Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

December 1, 2009

Create a PLN

You may have come across this acronym which is being talked about a lot at the moment but if not, it stands for Personal Learning Network. This is a group of people with whom you have a connection and from whom you are able to progress your learning.   Many of  these networks are found on social media sites such as twitter but learning networks can effectively be anywhere. Your network might be at school or work or you may find them at a club or social group. You may have several networks all for different aspects of your personal learning development.

Your PLN can even be anonymous!!

I discovered a great new PLN last week ! I live on the outskirts of a small village in North Yorkshire (see my blog Fleetham Life) and last week I took my first ever ride on the local bus to the nearest town about 12 miles away and what a journey it was!!

For the first couple  miles we were just two passengers plus the bus driver.  After getting to the village a few more people boarded and then the information share began!

1.   First on the agenda was an update on the secondary school run and how the children had dressed up and one had left some money on his bus. He knew it was one of two children and had made arrangements for it to be returned by the evening driver!

  • Lots of good examples of conditional sentences here, narrative tenses and some modals too: She must have been worried.  If only I’d seen it before they all left.  The children had been told to dress up,

2. We then moved on to the local weather. Our bus driver/PLN moderator gave us the low-down on which areas had been flooded, which bridges and roads were closed and the local forecast in the coming days.

  • Present continuous for weatherIt’s raining in Thirsk. More modalsRichmond should be clear by this afternoon. FutureThe next few days will be fine.

3.   Next we had a few jokes just to jolly the journey along. These mostly from the driver but one or two ‘regulars’ joined in too! I was a lurker, listening and laughing.

  • Jokes can be very useful listening practice, do you get it? Do you understand the puns (check out Gapfillers joke section)

4.   The next topic of conversation was about a recent large lottery win and this sparked a discussion about ‘What I would do if I won the lottery’ I’m sure you’ve all done this exercise in class at some stage but here it was in real life!

  • Good uses of conditionals!!

5.   The next topic was about the local housing market – which houses had been sold, which were for sale, how much etc…

  • Great use of passive, That cottage was sold last week. Present perfects They have been trying to sell for 6 months.

6.   We just had time to discuss health and fitness before we reached our destination! The driver, it turned out was a bit of a jogger! Other people proffered their own preferred methods of keeping fit.

  • A lot of present perfectI’ve been …. for ….. use of the present simple for routines I run 5 miles every day.

This is all well and good you may say but what is the significance?

For me it was a true PLN giving me all the local news and information that might be important to someone living in the area. It was also a very jolly and enjoyable journey.

For learners – never under-estimate the value of any language experience (this could be on TV or online too). The use of language that you have learned in class in a real context reinforces it and you are also likely to pick up something new!!!


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by convergemag, Berni Wall. Berni Wall said: English language learners create a PLN to improve skills http://bit.ly/7tVASf #efl #esl […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Create a PLN « Rliberni’s Blog -- Topsy.com — December 1, 2009 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  2. Great idea. I’ve been thinking about sth similar for some time but don’t have time to do so.
    can’t we, I mean the educators / teachers start a ning for our sts to communicate, collaborate, share ideas or help each other.
    May be they will become more motivated or addicted as us and they won’t do any school work.
    Thanks for sharing these great ideas.

    Comment by eva büyüksimkeşyan — December 1, 2009 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

    • Hi Eva,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Yes it is exciting! But you’re right about the addiction factor! Let’s hope it will soon be ‘old hat’ and we can take it in our stride! Then there’s a danger of it being ‘boring’ to students I suppose!!

      Comment by rliberni — December 1, 2009 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

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