Dib Bahadur Sherbuja
Recently, Bangladesh English Language Teachers' Association (BELTA) organised the 10th international conference. It advocated contextual theme - sustainable approaches to English language education in a changing world. At present, the world is so dynamic but not the teaching approaches.
English proficiency is periodised in any professional discourse since it is fundamental regardless of any subjects. A team led by the President of Nepal English Language Teachers' Association (NELTA) Motikala Dewan attended the conference from Nepal. Few takeaways of the event included redefining leadership, sharing knowledge, and learners' autonomy.
Firstly, the panelists and the presenters extensively discussed the need of redefining academic leadership. On one hand, time is changing faster while COVID-19 has disrupted the teaching-learning trend, on the other. Teachers must be redirected which less is challenging. But redirecting students is a herculean task. Almost for three years, they were in in a state of confusion. Actually, they were in a trackless track. So, new normal is the latest challenge for schools to penetrate.
They should lead both - teachers and students - tactfully where the leadership will be tested. To pass this ordeal, the school leaders must run training and workshops in schools to make new normal a normal. It's a choiceless tough time for academic leaders to take tough decisions.
Sharing knowledge is another trendy issue which came into discussion in the conference. It is said if we teach the way we were taught, that is an injustice to the students. The teachers have realised the power of sharing knowledge, and have felt the gaps in their approaches. The exchange of knowledge has been fruitful for them to fill those gaps. Teaching-learning dynamics must be redefined so that students could experience different taste in classroom.
Hence, we need to meet, share and collaborate to develop better perspective of teaching English globally. Few countries have the best practices but what about the rest of the others? What if the countries with best classroom practices share the ideas so that global citizenship can be materialised?
Final takeaway of the conference was learners' autonomy. Our classroom is still teacher- dominated. Lectures, dictations, readymade notes, and copying answers are few common tendencies. Simply, speaking is underestimated. Teachers' supremacy is a big hurdle in establishing students' role in studies. This results in the loss of interest among students in learning. If students are engaged, they become active, proactive and interactive.
The teachers must create a context where the students can deal with the texts themselves. They must be encouraged to connect the texts with their experiences. Such learning lasts long. The students must have lion's share in learning. Consequently, they can enjoy the autonomy and ownership.
To sum up, the participants returned home with some insights which were visible in their excitement and expression. They were immensely benefited attending the two-day conference and BELTA deserves kudos for organising the event.
The conference made the participants rethink existing academic leadership in transitional phase, exchange of ideas and centralising the students in learning process. These issues must be considered irrespective of any boundaries to do the justice to the students around the world. Conferences being global phenomenon, they are instrumental in redefining English teaching scenario with elevated experiences.