Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

Yeditepe University in Istanbul will be hosting the With or Without Technology conference in a couple of weeks’ time and I’m very pleased to have been invited to give a talk there.

I have been lucky enough to make working visits to Turkey more than a dozen times in the last ten years. Most of these visits have been to ELT conferences and I am constantly amazed at the friendliness, enthusiasm and openness to new ideas shown by Turkish teachers – well, the ones who come to conferences, anyway.

In that time, I have also met some really excellent Turkish teacher-presenters, a lot of whom are into stuff that I know very little about, particularly how to use technology in the classroom. There seem to be thousands of ELT bloggers based in Turkey, too.

I’m really pleased to see that they have also begun to spread their ideas internationally by appearing at conferences outside their native land.

The last IATEFL UK conference in Glasgow had the usual gang of enthusiastic young Turks, so I asked some of them to write a little about what they do and to give details of their blogs. I extended the invitation to some others who weren’t there, and also to a couple of non-Turks who work there.

So, here they are, talking about themselves. I hope you enjoy reading about what they do. 

Esra Girgin

I am an EFL teacher, international speaker, a teacher trainer, Voki team ambassador, Cambridge University speaking examiner and blogger.

I have taught adults, young and very young learners since 2002 and currently I am teaching kindergarteners aged 3-6 at a private foundation school in Istanbul.

I strongly believe in the power of combining web-based technologies and story-telling as they are both engaging and fun ways for teaching and learning. I have a blog where I share my ideas and experiences. Since 2008, I have had a twitter account where I have built and continue to build my personal network, learning from and sharing with colleagues and friends from all over the world.

Twitter: @ekamin

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ekkamin

Blog: http://esraakiskali.edublogs.org/

Eva Buyuksimkesyan

I’ve been teaching English for more than twenty years. I love my job very much. I love learning too, so I attend PD courses and conferences as often as I can. Three years ago, I stepped into social media a little reluctantly, and then I started blogging.

Why was I reluctant? I was wondering whether it was a good idea to keep a personal blog or not as there were so many great bloggers out there whom I admired very much. I was just a teacher, what could I share? Yet, the challenge was there and I took it.

Once I started, my blog decided what kind of blog it would become. I love keeping a blog because I share ideas, lesson plans, I collaborate with classrooms over the world, I ask for advice, I reflect on my teaching and I see where I am going. In short, my blog is my voice. It is my journey in teaching.

A Journey in TEFL http://evasimkesyan.edublogs.org

Twitter @evab2001

Hakan Şentürk

I was born in Germany into a Turkish immigrant family in 1971. It was there that I picked up my first words of English in the early 80s from Heavy Metal songs by Iron Maiden and the Scorpions. I remember trying to figure out what these guys were so angry about and discovered that they were actually talking about some really interesting and cool topics.

We returned to Turkey in 1986, and I was not very happy about it because my Turkish was not that good since I had only spoken Turkish at home. However, I was happy to discover that my English was better than my high school teacher and I became the guy to sit next to in exams!

In 1997, I completed my experimental MATEFL thesis on Computer Assisted Language Instruction. I was fascinated about the idea of using computers in the language classroom because when I had my first computer in high school, everybody was telling me that it would help me learn better. I was playing only games, but I guess that also had a huge impact on my language skills!

I started working at Yeditepe University in 1999, and I’ve been Educational Technologies Advisor and Administrator there since 2010.

I am very interested in Web 2.0 applications and classroom technologies because I believe that the learning habits of today’s learner have changed radically and that we have to address those habits. That’s why I am working on finding new ways and approaches in language teaching and instruction.

My take on using Prezi (http://prezi.com) in the reading class is a direct attempt to make teachers aware of the different options the Internet provides for language teachers. I want to make teacher aware of the different learning environments the Internet can provide for students.


Beyza Yılmaz

I work as an EFL instructor at Ozyegin University School of Language Instruction. I worked as an EFL instructor at Bahcesehir University for six years and as a materials developer for some language courses before that. My MA thesis is on Online Communities of Practice. I have been a member of Webheads in Action for five years.

I have co-moderated some Electronic Village Online sessions and done workshops, talks and webinars both in national and international conferences.

I have always considered learning as a never-ending journey and I believe that in order to cope with the increasing amount of information and to keep up to date, we need to look for alternative ways of professional development. Therefore, I look for different options and try to turn the challenges into opportunities both in classroom teaching and professional development.

As a result, I believe that utilizing the Internet for both of these purposes is extremely important for life-long learning and equipping learners and teachers with twenty-first century skills sets. I consider research to be a very important part of this teacher development process. My research interests cover teacher development, multi-literacies, use of Web 2.0 tools in language teaching and professional development, Online Communities of Practice, instructional design and learner autonomy.


