22 Aug Five reasons to write your own TESOL blog
By James Jenkin
Writing a TESOL blog is a valuable endeavor for anyone serious about teaching. It will help you think deeply about your approach to teaching, and connect you with the wider TESOL community. And it’s fun.
Here are some examples of creative and inspiring blogs:
So what can you do with your blog?
Reflect on your teaching
Articulating your experiences in the classroom, and deliberating on them, is one of the best ways to develop as a teacher.
You can describe:
- something that worked
- something that didn’t work
- something you’re planning to do
- how your approach differs from others
Expressing your difficulties, and lack of certainty about solutions, conveys a fundamental confidence in your role. It also invites others to engage in meaningful discussion with you.
I once had a terrible experience teaching a videoed demonstration lesson (of all things). Students were to read a magazine article about Robbie Williams, so I prepared an elaborate lead-in, using pictures and music, to activate students’ prior knowledge, and hopefully excite them. It turned out no-one in the class knew of Robbie Williams, and nothing I did could make them interested. After writing about it online, I received quite profound advice. Students won’t engage with facts; they’ll engage with drama, a personal story that has a connection with their own lives.
Share your ideas and resources
Of course, sharing helps others. And knowing others are acting on your suggestions, you’ll be motivated to sort, reevaluate and refine what you post.
You might want to share:
- lesson plans
- activity ideas
- PDFs of handouts
- audio, video and visuals you’ve created
On a blog I contributed to, easily the most popular posts were lesson plans and materials for a particular purpose: ‘a great first lesson for kids’, ‘three techniques for getting students talking’. It makes sense to articulate and address readers’ real-life needs.
You don’t need to create all the content on your blog yourself. As you know, teachers in the staffroom are always asking, ‘Where can I find (a good warmer/an activity for this lesson/the answer to this grammar question …)?’. Your blog can provide the answers with links.
You might want to specialize – say in games, young learners, or grammar – so your blog becomes the go-to address for that area of TESOL. These sites, for example, have become very well-known amongst teachers, both for author-generated content and curated links:
https://nikpeachey.blogspot.com.au/ (Nik Peachey’s ‘Learning Technology’ blog)
https://carolread.wordpress.com/ (Carol Read’s ‘ABC of Teaching Children’)
https://blog.movinhand.com/work-abroad/teaching-english-in-china (Maria’s ‘Teaching in China’)
Build a community with your students
Why not build a community involving the students you teach?
You can motivate students by promoting their work and providing a platform for them to contribute content in English. This gives them another entrance into an authentic English-language world, where they can be participants and not just consumers.
Become a brand
In the longer term, a blog can be useful for building your reputation in the industry. You can become known as an independent expert voice, with a distinct personality.
A final observation: what seems to grab readers’ attention, and makes them want to read more, is a number in the title of a post: ‘The Top Three …’, ‘Five ways to …’. Any suggestions why?
James Jenkin has worked in the field of TESOL for over twenty years as a teacher, teacher trainer, curriculum designer and academic manager. He is an IELTS examiner and has an MA in Applied Linguistics from Monash University, Australia.
Image source: Shutterstock.com/Pashun Astapenko Oksana