ELT Journal onlineA much expanded and easier to use way of accessing a journal that is justly well respected and easier to read than you might think.
ELT Journal (ELTJ) is probably the most respected English language teaching publication, with often quoted pieces on the important or neglected issues of the day from academics and well known writers So well respected is it, in fact, that I believe many of my fellow four week cert/ non MA teachers are put off even picking it up, as I once was. Alternatively, when they do so perhaps they are scared off by the long lists of references or research stats that some articles have. Alternatively, the price (160 pounds for corporate subscribers, 139 pounds for institutional subscribers, 51 pounds for personal subscribers and 26 pounds for students for just four editions of the paper version, with some discounts available) could mean that they never even get to see a copy. It would be a shame if people are being stopped from even looking at it like I was because (as I have found more recently as a reader and then contributor to ELTJ) mixed in with the slightly dry or specialist research are raging arguments, witty jibes, taboo-busting that match what we’ve all been thinking but been scared to say, and other highly readable stuff. To give an example, I found my first book review in ELTJ to be far drier than the others, some of which put the boot into the books in ways that editors of most TEFL magazines or websites would ask you to at least tone down.
People who have not been convinced to have a first or another look by the description of the journal above might find the new online access to ELTJ makes them think again. Now, for your annual subscription price (plus a slight premium for corporate and institutional subscribers, or slight discount for online-only access for those organisations) you don’t just get four copies but access to every edition since 1996 (copies back to 1948 are apparently also available for Digital Archive users, but that involves buying a hard disk or something!) If you are a skimmer like me and four editions would take you all of 10 hours to extract the juice from for your fifty odd quid, you now have the chance to read older things by the same author, on the same topic etc- so much so that I was rushing to read or save all the things I wanted to before my review copy membership came to an end. All those past editions are searchable by author name, title, date and/or edition, making online access a boon for those needing two more references to pad out a Diploma or MA essay. You can also print the PDF documents or save them on your hard disk to read later. In addition, you get Advance Access to reviews and articles that will be published in future editions. This makes up somewhat for the fact that the published version sometimes has pieces written a year or two ago or reviews of books that are that old- even in this internet age of instant blog reactions and Amazon reviews within hours of a book’s release.
The content of online and paper versions remain the same, which in the January 2010 edition consisted of over 100 pages divided into Articles, Readers Respond, Reviews, Websites for the Language Teacher, and Announcements, with previous editions also having sections called Comment, Online Forum Report, Key Concepts in ELT, Point and Counterpoint and Survey Review. Articles in the January 2010 edition were Dealing with learner reticence in the speaking class, Why are students quiet? Looking at the Chinese context and beyond, Help seeking in English language learning, Student views on learning grammar with web- and book-based materials, Culturally responsive L2 education: an awareness-raising proposal, Balancing the dual functions of portfolio assessment, A case study: two teachers’ reflections on the ELP in practice, and Views on creativity from an Indonesian perspective.
I found using the online version quite easy to navigate, fairly fast and not too much of a strain on the eyes in PDF format (and easily printable should it become so). The ELTJ site uses the same standard format as other Oxford Journals, which makes it easy to expand a search to other titles and includes features like viewing several abstracts at once to save time, “Alert me when this article is cited”, “Alert me if a correction is posted”, “Email this article to a friend”, “Similar articles in this journal”, “Add to My Personal Archive” and the chance to pay per article for non-subscribers. There is also “Receive this page by email each issue”, presumably so that you don’t forget to read it, and “Download to citation manager” and “Request permissions”, which I don’t really understand but seem to be for proper academic types. This shared format with other Oxford Journals means that the site lacks functions that some other ELT and linguistics journals have online (e.g. “Most-cited articles”, “Top ten articles”, a downloadable search toolbar) and some other things I would’ve liked to have seen, such as being able to download a PDF of the whole of one edition with one click. There are also some functions that don’t work particularly well. One is “Similar articles…”, which doesn’t always bring up things that are very similar and often includes results from pre-1996 that only the abstracts are available for on the site. Emailing articles to a friend works fine, but when they click on the link in their email they will only be able to read it if they are also subscriber, in which case they probably would have seen it themselves. There are similar issues with expanding your reading to other journals, none of which any school I have ever taught in have had subscriptions to.
Despite the quibbles above, if you were at all thinking of reading ELTJ, having an online version is a huge selling point- if only to be able to find an article you read once without having to flick through pages in what might not even be the right edition as I often still have to with the TEFL magazines that have promised but not yet delivered online access. Despite the parts of it that are a written by people who don’t mince their words etc that make it surprisingly easy to concentrate on, it remains much more weighty and theoretical than English Teaching Professional and Modern English Teacher and so is not for everyone. Now that my freebie review copy access has finished, I’ll also be needing to think about whether it is worth 51 pounds of my money when ITESLJ and TESL-EJ are available online for free and I could get a book or two for that much cash. Having this online access as part of the package makes me almost certain to get my credit card out and absolutely certain to do so if I ever try again with an MA in TESOL. If you still have doubts, it is possible to read a sample copy online after a quick free registration process.