#KELTChat Sunday 29th May 2016: Careers in ELT (8pm KST)

Dear #KELTChat-ters,

ELT has a job market that is perhaps in flux more than other industries. Different areas become ‘hot’ areas to teach in and then cool down. It makes sense then that English language teachers frequently have their minds on their careers and their careers on their minds.

This chat will be an opportunity for teachers to discuss their career plans. Some suggested questions are:

  1. What changes in the job market have you seen in your time as a teacher?
  2. What do you predict for the future of ELT in Korea? What about elsewhere?
  3. How long do you plan on staying in ELT?
  4. Do you think that ELT could provide a lifelong career for you should you want one?
  5. If you were going to do something else, what would you do?
  6. What other career options are there where the skills and knowledge of an English language teacher would be put to good use?
  7. Do you know anyone who successfully made the transition out of ELT into doing something else?

These questions will form the basis of this hour-long chat, though of course you are welcome to bring your own questions and explore any tangential topics.

If you’re new to #KELTChat, there are guides to getting started above, or feel free to ask for help on the Facebook group.

See you on Sunday!

#KELTChat Slowburn: Challenging Assumptions. (Tuesday, March 15th. 11am-6pm KST)

#KELTChat returns on Tuesday with seven hour Slowburn™ chat. One of the reasons we’re a little late starting this semester is that #keltchat organizer @timothyhampson (along with #keltchat regulars @hallg and @languageonion) has been terribly busy organizing the ExcitELT conference. In order to prepare ourselves for the conference, we are adopting the conference theme — challenging assumptions — for this Slowburn™.

You can’t really avoid teaching by assumptions: Not everything is researched or researchable. And then there are the unconscious assumptions that we are not even aware of. In this chat, we invite you to discuss some of the common assumptions below, and share your own.

  1. If students are speaking the target language, then they are learning.
  2. If students are smiling and laughing the teacher is doing a good job.
  3. Students in Korea feel nervous about speaking in English (or another language that they are learning).
  4. The nervousness mentioned above in point 2 above is an inevitable result of Korean culture.
  5. Students in Korea have poor critical thinking skills.
  6. Korean high school English is simply a series of grammar lectures conducted in Korean.
  7. Students and admin expect lots of grammar focused instruction.

This chat is a Slowburn™ chat, meaning that it takes place over a much longer time than regular Twitter chats. We hope people will dip in and out of the chat throughout the day as their schedules allow; we don’t expect anyone to be involved for the whole 7 hours.The chat will run from 11am to 6pm Korea Standard Time.

If you would like to take part, but you are unsure how to go about it, check out the How-to section at the top of the page, or get in touch with us here or on Facebook.

We hope to see you on Tuesday!

#KELTchatlive – Questions for my Older Teacher Self

In April we held a very successful chat based on Joanna Malefaki’s blog post about a letter one would write to their self at the start of their teaching career. Over the next two weeks we will be flipping this question at two #KELTchatlive events by asking questions we want answered by an older (hopefully) more experienced version of ourselves.

It can be helpful to have a mentor in the potentially lonely world of a teacher. What better mentor than one who understands where you’ve been and what you (think you) know. What better mentor than you? Participants can bring their questions, hopes, and goals for the future, and gain new insights by talking about them in a group. This workshop is an opportunity for both newer and more experienced teachers to see things from different angles and gain broader understanding around their teaching practice.

We will be collecting questions on twitter from the time this post goes live until 4PM KST on the 9th of October. There are two conferences where we will be meeting to discuss these questions and hopefully provide each other some answers. The events will be at:

  • Gangwon KOTESOL Chapter meeting: This will be in Sangji University from midday to 4:30 in Dongakkwan room 2105. The event is free and you can see two other workshops including one by #KELTchat’s very own Alex Grevett.
  • KOTESOL International Conference: Korea’s largest TEFL event, held in COEX in Gangnam, Seoul. We will be in room 307C at 4pm on Sunday the 11th of October (subject to changes).

How to get involved

  1. Tweet questions you’d like answered with the hashtag #KELTchatlive. Retweet and/or favourite questions you’d like answered as we can take this into account when picking questions
  2. Come to one or both of the events above. We will be collecting questions during the session as well as using ones from the twitter chat.

