Welcome to the Ninth Issue of The Warwick ELT

Editorial…

“Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.”

– George Whitefield

We are very much pleased to bring the Ninth issue of the Warwick ELT. At this point, we have felt that we have walked a long way unitedly, yes, by pressing forward as Whitefield suggests. While planning for this publication venture, in our first meeting, we had also dreamt of the possibility of bringing out a print volume of ‘The Warwick ELT’ which can be associated with what Whitefield calls as the mark we had set before, and at this point, we are very much glad to share with you that we are also coming with the print volume of ‘The Warwick ELT’ (ISSN: 2515-3668) in mid September. Indeed, this has been possible due to the support of the Centre for Applied Linguistics, the University of Warwick, the Hornby Educational Trust, UK, the British Council, UK, guest editors of the print volume and our advisors.

We feel welcomed and encouraged as we have been receiving contributions from several authors across the globe. In this issue, we have got two authors from Nepal and one from Venezuela.

In the first paper, Dr. Binod Luitel from Nepal discusses how the translation bridge strategy,  particularly related to the use of L1 in the English language classroom, is found to be the effective strategy to help learners in reading comprehension. Indeed, the use of L1 in EFL or ESL teaching is always a debatable issue. The author, in this paper, has shown how some bilingual materials can ease learners in reading comprehension. Although his research is based in Nepal, the finding can be equally transferred to other context where English is taught as a foreign language.

In the second article, Pitambar Paudel talks about the experiences of the teachers on the shift to the English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in Nepal. Through his qualitative study, he shows how it has also impacted on their methodology.  His findings show that implementing EMI in the schools has developed positive attitude in both teachers and students. However, as a suggestive note, he also points out that there is also a role of a multilingual country like Nepal to nurture and focus on other national languages while promoting English.

Last but not least, in this issue, Reina Ruiz and Jesus Medina from Venezuela highlight the importance of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses for Earth Science pre-service teachers in Venezuela. One of their strong claims is that EAP courses can enable Earth Science pre-service teachers to have wider access to information as many research publications related to this course can be found in the English language.

For your ease, we have hyperlinked each article below.

  1. Translation Bridge as a Facilitator in ESL Reading Comprehension: Empirical Evidence by Dr Binod Luitel
  2. Teachers’ Experiences on shifting Medium of instruction to English in Nepal by Pitambar Paudel
  3. 3. English for Academic Purposes for Earth Science Pre-Service Teachers: A Venezuelan case by Reina Ruiz & Jesus Medina

As usual, we appreciate your comments and feedback. You might comment directly on the article, or if you have generic comment or feedback, you might write to us at thewarwickelt@gmail.com

Enjoy reading!

Editors,

Sagun Shrestha & Hayley Wong

August Issue Editors

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Translation Bridge as a Facilitator in ESL Reading Comprehension: Empirical Evidence [1]

Dr Binod Luitel

Abstract

A quasi-experimental study conducted among the Nepalese college students to test the efficacy of translation in ESL reading comprehension is reported in this paper. The intervention was designed to see whether the treatment supplemented through L1-translated materials (additional to their original English versions) can contribute a higher rate of progress among learners or not, when compared to the treatment in absence of translation. Results showed positive effect of the facilitation instigated by the ‘translation bridge’ provisioned in the materials that were implemented among the learners with poor level of competence in English. Findings are discussed in the light of some previous studies; and it has been concluded that such a ‘bridging’ facility, when used judiciously, is proved successful in facilitating poor learners’ comprehension. An issue for further research has also been pointed out.

Keywords: translation bridge, translanguaging, tracking, facilitation, motivation

Introduction

As learners experience, mental translation occurs during the learning of an ‘additional’ language – i.e. a second language (L2) or foreign language (FL). Based on the review of empirical literature and a quasi-experiment carried out among the Nepalese college students learning English, this article aims to present how far the facilitation provided to the learners through translation causes any difference in their reading comprehension.

Theoretical assumption

While learning an L2, learners already possess their ‘first language’ (L1). It has been argued that ‘translanguaging’ – which makes learners alter L1 and L2 receptively or productively (García, 2013) – is inevitable in this course in one way or the other. In the attempt of understanding new expressions in L2, learners tend to employ their mother tongue resources when they feel it difficult to understand L2 by means of other strategies.

