The Orient Express: English Language Teachers Blogging

orient expressAre you ready?

I'm about to take you on the most exciting of adventures...

Along this journey, you'll be exploring some seriously interesting articles about teaching, language and our great ELT industry while journeying throughout the work of 22 ELT Bloggers who're based around the world.

We'll travel from Poland to Serbia, from Dubai to Italy, stopping off in Spain, Germany, the Oman, the US and the Philippines, Italy, before ending up in the UK - this is the blogosphere.

Packed your passport?

Shut down all the other windows on your computer?

Poured a glass of wine and pumped up that seat cushion?


It's a virtual explosion of talent out there - the best of June begins...

breakfastTips & Tricks

Jeremy Day in Poland discovered the usefulness of using the Google News function and changing the country of origin to gather media for ESP classes, honing in on complex grammatical structures and Alex Case served us up with yet another 15 ways to make writing interactive.

Janet, over in Italy, wrote about the IPOD generation (i.e Insecure, Pressurised, Over-taxed and Debt-ridden) and Natasa, in Serbia, took us and her students down a memory lane.

Natasa's lesson-tips weren't about Michael Jackson as might well be expected, given events last week, although Anthony Green's guest-piece for my student blog was: complete with VOICEbook, a free downloadable audio activity for our students.

While we're on the subject of the King of Pop, Benjamin Zimmer in the Language Blog, a.k.a the Indiana Jones of Linguistics, uncovered the origins of "ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma ku sa" - a fascinating modern-day-history-tour behind the 'Wanna be starting something' track from the Thriller album. (Hat tip to Alex Case for pointing me on over there).

One of his commenters also left this link to a visual map of songs arising from Soul Makossa.

pullmanDeveloping Professionally

Vicki Hollett, while discussing Madoff and learning to speak 'merican, cited:

"There have been some interesting instances in conversational research of ‘experts’ who sound authoritative and ‘experts’ who sound more tentative. The latter seem to collect more feedback.

So ironically, if you sound too much like an expert, it may prevent you from receiving the information you need to behave like expert"

which I really liked, rather Tao in its form.

It especially went well with Larry Ferlazzo's post Life is very lonely when you're always right.

Both articles support the humor in Chwa eeLoon's self-reflections on raising language awareness over in Japan with his ESP classes.


We'll now journey over on to Neal, also in Japan, who has started up a newer blog (his other is Teacher Stumpers) where he has scribbled some thoughts regarding the Twyths about Twitter, i.e. for those of you who aren't on it yet or you can't figure out what could possibly be so interesting that millions are flocking on and have the idea that Twitter is about talking about your cups of coffee...

"I think lots of people think twitter is stupid or/and useless because they don’t follow the “right” people. I’m an English teacher, interested in Web 2.0 and how to integrate it in the classroom, and if I weren’t following great English teachers and important educators, I’d probably think the same. Finding people with similar interests, who’ve got something to say, is the key in my opinion. (Found in comments)"

Come see what it is about- Thomas has written up a piece on the simple steps involved in setting up an account, Burcu in Turkey has posted up a list of the top ELT tweeters for you to follow and I've saved some core articles for you to explore here. I'm @kalinagoenglish.

sirkeci by paul

Talking About Teaching

Burcu Akyol had a conversation with a colleague of hers and then submitted a simply gorgeous piece on making a difference and having the power to change the future.

Henrik Edberg did a list of the 16 things he wished he'd learned at school and I must really figure out a way how to turn this into a lesson for my business students - if you do this before me, send it in and I'll post it up as a guest piece!

In Spain, Lindsay Clandfield decided to place a poll on his site of the most influential TEFLers/Linguists which set off a virtual hurricane of tweets and FB mobbing and he's currently gone into hiding.

There really were an awful lot of rather inspiring authors, TEFL hacks, SL acquisitionalists and edu-technologists who were not on that list - (Graddol, Hollett, Prensky, Pinker, L what were you thinking?) but no, we won't continue that fight over here as Scott Thornbury did indeed make the list - fortunately - his books have, of course, had the hugest influence on my teaching style and...

I'm fighting the good fight by compiling a series on the most influential women in ELT, starting soon with a handful of guest-pieces.

champagneWelcoming in the Best New Blogger of the Month

Tamas Lorincz in Dubai has started blogging!

He's one of my best-Twitter-friends (we're actually writing a story tweet-by-tweet along with Neal Chambers, Marisa Constantinides and Blythe Musteric - read it backwards if you dare),

he says:

"During my years as a student, trainer, teacher and mentor I have met so many teachers who have lost (or never had) the spark, the love of sharing, giving, loving, enthusiasm and I believe that this happens because it is so easy to sink into the day-to-day drudgery of delivering lessons and being a ‘martyr’ of the profession."

He is so right.

breakfastFor Our Students

Miracel Juanta in the Philippines cracked out the whip for her students taking the IELTS and listed up the 7 habits of highly ineffective test takers.

