'My First Experience in Teaching English Pronunciation to ELT Teachers in Nepal' by Rajendra Man Singh

13th February 2023

As part of my master’s degree programme at Kathmandu University School of Education, I was involved in developing a training programme for the professional development of English Language teachers in Nepal. Before that, I visited three secondary schools located in Kathmandu and Lalitpur cities in Nepal. When I talked to the English language teachers there, one of the common areas of concern or need was the lack of or subpar proficiency in English speaking and it motivated me to develop a training program in English Pronunciation. There are many reasons for the poor English pronunciation in Nepal. According to Sharma (2020), learning English pronunciation receives the least attention in the curriculum in the Nepali academic sphere. Furthermore, the overuse of the mother tongue including the dominance of the Nepalese language (Chand, 2021) along with the interlanguage differences between English and the native languages spoken in Nepal (Khati, 2011) because of the difficulty with both fluency and pronunciation. Although, in Nepal,  English has a high prestige in the academic and social contexts, and while a lot is invested in English language teaching (ELT), the result is far from satisfactory. Koirala (2015) states that there is a clear distinction between government and private school students in relation to their English language proficiency levels resulting in the former students demonstrating poor  English language skills in relation to private school students. However, even private schools, at times, appear to have  insufficient language resources as well as qualified or trained ELT teachers and these have resulted in poor English language proficiency in Nepalese students (Bista, 2011) .

I extensively researched English phonemes and suprasegmental language features like stress and intonation and made them relevant in the context of Nepal. I also used the website that I built to help Nepali EFL speakers learn English pronunciation. The culmination of the six months of field visits, research work, and training material development enabled me to offer training sessions to 22 teachers from four different schools in Nepal. These teachers taught primary and secondary-level students.

The participating teachers were busy professionals, and they had to take their leave of absence from their respective schools. Hence, after consulting with the hosting school officials and programme facilitators, the training programme was adjusted to a two-day event on the 11th and 12th of June, 2022. It covered ten different sessions on English pronunciation. Initially, the desks and benches were arranged in a traditional way facing the whiteboard. However, the seating arrangement was reorganized into a number of  U-shape groups facing the whiteboard to increase the training participant interactions (see figure 1). The first day focused on English phonemes, IPA, silent letters, vowel and consonant alphabet combination sounds, and rules on breaking words into syllables. Ice-breaking games were included in between the sessions to help integrate the class participants. I used PowerPoint slides as primary instructional material. While teaching the 44 English phonemes, I first went through the consonant sounds individually. I explained how the sounds are articulated along with the place of articulation. I used pictures of the human vocal apparatus with tongue placement and proper labelling to help them emulate the correct sound reproduction. English phonemes that are not present in the Nepali language were introduced along with their correct pronunciation. Some signs of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) were easy and intuitive for the participants to learn as they looked similar to their English alphabet. This was followed by a session in which they practised pronouncing the combination of a consonant and a vowel, which was especially significant in showing how the letter ‘r’ did not follow the pronunciation convention followed by other consonant letters, or the vowel ‘g’ which could be pronounced as either /dʒ/ or /g/ depending on the adjacent vowel letter. Later, the training participants went over the rules for breaking words into syllables. This session was interactive and they received it enthusiastically.

On the second day, I intended on teaching word stress, sentence intonation, and commonly mispronounced English words in Nepal. Word stress and intonation were rather difficult for the training participants because of the lack of similar concepts in Nepali or other native languages in Nepal. Many of them had to repeat the examples several times to make sure that they were putting the stress on the right syllable or speaking with the right intonation tone depending on the sentence type. As a result, we spent about 30 minutes each for the practice session on word stress and sentence intonation. This was followed by a tutorial session on the English words that are commonly mispronounced in Nepal. Many English words are ‘Nepalicized’, meaning the words are pronounced distinctly which is peculiar to Nepali people. For example, the word ‘Film’ is pronounced as /fɪlɪm/, and the word ‘Tank’ is pronounced as /’tæŋkɪ/. The participants enjoyed going over the compilation of the English words that are pronounced differently in Nepal. Such variation in pronunciation can cause misunderstandings when speaking in English with foreigners.

Overall, the training programme on improving English pronunciation was well received by the participants and the school officials. I received a compliment from the hosting school principal that I was able to teach the course participants in two days what he learned in an entire semester as part of his bachelor’s degree in English. I feel that my objective in offering the training was achieved as I was able to help them understand or at least introduce different pronunciation aspects of the English language.   


  • Bista, K. (2011). Teaching English as a Foreign/Second Language in Nepal: Past and Present. Online Submission, 11(32), 1-9.
  • Chand, G. B. (2021). Challenges Faced by Bachelor-Level Students While Speaking English. Indonesian Journal of English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 6(1), 45-60.
  • Khati, A. R. (2011). When and why of mother tongue use in English classrooms. Journal of NELTA, 16(1-2), 42-51.
  • Koirala, A. (2015). Debate on public and private schools in Nepal. International Journal of Social Sciences and Management, 2(1), 3-8.
  • Sharma, L. R. Discerning the Reasons for Difficulties in Teaching English Pronunciation to Nepalese Students. NELTA Bagmati Journal, 1.

About Rajendra Man Singh

Rajendra Man Singh is an ELT learner and practitioner from Nepal. He is about to complete his master’s degree in English Language Teaching from Kathmandu University School of Education. He teaches the English language to bachelor-level students at a college in Kathmandu. In addition to that, he is involved as an IELTS instructor to Nepali students. He has been in the ELT field in Nepal for the last four years. He is a published author and enjoys contributing as an editor to Nepali journals. Currently, he is writing short stories for a book publication. 

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