the teacher1

Writing for ELT magazines

I’ve been published in a few industry magazines over the past year. Some of you might like to do the same. If so, here are a few tips. I’m no expert, but you might find them useful.

What do you mean by ‘ELT magazines’?

I mean publications in the ELT industry. Specifically, I mean online and print magazines, newsletters, and journals that you could label as non-academic (as opposed to those based on formal, academic research). Some examples include…

English Teaching Professional, Modern English Teacher, International House Journal, IATEFL Voices, British Council Voices, etc.

I’ve suggested these are non-academic as they have a more general readership. That’s not to say they don’t cover or reference academic research, just that they differ from more academic publications like ELT Journal.

What do you know about this?

Well, I said I’m no expert. However, I’ve being trying to get a few articles published over the last year. I’ve had 3 articles in English Teaching Professional (ETPro) this calendar year, had 3 publications elsewhere (including one in IH journal), and I have a couple of upcoming publications, including one for the IATEFL Young Learner SIG magazine. It’s not a bad return for a year, but there are plenty of teachers out there who will have the same and more. I recommend checking comments on this post (if any) as others may have different views on this topic.

Why write for ELT magazines?

Here are some reasons why it might be beneficial:

  • What you write could help others in the profession
  • It might give you further motivation to reflect on your experiences inside and outside the classroom
  • It’s a good way to engage with a wider ELT community
  • You might find your voice in the industry!
  • If you’re a blogger it might help you reach a wider/different audience
  • Writing in magazines may encourage you to read them more and get some great ideas for improving your own practice
  • It can be a fun short-term project
  • It’s nice to see your name in print (bit egotistic maybe!)
  • It would be a good thing to put on your CV
  • You can follow in the footsteps of your idols… I only sent something to ETPro as I wanted to be like John Hughes, a teacher training guru!
  • It leads to further opportunities. If you’re published in one magazine, you might be contacted by another…

Who reads these magazines?

Teachers, ELT managers, researchers, prospective teachers, publishers – I guess it depends on the magazines but there’s often a varied readership. Some magazines are specific to certain countries, some are online so the readership could be pretty broad, some are promoted heavily through social media (like British Council Voices) and receive monthly views in the tens of thousands! Some of the mags in print form will be passed around staffrooms –  ETPro and Modern English Teacher had a dedicated shelf in the staffroom at my previous school.

One important tip when you write for magazines is to know your audience. Read the magazine yourself first to familiarise yourself with the style, and research or contact magazines to ask about their target audience if this is not clear to you. This will guide your writing.

Ok, you’re selling the idea. But I’ve got nothing to write about…etp front page

A lot of people have said that to me. Many of those people are diploma qualified teachers. They’ve spent months agonising over action research projects or experimental practice lessons on courses like the Cambridge DELTA, but seem convinced that they have nothing of value to share with an industry magazine! I keep telling them ‘come on, your work is so interesting! Edit it down and send it to a few mags. Someone will publish it!’ So far, only one person has listened (cheers Anthony Ash!).

My first articles in industry magazines were based on my DipTESOL project work. One thing to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert for your writing to be of value. Flick through one of the aforementioned magazines if you get a chance. Look at the ‘biodata’ for each author (the info about them next to the article). You’ll find they have a whole range of experience – some are teacher trainers, some are finding their feet in the industry, some are well-known academics. I guess the authors’ experience reflects the varied experience of the audience.

My biggest tip is to write about what you’re interested in! That interest will no doubt shine through!

(I’ve linked to some of my articles in the About Me section if you want to get some ideas for content and style)

I still don’t know what to write about, but I kind of like the idea now!

You could try writing a book review. Some of the magazines accept reviews – some will even send you a book to review if you’re very lucky! I’ve just had my first thing published in IH Journal, that was a book review.

Right! Or should I say ‘Write!’ I’m going to do it! I’ve got an idea for an article…

Then I guess you have some choices. You could contact a magazine and explain your idea. They might be interested. However, I get a lot more responses when I send a complete article I’ve written – I guess there is something tangible to cast an eye over straight away. My advice would be just to write your article and send it off. If one magazine doesn’t like it, send it to another (which might require a bit of editing for style). You might get lucky eventually. Having said that, if your idea is specifically meant for a certain publication, you probably want to run it by them first!

Don’t fear rejection. My success rate is currently about 50/50.

What magazines should I contact?

