This is the 250th blog post I’ve written. That’s quite a lot, in fact, you know that novel that everyone’s got hiding inside them? I could probably have written mine by now. And possibly even a sequel!
I wrote my first ever blog post on Wednesday February 2nd 2011 and it was all about using authentic listening tasks with Proficiency classes. It’s just a brief description of something I did with one of my classes that I thought I’d share. But I didn’t actually share it immediately, I think I wrote and published about ten posts before I actually told anyone I had a blog! There’s some interesting stuff in those first ten posts – two of my favourite lessons / activities are in there: “Reason to believe?” (a student generated opposition debate that takes over an hour if done right) and The Domination Game (which was originally designed for a FCE Use of English paper but which I now use with any large page of grammar practice activities from any coursebook). There’s also a lesson based around a TED talk on “The many uses of the pig” which is an absolutely fascinating video that you should all watch even if you don’t bother using the lesson…
I can’t quite remember why I started the blog. I know it wasn’t that long ago, but quite a lot of things have happened since then and, as is the way with life, priorities have shifted, goals and ambitions changed. I think originally I saw the blog as fulfilling three main functions (a) a chance to share ideas and put it all out there to see what happens, (b) a way of moving the notes and plans from my old files and folders online and into the cloud, (c) an opportunity to engage with a wider audience. Not that my colleagues are anything less than supportive, but there’s only so many times you can bend people’s ears about the relative merits of a guided discovery approach before their eyes glaze over… As it turned out, most of my notes are still very firmly stuck in their files and folders. I’ll get round to it eventually! Promise…
But the mere act of blogging forces you to go and find that audience. The adage from Field of Dreams that “if you build it, they will come” does not hold water in cyberspace – you also have to tell people about it! There are some very successful bloggers out there who write something, share it and then get it re-tweeted a million times instantly. For most of us though, I think you quickly find that finding an audience doesn’t mean endlessly publicising your work in facebook groups – rather it means introducing yourself to, engaging with and becoming part of a wider community that already exists online. There are, it seems, quite a lot of language teachers out there in the world and almost all of them want to engage and build a dialogue with each other; I think this is partly sharing ideas, partly finding ideas and new ways to do things, but I think there is also quite a strong element of knowing that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And you aren’t. Truly.
So here I am now. It’s been 1255 days since my first post, (or three years, five months, a week and two days if you prefer) – which is about one post every five days. I would have got there sooner, but things like the job and the birth of my children kept intervening…
What has also been interesting, is looking back at which posts have proved most popular – and comparing those to the posts I am proudest of writing. Or at least those posts I enjoyed writing most….
The top six most popular posts (as calculated by wordpress stats) are:
- Changes to CPE in 2013
- Write and Improve: An Online writing helper
- Six Great vocab games
- A lesson on “Should and Shouldn’t”
- 30 topic cards for IELTS / CPE Speaking
- First Lesson Ideas / Warmers
Which is interesting because it diverges somewhat from the posts that I’ve enjoyed writing most (in no particular order):
- The Future of Language Schools
- In defence of: The Test
- The Learning Style Debate
- The Star Wars Guide to ELT
- Can you have a normal life and work in ELT?
- The Sugata Mitra Debate
I guess the posts I enjoy writing are those that allow me to investigate a particular issue, think about something in more detail than usual or those that just let me have fun with something. And I can understand if people prefer the practical, because that sort of reflection is quite a personal thing, no matter how objective you try to be…
But hopefully as we go forwards into the next 250 posts I can carry on managing the marriage between demand and desire, giving people what they want and writing the things I like writing most. Be sure to let me know if not!
And above all – thanks for reading. There wouldn’t be much point in any of this if you didn’t, so thanks!