Six ELT blogs worth following

Being a teacher in the 21st century is great, isn’t it? We have access to a plethora resources, so it’s quite easy to learn something new from the comfort of our home. I love reading blogs because it’s a great way of finding out what other ELT professionals think and do. I am always happy to see a new post notification, so I thought it would be a good idea to recommend my favourite bloggers.

I follow quite a lot of blogs through WordPress Reader, so having to choose just a few was rather tricky. I decided to select only those that have been running for at least a year and whose latest post was published within the last two months. There are some excellent dormant blogs with very useful content that I may write about in the future, but now I am going to focus only on the active ones. They are listed in alphabetical order.

Six ELT blogs worth following

Adaptive Learning in ELT
This brilliant blog, which has been running for 7 years, always makes me think. Philip Kerr is very diligent in dealing with various ELT-related topics in his essays. Fake news and critical thinking in ELT is a great example of the type of posts you can read on the blog.

The author is sceptical of anything that isn’t supported by evidence, and I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t hold back his opinions. He seems to have a great sense of humour as well. This post on instructional grammar videos is full of hilarious comments and it really cheered me up during quarantine.

ELT Planning
Pete is an experienced teacher and a prolific blogger. There always seem to be new posts on his website! You can find tons of lesson ideas, posts on CPD, reviews and much more on the blog.

In addition, Pete is involved in materials writing, and his blog provides valuable insight into the world of coursebooks and the process of their production. He summarises his views on that in The benefits of using an ELT coursebook. Pete’s posts are really witty and he doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is always nice to see.

Evidence Informed EFL
As the blog’s name implies, it’s time for another dose of scepticism. Russ Mayne is more than happy to question what many believe to be true. I recommend that you read Woo Watch: The rise of Neuro to get an idea of what the blog is about.

I really like the way Russ tackles controversial issues. In fact, I discovered his blog when he decided to collect and publish anonymous opinions on ELT that might be considered unpopular: Taboo ELT and Taboo 2.

Sam Shepherd
This blog’s author teaches English in the UK, so it’s really interesting to read about his work in that teaching context. Sam Shepherd is another blogger who doesn’t mince his words, and that leads to thought-provoking posts. Moving on up? deals with career progression and makes for a very interesting read.

Sam also makes some great points in his post A bunch of lies that focuses on online personas. He says that blogs are a tool of self-promotion and you can never be sure if what you read on them is true. Well, I have no idea what Sam is like in real life, but I certainly enjoy his posts.

Sandy Millin
I assume most of my readers have already come across this blog because there is so much amazing content on it. Sandy Millin has been regularly updating her website for 10 years, which is just incredible. There is a lot of useful Delta-related information, including conversations with those who have obtained the diploma.

It’s amazing to read some of Sandy’s older posts and see what she has achieved throughout the years. I find her articles on CELTA tutoring and being a Director of Studies particularly insightful. It’s such an inspirational blog!

The TEFL Zone
If you are looking for new ideas for your teaching practice, I recommend that you follow The TEFL Zone. Rachel Tsateri shares lessons plans and downloadable worksheets that you can use in your own classes.

The Delta section of Rachel’s blog is a treasure trove for those interested in obtaining the diploma because it contains examples of successful assignments. There are also posts like Improving the quality of my teacher talk, which are very useful for developing teachers.

Tips for getting a CELTA Pass A

As I mentioned in the post about teaching qualifications, doing a CELTA is a great choice for new teachers because the 4-week course will prepare you for your first job. The CELTA is also taken by experienced teachers who wish to improve their teaching skills. This standardised course is offered in numerous locations around the world, including Bogotá and Medellín. It can now be done 100% online because of the pandemic, but I will focus only on the in-class option in this text.

I had never taught English to anyone before taking my CELTA at CELT Athens, so I didn’t know what to expect. In the end, it turned out to be an unforgettable experience that completely changed my professional life. Getting an A grade was a nice bonus, and it made me feel good about my decision to become an English teacher. I can’t provide you with a step-by-step guide to achieve the top grade because there are too many variables, so I will try to share some general advice instead.

