Getting Started on Twitter (for English Language Teachers)

Twitter has been one of the most useful and transformative tools for my teaching. I have read more ideas, reflections, and thoughtful analyses than I would have had I simply browsed the Web or relied on peer-reviewed journal articles. The Twitter PLN (personal learning network) I have formed has given me new ideas for teaching, new resources for students, new concepts to read about, and most importantly, a safe space for sharing and reading reflections on teaching. Most of the people who form my PLN are not armchair theorists, professors of education, or quantitative researchers; they are entrenched language teachers who share the same problems we all have and who ask the same questions we all ask – namely, “how can I be a more effective teacher?”

Needless to say, Twitter has been an amazing tool. However, to use it can be daunting at first. In the beginning it seems like a steady stream of disconnected conversations and wild acronyms and abbreviations. While it’s not as organized as a book, website, or blog, it more than makes up for this in quantity and quality of content, as well as the spirit of interaction and sharing that social media necessitates.

Twitter is immensely useful and only takes a short amount of time to get used to. So, where do you begin? First you need to find people to follow. Retweet and comment on what’s they are tweeting. Follow who they are following. Then start tweeting your own content (ideas, links, reflections, or even start a blog) and get people to follow you, thus enhancing the positive effects of a Twitter PLN.

With millions of Twitter users, who should you follow?

General Teaching Resources
These Twitter feeds could be great for finding general teaching ideas, lesson plans, and resources.

  • ETProfessional – a good source of practical advice and lots of resources
  • Oxford ELT – Oxford’s Twitter account is filled with resources, videos, and lots of ideas
  • Macmillan ELT – another great resources for practical ideas
  • Larry Ferlazzo – LOTS of useful links and resources

Personal Twitter Feeds
Besides finding useful resources on these feeds, you’ll also find interesting, thought-provoking, and even radical discussions on every possible subject of ELT. This is where the magic happens.

There are tons more, but this should be a good start. If you want even more ideas, you can check my post about my favorite blogs, or Nathan Hall’s reflective post with lots of suggestions of cool people you should follow, or some more people suggested by Mike Griffin here and here.

English Language Resources
Here, you can find some general resources on grammar, vocabulary, and anything else related to speaking or studying English!

  • Real Life English – Tweeting real-life English: phrasal verbs, idioms, slang, etc.
  • English Club – Lots of great resources for studying English
  • Grammarly - Interesting tweets about grammar and vocabulary

(If I didn’t add you to the list, sorry! I couldn’t add everyone, nor could I write a catchy short description either. If you want to be added or know someone who should be added, just let me know in the comments.)

Related Posts

Reasons for (Korean) English Teachers to Join Twitter
Sharing #PLNluv with training course participants

Updates

@cioccas recommends also using hashtags to find pertinent content. These include #ELTchat as well as regional hastags like #KELTchat (for Korea) or #AUSelt (Australia) Here are some useful hashtag related resources:

Top 10 Hashtags related to EFL
The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education

9 thoughts on “Getting Started on Twitter (for English Language Teachers)

  1. Hi Anthony,

    I completely agree with your first paragraph on how useful a tool Twitter can be, Like you, I have learned so much through it, and also had the chance to meet a lot of great people (either virtually or for real).

    PS I like the new blog design :)

    -David

  2. Great post Anthony!
    Thanks for the very nice mention and for the inclusion in such a great group.
    I will not take exception to David’s use of the word “real” above. ;)

    I was trying to think of suggestions for your list of people to follow and realized I’d already shared a few at various times on my blog. I hope you will permit me to share them. ere is something I wrote, entitled “Reasons for (Korean) English teachers to join Twitter” in which I share a few recommendations to follow in addition to hopefully answering the question implied in the title.
    Also, here is something I wrote about my experiences with twitter: http://eltrantsreviewsreflections.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/sharing-plnluv-with-training-course-participants/

    Thanks for the great and useful post!

  3. Thank you very much for the mention, Anthony. I think the key for me on social media in general is to be who you are. If you are the talker in the group, feel free to share what you have. If you are more inclined to sit back and observe for a while, do it. Don’t try to make yourself into something you aren’t. Be real. Don’t be ‘all work’. Let people see you for you you are. It could be as simple as a photo you take or a comment you make about a movie or your day. No matter, the more approachable you are, the more likely people will be willing to engage with you.

    Also, don’t be obsessed with numbers. It’s easy to get caught up in how many followers you have (or don’t) and start comparing yourself against others. Don’t, it isn’t worth it. Your value is in just being you.

    Okay, enough from you. You did a great job on this post. Thanks for thinking of me! :)

    • Anthony Teacher says:

      Thanks for the comment. You bring up a good point about letting the real you show through. This is something I don’t do often. I’ve compartmentalized social media into work (twitter, blogging) and life (facebook). I’m not sure this is a bad thing, but it is nice to know about who your tweeting with.

      Good points!

  4. Very useful post Anthony!

    It may be beyond the ‘getting started’ stage for some, but I’d also add following relevant hashtags, such as #ELTchat, and regional ones like #AusELT and #KELTchat. Discovering #ELTchat was what got me excited about Twitter for PD. Taking part in my first weekly #ELTchat Twitter chat got me hooked! I now find hashtag feeds are a great way to discover new people to follow, not to mention terrific ideas and resources. :-)

    • Anthony Teacher says:

      Thanks for the comment! Admittedly, I’m not very good with hashtags – I’m always confusing them or don’t have enough space, but they are useful. Thanks for mentioning them. I’ll update my post with your info.

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