English, like all human languages, is full of difficulties for the foreign learner. Some problems are easy to explain and understand. Other problems are tricky and cause difficulty even for advanced students and teachers. Today, English is an official language in more than 60 countries—an only global language for communication.
Some of the existing varieties of English such as UK English, US English etc have posed a great threat to the universality of it. If someone makes too many mistakes in a foreign language, s/he can be difficult to understand, so a reasonable level of correctness is important. Nonetheless, it’s not essential to speak or write a language perfectly just to communicate effectively.
Owing to the practice of journalese and officialese, non-native speakers have difficulty in attaining a natural English style. As a matter of fact, there’s a high impact of India’s homely English on Nepal’s English standard. Nepal’s English heavily relies on the standard of Indian English, for most of the books published in India are imported and used widely at the school level. The books published or imported from English-speaking nations aren’t affordable. In the past, there’s a dearth of teachers, lecturers, professors, authors, resource persons with a good knowledge of English or expertise in using English efficiently.
English, in Nepal, is taught right from the pre-primary level to the university level. Moreover, English is a compulsory subject up to the first year of tertiary level. Since the growing importance of English has been realized, private schools and colleges teach all subjects in English except one—Nepali, the official language. Parents strongly believe that the knowledge of English helps their children blossom into a successful citizen endowed with all academics and worldly qualities required to keep the pace with the changing world. The government organizes workshops, training, conferences aiming at teachers of English to guide them through different aspects of learning, and introduce them to the varied methodologies of teaching in the current tech-savvy world. In addition, teachers of English can avail themselves of world-class scholarships funded by the American Embassy, British Council, Australian Embassy, etc.
I’ve already taught English at six schools. I’ve spared no effort to equip myself with necessary competencies, expertise and skills. I’ve also reaped a wealth of benefits as a teacher of English. My confidence has been built, all skills of English improved, work efficiency and my job prospects have been enhanced. The language and job itself have been a valuable aid to develop different perspectives of teaching, paving the way for up-to-date information. Above all, I’ve been to the UK due to British Council’s reciprocal visit grant.
On the other hand, I’ve got through several ordeals and repellent situations. In other words, I’ve to confront conflicting ideas, pig-headedness, bootlicking, arrogance etc of know-it-all colleagues. Some teachers are exasperated when their mistakes are rectified. They don’t consult authentic dictionaries. They endeavor to be jack of all trades but the master of none. The following are a few common mistakes made by the faculty of English: An employee receives a higher dearness allowance (a high cost of living allowance); someone expires (dies); five into five is twenty five (one); someone is an in-charge (in charge of); a student requests me to help(requests helps from me); someone talks (speaks) English; a participant stood (came/finished) first; a student passed in the exam (passed the exam) etc.
Grabbing at job opportunities without fluency in English has been almost impossible in Nepal as well. The one who speaks English is highly regarded in society. People in Nepal are highly influenced by English and western cultures. Nowadays, parents name their new-born babies after English names. Despite living below poverty line, some people manage to send their offspring to English medium schools. This tendency has resulted in the shutdown of state-owned Nepali medium schools. To my surprise, youths have started singing English songs even at their social, cultural and religious functions. Due to the knowledge of English, students subscribe to English papers, do online research, download e-books, watch English programs on TV, listen to English music, communicate in English on the phone, text pals in English, write letters in English etc. This hints at the improvement and disseminating high influence of English on Nepal’s new generation.
Amar Bahadur Sherma
English Teacher at Graded English Medium School (GEMS); founder member of Sustainable Education Group-Nepal (SEG-N) and full member of the Learning Teacher Network (LTN). It was published in The Learning Teacher magazine 2/15.