What is #ELTchat? Here’s the story.
Back in 2010, a bunch of us TEFL people thought that we should start a hashtag for teachers in English Language Teaching.
The first year of #ELTchat was very intense and at the IATEFL of 2011 in Harrogate dozens of the people who populated our chats every Wednesday, met for the first time in what became known ‘as a ‘tweet-up’. It’s a truly fond memory for many of us, one that is often repeated at conferences between people who have been talking about ELT online and feel like meeting an old friend in a fellow #ELTchatter!
That was the time when the term PLN (Personal Learning Network) was beginning to gain currency and we, the people of #ELTchat, boldly, and perhaps somewhat innocently, claimed that we offered our colleagues a ‘ready made PLN’!
What happens in #ELTchat and how can I participate?
Every Wednesday at 19:00 UK time, some of us log into Twitter, find the #ELTchat hashtag in the search box, save the search and, voila, all our friends are there. We discuss whatever topic we have selected in the days before the chat or that the moderators have chosen!
The tweets may come fast and furious and often colleagues just follow in the beginning before they take the courage to start contributing! After the one hour of #ELTchat, people can still add comments and ideas in the slow burn part of the chat which lasts till the next evening.
#ELTchat is a relatively new phenomenon and, thus, the object of studies and dissertations.
Here is Ania Rolinska’s Dissertation on Virtual Ethnography in which she looked at how #ELTchat works and the benefits to the participants. Ania showed these here on a prezi, a zooming presentation.
What have people said about #ELTchat?
Hash-tagged conversations are such a genius invention because in such a simple way, people gain access to conversations or they can disseminate ideas relevant to a hashtag instantly and without needing tech knowledge. #ELTchat brings teachers who are pretty much on their own together; it gives them a forum to share ideas, to ask questions, to write blog posts.
Many people have spoken about how #ELTchat has benefited them. Sandy Millin, a frequent follower and mainstay of #ELTchat said it all on #ELTchat’s 5th birthday:
#ELTchat changed my life.
It introduced me to an amazing group of educators around the world.
It opened my eyes to the range of classrooms and contexts in which English is taught.
It gave me ideas for my classes.
It inspired me.
It led me to start this blog and to many of the posts on it.
It took me to conferences.
It gave me opportunities.
And most importantly, it brought me many, many friends.
Here is what Marjorie Rosenberg wrote – at that time she was the President of IATEFL International and a very keen and frequent participant in all #ELTchats.
And here are some tweets from #ELTchat followers and long time supporters:
#ELTchat today and how it benefits teachers.
In 2012, we presented #ELTchat in a symposium organized at IATEFL Glasgow and by the end of 2012, we managed to get #ELTchat into the finalist list for Innovation in Teaching Resources.
Almost 10 years later, #ELTchat remains innovative, interesting and highly interactive. During this time, its participants, contributors and summary writers have created a formidable resource in the form of transcripts and summaries of #eltchats which are free and provide a rich source of teacher created content online. It should be noted that many training institutions recommend these summaries as a rich source of ideas and inspirations. You are welcome to not only access them but to also join in on future #ELTchats and be a co-creator yourself!