Teaching in NepalNepal, situated amongst Himalayas, bordered to the People?s Republic of china and the Republic of India, is home to over 29 million people as at 2005. 39% of the population is below 14 years old and 58% are between 15 and 64. Of those, two thirds of female adults and one third of male adults are illiterate. What is encouraging, however, is that the primary enrollment rate has grown from 74% to 90% in 6 years. This proves that there is a desire to be educated within Nepal, however, what they require is a better education system, support and continual education for teachers, which in turn hopefully provide better support for students. This research topic will briefly cover some of the problems with teaching English in Nepal that foreign teachers may encounter.
The major language of Nepal is Nepali with 49% of the population recognising this as their native language. Most students also accomplish their schooling in Nepali of which they have attained high marks for core subjects except English. Socio-economic and cultural reasons may be a large contributing factor to this. As approximately half the population of Nepal lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day, it is realistic to believe that many families theoretically believe that education will better their childrens? opportunities for the future, however practically, struggle to see the short-term benefits of education over a paid wage at work. It is this mentality along with their own lack of education or illiteracy and time available away from earning
their livelihood that limits their support, supervision and guidance to their children on this very important juncture of their education. It is noted, even in first-world countries, that parents who can spare time to support, guide and be involved in their children?s education, are more likely to bring up children who perform better at school. This is definitely not a reason or a benchmark that applies
to everyone, however, lacking this definitely provides obstacles and barriers to a child?s potential and learning capabilities. Learning a language, in particular, is not a method of formulas and memorisation, it requires constant use, practice and study. If a majority of children in Nepal face the circumstances listed above, it places a larger responsibility on teachers to be able to spot these circumstances, assist a child where required and hopefully minimize the immensity of those barriers and encourage them to continue excelling at English.
Another problem with the teaching of English in Nepalese schools is the primary focus on reading and writing, but not listening and speaking. Many native English teachers in Nepal, use bilingual or translation method as most of their education has been conducted using Nepali, their native tounge. Hence, when they teach English it focuses more on translating from Nepali, rather than using current ELT techniques and helping students truly learn English as a language to converse in, rather than just passing an examination. Many of the content in Nepalese English exams require students to reproduce what they have memorized, which does not force a student to actually understand the language concepts and apply the theory to practical use. Without doing so, strips the students of any confidence in using the language. They may be able to recite the purpose of verbs, pronouns, the rules behind different tenses and usages of modal verbs, however, they may be restricted in conversation and being able to interpret the intent of a message.
Overall, foreign teachers going to Nepal to teach English require a thorough understanding of a student?s background (including their family), how they have previously been taught English and find ways to overcome the barriers that many of us in first-world countries take for granted.