It’s important to note that you can do part one without doing part 2 and vice versa. We’d love to have your questions even if you can’t make it, and you’re more than welcome to attend if you didn’t take part in the Twitter chat.

#KELTChat Slowburn: “Using social media with students” (Tuesday, September 15, 11am-6pm KST)

As KELTchatters our enthusiasm for social media for professional development is well-documented. But what about using social media with students for their English development? In this chat we’d like to share thoughts, experiences, challenges and ideas related to using social media with students.  This post  Social Media and ELT  from the Oxford ELT blog (from 2012) is perhaps ancient in social media terms but it provides a nice overview.

This chat is a Slowburn chat, meaning that it takes place over a much longer time than regular Twitter chats. We hope people will dip in and out of the chat throughout the day as their schedules allow; we don’t expect anyone to be involved for the whole 7 hours.

Some general questions to consider: 

  • What are the benefits of using social media with students of English?
  • What challenges might teachers who want to use social media with students face?
    How might we face these challenges?
  • What do students and other stakeholders think about using social media to improve their English?
    Might we have to encourage buy-in on social media projects? How can we do this?
  • What advice would you give someone thinking about implementing social media in their classes?
  • What about the technological and educational landscape in Korea makes it a nice choice for using social media with students? What aspects make it less than a great fit? How is Korea similar and different to other places in terms of social media and tech?
  • What do you want to know or learn about social media for students of English?
  • Are there any problems or difficulties in your teaching experience that you have overcome by using social media?

More specific questions

  1. How do/would you handle privacy concerns?
  2. What would you have students actually do with social media?
  3. Do you prefer networks students already use? Why or why not?
  4. What sites or apps do you think offer the most for students?  What are the specific strengths and weaknesses of different social media sites?

We hope to see you in the chat on Tuesday.

#KELTchat Slowburn: Reflecting on the Teacher Behind the Practice

This #KELTchat Slowburn™ is roughly based around Tom Farrell’s workshop on November 30th in Seoul. Of course, attending the talk is not a pre-requisite for participating in the chat, which is aimed at being an exploration.

The chat will be on December 2nd, 2014 from 10 am to 10 pm, Korea time.
All are welcome and here is a link for times around the world. 

Here are some questions to consider and maybe to guide the chat:

  • Farrell says, “Good teaching requires more than application of methods; it requires self-knowledge.” What does self-knowledge mean to you in this case?
  • How can we go about acquiring this knowledge?
  • How can knowing about ourselves impact our teaching?
  • How can we discover our tacit beliefs about teaching and learning?
  • Have you ever discovered your hidden beliefs? How did it happen? What did it mean for your teaching and development?
  • What does it really mean to know yourself as a teacher?
  • Where do your teaching beliefs and philosophy come from?
  • Your own related questions.

Some sentence stems (“narrative frames”) that might help us explore our thoughts on teaching are:

  1. To me, the word teacher means…
  2. I became a teacher because…
  3. I believe teaching is a calling because…
  4. When I first started to teach I…
  5. The place I teach now is…
  6. My students are…
  7. I enjoy going into school each morning because…
  8. I find teaching exciting and challenging because…
  9. I do not thinking teaching is a job because…
  10. I think teaching is a profession because…
  11. The best aspect of my life as a teacher is…
  12. The worst aspect of my life as a teacher is..
  13. What I really enjoy doing in my classroom is…
  14. My students believe in….
    (These frames are all directly from the workshop.)

Which of them was easier for you to answer? Hardest? What made you think? What connections can you draw? What does this tell you about your beliefs about teaching?

We are looking forward to seeing you in the chat and as always please feel free to pop in and out as time permits


“Who I am is how I teach.” 

#KELTchat Slowburn – Communicating with Colleagues (Tuesday, May 20th 10 am-10 pm)

Relationships with colleagues can be a major factor in how much we enjoy and learn from a teaching position. They can also be a source or stress and confusion and more. If we want to avoid workplaces like this, communicating with our colleagues in ways that foster cordial relationships, collaboration and improvement in teaching is important. In this Slowburn, we would like to tackle some of the things we should think about while picking our way gingerly through staff room relationships. Here is a list of questions that we will base the chat on, but please feel free to bring your own questions and experiences too.

