The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Keeping up

Earlier this week, I was looking at iT's an online magazine for English language teachers that's edited by a fellow freelancer, Robert Campbell. Robert had sent me the link, so I went to have a quick look and nearly an hour later found that I was still browsing around reading interesting bits and pieces and jotting down notes about books that I might think about buying. It made me realise how rubbish I am generally at keeping up with what's going on in ELT.

Amongst certain groups of colleagues, especially fellow lexicographers, I often feel quite the opposite. I know, from experience, that it's easy to stay trapped at your desk, trawling through corpora, caught up in the minutiae of language usage and rather lose sight of your end users. Because I teach, albeit only occasionally, and because I also work in quite a lot of different areas of ELT, I hope I don't let myself get too cut off from the world beyond my desk.

There are other colleagues though who always seem to know about all the latest ideas, to have read all the latest articles and to be participating in numerous online discussions and ELT forums. It makes me wonder where they find time to do any paid work! Or do they, perhaps, view all that time spent "keeping up" as part of their job? And should I be doing more of it? I suppose my main way of keeping in touch is to go to events - things like the annual IATEFL conference that's coming up next month, or the occasional one-off event like the recent BALEAP PIM. To me, they always seem to be worthwhile because not only do they give me an opportunity to catch up with new ideas and get a feel for what people are talking about, but they also provide a chance to network and catch up with friends and colleagues at the same time.

Is the odd few days here and there enough though? I often think it would be good to read more, but never seem to find the time. I wonder if perhaps I should be setting aside maybe a couple of hours in my working week for keeping up-to-date.

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