Many colleagues have asked us, “What can I write about for Choutari?” in response to our solicitation for blog entries for upcoming issues of NeltaChoutari. We tried to address this question generally in our guidelines about two years ago. But it looks like contributors could make use of a little more detail. Hence this page, along with another one titled “How to Write [blog entries].”
We cannot possibly cover all the specific ELT-related topics that you can write about for this blog. So, we have tried to list here some of the major types of blog entries, linking randomly picked examples from the past four and a half years. The examples are only meant to indicate “what” types of subjects you can write about; for illustration of “how” to write effective blog entries for this forum, please see the other page.
(Note: This page is also a “work in progress” so we will be finding better examples for the different types of writing, adding new ones, and clarifying the points. For this reason, we would appreciate if you could please suggest your favorite readings for any category, or even a new category to be added in the comments section below).
1. Teaching Anecdotes and Stories: One of the blog entries of this type that stood out for us is a description of and reflection on a specific incident in the classroom written by Lekh Nath Pathak. The specific incident or incidents in such narratives can also be a part of a broader framework for reflecting on one’s teaching experiences. Prithvi Shrestha takes the second approach in the entry titled “Teacher’s Anxiety,” which is a recognized phenomenon on which there is also scholarship (and this writer cites some); he starts by briefly reviewing the literature then tells his story to illustrate that concept, finally encouraging teachers to be reflective about their anxiety. Among the many other great “narratives,” there is one by Hem Raj Kafle hat is written like a piece of literature, an American scholar, Alban S. Holyoke’s reflection of his teaching experience in Nepal, and a reflection on the her teaching career by Ekku Maya Pun.
2. Scholarly Idea with a Personal Touch: Using his personal experience, Bishnu Kumar Khadka presents his scholarly ideas while reflecting on teaching and testing listening skills. Similarly, in the English teacher, Dinesh Thapa links current realities of many English teachers in Nepal with a self reflection strategy, as does Ashok Raj Khati in his entry on student centredness.
3. Reporting or Reflection on Experience of an ELT Event or Travel/Study: Many NELTA scholars and guests have shared their experiences of attending conferences at home, as Mandira Adhikari does in this entry about NELTA Conference. Other writers, like former President Ganga Ram Gautam, have shared their experience of traveling and participating in professional development programs abroad; here’s an entry about participating in the Hymphrey Fellowship program by Ganga Ram Gautam, and here is an entry about participating in the IATEFL Conference in the UK by Laxman Gyawali. Please note that when you write such reports, you should briefly report the event and try to take more space for sharing your thoughts, your perspectives, etc. Here is a whole series of reflections on a special conference by Vishnu S. Rai from Nepal, Kanokon from Thailand and Li Wei from China. Please also note that you are welcome to provide a summary or reflection of your own presentation (like this one by a keynote speaker for a NELTA Conference) or your participation in a conference or a specific workshop/training (like this one by Praveen Yadav).
4. Reports, Updates, News Items from NELTA Branches: Since Choutari is run by a group of NELTA members and it has garnered wider readership among NELTA community, it includes reports, updates, news items from its centre and branches. For example, Dinesh Thapa reports about a district conference in Lalitpur in this entry, the editors of the month received and compiled updates from multiple branches in this entry. Indeed, one of the most motivating objectives among Choutari editors has been the possibility of creating a forum for discussing scholarly/professional issues where fellow teachers from across the country can participate. So, we are always eager to publish reports, news, reflections, stories, and anything appropriate that come from different parts of Nepal.
5. Teaching Tips or Other Types of Suggestions for Teachers/Scholars: Being an ELT forum, tips regarding language teaching abound in different forms have been one of our favorites so far. For instance, Shyam Sharma shares thoughts about the value of professional learning networks by using a few specific suggestions for the community; Alan Maley , U.K., provides a list of suggestions about integrating creative writing in ELT classrooms; Praveen Kumar Yadav describes how to use newspapers in the ELT classroom.
6. Review of Scholarship on an ELT Topic: Even though we don’t publish academic articles,we still consider articles with brief literature review and then go on to connect the issue with personal experience. To give you an example, Uttam Gaulee does so in this entry about whether to separate boys from girls. He provides a review of the literature on single sex classroom, though he goes beyond that as well. There are not many such entries yet, but this looks like a good idea for new contributors to consider writing, because this kind of entry will be very helpful for teachers and scholars in the community as well.
