Библиографическое описание:

Байжанов Е. А. Does blogging motivate students to practice IELTS writing tasks? // Молодой ученый. — 2015. — №7. — С. 726-731.

This action research was initiated as an attempt to tackle the problem of unwillingness to practice IELTS writing tasks by 11th grade students of Nazarbayev Intellectual school of physics and mathematics in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, where I recently teach Global Perspectives and IELTS. For many learners IELTS writing tasks are the tasks they are unwilling to practice often while preparing for IELTS examination, as writing is a productive skill which takes so much energy and time for its completion. They prefer practicing to do listening, reading or speaking tasks rather than writing essays. When I was preparing to take my IELTS examinations I found myself in the same situation. Moreover I’ve chosen this topic as from my personal philosophy of teaching, education happens when learners are interested and they study better when they are motivated.

Many studies have shown that blogging motivates learners to write, as well as improves their writing skills. The fact that using blogs in education is gaining growing popularity among educators verifies that blogging is a useful medium which can encourage learners to write and involve them in this process. Although there are many studies conducted on the use of blogs as a tool for motivating students to write in foreign language, there is little information about using blogs to impel learners to practice specifically IELTS writing tasks. Moreover, despite its enormous worldwide usage, blogs are not so popular type of computer-mediated communication environment in Kazakhstan. Therefore, the purpose of the study is examining the use of blogs to encourage learners to practice writing IELTS writing tasks with the help of students of Nazarbayev Intellectual school of physics and mathematics in Aktobe, Kazakhstan.

Literature review

Since people have started implementing various kinds of social software for communication, spending at least an hour for such type of communication has become an imprescriptible part of their daily routine. Most of their time expending in computer-mediated communication (CMC) environments like chats, blogs, wikis and social networks, people spend for reading and writing. As most teenagers’ lives cannot be imagined without CMC, educators’ attitude towards writing has changed. Creative and entrepreneurial teachers started to implement CMC environments in their classrooms in order to exploit students’ habitual activities for learning purposes. One of the widespread types of CMC environments frequently used in classrooms or out-of-class is a blog.

The word «blog», that has become so popular nowadays, is commonly agreed to have been first used by Peter Merholz in 1999, the time when this genre started to develop speedily. From its early start, blogs serve as a social network system tool for organizing, analyzing, recording and sharing thoughts and ideas [1].

Due to its numerous advantages blogs have gained an enormous popularity among Internet users. Many researchers indicate the ease of use of blogs for teachers and students as one of its main features and all the person needs to post his/her entry are a computer and Internet access [2,3,4,5]. Nowadays anyone who wants to maintain a blog can create his/her own personal blog just in few steps. By now, all blog-hosting services have made the process of creating personal blogs very easy and fast. With ready templates of simple and comfortable interfaces new blogger doesn’t need to be a good programmer. As stated by Yang: «anyone who can create a basic Microsoft Word document can create and maintain a blog» [6, p.13].

The study carried out at the American University of Sharjah by Ward has illustrated many positive results of implementing a blog in his reading/writing class. He concluded that the project assisted his students’ language learning and helped to arouse their interest in reading and writing [7]. Fageeh states that «in language learning, blogs have been experimentally used as tools to develop writing and reading comprehension skills», and many researches have proven the positive impact of blogging on two types of language skills like reading and writing [8,p.32]. He investigated the use of blogs for developing writing skills and improving learners’ attitude towards English learning, involving forth-year Saudi students of College of Languages and Translation in his project. Findings of his research have demonstrated that «Weblogs can encourage students’ self-expression in English, inducing a revolutionary engagement in writing» [8, p.41]. He believes that the reasons for such positive impact of Weblogs on language learners are its easiness and interactivity. The study has proven that blogging improves writing skills, especially students’ accuracy and lexis choice, and learners monitor their writing as their entries will be read online by real audience. Fageeh reports:

It is noteworthy that, according to the self-reports, writing on the blogs made students pay close attention to the formal aspects of writing, both in terms of word choice, structure, and word spelling, attending to sentence and paragraph structure as well as adapting academic style, register and appropriate lexicon [8, p.39].

