Aslı Saglam's Blog about CPD in ELT

Blogging: An Adventure in Continuous Professional Development


I think academic blogging has great potential for promoting Continuous Professional Development of teachers as a transformative reflection tool. At least it helped me grow as a teacher on a large scale.

I will be talking about my journey as an avid blogger at IATEFL Annual Conference & Exhibition Manchester 2015 this April. I am looking forward to meeting colleagues & friends and making new friends at one of the greatest ELT Conferences. I will participate in a forum with other educators about academic blogging. My presentation is entitled “Blogging; an adventure in support of teacher development”. The forum will take place 17:25 – 18:30 on 13th April at Central 7 and each speaker will focus on different aspects. I am sure it will be a very insightful session since forum may bring about interaction between all participants, as the other thousands of scheduled sessions in the mighty IATEFL Annual Conference & Exhibition!

So, I reviewed my journey as an avid blogger and outlined this great adventure in an info-graphic. Hope you like it 🙂

Teachers as researchers: A strategy for professional development


Kenan (Dikilitas) and Koray (Akyazi) are language teachers and teacher trainers at Gediz University. They are advocates of teacher research as a professional development strategy and they gave a workshop on different forms of teacher research at the 3rd ELT Malta Conference. I couldn’t attend the conference and I was very curious about their session. Luckily Kenan kindly agreed to answer my questions in the following interview regarding their workshop.


1.       In your opinion how can teacher research contribute to the continuous professional development of teachers?

I should absolutely say yes to this question. Depending on my 4-year experience of conducting teacher research with teachers from varying degrees of experience, it seems that they benefit from engagement in research. There are concrete evidences for teacher development. The teachers generally report that they promote deeper understanding of the research focus they study and can talk about the problem under research very confidently.

This is related to the long engagement and deeper involvement in planning research, discussing critical issues, writing up an account of the research and sharing it with a wider audience in a conference.  Areas of development they highlight in the interviews are:

  • general professional development
  • experience in research skills
  • developing a critical eye
  • promoting reflecting skills
  • improving classroom practices
  • gaining insight into teaching
  • learning how to optimize student learning
  • evaluating the context they work in

Though it is demanding and challenging process and leads to development slowly and in the long run, conducting teacher research is a strong and well-established way of creating deeper impact on one’s understanding and teaching.


2.       In your institution you apply teacher research as a form of professional development. Could you please give some background about this project? How did you started off? What alternative applications of teacher research do you use in your context?

I started to conduct teacher research projects in 2010. Having seen busy schedule and intensive work teachers were doing, I opted for a flexible professional development program.


Other reasons for choosing teacher research  are that it is;

  • practice-based
  • classroom-oriented
  • student-focused
  • process-based
  • reflection-integrated
  • exploration-oriented

When the teachers are going through so much cognitive activities such as thinking, understanding, exploring, deciding, creating knowledge, sharing and discussing, it is inevitable that they process new knowledge in a way that will have impact on them.

The project I am conducting also involves planning, conducting and writing up research as well as presenting it at the annual conference held in June in the institution.  These conferences, though they started as an institutional event, turned into national and international ones in four years where other teacher researchers and academics as well as project participants come together. This year I am helping more than 30 teachers in the project who are aiming for writing up and presenting their teacher research studies. Although it may seem an easy activity from how it is written here, teachers’ personal commitment play the key role in the accomplishment of the project.


3.       In 3rd ELT Malta Conference, your workshop focused on different forms of teacher research. Could you please give some information about different forms of teacher research?

For MALTA ELT Professional conference, I collaborated with one of the skillful teacher researchers and prepared a workshop. Our major purpose was raising teachers’ awareness towards understanding teacher research as an umbrella term which includes exploratory practice, reflective practice and action research. The workshop introduced these concepts with hands-on activities by focusing on the following key characteristics:

ScreenHunter_03 Nov. 07 14.17  

4. What could be the criteria or points to consider when thinking about selecting an appropriate form of research and applying it to a local context? What should be considered?

These three forms of teacher research are complimentary though they seem as different research activities because teachers generally start with an exploration process where they try to understand the context they are teaching and clarify the issues they want to understand. Following this they think about the specific issues they explored and theorize from their experiences. These two initial stages may help them develop a research plan especially when they identify a problem in their teaching and a practice they want to change or improve. This is where they decide on a particular action research by which to solve particular problem they have in mind.

My suggestion could be for them to decide whether they have a question in mind or problem. If they have the former, they can carry out an exploratory practice combined with a reflective practice. However, if they have a problem in teaching, they should also conduct an action research.

For those who are interested in any of these forms can contact me for further questions and help.


Thanks for the interview and valuable information.


Highlights from Canakkale ELT Research Conference 2012


I attended the ELT Research Conference at Canakkale 18 Mart University this weekend and had a terrific time.

