An Interview with Zakia Sarwar from darren elliott on Vimeo.

In February 2015 I attended the NELTA conference in Kathmandu, Nepal and was fortunate to meet Zakia Sarwar. NELTA is an important regional conference so as well as the ‘local’ attendees (many of whom had travelled great distances across Nepal) there were large contingents from India, Bangladesh and Dr. Sarwar’s country of Pakistan.

Dr. Sarwar is probably best know for her work with The Society of Pakistan English Teachers (SPELT), of which she is a founder member. They have a number of publications, and invite submissions. Please have a look!

At the NELTA conference Dr. Sarwar presented on her projects promoting learner autonomy and working with large classes, collaborating internationally, and these topics we discussed in our interview. Dr. Sarwar maintains a personal website which you can visit to read more about her research (and also to read some of her delightful juvenilia).

Please subscribe on iTunes for the irregular podcast, and visit us on Facebook or twitter for sporadic updates. I’m not the social media slave I once was, but I think these interviews are still finding an audience. I’m currently submitting proposals for 2016 conferences in Japan and internationally, and have an eye on a number of interview subjects. Thank you for your continued support!

An Interview with David Hayes from darren elliott on Vimeo.

In February of this year I was fortunate enough to visit Kathmandu for the NELTA conference. As an outsider and an observer I felt the conference itself had a very interesting dynamic. It seemed to me that as the local organisers and the foreign developmental agencies seemed to respectfully dance around each other, trying to balance financial support, advice and autonomy. In that kind of situation it can be awkward for a foreign presenter to be parachuted in – feted as an ‘expert’ yet with little understanding of the local context. Overall, I think the outside agencies try their very hardest to offer support without overpowering the recipients of that support, but I don’t know …. I’d be interested to read your comments on the topic below, or even in a private message if it’s too delicate to discuss.

However, in David Hayes, I think the organisers identified someone who could offer insights to his audience. David has worked all over the world and been involved in teacher development projects in many different contexts. We talk about some of them here, as well as teacher training and development in general.

The next NELTA conference will take place in March 2016. Sadly, there are still many people who need support after the devastating earthquake of 2015. At the time of the earthquake there were a number of Nepali-led local groups who were very active. As the relief efforts have become less urgent some of these have wound down, but if you would like to support the reconstruction there is still a lot to be done. For long term benefits, Room to Read has a strong programme in Nepal. If you know of any other small but effective charities, please comment below.

An Interview with Laxman Gnawali from darren elliott on Vimeo.

In February of this year I visited Kathmandu for the second time in my life, this time in a professional capacity, and had a great experience hosted by the good people of NELTA. Amongst them, Dr. Laxman Gnawali, who I present here. Dr. Gnawali has contributed a great deal to the success of NELTA over the last few years, helping it become a model for other national teaching associations. Nepal has its challenges, but I met many, many wonderful people who had gathered from across the country to share ideas and enthusiasm. My overwhelming impression from my visit was that of burgeoning self-confidence and pride in the achievements of the association and its members.

In this spirit, after the terrible earthquake of April 2015, I’d like to encourage you all to support NELTA and its affiliates in trying to help those who need it most. The Jai Nepal Youth Group is a group of Kathmandu University graduates and other professional volunteers who are working right now to get supplies out to neglected areas. One of the organisers, Umes Shrestha, was interviewed as IH scholar at the recent IATEFL conference in Manchester. NELTA itself is involved in relief work, and perhaps the best place to keep up to date with them is via Facebook. Other aid agencies are now on the ground and taking contributions.

There will be more to do after the dust has settled, so please continue to support Nepal and don’t let this story just fade away out of international sight.

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