The idea of “Personal Learning Networks,” a group of colleagues with whom you can gain and give support and professional advice, is certainly not a new idea. These kinds of connections have long been used by people in all kinds of professions, including among educators.
Now, however, the Web offers incredible opportunities to expand these PLN’s. Just today I realized that, though I have written about ways ELS/EFL/ELL teachers can develop these global connections in various “The Best…” lists, I’ve never collected them into one — until today.
I hope you’ll provide additional suggestions in the comments section of this post.
Here are my choices for The Best Ways ESLL/EFL/ELL Teachers Can Develop Personal Learning Networks:
My first recommendation is that you read what Sue Waters has written about PLN’s. Sue isn’t an ESL/EFL/ELL teacher, but she provides an essential step-by-step guide for how any educator can get started.
Of course, The Teaching English- British Council Facebook page is one of the other first places to start.
One of my favorites is EFL Classroom 2.0. Begun by David Deubelbeiss, it’s an extraordinary collection of every imaginable ESL/EFL resource, and helps connect teachers from all over the world.
Learning With Computers is an exceptional group of ESL/EFL teachers from around the world that was begun by Gladys Baya. It’s part of Webheads In Action, which has helped start several similar collaborations. Learning With Computers has a very helpful Wiki and an equally helpful, and active, listserv. Another great Webheads group and listserv is called evonline.
Two more listservs worth joining are The Computer-Assisted Language Learning listserv from TESL and the National Institute For Literacy’s Technology Discussion List.
EFL Teaching Recipes is an extremely accessible site where ESL/EFL teachers can share their lessons, including video and images. It’s just beginning, and I’m sure it’ll be filled-up with with ideas quickly. Go over and contribute some, as well as read the excellent ones that are already there!
TEFL.net is a worldwide forum with discussion boards, jobs listings, and a ton of other resources.
If you have a blog, you might want to consider connecting with “Bloggers in ELT, freelancers.” It’s a group begun by Karenne Sylvester, and you can read all about it here.
Of course, TESOL, the association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, is a huge international organization with lots of resources. It is also one of two resources on this list that costs to join, but it does offer reduced rates depending on your situation.
The other organization in this post that costs to join is IATEFL, the International Association of Teachers of English As A Foreign Language. TESOL seem similar to me, though TESOL seems more based in the Americas while IATFL in Europe, but that might not be an accurate description of the differences. Please correct me if I’m wrong. IATEFL does have a good listserv for K-12 teachers teachers that is free to join — it’s called Young Learners.
Adam Simpson has recently begun My twitter challenge: Ten people I follow on twitter and why. He lists ten teachers in the ESL/EFL/ELL world that he follows on Twitter and challenges others to do the same. It’s a useful list, and if you go to the comments section, you’ll see links to the posts of others who have taken up his challenge.
There are two regularly scheduled Twitter “chats” for ESL/EFL teachers, and they’re both great professional development opportunities to connect with colleagues from afar.
One is #ELLCHAT, which has a Facebook page. Those take place on Mondays.
The other is #ELTCHAT, which takes place on Wednesdays. It has a webpage.
Here are two resources offering simple details on how best to participate in these kinds of Twitter Chats:
“Grow Your Own PLN: From Information To Knowledge” is an excellent slide presentation by Nik Peachey.
The Power of Connection is a wiki containing materials from Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto.
Three Great Interview Series is a post from Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto, and shares three places where you can read or hear interviews with ESL/EFL teachers from around the world (including my “hot spot” series).
Embracing opportunities in easy-access professional teacher development is by Adam Simpson.
You might also find The Best ESL/EFL Blogs list useful.
Again, feel free to offer feedback and suggestions.