It really IS worth taking a look at this blog!

The power of the written word.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the above image is being used as part of a blog-awareness campaign. The idea is to highlight ten blogs that individual bloggers think are worth reading. The message is Portuguese forIt’s worth taking a look at this blog’.

At first, I decided not to take part, on the grounds that I didn’t want to reduce my list of favourite blogs (which you can see on the left of this page) to a mere ten. Then I read an impassioned rebuke for this stance in Jason Renshaw’s blog.

Jason wrote:

It’s not surprising that some members of the ELT blogosphere chose not to take part, but some of the reasons I saw put forward did have me scratching my head a bit. While in some cases those reasons appeared logical or understandable (and goodness me, let’s not forget that nobody warrants criticism simply because they chose not to do something a lot of other bloggers were doing!), I can’t help coming to the conclusion that several good bloggers out there not only missed the whole point, but also missed a golden opportunity.

So here are my ten.

1       Jason Renshaw

No really, this is the blog I ALWAYS read. What I love about Jason is that I’m sure he could start a fight in an empty room. His blogposts regularly contain something that raises hackles somewhere. A fight breaks out, and after the dust has settled, Jason stands there with an innocent look on his face and says: “What did I SAY???”

I’ve never met Jason, but I am so looking forward to it. I think we may come to (verbal) blows but it will be a memorable encounter.

2       Laura Ponting

If you’ve never read Laura Ponting’s blog, go there immediately. Laura is a Welsh teacher who lives in Vietnam and her rich and warm descriptions of the world she lives in are tempered by a thoughtful reminder that not everyone has access to a computer, and that doesn’t mean they can’t learn.

I’ve never met Laura either, but I’m looking forward to hearing some of her Vietnam stories when she visits London in the summer.

She also supports Hartlepool United FC, so she deserves our sympathy just for that.

3       Mark Andrews

If you didn’t know who Mark Andrews is, and you follow him on twitter, you now know that for the last few days, he has been campaigning energetically for a re-alignment of British politics.

I’ve known Mark, who is based in Budapest, for a long time and can vouch for the fact that he is a caring, sharing and quite brilliant thinker in real life too.

If you go to his blog, you will find much more than his politics. A rich mix of thoughts about teaching, his passion for literature (especially James Joyce) and most important, his firm belief in the power of conversation and the exchange of ideas with colleagues near and far.

4       Sara Hannam

Sara is based in Thessaloniki, Greece and is pretty well known to anyone who works in ELT in Europe. She’s also someone who I met through twitter, and whose uncompromising political stance is clear even when she only has 140 letters and spaces to express her views!

Sara’s blog is almost the complete antithesis of mine, in the sense that it’s serious, thoughtful and examines issues that are fundamental to our work as teachers and our position in society.

I had the chance to meet her and her husband and daughter when they came round for tea in early January. They are wonderful people to have tea with!

5       Sheetal Makhan

Sheetal is a South African living and working in Korea. She did a guest blog for me recently which you can read if you scroll down.

I think the expression ‘wears her heart on her sleeve’ was written for Sheetal. She uses her blog, and indeed her tweets, to examine her emotions and circumstances in a very deep and personal way, and her blog varies from moments of poignant sadness to hilarious episodes with colleagues, students, even taxi drivers and other people who pass through her life.

6       Agata Zgarda

Another of my guest bloggers, Agata is a Polish teacher living and working in Teresina, Brazil. As you may have noted from the choice of people so far, I like reading the experiences of people who are living and working in a country which is not where they were born.

Agata only blogs occasionally, but she provides a delightful insight into how to get by in a place where the social rules are quite different from the ones you grew up with.

7       Cristiana Crivat

Cristiana Crivat is a teacher who lives in Constanta, Romania. Agata and Cristiana have something in common which is that that they have both seen me give talks but chose not to come and say hello at the end. 🙂

Cristiana wrote a brilliant guest blog for me about a visit to a post office. You can read it on her blog if you go there now. My only objection is that she hasn’t added to this distinctive blog since last year. Maybe if she gets more visits, this will encourage her to write more hilarious, insightful material.

8       Diarmuid Fogarty

I think many people who inhabit tweet-world and the blogosphere probably know who Diarmuid is. He’s Irish and has lived all over the place, and I hear that he has fetched up in my home town Manchester. I haven’t a clue what most of his stuff is about, but it’s a riveting read. His blogs have titles like this: 26 is the smallest number that is not a palindrome which has a square which is a palindrome.

