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February 2021 - Year 23 - Issue 1

ISSN 1755-9715

The Asia Teacher-Writers’ Group: Recent Events

Alan Maley is well-known as a trainer and materials writer.  He has been involved in ELT for 55 years.  Now in retirement, he continues to write and give presentations and workshops.  His main areas of interest are in innovative methodology, spontaneity in teaching and in literature and creative writing. Email: yelamoo@yahoo.co.uk

The idea of incorporating creative writing in language teaching in the Asia region has been developing for a number of years, in part through the work of the Asian Teacher-Writers’ Group.  The project started in 2003 with a small workshop at Assumption University in Bangkok.  Teachers from a number of Asian countries gathered to discuss the desirability of writing creative materials in English for students in their countries. 

This first event was followed by workshops for roughly the same, but slowly-expanding, group in Melaka, Malaysia (2004), Fuzhou , China (2005), Hanoi , Vietnam (2006), Salatiga, Indonesia (2007), Kathmandu/Kirtipur, Nepal (2008), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2009), Jakarta, Indonesia (2010), Dhulikhel, Nepal (2010), Jember, Indonesia (2011), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2012), Birgunj, Nepal (2013) and Salatiga, Indonesia (2014).  The workshop planned for 2015 in Pokhara, Nepal was tragically cancelled owing to the disastrous earthquake that struck the country.  It was only in November, 2019 that the group was resuscitated and the workshop in Pokhara finally took place.  One more workshop was organised in Hyderabad, India in December of 2020: the facilitators in running the workshop included Motikala Subba Dewan, Sarita Dewan, Vishnu Singh Rai (all from Nepal and long-time members of the Group) and Sharoon Sunny from Bangalore.

Each workshop produced poems and stories which were published by Pearson Malaysia and other publishers (see Published Collections of the Group’s Writing, below), as well as another volume of papers (Mukundan 2006).  Two resource books have also come out of the experiences. (Maley and Mukundan, 2011a) and b)).

The publications from the latest workshops were: 

Maley, Alan & Vishnu S. Rai. (eds) (2020) Writing for You and Writing for Me. Kathmandu: Sagun Asara Publications

Maley, Alan (ed) (2020) Writing Something Interesting for a Change. Hyderabad; The English and Foreign Languages University.

The group has also run a number of independent CW workshops for local teachers in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Korat (Thailand), Iloilo (Philippines), Penang, Ipoh, Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Kathmandu, Pokhara and Kawasoti (Nepal), Muscat (Oman), Vientiane (Laos) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).  The workshop run at EFLU, Hyderabad, India in December 2019 was similar to these projects, with participation of three Nepali group members as facilitators.

The group has always operated in the belief that NNS teachers are not only capable of but are also uniquely well-placed to write literary materials for use by their own and other students in the Asia region.  By virtue of the fact that they share their students’ backgrounds and contexts, they have an intuitive understanding of what will be culturally and topically relevant and attractive for these students.  This is in stark contrast to many of the reading materials published for the global market, which are often remote from the students’ lived experience and interests.  More importantly perhaps, is the fact that so many NNS teachers all too often lack the confidence in their own ability to write interesting material.  The group operates to dispel this misconception and to foster teachers’ self-esteem.

Ultimately, change in our teaching practices will not come from top-down ministerial decrees but from the commitment of individuals with a belief in the value of their actions.  ‘A journey of 1000 li begins with the first step.’ (Chinese proverb).  We very much hope that others will be inspired by this project and will continue the workshops in other parts of the world. 

 

Some samples of the writing from Pokhara and Hyderabad.

To give a flavour of the kind of texts the participants produced in these two workshops. Here is a small selection of creative writing produced by a group of teachers during a 4-day workshop in Pokhara ,Nepal in November 2019, and a 5-day workshop held at the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad in December 2019. 

From Pokhara:       

Some haikus:

Another blackout

But the moon provides back-up –

Lighting up the sky.

                Lany

Frozen Vietnamese -

Thirty nine dead in a truck.

No time for goodbyes …

         Thuy

 

Five Senses of Love. Janpha

What is the colour of love?

What is the smell of success?

