EFL Experiment 3: PLN inspiration

Just before IATEFL I read a Tweet by Adam Beale where you asked for his PLN to record a JING saying and showing what they liked about his blog and how it had inspired them. Well, I’d never tried this before so I jumped at the chance. The resulting rough northern style commentary was thus played at IATEFL. I hope it didn’t destroy his presentation.

So, I got to thinking that this is actually what I do a lot. I read blogs and some posts I am inspired by and comment and discuss them with other existing or new PLNers. While others (Adam’s falls into this category) are so damn good that I feel unable to comment at all but still put what I read into action on some level. For me, there are posts that are immediately useful such as a teaching idea or mini activity but there are others that are ‘food for thought’, Anthony Gaughan’s is a great example. His posts take a long time to digest and think about but really affects my teaching and whole perspective on EFL.

Enough name dropping…Now, what I would like to do is to try another experiment with 2 aims:

1)To see what readers get from other people’s blog posts

2)How they use, on whatever level, the ideas/exercises etc they read


1)The first person will choose a blog they have been inspired by and create a post (JING/text/both) saying what they liked and got from it and how it improved their teaching BUT they must ask the blogger 1)If they are happy with this and 2)If they will do the next comment.

And so, in theory, we will have something like a chain letter that will progress through our PLN and provide a way to meet new inspiring teachers and educators and to show that we are all here to help each other. Yes, in theory! I’m very looking forward to discovering new blogs and new PLN friends.

I do hope it works but that depends on you keeping the ball rolling. If things go belly up then maybe I’ll just have to ask for volunteers to comment on blogs but it would be nice to try the first approach.


Here’s my first JING I recorded about Adam Beale’s blog with my comments.


His Project Unplugged inspired me to publish my own phone lesson summaries which you can find under PHONE DOGME. It also helped me understand how important my own gut feelings about my and the students progress was/is and how I needed to set up a channel of communication. Thus, I just started talking to students at break and after class on a regular basis. This really helped develop a better personal relationship and gave me vital feedback.

If you haven’t checked out Adam’s blog do it NOW but be warned, his posts are very thought-provoking so read one, think about it then see if what way it can improve you and your teaching. Enjoy!


Since writing this, Adam has made his own post about Dale Coulter’s blog Language moments. See it at the link above.


22 thoughts on “EFL Experiment 3: PLN inspiration

  1. I really like this idea, Phil, but let me clarify one thing: now you’ve asked Adam if he likes your Jing and as a result of doing one on his blog, he is supposed to create one himself about another blog; then that person does one about another, and so on? I’m assuming you’d expect concurrent chains to be going on…

  2. Great idea Phil. I don’t envy those picking an inspiration blog. There are some sensational blogs out there. When I read what the likes of you, Dale Coulter, Scott Thornbury etc write and I’m both inspired and also intimidated by how good some people are. Looking forward to seeing how this experiment develops.

    • Cheers Barry.I’m looking forward to more great stuff from yours.Wow, not sure I deserve, well, I don’t deserve to be in that list at all but I do try to get involved with those people’s comments but sometimes I’m just blown away and can’t even understand what people write.

      • Oh, I’ve written nothing interesting on my blog yet. I’m hoping over time, my knowledge and writing ability will improve enough to make it of interest to someone. Even if no-one reads it, it will help motivate me to develop my teaching technique and ideas.

        I think you underestimate how good your blog is. You’ve got to get yourself to IATEFL in Liverpool next year. Although I think I saw somewhere on twitter that you don’t want to present. Re-think the idea. I know there are lots of people out there who want to see you in action.

        • Hi Barry,

          Yep, start for yourself maybe as a way to help you think/develop thoughts. I don’t like the idea of ‘selling/promoting’ one’s blog. I really enjoy reading other people’s and find it flattering if they read or comment on mine. I spend so long just taking ideas from others that I thought it was time to give something back in some way.

          Oh, Liverpool. Problem is money, taking time off and leaving family for a week. I can just imagine’s the wife’s reply to “I’m off to Liverool for a week”. The answer would probably be “don’t come back” or “where?”.

          Re:Presenting. That’s not one of my skills. As a teacher I’m mostly found hovering or mingling around the class or at the back whilst students present. I think we’re beyond teacher dominance and perhaps the same for conferences, maybe more interactive workshops and seminars would be better. I also heard that presenters have to pay to talk. That’s strange. At TESOL France it’s all free for everyone I think.

          • Oh, I didn’t realise presenters had to pay. A bit strange. We should be glad to have them sharing. Must have their reasons I suppose. I was hoping to attend next year but think I’ll be working in China, so will be another year of following it online. At least online is easier on the wallet! Anyway, keep up the great work on the blog.

            • Don’t quote me on it but that’s what I heard.I think they should get free entrance.China?Which city? I worked in Beijing but travelled a bit.The pollution is pretty bad now so watch out.

              • Haven’t decided on location yet but am hoping to work in Shanghai. Was there briefly and enjoyed it. How was Beijing workwise? I have also been there briefly but don’t think I would enjoy a full year there.

                • Shanghai is more European and have better standards than most places. BJ has lots of unis and the British Council is amazing. I wouldn’t try any schools. It got very modern for the Olympics but then slipped back down again after. I wouldn’t advise living there just due to the pollution and very expensive US hospitals. On that note, make sure you get good insurance.

                  • Thanks for the advice. I certainly became a fan of Shanghai for the week I was there a couple of years back. A few friends work there and enjoy it. I’ll take on board the comment about insurance. Cheers.

                    • Yep, it’s an easier life than going to BJ or a smaller city but you’ll miss out on a lot of Chinese culture. That said, it’s disappearing fast. I spent 2 days in Shanghai and everything was being destroyed. I also don’t understand the accent LALALA.

                    • Yea. Missing out on a lot culture is definitely a negative. Then again, after a few years in a small, cultural Korean city, I might be ready for the bright lights and rock n’ roll ELT life of the big city 🙂 As for the accent, I don’t understand any of it yet. When I get there, language exchange may be the first thing to set up. Anyway, won’t have to make the decision for a few months yet, so plenty of time to think about it.

                    • I think for a first experience in China Shanghai is the best. I tried the real thing in BJ and had to brush up my Mandarin pretty quick and ‘adjust’.I’m too old for that now but at the time it all seemed exciting.

  3. Hi Phil. I’m not a blogger but i regularly read a lot of the same great blogs and I just wanted to agree with you about Adam Beale’s. What I like about his blog is his honesty about his teaching experiences and what I find inspiring is his ability to look at a lesson which didn’t go according to plan from a distance and assess where it went wrong and that he then goes back and refines it with such success. It’s nice to have that balance of the good and the bad written with such insight and feeling.

  4. Fine idea, Phil.

    We learn from doing. We learn from connecting from watching others do, and of course as your blog is aptly named, we learn from reflection. And throughout all of that community and listening is so important, and I think you, Adam, Tyson and many others are fine examples of people who reach deeply into the community to pull out great ideas, and present their own great ideas and experiences on their blogs.

    More power to ya. Let’s see how I can churn up a bit of 静 myself (oxymoron-like inside 中文 joke).


  5. Pingback: EFL experiment 3: PLN inspiration | Five against one: Teaching against the odds.

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