Look! It’s a blog within a blog. Just wait for more bloggery down below!

For class this week, I was asked to answer the following question:
How can blogs be used with ESL learners to facilitate language learning?

Let’s start from the beginning. A blog is essentially an online journal. It is a place to share ideas, reflections, questions, advice, and much more. For English learners, creating a blog can be a wonderful journey. (It certainly has been for me!)

An instructor might like to have students create and use blogs as part of their class in order to facilitate language learning. There are tons of different sites to choose from (WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace, just to name a few), that offer both free and paid plans, depending on the level of customizability you want. Before creating a blog, learners should begin by reading through other blogs. This will help familiarize them with the different styles, approaches, and set-ups they can use for their own.

Here are some benefits of creating a blog:

  • Great reading and writing resource
  • Personal space for reflection
  • Learn a new skill
  • Creative outlet
  • Fosters social cohesion, inside and outside the class – can build relationships between students
  • Way for quieter students to express their opinions
  • Acts a personal and professional portfolio
  • Houses a collection of useful/interesting resources
  • Captures learner progress (great to look back on)
  • Develop an identity as an English user
  • Make connections beyond the classroom
  • Transfer language skills from class to the real world

Blogs facilitate language learning in two ways: through reading and through writing. Merrill Swain suggests that the best way for a learner to acquire another language is to produce comprehensible output. Since writing is a productive skill, blogging is a great way to produce comprehensible output. The more a learner writes, the better writer they become. However, Swain also recognizes the importance of comprehensible input in SLA, for if there were no input, there could be no output. Therefore, language learning is also facilitated through reading other blogs: both from classmates and from others. The more a learner reads, the better reader they become.

Due to their somewhat technical nature, blogs are best suited for intermediate to advanced students. Should an instructor decide to have students use blogs as part of their class, it would be an excellent choice to facilitate language learning and to help the learners develop their language identity.

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