Editorial on ELTNEWS.com
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A year ago, an Internet search for my name would have brought up my books, presentations, and articles. Google would have described Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto as a teacher who creates stuff.

Today, I ran another search to see how a year of living online has changed Google's impression of me. Now, search results also list interactions with others online--their comments on my blog, mine on theirs, and updates and conversations on Twitter and Facebook. Google sees me as teacher who connects with others (and still creates stuff).

What kind of difference can these online connections make?

Online networks give us access to other ELT professionals.

For example, when ETJ hosted Paul Nation for the Expo last year, conversations started with teachers at his workshops continued (via the Internet) long after he left Japan, resulting in a collaborative book project with MASH on Fluency in EFL. (The deadline to submit a paper to this project is May 31st.)

Scott Thornbury got to know Japan-based teachers on Twitter months before his plenary at JALT 2010. The connections built prior to JALT created a relationship between speaker and audience that enhanced the actual event. Those connections are bringing Scott back to Japan this September for MASH Collaboration JALT Equinox 2010.

These same types of connections also create informal opportunities for teachers around the world to share, collaborate, and create with each other on a daily basis.

Online connections help classroom teachers get recognition they might not otherwise receive.

Cyberspace is full of talented EFL teachers who have gained international recognition for contributions on their blogs, wikis, and websites. Online networks can help level the playing field in ELT. The Internet doesn't make these teachers amazing--it just gives us a chance to find them.

One of the biggest efforts to recognize these teachers is Lexiophiles' annual Top 100 Language Blogs competition, which ends Monday, May 24th at midnight CET (Tuesday, 7 am here in Japan). My blog, Teaching Village, has been nominated in the Language Teaching category (along with a bunch of other great blogs--you can vote by following this link) If you are interested in language as a learner or teacher, the competition is an opportunity to discover some excellent blogs related to language teaching, technology, and learning.

Check in every weekend for a new editorial by David, Steven, Theron or me. We love your interest in EFL and your comments!

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I agree with you about the possibilities that Cyberspace offers for educators. Reading experienced educators's blogs is a great inspiration for me and a great professional boost.
Marisa Pavan

That's a great point, Marisa.

Meeting teachers like you is another. Without online connections, I probably would never have "met" you, and that would have been quite a loss!

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