepal
Mann, S. (2005). The language teacher’s development. Language teaching, 38(3), 103-118.
Poudel, R. (2014).Exploring Challenges in In-Service Teacher Training in Nepal, NeltaChautari retrieved from: https://neltachoutari.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/exploring-challenges-in-in-service-teacher-training-in-nepal/
Wright, T. (2009). “Trainer Development”: Professional development for language teacher educators. In Anne Burns and Jack C, Richards (editors).The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp.102-112). New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.
Wright, T. & Bolitho, R. (2007). Trainer Development: Lilu.com.
Mr. Gyanendra Kumar Yadav is a lecturer of English at Grammar College, Koteshwor and Bajrabarahi Higher Secondary School Chapagaun, Lalitpur. Having more than 6 years of years of teaching experience, recently, he is pursuing his M. Phil. in English Language Education from Kathmandu University, School of Education. He is also a life member of NELTA, and has published journal articles and presented papers in NELTA conferences. His areas of interest include teaching English through literature, teachers’ professional development, language planning and policy, EFL teachers’ identity and critical pedagogy.
The paper presents criticisms of English only policy in Nepal, particularly with reference to institutional schools. It is believed that without proper management of low levels of teacher education, poorly designed/inappropriate curricula and lack of adequate school facilities, and most importantly teachers with no sound command over English and with no subject specialization makes teaching/learning activities disastrous in foreign language instruction. In the paper, highlighting on the inevitability of mother tongue based education, I focus on quality of education with emphasis on learners’ creativity. In spite of enhancing learners’ creativity, critical and analytical thinking, EMI from very early schooling promotes rote learning. As a result, the learners become unable to solve critical problems analytically and creatively. Moreover, EMI policy has made learning frustrating due to poor literacy and communicative skills.
Keywords: Creativity, Mother Tongue, EMI, EOP, Institutional School, Quality Education
People might wonder how the medium of instruction spoils creativity and quality education. The rationale is flawless as it is believed that language represents thoughts and thoughts represent our creativity. To justify this, let me share scenario of our country in some thoughtful questions. English is a foreign language in Nepal but it has been used as a medium of instruction in institutional schools from the early grade. This raises questions in my mind; why from early? And significant question, ‘Does English assist children’s learning’? My answer is ‘No’. People may ask again, ‘Why No’? The children in early grades are not capable enough to comprehend the text in their own mother tongue, and if so, how can they enhance their creativity in foreign language? Creativity is thinking beyond the boundary but it requires originality and imagination. Has anybody (non-native) ever imagined in English? Can someone’s (non-native) thoughts in other language be presented as originally as one can express in his/her mother tongue? Now let me share my anecdote here.
I have been teaching in institutional schools for eight years. As an English teacher, I always go to the class with an expectation that “Today, I will make my learners involve in a task where each of the students will discuss, take part equally and come up with a visible product”. With this conceptualization, I ask them to discuss in pairs and groups giving different kinds of tasks as per their needs. As soon as I assign them task they start their discussion in their mother tongue but, for my surprise when I remind them to speak English they almost become dumb.
To substantiate the above argument, let me share my own experience that I encountered about six months back. One day, I went to teach primary students though I would not teach primary level. That day, I had to take a class in grade one as their English teacher was absent. When I entered the class they stood up and greeted me, “Good….Morning…..Sir……..” I responded, “Good Morning”. The students seemed very excited, encouraged, and motivated. I was excited too. Then, I asked them sit down. No sooner had they sat down, I tried to involve everyone in an activity. For this, I divided the class into pairs. They were given tasks that suppose they were alone in their home but a stranger came to their home. Now their job there was to mention how they react to the person. At first, I told them practice in pairs using English. But, the class remained almost silence for a while. My intention was to involve each of them in the conversation but except a few bright students other almost did not take part. Then I asked them act out in Nepali to see their participation using mother tongue. There, everyone started talking to each other. However, after two minutes, I stopped them and then told them to come in front of the class and act out the same activity in English. Here, unfortunately again except a few so called smart students, most of them could not perform in English.
The very moment made me critically look at the impacts of foreign language on young learners. I raised a number of queries pointing to the effects of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) including English only Policy (EOP) on young minds. Is English language helping our learners become creative?” If they can perform well in Nepali then why should we teach them in English? Are we doing justice to young learners imposing EOP? Hence, these questions led me to come up with the following ideas.
Foreign Language and Creativity
The term creativity is hotly discussed all over the world but rarely has been well thought of it in any of the institutional schools. This has been a buzz word in the 21st century. Scholars believe creativity is an inherent quality of an individual. Stepping in the same line, Henriksen (2011) stated that creativity is a learner’s inborn capacity. It is an indispensable factor that gives birth to new knowledge and innovation, and also pivotal construct in the field of education. Creativity comes up with innovative idea and thinking beyond the four walls. In this regard, Read (2015) states that creativity is thinking beyond the box and bringing something new, different responses, innovative ideas and coming up with, new solutions to the existing problems.
