Guest post by Alex Case, teacher in Japan and blogger at TEFLtastic.

I’ve somehow managed to keep blogging about TEFL for over six years mainly with the selfish motivation of keeping myself interested in teaching. In a similar way I post my worksheets simply to make the time I spend on them seem less wasted. However, I do sometimes yearn for a larger sense of purpose to keep myself going. The only realistic one I’ve managed to come up with so far is to do my small part to help create free resources online that at least match what a teacher could find in the same amount of time in front of their own or their school’s bookshelves, something that can be done both by posting materials and ideas yourself and making other people’s stuff easier to find by linking to it.

So, how are we doing so far? Is Google now your ultimate lesson planning tool, or would you need a credit card and/ or need to combine it with numerous journeys over to that bookshelf to make it worth spending a couple of minutes on a search engine? And how about when writing an essay or article – do you agree with most of the industry that online references are best avoided or is there a good amount of free stuff online that would make it into your references list?

Or is my aim as pointless and/ or unachievable as the other purposes that I’ve rejected? If so, can you think of a better mission for any TEFLer with their own free-to-access blog/ site out there? Here are some uses free TEFL blogs/ sites have been put to, many of which are less common than they could be, or even used to be:

  • Fighting the TEFL powers that be (or at least keeping them on their toes)
  • Making us into more of a community, e.g. arranging some other kind of group action such as unionisation
  • Warning people about bad schools, qualifications, materials and/ or teaching methodologies
  • Giving people a bit of relief from the stress of teaching and lesson planning with humour and/ or revelations of personal difficulties
  • Putting a bit of theory into this craft
  • Enthusiastically pushing TEFL methodologies and technologies
  • Making TEFLers and their lessons more politically aware
  • Pushing for improved standards in the industry and working conditions to match that professionalism

Or perhaps anyone who wants to make an impact should bypass teachers entirely and write for net-savvy language learners. Alternatively, are you like one guy who wrote to compliment me on my materials and then said he was offended by me giving them away for free and thought I ought to monetise them?

In summary, how are we doing and how could we do better? Comments below please.

Illustration from http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddle_email_newsletters/

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