37. Issues regarding Nepali ELT scenario – I

Besides teaching English, I love making observations and ponder over few controversial issues. Like, I haven’t been able to digest the concept of Nenglish, nor have I been able to understand why most of the Nepali ELT practitioners neglect the concept that English is a stressed-language. Those might be too broad right now. My small skull is constantly aching because of some ‘silly big’ questions. But, here, I would like to raise this general, non-controversial issue that has bugged me for a while.

We teach English but do we, teachers, talk in English:

English is the language that we read, write, teach, give lecture in, take exam in, give presentations in, address conferences in, give speeches in…but, interestingly, it is not the language we talk in. It is limited in the classroom, in the seminars, in the workshops and in such formal settings. These formal settings have infact become our cozy comfort zone. And, once out of those boundaries, we switch back to our dear old Nepali language.

In the university I go for ELT program, we usually have tea or momo with our tutors during breaks. Well, we don’t really communicate in English in the canteen. Except for few code mixings here and there, our talks are mostly in Nepali. I recently attended a district level conference of NELTA, and I observed the same situation during the breakfast or lunch time. No one, practically no one, communicated in English.

It’s also the same with my own students of the school I teach in. If somehow we happen to meet in the streets or malls or momo-shops, we don’t use English at all. Outside the school, I find it a bit snobbish to talk with them in English. Besides, they don’t feel that comfortable or responsive if we try to talk in English. There’s this visible ‘awkwardness’ between us if we do that.

Well, I can NOT judge if it’s right or wrong, good or bad, or a matter of concern at all, but this situation does raise few questions:

a) Do we Nepali ELT practitioners communicate enough in English?

b) Furthermore, if we expect our students to talk (in) English even beyond the classroom walls, what about us!

c) Are only the students required to ‘practice/acquire/learn’ English, which is essentially a foreign language for the both teachers and students?

d) What is the implication of this in the overall Nepali ELT scenario and its development?

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