Fehér (2007b) highlights on four features of creativity: imaginative, purposeful, original and of value. To become creative, one must be imaginative. Imagination is the source of innovative ideas. In this regard, Fehér (2007b) asserts that the scientific discoveries and inventions are possible because of imaginative thinking. Creativity exists when ideas can play freely and spontaneously in human mind (Read, 2015). The next feature of creativity discussed by Fehér is purposeful. In order to do something creatively one necessarily requires being purposeful. Here, my stance is that the task we are operating needs to be done with certain objectives in order to be successful. Similarly, originality is another important feature of creativity. In this regard, Woodward (2015) states, “Creativity is something bringing into existence, causing, developing of original ideas” (p. 150). Hence, creating new with inherited originality is considered doing creatively. Finally, creativity consists of value. Fehér (2007b) views that product or result has to be of value. He further argues that while evaluating our creation we need to ask question to ourselves ‘How does it serve the purpose?’
However, in my opinion, creativity of the learners has been discarded in the institutional schools. In the same line, Maley (2015) opines, “There is also a good measure of agreement that the current educational ethos is damaging to creativity” (p. 5). This is because, the schools’ education is result oriented and the learners are made to mug up answers/questions orienting to exam.
It is well accepted that one as a language teacher requires being aware of creativity skills in order to make his/her learners learn language effectively. While teaching, the teacher often needs to come up with some innovative ideas which fit in the class according to the situation, time and learners’ interest. In fact, it is believed that language learning itself is a creative act. It is because we transform our thoughts, imagination and feelings in the form of language which people can listen and understand (Fehér, 2007a). Not only this, as Chomsky claimed we also can produce the utterances or even larger texts that we have not heard before. However, in my opinion this is not possible to young non-native learners. Rather, they become dumb where English is used in spite of their mother tongue.
My argument is that some people cannot learn language unless they are allowed to be creative. They necessarily have to be creative in order to be competent in language (Fehér, 2007a). At the same time if they are competent, they get motivated or inspired create something valuable. Moreover, when they create something they develop their self-esteem. Justifying the very idea, Maley (2015) opines that using the creativity learners can come up with their own solutions to the problems which ultimately develop their self esteem. This also enhances students’ self-worth and makes more committed and more effective learning. Further, for creativity enhancement, Fehér, (2007a) believed that if the learners are assigned creative tasks that make classroom enjoyable and varied individual thoughts, ideas, and talents are enriched. However, the reality of the institutional school is completely opposite. It is because, the young learners in such schools lack literacy and communicative skills which are essential for learning and creativity. They are not competent in their own language but they are made to speak, read and write only English in the school. From this we can assume the situation of at least early graders.
Mother Tongue: Bedrock of Learning
Language is closely connected with the culture of the particular speech community and so is with creativity. In the same line, Deutscher (2010) claimed, “A nation’s language, so we are told, reflects its culture, psyche and modes of thought” (p. 1). With this stance, it can be stated that a person cannot be imagined to be creative unless the person is permitted to express his/her ideas in mother tongue. It is because; one feels comfortable to express one’s innovative ideas in mother tongue. In this regard; it is widely accepted that children who have schooling in their native language in early grades tend to have higher learning outcomes and significantly higher literacy levels. (Global Campaign for Educational Policy Belief, n. d.).
Furthermore, a number of advantages of mother tongue based education have been highlighted by Benson (2005). He states that use of the mother tongue in the early years helps students acquire and develop literacy skills along with understanding and participating in the classroom. It also allows students to learn the new language through communication rather than memorization. Similarly, students can express their ideas, teachers can diagnose what students have learned, what remains to be taught and which students require additional support. Finally, learners’ confidence, self-esteem and identity are enhanced raising motivation as well as creativity.
In contrast, the English medium institutional schools with EOP for its popularity do not allow the learners to use their mother tongue in the class and even outside. From my eight years’ teaching experience, I have realized that the focus on English in the context of Nepal has led to rote learning in school education. From the very first year of their schooling students encounter English which they have not heard before. This makes their learning panic and frustrating. It takes them almost four/five years to become able to comprehend the simple text but by the time they can comprehend, they already develop memorization skill rather than critical thinking, analytical skills. In other words, due to pitiable language command and result oriented educational system they mug up the answers without comprehension which has led to rote learning. Hence, EMI is a burden for learners because it has put them under water without teaching how to swim (Skutnabb-Kangas 2000, as cited in Benson, 2005).
Highlighting on problems, Benson (2005) also states, “Simply changing the language of instruction without resolving other pressing social and political issues is not likely to result in significant improvement in educational services” (p.4). He further emphasizes that problems can arise in the country like Nepal where are chronic difficulties such as low levels of teacher education, poorly designed and inappropriate curricula and lack of adequate school facilities, EMI makes both learning and teaching extremely difficult, particularly when the language of instruction is also foreign to the teacher.