Do you…?/How do you…?:
    • foster a more collaborative relationship with colleagues when that seems like a worthwhile thing to do, but in a workplace that seems to discourage collaboration;
    • access the wisdom of experienced coworkers when that wisdom might not be shared spontaneously, or might not be sharable within ‘official wisdom sharing’;
    • negotiate different teaching philosophies among colleagues;
    • approach new colleagues;
    • offer help to colleagues who are struggling;
    • model interactions to students;
    • respond to colleagues who may not have your best interests at heart;
    • avoid coming off as a cult recruiter when you mention KELTchat/KOTESOL/professional development;
    • deal with getting feedback you disagree with or think is just unhelpful from senior colleagues;
    • handle receiving criticism from a coworker in front of students;
    • communicate your teaching philosophy to senior coworkers?

We will try to tackle all of this, and more, between the hours of 10 am and 10 pm Korea time on Tuesday, 20th May 2014. If you would like to take part but don’t know how, see the guides at the top of the page, or ask someone who looks like they know what’s up via Twitter or our Facebook group.

#KELTchat Slowburn – ELT Megatrends in Korea (Tuesday, April 15th 10 am-10 pm)

UPDATE: Here is the Storify collection of tweets from this chat. 

David Graddol gave talks at both TESOL and IATEFL this year. Here is the link to the talk at IATEFL (he starts talking at the 8:40 mark in the clip)  and here is the link to his talk at TESOL (he starts at about 12:45 in the clip).  The title of the IATEFL talk was “English and Economic Development: Myth or Reality” and the title from TESOL was “Five Megatrends shaping the future of TESOL.” You are not required to have watched the talks to participate in the chat!

Here are some blog posts on the IATEFL talk:

  1. A handy recap of the IATEFL talk
  2. A thoughtful review of the talk 
  3. David Graddol, ‘Trends Analyst'” which is another nice recap that focuses on some key issues from the talk
  4. This persuasive post by Mura Nava talks quite a bit about Graddol
    (along with mentions of and comparisons with Sugata Mitra’s speech)

Update: David Harbinson’s () excellent new post makes connects Graddols IATEFL talk to his learners in Korea.

And here are some posts on the TESOL talk:

  1. Thoughts from IndiaELT on the talk
  2. A short review from Andy Curtis

In case you are wondering, the megatrends he mentioned were demography, economy, technology and politics. Wait, that is only 4? The fifth, was us, teachers.

Some questions to get us thinking and rolling for the chat:

  • Why do students in Korea learn English?
  • How important is English for Korean people working in Korea?
    What levels are required? What do people need to be able to do in English?
  • What are the economic benefits students can derive from learning English?
  • How can we account for the “English Fever” in Korea?
    Are there signs of the “English Fever” waning or increasing?
    What are they?
  • What is the rate of return for the time and money invested in English education in Korea? How is this similar/different to other countries you are familiar with?
  • What does the increase of “non-native speakers” of English worldwide mean for Korean students?
  • How will demographic changes around the world and in Korea impact the field and our job prospects?
  • How do any of the changes and trends figure to impact teaching and pedagogical choices?
  • What predictions do you have for the ELT industry in general and Korea in specific?
  • Any other related questions you have or that arise in the ongoing discussions.

This chat is a  #KELTchat Slowburn™ which means it is the same idea as an hour chat but it is spread out over 12 hours. Participants can feel free to dip in and out of the ongoing conversation as their schedule and interest allows. We are hoping it will be something of an event, but a slow and steady one throughout the day. You can see what is happening by checking out the #KELTchat hashtag throughout the day.

#KELTChat – 6th April 2014 – Too much fluency?

Hello #KELTChatters,

Your favorite Korean online teacher development group (I’d call us an organization but I think it would be a contradiction in terms) offers you the chance to offer advice on a possible problem for teachers in Korea during our one hour chat on Sunday night at 8pm Korea time. We’d point out that you neither need to be involved for the whole hour, nor be in Korea to participate. Any and all contributions are welcome.

The problem is this*:

My classes are heavily fluency focused, with a lot of free talking, conversational tasks and role playing. We use a textbook, but students claim that they already know most of the language that it aims to teach. Therefore I try to focus on getting them to use the language that they already have. I also feel like this is what my administration expects of me. During activities I try to supply language at the point of need, which students appreciate, but if I try to use this to teach grammar or lexis past individual vocabulary words, then I sense attention starting to wane and boredom setting in. I wonder if there is more to be gained from fluency work than just fluency gains and incidental vocabulary.