Markus, in Deutschland, introduced me to the first bilingual blog I've ever seen - Der Englisch Blog!

Speaking of Speaking
orient expressBlythe in the US came up with 20 reasons why classroom discussions fail while Shelly, here in Germany asked what is the right question provoking us to think about how to create higher order queries for our lessons.

Jumping back to Korea (a lot of TEFL talent over in Asia), David Deubel wrote the seven sensational sins of great English teachers and Peter in Oman pontificated Power in ELT.

"One effect of the chat, for me, was that it made laughably absurd the idea of integrative motivation. These were highly motivated students; but there is little they’re motivated less by than the idea of integrating into British society.

In fact, it seems like something close to the converse is true: they were forced to appear more British in order to qualify for the privileges accorded to white people. They were motivated to learn English purely by the desire to be treated as equals."

watchShifting Paradigms

Diamondfingerz's posting led to Chwa's posting on money-making in ELT and then, interestingly, to an unscheduled detour on Sacred Words.

As a general rule, Gavin Dudeney's posts are snappy: he has a sharp tongue and dry wit and That'S Life is fast becoming a must-read.

This week's rant was on the seeming hypocrisy of writers and publishers regarding copyright issues - a brave and honest post considering he's an author!

"I urged them to look at the music on their iPods, their copies of Windows, Office…, their DVDs, the materials they take into class.

Do they own legal copies of them all?

Do YOU? Do I???
If we can answer ‘yes’ to even one of those questions then our moral outrage is at best a tad dubious…

While we're on the subject of copyright and copyleft, did you know that Wikipedia community and Wikimedia board have approved the cc-by-sa license for their entries there?

I'm distinctly pro creative-commons and see a great future in it, all the photos on these pages are from flickr and are used with permission, and I really believe that once all the kinks are ironed out and people understand how it all works we will see some beautiful and creative work coming out in lesson planning: see an old posting of mine on what creative commons is.

Our tour around the world has almost come to an end except that I really must get you to look out towards our left window towards a truly intriguing and cryptic hint coming from Cleve Miller (in Cambridge) on English 360:

"This long tail of content will provide the custom course work that will result in radically personalized learning – we’ll have as many courses as we have students.

And as we’ve seen with Wikipedia, it’ll be fast and it’ll be cheap.

And most importantly, what it will be is open."

Oh boy, teachers, there are really some very interesting things going on in education right now...

I'll leave you with the interesting diagram and question on evolution of classroom design and a heart-warming matching picture of a student's self-evaluation of her 7th grade class (read her comments too) - this simple drawing made me feel quite nostalgic for teaching the young ones.

And that, my friends, is it.

It's now time to shut down the computer and tidy my office! I do hope you've had a lovely journey.


Next month's train ride will be all about blogging and advice for those who'd like to become bloggers, joining in the fun and professional development - based on a carnival I'm running here.

See you soon!


p.s. For a slightly shorter journey, through my own postings in June, come here.
p.p.s Special mega thanks to Annie Mole for providing so many pictures of the Orient Express under creative commons, what a great gal!

7 Responses to “The Orient Express: English Language Teachers Blogging”

  • ShellTerrell says:
    July 01, 2009

    Hello Karenne,

    Another great post! I'm learning a lot and discovering some gifted writers in our field. I definitely see myself taking the time to really browse through more of these writer's posts!

  • Blythe Musteric says:
    July 01, 2009

    Thanks for a wonderful post, Karenne! I can't wait to dig through all of these blogs. Once again, you have given us something great!

  • Lindsay Clandfield says:
    July 01, 2009

    Bravo on a herculean post Karenne, I'm honoured to have made it! You and your readers will be happy to know I've come out of hiding now and am preparing for round #2 of the poll... the results!
    Will be checking through some of these posts. Always an inspiration.


  • Janet Bianchini says:
    July 02, 2009

    Hi Karenne

    Thank you so much for this posting which is truly inspiring. I feel honoured to be included. Your dedication and great enthusiasm for your work is absolutely amazing.

  • Natasa says:
    July 03, 2009

    What a great post, Karenne! It is an honour to be included. Thank you for all your hard work and for bringing so many ELT bloggers together.

  • Miracel says:
    July 03, 2009

    Thanks Karenne for the linklove! I admire the way you've compiled all these valuable stuff. Shows that you're really passionate about ELT.

    July 05, 2009

    Shell, Blythe, Janet, Natasa, Miracel

    My pleasure - thanks to you guys for writing such lovely pieces and keeping me entertained and educated!


    Am awaiting those results. Is there anyway to fix it so that ST comes out on top?



Visitors and Regular Readers


FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

Communities of Practice

Blog Archive

Directories, catalogs and Back Links

Adult Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory Add to Technorati Favorites

The EFL ESL Blog List - ESL/EFL/TEFL Teaching Jobs and Teacher Resumes

International Blogging Directory

Recent Posts

Simply Conversations

Pedagogically sound materials designed to get your students actively talking:

Free Samples
Conversation Control

General English
Business English

Learn more on why these work