Ah. Well, I can’t answer that – it depends on what you’ve written. I’m just going to list some ideas – I’ll let you research audience and style for each.

English Teaching Professional and Modern English Teacher – I think these are the best print magazines in the industry. I don’t want to sound like I’m selling subscriptions for them, but they’re full of interesting articles and the editors for both are really friendly and prompt with responses, so you’ll know where you stand quickly. ETPro is published 6 times a year, MET about 4 times I think.

EFL Magazine – this is a relatively new online magazine. It’s actually done in blog format (of sorts, powered by WordPress). The editors seem to really welcome content, and a flick through the list of authors on the site shows you’ll be in very good company.

IATEFL Voices – I’ve never written for Voices but I read it. There is a caption on each mag explaining that they welcome contributions up to 1500 words (or larger if discussed with them first). It goes out to all IATEFL members, some of which are institutions.

IATEFL SIGS – a lot of the IATEFL SIGs (Special Interest Groups) publish their own newsletters, and welcome contributions. This is a good avenue if you’ve an article which is quite a niche topic.

IH Journal – there are about 4 issues a year of this journal. It has a broad range of articles and authors have really varied experience, which is great. Each issue will often follow a particular theme so this is worth asking about.

British Council Voices – I’ve been in contact with Voices and hope to contribute soon. Articles written for this magazine are normally shared on the British Council Teaching English facebook page, meaning they have a pretty large readership. They seem to like relatively short articles sharing practical advice for teachers, but not exclusively.

Humanistic Language Teaching – not a magazine I’ve written for, but I’ve heard a bit about it from ELT Experiences. Might be worth contacting Martin if you want to know more, or looking at their site. Looks like they’ve had some big name authors!

The Teacher – this is a very interesting one. This magazine contacted me after reading one of my articles in another magazine. They are a print publication with a subscription base in Poland. The editor welcomes copy and if they want the article they don’t mess about! From the moment I sent my piece I was published within about 10 days!

Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.

So what should I expect once I send my article off?

Often you get an email of acknowledgement quite quickly. In my experience, magazines then normally express interest in your article between one day and one month after sending it (one average about a week or two). If they like it, some mags will send you a copyright form to sign, meaning you agree to share the rights to the article with them. Not all will do this though. After that, it’s normally a waiting game, and things can go pretty quiet! Once you know your article is accepted, great! However, it doesn’t mean you know when it will actually appear in the mag! The shortest time I’ve waited is 10 days, the longest about 5 months. Just be patient! Sometimes magazines will have certain themes for upcoming issues, so might be holding your article back until its more relevant. I find that the wait is quite exciting. Note: before publication the magazine might ask you to edit the article, and they’ll probably ask you for a little biodata.

Well, that’s about it. I hope that’s useful for budding authors – please share any success stories with me! Happy writing 🙂

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36 comments

  1. Wonderful post Pete and invaluable information for anyone who wants to develop into writing. As someone who has written for IATEFL Voices for book reviews, it is a wonderful publication that is keen to support any budding contributor.

    I would definitely recommend anyone to write with whatever they are passionate about. It would inform your teaching and develop you as a teacher.

    Like

  2. An eclectic piece of information which would motivate even Non English speakers to put their pen on the paper. And that’s what I’m going to be doing. Although my first language isn’t English I’ve managed to develop a flair for the language and now I teach for middle school kids. I’m presently pursuing CIDTL to broaden my horizon in the field of education. And lately the idea of writing has been bombarding my subconscious mind and coincidentally I come across your article! So I’m not going to wait for the right time. Because,
    The best thing to do anything is right now, or should I say Write now! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Paddu, thanks for reading my post! It’s great to hear that you’re so motivated. I look forward to reading your article, any ideas what you might write about? Let me know how things go or when/if you get published. Oh, and best of luck with the Cambridge course! You know, it could be really interesting to write about your experiences on this course and how it’s helped with your professional development… 🙂

      Like

      1. Hi Peter, most writings have been random ramblings. I write short poems from time to time. I’ll send them to publishers. I have had two sessions of Cambridge course and just putting my notes together. Would definitely share on the PD course.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Jellybeanqueen: A TEFL blog and commented:
    I’ve always liked the idea of writing for ELT magazines (it’s the name in print thing!) but so far I’ve only made the effort to have one article published in IATEFL Voices.

    This article reminded me that there are so many publications to write for. Now I just need to give myself that kick up the bum to actually put my ideas down on paper.