Işıl Boy

I work as an ICT Coordinator at Yildiz Technical University, School of Foreign Languages in Istanbul and I’m studying for an MA in Educational Technology and TESOL with the University of Manchester. I also work as a teacher trainer, and have conducted various ICT training courses in pre-schools, high schools, and universities.

I am also organizing an ELT conference entitled Wired In or Out: Web Technologies in ELT Classrooms – Evaluating Current & Future Practice, which I am immensely looking forward to. It will take place in Istanbul in December.

You can follow me on twitter as @isilboy and on my blog, http://isilboy.edublogs.org/, where I share educational technology resources.

Contact me whenever you need help. Isn’t teaching about helping others, anyway? 🙂

I would like to extend my special thanks to Ken for this great opportunity; he is always supportive, encouraging and inspiring!

Özge Karaoglu Ergen

I am an English teacher, teacher trainer and educational consultant in teaching young/very young learners and teaching with web-based technologies for international organizations, schools and institutes worldwide.

I am the main author, songwriter and the educational coordinator of the Minigon ELT books that aim to teach English to young learners though stories. I am also working for Mindactiva in the USA as the content and story coordinator of the Yes, I Speak English DVD series that’s designed to give EFL children a jump-start in English. I am the script and screenplay writer of these DVD series and I am developing a course book for the DVDs at the moment.

I have been developing animations, digital games and smart phone applications with my young learners for the last four years.

I have won many awards for my work, including the Medea Creativity and Innovation award and the ESU Cambridge University New Writing Award, which earned me a visit to Buckingham Palace to receive my award from the Duke of Edinburgh. 

I am also a nominee for this year’s British Council ELTons awards with my Bubble and Pebble project. I have a blog where I write about teaching English through technology and web-based tools. I am teaching in kindergarten at the moment and enjoying every minute of it.

My blog: www.ozgekaraoglu.edublogs.org

My Twitter handle: www.twitter.com/ozge  or @ozge

Burcu Akyol

I’m an English teacher who thinks that learning never ends and the passion for sharing and inspiring is key to being a good teacher. I’ve been in this profession for eleven years and I consider my job as a great opportunity to make a difference, and this gives me an increasingly strong sense of satisfaction. Our profession is becoming more and more challenging since the conventional education systems do not meet today’s students needs and interests. I aim to develop my teaching, training and management skills continuously and help other teachers overcome the challenges and turn them into opportunities.


Nihal Yildirim

I started teaching English part-time in summer camps and private schools while I was still studying at university and I’ve been teaching professionally for two years now. I’ve taught English to many different age levels, from five to forty-five. Currently, I’m teaching primary level students and also university students in a language school.

I love music and sports. And I can see the effects of my hobbies on my teaching. I play the guitar and the keyboard, so I use these instruments whenever I’m teaching a new song. I like moving and action and my students and me often do activities where you can move, dance, play and etc.

I developed an interest in using web 2.0 tools in the classroom, but I don’t want to put it at the centre of my teaching. I enjoy integrating literature, music, drama & role-play and arts & crafts into my teaching.

I started writing a blog in November 2011 and so far I’m loving it. My adult learners also wanted to blog as I keep talking about blogging.

I see myself giving presentations at conferences very soon.

Twitter:     @NihallYildirim

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nilayildirim

Blog:         http://nihalyildirim.wordpress.com

Dave Dodgson

I don’t technically fit into the ‘Turk’ category (but would like to include myself in the ‘young’ part for a while yet!) hailing as I do from Staffordshire in the UK. However, I’ve been in Turkey long enough to qualify for bizden oldun artık (you’re one of us now) status.

Apart from a brief stint in Barcelona, where I earned my Trinity TESOL certificate, I’ve spent my teaching career in Ankara, first working at a dershane (language school for adults) before taking the plunge and into the young learner domain. Ten years on, I’m still working with the little angels in a private college and am now on the verge of completing an MA in EdTech and TESOL via the University of Manchester.

As well as my studies, I’m interested in effectively applying technology in the classroom and through blending learning programmes, autonomous learning and materials-light, student-driven (though not pure dogme) learning experiences.

I’m also active on the busy Turkish conference circuit. I try to bring all of these experiences together with a bit of critical reflection on my blog Reflections of a Teacher and Learner (www.davedodgson.com) and you can also find me on Twitter @DaveDodgson.

Adam Simpson

Like Dave, I’m an honorary member of the posse, both in the ‘young’ and in the ‘Turk’ sense. I’ve been here for twelve years now and love the place more than ever. Having swapped Yorkshire for Istanbul, that’s not too hard, though!

I’ve spent all of my time here working in the tertiary education sector, preparing students for academic life in English-medium universities. I got qualified here initially and managed to land my first job in the same building where I took the CELTA. Since then I haven’t looked back and enjoy my chosen career as much as ever, although it is getting increasingly tough to see the students staying the same age while I get one year older each academic year.

