Shaking up the ELT conference format

ELT conferences are great. They’re an opportunity to learn, to network, to make new friends. They’re also a chance to enjoy a few nights out where it’s acceptable that ELT is the only thing on the conversational menu! But having attended a couple of conferences already this year, with IATEFL on the way, and with my memories of past years still fresh, I increasingly feel that the ELT conference scene could benefit from a bit of a shakeup. On May 8–9th this year, ELTjam and Oxford TEFL Barcelona are hoping to do just that with our Innovate ELT Conference.

Here are a few of the things about ELT conferences that we felt were due an update and how we’ve decided to address those things for our event in Barcelona.

How to be a successful education app developer

When this blog was brand new (nearly two years ago), I stumbled across a post by a French indie app developer called Pierre Abel who was having great success by focussing on educational iPad apps for young learners. As someone who had spent quite a lot of time and effort trying to develop successful ELT apps while working in-house at an ELT publisher, I was interested in how an independent developer had approached it, and whether I could find any useful lessons that ELT app publishers could apply. I thought it would be interesting to see how he’s done since then and whether the same lessons still apply.

8 ways to get traffic to your ELT website

If you have a language learning blog or website, you’re one of millions out there. The question you should be asking yourself is how do I compete with all those other sites? How do I get ahead of them? How can I get interested learners to visit my website first? It’s not easy. There’s no magic wand. But it’s possible. Here are 8 ways that should get you going in the right direction.

Ten tips for getting into digital materials writing

Getting into digital materials writing is still a goal for many. Good luck if you’re one of them and here are some tips to help. While not comprehensive, the list is the real deal and reflects the big changes happening right now in ELT publishing as a result of the rush to digital. It’s aimed more at those trying to get in as new writers, rather than established authors.

Taking a step back from a start-up

In 2013, we ran two posts where Lindsay Rattray explained the opportunity he saw in bringing together the pedagogy of ELT and the power of inter-connected mobile technology.  His startup, ClassWired, was a way to do student-centred ELT activities in class. It was web-based to work on any device.  It gave you information about your class, like how fast your students are working, and what they are finding difficult. In fact, Lindsay was an early ELT Entrepreneur, asking questions and looking for answers from an ELT teaching and EdTech perspective. Picking up his story almost two years on, it’s interesting to see how the questions have changed, fundamentally.

ELT Entrepreneur – Marie Goodwyn

We’ve been featuring ELT Entrepreneurs and EdTech start-ups for a few months now and we have tended to focus on those who are quite far down the line in terms of their business and product. But what do they look like at the beginning of the journey? Last May, ELTjam co-organised an EdTech Start Up Weekend with the Judge Business School. At the time we commented on how few educators there were in the room and it was no surprise that it took educational insight more than tech to come up with the idea that won: Bright Stream.

indie ELT books

A round-up of indie ELT books

We’ve given a fair bit of space in the past few months to ELT Entrepreneurs, but there’s another kind of entrepreneur who deserves some attention. The materials writer turned self-publisher or indie press. This is a round up of some of the books that are out there that have made it through the process without the help of a major publisher.

Selecting and Implementing Vocabulary Tools for Mainstream Classes

Teachers in mainstream education in English-speaking countries increasingly have to plan lessons to help integrate students whose first language isn’t English. That’s quite a challenge and we’ve asked Nina Berler, who teaches in the US to tell us about some of the tools she uses. It wasn’t so long ago that teachers of mainstream classes were instructed to “teach to the middle.” Of course, when it comes to learning vocabulary, that methodology can’t possibly benefit students on either end of the spectrum. Fortunately, in this era of digital learning, teachers have tools to boost vocabulary and reduce gaps in their classes.

El Blog Para Aprender Inglés – The blog that became a school

Blogging is a great way to access a personal Learning Network, reach out to the ELT community across the world, keep up-to-date with  developments in the field or just vent about things on your mind and there are fantastic ELT examples all over the internet.   But can it lead to anything more than simply having a wider platform for your ideas?

Geoff Jordan vs. Duolingo

More than a million people a day connect to Duolingo, an app which causes much derision in ELT circles with attacks on its pedagogical validity. But what happens if you judge it through the prism of research into Second Language Acquisition? Geoff Jordan finds out.

Social Enterprise in ELT – The E3 Project

The primary aim of the E3 Project is to engage those with the lowest levels of spoken English, particularly women over the age of 30, who are isolated within diaspora communities but committed to living in the UK. This is based around three main areas; digital inclusion, positive integration and active citizenship.

Categories ELT

Slated translating keyboard app: reviewed

This app is both my dream and my nightmare. I love learning languages, and anything that enables me to understand and communicate in more of them is a fantastic tool. On the other hand, if tools like this get too good, my life’s work (as a creator of English language courses and resources) – and my future income – will be wiped out with a few swipes of a touchscreen.

ELT Entrepreneurs – Paul Emmerson

For the second post in our ELT Entrepreneurs series we take a look at Paul Emmerson’s recently launched site BehereBethere. It’s  a free and fun eLearning website for Business English where students can watch videos and learn about business from business professionals while improving their English. The site caters to three different levels and works on vocabulary and pronunciation.

What did the British Council learn from the Exploring English: Language and Culture MOOC?

In the weeks since the British Council’s first MOOC ended, I’ve been asking myself what exactly we’ve learned from it. Did it ‘work’, as Nicola asked? My feeling is that it did – not only in terms of the numbers of learners it attracted but in what it achieved within the parameters we set for it. If it wasn’t the ‘true ELT MOOC’ Nicola described, that’s because we didn’t plan for it to be that.

Intersubjectivity: Is there an app for that?

If you reduce language learning to its bare bones, you can come up with a methodology that suits many of SLA theorists: intensive conversation with a willing partner, one-to-one, providing the language input you need to communicate your thoughts. Could an app one day do all that?

Brainly: Can ELT learn from social learning?

I wasn’t brilliant at physics at secondary school. I managed in class, though, with the help of my peers which you could call social learning.  Pre-internet, that social network was confined to the real world – and occasional phone calls. Homework wasn’t generally a topic of conversation but I don’t think I had anything like the 2-3 hours school children can have today. On one occasion, my homework included a question about light refraction and where a fish would appear to be to an observer from the surface as opposed to where it actually was.  I couldn’t answer, so I just wrote “Don’t know” and handed it in.

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#elthack: 10 Microsoft Word hacks all ELT writers and editors need

You need more time to commission or write the next ELT blockbuster. Or just to share pictures of your lunch on Facebook. But where to carve out time from a hectic day? Microsoft Word. Documents start off in Word for most writers, editors and, sometimes, tech-forward start up founders. Here are some efficiency tips even … Read more

Exploring the British Council MOOC

Either ELTjam and its community of commenters can see the future, or the British Council closely followed this post from January 2013 when they created their 6-week course Exploring English Language and Culture in partnership with FutureLearn.

There’s one critical difference, though. ELTjam thought an ELT MOOC probably wouldn’t work. The British Council made sure that it did. Although, as we’ll see, that does depend on your definition of ‘work’.

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