What’s the taste of victory?

What’s the feel of failure?

What’s the sound of time?

 

My fears.  Phuong Le.

At 6, I was afraid of punishments.

At 14, I was afraid of friends leaving me.

At 18, I was afraid of failure.

At 25, I was afraid of love loss.

At 40, I was afraid of betrayal.

At 50, I was afraid of Mother’s tears.

 

 

From Hyderabad:

Some haikus:

On the edge of sleep

A loud sound woke me – perhaps

The sound of conscience?

                       Abdulaziz

Inside the temple

I meditate to find peace -

Someone steals my shoes!

                    Jagdeep

Bride and groom smiling

Ready for their future life –

Little do they know!

              Moti

This dark evening

My teacher’s funeral pyre

Still lights up our lives …

                 Pritviraj

 

Poem based on a picture;

The Challenge   Shravasti

The gerbil on its running wheel,

The man with eyes on his dreams.

The dark, brooding shadow

Engulfing the tired self.

The dangling carrot, the mad rat-race:

The spirit has flown out of his face.

His footsteps seem to falter;

But, he cannot escape his halter.

 

Recipe poem:

Recipe for Hunger. Subbhasshri

Six months of job hunting

Four to Five applications rejected

Two cups of ‘no vacancy’ notices

One post withdrawn

A dash of frustration

A generous helping of humiliations

Not less than a dozen mouths to fill -

Serve during a Recession…

 

Eight ways of looking at …

Eight Ways of Looking at a Book   Timothy Jayaraj

An inelegant Chinese fan, on a hot afternoon.

A hard pillow on a train.

A brick thrown by an angry parent.

A ring-binder of dogs’ ears.

A reliquary for a maple leaf.

A dust-coated centre-piece on a coffee table.

The bellows of a harmonium, susurrating,

A sheaf of sheathed banknotes.

 

 

References

Arnold, Jane.  (1999) Affect in Language Learning.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Boden, Margaret.  (1998) The Creative Mind.  London: Abacus.

Carter, Ronald.  (2004)  Language and Creativity: the art of common talk.  London: Routledge.

Cook, Guy.  (2000)  Language Play: Language Learning.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Craik, F.I.M. and R.S. Lockhart (1972)  ‘Levels of processing: a framework for memory research.’  Journal for verbal learning and Verbal Behaviour II: 617-84.

Crystal, David. (1998)  Language Play.  London: Penguin.

Davie, Donald (1994)   Purity of Diction in English Verse and Articulate Energy.  London: Carcanet.

Day, Richard and Julian Bamford.  (1998)  Extensive Reading in the Second Language Classroom.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Dornyei ,Zoltan  (2001) Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gardner, Howard. (1985)  Frames of Mind.  London: Paladin Books 

Gleick, James. (1988)  Chaos.  London: Sphere Books

Koch, Kenneth. (1990) Rose, where did you get that red?  New York: Vintage Books.

Krashen, Stephen  (2004 second edition) The Power of Reading.  Portsmouth NH: Heinemann

Maley, Alan and Jayakaran Mukundan (2011)   Writing Poems: a resource book for teachers of English.  Petaling Jaya: Pearson Malaysia

Maley, Alan and Jayakaran Mukundan (2011) Writing Stories; a resource book for teachers of English.  Petaling Jaya: Pearson Mal.aysia

McRae, John (1991) Literature with a Small ‘l’.  Oxford: Macmillan.

Matthews, Paul. 1994. Sing Me the Creation.  Stroud:Hawthorn Press.

Mukundan, Jayakaran.  (ed)  (2006) Creative Writing in EFL/ESL Classrooms II.  Petaling Jaya: Pearson Longman Malaysia

Rubdy, Rani and Mario Saraceni (eds) (2006) English in the World: Global Rules, Global Roles.  London/New York: Continuum.

Schmidt, Richard (1990).  ‘The role of consciousness in second language learning’.  Applied Linguistics. Vol. 11, No. 2 129-158.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schumacher, E.F.  (1974). Small is Beautiful.  London: Abacus/Sphere Books

Spiro, Jane (2004) Creative Poetry Writing.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Spiro, Jane (2006) Creative Story-building.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tan, Bee Tin (ed) (2004). Creative Writing in EFL/ESL Classrooms I  Serdang: UPM Press.

