A small tribute to my brilliant guest bloggers…

Apologies that I’ve had to delete the tinyurl references to the guest blogs themselves. For some reason, they linked to my dashboard page, where visitors could – theoretically – edit the entries. I’m sure no one would have taken the opportunity to do that, but I can’t take the risk. I don’t have libel insurance!

Pretty Boy, my constant companion when I'm social networking. I really should get out more...

I’m coming to the end of my first complete calendar year as a blogger and I’m rather pleased that my idle musings here have been spiced up fairly frequently by some really entertaining and informative guest blogs.

I posted the first one – Agata Zgarda’s story about hosting a Polish dinner party in Brazil – exactly one year ago today, 11th December 2009. I’ve recently posted Guest Blog number 25, by Ania Musielak, about using drama techniques to teach English to Polish soldiers.

It’s a complete chance that my first and most recent guest bloggers are both Polish, but not really a surprise that they aren’t native speakers of English (although they are GANESTs – the acronym I coined myself – work it out).

There have also been posts by another two Polish teachers, two Romanians, two Brazilians, a Turk, two Hungarians, a Slovakian, an Argentinian and a Sri Lankan. The native speaker GBs are an American in Paris, a Mexican-American in Germany, a Greek-Canadian in Switzerland, a South African in Korea and six Brits, including an Englishman in Romania, an English woman in Japan (both from Yorkshire, I’ve just realised) and a Welsh woman in Vietnam. There was even a UK-based primary school teacher who wanted to remain anonymous. A pretty broad church, IMHO.

My slight concern is that only three of the twenty-five GBs are men (so enormous thanks to Andy, Carlos and Tamás for your contributions). I have a GBP on the back burner from Simon Greenall to start the new year with, but other male contributions are thin – in fact invisible – on the ground.

I’ve asked lots of men to contribute, and they’ve all said “Yes! Yes! Love to!” and then disappeared off the radar. I won’t embarrass them by naming them, except to say that I would still love to get the pieces you (pl) promised.

So boys, if you can find time between drinking (a) pints of Guinness (b) glasses of pálinka and/or (c) whatever it is you drink down there in Kent, I’m still open for business in 2011.

And – in case the boys are now too embarrassed to put pen to paper for fear of being exposed as Guinness/pálinka drinkers, or having to admit they live in Kent, can I also say that I’m always on the look-out for interesting stories from around the world about how people deal with their lives and work. From women AND men.

However, I’m not interested in anything that smacks of advertising, even if it’s a website which is free to users, so apologies to the people I’ve already turned down for that reason.

So with a big DA-DAAAAA fanfare, here’s a roll call of my 25 marvellous guests and a reminder of the things they wrote about.

"I am NOT a number!" Guest bloggers 19, 8, 14 and 2 meet at TESOL France recently. Thank you Sue, Anita, Shelly and Vicky.


1         Agata Zgarda on giving a Polish dinner party in Brazil

2         Vicky Loras on growing up in Canada

3         Cristiana Crivatz with an atmospheric story from Romania

4         Carlos Gontow, with a sketch from Brazil

5         Özge Karaoğlu’s amazing animations

6         Arjana Blazic on teaching, travelling and exchanges

7         Tamás Lőrincz on Iraqi Kurdistan

8         Anita Kwiatkowska on Teacher Burnout

9         Melania Paduraru on Romanians speaking English, and other political matters

10       Orsi Nagy from Hungary on downloadable vocabulary stuff for kids

11        Andy Hockley’s inspiring tale about a former colleague

12         Laura Ponting’s Vietnam adventure

13         Bethany Cagnol on teaching English in France

Number 13 takes a tour of the English Teaching Theatre archive (aka the shed)


14         Shelly Terrell on children of immigrants

15         Sheetal Makhan on living and working in Korea

16         Emma Herrod on attending first conferences

Number 16 (right) and Caroline Wilkinson playing with priceless ETT artefact in the archive/shed...


17         Joanne Sato on falling in love in (and with) Japan

18         Vicky Saumell on life after coursebooks

19         Sue Lyon-Jones on teaching the unteachable

20         Mihirini de Zoysa on the I Can project in Sri Lanka

21         Beccy on teaching ‘difficult’ primary school pupils

22         Ania Kozicka on serious drama with young learners

23         Vladimira Michalkova on getting students to write diaries

Twenty-three and me at TESOL Paris


24         Cecilia Coelho on giving meaningful feedback

25         Ania Musielak on using drama games with soldiers

Despite the terrible political and economic conditions just about everywhere in the world, it’s hard not to wish everyone a successful 2011. Remember there’s safety in numbers – if you can’t meet like-minded people, try to keep in touch in cyberspace.


