Nov 28

40 Influential and Innovative Educators in ELT

who will help you see the power of PLN (PART I)


I know what it feels like to be new to online social networking and the world of Web 2.0. You decide that it would be good to meet English teachers from other countries, learn about Web 2.0 and may even be thinking of starting your own blog. However you don’t know how and where to start. You are lucky because there are great people whose online presence will help you start building your PLN (Personal Learning Network).

These people have some common points:

All of them are on Twitter (except one:-).
All of them are blogging, wikiing or running a web site.
All of them are very FRIENDLY, HELPFUL and SUPPORTIVE people.

Three of them are not involved in ELT but they are must-to-follow people for English teachers.

One little thing before I start…These people do not need to be introduced or promoted on my blog. I am receiving e-mails from teachers asking how they are going to find people to build their PLN. This post is intended to be a guide for them.

Here you go…

(The list is in alphabetical order. When you click on their names, you’ll go to their Twitter pages. I’m not going to give detailed information about them. Instead I’ll give links to their blogs, wikis or web sites.)

Alex Case (Korea): Alex is the only person on this list who is not on Twitter. However @TEFL also tweets about Alex’s blog posts and we feel his presence on Twitter as well:-) If you click on his name, you’ll read what he thinks about Twitter:-) He blogs at http://www.tefl.net/alexcase/ .

Andy Hockley (Romania): Andy blogs about leadership and management in language teaching organisations at http://adhockley.wordpress.com/ .

Aniya Adly (Italy): She is ‘TheEngTeacher’ on Twitter. She supports bloggers daily by tweeting about their blog posts. She blogs at  http://theenglishteacheronline.com/ .

Anne Hodgson (Germany): Although we teach English in different areas (Anne teaches English for business and academic purposes), I like following her tweets and blog. She has a great blog called The Island Weekly.

Arjana Blazic (Croatia): Arjana blogs at http://traveloteacher.blogspot.com/ . You should check out her wonderful Wiki where she uses Glogster very creatively.

Barbara Sakamato (Japan): Barbara blogs at http://www.teachingvillage.org/ . I suggest you to read “What I’ve Learned from My PLN” in which you will find links to great guest pieces by teachers from different countries. I hope to meet this lovely lady sometime in the future. :-)

Brooke Shanley-Hurtado (USA): Brooke is another lovely person in my PLN who I really want to meet f2f.  She is “SpeakSpanglish” on Twitter. She has a degree in teaching Spanish and she is also experienced in bilingual classes .She blogs at http://spkspanglish.edublogs.org/.

Chris Cotter (Japan): Chris has a web site called Heads Up English where you can find great resources. He has also written a new book called “Better Language Teaching“.

Christina Cattaneo (Italy): Christina shares very good links daily and interacts with the people in her PLN in a friendly and humorous way. She blogs at http://teachinglife.edublogs.org/ .

Dan Roberts (UK): He is “@chickensaltash” on Twitter. He is a very creative teacher and a humorous member of my PLN. I think his students are very lucky to have him. He blogs at http://chickensaltash.edublogs.org/ .

Gavin Dudeney (Spain): I feel very lucky to have met him f2f. He is one of the most supportive people in my PLN.  I’m also very lucky that he still replies to my endless mails asking for advice about presentations, etc. :-)  I’m very happy that he will be in Istanbul at the time of my school’s ELT conference and will do a workshop here. Gavin blogs at http://slife.dudeney.com/ .

Graham Stanley (Spain): I met Graham in Cardiff. He was in my presentation and I guess he was tweeting there :-) Back then, I was one of those teachers who is skeptical about Twitter. It is that cool black screen Graham and Gavin were using during the IATEFL conference (it was Tweetdeck) that made me give Twitter a try :-) Graham and his friend Kyle Mawer have recently started Digital Play– a new blog of activities and ideas for EFL/ESL Teachers interested in using computer games and digital toys with their learners.

Heike Philp (Germany): Heike is the organizer of the Virtual Round Table Conference and the person who made me and Shelly do a PRESTO:-) I think she has made history by organizing this great conference. Heike blogs at http://www.philp.de/blog/ .

Isabella Jones (UK): Isabella blogs at http://isabellejones.blogspot.com/ . Check out her article called “Online videos in the Classroom: Bringing Languages to Life”.  She has also a Diigo group called Resources for Languages with 349 members.

