If you teach English as a second language (ESL) or plan on doing so in the future, now is the time to start building your Professional Learning Network (PLN), an informal group of people, websites and other resources that can help you stay abreast of developments in ESL teaching. The Internet hosts a multitude of free resources and learning communities to help you connect with other educators and your students. Here are 10 sites to get your ESL PLN started:
1. Dave’s ESL Cafe
Created by Dave Sperling, a former ESL teacher in Thailand and Japan, Dave’s ESL Cafe has a Job Center with multiple postings for positions in Korea, Japan and other foreign countries. It also hosts a number of forums for ESL teachers to chat and share ideas, with topics ranging from “business English” to refugee issues. There are even forums for students to practice their skills and get English language learning tips. The site also has a live chat area and archives of Dave’s podcasts. Dave’s ESL Cafe has everything that you need in one area, with easy navigability and expert advice from a real professional. (Dave also has a great sense of humor.)
2. Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day
Larry Ferlazzo, a current teacher and former community organizer based in California, blogs about a different website every day that gives teachers strategies and ideas to help teach ESL. The site has archives of excellent articles that Larry has written as well as his Websites of the Month and Websites of the Year. You can also follow him on Twitter. Larry’s site is easy to navigate and the blog postings are short but insightful and full of links to additional excellent resources.
3. Certification Map
Certification Map is the place to go for specific information on ESL and TEFL programs. Find out what certification programs entail or what it is really like to teach in China, Germany and other countries around the world. The site also describes and links you to American schools abroad for more global teaching opportunities. Certification Map is easy to use and all of its articles are easily digestible.
4. Oxford University Press: English Language Teaching Global Blog
The English Language Teaching Global Blog is host to excellent entries on strategies to teach English as a second language. All of the authors are seasoned educators, and there is a broad range of categories to browse through, like “Multimedia & Digital” and “Cultural Studies.” The site is easy to navigate, and the blog postings are both well written and engaging.
5. Strictly English
Strictly English is entirely devoted to preparing for the TOEFL exam. Most of its resources are for students and professionals preparing for the test, offering tutoring services and preparation guides, but teachers can use the same strategies for their students. The blog entries are particularly insightful, giving specific test-taking tips and even listing scholarships offered at various schools.
6. Maria Constantinides – TEFL Matters
Maria Constantinides is a well-published author and the director of CELT Athens, a teacher development center in Greece. Besides offering information on her TEFL courses, her blog postings are excellent resources for teaching and classroom management strategies, made more colorful through her personal anecdotes and pictures. Thus, the blog is both informational and visually appealing.
7. Busy Teacher
Busy Teacher offers tons of free ESL resources. There are worksheets arranged by categories, like seasons and grammar structures; there are also free lesson plans and activities, all accessible by signing up for a free account. Everything is shared by teachers. This website is a great resource for the beginning or expert teacher.
8. Teaching Village
Founded by author and seasoned ESL teacher Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto, Teaching Village hosts multiple authors’ blogs on ESL topics, ranging from technology to working with young children. Of particular interest are the links to other blogs from ESL teachers all over the globe. This site is truly a global “village.”
9. The English Teacher
The English Teacher is a blog hosted by Aniya, a British teacher living in Italy. While the site is basic, her blogs are aesthetically appealing, witty and full of strategies concerning visual learning and technology. She also hosts a Twitter page.
10. Teacher Reboot Camp
Teacher Reboot Camp is hosted by Shelly Sanchez Terrell, a renowned ESL teacher who is devoted to providing free, quality resources to teachers. Her blog entries are full of lesson plans, tips on incorporating technology into lessons and other useful information. Every year she publishes 30 goals for educators to work on together and discuss on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. There is even a free e-book and resources section.
Sarah Fudin works in community relations for the University of Southern California’s Masters in Education program delivered online which has partnered up with Certification Map to share information about teacher certification. Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.