7. Theoretical Discussion: You can also discuss issues theoretically, especially with some contextualization. An example of an entry along this line would be Janak Pant’s discussion of important issues/concepts about teacher training in the context of Nepal; you may also want to see how Kapil Neupane highlights the importance of lesson planning in ELT by sharing his own story of professional development. The best theory for a forum like this is one that is put to practice, at least put to the practice of identifying, explaining, or showing how to tackle a problem. If you find yourself veering into full-throttled theory, consider punctuating it with examples/application or illustrating it with examples. Also revise your draft to make it interesting in other ways. (If you see what we’re trying to say, one of the major downsides of abstract/theory only pieces is that it may put most readers to sleep!).
8. Research Method, Result, or Experience: Reflections on research process including data collection and analysis are welcome. Just to cite some examples, Manita Karki highlights the importance of action research based on her own experience of learning/using it and Umes Shrestha carries out an Error Analysis from subject a verb agreement perspective. Needless to say, ours is a community that should do a lot more research and share knowledge about how to do it.
9. Argument or Call to Action about Teaching, Research, or Policy: Critical pieces that deal with various complexities of the profession are equally welcome. In our first example of this type of entries, Davi Reis argues that we must fight the good fight against these conditions in the profession and the society/world. In his essay, Bal Krishna Sharma points out an important local pedagogical and intellectual tradition. In his reflection about the shocking fail rate in SLC exams of 2013, Shyam Sharma urges Nepal’s English language teachers to situate themselves in the big/national picture of education vis-à-vis ELT. Likewise, Madhav Kafle points out a problem (that of monolingualism) and asks readers to think about how we have normalized it by engaging in critical conversations. Among the many entries of this type, Dr. Binod Luitel argues that there’s a need to rethink conventional approaches used for teaching English in Nepal.
10. General Commentary on an Issue or Problem: Your initial thoughts on a particular topic or a theme also can make good blog entries. Here is an example of this type, where Maheshwor Rijal describes the lack of a research-oriented academic culture in Nepal (with an example) and Eak Duwadi discusses the challenges of assessing students’ writing skills in Nepal. As you can see from these examples, you can write highly effective blog entries without having to formulate a theoretical position, a research framework, or clear solutions for a problem; you can just brainstorm on some researchable issues that you are interested in, highlighting any challenge and/or opportunity for teachers and scholars of ELT.
11. Humor, Parody, or Satire: After all, we are humans. We can’t simply keep talking about research, teaching, education, etc without sometimes adding some spice to our conversations. Here are some language related jokes that may be useful in the classroom, and here is a collection of fun stuff about ELT collected from the web by one of the editors. New types of materials have been getting priority in the past few years, but we are still interested in adding some flavor to our monthly issues. If you are good at adding fun to work, please do not hesitate to send us what you have.
12. Description or Thoughts about Inspiring People, Ideas, or Achievements: Readers are eager to learn and discuss educational issues in general on this blog. Uttam Gaulee shares his reflections on the progress made by Nepal in the light of global initiatives ‘Millennium Development Goals, Education for All and the Issue of Dominant language’. Similarly, Tirth Raj Khaniya envisions Future Development of Education in Nepal. In another entry, Apar Poudel writes about a Nepalese youth icon’s inspiring initiative ‘teach children free of charge’.
13. Successful Efforts in Scholarship: Besides reporting and reflecting on your participation in conferences and other events, you can also share about successfully attaining scholarship, grant, or other types of support/rewards in the pursuit of professional development. For example, Laxman Gnawali reflects on his experiences of gaining a scholarship to attend the 47th Annual International IATEFL Conference 2013 as well as that of attending the event in Liverpool; similarly Madhu Neupane reflects on Sharing Best Practices: Strengthening and Extending Teachers’ Associations in South Asia based on her participation in a regional workshop organized by Hornby Regional School in collaboration with British Council in Bangladesh. Sharing about such experiences/successes can be informative and inspiring for the community.
14. Columns that Editors Have Run (but members of the community could volunteer to write for us): Editors of Choutari have collected and published a medley of genres including interviews like this one with NELTA Presidents on their visions for the organization (the link is to an interview with Hemanta Raj Dahal), interviews with other experienced scholars (this one is with Professor Gobinda Raj Bhattarai) on issues of their expertise, summaries of keynote speeches (by Dr. Joann Crandall), the community’s comments about Choutari as it completes a year, our own reflections on the growth of the blogzine, and oral history in text (Dr. Rajendra Bimal) or in audio (Ekku Maya Pun) format, to name a few. We would love it if members of the community can help us collect similar materials or even suggest and present miscellaneous materials that will help us promote ELT conversations of different types.
NOTE: Please submit your draft at least three weeks in advance of the next month’s publication (first of the month) at nelta choutari gmail dot com. If you have questions about what or how to write, or if you’d like to send a draft for feedback, please do not hesitate to do so.