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Young boy in front of computer

Blogging is a very powerful tool in and of itself. Whether it's a personal or professional blog, blogging has the power to unleash learning, reflection, and communication. Even more, a blog can help spread your words and ideas to a wider audience and, as a result, a wider reach.

Blogging for English-language learners (ELLs) can tap into students' and teachers' utmost communicative potential and help expand and widen learning opportunities.

Benefits of Blogging

It's important for the teacher to discuss the benefit of blogging with her or his students, as this will inform how they learn through it. When students understand the benefits of the process, they become engaged and active in their own learning. Teachers should explain how blogging. . .

  • Provides an opportunity for reflection by students and their teacher
  • Opens up student writing to a wider audience
  • Provides an opportunity to practice writing and communication skills
  • Builds a learning support community
  • Empowers student voice
  • Provides a platform for peer feedback
  • Motivates and engages students in higher-level communicative learning

Visual note showing content suggestions, activities, benefits, and learning opportunities
(Click image to enlarge.)

How to Start Blogging in ELL Classrooms

It's probably best to start planning on incorporating blogging in your classroom sometime before the term begins. In this way, the process of integrating it into your schedule becomes less overwhelming, and much more manageable. The benefits for the teacher and students will always outweigh the bit of planning needed to start.

There are several ways to use blogging in your classroom:

Blogging for Students

A student blog can have many purposes in an ELL classroom:

  • Discussions
  • Responses
  • Reflections
  • Sharing images, links, and resources
  • Vocabulary and grammar activities
  • Paragraph writing
  • Commentary
  • Storytelling

These are just a few examples of what students can do with blogging. There are some great platforms for student blogs, such as Kidblog, Edublogs, Blogger, and even Write About, which is a publishing platform that allows groups (or classes) to post publicly and privately. To choose the right platform for you and your students, set aside some time to experience and create your own "example" blog. This example blog will not go to waste, because you'll use it to share with your students when introducing them to blogging.

How often should students blog?
This can be determined by the teacher and students as they see fit within the learning outcomes they're trying to accomplish. However, blogging consistently about the course discussions, materials, and content will allow students to delve into a deeper self-reflective process. They'll be able to trace their learning through their blogs and may be able to use them as studying material. Many students will end up using their blogs after the course or term has ended, and likely will maintain the same level of professionalism to build their digital identity.

How can peers and teachers provide feedback?
Feedback is an essential part of blogging. Since blogging is a very reflective process, students will need to stay engaged. The feedback provided by their peers or the teacher can be very valuable in providing this type of reflective engagement throughout the learning process. When ELL students work on peer feedback, there are several areas on which they can focus:

  • Share one positive thing about the post.
  • Share one thing their peers can work on or improve.
  • Share a personal story that relates to the blog post.

For teachers, it's best to give constructive criticism on students blogs privately. That way, the conversation does not hinder the student's writing and thought process. By focusing on only the positive comments that a student receives on his or her blog post, the teacher can encourage and motivate that student to continue blogging and publicly sharing thoughts.

Blogging for Classrooms

A classroom blog is also a great idea for most classes. In ELL classes, however, a classroom blog can help with:

  • Clarifications
  • Understanding
  • Communication
  • Language development
  • Parent-student engagement

What should an ELL classroom blog include?
To decide on the content of a classroom blog, a teacher can use this as a fun collaborative activity and have students brainstorm together to determine their needs. This not only motivates them to take initiative in creating the blog and its content, but it also allows them to own their own learning. When ELL students feel comfortable and in control of lesson tasks, their communication improves as a result of practice.

Here are some content suggestions:

  • Information about class, assignments, daily routine, tasks, etc.
  • Discussion and comments forum
  • Class photos and videos
  • Photos and videos of resources related to classwork
  • Interesting articles and stories
  • Vocabulary lists
  • Links to resources, games, and fun ways to learn English
  • Cultural stories written by students

The possibilities are really endless when it comes to classroom blog content. The key is personalizing it with the students to meet their communicative and learning needs.

Resources for Getting Started

Please take a look at my slideshare about blogging for English-language learners.

Below are some examples of classroom blogs:

Have your ELL students blogged? Please share your results and impressions in the comments section.

Was this useful? (2)

Comments (20) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Kamila Ciszewska's picture

Hi. I found your post very useful. It encouraged me to try blogging with my students. We have great fun writing new posts. Here is the link to our blog http://inicjatyfka-elg.blogspot.com/

The best thing connected with blogging is not only the fact that students can learn English but also that they can tell the world about the region they live in. What's more, they become more confident :)

Aliya Gupta's picture

Learning new language has never been so easy. This beautiful post gives basic idea on how to learn English language. If you are looking for English Language tutor, Institute or want to learn online, Try UrbanPro.com now and find the best English Language Coaching in your locality.

gerry's picture

Hi
I've found Voicethread a really good tool for sharing either as a private group or as an open forum. Other students and staff can add comments in written or spoken format. You can also video and lots of other formats.
If anyone has topics to help them learn English please get in touch and let me know as I'd like to help. Best way to get in touch is via my website:
http://expertenglishtutoring.weebly.com
Best wishes,
Gerry

Peter Paccone's picture
Peter Paccone
9-12th Grade Social Studies Teacher - San Marino High School

I've just come around to the idea of providing my students with a chance to blog in order to encourage writing.