Jamie Keddie (Spain): Jamie is one of the most creative teachers I’ve ever met. I enjoy listening to his great ideas about using images and video clips in the classroom. He blogs at http://jamiekeddie.com/ and shares great lesson plans on http://www.teflclips.com/ .

Jason Renshaw (Australia): Jason is “@englishraven” on Twitter. He is a very important member of my PLN. I am very happy that he is coming to Turkey to do workshops in my school’s ELT conference in March. He blogs at http://jasonrenshaw.typepad.com/ .

Jeremy Harmer (UK): I am very lucky to have met Jeremy in Cardiff and even luckier because he is coming to  my school’s ELT conference to give a plenary. Jeremy has recently started a blog at http://jeremyharmer.wordpress.com/

Johanna Stirling (UK): Johanna has a web site called English Language Garden and she blogs at http://thespellingblog.blogspot.com/ where she blogs about English spelling. How it works, how to learn it, how to teach it, and how to love it! A unique idea for a blog.

Ken Wilson (UK): It was six years ago when I first saw Ken Wilson at a conference in Turkey. Since then I’ve always admired his presentation skills and the way he communicates with teachers. He did a great plenary at my school’s in-service conference in September and I am very happy that he is coming again in March. Ken started blogging at http://kenwilsonelt.wordpress.com/ a few months ago and already became one of the most popular bloggers in ELT with his unique style of writing.

Kenny Christian (Germany): I’ve had the chance to meet this gentleman at TESOL, France. He is a great friend and a perfect listener. Looking forward to meeting him again! He owns a virtual meeting place where employers find and hire quality English service providers at http://englishprofi.com/ .

That’s all for now. 😉

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What I’ve Learned from My PLN


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  1. Barbara Sakamoto

    I’m honored, Burcu, to be included with such fabulous educators! Thanks for including me.

    I also hope to meet you one day. You are definitely on my “short list” of teachers I would love to share a cup of coffee and a long chat some day!

    Fingers crossed :)
    .-= Barbara Sakamoto´s last blog ..Teaching English at a Japanese Academic High School (by Tomo Wakui) =-.

  2. Brooke Hurtado

    Thank you, Burcu, for including me among such wonderful individuals, educators, and PLN members. I am truly flattered.

    I would love to meet you F2F, also. I’ll have to start a savings jar for a trip to your side of the world. 😉
    .-= Brooke Hurtado´s last blog ..Thanksgiving Top Ten =-.

  3. Marie-Therese Le Roux

    This is a great list of great people, Burcu. I love the fact that you have emphasized their online presence, and the warm personalities behind the big names.

    Come to think of it, there is someone else who fits the description. With all the thought-provoking, in-depth blogs and presentations of late, you are a strong candidate for #41 :)
    .-= Marie-Therese Le Roux´s last blog ..T42: Teacher Training for Web 2.0, Introductory Podcast =-.

  4. Graham Stanley

    I second Barbara, here – I’m honored. I also think your post points to a coming of age for educators using these tools – it used to be a small group of teachers who were blogging, etc, but now with the benefits being declared all over by so many, there’s more and more useful activity going on from the people and the amount of help, support and resources teachers can get online from building their own PLN is amazing.
    .-= Graham Stanley´s last blog ..Digital Play – a new blog =-.

  5. Vicky Loras

    Hello Burcu!
    My name is Vicky Loras and I am a Canadian ELT teacher, of Greek origins, now living and teaching in Switzerland. I have been reading your blog for quite some time now and I must say you have some excellent ideas. I have found some excellent ideas on technology (especially on blogs).
    This blogpost is fantastic, as truly all of these people are important assets to ELT. Congratulations on your blog and I wish you all the best!
    Kindest regards,
    .-= Vicky Loras´s last blog ..The Day Martin Luther King Came To My Classroom =-.

  6. Isabelle Jones

    Hi Burcu

    Thank you so much for including me in this list. I am in great company!I already follow the vast majority of the people on the list but I will check it out again, just to make sure I have not missed anybody…

    .-= Isabelle Jones´s last blog ..MFL Show & Tell: Favourite Tools For CPD In The Languages Faculty =-.