Yeah, right. At moments like this, I feel like Homer Simpson.

9       Özge Karaoğlu

If there is anyone reading this who doesn’t know Özge by now, then where have you been? Quite apart from her regular appearance in my blog, both as a guest blogger and someone I bump into at conferences, Özge is now carving a well-deserved reputation as an astounding early learning innovator. Check out her blog for the amazing award-winning cartoons that she has done with her pupils.

10     Rowan Conway

And finally, unashamedly, I choose my daughter Rowan Conway, (on the right above, with her son Senan and her sister Anya), the person who showed me how to blog. I’m very proud of Rowan for many reasons (of course) but particularly because of her attempts to live the green life with her family, located as they are in the middle of a great city. Her blog is, as the title suggests, an account of her attempt to live her green dream.

But much more than that, she assesses and synthesises information and statistics about green living. As an American who regularly reads her blog said: “Rowan does the math so that we don’t have to.”

Just discovered this photo of Rowan and Senan taken last week on a beach in Ireland…


18 thoughts on “It really IS worth taking a look at this blog!

  1. Lovely round-up Ken. Personal and kind. I’ve added three new blogs and names to my list now. Thank-you.

  2. Dear Ken,

    You just never cease to amaze me with your warm heart and kindness. Thank you for the lovely words that you’ve written about everyone on your list. (I was grinning from ear to ear reading what you wrote about Jason!) Also, thank you for bringing other great people to the surface, I’ll be sure to visit their online home very soon. I’d like to say once again how happy I am to have ‘met’ such a wonderful person like you. I hope we can meet in person with a nice warm hug and cup of tea one day! 🙂

    Much love from Korea,

    1. Well, you’re welcome for tea any time you’re passing through, Sheetal. And I hope to be back in Asia to promote Smart Choice second edition sometime in 2011.

  3. Thank you Ken. That was a surprise! Good thing to read early morning to brighten your day 🙂
    “Agata only blogs occasionally” I know… Shame on me. I’m desperate here. Not only have I no time to write but I have also no time to read other blogs nowadays. There is so much interesting stuff around. I feel like reading all the blogs you’ve mentioned. Is there any way of having at least 36 hour day?

  4. Hi Ken – ouch!

    Well, I am super happy you did a list of 10 like this, and I have found some interesting new blogs to take a closer look at.

    Gotta go, there is an absolute ruckus happening here in the office, and I have to get out and come back later and ask what all the fuss was about…


    Cheers Ken – looking forward to that pint some day!

    – Jason

      1. Rest assured, Mr. Wilson, that this raven shall not rise to thine bait!

        Given your characterisation of my blog (and person) in this most flattering recommendation, however, I am entertaining making some edits to some recent posts (like the well wishes to all teacher-mums out there on Mothers Day, and the post about motivating songs to help you gear up for a day of teaching) – in the interests of consistency, of course. It would appear my new focus on being constructive has not quite whetted certain appetites yet (those that prefer a de- prefix to the con- one perhaps), and continuing with it could be costing me some non-valuable readership.

        Seriously, though, I did check over some of my blog stats for the past six months, and there does appear to be a scrapper post every two months or so that coincides with an enormous spike in visitation and comments.

        This goes some way to proving a saying the Koreans have about car crashes and house fires being the two surest things to attract an excited chattering crowd with no real interest in helping out… Unfortunately I think this applies a bit to blog posts as well!

  5. Ken, I’m flattered, touched and honored to be on this list!Whenever I need a boost of inspiration and motivation, it’s enough for me to look at the things you’ve written about me, It’s truly appreciated!

    1. You’re very welcome, Özge.

      The only problem for your army of fans like me is that soon you will be so famous that it will be impossible to find anyone who’s never heard of you, so writing about you will be like writing about talented new boy Scott Thornbury. 🙂

    1. Your second sentence is ambiguous, not to say ambivalent, LP.

      Does it mean

      (a) You are going to have some more shocks in the near future?
      (b) You hope that I have more shocks in the near future?
      (c) Neither of the above?

      Confused of Fulham…

      1. Remind me never try to leave a comment in the 10-minute break between classes when the computers take 9 minutes to get to where I want them to be.
        I meant two totally unrelated things. (1) It was shocking to see my blog on your list and (2) There will be more posts soon.

        Any of your options may also be true but I couldn’t possibly comment. 🙂

  6. Excellent list of pro’s and serious globe travelers! Number eight is the most intriguing as I am a sucker for good titles. I will be checking it out.

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