Innovative Practice - The bilingual whiteboard

30th September 2011 at 01:00
Adapting interactive materials to teach English and Nepali simultaneously

The background

Ullens School in Kathmandu is the first school in Nepal to teach the International Baccalaureate (IB). The independent school has also been keen to teach pupils their mother tongue of Nepali, to help preserve their heritage. English has become mainstream within schools in Nepal, so the Nepali language itself, which is difficult to learn, can often be sidelined.

The school wondered if it could use interactive whiteboard technology to help, but Nepal frequently suffers from power cuts and crippling electricity shortages.

The project

Ullens became the first school in Nepal to introduce electronic whiteboards, investing in a back-up power system to ensure it could carry on using them even during power cuts. The school used Promethean ActivBoards, which it found particularly handy for language teaching. But it hit a snag: a lack of sufficient content made for the device for teaching Nepali.

So staff worked to adapt English language materials to Nepali, regularly meeting to discuss what extra resources they could translate. They also used the board to teach both Nepali and English simultaneously. The boards have become the focus of special weeks celebrating Nepali language and culture, with quizzes and debating points projected on the screens.

Tips from the scheme

- If useful interactive whiteboard material exists, but not for your subject, adapt it.

- By projecting material in two languages on to an interactive whiteboard, you can help pupils to understand both.

- If you are teaching in a country with unreliable electricity, consider a back-up power system before relying on such technology.

Evidence that it works

The school is encouraging pupils to take Nepali at IB diploma programme level, and two students have already performed well in the subject at the higher level of the diploma. Ullens considers its work teaching Nepali via interactive whiteboards to be such a success that it is now developing the same content in Chinese. The school has been nominated for the Unesco Wenhui Award for Educational Innovation.

THE PROJECT

Approach: Using interactive whiteboards to teach in two languages simultaneously

Started: 2009

Leader: Principal Medin Lamichhane

THE SCHOOL

Institution: Ullens School

Location: Kathmandu, Nepal

Number of pupils: 300

Age range: Four to 18

Intake characteristics: About 75 per cent of pupils are from wealthy backgrounds and pay fees to attend the school. The remaining 25 per cent are from underprivileged backgrounds and enrol in the school on scholarships. The school is independent, but non-profit

Monthly fees: Start from about #163;100, but are waived for those on scholarships.

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