The ABC of ELT

Why help students to blog?

[This post is part of my project to encourage students to blog]

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One of the first questions that teachers, students, parents and even directors need to answer is “why help students to blog?” After all writing an email or word processed document is just as good as writing a blog…isn’t it?


For some the questions will no doubt answer itself. They blog, therefor they are.

However, for those that don’t and have never blogged they may not see any point in blogging. In spite of this I do believe that there are some aspects inherent in blogging that will hep students.

Blogging isn’t just about words.

With blogs you can add videos, photos, audio and a whole host of combinations as well as text. What’s more it’s much easier to do than bringing in a photo or video to class. How many homework have you set asking students to bring in a photo and they all forgot.

Blogging provides a digital portfolio

By writing on a blog, or putting a video up it creates a bank of material that students can review. This can be used to show progress; to show to a potential employer or education institute; review past work, vocabulary and grammar, or even just to reminisce. What’s more the teacher can add material (such as pictures of boardwork, slideshows or videos) from the lesson so that students who have issues writing down notes in time can access them later.

Blogging is a distinct format.

Blogging, as a style of writing, is distinct and has several differences from traditional articles or diaries. Helping to raise students awareness to this will help them if they have to write a blog in the future (a distinct possibility seeing as more and more companies are adopting a corporate blogging strategy.) or for reading and commenting on blogs.

Blogs are a common source of reading.

Blogs are growing as a source of reading material and thus could be our students main source of material. Rather than send them in unprepared to look at these materials (some of which will have many spelling and grammar mistakes) we should help them critically look at these sources of material. A great way to do this is to help them see how easy it is to do and make mistakes.

Blogs extend the classroom

By setting up a blog extra tasks can be added to it, group discussions can occur, and peer learning can take off. This means that students don’t have to stop learning when the classroom door closes.

Blogs provide peer commenting

Linked in with above is the fact that they can comment on each others work. Originally when I was writing this I put correct, however, this is potentially dangerous for some students self-esteem! This also prompts students to search for content and not just for errors (yet encourages accuracy due to the knowledge their peers will see it).

Blogs provide senior correction

Instead of spending, however long, correcting spelling mistakes from a piece of writing, the teacher can instead go over the online draft before publishing. This can help avoid awkward peer corrections or fears about publishing. It also provides an impetus upon the teacher to correct the work! Otherwise the post isn’t posted (and the students know) or it is posted unedited…and the students know!

Blogs help equip for digital literacies.
One of the challenges facing the educational system in the 21th Century is preparing people for using the internet and the technologies attached. As such there is a question over how EFL teachers should (or shouldn’t) use this technology to teach students. I am firmly on the side of using it as if we don’t they will probably learn to use it anyway and we can help them prepare them to use it. It also opens up many more learning opportunities and doesn’t limit learning to just learning English language.

So there are my reasons for embarking upon this project. What do you think of them? Have I forgotten anything?

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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