Looking back

One of the generally under-discussed issues mentioned here is unpaid planning time.  We discussed this in our monthly ‘What’s going on with you these days’ session with Maria Glazunova. It certainly warrants more discussion, both in terms of how we can secure pay for teachers’ extra work and how we can spend less time planning. This issue, among others, is mentioned in this piece by will takes a look at some of the issues facing English language teachers globally.

This guide to taking task based language teaching online is packed full of ideas and theory. One of the big takeaways for Tim from this article was the importance of ‘gaps’ when planning tasks. In many traditional textbook activities, there isn’t any meaningful information that needs to be shared. The article has an extremely useful list of ways of creating gaps that help make conversations meaningful.

We thoroughly enjoyed having Maria Glazunova come to chat with us about burnout and other things. One of the things we talked about was how avoiding burnout required a mindset shift instead of a shift in tactics. Maria said that one of the reasons teachers work too hard is a kind of insecurity about not being good at their job. For example, teachers might spend extra time planning a class they are worried about. She also argued that there’s a mindset that burnout just is a part of teaching life. We strongly recommend taking a look at her new book, it’s not expensive and may save you some stress.

Alice Sunmi Kim, an English for academic purposes instructor is someone we enjoy following on Twitter. Of course, we were interested in this podcast where she takes a look at her experiences during the pandemic. One thing that jumped out was just how context-dependent good practice can be in English language teaching. In the pod, Alice describes having to deal with time zones and Chinese internet censorship and how she had to adapt her classes to deal with that.

Finally, Tim released a new podcast on English as a medium of instruction. This is based on an MA essay and is more research-focused than usual, so let us know what you think of the new format.

Looking forward

On the 15th, we will be joined by Matthew Noble who will be talking to us about reflection. He’ll be looking at traditional models of reflection and issues with them. We weren’t going to include his abstract here, but it’s so curiosity inducing, we had to:

Reconsidering reflection

“[The] reflective emphasis in teacher education [implies] that teachers have not been reflective and they should be taught, using academic models, as to how they can reflect. The first assumption is wrong, while the second one is problematic in principle. (Akbari, 2007)

“When I first read the paper in which the above quote appears…my mind was blown. There was I, a proudly active “reflective practitioner” teacher and teacher-trainer, both partaking in and recommending the very practices Akbari describes. But his assessment rang LOUD with truth for me. Why?

“In this workshop, I’d like to share with you some of the reasons why. We’ll explore an evolving understanding of the role of Reflective Practice for teachers in ELT. And of course, participants will be invited to “reconsider reflection” together in collegial dialogue.”

Tim is looking forward to going to and terrified of presenting at the BAAL conference in September. While it is slightly more expensive than the conferences we usually recommend, it’s 3 days long which might make a difference. It looks like there will be a broad range of topics and a good set of speakers, so it’s well worth taking a look at.


This month it has, inexplicably, been ska month at ELTW headquarters. While feeling older than usual, Mike enjoyed wandering through an oral history of the making of Sublime’s third album Mike could not imagine summing up the article any better than the author Jeff Weiss did. So, what is the piece about?
“Twenty-five years ago, Sublime released their third album, a sprawling magnum opus of sunburned ska, punk, reggae, and stoner anthems that turned three kids from Southern California and a Dalmatian into legends. This is the story of how it came together, the tragic end of the band, and why the songs still live on.”
Meanwhile, Tim has been listening to an artist called Jeff Rosentock recently. His album ‘Ska Dream’ covers his 2020 release ‘No Dream’. but in a ska style. It was announced for a 4/20 release date on April fool’s day this year. This sounds like it should either be a prank or a recipe for disaster, but it’s far better than it has any business being and maybe even better than the original.