In the past three or four years, I’ve been really growing into the job of teaching – it took that long – and now feel confident to take a regular place on the conference circuit here in Turkey. A big part of this confidence has been a result of the fantastic friendships I’ve made and the goodwill I’ve received since I started blogging about my everyday life as a teacher in a foreign country.

My main goal as a teacher remains trying to make a positive impact on the lives of those I teach, which I feel goes beyond merely improving their language skills.




PS I meant to add a dictionary definition for ‘Young Turk’, so here’s one:

Young Turk

a. A young progressive or insurgent member of an institution, movement, or political party.
b. A young person who rebels against authority or societal expectations.

Comments on: "Young Turks in ELT – in their own words…" (39)

  1. This was a great idea, Ken, and I feel very privileged to have been featured here alongside so many fantastic people. Looking forward to the Yeditepe event, which promises to be a real belter!

  2. It’s an honour Mr. Ken!
    I’m very happy to have met you and also grateful to you as you were always a great help!
    I’m the biggest fan! 🙂
    Nihal YILDIRIM

    • Ken Wilson said:

      You’re most welcome, Nihal. But now you have to honour your stated promise and start presenting at conferences yourself.

  3. Reblogged this on Nihal YILDIRIM's BLOG and commented:
    Dear Mr. Ken wrote a blog post about Young Turks in ELT..

  4. Great idea, Ken. Turkey is definitely the place to be! Like Adam, I’m hugely looking forward to the joint SIG event in Yeditepe.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      See you there, Mr Thornbury. You will see that Mr Cardoso has framed us as being from the same generation – I’m really pleased to be classified with you … um… Young Turks (dictionary meaning).

  5. brad5patterson said:

    What a crew. Folks to continue to watch over the years to come. I still really need to get to a conference in Turkey, but thankfully most of these folks travel this way too. Exciting times in ELT!!! Thanks for sharing Ken and the turkish crew!!!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      I constantly realise how lucky we sponsored conference-hoppers are, Brad. International conferences everywhere are exciting places to be these days, but there’s something about the friendly welcome – and the food! – that makes Turkey a very special destination indeed. The city-venues have a lot to offer, as well. Istanbul and Izmir are my favourites, but that may only be because I haven’t yet been able to accept an invitation to visit Bodrum. 😛

  6. Meghan Beler said:

    I LOVE THIS POST! Thanks Ken for shining the spotlight on so many talented teachers and trainers in Turkey. There really is a great ELT culture here and I am proud to be a part of it!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Meghan! Now I realise I should have included YOU in the honorary Turks! 😛

      • Meghan Beler said:

        That’s very sweet of you, thanks 🙂 Again, I am so happy to see this post!

  7. Dear Ken,

    As Shakespeare once said, “I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.” You are truly amazing and kind.

    See you very soon.


    • Ken Wilson said:

      Wow – quoting Shakespeare in a blog comment – very classy! 😛

  8. Dear Ken!
    One can’t stop admiring all these people who have put a lot of effort into education to improve it to meet the needs of todays’ children. And you once again did a great job to feature all these valuable people on you page which makes us go through their blog pages and follow them closely. Cheers! gita

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Gita!

      nice to get a positive reaction to the post from other Turks – you know how much I enjoy meeting Turkish teachers and also how impressed I am by your talent and enthusiasm. Really this list should be much longer and include people like you.

  9. Dear Ken,
    Thinking about what to say here but can’t find the right words. Thank you very much for the support. It is amazing to be part of this post.
    See you very soon

  10. The Turkish contingent really stands out, and it’s great to have so many of them here together in one place 🙂
    I really enjoyed reading – thanks all

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Elizabeth! you know from personal experience the atmosphere created when there are a lot of Turkish teachers together.

  11. I really enjoyed this post. Perhaps we should blog more about the people we like, learn more about them, show them off to the world, praise their achievements, and all that (who need another dogme rant anyway?).

    And you do that very well, Ken! It’s really motivating for us ‘less chronologically advanced’ in the profession, and in life in general, to be supported by guys like you. Besides friendship and motivation, my perception is that you and a few others from your generation (e.g. Scott, Jeremy, Simon) managed to keep in touch with what newcomers are doing and to keep an eye out for new talents; giving them voice and face, encouraging them to play an active role in the profession; thus shaping it, like your lot did (and have done).

    For me, this is remarkable because it shows a kind of responsibility for the future of our field that extends beyond intellectual output (e.g. books, talks etc ) and engages younger professionals from a variety of contexts into circles that were once, I believe, populated by a few privileged native-speaker middle-aged fellows (with all due respect).

    I suppose that for many well-known (a.k.a famous) authors and speakers, it’s easier just to sit in a shed and write their books, catch a plane and deliver a lecture – which is okay. But, for me, it is those who tweet and blog, converse and include, who will have a long-lasting impression on the way my story unfolds. I believe this is also somehow true to the people you mentioned above and to many others.

