Now I am one!

On the 1st of April 2012 – almost exactly a year ago – I published my first modest blog post on this site.

Which means that now I am one.


Someone has to say it, and it might as well be me:

Happy birthday to me,

Happy birthday to me,

Happy birthday dear me,

Happy birthday  to me!

Why, thank you!

Oh look, I’ve even got myself a cake.

Very thoughtful.


Having long avoided the blogosphere, partly out of a fear for how much more of my life it would end up sucking up, partly out of a suspicion that it pandered to the loudest and crudest ends of the lowest common denominator spectrum, and partly due to the suspicion that a platform might turn me into an even more opinionated monster (never give a fanatic a soapbox, and so on!), a drunken conversation with Jeremy Harmer in a London pub one night led me to take tentative steps and test the water.

And once in, I’ve not yet stopped swimming.

Birthdays are always a good time to look back, as well as forward, so I thought I’d take this chance to pore over a few of the weird and wonderful statistics that the Interweb makes available to you once you embark on an endeavour like blogging. Here goes:

In the last year, there have been – to date – 20,197 visits to this site, which seems a fairly respectable number, I guess. A quick bash on my calculator tells me that that’s an average of 55 visits a day, which means more than two an hour, every hour. I’m obviously not hitting – and will never hit – the kind of numbers drawn like flies to a flame to Russell Stannard’s site or  Scott Thornbury’s, but hey, for a site which is essentially little more than a place for my to let off steam, voice what’s on my mind and talk – often at great (and possibly tedious!) length – to myself, it’s no mean feat.

Somewhat disturbingly, though, my best ever day was Thursday April 5th 2012, when 336 folk swung by.

It’s been all downhill ever since!

Where are all these viewers from, I hear you ask? Well, that’s a good question. Here’s the top five: 5,482 are from the UK, 1661 from Spain, 13777 from Germany, 1196 are resident in the US of A and 912 are in Poland.

More bizarrely, though, 10 have been from Ecuador, 6 from Iraq, 6 from Palestine, 4 from Yemen, 3 only from China – the same as Azerbaijan, Sudan, Libya and Trinidad and Tobago, and then I’ve had solitary visitors from Cambodia, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Namibia, Benin, Lesotho . . . and Vatican City!

Given that the official population of Vatican City is 886, I do wonder who on earth decided to come here – and wish the stats could tell me which search query led them to me, but alas we will never know! I’m secretly hoping they were the person who entered Japanese taboos (see below) – and got me instead!

In the year to date, I’ve managed 45 posts – including this one – and have attracted 597 comments, though given that I’ve tried to reply to each and every one, at least half of those must be my own! The most commented on post has been the Technology and Principles in Language Teaching post, which I guess is very much a zeitgeist kind of issue, having attracted 66 comments.

The most viewed part of this blog – by some distance – is unsurprisingly the home page / archive, which I guess serves as the portal here. After that, though, the most viewed post – with 908 views, has been Bridging the Culture Gap in the classroom. Slightly depressingly, the least viewed is one of the posts I wrote in praise of non-native speaker teachers, which has so far only attracted 115!

The ways in which people have found me here is also fairly interesting. Search Engines are obviously the main culprits, with 3,924 people arriving via the engine of their choice, but second is Twitter, thus confirming my suspicion that one of its main functions in ELT is to serve as a space in which if we shout loudly enough, we drag people away from, whatever it was they had set out to day for the day and over to our blogs instead!

The searches people have made to bring themselves here are also both entertaining and sobering. English culture has been the most popular gateway here, with 370 searches bringing bemused folk to my door. Fourth moist popular, though, has been former Arsenal legend, Freddie Ljungberg, who I mentioned – and included a picture of – in a post wherein I contemplated how football chants AND ELT terms come into being! God only knows what the Freddi fans made of the post.

Other unusual searches that led here included: Speak English or Die (9), Marge Simpson Mona Lisa (8), You Always Talk Such Rubbish (7), Traditional German Breakfast (4), Walrus John Lennon (3), How Old is Chia Suan Chong (3), Wahey Man Geordie Slang (2), Skinhead Cross Culture (2), Friendship Muslim Britain (2), Shy to Speak English (2) . . . and with one search each, the truly bizarre end of the web: Why is there a big line on my head? / The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions Dating / response to not being in the mood to entertain someone being coy / lobster claw machine 2012 / can’t hear when not listening / debate-in the era of instant gratification values have not validity / i am really struggling to keep up with conversations help / skirt for praising the teachers / using Mexican food to bridge the cultural gap in the classroom / bathwater Dogme / Jimi Hendrix passed out / Japanese taboos.

The only real conclusion I can draw from all of this random madness is that my own search entries are positively vanilla in comparison!

So there you have it. A year in mad numbers and statistics.

Thanks to all of you out there who’ve been coming here over this time, and who’ve found my ramblings thought-provoking, amusing, entertaining or infuriating! I’m honestly flattered to know you even exist.

So what’s next? Well, over coming months, there’ll be a post on how Dogme can help us coursebooks better; more on the twenty things I’ve learned in twenty years, which will include rants abut needs analysis, more on grammar, the curse of recipes in EFL, NLP and the like; I’m going to hopefully try and embed some more clips of actual classroom practice and comment on it a bit; there may be some dissection of tech sites I’ve sen touted and possibly even a heroes and villains feature.

Before that, though, I intend to take a week off from all this frenzied work and enjoy the early Spring, spend some time with my long-suffering wife and kids and have a life away from the web.

You could always try doing the same, you know!

9 responses

  1. Congrats and happy birthday to you and your blog, Hugh. Has it only been a year? They grow up so fast! I have thoroughly enjoyed your thoughtful and thought-provoking blog. Also, kudos on your responses to others, which is another aspect I have enjoyed. Thanks for putting in the time at the keyboard, I think it has been helpful for teachers all around the world (from Seoul to the Vatican to Ecuador and back).

    1. Thanks Mike. It has indeed only been almost a year.
      Personally, it’s felt much longer, but then I’ve also had a ten-month child to contend with at home on top of everything else!
      Really glad to know the work has been noticed and appreciated.
      Thanks again for the kind words and support.

  2. Congratulations!
    45 posts – that’s a lot. That’s almost every week. And the number of comments is impressive too. I am slightly envious because I’ve never had a visitor from the Vatican City 🙂
    Carry on blogging!

  3. I fear I am compelled to, Leo.
    I may even one day start to make it slightly more user-friendly!

  4. Heroes and (TEFL) criminals sounds great! Thanks for an engaging, enjoyable and interesting blog.

    1. That may well be one I go for, at he risk of ruffling a few feathers, of course.
      Have some relatively unsung heroes I’d like to talk about too, though!
      Glad you’ve been enjoying it thus far, anyway, Chris.

  5. Congrats and thanks for all the interesting themes. I keep them all – but alas, don’t have 45!!! Might have to look for the earlier ones … and you have at least one follower from SWITZERLAND! Cheers and enjoy your holiday, Corinne

    1. Thanks for the kind words Corinne.
      You know you don’t have to ‘keep’ the posts, though!
      They are all available here and won’t be going away anywhere any time soon.
      Anyway, thanks again for the support.

      1. By the way, I’ve just checked.
        141 views in total from Switzerland, so you’re clearly not entirely alone!

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