Chen (2009) has considered translation as a strategy of ‘bottom up processing’ in language learning. It can be said that, in such processing, the concepts already acquired in L1 are re-labeled in L2 – instead of attempting to ‘construct’ the meanings or concepts in the target language itself. Such a mental process does operate even if the teacher insists on avoiding the use of any language other than the one being targeted for teaching – learner’s mother tongue, for instance (Luitel, 2005). In pedagogical context, as such, translation takes the form of ‘mental conversion’, and is applied by learners in reading as a strategy unique to L2 (Li and Munby, 1996; referred to by Sadeghi, 2007, p. 212). This process can prolong even after years of one’s learning career, and is deployed by learners particularly when they are in problem.

Considering this reality, it has been suggested to devise some “translation bridge” (Politzer; referred to by Wilss, 1983, p. 249) and employ it as a strategy for facilitating learners, whenever needed, in FL teaching. As we know, facilitating the process of grasping contents on the part of learners should be the goal of language teaching, without which the learner “does not only abstain from important information being taught, she also feels left out, excluded and discriminated” (Sharma, 2015). Continue reading

Teachers’ Experiences on shifting Medium of instruction to English in Nepal

Pitambar Paudel

Abstract

English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in school level education across the country, Nepal is a debatable issue. The educational manual (2015) has made the provision of making English as a medium of instruction along with Nepali. Since Nepal is a multilingual country, so shift in EMI may provide access to the learners to the wide range of published in English and at the same time also prepare them to be a competitive candidate in the global markets. On the other hand, it may create obstacles to preserve and promote local tongues and cultures. In this context, this study tries to explore the teachers’ experiences in shifting medium of instruction to English. For this purpose, phenomenological qualitative research design was used and 10 teachers teaching English and other courses at school level from different schools of the country purposively selected. Semi-structured interview was used as data collection tools. The data was analyzed qualitatively. The data revealed that teachers have positive and optimistic experience towards EMI even if they face many difficulties and there is always a danger of losing local tongues.

Keywords: school education, EMI, teachers’ experience, optimism

Background

Language is a means of constructing and maintaining social relations. The development of new technology has enabled people to maintain a relation to the people of far distance, who have diverse national, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. New technology has turned big world into a small village and further helped embrace the practice of globalization. Global communication requires not only the technological advancement but also the proper linguistic code. If the used linguistic code is not intelligible to the participants, there would be miscommunication or no communication.  To enable the learners exchange their ideas around the globe, they must be able to communicate through a global linguafranca, a common connecting language. In the world, they need to be imparted with a common language. Showing the importance of global linguafranca, Ke (2015, p. 66) argues that a common world language prevents miscommunication among the people who speak different languages.   Global language bridges communication among the people who have different native languages.

Since the mid of 20th century English language has gained foothold as the world linguafranca. It has become the language of international interconnectedness. Burchfield (1985, as quoted in Phillipson, 2007, p.5) concedes, “ignorance of English is equated with linguistic deprivation.”  He meant to say that a person without sound knowledge of English language cannot fit in world communication. It is used significantly by a large number of population throughout the world as a language of communication even if it is not the language with the largest number of mother-tongue speakers. It is acquired as mother-tongue only in inner circle world but not in outer and expanding circle (Kachru, 1985). Continue reading

English for Academic Purposes for Earth Science Pre-Service Teachers: A Venezuelan case

Reina Ruiz & Jesus Medina

Abstract

This research intends to highlight the importance of creating an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses for Earth Science preservice teachers in a teacher training college in Venezuela.  For this study, a survey questionnaire was used in order to determine Earth Science students’ perceived language needs and teachers’ and students’ perception about the relevance of EAP in Earth Science. One of the findings is that both students and teachers in Earth Science teaching program perceive that EAP course is necessary for it can help them have wider access to information as many related works are published in English.

Keywords: EAP, pre-service teachers’ language needs, needs analysis.

Introduction

In Venezuela, English is part of high school curriculum. In higher education, universities offer English as a complement in career and professional development. That is to say, the English language is considered to be extremely important for future professionals. In Universidad Pedagogica Experimental Libertador-Instituto Pedagogico de Maturin “Antonio Lira Alcala” (UPEL-IPMALA), a teacher training college, English is not offered for all future teachers, but only to those whose major is ELT. This scenario affects students who are doing other programs or majors because they need to research about the different areas of their fields and most of the scientific information they find is written in English. It is a fact that most of the readings they have in Spanish are merely translations of articles originally written in the English language. This is the case for Earth Science students at UPEL-IPMALA. The Earth Science students are trained to work in the following fields: Geomorphology, Geology, Astronomy, Cartography, and Astrophysics. Therefore, it is necessary that the Earth Science pre-service teachers know the English language because having a good grasp of the language could benefit them greatly. This knowledge of English language could be a huge advantage for them particularly when they conduct research and have an exchange of knowledge within the scientific community. Continue reading