* This is an imaginary scenario compiled from my experience and that of teachers that I have spoken to. I have left it deliberately vague in order that it can be adapted to different contexts. Feel free to invent or assume anything about this situation that is not given in the description.

Some questions that we might like to answer:

– What other learning oppportunities do conversation and tasks provide?
– How can we take advantage of these for learning?
– Can we structure tasks and conversations differently in order to provide language learning opportunities without explicitly focusing on language?
– How can we help students to achieve or set language goals within tasks?
– How can we create opportunities for students to use target language within freer speaking?

– Do you think that native speaking English teachers in Korea are expected to have more fluency based classes?
– If so, where does this expectation come from? Does it work against native speaking teachers? How can teachers counter it if they wish to?

If you have any answers to these questions, or any comments in general, we would be delighted to hear them during the chat. If this your first time, you can find a how- to guide on the tab above, or simply ask anyone in the Facebook group. We look forward to seeing you on Sunday night.


Alex (@breathyvowel)

#KELTchat Slowburn 3 (Tuesday, December 17th 10am-10pm (GMT +9)

The topic for the next #KELTchat Slowburn is:
Some Macro Strategies for Language Teachers
[**info on the Slowburn concept is below]

The 10 macrostrategies suggested by Kumaravadivelu are:  

1. Maximize learning opportunities;
2. facilitate negotiated interaction;
3. minimize perceptual mismatches;
4. activate intuitive heuristics;
5. foster language awareness;
6. contextualize linguistic input;
7. integrate language skills;
8. promote learner autonomy;
9. ensure social relevance; and
10. raise cultural consciousness.
(The suggested topics for this chat are in bold and are explained below)

  • Maximize learning opportunities: This macrostrategy envisages teaching as a process of creating and utilizing learning opportunities, a process in which teachers strike a balance between their role as managers of teaching acts and their role as mediators of learning acts.
  • Foster language awareness: This macrostrategy refers to any attempt to draw learners’ attention to the formal and functional properties of their L2 in order to increase the degree of explicitness required to promote L2 learning.
  • Promote learner autonomy: This macrostrategy involves helping learners learn how to learn, equipping them with the means to self-direct and self-monitor their learning.
  • Ensure social relevance:   This macrostrategy refers to the need for teachers to be sensitive to the societal, political, economic, and educational environment in which L2 learning and teaching take place

A good place to look if you are interested in reading more is Chapter 2 (“Understanding Post-Method Pedagogy”) on this .pdf (which is the first chapters of “Beyond Methods: Macrostrategies for Language Teaching.” Additionally, this 1994 article from TESOL Quarterly also covers much of the same ground. 

Questions to consider:
(and possibly then chat about):

  1. Are these strategies relevant to your teaching context? When might the strategies not be a good match for teaching contexts in Korea? When might they be a good match?
  2. Do these strategies match with the your role as a teacher is perceived by students, yourself, admin and other stakeholders?
  3. Do these strategies already inform your day-to-day teaching? How?
  4. What advice might you give to a teacher that wants to employ these strategies? How might they get started?

The Slowburn concept

The concept of Slowburn is very similar to the original #KELTChat one hour Twitter chats. We will set a topic (above) and encourage people to tweet their thoughts about it using the #KELTChat hashtag. This time, however, the chat will take place over 12 hours rather than one, allowing people to dip in and out, think and the discussion to diverge in more interesting ways. We also hope that this will allow more people in Korea to play a part, as well as taking in most other time zones.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, but you’re not really sure how to go about it, click the “about and how” tab above for a link to a handy guide. There is also a quick guide here. Friendly advice is also always available at the #KELTChat Facebook group, or in the comments section below.

We hope you’ll enjoy the next #KELTChat slowburn. See you on Tuesday before #KELTchat hibernates for winter.


Demand High Learning: Summary of 9/29 #KELTchat

An international group of teachers participated in Sunday’s #KELTchat, exploring what it means to ask our students to demand more of themselves. The chat began with the question, “What does demand high learning look like?” Participants determined that it is individualist encouraging students to push their own limits and not be satisfied with a correct answer or a high TOEIC score. It is autonomous, and the role of the teacher is motivational as well as helping students determine the gaps that need to be filled. It is not exactly the same as demand high teaching.

