Or: Some newer ELT blogs to check out in 2014
In my last post, I looked at some blog posts I wished I’d commented on in 2013. In this post, I’d like to share some newer blogs that have caught my attention. Please do click through to them if you don’t want me to get all stroppy. Please also let me know in the comments about other new ELT blogs which have caught your attention and I will happily list them too. This is not my first time to share new ELT blogs. I did so last May (and also shared some pet peeves as a bonus) and before that I shared blogs I was looking forward to in 2013. It was fun for me to re-read those posts and if you are not familiar with the blogs mentioned there, my recommendations still hold true. Most of the blogs mentioned are still pretty active and surely worth a look. In this post, I am sharing these blogs in no particular order. They are all blogs that came to my attention in the past few months. Here they are:
How I see it now
Lovely title. Lovely writing. Lovely posts. Lovely person. Please just go ahead and read it. I am sort of cheating here in calling this a new blog because I now see the author, Hana Tichá, had posts starting last fall. I am not sure exactly but I think I first saw her blog this early this year. It was a revelation for me. I was hooked immediately. [Note to self: remember to go back and check the earlier stuff at the first opportunity.] She has been on quite the blogging run lately, with 14 posts already this year! Her most recent post is called,”Through the Lens of Communicativeness” and it is most excellent. Her post where she described a negative classroom experience (and the exchange in the comments) is also highly recommended. As I was writing this I realized I somehow missed a post of hers On human interconnectedness which I am going to be bold enough to recommend without even having read it myself.
Teacher to Learner
Speaking of interconnectedness, Hana (from just above) mentioned one post from this blog on her blog. That post was “My Mindset” and I think it is a good place to start on this fascinating blog. As you might guess from the title, this blog is about a teacher learning a language. In the author’s (Matthew Ellman) words, “This blog is an attempt to look at language learning from a student’s perspective, in order to inform language teaching perspectives.I arrived in Malaysia in October 2013 to work as an English teacher. In order to be able to teach better, I decided that I would document my attempts to learn Malay, from scratch, and scrutinise some of the theories that I put to use every day in my classes along the way. This blog is the record of that journey.” Do check it out.
The tagline reads, “A blog mostly about language teaching. Not seafood.” While I enjoy seafood I was happy for the clarification. A little bit of research (ok…reading the about page) reveals that the author, Vedrana Vojkovic, is part owner of a language school called “Octopus Language Services” where she worked for a number of years. Thus the name. I have known her on Twitter for a while I have a very good impression of her. Her first post was the 11 challenge and was a nice way to get to know her better. Her subsequent posts have been about Wordle (and fruit!) and her experiences at MachinEVO 2014. Without any pressure on the author I am looking forward to seeing more!
Disclaimer Alert: I actually know this author in real life. She is a friend and a colleague. Zhenya has written a guest post (a great post on being a “NNS” trainer) on this blog and been interviewed too. I am still convinced I’d be recommending this blog even without those factors. It is great. This post tells you some of the reasons she started the blog. Her most recent post is about the Experiential Learning Cycle and I think it is worth reading and keeping an eye on her blog for updates in what looks like it might be a series. An slightly older post I’d like to share is about the night before an intensive teacher training course begins.
Diary of a Newbie CELTA Trainer
Who is this guy? His about page is not much help. I do know he is a very good guy to follow on Twitter (@NewbieCELTA ). He is a nice combination of quirky, fun, kind and informative. His blog is excellent promises to continue to be. Looking what is on the blog so far (quite a lot in a short amount of time!) I can see a mix of sharing other blogs and resources related to training, a look back to earlier experiences, a great #ELTchat summary and a diary post and more. Check it out now and see what is coming in the next few months too. It promises to be an informative and entertaining ride.
“The Tao of middle management” is just as fascinating as it sounds. Yes, a blog dealing with the Tao Te Ching as it relates to management in ELT. I might be cheating a bit here too because I can see some 2013 posts there but it seems like more of a recent thing so I will bend the rules and be like water here as I share it. Two posts that stuck with me were, “Why motivation is demeaning” and “Above all, this.” I love the writing on this blog and also love the idea. I learned from the home page the author previously blogged about connections between ELT teaching and the tao. Brilliant stuff as well. I hope my positive words regarding the writing and ideas here are not seen as untruthful.