Blogs can also be implemented to improve IELTS writing proficiency. Iranian researchers Rezaee and Oladi conducted research on how blogging enhances social interactions and writing proficiency of language learners [2]. They divided 160 students of Medical School of University of Tehran, who participated in this study, into three groups. One group of 60 students participated in class community blogging, while others were involved in journal writing and traditional writing classes. The data for the research was collected through several means including IELTS writing proficiency test. The analyses of the results of the three groups have shown that the highest IELTS writing proficiency scores were obtained by the group, which participated in class community blogging, while «the journal writing class and traditional writing class, respectively placed in second and third place» [2, p.84].

Weblogs can be treated by language teachers as «virtual language classrooms» that provides a learning space, where learners can share viewpoints and discuss concerning issues by creating «topics of mutual interest» [6]. Godwin-Jones and Richardson indicated distinguishing feature of blogs as that weblog is usually established by bloggers who have the same interests and objectives [6]. These mutual interests and objectives lead to interaction between the author and the reader of blog entries related to a particular topic.

Lin et al. «indicated that a blog technology successfully enhanced interactivity among students» [9, p.1345]. Also, Du and Wagner asserted that blogs heighten interactivity among blog users, which is an essential and key point of every social network [8]. The interactivity among blog users is generally achieved by reading others’ blogs and by posting comments to entries expressing their viewpoints. Mishne and Glance further stated that blog comments are considered as an integral part of blogs’ interactivity; at the same time comments serve as an indicator of blog’s popularity [10].

Yang described that some participants, who were involved in his research, admitted the helpfulness of blogging for reflection and giving comments. The findings of his study displayed the significant role of feedback and risk-taking in language learning that can, on their turn, strengthen language learners’ confidence and motivation. Thus, Yang believes that interactive nature of blogs provides motivation for language learning. He further reported:

One can read and also comment on what one reads in expectation of a little discussion and a quest for common interests and individual differences. By responding on blogs, people can get feedback from other audiences throughout cyberspace. Students have an opportunity to read things in which they are interested and write things they truly wish to write, thereby determining their own texts in language education and combining text with conversations in a very personal and stimulating way [6, p.13].

Moreover, comments encourage interaction and make blogging more communicative, leading to students’ increase of motivation to write as well as promote learner autonomy [4]. Describing the theory of motivation Lawler claimed that expectancy of outcomes affects motivation. In this case, expectancy is viewed as author’s expectancy to receive comments on his/her posts from readers [8].

Pennington contended that students using CMC environment are likely to write less anxious as they are more interested in the writing process. On its turn it caused students’ engagement «to write for longer periods of time and produce longer texts» [11, p.243].

Fageeh refers to Sun’s suggestion that blogs form a dynamic medium that encourages language practice and learning motivation. He further concludes:

Weblogs can provide an exciting and motivating learning environment where students have a sense of ownership and readership. They can be used to enhance student analytical and critical thinking skills, create social interactions between students and the instructor, students and their peers, and students and a global audience [8, p.42].

In general, it has been proven that a weblog serves as a virtual classroom and provides learners with interactive and interesting learning environment. The research conducted by Iranian scholars has shown the positive impact of blogging to improving IELTS writing proficiency. Despite some incompatible outcomes of efficacy of implementing blogs in educational contexts, Kim recommends to use a blog in educational setting [9]. Moreover, blogging enhances learners’ writing skills and motivation to write, particularly the interactive feature of blogging (giving comments and receiving feedback) arouses learners’ motivation.

Rationale and procedure

With the start of my teaching IELTS classes for 11th grade students from the beginning of academic year in September, I have witnessed my students’ unwillingness to practice IELTS writing tasks. Despite my interview revealed that many of them considered Listening as the most difficult section of IELTS, they got the lowest marks in writing section when taking IELTS mock exam.

I wanted to start a group blog for my students in order to make an open and interactive environment for practicing writing, discussing the problems that learners have while writing and sharing ideas that might be useful for all the participants. I believe that social interactivity of blogging will be the key to encourage learners to practice IELTS writing tasks more often than they do usually. Adding new posts, reading others’ entries, leaving comments and reflecting on one’s own writing, regarding comments one’s received plays an important role in motivating learners. I aimed to try out to demonstrate that blogging can be used by educators as a medium for encouraging learners to practice writing IELTS writing tasks.

