Englischlernen mit Blogs is as easy as 1,2,3

If you are practicing English online by yourself, here are three lovely blogs written especially for you to start with. Each one is special in its own way:

1. Der Englisch-Blog

Dieser Blog von Markus Brendel ist auf Deutsch geschrieben und erklärt täglich entweder einen Ausdruck oder eine Frage aus der Grammatik. Gestern hat Markus beispielsweise das sehr aktuelle Thema “Dienstwagen” präsentiert, und ich habe mich total nach Washington, DC versetzt gefühlt, wo die dicken schwarzen “official cars” mit Tatü, Tata! durch die Straßen düsen. Nicht zu verwechseln mit dem “company car”, den Dolce fährt. Und heute geh’s um den Begriff “mad as a hatter” aus Alice in Wonderland.

2. Bite-Sized English

Toby features great topics of everyday life, like getting ready for a baby (which I think he is doing right now) as well as very practical, specialized business English topics. He provides a daily podcast and a worksheet to print out. Often he will feature the same topic several days in a row as a series, so you can really concentrate on it. Right now the topic is cars, or “Automotive English“. I wonder whether he’ll be doing something on having your car stolen?

3. Nik’s Daily English Activities

If you like gadgets and online tools and want to play with all of these fun things, Nik Peachey‘s blog is the place to go. He used to be a jazz guitarist, and I think it shows in his love for experiments. Nik’s very focussed on tools that really help you learn, and his blog for teachers is my main guidebook through this brave world of online learning. Learn to understand English accents, from America to India, using the best of the web, the Speech Accent Archive of George Mason University, in his latest post. Or, to stay on topic, play the eye-opening game in his post on “Driving and Listening to English“.

And those are just three to start with! There are so many, and I promise to feature more. Please have a look at my blogroll “englischlernen” for some of my favorites.

Wenn Sie etwas Spezielles suchen, kann ich Ihnen ja vielleicht einen Tipp geben. Auf Twitter (http://twitter.com/annehodg) folge ich vielen Lehrern mit tollen Blogs. Sie haben echt was zu bieten. Also: Fröhliches Surfen!

Blog carneval: No blog is an island

Well, you know, I never really meant to become a blogger. It was all a bit of an accident. You see, I used to keep up individual course (b)logs to post homework and materials. Then one day I decided to get help (wouldn’t be anywhere without help) to build Beautiful Islands, my Moodle site, with separate project spaces for each of my company courses. The Island Weekly was the front page and was to contain weekly updates on what was happening on the Beautiful Islands. Well, most of my students had no use for Moodle, but the blog had some readers, so I eventually dropped the former and started expanding the latter from a weekly to a daily. Though I don’t make money from it and know I’m one of (and not one in) a million, blogging is as important to me as the teaching and writing I charge for.

The best part has been the discipline of thinking about things in greater depth. I write and podcast for people I actually know. It’s improved my writing style. But it’s also intrinsically rewarding: I came to teaching through the back door, an academic who loved discourse and had to start over in a new discipline. In my first ten years as a teacher I focused on learning the craft of helping others express themselves and became a good “midwife”. Now, writing has brought discourse back in through the front door. Of course a freelance teacher my age also needs to skill up. I’m fully aware that older does not mean better. So blogging keeps me on my toes and ready for the future.

The worst part of blogging is that writing has replaced making music as my meditative way into and out of the day, and I’m no longer making any progress on the keyboard. I really miss that.

I’m not in this for selfexpression, promoting learning is still what makes me tick. So I’d like to get a group of connected EFL bloggers up and running. I’ve taught academic writing and think – no, I know! – blogs would be the perfect vehicle for an open writing group based on assignments. This would all be free without competing with courses. People need to achieve a different level of English fluency than their parents did. I’m dying to try out my peer review system in such a group, but it’s a very slow process getting people up.

What traffic I get to this blog is generated though Twitter, posts on other people’s blogs, links on networking sites and word-of-mouth. People outside teaching with my interests find me through Google, and I’ve just begun using SEO. All of those are very effective ways of making sure a blog is connected. Because no blog, and no blogger, is an island.

You’re a blogging teacher? Join the blog carneval organised by Karenne Sylvester by going to >the blog carneval site. For details see Karenne’s blog and reminder. Submit your article by 15 July.

Six Songs

In The World in Six Songs. How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature, Daniel J. Levitin lists six songs that inspired him in 1975 to become a musician. These are his “comfort” songs:

  1. Autobahn by Kraftwerk
  2. Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony as performed by Herbert von Karajan & the Berlin Philharmonic
  3. Revolver by the Beatles (whole album)
  4. Through my Sails by Neil Young, with CSNY
  5. The Great Gig in the Sky by Pink Floyd
  6. Night and Day as perfomed by Stan Getz

I’m not a musician, but my favorite six songs (oof, only six!) are:

  1. Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix as played by Stevie Ray Vaughan (ultimate guitar ballad)
  2. You Turn me on I’m a Radio by Joni Mitchell (best lyrics)
  3. Bach’s Matthäus Passion, Aria “Mache dich mein Herze rein” (responsibility)
  4. Godchild by Miles Davis (creative freedom)
  5. In the Garden (No Guru No Method No Teacher) by Van Morrison (mystic freedom)
  6. Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan (young on the road)

Hi Dolcevita, Dolce, Helmut, Eamonn, dear reader, I’d be curious to know: What’s your mixed tape? Only six. OK? Here goes a “Stöckchen” :-)

Useable

Notice anything different about this site? Christmas came early this year, when Christian moved my site domain to http://annehodgson.de, installed an updated version of WordPress, and migrated my content into it. I then spent the weekend trying things out and putting in the tags and categories you see on the right. What do you think? Can you find what you want? Do you find it more inviting? In short, is the site more useable?

Continue reading Useable