I got tagged by Jason at the wonderful English Raven as a part of the “It’s worth taking a look at this blog” thing which is doing the rounds. It’s quite a timely initiative, with the ELT blogosphere a little bit tired and emotional recently. Nice to share the love again. Had I decided to do this straight, Jason’s blog would certainly have been in my top ten… but I am pretty sure that anyone who is reading my blog is reading his. I really do recommend all the blogs in my blogroll – none are there for show, they are the ELT blogs I regularly read, and often comment on. So my list is made up of the twenty one blogs in my blog roll. Can I call that my ‘trad’ list, and then give you something a little more wonky?
Here is a list of ten blogs you probably don’t read…
I’ll kick off with the two who are blogging most specifically about ELT. What I like about them both is that they are writing fairly specifically about the minutiae of classroom activity. A lot of ELT bloggers like to address the ‘big’ issues, but I love to read about the daily concerns of practising teachers. Eisensei is working in Japanese universities, like me. This post is an account of his experiments with dogme, part of a journey which I am really enjoying watching and (to a small degree) participating in. Rich is in Spain, and his writing is quite affecting. I love this pithy piece about online community.
Now three bloggers who teach English, but don’t really blog about it. ELT does seem to attract the creative, or perhaps it makes one creative? Maybe once people realise that the life of a TEFLer is a precarious one, they invest more in their lives outside work. There are plenty of us who do it because it’s all we can do, because it enables us to live where we want, because it offers us little and expects little in return, leaving us free to pursue our passions. For every one of us who defines themselves as a teacher, there is another who ‘teaches’… but is actually a writer, a photographer, an entrepreneur…
I am sure that all three of these bloggers are committed and talented teachers. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to read about the other things they love. Pig Sty Avenue is currently learning the piano, but also writes a lot about football and photography. This is a rare piece about teaching, and an initiative which needs to get off the ground. Scribe of Light is an incredible photographer working mainly in China, who I first came across via Flickr. This piece, about itchy feet, will resonate with many of you world travelling teachers out there. And finally, I have actually had the pleasure of meeting the author of Troutfactory Notebook, another brilliant photographer and writer, based in Osaka. This piece on the soapbox derby is a dazzling example of his thought-provoking writing about art and ideas.
There are a few news blogs I read regularly. The first is Mashable, which you may be familiar with, collecting techie, social media type stuff. This one on David Letterman’s Twitter Machine is a lot of fun. For an alternative take on the mainstream news, for the stuff that falls through the cracks, Global Voices Online is a great resource. I enjoyed this recent post about the new company recruits here in Japan. And speaking of Japan, Education in Japan does a great job in gathering stories together without editorialising (and without the awful, awful comments you often get on Japan News blogs). Everything you need to know about the collapse of the GEOS language school chain is here.
I have long been an admirer of George Siemens, and he is a very prolific blogger about education and (of course) connectivism. His blog is like a fat twitter. Libraries is a nice spot to start. And if you like that, there are about eight years of archives, updated several times daily….
I have now idea how to categorise the last one, but I love it. Pull Up the Roots bills itself as “a visual essay exploring teaching, learning, and society”, and it utilises the tumblr platform perfectly. My first blogging experiments came via tumblr, when I noticed a lot of my flickr photos were being linked there. If you can imagine a twitter for visual artists, designers, and the painfully young and hip, that’s tumblr. Even though I am none of those things, I love tumblr!
So, thanks Jason. And it’s a nice idea, but can we shake it up a bit? I am pretty sure that the ELT blogosphere has been sufficiently mapped. I’d like everyone to do this again, but actually surprise me 😉