I’ve had a request for a post on the topic of free, open mailing lists (MLs). Many teachers are not members of organizations such as TESOL, for one reason or another, and so don’t have access to the MLs and online discussion groups provided by these organizations. MLs can be extremely useful–you get new ideas, colleagues to help you when you have a question, and sympathy when you have problems, without the cost of going to a conference or joining an organization. Everyone should join at least one or two MLs! So, here are some that don’t require any kind of paid membership–all are free. (This list does NOT include everything! If you know of a particularly good mailing list that isn’t included, please leave a comment.)
Many MLs function as discussion groups that allow for all members the ML to ask questions, give their opinions, etc.
- TESL-L is positively venerable, existing since 1991. It is no longer very active, but still has a large membership and can be a good resource.
- The National Institute for Literacy: Adult English Learners Discussion Group is sponsored by the US government, but many of the discussions apply to anyone teaching adults. NIfL also hosts the Workplace Literacy ML and several other MLs.
- LINGUIST is the main ML for Linguist List; topics include everything related to linguistics, mostly at an academic level. LINGUIST is a one-of-a-kind, highly reputable, somewhat formal ML. (If you browse the archives, you’ll see a lot of famous names.) Book reviews are a feature, and applied linguistics books are often included.
- ITESL-J hosts a directory of ESL and EFL mailing lists.
- Linguist List also hosts or mirrors dozens more linguistics-related mailing lists on a wide variety of subtopics.
- Previously mentioned: the Extensive Reading ML.
ONE-WAY MAILING LISTS
One-way mailing lists are like newsletters: sent out for you to read, not as a forum for discussion. However, you can often respond or ask questions by e-mailing the author directly.
- Tomorrow’s Professor, hosted at Stanford, sends out posts twice a week on a variety of general academic topics. Many posts relate specifically to American higher education, but others are relevant to any kind of educational or educational leadership situation. (They’ve recently added a Tomorrow’s Professor Blog where discussion can take place.)
- World Wide Words is a newsletter-style ML about the history and usage of English. Not strictly relevant to teaching, but fun for language-lovers.
Mailing lists used to be more popular than they are now in these days of blogs and RSS, but not everyone is familiar with how they work. Here’s a little information to help you get started or improve your ML experience.