I'm a high school teacher, (US Government mostly) and in my class will provide my students with an opportunity to engage in a mock USSC hearing, But given that this requires four attorneys, nine judges, one court clerk and one bailiff, this normally leaves little for the rest of the students to do.

Hence I created the Mock USSC Hearing Blog.
http://mockussc2016.blogspot.com

It was specifically created to provide the students enrolled in my US Government classes with an opportunity to describe for the general public any/all thoughts the students may have regarding this semester's attempt to engage in a mock US Supreme Court hearing.

This hearing to feature a first amendment free exercise clause issue.

To this end, I told my students that I would create the shell for the blog (using blogger.com), but that I wanted them to use this blog to document for their friends and family what has taken place in the classroom leading up to the hearing; what took place at the hearing; how the court decided; and what the bloggers thought of the court's decision (this blog to also include photographs of the students at the hearing, interviews with the students before and after, etc. POST ANYTHING YUO WANT TO THE BLOG. BE CREATIVE. IT ONLY NEED TO LINK TO THE CASE SOMEHOW.

Anne Swigard's picture
Anne Swigard
President, Educational Training Specialists, LLC https://training4teachers.com

I am thrilled to read a blogpost about the importance of blogging for English Language Learners! Blogging is an outstanding way to get ELLs, and all students, to understand the pragmatics of written communication. In a world that has gone text, post, photo, and soundbite, give students a purpose for writing out thoughts and sharing experiences is just a great idea. We recently added that component to our Writing in the Common Core workshop for teachers of English Language Learners (https://training4teachers.com/professional-development-institute/profess...) and have heard from teachers that blogging is super-motivating and has increased engagement for their students. Your blogpost did a great job of laying out the steps to get students involved in real and meaningful ways.

Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

Hi Anne, thanks for reading and your kind words. I love how blogging for ELLs is multimodal, students don't need to express themselves through writing only, but as you mentioned photos, music, sounds etc. All these possibilities can help to motivate and engage students in the language and the process of writing.

Eric_Scribblrs's picture
Eric_Scribblrs
Professional copywriter and business blogger. Educating all who will listen on the ins and outs of writing for the internet.

Blogging is a great way to get kids excited about writing. Hand someone a pen and paper and it feels like an assignment. But when you sit them at a computer and help them create a blog, well, it feels like their own. And as shown on www.scribblrs.com - starting a blog is simple. On top of that, once students begin commenting on each other's blogs, not only will they feel more successful, but they'll be able to engage in a manner that they might not be able to as easily if they aren't comfortable with their English.

I definitely encourage teachers to utilize Kidblog. It's safe, but not too watered down. It runs off WordPress, so once students learn to use KidBlog, they can take that knowledge to create their own real blogs down the road. So not only are you helping them get excited about writing, but you could be offering them a skill that could come in handy when it comes to future careers.

And let's not forget, it's a great place to teach digital citizenship.

Hafiz Akinde's picture

I totally agree with you, Rusul. Blogging regularly assists English language learners to learn fast. Like you rightly said: " it taps into students' and teachers' utmost communicative potential and help expand and widen learning opportunities."

yw's picture

Great Post! I haven't yet had my students blog, but they do journal. Due to the technology boom of the 21st century, today's common core standards call for students to be proficient in technology and digital media skills. Society has moved to mobile as the primary means for social communication and fortunately this is something that interests most students. Interest is what sparks motivation in learning and allows for effective teaching and learning. Given this fact, teachers should allow and encourage students to use mobile devices to achieve learning objectives. I teach ELLs and have found that the use of cell phone technology in the classroom is particularly helpful. The students use their cell phones to look up words and definitions of words they may not understand; or for anything they may need extra explanation for in the course of a classroom lesson. I have also used cell phone technology when implementing classroom activities. For example, I implemented an activity called the "pairs" lesson in which the students role-played by simulating a cell phone conversation with one another while sitting back to back. The focus of this exercise was primarily to teach and improve their grammar, usage, and vocabulary skills, but the use of cell phones in this exercise turned what could have been a mundane lesson into an interesting and engaging one. The reason being; that most students enjoy talking on cell phones and thus, this particular lesson felt to them as if they were engaged in a real-life situation. Another mobile activity that significantly sparked my students' interest, motivation, and creativity, was one in which the students were given a word bank of vocabulary and grammar words that had been recently covered. The students kept a journal for one week that incorporated their new vocabulary and grammar, while illustrating their daily observations, future plans, ideas, interests, and personal reflections. The students were encouraged to approach the activity by observing the world around them as if it was completely new to them. The students reflected by using an online journaling app and typing their journals online using an iPad. I chose to task my students with a journaling activity as a means for improving their writing/typing skills and reflection skills, as well as sparking their creativity and wonderment because research has shown that journaling can help override our inner censor and allow us to become more creative. Furthermore, it can help students become comfortable with the process of writing; it is a safe place for them to express their reality/truth; and it can build community/comradery between and among them. (Kirshner, 2016). The online journaling app we used is one that can be downloaded to a mobile device, and that is what was done on each learner's iPad so that they could participate in the activity. The students were able to carry their online journals with them and complete this activity remotely at any time or place. They learned and truly enjoyed this activity.

Nitish Nayak's picture

Love to read this post! The blog is very useful and informative signifying the importance of blogging. Blogging is such a platform which helps the students as well as the teachers to know about different learning tools. Learning English language is very important. For brushing your English language skills, you can even seek help from the advanced learning tools available at publishing houses like Cambridge University Press India. English is very important language in today's world and blogging gives you the right to express your thought.

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