The ELT Philosopher
Sticking with the philosophy theme here. There is one post on this blog and it is called, “Socrates CPD Cave.” Wow. Great stuff. I am not afraid to say I am hoping for more.
Also noteworthy is the blog tagline: Pass the Hemlock.
I believe Luke Meddings doesn’t need an introduction. I wasn’t aware of his blog or at least the new location until I saw “And it’s Bergkamp, via a reflection” and then “We teach to teach, they test to invest.” I think both these posts are worth visiting or revisiting and that this site is worth taking a look at and keeping an eye on.
The End (for now)
Thanks for reading. And clicking through the other blogs. Once again, please let me know any other suggestions you have.
This post is not about my pet peeves related to new bloggers. That would be weird. We could even consider this post to be two separate posts. One in which I detail some pet peeves and another in which I share some new(er) ELT blogs. I think you’d be very justified to wonder about the connection between pet peeves and new blogs. Please read on.
I started using Twitter around 22 months ago and started blogging around 18 months ago and it has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much and met (both on and offline) some amazing people. It has been incredible for my learning and professional development and it has been a lot of fun.
I often talk with other teachers about the potential benefits for getting on Twitter. Here I talked about 20 people that I met online as I celebrated my one year anniversary of being on Twitter. And here, I wrote about some reasons for teachers to join Twitter. I am thrilled with my decisions to connect online and to blog. It has truly re-energized things for me. I am very happy with my time spent in the ELT Twitterverse and Blogosphere. That said, it’s not always sunshine. Some minor annoyances can creep in from to time.
I was surprised to learn a few years ago that pet peeve is actually an Americanism and our friends across the pond use the term “pet hate.” Wikipedia defines pet peeve as, “a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to them, to a greater degree than others may find it.” (Fun aside per Wikipedia: Its first usage was around 1919. The term is a back-formation from the 14th-century word peevish, meaning ornery or ill-tempered.] The Wiki page highlights what I think is an important aspect of pet peeves in that they might be completely acceptable to others but bother one specific person. This doesn’t mean that the behaviors are inherently wrong. It’s not you, it’s me. Also, a few words of cation before I start. I am not trying to pick on, single out, or isolate any specific people. There is no character judgment here. If you do or have done any of the things listed below it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. I think you are most likely a nice person. It’s just that the things listed below can sometimes bug me a bit. That’s all. I realize I could simply stop following or reading the blogs of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes but I am not ready to take such extreme measures yet. I’d rather just share some personal pet peeves, which are what follows.
- People that quote excessively from Wikipedia in blog posts
- People on Twitter continually saying that they “liked a video”
Once or twice might pique my interest but 10 in a row? Or every day? That doesn’t tell me anything and I have no interest in seeing this, let alone clicking on the videos.
- A huge run of RTs on Twitter
Something like Like 5 in a row is enough for me to get slightly annoyed. I can also say that I don’t really read or click on them because I am too busy being annoyed.
(Top tip: It is possible to disable RTs from people)
(I guess it is also possible to schedule tweets so this sort of thing doesn’t happen.)
- Sharing old blog posts on teh Twitters without saying they are old posts
This is probably the second biggest one for me. I like to know it is an old post or not. Sometimes I get excited thinking it is a new post and then find out it is from the dark ages (2010). I think it is great that folks have so much content to share and I applaud them for continuing to share it. I just feel angry (with myself, with the person, with the world) when I click on and old post expecting it to be new. “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
- Pre-registering for webinars
I fully understand the rationale behind it but it’s generally an annoyance that I would do my utmost to avoid if given a chance.
- Blog posts like “The 10 reasons you need to use ipads tomorrow or else you are a bad teacher”
Why not, “Hey man, here are some ways that I used ipads and here are some thoughts on my experience that may or may not be relevant to your situation but I hope you will read and consider it and maybe put these ideas to use if they make sense for you and your context?”
- Blogs that are all framey and require lots of mouse manipulation in order to read them
No thanks. I’d rather read than mess around with this sort of thing.
- Excessive linking to Scoopit and suchlike
See an interesting sounding link. Click on it. Go to Scoopit. Try to find the same link. Get frustrated.
- Twitter advice that is clearly made for marketers or businesspeople and not for teachers
There is so much stuff out there about how to maximize social media and there is a lot of good advice. Yet, sometimes, I think it is a bit plastic or too much focused on business and marketing people rather than teachers. Fair enough, that was the intended audience. It kind of bums me out when I read slick posts about how to use twitter but realize the goals of those who created the posts are so very different from my own.
