“Blogging encourages learner independence, empowerment, reflection and autonomy. For language learners, they provide an environment in which to reflect, comment, question and review progress outside the classroom in an authentic environment. (Pinkman, 2005). Blogging can be used either for writing practice in the target language, and/or to explore cultural dimensions of the target country. Research by Thorne et al (2005) suggests that language students prefer blogging to traditional journals or weekly essays. Students also reported frequently looking back over their own and others students’ earlier blog postings, and the majority noticed significant progress in their writing over time.” (Web 2.0 tools for Language Learning)
If you are wondering why blogs are such a big deal take a look at this youtube clip called Blogs in Plain English. If you need more convincing watch Bringing 21st century learning to your classroom. I found this particular clip on the cultural differences between us and our students useful in terms of understanding why blogging and other Web 2.0 tools are so important in terms of of our students’ learning, it looks at the differences between digital natives (our students) and digital immigrants (many of us) and how our different backgrounds impact the way we learn, Reaching Digital Natives.
Another great advantage of blogging is that as it is asynchronous students can take their time over postings in a low-pressure environment. The social networking aspect of the blog (your students can communicate with students in other schools) has great benefits for language learning, particularly the ability to put learning into practice in a real context which is a powerful motivational tool. I have pasted the following from an article on social networking in the context of Web 2.0 tools and language learning.
” Kern (1995, cited in Thorne and Payne 2005) undertook a quantitative assessment of a chat programme, ‘Daedalus Interchange’ on language production with a group of French students. He found that Interchange led to more language production, and was of an overall greater level of sophistication than in a face-to-face discussion. Also, there was evidence that the environment reduced communication anxiety, with students feeling free to communicate in what they considered to be a more informal atmosphere.” (http://web20andlanguagelearning.wikidot.com/social-networking).