Discovering #ELTchat

[writing commenced in mid-February]

I recently signed myself up for a TweetDeck account, which allows you to have multiple columns of Twitter chats open. I did this because I had been spending lots of time perusing what appeared to be a very active hashtag amongst the few English Language Teaching (ELT) teachers I started following on Twitter at the beginning of my foray into the CELTA, ELT and related ‘personal learning networks’ online (aka PLNs). This intriguing hashtag was #ELTchat, and is explained perfectly by Angelos Bollas on his excellent blog:

#ELTchat is a group of ELT professionals discussing topics of interest every Wednesday at 12pm or 9pm on rotation. Every Saturday, one of the moderators puts up a blog post on the #ELTchat Blog asking teachers who follow #ELTchat to propose some topics for the next chats. #ELTchat followers can go to that post and suggest topics in the comments under the blog post. On Sunday evening, the moderators review the topics and create an online poll. #ELTchat followers are then invited to vote on the topics until Wednesday morning (eltchat.org)

My first experience of ELTchat was in early February when I sat at  my desk at work and spent an hour scrolling somewhat obsessively through all the comments being made about ‘Instructional Design.’ I didn’t really know what that meant when I first opened my Tweetdeck that lunchtime, but I thought I’d lurk in the chat and find out. For anyone interested, the summary of that chat is here, but it was quite a brief discussion because there was a general consensus that the topic was too broad, and without the presence of the original suggester (apparently a word, according to WordPress Spellcheck!) it was hard to know where to go with the afternoon’s topic.

My first message in the ELT chat Facebook

My first message in the ELT chat Facebook

Despite this first slightly anticlimactic chat, I was not deterred and was determined to participate in the next one, so I tragically bookmarked the alternating dates in my diary.

Around the same time, I was accepted into the ELTchat Facebook group, and was welcomed with open arms by Hada Litim (@HadaLitim), Marisa Constantinides (@Marisa_C) and Kim Alison Wegener. I wrote a little post to introduce myself to the group and was overwhelmed with their kind responses to my keen questions. Thank you very much, ladies! 🙂

Shortly afterward this ELT high, it was time for another ELT chat session on Twitter, and this time it was about getting the most out of observing other teachers. Now, I am not yet even CELTA-qualified, but I have taught English in a German grammar school for 6 months (more on that in my first post here) so have some vague experience of observations myself. I also worked quite closely with a ‘Referendarin’ during that time – a trainee teacher just on the brink of qualifying officially – so that was a good experience in terms of watching observations take place.

The official transcript of that chat is here, pulled together at rapid speed once more by Sue Annan (@SueAnnan) after the chat, and the much more more human-friendly summary is here on Anthony Ash’s brilliant blog (@Ashowski.)

Some of the people I am becoming to consider ‘ELTchat regulars’ were very active on the thread, and it was certainly a topic about which everyone had something to add. I learnt that peer feedback from other colleagues is one way to develop; recording yourself teaching (with everyone’s permission, of course) is an excellent way to self-assess, and that keeping a kind of diary of the feedback received from these activities is a great way to spot trends in your teaching. It was also interesting to note the vast differences between everyone’s experiences – of course, some are teaching in private language schools in more economically advanced countries with a longer history of ELT, whereas others will be teaching on a more less formal basis in countries for whom English language learning is far from the accepted norm. The extent to which observations and peer-to-peer review was ingrained into people’s teaching routines therefore varied hugely.

Going back to the topic of the chat itself though, I must admit that the ‘being observed’ element to the CELTA course is something I’m most worried about. I’m happy enough chatting away in normal conversation, as my friends and colleagues would attest, and I think my past language experience and recent pre-CELTA swotting should help me with any major linguistic issues, but I am not naturally a confident presenter, so that’s a skill I look forward to honing on the course. All tips welcome, of course!

But I digress, as per usual. I would like to end this already lengthy post by saying that, for newbie pre-trainees like myself, right up to teachers with a wealth of ELT experience on their CVs, the weekly #ELTchat has to be one of the best ways to develop both your learning network and your personal network of ELT contacts, so I really recommend participating when you get the chance. And never a friendlier bunch of online companions did you meet!