(Top tip: Check out Sandy Millin‘s stuff on Twitter for teachers. It’s excellent)
- When people ask for help before googling
Ohh baby. You have no idea how often I resist using the “Let me google that for you” website or how hard it can be at times to do so. I think asking for help is great and I think it is wonderful that people are so willing to help. Yet at the same time, I think the person asking the question *should spend at least a few minutes looking around before asking for help.
- Auto RTs of new blog posts from others
I have spent some time thinking about why this bugs me. I think it is the insincerity of it all. Why not wait to actually read something before sharing it around? I’d be much happier knowing that the RT was done because the tweeter thought it was worth sharing rather than deciding long ago a particular blogger was worth sharing every time.
- People saying ‘This idea is too good for just a blog post”
The implication that I take from this is that good ideas should be in places other than on blogs. Places like formal papers, conference presentations, and books. Taking it a step further this sounds to me that blogs should just be for bad or unimportant ideas.
- People saying, writing or tweeting things like:
There are no ELT bloggers anymore.
Nobody blogs anymore.
ELT blogging is dead.
For me, this is the most egregious item on my pet peeves list. It’s bothersome because it is clearly untrue. Also, I don’t think it is fair to people that have started blogs recently. It’s probably much better and more accurate to say, “The bloggers that I used to read frequently are not blogging as much as they used to.” This statement would get my understanding rather than my ire. The fact is that there are plenty of new blogs sharing amazing things. I can’t help but think it is shortsighted at best to say the above.
New ELT blogs
In December 2012 I shared some blogs I was looking forward to in 2013. In the same spirit I offer 2nd installment of the “New ELT blogs” series.
Please feel free to suggest additions in the comments. I have a bad feeling that I will unintentionally leave something out. It’s hard to keep things straight when there are so many excellent new blogs! These are offered in no particular order and no stress or pressure on the authors is intended. The blogs are new or at least new to me in the last 6 months or so.
Author: Laura Adele Soracco (@djnada)
This blog is on my must read every single word list when I get a bit more time for summer holidays. I had a quick look the other day and was pleasantly surprised at how much interesting material was up in just a few months. The author, currently teaching in China but usually based in the US writes that she is, “currently involved in several projects…interested in publicly documenting all of 2013 as a way to engage in some cooperative learning with teachers around the globe via discussions on this site.” Why not join her?
Also be sure to check out and share the “Academic English Corner” with your students as it looks like it could be a great resource.
Author: Jo Cummins (@jo_cummins)
The main focus of this blog is “creative writing activities and ideas for the EFL classroom” and it surely does this. I like how the blog offers lesson ideas as well as some commentary and thoughts to help writing teachers. An example of lesson ideas can be found here in “Mystery Objects.” Jo has also done monthly round-ups which include posts related to the theme. Here is the May roundup. One of her favorite posts is on very short stories and the other is on why ELTs should use creative writing.
Author: Unknown/Anonymous/Ann O’Nymous (@ThesecretDOS)
In a word: Brilliant. In two words: Brilliant and controversial. In three words: Just read it. The Secret DOS (DOS= Director of Studies) shares his/her thoughts on teaching, learning and knowledge. Sometimes this is done from a management point of view. It’s beautifully written and extremely thought provoking.There is so much good stuff here but the bold manifesto caught my eye. The comments section are also typically an oasis of respectful disagreement, half agreement, nuance and wonder in this day and age of binary divisions of thought. In case you are somehow not intrigued yet, the Twitter profile for this person reads: I shall wear no crown & win no glory. I shall live & die at my desk. I am the sword in the darkness; the watcher on the web; the horn that wakes the sleepers.
Warning: Sometimes causes headaches because it requires a lot of thought.
Author: Sirja (@swisssirja)
I love this blog for many reasons but what jumps out at me is how honest and reflective the author is. She opens herself up to the world and shares her thoughts and experiences (both positive and negative). I think it is a must read! Describing her reasons for blogging Sirja writes, “I believe teaching is a privilege which entails great responsibility. To live up to this role as a guide we, teachers, should constantly hone our skills and “launch updates in our software programs I hope this space helps me to do just that! I am interested in everything related to teaching, but I am passionate about group dynamics, reflective practice and (very) mixed-level classes.” 2 posts that stick out in my mind are this one detailing a devastating day teaching and this one with some thoughts on being a “Non-native speaker.” Also see her post on Ken Wilson’s blog about the nagging doubts of a NNS.