  7. Henrick Oprea

    Hi Burcu,

    Your description in the beginning of the post is exactly how I feel. It’s great to know such great people are willing to “teach” us the benefits of web 2.0 and the joys of a world without barriers through the Internet. This post certainly helps a lot of people who are just getting started building their PLN (and other in the process of incorporating the idea in their daily lives) and need some guidance in order not to leave it to chance.

    .-= Henrick Oprea´s last blog ..Why I think a change is needed – #edchat 11/24/09 =-.

  8. Anne Hodgson

    Oh, Burcu, thank you so much! You’re amazing. Thank you for promoting the learning network connecting our different fields and countries. Very empowering! Must check to make sure that I have everyone you list in my GoogleReader … and that you are properly nominated for the Awards :)
    .-= Anne Hodgson´s last blog ..Dog, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti =-.

  9. James OReilly

    I bookmarked this to the Diigo group!
    Adult Learning & Andragogy
    .-= James OReilly´s last blog ..Burcu Akyol’s Blog =-.

  10. Alex Case

    At least I still stand out in same way from the recent flood of great TEFL blogs- the only non-Twit! As it says in the post you were kind enough to link to, I’m used to standing alone… If you ever want to do a(nother) guest piece on the reasons why I’m wrong, always welcome!

    Thanks for the mention, and a couple there I didn’t know who I will check out straightaway
    .-= Alex Case´s last blog ..English Today for free =-.

  11. Shelly Terrell


    This is a brilliant piece as always! I think these are a brilliant list of bloggers and thank you for recognizing these hard workers and sources of inspiration!
    .-= Shelly Terrell´s last blog ..Cool “Collaborative” Sites by Özge Karao?lu =-.

  12. Arjana Blazic

    Hello Burcu,
    thank you for including me in this list. I’m honored to be part of your PLN.
    Thank you also for being so supportive and helpful. You’re an amazing teacher and blogger.
    .-= Arjana Blazic´s last blog ..Update on Going Virtual =-.

  13. burcuakyol

    Thank you all for your nice comments.

    The teachers I meet at conferences or the ones I work together ask me (this is a very frequent question nowadays)”Well, I am on Twitter now. Where are these educators you keep mentioning?” I am glad that this list will help them get started. It is great that these people on the list also share their knowledge and experiences in other virtual places like blogs, wikis, web sites and conferences.

    We are very lucky that we are members of such a vibrant group of educators.



  14. Blythe Musteric

    Thanks for this great list! I’ll be doing a Twitter presentation for newbies and I’ll point the audience to this blog entry. Thanks!
    .-= Blythe Musteric´s last blog ..Starting Conversations at Networking Events =-.

  15. Kenny Christian

    It is an honor to know you Burcu and to be on your list. I’m new to the ELT world but I feel so welcome. Everyday I learn so much from people like you and many of the familiar faces/tweeps I see on your list.

    The ELT world really is full of great people. I’ll most likely see you next in Harrogate in April and hopefully meet some new tweeps as well. I’m really looking forward to the Pecha Kucha event! In the mean time I will keep working hard to help English professionals expand their freelance businesses and sharing great resources on Twitter.

    Thanks Burcu!

  16. Johanna

    Oh, just found myself here! What a lovely surprise to be mentioned in with all these great people! Thank you. Looking forward to checking out those others that I don’t know.
    .-= Johanna´s last blog ..Do texting and online chatting affect spelling? =-.

  17. Andy Hockley

    Like others here, I am really flattered to be included in this list of amazing people. Thanks, Burcu, and thanks for introducing me to a few blogs I hadn’t actually seen before.
    .-= Andy Hockley´s last blog ..Oaths of Office =-.

  18. Alex Case

    If you mean the link, that’s automatically generated. If you mean the topic, it’s genuine interest!

    Thanks for deleting the spam Burcu- meaning that the first and fourth comments that are there now aren’t spam, so Andy Hockley please don’t take offense if you’re reading!
    .-= Alex Case´s last blog ..A history of TEFL blogging Part One =-.

    1. burcuakyol

      Thanks for your feedback Alex:-) There are hundreds of spam comments every week, I can’t understand how it happens…and these recent ones look so real, so I approved two of them by mistake.



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