    A toast to those who care!


    • Ken Wilson said:

      Willy, you may have seen that this blog partly came about because of my irritation at the blog awards – but recognising that they also serve a purpose in drawing attention to blogs that people might not be aware of. I think the answer is to blow a few trumpets for blogs we like – then maybe the awards won’t be necessary. 😛

  12. I’m with Willy on this one… Maybe we should blog more about the people we enjoy reading, who we learn from and inspire us… Food for thought.

    And what a team you have managed to put together! I’m looking forward to the posts, now!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Ceci – even before Willy and you commented on this post, I was already thinking that I have met really talented and inspiring people from many different countries, and this may become an occasional series, with Brazil high on the list of places I would like to highlight.

  13. Hi Ken!

    A fantastic idea – I found myself wooohoooing at every person I saw! All of them excellent educators that we have come to know from Twitter. Like Brad said, it is great that we can meet them at conferences (I am happy to have met Beyza, Isil and Eva in person and can’t wait to meet the rest!) – I would so love to attend a conference in Turkey though. First stop for me would be Istanbul – the Pamuk book made me fall in love with the place! And the language is so beautiful : )

    Super idea Ken – you have always been known to help out and promote young educators. We all appreciate that very much!

    Thank you,

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks. Vicky,

      I think we should thank you for single-handedly bringing woohoo (or even woooohooooing) into the mainstream of our common language. It’s only a matter of time before it appears in the OED.

      Which Pamuk book? I only read Museum of Innocence and was frankly appalled at the middle-aged man’s fantasy it represented. Which was the book that turned you on to Istanbul?

      • Hi again Ken!

        That would be great – wooohoo or whoop whoop in the OED! ; )

        The book by Pamuk I mentioned was “Istanbul (Memories of a City)” – as you have been to Istanbul so many times, you will recognise many things and also learn a lot more. He combines the history of the city and his own family history in such a way, that I found unique and amazing. I hope you like it – actually, I am sure you will!

      • Ken Wilson said:

        OK, I’ll check it out. I’m still suffering from a sense of irritation at the several hundred wasted hours it took me to read Museum of Innocence. At least it DID help me fall asleep on a number of occasions. 😛

  14. davedodgson said:

    Thank you Ken, both for putting this together as a more community-oriented way to highlight ELT blogs and for inviting me to contribute. 🙂

    Last Saturday, I was in Karabük (a city about 3 hours drive north of Ankara) working with some very enthusiastic and energetic teachers there. I showed them many Turkey-based bloggers and many international ones such as yourself. That trip and this post both serve to emphasise what a promising group of young teachers there is in Turkey at present – I showed all the teachers there different blogs (like this one!) that they should start following so hopefully we will have some more additions to these Young Turks soon.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks, Dave!

      as you may know, I’ve been promoting twitter at my talks in the last couple of years, and highlighting some less well-known tweeters that people might want to follow. Whilst not having fallen completely out of love with twitter, I now realise that directing people to blogs that are worth reading is a better idea. The great thing about visiting blogs is that you can tell in a few seconds if it’s the kind of place you want to visit. if not, like London buses, there are always three more following behind.

  15. Thank you Ken for making me a part of this (especially the young part!). This is really an honour. Looking forward to seeing you all at the IATEFL Joint Conference here in Istanbul…

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Young is a frame of mind, Hakan – and you have the right frame of mind 😛

      Anyway, from my ‘chronologically advanced’ position (thanks for that, Willy), everyone in this list is young!

  16. Aisha said:

    It is an enormous responsibility on top of all their teaching duties, so my hats off to them.
    I didn’t know Hakan Senturk. I will recommend them to my peers.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Aisha! As you know from personal experience, my plan has always been to offer guest-blogs as a showcase to people’s views and experience, and I hope to continue to do that. But I also think this geographical grouping may lead readers to some interesting stuff – I like Dave Dodgson’s expression: ‘more community-oriented way to highlight ELT blogs’ and Meghan Beler’s ‘shining a spotlight’ – whatever, it’s nice to promote talented and nice people.

  17. It was eight or nine years ago when I first saw you at a conference in Istanbul. I was very impressed by your style and enjoyed your talk very much but I didn’t have the courage to come and tell you that:))

    But I did it in Cardiff. I’m glad I met you, Ken:)

    See you soon in Istanbul!


    • Ken Wilson said:

      Thanks for the memories, Burcu – of Istanbul all those years ago AND Cardiff…

      and now you and the other Young Turks are inspiring a new generation of students and teachers. I’m glad I helped to pass the baton to you! 😛

  18. Dear Ken,

    Thank you very much for including me in this post and motivating us with your enthusiasm.

    See you in December! 🙂

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