Understanding the world of BC TEAL Publishing


By Azzam Premji

Image sourced from https://www.picserver.org/highway-signs2/p/publish.html


BC TEAL provides three ways for you to share your English as an Additional Language (EAL) teaching ideas: an academic journal, a community newsletter and a blog. Interestingly, BC TEAL does not charge readers for viewing the published articles since it believes in sharing expertise. In addition, copyright of the articles published in BC TEAL’s publications remains with the author. Why not try publishing with BC TEAL? You will find below a diagram that summarizes the methods of publishing employed at BC TEAL.

Most difficult to publish1. Journal – supports EAL scholarship
a. Research based article
b. Opinion Essay
c. Book Review
2. Newsletter – supports the greater EAL community
Easiest to publish3. Blog – supports EAL teachers

BC TEAL Journal

According to Douglas (2019), the BC TEAL Journal fosters scholarship and was originally inspired by other TESOL affiliate journals such as the NYS TESOL Journal and the CATESOL Journal. The BC TEAL Journal contains three types of writing: a research-based article that has never been published; an opinion essay which connects theory to practice; and a book review of a recently published EAL book. Scott states that “submissions are double-anonymous peer reviewed”, and this means that two peers review the submission while the author remains anonymous to them. Submissions also go through a process of editing, resulting in accepted articles being published in eight to twelve months.

Here are some other details related to writing for the journal:

  1. Research-based article (about 8,000 words)

Academic format: 

  • Title, abstract, literature review, discussion, conclusion and references
  • Academic writing which includes APA citations

B. Opinion Essay (about 4,000 words)

Journalistic style:

  • Title, abstract, discussion, conclusion and references
  • Academic writing which includes APA citations

C. Book Review (about 1,000 words)

Academic format: 

  • Title, abstract, discussion, conclusion and references
  • Academic writing which includes APA citations

In addition, all BC TEAL Journal submissions generally follow the citation and reference format suggested by the American Psychology Association, 6th Edition, according to the “Author Guidelines”. Additionally, the journal has its own style which includes Canadian spelling. For more information about how to create APA citations and references, please check the Purdue Online Writing Lab.

If you are interested in having an article published in the BC TEAL Journal, you may also wish to view a recorded Webinar on the topic. The video provides you with an overview of some journal themes, and it describes the mentoring process of being published. To see all previous BC TEAL Journal articles, go to the BC TEAL website (bcteal.org) > News and Publications > BC TEAL Journal. For more information on submitting a journal article, click on “For Authors”. New submissions that fit the scope and focus of the journal are welcome.

TEAL News (about 800 words)

TEAL News is BC TEAL’s newsletter. The newsletter publishes shorter articles from around 500 to 1,000 words long. These articles can be on a variety of topics related to teaching English as an additional language, such as descriptions of classroom activities, short research reports, reflections on teaching and learning, and conference reports. Newsletter articles should be written in a reader-friendly style that appeals to a wide audience. Sources, if used, are cited and referenced using the APA format, like the journal. For more information on the newsletter, kindly send an email to editor@bcteal.org with your queries.

The BLOG (up to 500 words)

The final method of publishing is the BC TEAL Blog. It is the easiest way to engage in idea sharing with other EAL practitioners. You may wish to consider the following format:

  • Title, introduction, discussion, references (if any)
  • Hyperlinks
  • Question(s) that ask for readership engagement
  • Short bio of the author
  • Picture(s) that illustrate your topic ought to follow the Creative Commons License 

If you do use sources, please cite your writing and provide a reference using the APA format. Also, remember to cite your images. Providing tag words and a category for classification are appreciated and allow readers to find your article more easily. 

To get more ideas of what to blog about, check out the ones produced by TESOL International Association or TESL Ontario, which are mainly innovative teaching tips. If you have an idea for a blog post, contact admin@bcteal.org, and you will be put in touch with the Social Media Committee Chair.


You may want to start off your publishing experience by posting a blog. You can then gradually contribute to the Newsletter and Journal. Whatever publication you decide to write in, there is always an audience waiting to read about new ideas and research. 

Please reply to this blog

Did you find this post useful? Let us know in the comment section; we would love to hear from you.


Bio of the author

Azzam is a Canadian EAL teacher who has 10+ years of experience teaching in Japan, Sweden, Poland, Canada, England and the United Arab Emirates. He holds a masters of education degree in Education Technology and TESOL.

From the newsletter: “Dialogue Journaling with Penzu Classic”


Article reprinted from the TEAL News, Winter 2018.


