TEFLtastic policy document and manifesto

Having been attacked by another person who has worked in a national university in Japan (what is wrong with these people- too much time on their hands or no one to talk to because the Japanese staff freeze them out??), here goes with another attempt to take this as an honest misunderstanding that I can clear up rather than just personality problems with them and/ or me:

First of all, it occurs to me that some people might misunderstand the purpose of this blog (and therefore how they should take what I write and what kind of comments are most helpful and welcome) as it does seem to tread a middle path between the cynical and (hopefully) funny (English droid, tefl-trade, notes from the tefl graveyard, Englishman in Osaka, Chase me Ladies etc. ) and the enthusiastic, keen and/ or serious (teacher in development, English 360 , Insights into TEFL etc.) , and occassionally with a touch of the crusading blog (tefltrade again, TEFLwatch, TEFLblacklist etc.).

So here goes with an attempt to define what I am trying to achieve on TEFLtastic. I am most of all aiming for the stuff on this blog to be, in approximate order of importance:

  1. Stimulating
  2. Entertaining
  3. Memorable
  4. Helpful
  5. Concise
  6. Something you are unlikely to read elsewhere
  7. Accessible

and somewhere further down the list, “accurate”, and somewhere even further down “with good spelling and grammar”. Things not on the list at all include “precise”, “academic”, “intellectual”, “scientifically proven” and “unbiased”.

The feedback I am most interested in getting, then, are things in that spirit such as “I’m not sure you are right but it did make me think” and “I’ve never thought about that before, I’ll have a ponder and get back to you with my thoughts on it later” (positive), and “I wasn’t sure if that was a joke or not” and “sorry, I passed out half way through the intro of that one” (negative). I don’t see any point in writing “that is just your opinion” as a comment on someone’s personal blog, because if I don’t offer any proof to back it up that is how it is offered- as my opinion, with the aim more that it interests you and makes you think about the topic more than it persuades you of my point of view.

Correction of spelling mistakes (but not of clmusy typnig) are also welcome, but it is worth bearing in mind the criticism is always easier to take when mixed with humour, when it comes from a friend, or when it is preceded by a positive comment- but then I’m not telling you anything you haven’t all taught in your Business English and other functional English classes many times before, I’m sure.

It also strikes me that one cause of misunderstanding (again if, as I hope, that is what it is) might be a lack of agreement on what a TEFL blog is. Here is my philosophy of blogging:

-Blog means “web log”, meaning that it is a personal diary written on the internet. If I give people a space to comment on what I have written, that is a privilege and not a right- a privilege that will be taken away if reading a comment and/ or responding to something that I can’t let stand becomes more effort than it is worth. As a full time teacher who also publishes quite a lot of stuff and on top of that tries to find time to write my blog (occasionally for my own benefit and occasionally to help others) time reading and replying to comments being a useful and stimulating use of my time is my only criteria. The two crazy national university guys have both called my policy of deleting comments that I don’t have the time and patience to even read and therefore don’t feel I can leave up on a blog with my name and photo on “censorship”. For me, that is no more censorship than not allowing someone to graffiti on the walls of my house. I do however still extend the offer I made before to allow links to people’s comments elsewhere about what I say, just as long as I don’t necessarily have to read them myself. For the kinds of people who take any type of  restrictions on what they  say as censorship, it takes no more time to set up your own blog and write something on it than it does to register to make a comment on some blogs or to sign up and send something from a new email account- in fact, nowadays you more or les get given a blog for free when you do those things! Comments actually on my blog will be restricted to things I think are worth reading, just like the reviews I edit and the guest writers I accept. So far that has been everything apart from one comment from one person and everything after the first seven or eight comments from another, and as I can find many other examples of these two making enemies on the Net I am not feeling too bad about it. Well, not on a good day, anyway…

-If you have found a blog written in the language demanded by academic EFL journals, then it basically isn’t a good blog. Academic language is just as unsuitable for a blog as it is for a newspaper, a conversation or a comic- the word “thereto” being a good example in a comment from one of the PhD eggheads mentioned above. Quite how people who claim to know about the English language can accept that written grammar is different from spoken grammar and not understand that the language of a blog or an internet forum is just as different as that from the language of a magazine, a dissertation or anything else I completely fail to understand. Do these people correct their friends’ spelling when they text as well??

– A blog is a community, not an open forum. If you do not match the community in values, language, or any other factor then you are better off elsewhere. I have sometimes had my replies blocked or (more often) ignored by people who are carrying on a personal conversation I am not part of in the comments boxes, and I have realised I am chatting to the wrong people at the house party and moved on elsewhere without even a hint of annoyance. In fact, I’ve even experienced this on teacher forums that have claimed to be completely open places to exchange views but have turned out to be as open as an conversation at a cocktail party that you join but find out is made entirely of old friends. After a little annoyance at false advertising, I got over it and moved on somewhere I was more welcome.

-The fact that language on a blog (like language in general) is mainly a social thing for bonding rather than a way of passing on precise information is again something that shouldn’t be difficult to understand to anyone that has studied linguistics. How it is possible for some autistic people to use that knowledge to make a good attempt at being able to gain normal social skills while so many people with more letters after their name than friends who presumably start off with normal social skills manage to lose those despite that knowledge I will never understand.

Sorry if that is a bit of a rant (“What a rant!” also being a welcome piece of feedback), and I do realise I can over react to these types due to always being someone who has stood up to bullies and hates people who think they should get respect just because of the letters after their name. Anyhow, feeling better now and can actually start planning my lessons…

This entry was posted in Chase me ladies, English droid, Insights into TEFL, notes from the TEFL graveyard, teacher in development, Teaching English in Japan, Teaching in Japanese universities, TEFL blacklist, TEFLtrade, TEFLwatch, TESOL. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to TEFLtastic policy document and manifesto

  1. Sandy says:

    Keep on ranting! I’m liking this one lots.
    And thanks for the ‘reference’, too!

  2. Alex Case says:

    Got that rant out of my system, but sure there will be another one in a month or two about something or another…

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