Tomlinson, Brian (1998). ‘Seeing what they mean: helping L2 learners to visualise.’  In B.Tomlinson (ed). Materials Development in Language Teaching.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  265-78

Tomlinson, Brian (2001) ‘The inner voice: a critical factor in language learning’ Journal of the Imagination in L2 learning.  VI, 123-154.

Wright, Andrew and David Hill. (2008)  Writing Stories.  Innsbruck: Helbling Languages.

 

Published Collections of the Group’s Writing.

Maley, Alan & Jayakaran Mukundan.  (eds) (2005 a)) Asian Stories for Young Readers, Vol 1   Petaling Jaya: Pearson/Longman Malaysia.

Maley, Alan & Jayakaran Mukundan  (eds)  (2005 b))  Asian Stories for Young Learners. Vol. 2   Petaling Jaya: Pearson Malaysia

Maley, Alan & Jayakaran Mukundan (eds) (2005 c) Asian Poems for Young Readers. Vol. 3.   Petaling Jaya: Pearson/Longman.

Maley, Alan (ed) (2007 a)) Asian Short Stories for Young Readers.  Vol. 4.  Petaling Jaya: Pearson/Longman Malaysia

Maley, Alan (ed) (2007 b))  Asian Poems for Young Readers. Vol.5. Petaling Jaya:Pearson/Longman Malaysia.

Maley, Alan & Jayakaran Mukundan (eds)  (2008a))  Asian Short Stories for Young Readers.  Vol. 6.  Petaling Jaya: Pearson Malaysia

Maley, Alan & Jayakaran Mukundan (eds) (2008 b)) Asian Poems for Young Readers. Vol. 7.   Petaling Jaya: Pearson/Longman.

Maley, Alan & Jayakaran Mukundan (eds) (2009 a)) Asian Short Stories  for Young Readers. Vol. 8.   Petaling Jaya: Pearson/Longman.

Maley, Alan & Jayakaran Mukundan (eds) (2009 b)) Asian Poems for Young Readers. Vol. 9.   Petaling Jaya: Pearson/Longman.

Maley, Alan, Jayakaran Mukundan & Vishnu S. Rai. (eds) (2009). Life in Words & Words in Life. I.  Kathmandu: Bhundipuran Prakashan.

Maley, Alan and Jayakaran Mukundan (eds) (2011a)) Asian Short Stories for Young Readers.Vol.10.   Petaling Jaya: Pearson Malaysia

Maley, Alan and Jayakaran Mukundan (eds) (2011 b)) Asian Poems for Young Readers. Vol. 11.  Petaling Jaya: Pearson Malaysia.

Maley, Alan, Jayakaran Mukundan & Vishnu S. Rai. (eds) (2012). Life in Words & Words in Life. II.  Kathmandu: Bhundipuran Prakashan

Maley, Alan, Jayakaran Mukundan & Handoyo Puji Widodo. (eds) (2012)  Writing for Ourselves.  Muenchen: LINCOM EUROPA.

Maley, Alan, Jayakaran Mukundan & Handoyo Puji Widodo. (eds) (2013)  Creative Writing. Muenchen: LINCOM EUROPA.

Maley, Alan, Jayakaran Mukundan & Handoyo Puji Widodo. (eds) (2014)  Poems and Short Stories.  Muenchen: LINCOM EUROPA.

Maley, Alan & Vishnu S. Rai. (eds) (2020) Writing for You and Writing for Me. Kathmandu: Sagun Asara Publications

Maley, Alan (ed) (2020) Writing Something Interesting for a Change. Hyderabad; The English and Foreign Languages University.

 

Resource Books

Maley, Alan and Jayakaran Mukundan (2011)   Writing Poems: a resource book for teachers of English.  Petaling Jaya: Pearson Malaysia.

Maley, Alan and Jayakaran Mukundan (2011)  Writing Stories:  a resource book for teachers of English.  Petaling Jaya: Pearson Malaysia.

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