Figure 1: A Journal Entry

In this article, I review Penzu Classic’s free journal as a tool for facilitating online dialogue journaling. As a technique to foster writing skills, dialogue journaling can be used with young and old, native and non-native learners in any educational setting (Peyton & Staton, 1991, p.2). Dialogue journaling (DJ) is informal written communication between a student and teacher (tutor, self or more advanced peer) in a journal on a scheduled basis. Regarding non-native learners, many teachers use it to develop writing fluency, but it has also shown other benefits—for example, increasing grammar knowledge (Rokni & Seifi, 2013), stimulating interest in writing (Holmes & Moulton, 1997) and reducing writing anxiety (Holmes & Moulton, 1997; Liao & Wong, 2010). Not all research, however, is as supportive. For instance, Yoshihara (2008) found that DJ did not improve writing fluency to a statistically significant degree, but it did improve the learner- teacher relationship (Yoshihara, 2008). Other auxiliary uses include the ability to extend learner-teacher contact time and provide information on learners’ needs, interests and progress (Peyton, 2000).

For years, the paperbound journal has been used to facilitate this interactive writing activity—but now there are online journals that can be used in place of it. Being virtual, these journals remove geographical barriers, eliminate the frustration of reading messy handwriting (a grievance voiced not only by teachers but also by learners) and simplify the burden of dealing with late or lost journal entries (Longhurst & Sandage, 2004). There are many virtual journals, but one that stands out is Penzu Classic (http://classic.penzu.com). Although it offers three kinds of accounts, teachers and learners only need its free-of-charge Basic account to facilitate DJ. The Basic account provides one free journal where a learner can write an unlimited number of journal entries on an authentic-looking writing pad. The learner can also share his or her journal entries with a teacher, and, moreover, the learner and teacher can write back and forth on the journal entries within dialogue bubbles, giving the written dialogue a conversation-like feeling.

Key Characteristics of Dialogue Journaling

In addition to being relaxed and scheduled, dialogue journaling is learner-centered, conversation-like, not assessed and discreet (See Linnell, 2010; Peyton, 2000; Peyton, 2000; Putney, 1991 for further elaboration).


The learner decides what to write about. To illustrate, primary school learners can write questions about an upcoming field trip; middle or high school year learners, opinions on a new social trend; post-secondary or adult learners, reflections on a course assignment or challenge at work. But if the learner cannot decide what to write about, the teacher can step in and suggest a topic relevant to the learner or the curriculum (Linnell, 2010, p. 23). Regardless of whether the topic is selected by the learner or by the teacher, sensitive or inappropriate content can appear because of the open-ended nature of the writing. Therefore the teacher must make restrictions on topics, and ethical and legal responsibilities clear to learners (Peyton, 2000).


In DJ the learner and teacher take turns “asking questions, offering opinions, requesting clarification, voicing appreciation, or expanding on something [written]” (Denne-Bolton, 2013, p. 2). This interaction simulates oral conversation and, as Peyton and Staton (1991) highlight, emphasizes the dialogical nature of reading and writing.

Limited Error Correction

Since the teacher is a participant rather than an evaluator in a written conversation, error correction is not stressed (Peyton,2000, p. 2). However, the teacher can provide some discrete methods of correction in case the learner expects mistakes to be pointed out. In these cases, Linnell (2010) and Peyton (2000) have some suggestions, for example, teacher modeling [i.e. recasting] corrections in a reply. If the learner wrote, “I went to villago mall wqith my brother at Friday.” The teacher could reply with, “I
went to the park with my wife on Friday.” Another way to correct is by writing a “P.S.” at the bottom of a journal entry (Peyton, 2000).


The teacher should not share journal entries with other learners because confidentiality encourages risk-taking and expressive writing. But if the teacher attains the learner’s permission before- hand, Longhurst and Sandage (2004) note that, reading an entry out loud in class can be beneficial because the teacher’s request [to read the entry to other learners] itself is a form of encouragement and an affirmation of the learner’s thinking (p.72).

Dialogue Journaling and Second Language Acquisition Theory

Dialogue journaling encourages second language acquisition by providing three ideal conditions. First, since the teacher is able to tailor responses to provide understandable yet slightly challenging reading texts, the dialogue journal is a good venue for comprehensible input (Linnell, 2010, p.24). Krashen’s input hypothesis asserts that one condition for language acquisition is exposure to comprehend- sible input, i.e., language that is under- stood but “a little beyond” competence Krashen, 1982). Second, since the learner and teacher are conversing, albeit through writing, about authentic topics, the dialogue journal is a good place for the negotiation of meaning—clarifying, checking comprehension, paraphrasing (Linnell, 2010). This helps the learner to notice gaps in his or her abilities, and therefore, according to Long’s (1996) interaction hypothesis, aids in facilitating language acquisition.

Third, because the writing topics are self- selected, the learner is interested. And because the writing is uncorrected, the learner’s confidence is nurtured, and the learner feels comfortable to experiment with language. According to Krashen’s affective filter hypothesis, language acquisition is aided when a learner is motivated, self-confident and feels safe to take risks (Krashen, 1982).