I look forward to the next one; perhaps I’ll even suggest a topic for the vote myself!

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About BerLingo

My name is Rachel, I am 25 and I love Germany. I studied German, Spanish and Italian at Durham University for four years, one of which I spent living in Europe, and then worked at Routledge academic publishing house for almost 3 years. Towards the end of 2014, I decided it was time to finally fulfil a long-held ambition to live in Berlin, and so in April 2015 I completed the CELTA qualification (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, adminstered by Cambridge University) here in the German capital. Now qualified, my blog berlingo18.wordpress.com charts my experiences as a new English teacher in my favourite city... (More information about my plans can be found in my first ever blog post.)
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11 Responses to Discovering #ELTchat

  1. Anthony Ash says:

    Thank you for sharing my blog post ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  2. joannamalefaki says:

    Hi Rachel!!
    I really liked this post. I too attend ELT chat twitter chats so we may get to ‘meet’ some day soon. I really like your Word press layout (it looks really nice). I am still trying to figure out how to go about Word press.
    Keep Blogging and remember…. promote : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • BerLingo says:

      Thanks, Joanna! That’s very kind of you to say 🙂 I kept my blog private for a long time so I could fiddle around with the layout, so it’s really nice to hear that you think it looks good! I recommend getting to grips with Custom Menus because that helped me split out a lot of my longer posts, which I previously had only divided by page break lines. WordPress itself has tonens of help articles which I find are fantastic when you split your screen between your blog on one side and the help sheets on the other 🙂
      I look forward to chatting in an ELTchat; perhaps tonight’s in fact!
      And I promise to be braver in shouting about my blog a little more.
      Thanks again for stopping by,
      Rachel

      Liked by 1 person

      • joannamalefaki says:

        Well, I just figured out how to add my twitter feed. So, Yay! Baby steps. Now I want to figure out how to add PDF files. I could do it on Blogger but haven’t done it here yet. So, that’s my next goal of the week. Talk soon, maybe even tonite 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • BerLingo says:

        Hehe I think it’s quite easy if you just attach a document via a hyperlink – I just about managed it for my post entitled ‘My first ever resource idea’ or something like that.
        From what I saw, you’re already doing wonderfully – we can learn from the pros together 🙂
        Yes, perhaps speak to you this evening! My online student cancelled so I can pay full attention to the chat now!
        Thanks again,
        Rachel

        Like

  3. Hada Litim says:

    Hi Rachel!
    What a lovely post and such a great introduction to #ELTchat. I warned you it was addictive. This totally makes me look forward to reading more on your ELT journey, here and on our Twitter chats.
    You sure launched your blog in style 😉
    Best,
    H

    Liked by 1 person

    • BerLingo says:

      Thanks Hada, that’s really kind! You did indeed warn me it was addictive – and quite rightly so 🙂 I’ve just replied to Angelos’ comment above along similar lines, by saying that I have been amazed by the power of Twitter over the last few weeks.
      Thanks for following my little space, and I look forward to chatting in this little online world this evening perhaps 🙂
      Rachel

      Like

  4. What a great and sweet post is that you published, here!
    The first time I participated in an #ELTchat discussion, I was a CELTA trainee, too. What is great with #ELTchat is not only that we learn and share and develop. It is a really supportive network of ELT professionals.
    Thank you for reminding us how lucky we are to be part of this group. 🙂

    Best,

    Angelos

    Liked by 1 person

    • BerLingo says:

      Thanks Angelos, that’s very kind of you to say! I thought having this post as the most recent one would be a good point at which to make my blog public – and the posts before it were good practice runs :
      I’ve been amazed by the power of Twitter over the last few weeks, actually, and I look forward to this evening’s session.
      Thanks again for the compliment, and perhaps ‘speak’ to you later 🙂
      Rachel

      Like

  5. Pingback: My suggested topic for #ELTchat – How can NQTs best use what they learn in the first few years of their career to develop into successful teachers? | BerLingo

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