This conference was special because all presenters reported the results of their research. In “Redefining the relationship between research and what teachers know” Donald Freeman stated that there is a gap between research and teaching due to “an awkward silence” that has grown up between the teacher and researcher and he further claimed that teachers should undertake research because “you have to know the story in order to tell the story”.

This conference was unique in this respect because we had the opportunity to tell our own stories and listen to those of other colleagues.


Plenaries were given by Rod Ellis, Cem Alptekin and Norbert Scmitt and the conference program was intensive.

There were more than 60 concurrent sessions ranging from qualitative and quantitative research, from individual to collaborative research and from the topic of language learning and acquisition, teacher training and education, early English education, culture and literature in English education, language testing and evaluation to multimedia and ICT in English education. And let me remind, all of these sessions including the poster presentations, were research.


I presented a research that I had done in partial fulfillment of the teacher education course that I had taken. It was entitled ‘EXPLORING TERTIARY-LEVEL ENGLISH TEACHERS’ PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE’. Very briefly the study explored how in-service teachers conceptualize and articulate their practical knowledge about English teaching though narrative reconstruction of their experiences. The research question was: How do teachers attempt to reason about their practices and the practical knowledge underlie them? You can find more info about the study and my presentation here.

Also, I had a poster presentation reporting a research which examined L2 reading motivation of Turkish university students. This study intended to investigate university students’ reading motivation and its relations to their reading performance on institutional reading achievement test. Participants included 191 university EFL students who were enrolled in different instructional levels at the school of English language instruction. Participants were classified into two categories; poor readers and good readers based on their reading scores on their reading achievement test scores. Participants responded to a Motivation for Reading Questionnaire (MRQ) after they had taken achievement test in reading and they were compared on their reading comprehension and on various reading motivation variables using factor analysis and multiple regression analysis in SPSS. The 5 most influential factors were students’ intrinsic motivation in curiosity and extrinsic motivation in social dimensions, family involvement and compliance with respect to task and time requirements. Click here for more detail

I am looking forward to attending Canakkale 18 Mart University’s conference next year again (I need to find a good research topic! See the positive backwash effect 🙂


It was such a nicely organised event. I had to opportunity to meet lovely people, catch up with my friends and I learned a lot from the presentations and further ideas for research.




Working out from Simon Borg’s (2010) extensive list of potential benefits of teacher research, I hope that there would be more conferences and opportunities for collaborative inquiry because according to researchers outlined in Borg, teacher research;

  • “develops teachers’ capacity for autonomous professional judgements (Roberts, 1993);
  • reduces teachers’ feeling of frustration and isolation (Roberts, 1993);
  • allows teachers to move out of a submissive position and be curriculum innovators (Gurney, 1989);
  • allows teachers to become more reflective, critical, and analytical about their teaching behaviours in the classroom (Atay, 2006);
  • makes teachers less vulnerable to and less dependent on external answers tro the challenges they face (Donato, 2003);
  • fosters connections between researchers and teachers (Crookes, 1993).
  • Creates a problem solving mind-set that help teachers when they consider other classroom dilemmas and improves teachers’’ instructional decision-making processes (Olson, 1990).”
Borg, S. (2010). Language Teacher Research Engagement, Cambridge Journals, 43(4), p. 391-429.
Freeman, D. (1996). Redefining the Relationship between Research and What teachers Know (in Bailey& Nunan Eds, Chapter 4).



Webinars By British Council in March and April 2012


The British Council is organising freeELT webinars in March and April 2012. These webinars will be given by teacher trainers who work in Turkey and will focus on ELT matters in Turkish teaching and learning context. It will be a good opportunity to participate in a virtual professional development opportunity and to share ideas with colleagues in Turkey and around the world.


Another great point regarding the webinar is that you can join in the event from your own home with a computer and the Internet.

For more information Click on this link

Six Impossible Things that Teachers Do


Six Impossible Things that ELT Teachers Do

In “Alice in Wonderland” one of the best scenes is when Alice talks about “the six impossible things” to gain her strength when she faces her biggest challenge (a fierce fight with Jabberwocky)



Don’t you have some difficult and challenging moments in the classroom when you need to stay focused to cope with them? I do.

So, I decided to make my own list of six impossible things that teachers do to aid me in those moments.

  1. Identify the needs, interests, language difficulties (L2 learners of English lack basic interactional competencies) and learning styles of the students and cater for these.
  2. Select, introduce and exploit suitable materials for improvement of language (not only
    to be used in class but also for out)
  3. Assess progress of the individual students and the whole class
  4. Keep affective filters down by fostering positive group dynamics (cooperation, mutual respect, confidence…etc.)
  5. Encourage students to be life-long learners and take responsibility of their own learning.
  6. Help students develop learning strategies.