Overview of Penzu Classic’s Free Journal

Even though it is free, the journal is secure and user-friendly. It is protected with two passwords. Learning how to use its features takes very little time. To illustrate, in order to create a journal entry, the learner logs in and then is brought to a writing pad ready to be filled with words. By selecting the coloured cube icon, a primary school learner can write in a kaleidoscope of colors, revealing emotions or modeling patterns. By selecting the bulleting, indenting, aligning, and numbering tools, an older learner can fashion outlines, essays, letters, poems, lists—a variety of texts.


Figure 2: A Journal Entry with Dialogue Journaling

Similar to creating a journal entry, other features are also straightforward because of their intuitively labelled icons. For example, to share a journal entry, the learner selects Share (the envelope icon) and then enters the teacher’s email address. To open a shared journal entry, the teacher selects Recent Entries, and then selects the shared journal entry. To comment—or dialogue—on a shared journal entry, the teacher selects Comments (the speech bubble icon) and then types a message appearing in a speech bubble above the journal entry.

Some shortcomings

No tool is perfect, and Penzu Classic is no exception. I found three shortcomings that I hope will be addressed in the near future. First, while there is a free Penzu app, DJ is not yet fully functional on mobile devices. As a result, DJ is limited to desktop and laptop computers.

Second, there are no painting tools, e.g., a freehand pencil, eraser or brush. Such tools would more effectively include very young children and those with limited literacy skills. As we know, these learners often use illustrations either as a compliment to their writing or as an alternative to writing in their journal entries. Another related flaw is that there are no drawing tools for diagrams, flowcharts, graphs, equations, or symbols. Without these, applications in subject areas like science and math are restricted. How can a primary school learner describe photosynthesis without diagramming it, or a high school learner ask questions about a quadratic equation without writing the equation?

Third, it is not possible to dialogue directly on a journal entry; dialoguing must take place above the journal entry in dialogue bubbles. Providing feedback, particularly through recasting, would be more effective if it was located next to the errors, rather than above the journal entry in speech bubbles. However, with Penzu Classroom, another kind of account offered by Penzu Classic, the teacher is able to write directly on the journal entry—but Penzu Classroom has an annual teacher’s fee of USD 50.00.


Providing three conditions that are conducive to language acquisition, dialogue journaling as an authentic, communicative technique is one way to supplement the teaching of writing skills to non-native learners. I’s free journal, although not without flaws, is an easy-to-use tool to facilitate secure DJ on laptops and desktop computers.


Denne-Bolton, S. (2013). The dialogue journal: A tool for building better writers. English Teaching Forum, 51(2), 2-11. Retrieved from https://americanenglish.state.gov/files/ae/resource_files/51_2_3 _denne-bolton.pdf.

Holmes, V. L., & Moulton, M. R. (1997). Dialogue journals as an ESL learning strategy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 40(8), 616-621.

Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. Retrieved from www.sdkrashen.com/content/books/principles_and_practice.pdf.

Liao, M. T., & Wong, C. T. (2010). Effects of dialogue journals on L2 students’ writing fluency, reflections, anxiety, and motivation. Reflections on English Language Teaching, 9(2), 139-170.

Longhurst, J., & Sandage, S., A. (2004). Appropriate technology and journal writing: Structured dialogues that enhance learning. College Teaching, 52(2), 69-75. Retrieved from http://elibrary.bigchalk.com.

Long, M. H. (1996). The role of the linguistic environment in second language acquisition. In W. C. Ritchie and T. K. Bhatia (Eds.), Handbook of Second Language Acquisition (pp. 413-468). New York: Academic Press.

Linnell, K. M. (2010). Using dialogue journals to focus on form. Journal of Adult Education, 39(1), 23-28.

Peyton, J. K. (2000). Dialogue journals: Interactive writing to develop language and literacy. ESL Resources. Revised. ERIC Q&A. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Edu- cation. (ED450614). Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED450614.pdf.

Peyton, J. K., & Staton, J. (1991). An introduction to dialogue journal writing. In J. K. Peyton & J. Staton (Eds.), Writing our lives: Reflections on dialogue journal writing with adults learning English (Language in education series, 77) (pp. 1-3). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents; National Clearinghouse on Literacy Education. (ED333763) Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED333763.

Putney, J. (1991). What are dialogue journals? In J. K. Peyton & J. Staton (Eds.), Writing our lives: Reflections on dialogue journal writing with adults learning English (Language in educaiton series, 77) (pp. 3-10). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents; National Clearinghouse on Literacy Education. (ED333763) Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED333763.

Rokni, S. J. A., & Seifi, A. (2013). The effect of dialog journal writing on EFL learners’ grammar knowledge. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 9(2), 57-67. Retrieved from http://www.jlls.org/vol9no2/57-67.pdf.


Errol Pitts has been teaching EFL and academic preparatory math, mostly with post-secondary and adult learners in international settings, for over 13 years. He has an M.Ed. and a B.Ed. from the University of Manitoba.