Tips for getting a CELTA Pass A

At first, we need to look at relevant statistics. In 2018, the overwhelming majority of trainees (95.4%) successfully passed the course. The CELTA is really demanding, but there is no need to feel anxious about it. Course providers screen candidates by asking them to take a test and undergo an interview in order to select only those who have a real chance of passing the course. If you search for CELTA-related information online, you will probably encounter some terrifying stories of people being on the verge of a nervous breakdown during the course, but I wouldn’t recommend paying too much attention to that. Again, the numbers are clear: if you are accepted on the course, you will most likely pass it.

So who exactly doesn’t pass the CELTA? According to the 2018 statistics, 4% of the candidates withdrew from the course. It’s necessary to emphasise that the full-time CELTA is very time-consuming because you have to spend 8 hours at the centre every day and then do your lesson planning, background reading and assignments in your free time. That’s why taking the course in your hometown may not be the best option because you need to avoid distractions. You should also stay in a place close to the training centre so that you don’t waste a lot of time commuting.

I couldn’t really afford to fail the course because I had quit my job and bought a ticket to Colombia. No pressure then! My solution was simple: I decided to sacrifice four weeks of my life. I spent most of the evenings and weekends studying, and ventured out of the apartment only to do my grocery shopping. It wasn’t the most exciting way of spending June in Greece, but it had to be done. In the second part of the course, I got a little bit more adventurous and went for a walk a couple of times. I even found time to watch two films: Logan was brilliant; T2 Trainspotting disappointing (with the exception of one good scene).

Well, what about the 0.6% candidates who actually failed the course in 2018? All trainees receive constant guidance from their tutors, so you would need to ignore what they tell you in order to fail the course because of your performance in the classroom. In addition, some people think that arguing with the tutors or other trainees is a good idea. Teaching English is a serious profession and it’s important to have that in mind when taking the CELTA. Being punctual and respectful, taking the tutors’ advice into account, and behaving like a decent human being is as important as your performance in the classroom.

Now that I have been teaching for a few years, I know that the bar to pass the CELTA is quite low. You don’t have to do much reading before the course, but you can certainly make life easier for yourself, especially if you are eager to get a good grade. Your centre will probably provide you with a pre-course task, and it’s a good idea to take it seriously. I also recommend that you read the syllabus and assessment guidelines and familiarise yourself with the way the course works. You should also refresh your grammar knowledge to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Raymond Murphy’s English Grammar in Use, which is aimed at intermediate students, will be sufficient.

If you have some free time before the course, you could read the following books, which are very useful for CELTA trainees:

● Martin Parrott: Grammar for English Language Teachers
● Graham Workman: Concept Questions and Time Lines
● Rosemary Aitken: Teaching Tenses
● Jim Scrivener: Learning Teaching

Each course is externally assessed and it doesn’t really matter where you take it. You can find a lot of websites with detailed information about the CELTA, including my favourite resource ELT Concourse. That said, the most important thing you have to do is listen to your tutors because their feedback is the most valuable part of the course. It’s necessary to pay attention to the tips for improving your teaching that you are going to receive. If you are told to talk to your students and not to the board, you are expected to do that in your next lesson. It’s not exactly rocket science because even the input sessions are done in the same way you are supposed to teach.

I understand that teaching your students while a group of people is observing your every move isn’t the most comfortable experience. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, though. Copying the tutors’ and other trainees’ techniques and using them in your lessons is perfectly acceptable. Your students don’t expect you to be a world-beater either because they know that you are being trained to be a teacher. I highly recommend that you learn their names as soon as possible and try to talk to them during breaks. Teaching people you’ve chatted with before is more pleasant than standing in front of complete strangers.

If you plan to get a CELTA, you need to know that it isn’t a walk in the park. However, if you are a hard-worker with good time-management skills, there is nothing to be afraid of. You are going to receive a lot of support during the course, so you just need to keep an open mind and absorb the knowledge. Chasing an A may leave you feeling disappointed, because the criteria for obtaining that grade are a bit fuzzy; some centres seem to be stricter than others, so luck may play a role as well. Your main objective should be improving as a teacher, and the process of obtaining your CELTA will certainly contribute to that.