An experimental design was used in order to conduct my small scale Action Research. First of all, I’ve created a blog at one of the educational blogging platforms. After changing the design and settings of the blog, I’ve added additional pages with necessary information. One of the pages was dedicated to announcements and tasks, where I type different writing tasks for my students. For the purpose of making the blog more user-friendly and comfortable additional widgets with the links to online dictionaries and websites were added, as recommended by Kim [9]. Moreover, a widget with video-tutorials about IELTS writing was attached in order to increase the blog’s popularity.

I’ve invited 11 graders of Nazarbayev Intellectual school in Aktobe to take part in my Action Research project as at the end of their studies all the students have to take the IELTS academic examination. Treating participants with an ethic of respect, protecting their interests, and not putting them at risk were among the main priorities. The survey was taken on the condition of total anonymity by obtaining an oral consent from students. Participants of the study were informed that the information gained from the experiment will not be used for any other purposes and will not be recorded in excess of what is required.

At the beginning stage only 25 students volunteered to take part in the study. But later, in general, there were 57 students signed in to participate in blogging to practice IELTS writing. Their English language proficiency levels varied from elementary to intermediate level. They were registered to the blog as authors so that they could easily post entries and leave comments. The tasks were posted on the blog on a weekly basis and send to participants’ emails. They had to write IELTS writing tasks on the blog as well as comment other learners’ posts in order to give feedback.

It was suggested for all participants to use nicknames as, from my point of view, it adds some intriguing part to blogging that would, on its turn, arouse interest in writing and commenting. Furthermore, being anonymous lets students with lower language level to be actively involved in writing as well as makes quality of comments more objective and fair. A study conducted by Lea et al. [12] has illustrated that anonymity builds an impersonal and task-oriented focus for group interaction as individuals under anonymity states have lessened concerns about being positively evaluated by others. Tsikerdekis [13] states that in CMC people using nicknames feel sense of protection and less restrained, thus actively engage in interaction.

Results and discussion

Quantitative and qualitative data for this research paper have been gleaned from questionnaire, interview, posts and comments that participants left on the blog. The questionnaires were designed with the help of online poll services and sent to students’ email addresses. The first questionnaire that was conducted before blogging, has revealed that listening task is considered to be the most difficult part of the IELTS test for majority of the students (see table 1).

Table 1.

Which part of the IELTS academic test is the most difficult for you?



48 %



20 %



28 %



4 %

How often do you practice IELTS writing tasks?

Every day


4 %

Once in a week


60 %

Once in a month


20 %



8 %

Your variant


8 %

What prevents you to practice writing tasks more often?

Writing is boring


20 %

Writing requires too much thinking


20 %

I don’t have time


44 %

Your variant


16 %


According to the table 1, only 28 % of all the respondents answered that writing tasks are the most difficult for them. As for their frequency of practicing writing, the study has shown that 60 % of learners practice writing once a week, 20 % practice once in a month, and 8 % practice once in two weeks, while another 8 % never practice IELTS writing. The main factors of writing tasks’ unpopularity for practicing were that writing is too much time consuming and requires too much thinking.

As for general outcome of the project, the main aim of the research has not been completely achieved as participants were highly motivated to write for several months and didn’t actively take part in blogging during over the time of the study. Despite the fact that the research lasted for approximately seven months, only 34 essays and 84 comments were posted.

The most active periods were in October and December, when students wrote the most part of their essays and comments. That was time when students were mostly free from exams and summative assessment works. But the level of students’ activeness in blogging went down the next month from the start of the study. I could slightly increase this index in January by inviting several English teachers to check students’ essays. After participants were told that in addition to other students’ comments they may get professional feedback from anonymously registered teachers, there was an insignificant rise of students’ involvement in writing.

With the help of the second questionnaire I intended to find out the reasons of participants’ passive involvement in blogging. According to their responses, the reasons were lack of time and laziness, which means they weren’t actively involved. But I assume that participators would post entries regularly if participation was not voluntary, but obligatory.

