Using Weblogs in Language Learning Classes

Welcome to the companion site for the JALT 2006 pre-conference workshop session on blogging in language learning classes. Some of the 25 participants have already left comments at the bottom of this page, telling us their expectations for this workshop. Please add your expectations if you haven’t done so already. Don’t be put off by the scary technical terms on this page. All will be explained! And it’s not rocket science (hey, if we can do it…).

Workshop time: Session #3: 16:40 – 17:40, followed by 10 minutes for Q&A.
Workshop venue: Kokura International Conference Center, 3F, 33A and 33B.

Below you will find a seven-point outline of the workshop content, with each point containing links to further information and resources on that particular topic. Feel free to leave suggestions or questions in the comment space below.

By the end of this one-hour workshop, you will know

  1. what a blog (and blogging) is
  2. how to create a blog
  3. the key features of a blog
  4. some of the main ways blogs are used
  5. what RSS is and its vital importance to blogs and blogging
  6. some key social networking tools
  7. some of the blogging issues that language educators need to know about

and you will have

  1. a handout with these key points on it
  2. a website that you can visit to refresh your memory and for further reading/reference
  3. a budding community of practice (your fellow workshop participants) who can provide you with support and information

1. A blog (weblog):

  • is a frequently/regularly updated website
  • is for personal Internet publishing (sometimes also groups or companies)
  • is in reverse chronological order
  • allows readers to leave comments
  • has a header, a sidebar and a footer
  • permits syndication/subscription

2. Blogs are used for:

  • Professional Development
  • Teaching and Education
  • Grassroots Journalism
  • Causes and Politics:
  • Personal Journalling / Social Networking
  • Marketing and Promotion

3. Weblog technology:

  • RSS/Atom Syndication Feeds
  • Feed Readers
  • Social Networking Tools
    • tagging
    • profiles
  • Social Networking Sites

4. Weblogs in EFL/ESL

  • Student blogs
  • Teacher blogs
  • Class/Group/Community blogs

5. Getting Started with Weblogs

  • Selection: which service/software?
    • ease of signup
    • ease of use
    • social networking features
    • privacy
    • cost
    • hosting
  • Sign-up – it’s as easy as signing up for a Yahoo or Hotmail account
  • Posting – it’s as easy as sending an email
  • Commenting
  • Subscribing

6. Issues with Weblogs in Language Learning

  • Language Learning
  • Pedagogical Approach
    • teacher-centered vs student-centered
    • learner autonomy
  • Choice of Software
  • Ethical Issues
    • names or anonymity?
    • unwanted visitors
    • ownership/copyright
    • privacy and safety

7. Discussion

  • Communities of practice
  • Support for Teachers/Students
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7 Comments on “Using Weblogs in Language Learning Classes”

  1. Chris Starling Says:

    In response to your wish for info. on participants at the JALT pre-conference session, I am a basic computer user and will be satisfied to learn anything at all about your use of the computer in education as currently I use it only for research and e-mail communication with students and colleagues. Thank you.

  2. hudson murrell Says:

    I’m looking forward to this workshop. I think the class blog could be used well in reading or writing classes, but could probably be expanded to others as well.
    I THINK a class blog could help raise awareness of professionalism in writing. Many students have never written a “real” letter (snail mail), but only sent emails, and are lost when asked to write an essay.
    However, I think that a group blog would help with feedback as well. I THINK ths is the way of the future, and something to be used as soon as possible.

    By the way, what time is this workshop?

  3. Linda J. Says:

    Thank you for the email concerning the JALT pre-conference workshop. I am a basic computer user: email and basic Internet are what I know. Therefore, I am looking for simplicity and fundamental information. Anything too techinical, and I will get lost!

    One thing I am concerned with is to what extent, if at all, Japanese blog sites are used or recommended for students learning English, and the other issue is with security and privacy.

  4. Paul Butler-Tanaka Says:

    I am also a basic computer user; email, the Internet, and a not very sophisticated use of Word. I too, am looking for simplicity and basic information and hoping not to be overwhelmed by technical terminology.

    Of the items listed in your email I would like to focus on weblogs in general, best practices, pedagogical issues, things to avoid, and ,of course, how to set up a blog. I would also like to get some indication of the extent to which participation in a blog has actually improved students’ writing abilities.

  5. Joyce M. Says:

    Thank you for offering participants the chance to tell you where we are. And thanks to the comments above, I feel there will be people there who are at a similar level and looking for a similar experience.

    As far as computer skills are concerned, I can manage fairly well on the standard programs. But when it comes to new technologies I do like things “explained” to me rather than diving in on my own into deep water. I would like to be able to use blogs for class postings, but have put off finding out more. Now I will have my chance. Yoroshiku!

  6. Andria Says:

    I came across your blog when looking for an interesting article for my ESL mehods class. I love this idea and ma sorry I won’t get to hear your presentation. I’m just starting to use a blog with elemenary studetns to encourage writing in their L1.

  7. Aaron Says:

    Glad to hear this resource was of some use to you Andria. Send us a link sometime to your student blog. Cheers.


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