An Interview with Karenne of Kalinago English, part 1
You seem to have a real community feeling on your blog – something I’ve never managed. Any ideas on how that happened? Was it a deliberate attempt?
Yes, it is very deliberate.
That’s the fun part, isn’t it, Alex? What makes blogging different from writing articles in a magazine: the dialogue – sharing thoughts, experiences, ideas and learning from others.
It’s basically why bloggers stay up ’til midnight to finish a post or search through flickr for an hour just because they can’t find the right creative commons licensed picture: the buzz of the “alive” page.
It’s also why I visit other blogs – even when I’m tired or not in the mood. To give back what I receive, to be part of the community. I’m mostly attracted to blogs that have this, as opposed to the “sage-on-the-stage” feeling you can find out there. Obviously, I don’t agree that yours isn’t community oriented and I’m sure that anyone who’s reading it doesn’t either!
The hardest thing for me though, is answering my posters and I have to confess I see so many bloggers who are much better at this than I am. I’m so often engaged in what they’re commenting that I don’t know what to reply! I hope to get better at this – confession though, sometimes the comments are so learned, so knowledgeable that I feel like I’m going to say something really dumb as actually I don’t know all the answers to their questions!
How much time does your blog take up? And how much time do you spend following other blogs, forums and groups?
Some postings take 1/2 hour – the thought musings and random rants.
Others take between 2 -4 hours, others take 8. A 3-part answer like this task you’ve set for me takes around 12 hours.
The posts which have the potential to offend or need fact-checking, research and adequate linking, take days. There are even posts which take weeks: videos to be filmed from week to week, then edited, uploaded to youtube, etc..
I don’t publish everything I start either – there’s an awful back-log of half-finished pieces, ideas that need development, stuff I don’t like anymore…
Also I generally spend between 1 and 2 hours most days in some sort of social-networking activity: I’m fascinated by communities (online and offline) and therefore consciously perform different roles within different groups.
Your blog is one of the two TEFL blogs “of the moment” – the other being Lindsay Clandfield’s Six Things. What’s your secret? What is your blog philosophy?
Being one of the blogs of the moment is just that: something happening now.
There have been far better bloggers than I am; are many, many quality writers who aren’t getting as much as attention today as they should be; tomorrow there will be someone else offering more.
I don’t really take it all very seriously.
When I was walking the Camino de Santiago (a pilgrimage across Northern Spain) I learned not to count kilometres but instead to focus on the actual journey, to understand that the value lies in the learning and experiences on-route.
The most important advice I can give to any blogger is that there’s very little point in counting number of posts, especially not those written by others, or the number of visitors you have: it doesn’t tell you anything – other than how many visitors and how many posts you’ve written!
My philosophy… hmm, I wouldn’t say it’s a philosophy.
I blog because I’m opinionated. Blogging gives me an audience for all the stuff I’ve been boring people with, for years, out there in the ‘sphere.
Seriously, though, Alex – a blog is a dialogue, you just gotta ask repetitively:
Am I part of the conversation going on in my community or am I dominating it?
Am I talking about only me and my materials, ideas, business? Am I preaching to the converted or I am sharing? Am I educating, am I challenging others to think in a different way – about things they’d taken for granted, am I giving back?
Am I entertaining? Making a tired teacher laugh, make a disillusioned teacher wake up energized?
Am I making my industry any better?
You mean because I’m somehow number 1 on OneStopBlogs at the moment, and you think I’m doing something to manipulate the stats? LOL, Yes, Alex, I saw that! Boys, boys, boys…
I will happily share: we are not islands in the middle of a Google Sea but instead are globally linked to other thinkers and writers.
In our niche, English Language Teaching, we are the democratization of methodology, materials and resources. Via our connections we can support each others development. Likethere are those of one opinion and others with another – yet within the collected wisdom of all of our posts lies a real, rich and abundant knowledge.
Whenever you respect your community, you grow as it grows.
For example, if a teacher is searching for “Smart phones + EFL” in Google, there is a good chance she will land on my page.
However this teacher is not on “my” page to read “my” words, she is there because something came up in class. Maybe it’s to support an out-of-date business English textbook; she needs a speaking-skills based activity on this theme or maybe she’s looking for some listening to download for her students.
As there exists a strong possibility that when she lands on Kalinago English, what I am offering is actually not what she was looking for, I link to other members from my community, the piece from Chwa moaning about the phones ringing in class could be used as an article; the posting by Lindsay offers activities to do with the phone switched off. I’ll also list websites like and Breaking News in a posting like this because these links might be useful for her students.
By pointing her and other teachers in the direction they were heading, enabling them to get through the maze that is today’s Google, I build trust.
The teachers who begin as accidental readers see I’m really here to aid them in their lesson-planning, discussing different approaches.
So… sometimes they come back, sometimes they become loyal readers who revisit often and then when I’ve written something they have an opinion on, when they’re ready, when what I’ve said hits a chord in their own understanding or they absolutely disagree with me, then they begin to share their own knowledge back with me.
And when that happens, I’m very, very happy.
On one hand because I did my job that day but also, inevitably, because when the teacher shares, she wants to continue sharing and becomes a part of my community and I, a member of hers.
So the secret, Alex? It’s just karmic math.
(A Win4Teachers + A Win4Bloggers/WebMasters) = Blog wins.