Technology is just a tool.
In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them,
the teacher is most important
There exist different teaching approach strategies that can be used in foreign language teaching: communicative, reading, audio-lingual approaches, cognitive, memory-related strategies, etc. In this article we are going to research the benefits and drawbacks of blogs in teaching a foreign language.
Blog (short for Weblog) is a Web site that often resembles an online journal. It contains reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the author . Due to its easy creation and a minimum of IT skills required, it is a good personal interactive e-diary/journal for a language learner. Blog is a free-of-charge, open-to-public writing space.
There exist three types of blogs:
- tutor blog (it gives daily reading practice related to the learner interest and may have links to online sources for further reading and self-study, reminds learners about homework assignments);
- class blog (it is like a free-form bulletin board for learners to post messages, furthers the development of research and writing skills, may provide a virtual space for an international classroom language exchange);
- learner blog (may be used for reading and writing classes. These blogs help tutors know the interests of their learners for later discussion of these topics at classes) .
The use of blogs in the educational process has a number of advantages. Blogs:
- help learners improve their computer skills (such as keyboarding skills, Internet searching, etc.);
- motivate learners to use a foreign language in their daily lives;
- help learners improve language skills;
- provide functional communicative experience and enable learners to voice their inner ideas;
- encourage online learner verbal exchange;
- promote creative works (writing a story, essay, poetry, etc.);
- motivate learning process;
- make learning more student-centered;
- provide lecturers with a quick access to students writing for its future analysis and assessment;
- enhance the sense of community in a class;
- stimulate out-of-class discussion [1, 7, 8].
A blog is a great example of a contextualized learning environment. It provides a contextual background for learners to develop their social and communication skills and share their experience .
However, there are certain disadvantages to the use of blogs in teaching a foreign language. They are:
- it is necessary to have a special classroom with access to the Internet and a technician to keep the computers and network working properly;
- both lecturers and learners must be computer-literate before starting to use blogs;
- it is time consuming to keep the blog up-to-date;
- lack of personal communication;
- in general, learners work independently without a lecturer’s assistance .
To make a blog-based class successful requires a lot of preparation. Success presumes that:
- class material is organized in a blog;
- class blog is viewable by all learners;
- learners have their own blogs for posting assignments;
- learners can edit their writing and the teacher can add comments to the writing;
- the blogging service must be free .
On the whole, the success of teaching and learning depends on the tasks a lecturer uses, his ability to relate well to different groups of students of different ages and ability levels, his empathy with learners and his creativity. A blog, if properly used, helps develop reading and writing skills, vocabulary knowledge, cultural awareness, and promotes intercultural communication. However, a lecturer should integrate blog learning with other useful teaching strategies, such as role plays, discussions, project work, etc., which together provide a low-stress environment for learners and give them opportunities to interact and use a foreign language for communication.
1. Blogging for ELT. https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/blogging-elt (accessed April 17, 2015).
2. Blogs in education. URL: http://teachinglearningresources.pbworks.com/w/page/19919542/Blogs %20in %20Education (accessed April 17, 2015).
3. Campbell A. P. Weblogs for use with ESL classes. http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Campbell-Weblogs.html (accessed April 17, 2015).
4. Creating a writing course utilizing class and student blogs. http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Johnson-Blogs/ (accessed April 17, 2015).
5. Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary. URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blog (accessed April 17, 2015).
6. Two ways to contextualize. http://coerll.utexas.edu/methods/modules/technology/02/twoways.php
7. Warschauer M., Turbee L., & Roberts B. Computer learning networks and student empowerment. System. 1996. 24 (1), p. 1–14.
8. Webquests and blogs: web-based tool for EFL teaching. http://www.apac.es/publications/documents/Webquest_weblog_paper.pdf (accessed April 17, 2015).