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Now I have taken the new role of basic reading skills development expert in the Nepali language! Actually, it has been an interesting experience for me to work in the teaching-learning of both languages. Now, I am now trying to see how English language teaching can help Nepali and vice-versa.
With the recent development of the five component- based reading approach around the world, the focus of reading skill development in native language has been shifted.
And the latest approach is giving better results. In this post, I am trying to explore the trends and gaps in reading skills teaching in English language and share some encouraging changes in the reading skills in the early graders in the Nepali language. Finally, I propose to borrow the five component- based reading approach from the Nepali language classrooms into the English classrooms.
Reading skills in English language classroom Though the curriculum states English as the second language in the classroom, there are students from many different backgrounds, which makes Nepali the second language for them and English after that.
In a way, it is taught and practised as the foreign language. As the curriculum suggests teaching-learning activity is to be based on oral-situation-approach. However, during my time of working closely with teachers and students as well as the close observation of teaching-learning in classrooms, I found only a handful of teachers using target language i.
Mostly, teachers are active and take more talking time in the learning process, while students are passive receivers and get no or insufficient time to use or practice the language in the classroom.
As a result, students learn about the language only not the language itself. Even teaching chant is done in a very unsystematic way where students read chant like reading any other text. Yes, read not sing! Students are seen decoding the letters but cannot decode read words or utter them at once.
On the other hand, those who decode do not understand the meaning. In my observation, a very few numbers of teachers engage students inchild-centredd activities as prescribed by the curriculum. Group work, pair work and other learning strategies with specific learning tasks are very rare in the classroom activities.
As the most popular strategies the teacher uses are; explain unfamiliar words and text in Nepali, read aloud, choral reading, reading by a few students, and answers the comprehension questions using the grammar-translation method.
During my observation, I found few measurable gaps in teaching English in early grades such as; Less exposure of English language: Not only the students get less exposure to use the target language in the classroom but teachers themselves use handful expressions of English.
Few short expressions of English is used such as stand up, come in, ok, you read, did you understand, now read, your turn, turn page no are the most common expressions as the classroom language.
Focus only on teaching items rather than skills: The teachers only cover the teaching items of the textbook where they focus only on the contents. They are less aware of the basic reading skills such as phonological awareness, concepts of print, letter-sound association and blending of sounds, syllable reading, vocabulary building, comprehension and fluency.
Comprehension teaching is less focused: The main emphasis of teaching is mostly based on the drills and deliver the meaning of the whole text in Nepali. Although reading comprehension is regarded as the essential part of reading, it is mostly neglected during the lesson.
Actually, teachers read the text and write the answers on the board and students are asked to copy that. Now the question is who is learning here- teacher or students? Students are not prepared to strengthen their reading comprehension. Nevertheless, a few good examples of letter recognition is seen in English learning.THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS.
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