For Govinda, teaching English as a subject is the most challenging job. He has been teaching English in Dev Jyoti Basic School, Chitwan for 15 years. Most of the students in his school are from marginalized communities.

“The environment at home plays a crucial role in development of a student’s thinking and learning ability. Most of my students are from marginalized communities and don’t have a nurturing environment at their home. Education is not their priority,” says Govinda.

He further adds, “This often results in irregularity in the school and the students find it difficult to read and write in English or Nepali language”.

For a long time, Govinda and his school committee have been trying to convince the parents to send their children to school on regular basis. They have adopted different methods to make learning easier for students, but the outcome has remained the same. For a change, Govinda is now implementing a new methodology of teaching in his class that is more student-centred and involves interactive activities for students.

Govinda had an opportunity to build his confidence in content knowledge of English and learn about new methodologies of teaching in the Teacher Activity Groups (TAG) session that the British Council conducts under its English Language – Teacher Education Project (EL-TEP).

“I have attended seven TAG sessions to date. In the sessions, teachers from different schools come together, discuss the problems that arises when teaching, do the researches and exchange ideas to bring the improvement. We then implement our ideas in our classrooms and see how effectively it works. Such sharing has helped me to enhance my teaching skill and learn more from each other,” says Govinda.

“Recently, from our research, we found out that games and engaging learning activities help students to learn quickly and effectively. So, every day I prepare a lesson plan and decide a game or activity to conduct in my class that is engaging for the students. This has really been helpful. I now find my students more attentive and active in the classroom. It has also reduced the high absenteeism of the students in my class,” he adds.

In addition to engaging games, Govinda also uses Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) in his classroom and shares his class experience with his colleagues through social networks.

“Students enjoy audio-visual learning. So, most of the times I download course related audios and videos from different websites on my phone. For listening and speaking activities, I am currently using the teaching resources uploaded in the British Council’s sites. It has made my teaching practical and learning fun,” says Govinda.

“Teaching must not be exam-oriented. It should focus on quality of instruction and effective pedagogy. That’s a key thing I learned in the TAG sessions,” he then adds.

TAGs are peer-led support groups which teachers can join as part of their professional development. They have been established in British Council projects in India, Jordan, Palestine and now in Nepal. In English and Education projects, TAGs often focus on teachers helping each other practice their English skills and sharing new teaching ideas and techniques. TAG encourages teachers to take responsibility for their own learning, connecting it directly to the issues they face in the classroom.TAG facilitators, who are also teachers from the same areas and trained by the British Council, do not take the lead in a training role, but enable focused discussion, sharing of experience and collaborative learning.