32 thoughts on “A small tribute to my brilliant guest bloggers…

  1. Twas an honour to be your number 12. As my Vietnamese adventure draws to an end, it’s nice to look back on the blog I wrote for you. I’ve had such a grand time here, really smashing. If anyone else is thinking of coming to Vietnam, do it! And if you do it, get Minsks (at least once).
    Best wishes for for next year of blogging, Ken.

    1. Actually, it’s been interesting to read the relationship that I had with the bloggers in question, and compare them to what I know about them now – have met some of them that I hadn’t met before, and I note that others have changed their names. 😛

  2. Dear Ken,
    Let me say that it is truly a nice way to sum up the year of blogging.

    I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity to write a guest post for you. You are really amazing for everything you do, the way you support (not only) young teachers and inspire us all! Thanks you! I wish you very very successful year 2011 full of enthusiasm and great people around!

    PS I don’t know if you are familiar with TV series Battlestar Galactica but wow, your way of numbering your bloggers…we’re like Cylon models! Funny! 😀

    All the best
    from Twenty-three!

    1. Thanks, Vladka!

      I’ll check out Battlestar Galactica and see if I can give them any suggestions about improving their numbering system. 😛

      Can I say what a pleasure it was to meet you f2f after you’d blogged for me. A kind of tweet-up plus.

      Have a great holiday and hope to see you again in 2011.

  3. Ken first off I want to congratulate you for assembling such a wonderful cross section of people doing the really hard work of building cross cultural communications bridges.

    I meet you at the high school reunion in Bablyon with Dede.

    Here in Vermont we have escaped the poltical virus that is sweeping the US that of giving to the rich so they can get richer and taking from the rest of us so that can join the third world.

    To say that things are in a bit of a tangle is to put it mildly.

    However, life really does go on and I want to wish you and Dede a wonderful new year. Thanks for a wonderful blog.

    And yes as a male I would be interested in contributing if hearing from the good old USA has any place in your efforts. By the way our senator Bernard Sanders did a eight hour speech on …

    1. Hi John!

      come back and finish the sentence about Bernie Sanders. I saw a fantastic clip of his speech about rich and poor in the USA.

      Seems an age since we met up in Babylon. I would love a blog with your take on the current situation in Obama’s America. From here, not much seems to have changed.

      For visiting readers, John is the husband of one of Dede’s high school friends. He and his wife Rebecca live in Vermont and John stood as an independent for – was it state senator or governor, John?

      Come back and finish the sentence! 😛

  4. Ken,

    It’s been an amazing year at your blog! I have enjoyed reading the posts and when I get some time I plan on going back to respond to some I didn’t get to but I’m always an avid reader and have truly felt I’ve met some incredible people and heard about their extended journeys in your blog. You have been extremely supportive of many educators in helping them find their voice and spreading their great ideas here. Teachers who don’t have a blog get to share their voices on your blog so I appreciate this opportunity to learn from them. Thank you for encouraging me personally to share my learning journey! Looking forward to seeing you in the New Year!

    I absolutely love the shed pic of Callie Wallie and Emma! Can’t believe I missed that one!

    1. Hi Shelly,

      well, I think you are a shining example to all bloggers, and a source of great inspiration in the way you share ideas and your own personal enthusiasm.

      The picture of Callie and Emma was taken at my October later summer party, when they were mucking about with my priceless artefacts! 😛

  5. Ken, it was a real honour to write a guest post for you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experience and write about what I love to do. You are a true inspiration to us all. Thank you once again. And I am so happy I got the chance to meet you in Paris:) Hope to see you in Brighton.

    1. Ania,

      the great thing about this business is that everyone you meet brings something to the table in terms of their ideas. I’ve been swanning round the world doing drama workshops, and watching other people do them, for about 25 years, and yet you showed us things in your Paris workshop I’d never seen before.

      And your enthusiasm for what you do is infectious.

      All I can say is lucky soldiers who were forced to learn English with you!

  6. Ken, it’s been an absolute pleasure following your blog and the guest-posts you’ve invited… I had nominated you for an EduBlog Award but unfortunately they didn’t accept the nomination 😦 but as I said there I admire you hugely for what you’ve done for English Language Teachers and for having given them a voice through your blog!


  7. Hi Ken,

    Reiterating what Karenne said, it has been great reading posts by all the guest bloggers here. I might not have read all of them (yet), but I have certainly learnt something from each one that I have read.

    Mike =)

    1. Me too!

      I’m just so pleased that there are 25 such distinct voices here, all with a special and personal message.

  8. Hi Ken
    I have really enjoyed reading your blog this year Ken, and some fab guest contributions. It being the end of term here, my line manager and I joined up our two classes yesterday (I’m teaching ESOL beginner level students) and had a tremendous morning of fun with Superman and the Psychiatrist sketch. One of our Turkish students was in tears of laughter at one of the Afghan’s rendition of Mr Wilkins. So much fun.
    You spread goodwill through your wonderful blog, and through the great sketches by you and Doug that teachers and students are still enjoying! 🙂
    Happy New Year.

