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English Language Teaching Global Blog


Our Secret Code – PLNs are a major EdTech issue

Confused man looking at codeKieran McGovern decodes the confusing terms of the online world of English Language Teaching.

Every profession has a ‘secret’ code, consisting of vocabulary known only to its practitioners. Who outside the world of education technology (EdTech) would guess that a PLN was a Personal Learning Network?

These code words and phrases only make sense to others involved in the same field. Outsiders can’t understand what you are talking or writing about. You become part of what the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw called a ‘conspiracy against the public’.

Take the word ELT. Most readers of this blog will know that it stands for English Language Teaching. But for a chef it might mean ‘eating large turkeys’!

Here are ten more confusing short forms and acronyms: IELTS, L1, L2, EdChat, (T)ESOL, TOEFL, EFL, ESL, EAP, FCE… Think you know them all? Check out the Terminology of English Teaching on englishlanguage.org.

Most of these ‘code’ words are practical; essential, even. But are there others you feel serve no useful purpose? Or ones that you don’t really understand? I’d love to hear your suggestions for a ‘jargon bonfire’.

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Making reading on the Web more enjoyable?

Staring at a computer screenKieran McGovern writes graded reading materials for English language learners. He runs language learning website eslreading.org and blogs at This Interested Me.

I like to print articles I find online but many of my students don’t. “It’s easier to read on the screen,” they say. “And printers are always breaking down.”

True enough, though staring at a screen for extended periods is no fun either. Nor is wading through a sea of extraneous material like adverts, banners and buttons.

One solution is PDF files – but they can be a chore to produce and involve downloads, special plug-ins and other complications. What is needed is something that cuts down the work for everyone.

Step forward the deceptively sinister sounding Arc90 Lab Experiment. They’ve invented “a simple tool that makes reading on the Web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around what you’re reading.” (Source: Arc90.com)

That’s a big claim, but it’s justified. You can see how it works at eslreading.org and you can download the free Readability tool directly from Arc90.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this fantastic web tool.

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