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What I’ve Learned from my PLN

(Note: If this is the first post you’ve read in this series, and you’re mystified by the PLN acronym, start with What’s a PLN, anyway?)

This has been a resources kind of week for me–free books and free conferences!

Free eBooks

OUP_2009-09-17_1120Oxford University Press is offering six applied linguistic books as free pdf downloads. Like many other teachers, I already own paper copies of a few of these books.  BUT, the pdf versions are searchable, which I really, really love. This is the first time Dr. Widdowson’s unpublished doctoral thesis has been available anywhere. If you get excited thinking about language communities, discourse analysis, semantics and pragmatics (I do!) this is happy news. At the very least, these books are excellent additions to any language teacher’s virtual bookshelf:

An Applied Linguistic Approach to Discourse Analysis by Dr. Henry Widdowson (his unpublished Ph.D. thesis)

Conditions for Second Language Learning by Dr. Bernard Spolsky

Explorations in Applied Linguistics by Dr. Henry Widdowson

Learning Purpose and Language Use by Dr. Henry Widdowson

Second Language Pedagogy by  Dr. N S Prabhu

To download the books, go to OUP’s homepage. Find the box with the link to the OUP Teacher’s Club  and click on it. If you aren’t a member, you will need to register, but it’s free. Once you enter the club page, look for the tab that says “Teacher Development” in the far left column. Then, you should see a link that says “Download Free Applied Linguistics Books” in the right column. I learned about this from my most recent copy of the ELTeCS Newsletter for Asia (which is a double PLN bonus because I learned about the newsletter in a blog post from another teacher in my personal learning network ).

Free Online Conferences

I’m also planning to attend two upcoming online conferences. I love online conferences because 1) they’re usually free and 2) I can attend without having to deal with airports, hotels or jet lag. The main downside is that I tend to get very little sleep during them because presentations tend to run on a 24 hour clock. But then, I rarely get much sleep at conferences anyway, so perhaps that really isn’t so different.

Logo1The Jokaydia Unconference is coming up first. If you have never ventured into Second Life, and are curious, this is an excellent chance to experience professional development in a virtual world. Jokaydia takes good care of newbies. There will be orientation sessions for teachers new to Second Life, with mentoring to get you enough skills to attend workshops (not much skill needed). Some of the sessions already scheduled include Games in Learning, Teaching Without Borders, On Twitter in Twitter, and the Role of Libraries in a Digital World. One of the highlights for me will be the tour to Maslow’s Hierarchical Hideaway. I was lucky enough to visit Maslow’s Hideaway during an open house (It’s not generally open to the public), and look forward to going again. The Hideway is an excellent example of using a 3D environment to teach.

I learned about the unconference from Jo Kay and Dean Groom on Twitter. You can also follow events leading up to and during the unconference on Twitter, using the #jokayiaunconf09 hashtag.


The same ELTeCS newsletter had information about Social Networking: Thriving as a Community of Practice, a conference to explore the role of  Information and Communication Technology (ICT)  in language classrooms. The conference will run from November 5th through the 8th. While this is a regional online conference sponsored jointly by Avealmec and ARCALL (two Latin American CALL associations), it’s open and free to everyone. The roster of scheduled speakers contains familiar faces from Twitter and Second Life. Presentations will explore “how the sea of information available on the net sparks connections, thus creating new information and a different way of learning to the possible e-environments like Twitter, Facebook, Second Life where these connections are likely to take place.”

You will be able to watch the presentations live via Moodle or WizQ. If you’ve never used either of these tools, there are links on the EVENT tab on the home page to get you started. The folks involved with the conference are also very good at making post-presentation recordings available, too, in case the prentation times don’t work well with your time zone.


  1. Dan Kirk says:

    Thanks for the tips. The books will be a great addition. I have a couple of them, but have never heard of the others.

    1. Barbara says:

      And you can search them using keywords. I just love that!

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