    1. wow.. thanks… love it when i hear about people still using the sketches.. must carry out my plan of trying to get more of them on the box.net site to download for free.

      thanks for reminding me. 😛

  9. Hi Ken,
    I was immensely flattered when you asked me to write a post for your amazing blog, but also a bit worried if my post would live up to your expectations. After sending it to you, I felt just like a student waiting for her paper to be graded.

    And I passed! Believe it or not I still keep your wonderful reply in my inbox.

    Thank you so much!
    I wish you a wonderful new year with lots of tweet-ups.
    All the best
    your Number 6

    1. Hello number 6!

      your post was wonderful and very different from the others – a built-in competition – brilliant!

      And I think you were also the first of my guest bloggers that I met in person after you wrote it. Lovely evening in Bayswater.

      I love the way cyberspace keeps us all in touch, as I just told Pretty Boy, who has come to see what I’m doing on the computer when he needs feeding. 😛

  10. Hello Ken,

    Amazing post- a great place to say officially THANK YOU.
    It’s been such a pleasure and great honour to write the blog post for you. And such an inspirational adventure!

    I’ve read the list of the bloggers and I keep wondering – is there any special Polish ‘A’ teacher power? ( Agata, Anita, Ania and Ania) 🙂

    Ps. I love cats and your Pretty Boy looks adorable! I used to have a black lovely cat with ‘a white tie and white socks’ as well. 🙂

    Look forward to reading new posts. 🙂

    All the best,
    Ania, your number 22

    1. Yes! What a great A-team from Poland.

      But don’t underestimate the power of V – Canadian Vicky, Argentinian Vicky, Vladka and Victoria (number 12’s new name).

      Glad to hear you’re a cat person too. We have to stick together in these hard times. 😛

      1. There are definitely more groups of power here – but the best is the KGB Power Team! 🙂

        Cats are too cute not to love them! 🙂

  11. Hi Ken!

    What can I say – thanks a bunch!

    It’s been a real pleasure meeting and writing for you 🙂 Can’t forget how you called me ‘a flavour of the month’ last December 😉

    All the best and hope to meet up soon!


    1. Anita,

      you are certainly a powerful presence, a great blogger and a brilliant Pecha Kucher (sp?) – I was totally impressed that you joined that bunch of native speakers (plus Marisa) at ISTEK.

      Hope Spain can cope with you! 😛

  12. Hi Ken!

    Thank you for so many things:

    For your blog, which is one my absolute favourites! I have learned so much and have enjoyed all the posts. I love the way you write!

    For having me as a guest blogger (I remember my excitement – I was so happy!) and for all the guest bloggers you have had so far, who have each told us something different and interesting.

    For helping me out in difficult times, even when we had never even met, with your constant encouragement.

    For all the great people I have connected with on Twitter – I found a lot of those great people through you!

    For the big hug at TESOL France – I could not believe I was there talking to you, finally, after such a long time!

    I wish you all the best and I am looking forward to the second year of your blog!

    Kindest regards,

    1. Vicky,

      you’re an energetic and enthusiastic presence, in real life and in tweet-world. It was a pleasure to finally meet you in Paris and I hope our paths cross again.

      And can I take this opportunity to complain about the idea that splitting infinitives with adverbs is somehow wrong?? ‘To finally meet you’ in the last paragraph is the ONLY way to correctly express what I wanted to say. 😛

  13. Hi Ken,

    I must confess that I’ve only recently begun really avidly reading everyone’s blogs (there are SO many excellent musings out there) and yours is up there on the list. Congratulations on a year’s blogging!


    1. Thank you, Tyson…

      I agree that there’s a lot of great stuff out there in blog-world and I’ve discovered some terrific new bloggers in the last few months.

      Hope your 2011 plans come to fruition!

      1. You too, Ken. Being over here in Canada, one of those plans for 2011 (or maybe 2012 actually) is to join in the “it was great to finally meet you in person” blog posts! I’ve gotten to know some people and open PLN dialogues with several wonderful educators thanks to Twitter.

  14. Lucky number 13 I am! 🙂

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Turn this baby into a book about teaching English around the world! Michael Swan did it with common errors in “Learner English”. Why don’t you do the same! New and veteran teachers who are considering working in different parts of the world would grab it off the shelves. And you, my dear Ken, would be our Editor in Chief. And your right hand man would be Pretty Boy.

    My offer to catsit stands! Big wet, furry kisses to Mr. Yao too!

    1. A book, eh? How about The Guest Bloggers Handbook to ELT on Three Continents?

      I have to say you would be ideal for a Petley Road working cat-sit situation (try saying that quickly when you’ve had a drink). You’d have PB next to you ON the desk, and Yao reminding you it’s time for them to be fed by snuggling up to your feet UNDER the desk.

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