    Another idea: if you have any kind of linguistics experience is http://www.linguistlist.org. You can apply to join the organisation and if they think your qualifications are suitable you can be a reviewer for them. You can choose from a range of books and they send them to you wherever you are (it even arrived in Cape Town) and once you have written a review you get to keep the book.

    So many ideas….so little time 🙂

    Like

    1. Hey Kirsten, thanks so much for reblogging this article. Great suggestion with linguistlist by the way, I’m going to look into it. What did you write for IATEFL Voices? Do you have a copy floating around?

      Like

      1. Hi Peter.

        Always a pleasure to reblog quality 🙂 and I always appreciate it when I find a blogpost that inspires and motivates me. I’ve got a copy of the article here: http://wp.me/pLZi0-cR
        It’s from another lifetime ago so it’s not rocket science but it’s something I feel strongly about, which is why it was easy to write 🙂

        PS Another suggestion is signing up to be British Council blogger.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for the post! I’ve just started writing and need this.
    I just have a question: I’ve noticed you’ve published the same article in 2 magazines, would that make a problem with one of the magazines?
    While I was reading ‘how to submit an article’ on one of the magazines’ websites, they wrote that the piece shouldn’t be published/considered by other publishers.

    Thanks again 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment. That’s a very good point. Some magazines will send you a copyright form – once you complete it that means you share the copyright with them, but you can’t distribute the article without their permission (although you can normally put it on your own blog if you want). I’d say this is the most common thing I’ve come across. However, in the context of my own publications, I contacted both magazines and they said they were happy for the piece to be published in both. I guess that was because their audiences are quite different, but I’m not sure. Whatever you do, the most important thing is to check this with the mag, and just follow what they say. Let’s hope someone who works at these magazines will comment on this and give us a bit more info! Good luck with the writing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks James! I might look into this myself… looking at your blog it’s clear you’ve written a lot of articles. Any other recommendations? Anything specific to Brazil (if you’re still based there)?

      Like

      1. With pleasure! I’m an editorial board member of the ETAS Journal in Switzerland which I also highly recommend (www.e-tas.ch/journal/issues) and here in Brazil the BrazTESOL newsletter is your best bet. You can get in touch with editor here via newsletter@braztesol.org.br

        The truth of ELT journals, at least the ones for national associations, is that they really need articles and as long as you can deliver quality, well written pieces, you will almost certainly be published.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. A really useful post Pete. I’m just beginning to write for publications and blogs. The first thing I found I needed to do was ‘find my voice’. I remember this happened when I started my MA course- it as the first step.

    ‘My voice’ for the articles and blogs seems to be quite a practical, accessible one- actually you have given me some really encouraging feedback about this Pete. It’s part of deciding who you want to be or how to come across. Are you ‘an expert’ , ‘a friend’, ‘a colleague’? Are you remote or someone who has the same challenges as the reader?

    I’ve found this a useful starting place.

    I will recommend this on. Thanks

    Like

    1. Ha, funny you say that I’ve given you advice on finding your voice, as I’m not really sure what my ‘voice’ is with this blog! It’s just a mix of ideas, thoughts, plans etc and I’m not sure how I come across. Just as me I guess! Hey, great to hear your feedback today about your student recognising your posts! I’m really pleased that you chose to share some of your expertise here, much appreciated. What magazine do you think you’ll approach from those on the list?

      Like

  6. Hey Peter,

    Great selection of potentials for writing. I’m trying to get into publishing more now. I’ve been blogging for a few years and would like to broaden my horizons. I’m also looking to get more seriously into freelance writing. I’ve had a look at a few of the journals that you recommended, but none have mentioned about getting commissioned. Have you got an idea of which ones actually pay for articles?

    Thanks

    Barry

    Like

    1. Hi Barry, cheers for commenting. My experience is limited to mags mentioned in the post, but some of these do pay for contributions. ETP pay, as do MET. Payment for them depends on length of article, I’ve had anything between 50 to 100 pounds. Articles of about 2000 words plus some pics have got me 100 quid… Sounds like a lot to write but I guess it depends on the topic. I did a book review for IH journal, they paid me 15 quid. The Teacher magazine pays in books. I’m sure there are more mags that pay, but do consider that it can take a while for what you write to get published, I don’t mean get accepted but to actually appear, and that’s when you’ll receive payment. Have you joined the ELTteacher2writer database? I’ve never been contacted through it but could be useful.

      Like

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