Alternately, it is easy to organize a thematic blog, using one of the numerous platforms which provide the service. Thus, I maintain a travel blog for family and friends, to post short descriptions and photos of places I have visited.
However, “for family and friends is illusory today”: what is put on the internet is there forever, and for everyone to see. Looking and seeing, listening and hearing are completely different things, as we EL teachers very well know.
The things we want to express, the written result, and the way a reader perceives it, may also be totally at variance with each other. Once I posted a description of a European capital, for instance, I received fervent thanks from a number of followers for mentioning where to find a public toilet, and a request to include such information in my future writings. Needless to say, that was the last type of comment I expected.
Then at some point, the interface must have changed: no matter how I tried, I could not shrink and position my photos side by side anymore, so I decided to leave them as they were. Comments poured in, thanking me for showing bigger pictures than “the usual postage-stamp size”. To sum it up, I am learning as I go on. The beauty of this personal activity is, of course, the ability to disregard any and all reactions one does not like. It is also good training for another type of keeping up a public diary. There is blogging for TE, which I believe is meant by the title question for January. Is there any other kind, one is tempted to joke.
I first wrote for TE when the site emerged into the world some ten years ago. I could already write on any given topic, and I was doing a series of lesson plans for the English To Go site. The then TE editor taught me about their requirements, about the format and size. TE has vastly grown during the decade, from an informational/methodological web site into one of the best free educational resources for ELT. The very high quality of all materials published makes me personally think a lot and work hard before I embark on a topic. My blog will be two years old soon.
In winter, my posts were few and far between, as the temperatures of -30-40C are not conducive to creativity. In summer, my mental fountain threw out ideas almost daily. Some of them grew into thematic writings and lesson plans, others were scrapped.
Blogging on TE is not blogging per se, but rather learning and sharing.
- While I post whatever I wish on my own personal blog, in this case, I send out my work to a TE moderator.
- It is a safeguard: if I write anything stupid or low quality, hopefully it will not be posted at all.
- For me, writing for my colleagues is a great responsibility. When I get emails from learners to elaborate on a subject, I feel that I have expressed my ideas well.
- Through the year, I have singled out the eternal topics: discipline; motivation; teaching teens; mistakes correction. I think I posted at least half a dozen essays about each of them, as I kept getting requests for more.
- Thanks to that, I learned to organize my thoughts, and to share my experience better. Though I never had any discipline or motivation problems in my classes, and I regard teenagers as humans, plus I am sure I can teach anybody about the most common mistakes, I learned to analyze what and how I have been doing all my professional life, and to explain my views in a concise form.
- TE is a very professional, high-quality site. It is a great disciplining factor. One does not want to be below par.
- As of January, the rules have changed for us TE bloggers, which provided me with food for thought. Four posts a month, on given topics only, up to 1,000 words. Does this mean that once the month is over, our blog page will become empty until we submit an entry for the new month? * Some decisions have to be made. Keeping the word count is easy. But what do I do if I get five ideas, and wish to share? Shall I pick up my toys, so to speak, and go play at a different playground? Or perhaps come up with some brilliant idea for TE to consider?
- Being a TE blogger is a great experience, and a great honour. The Team are always ready to help and support us.
- The Internet is still the fastest developing means of communication and sharing information. I believe there are a lot of good things to come.
By Nina MK, PHD