Author: Jonathan Sayers (@jo_sayers)
A nice combination of ELT and tech related blog posts. Sometimes includes #ELTchat summaries and sometimes (ok once) posts connected to this blog. Sometimes includes posts related to collaborations with Mura Nava (who is held in very high esteem on this blog) on #teachtheweb projects. Jonathan thought the posts related to webmaking were interesting because they were a bit off his normal topics. Among his favorite posts is this one on using the Tellagami App.
Sticking with the edtech them a bit here. Here is a new site with a variety of posts so far including microinterviews (140 character or less answers!), guest posts, and analysis of the industry. I particularly enjoyed their thoughts on Pearson going full digital. I also thought the insider tips on how to be a published ELT writer in the digital era would be of interest to many. They seem to be pretty tuned into the industry and appear to be keeping up with the trends and I think this is a good blog to keep an eye on. They also have a manifesto which is always nice.
Author: Roseli Serra (@serraroseli)
On the blog she describes herself as, “A very happy person, enthusiastic teacher, teacher trainer and developer, e-moderator and ELT consultant.” I first noticed Roseli’s blog recently with her excellent post on 12 tips for effective mentoring. Taking a closer look I can see that she has also posted on homework, and her first IATEFL experience. I am looking forward to reading more!
Author: Tom Randolph (@TomTESOL)
A welcome addition to the #KELTchat and Korea English blogging scene, Tom has been a prolific blogger for a few months now. Tom writes about teacher education, tech, experiments he’s trying and more. I particularly enjoyed 7 techniques for avoiding the job interview you want and 11 quick multi-sensory pronunciation techniques. Tom also writes about using video for teacher development and these posts (this series?) comes recommended as well.
Author: Adi Rajan (@adi_rajan)
Aside from the lovely blog itself two things jump out at me here. First, the tagline (if that is what is called…subtitle?) for the blog reads, “A reflective invocation to the gods, tools & scriptures of ELT.” Wow. The second thing is that Adi did what is almost certainly the most beautiful ELTchat summary ever here. I guess he has an interest in infographics because here he shared some tips for making them. His blog also includes lesson ideas and ways of exploiting tools as well as different prompts for writing.
Author: Geoff Jordan (and others)
Geoff is another frequent blog commenter as well as a prolific poster. I am very impressed with both the quality and quantity to go up on the blog recently. The blog is aimed at those doing post-graduate work in Applied Linguistics and thus has a more academic bent than many blogs, which is not to say that it is impenetrable. I was very impressed with this post on syllabus design which is a summary of Mike Long’s work on the topic. I also enjoyed the very brief reviews of recent articles in journals. I think this blog has a bright future and will be of use to many. Also of note on this blog are the additional resources like suggested readings, a glossary, and even an overview of SLA.
Author: Sophia Khan (@Sophiakhan4)
Full disclosure: It’s no secret that Sophia is one of my favorite people I have never met. We seem to have very similar (ahem…nerdy) interests but usually slightly different takes on things, which is partly why I love to talk about (I mean write on blogs and Twitter) such issues with her. Her wit and wisdom also score very highly. She has posted about celebrating Failure Fest and on valuing the unexpected (with a hint of personal disaster thrown in). I was thrilled when I saw her first blog post, much more than any sane person should probably ever be at the act of a “stranger” deciding write words on the internet in a centralized location.
http://www.teachtopenglish.com/ by Emily and Jim (@teachtopenglish)
Compilation of activities and games for classroom use
All about TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling)
harmlessdrudgery.blogspot.co.uk By Bob Knowles (@bobK99)
“Random thoughts from a wordsmith, budding lexicographer, and ‘snapper up of unconsidered trifles’
http://tesolwar.com/ by Bill Rago (@tesolwar)
“A place to discuss language learning and teaching.”
On bilingualism in teaching and parenting
The author has been blogging for 4 months and shares lesson ideas, inspirations and more!
Surely I missed some…. looking forward to seeing what I missed in the comments!
(If you are suggesting a blog, it would be great if it is a 2013 baby)
Also if your blog was mentioned in this post and you’d like me to direct special attention to a specific post that is something I’d be happy to do.