Thursday, 27 December 2012

merry xmas and happy new year

2012 is at an end and 2013 is nearly upon us and we still don't really have a name for this  decade (the teens?). Lexical gaps aside it's time for a run down of the year. But before that I'd like to post a few thank yous.

I've managed to meet loads of interesting people on twitter. This blog, which I started in March, has become more successful than I could have ever imagined so thank you for reading it, thank you for retweeting and thank you for commenting. The blog didn't get off to a great start when one of the first people to read "is Korea the worst place to teach English" angrily ordered me to remove the post and then blocked me. Things slowly got better though and I had more views in the first week of October than I did for the whole of the first two months. Next, I had more views in the first week of November than the whole of October. A lot of these may have been bots (if the spam is anything to go by) but anyway, I'm grateful to anyone who bothered to read this stuff. The lovely things people have said have really made a difference to me and when I started I never thought it would get anywhere near as many hits as it has done. In this blog I'm going to tell you my dodgiest teaching practices, the most popular posts this year and then my own personal favourite posts. so here goes...

Maybe writing a thank you post like this is a bit premature for such a small blog but I want to take this opportunity to say thanks to a few people. If you don't want to read this then skip to the next heading.

Ok,Firstly Dan, who followed me first and told me to "keep writing", Louise, Susie and Emma for the nice things you've said about various posts. Rich and the Ophelia for putting up with being forced to read almost every post before I publish them. Also some people who have given me feedback or ideas about what to write, including (in no order) Steve King, Alistar Logan, Jo (thanks for the mail), Glynis, Amos Paran, Michael Swan, among many others.  

I also really want to thank a few people on Twitter who have either encouraged me or given me some interesting things to think about. Specifically Michael Griffin who I think has contributed more to the success of this page than anyone and who seems lovely and is a very welcome  presence on twitter. Others include leo, Alex, laura, sophia,  kevchan, TysonJames, Patrick, Adam, Marisa, Anne (who seems lovely),  Dan, Rachel, John and others too numerous to mention (sorry if I missed you!) all of who have supported this blog in one way or another.

Dodgiest practice award

There have been so many great contenders this year but there can only be one winner.

In at number 3 is BrainGym. Yes exercise is good. No rubbing your temple won't stimulate your brain buttons. It's probably the wackiest of them all but only seems to have very limited usage among EFL teachers. also, should teachers actually use it, it probably won't do kids any harm, as long as they don't teach the bizarre science that goes with it.

At Number 2 is learning styles. Yes it's true we all learn in different ways and yes teachers should probably try to get a good mix of activities into lessons, but with no practical application, unproven and contradictory claims about what learning styles are and no proven value for students even if they are taught using their favourite method, -this one's a real stinker.

But the number 1 spot goes to the method that literally left me with my mouth hanging open. Yes, the 2012 winner is neuro linguistic programming! Practitioners are often a little coy about what NLP entails but when you dig down and find some of the incredible claims it makes, combined with the cost of courses and more importantly the prevalence of NLP in EFL literature (even getting it's own, sightly dodgy ELTJ article) there can be no doubt about its selection for the top spot.

This year's "worth a second look" prize goes to "mindfulness". Despite it's Buddhist background and the therapy upbringing there might be something to this. I'm not rushing out to buy the incense yet but having students think carefully about things or just having humans in general be more thoughtful is probably a good thing. More importantly for this blog, there seems to be evidence to support it's efficacy.
Top posts

The most read posts on this blog are not necessarily my favourites but here they are at number three is the piece I wrote on Learning styles (300 hits). Number two is the first in the three part "why we need evidence" (450 hits). However, the clear winner with 1,400 hits is a non evidence-based look at the difference between the DELTA and MA. I guess this topic probably has pretty wide appeal unlike a lot of the other stuff.

As to the posts I enjoyed writing the most well, the look at who Vs whom inspired by grammargirl was really enjoyable and I like to think it's quite a good read. I have a soft spot for the first post on the misuse(?) of the word "literally". There were others which were a lot of fun, like Dr. Fox, the impostor syndrome and the Pygmalion effect but the one I enjoyed the most was Teacher beliefs in EFL. It's a bit silly perhaps and doesn't say all that much but linking penis theft and fan death with EFL is something of an achievement, right?


It's been a great year for EBEFL but it's time to start thinking about next year. I've been dealing with a lot of low-hanging fruit this year, like NLP, brain gym and learner styles. I'm hoping to write about guessing from context, stress timing, dogme, over-teaching, skimming and scanning, paraphrasing and academic dishonesty among others. What would you like to see featured in the 2013 posts of Evidence based EFL? Post your ideas below.
Thanks for reading!



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thanks for so many thought provoking posts this year, and looking forward to many more.

    1. Thank you! And thanks so much for your support!

  3. Keep up the good work. As always, I don't agree with everything you write but I like the blog and expect it will thrive in 2013. What I think would be interesting to tackle would be the various policy approaches Ministries of Education take to the provision of ELT in the Public Sector, and see if you can find any evidence to back one approach over another. Maybe start with Japan and Korea?

    1. Hi Steve,

      Seems like a helluva big topic! It's a good idea though, I'm just not sure how you would untangle cultural and linguistic factors from educational policy choice. Like say koreans scored higher in the IELTS speaking test, -would that be a results of educational policy or because Koreans are possibly less reticent culturally?

      I'm hopeful for more disagreements in 2013 haha

  4. A belated thanks! Thanks for the kind mention and thanks for the thought provoking blog! Looking forward to more reading, exchanging ideas and collaborating in 2013.


    ps- Hello Mr. King!
    (small world innit?)

  5. And one more small thing attached to Steve's point... I think that there is a big difference between the stated policy approaches of Korea and Japan and what actually what ends up happening. For what it is worth. If anything.