Threats of English only Policy
It is believed that in Nepal the English medium schools are better than the community schools; use Nepali as a medium of instruction. The point to substantiate this argument is that the English medium schools’ percentage of pass out students in Secondary Education Examination (SEE) is higher than of community schools. They claim that one of the reasons behind that result is English. In this regard, Shah & Li (2017) state that the outcome difference between institutional and community schools have given an ideological impression in parents that English-medium schools provide quality education.
Therefore, many Nepali medium community schools are being converted into English medium one after another. For this, Ministry of Education (MOE) enacted the Education Act (Government of Nepal, 2010 as cited in Shah & Li, 2017), which legalized the Medium of Instruction (MOI) to be Nepali, English, or both in community schools. However, there are some questions to be raised; have we ever thought of the creativity of English medium schools’ students? Does simply changing MOI enhance quality of education?
From my experience, I believe that even English medium schools lack quality education as most of them are in crisis of qualified, proficient and trained English teachers with strong pedagogical skills. Apart from this, they are exam oriented; the students are made to mug up contents and this has ultimately led them to good grades but not to quality. It is because, only the grades based on paper and pencil test cannot evaluate the students’ all the abilities. It can only test reading and writing abilities of the learners.
However, without knowing the fact, English has been enforced in schools from pre-primary level. The young are compelled to rote learn English alphabets without comprehension. The English medium schools insist only on English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) from the very first class. The young are enrolled from at the age of 2 or 3 years; the age in which they have not got mastery over their own mother tongue. Behind this trend, parental pressure and government ambitions are the two fundamental reasons identified (Simpson, 2017). Likewise, in this regard, realities showed by Hamid et al. (2013 as cited in Vu & Burns), who examined medium-of-instruction (MOI) policies in ten Asian countries, concluded that the implementation of MOI is “fraught with difficulties and challenges”. Moreover, Görgülü (1995, as cited in Kirkici, 2004) presenting the counterarguments against Foreign Language Medium of Instruction (FMoI) summarizes in the following points.
a. Negatively affecting students’ concept formation in Turkish negatively
b. impoverishing the Turkish language
c. leading to a loss of the creative power of Turkish due to the creation of a mixture of two languages in which the rules of the foreign language spread into Turkish
d. adversely affecting thought processes in children
e. posing a barrier to learning
EMI is believed to be almost similar to submersion in worldwide; has brought a number of threats in school education or in maintaining quality of education. Benson (2005) states that submersion classroom is the place where a foreign language is used as an instructional language, which is neither spoken by the learner nor taught as a language.
As highlighted by Benson (2005) there are some threats of submersion programs which are: Students in submersion can decode but it takes a lot of time to discover meaning in they are “reading”. In submersion schooling they are compelled to translate or code-switch to convey meaning, which make concept learning inefficient as well as impede language learning. Similarly, learners’ cognitive learning and language learning are bewildered in such schooling, which makes it difficult for teachers to determine whether students have difficulty in comprehending the concept itself, the language of instruction, or the questions of the test. Moreover, learners are enforced to sit quiet or replicate mechanically that ultimately leads to frustration, repetition, failure and dropout. Finally, submersion program limits learner competence in both languages as it tries to promote skills in an L2 by eliminating them from a first language.
These are the bitter realities of submersion classes which is almost similar to EMI. We cannot imagine what the situation of learners in English only policy in Nepal where we not only teach other subjects in English but also we impose English to our young learners outside of the classroom since they enter the school compound. Unfortunately, they are completely restricted to use their mother tongue. We have not realized their pain, frustrations and challenges. This phenomenon has made failure in learning to many students ultimately leading to drop. Next, they are compelled to lack sound command on either of the languages.
Language is not merely a tool for communication. It is embodiment of culture, thought process and expression of our behaviors. One can express ideas, thoughts, and innovativeness when the person uses his/her mother tongue. Furthermore, mother tongue enhances learners’ classroom participation and cognitive learning process (UNICEF, 2016).
Unfortunately institutional schools are giving emphasis on EMI from early grade creating ideological impression that EMI is a key to quality education. Following this, even many community schools are on the way to adopt this system. For them, the achievement gap between institutional schools and community schools is due to English. However, they are unaware of that the schools lacking qualified trained and proficient English teachers with no sound pedagogical skills will be disastrous. This leads to exam oriented, rote learning education system including frustrating classroom environment.
Therefore, unless these problems are well addressed in the context of Nepal neither institutional schools nor community which are on the path of adopting EMI can maintain quality education. Students become rote learners, learning becomes frustrating, and learners’ intelligence and creativity cannot be enhanced effectively.
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Raju Shrestha is an M.Phil scholar in English Language Education at School of Education, Kathmandu University. He is a Secondary Level English language teacher in institutional schools. He has worked as researcher at NCED to carry out research on ‘Review study on Research studies conducted in the areas of school Education between the periods of 1990 to 2015’. His areas of interest include: motivation, creativity/innovative pedagogical practices and transformative education.
“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”
Zora Neale Hurston