Although the research was not fully successful, it cannot be alleged that it is impossible to motivate students to practice writing IELTS writing tasks through blogging. It worth noting that anonymity caused interest in blogging of all participators including students with lower language levels. Those learners who were less likely to read their essays in front of the class started to write posts despite grammar mistakes. The results of the questionnaires (see table 2) and analysis of comments indicate participants’ very positive attitude towards implementing blogs in practicing IELTS writing.

Table 2

What motivates you to practice IELTS writing tasks?

Respondent 1

I want to get high score

Respondent 2

that after one year is EXAM!!!!!!!!

Respondent 3

more interesting topics

Respondent 4

Challenges that they can lead to.When sometimes I realize that in the future I may not pass IELTS I motivate myself that I should practice, and often I practice.Furthermore I want to write more on more interesting topics, about which I do not know, beacause of this I practice my thinling abilities and obtain more interesting information.

Respondent 5

if i don`t practice writing,i will lose my chance to be UN student

Respondent 6

high Ielts score:)

What do you think about the idea of using blogs to practice IELTS writing?

Respondent 1

It is very useful and helpful

Respondent 2

It will be useful, but not so efficient as we expect, because anyway everyone decides on his own what to do. Moreover, most of us used to procrastinate:)

Respondent 3

I think it is a very effective way to improve our writing skills. First of all, we share then people will comment and we will know and learn from our mistakes

Respondent 4

it is easy for concentrate

Respondent 5

It's very helpful for me of course for example i can learn some linking words and get some good advices. Exactly it's best choice to develop my skills and own perspective

Respondent 6

I do not exactly, because I do not use it very often, as I have no time,But if I had time, undouptedly, I would use it.


As it can be seen from the table 2, all the participants that answered to this question agree that the idea of using blogs to practice IELTS writing is good and it could work.

The nature of students’ comments on essays looked like criticism, discussion and advisory comments. That was the key point to arouse interactivity among participants. Peer-editing and peer-checking lead to interaction between writers. Authors discussed essays and at the same time made suggestions after they had read each other’s entries. For instance, the following comment was made by sarancha (nickname of the student):

-            Oh my gosh! I think it wasn’t necessary to write that you’re an athesit.You knew that it would attract add attention and generate disputes like these. Or maybe you just want to draw the regard and seems like «cool» man,being atheist is steep nowadays,isn’t it?

miwka:          Every moment is dearly. Everybody is value for each other. Everything is essential part of time. So, enjoy the time, that you have. I was impressed with your letter. Thank you, Naed Retsehciw for taking us to your world!

Another author under the nickname boombox wrote his suggestion to discuss the topic:

-            i agree with you about the advantages of wearing uniforms, but i think that we do not need to create the law

There were other comments criticizing other participants’ essays or points of view:

Naed Retsehciw: Sorry, but how Kazakhstan can be with ambitions? Can you explain me?

highscoreofielts: Sorry, but try to write correctly.

sarancha:       sorry for my rudeness, but why did u write it? What is your purpose of writing it? I didn’t catch your idea, u just wrote the content of it, furthermore u haven’t watched it completely. To my mind, it is really silly (not film, I mean your act).Please, try to write something useful for our mind, while you are writing.

To recapitulate above mentioned findings, the lack of immediate feedback led to unpopularity of the blog. More essays and comments were written during the times of high interactivity among blog users. To my mind, this problem could be solved by attracting participants into blogging through choosing interesting and disputable topics or adding more popular audio or video materials as in Kazakhstan blogs are not so popular among teenagers comparing to social networking websites and chats. As educational program of Nazarbayev Intellectual school is challenging for students, they didn’t have time to practice IELTS writings and they published posts and comments very rarely. I suppose that in Kazakhstani secondary state schools students could be more often involved blogging. Implementing blog platforms that provide mobile versions could possibly encourage students to visit the blog more frequently. Another effective solution could be inviting experts in IELTS writing for blogging as some learners prefer consulting experts rather than their peers and teachers.


Although the main goal of the research has not been reached completely, it doesn’t mean that blogs cannot be used as a medium to encourage learners to practice writing IELTS writing tasks. This study was an attempt that, however, has demonstrated the probability of it. I believe that well-organized and clever conducted further study could prove the use of blogs in increasing learners’ motivation to practice IELTS writing tasks.




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