Thursday, 5 January 2017

Some great social media links for language teachers

When I left the classroom in 2012 I quickly discovered I could not shake off my obsession with language teaching. I have kept in touch with the languages community almost entirely via social media. I use various media to do three things: learn more about teaching around the world, notably the USA and Canada, exchange ideas with other teachers and sell some of the work I write. Social media has allowed me to fulfil the long-held ambition to help train other teachers and I consider that I can reach more teachers online than through any face-to-face course.

Here are the platforms I use:

Twitter

I make a point of following, almost without exception, teachers and others in education. By doing this I avoid the more unsavoury corners of Twitter. Exchanges are therefore almost always informative and polite. I try to avoid on the whole tweeting political stuff, but I don't always succeed. I decided some time ago to use Twitter for professional reasons and Facebook for social/family affairs. (The exception being professional closed Facebook groups.) I confess to finding Twitter very addictive!

Engaging with Twitter has taught me a huge amount about language teaching and education in general and I have made really useful links with teachers around the world, most notably with my collaborator Gianfranco Conti in Malaysia. Other notable language teachers and trainers I follow are Joe Dale, who oversees the MFL Twitterers list, Helen Myers who is very active in the ALL, Sara-E Cottrell and Martina Bex, both from the USA, José Picardo, and Pauline Galea from Canada. There are many others I could mention. I often use the Buffer app (free version) to post tweets in advance so that they appear at times of the day when teachers are more likely to read them.

Facebook

There are a number of Facebook groups where teachers meet to share ideas and resources, and ask for help. The ones I contribute to are based in the UK, Canada and Malaysia. If you are on Facebook, just look up the following: Secondary MFL Matters, Secondary MFL in Wales, MFL Teachers' Lounge, Canadian Core French Teachers, Parlez avec Pauline, French Teachers, IGCSE Language Teachers, MFL Resources and Ideas and International Language Teachers in Malaysia. The atmosphere in these various groups is super, very supportive and hardly ever antagonistic.

MFL Yahoo Groups Forum

This has been around a while and still has hundreds of members even though messages have become rarer of late. Members stay in touch via email and, as with the Facebook groups, teachers ate helpful ad supportive. You can find the group easily enough by doing a google search. You can set up your account to have email messages sent to your inbox if you want. I am one of the moderators of the group which, for me at least, just means lightly vetting any new requests for members.

Blogs

There are many useful teacher blogs out there from which I learn a great deal.
I keep a list of these on frenchteacher.net. Most teachers don't have the time to update these regularly, but the best ones share great practice, tell you about how technology can be used and discuss methodological issues. You could start with Gianfranco Conti's detailed blogs (gianfrancoconti.wordpress.com) which marry research and classroom practice, Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell's Musicuentos blog or Martina Bex's The Comprehensible Classroom. Again, there are many others you might find interesting. I have been running my own blog since 2009.


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