 Demand high as a tool:

#KELTchatters discussed the value of demand high teaching as a tool that lets go of preparation and expectation on the teachers’ part, so that the teacher can respond to the moment. A teacher’s expectation of what students can achieve is limiting and teachers do well to be flexible about their preparations for class, willing to give over at the moment of learning, quoting @jimscriv: “Go where the learning is. Deviate from that lesson plan.” One participant pointed out that the demand would be on the teachers, but the students do all the hard work. Demand high teaching and learning cannot exist without intimate knowledge of the context and the students.

Bridging the gap:

Another question that arose is how to bridge the gap between the students and their goals? Suggestions included input, not demanding high (in terms of accuracy), and demanding high when the situation emerges. This led to the question of fluency and accuracy, with chatters debating whether it is appropriate to demand high in terms of either or both, deciding that it depends on the context, the age and level of the learners. Is there value in repetition? Is there value in expecting students to apply strategies they’ve been taught? Several teachers commented that accuracy is given preeminence in their teaching contexts internationally (Korea, France, Indonesia) and that demand high is limited to exam preparation. These issues all had a place in the chat. One chatter commented that demand high is a tool and the fluency/ accuracy dichotomy need not be an issue.

 The teacher’s role:

The chat turned to the question of the teacher’s role in helping students “demand high” of themselves. Chatters suggested motivating students to push themselves, helping students explore the language conundrums they encounter when they encounter them, providing explicit feedback based on a belief that students can do better, and setting expectations for themselves in order to give them focus.

 The importance of context:

Context proved quite important in the chat. One chatter pointed out that different contexts necessitate different objectives. Another added that it also meant different opportunities to achieve the objectives. A chatter pointed out that age and level would impact the point at which one might demand high. One participant lamented the tendency in Korea to see CLT as a hoop to jump through. Another said that the place of CLT activities in Korea seem to be “fun” rather than “learning” and that focus on improvement may often be lost. A chatter wondered if demanding high might be a way of challenging the perception of CLT in Korea.

Helping students “demand high” of themselves:

What are some ways to help students to “demand high” of themselves? Responses ranged from suggestions: modeling that learning doesn’t follow a set path so that students will be free to be more exploratory; giving activities and tasks that provide an opening for demand high learning; helping students set individual goals (and find a way to assess whether they are achieved) to pessimism: one participant argued that there is no room for more demand on students in Korean public schools because test preparation is everything. Several teachers suggested helping students “demand high” of themselves so as to fill the gaps in their test preparation and that a change of learning goals may not be necessary.

 Final thoughts from chatters:

@michaelegriffin: Final thoughts: Don’t be satisfied with just smiles and communication. Students are capable of more and need to be helped see it.

@annehendler: Final thoughts: Giving students tasks that help them get to know themselves and point out their strengths and weaknesses can help.

@Penultimate_K: Key phrase that sticks with me is @jimscriv ‘s ‘Go where the learning is’ That and ‘prep vs plan’

@bryanteacher: As a movement, is “demand high” appropriate for Korea? It seems to address a problem in CLT. But lack of CLT is problem in Korea. → @michaelegriffin: Well said, BUT I also think there’s a distinct lack of any demand of or belief in SS as well.

@breathyvowel suggested that it might be individualistic, encouraging students to push their own limits. @michaelegriffin contributed the definition that Ss not just being satisfied with a correct answer or a high TOEIC score but pushing themselves.”

Shared links and things:

@bryanteacher shared some videos where he learned what “demand high” is all about.
My memory of Scrivener+Underhill vids: demand high about not just letting ur communicative lesson plan trundle along. Be proactive.”

@trent_mcintosh shared this article from the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/oct/16/demand-high-teaching-challenge-students?CMP=twt_gu

@Penultimate_K shared the #AusELT demand high teaching chat summary: http://auselt.com/2013/03/08/demand-high-elt-chat-summary-7-march-2013/

 Favorite quote:

@yitzha_sarwono wise words: “We have to give them the view that there’s no limit to English, I mean twerk & selfie just made to the dictionary!”