What was really "hot" this month
Dave Dodgson kicked off a bit of controversy, striking a nerve when he asked why he should have to pay to present at conferences; George Vassilakis explores their commercialization; Adam Simpson delves into the costs and effort that goes into hosting a conference and explains why he thinks that yes, in fact, you should pay for the privilege and Sharon explains that, from her perspective, by paying a fee you are actually permitting a fellow educator to sit down at the same conference table as you, thereby contributing to the democratization of education. What do you think?
Although unconnected to the discussion, Anna Varna pipes up with how a presentation she attended didn't live up to her expectations and ends with a touching recall of what keeps us teachers teaching!
In Unplugging Teacher Development, Willy Cardoso challenges us to think about the value of staffroom discussions with peers over workshops and conferences. I think he's touched on a major point on why so few teachers do pursue professional development. He also describes what he would like to see in teacher-training programs. Although I didn't quite catch the connection to rugby, David Warr then provides ideas on teacher-training-unplugged that are worth reflecting on.
John Hughes, in a very practical series on the management issues involved in teacher training, presents a tick-off list for recruting and managing teacher trainers and Alex Case, ever taking the piss, suggests 25 different ways to get away with being a crap English teacher.
Adam Simpson lays out a more serious and very helpful list of 10 motivation theories and thinks about why our students are "just not into it... " Professor Baker has started an interesting series of posts entitled "Explain it to me like I'm an 8yr old" and his post: Connectivism and Connected Knowledge is a must-read.
Scott Thornbury creates a video conversation laying out the history and criticisms of PPP in ELT - sparking off a highly dynamic discussion: it's worth watching the vlog but especially reading the ensuing points of view of his contributing commenters. In the knowledge sharing marketplace, Phillip Towndrow explores ICT and pedagogy: should it be teacher-centered, technology-centered or learner-centered?
Language & linguistics
Voxy's Theresa Dold shares 15 insightful language and culture infographics. Beautifully presented and interesting particularly the one made up of the demographics of English on Planet Earth. Gabe Doyle shares a story about the need for linguistic humility and thinks about the culture of the words we use, a lesson we can all learn from! Vicki Hollett unveils an ad for the British television show, Law and Order, and discusses translations from UK English-to-US English. (p.s. Vicki, you really must see The Wire: finger-nail-biting-brilliant!)
Key Dogmeist and YahooGroupMod, Fiona Mauchline, writes up a guest post for Ceri Jones on ways translation can have a valid position in language learning and shares some excellent tips. Mark Liberman, in another humorous piece shares with us a bit of grammar's history relating to the emergence of progressive passive (passive continous) and how it replaced the passival. Bet you didn't know that!
On being in the classroom
Cecilia Coelho reveals a personal error in the way she communicated with a student in her post, the power of the words we say. Debate opens on the position of the educator vs the intrinsic beingness of teachers' humanity, responding spontaneously to difficult classroom situations. Also on her blog, she hosts a post from Dave Dodgson who reflects on his life as language learner.
In his quintessentially philosophical style, albeit that I think I disagree with him... Diarmuid Fogarty suggests that the deeper we move into getting students to understand and analyze language, the less they learn. Candy von Olst faces the word "unless" head on and winds up with a headache, leading me to laugh and speculate that hmmm... perhaps, Fogarty's on to something.
Eva Buyuksimkesyan shares an extremely clever idea of listening to music in another language while trying to guess at the lyrics and writing poems in English; Mike Harrison collaborates with David Warr to create a language plant of Martin Niemöller's poem: First they came; Claudio Azevedo shows us how to use the film, Did you hear about the Morgans, as a way to practice imperatives.
And then on the way to work one day, Paul Braddock spontaneously snaps pics of a rather unpleasant lad cutting his nails which leads to him dreaming up an extremely clever lesson tip for using camera-phones with our digital students. David Vincent found a funny picture he recommends using as a conversation starter and Ceri Jones closes in on translations in a truly inspired lesson plan comparing literature texts.
On the DELTA blog, Nik Peachey lays out the advantages and disadvantages of iPads in the classroom; Angela Maiers shares a very interesting infographic on cell phone usage - worth exploring with adult Business English language-learners: how are mobile phones affecting their industries or responsibilities? David Reed, of the best ELT mobile learning blog out there in the 'sphere, shows us how students can blog directly from their phones to the platform, Posterous.
Ozge continues her alphabetized analysis of Web tools - very useful, I love this series! Tyson Seburnt presents SoundCloud - a very interesting way to work with authentic listening materials; Ana Maria Mendes shows us a cool way to share youtube videos and Jen Verschoor shares with us how she lost a job due to the fact she teaches with technology in her classroom :-(
The business of teaching
Larry Ferlazzo discusses Merit Pay and provides links supporting why he thinks it is a bad idea: Jason Renshaw worries about the ELT industry and questions whether or not a superpower is emerging and how we might be feeling about that.
And finally, David Truss neatly presents a case for educators being in the learning business not the teaching business and asks why time for professional development can't be embeded into our paid responsibities.
Well, that's it... my wrap up of do-read-these-they're-top-notch-articles written in January, if you'd like to read what else has been circulating the 'sphere, visit this link. To read what I wrote about in January, come here.
Hope you've now found many new articles to enjoy reading at your leisure,
p.s. also, do visit this month's ESL Carnival by Alice Mercer, it contains an absolutely superb list of posts!