What do you think? Don’t we make the impossible happen? What else are there that you would like to add to the list suggested

In “Tasks for Language Teachers” Parrott (2006,np.30) outlined roles of teachers as diagnostician, planner, manager and
provider. I would like to suggest one more: The Miracle  Maker

Dogus ELT Conference; Notes from Day 1


Dogus University is holding their first ELT conference today and tomorrow and I also participated as a presenter. Before talking about my reflections and my take home at the end of the day, I would like to say that it a very well organised event. 

The first day started with two plenaries given by David Crystal (on electronically mediated communication and the lingusitic challenges that  accompany EMC) and George Pickering (on latest developments in psychology that can help us in turning challenges into opportunities, reflecting the theme of the conference).

I would like to talk about two sessions that I attended before giving my presentation.

Ozge Karaoglu Ergen presented some web tools including;

  • Delicious  which is a social bookmarking service that can be used for professional development, networking, suggesting reosurces for students and parents.
  • “Me on the Web” – a Google service which helps you to monitor your identity on-line by sending you alert(s) whenever there is some information and you are mentioned on the web. Also if you like you can delete the unwanted content. After the session I was so inspired that I followed the steps on the Google dashboard and set up the necessary notifications. 
  • Posterous  blogs the content that you send them via e-mail. So, everyone who can write and send an e-mail can blog.
  • Visual CV and Linkedin were suggested as web tools that can help in building a professional portfolio and an on-line CV which would show case your profesional efforts.
  • QR code me as  a very interesting application which could also be used in ELT. It was usggested that teachers can make use of them to promote mobile learning (putting posters in QR codes all around the school and/or presenting the answer key of a worksheet in QR codes for students to scan the code and get the answers later on)
  • RSS can help blog readers to check their favourite blogs all at once because through RSS readers, such as Google reader and/or bloglines , all info from other sources come to your RSS page.

I really think that it is important to introduce RSS to stduents especailly if you want them to to be involved in a blogging or a  podcasting project. The first step could be explaining what RSS is. This video explains RSS in Plain English 🙂

  • Twitter – I was very interested in the idea of using Twitter for professional development (i.e. following conferences on Tweeter, gathering teacher development ideas and flagging hands on activities which call for students’ participation). I will definitely try to learn more about Twitter after this session.



Gavin Dudeney’s session took us on a journey in history of technology in teaching and it was a very interesting presentation. His mentioned his early contact with technology and we all remembered the era where computers were huge, heavy and used two different operating sytems Dos & Windows with laughter (Also we remembered huge mobile phones with handles to carry like a suitcase :)). He asked us to think about our defining moments in our own experience with educational technologies . I was sitting together with my friends Zeynep (Urkun) and Burcu (Tezcan Unal) and Zeynep could remember wordster and word perfect before using windows and she recalled writing her very first e-mail in 1996.

Gavin outlined the history of technology in education and talked about Hype Cycles of technology adaptation, Normalisation, Obsolensce, approches to educational technologies in the 80s (behavioursitic & restrictive), 90s (communicative, openness in terms of having multiple layers of feedback, integrative, integrated), and our age (constructivist, principled eclecticism, connectivism) and concluded by remarking the concept “the Sharepocalypse”. It was a very informative session and I am really grlad that I did not miss it. Thanks a lot!!!

My presentation was about using techology in education as well. Many thanks go to my participants.

 The final pleneary of the day was given by Philip Kerr. It was about translation and use of L1 in learning L2 (which is still perceived as a taboo because language teachers are often advised to refrain from relying on L1 use). He kindly provided the audience with digital handouts of his presentation here.  The content was very interesting for me and I would like to focus on L1- L2 transfer and current reserach findings in another blog post as my response to his presentation.

The finale  of the day came from Henry Bothers and it was GRAND!!! I had so much fun in their interactive paper theatre. How did they make everybody in the room stand up, move their arms, hands, kick an imaginary football and raise a cup??? It was magic- magic of story telling. I missed that…

They gave us a present -a poem from Taylor Mali and it nearly made me cry! You should listen to it. I once more felt how lucky and happy I was because I became a teacher. Thank you Henry Bothers you ROCK!!


Many of my friends were presenting today (and they will tomorrow). I am sure that their presentations were (and will be) inspiring. It was very good to see them.


Adam (Simpson) was instantly following the events (taing pictures, tweeting, writing posts) and making my head spin 🙂

If you also attended the event please share your reflection…

That’s all for now.



Hello world!


Hello,aslisaglam I am Aslı Saglam. I am an English language teacher and I have been teaching English for more than 12 years now. I worked at preparatory schools of some major Turkish universities as English language instructor. Teaching has taught me a lot about myself, other people and the world. I love teaching a lot (like the way Gollum loves the ring ) and I want to share my reflections about teaching in this blog.

Welcome to my world!

subscribe for free

e-mail subscription

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Clustr Maps


Follow Me on Pinterest

Twitter Feed

The EduBlog Awards 2014 Finalist

The EduBlog Awards 2014 Finalist



GEC 2014 Presenter

GEC 2014 Presenter

Skip to toolbar