Blogging in Foreign Language Education

Blogging in Foreign Language Education

Nat Carney (Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-190-2.ch016
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This chapter gives a comprehensive overview of blogs in Foreign Language Education (FLE) through reviewing literature, critically analyzing potential benefits and concerns about blogs, and suggesting research needed to better understand blogging’s influence on language learning. The chapter begins with a discussion of Web 2.0’s potential impact on FLE and a detailed description and definition of blogs. Following this a comprehensive literature review of blog use in FLE and a critical examination of blogging’s potential benefits and problems in key areas of FLE is offered. Finally, future trends for blogs and further research areas are suggested. Though blogs are a tool that have received relatively minimal attention in FLE literature to date, this chapter argues that blogs can be an important hub of learning in Web 2.0.
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Web 2.0 technologies can revolutionize Foreign Language Education (FLE). Foreign language education, here including both linguistic and intercultural learning of another language, has been affected by technological advances throughout its history. Going as far back as the invention of paper and much later the printing press, to more recent technologies such as television, telephones, and computers, FLE has grown and changed (Belz, 2003a). Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) was born with the computer, and grew through the initial use of the Internet. Nevertheless, while CALL before Web 2.0 offered new opportunities for language learners through foreign language learning software, word processing, email, and web pages, the defining characteristics of Web 2.0 — collaboration and interactive communication — are such critical elements of foreign language learning that a potential revolution in foreign language education is imminent (Kern, 1996).

Web 2.0 is most thoroughly defined by O’Reilly (2005), a co-organizer of the first Web 2.0 conference. O’Reilly’s (2005) article points to the “web as a platform” (p. 1), the web’s “harnessing [of] collective intelligence” (p. 2), and “rich user experiences” (p. 3) among other salient characteristics of Web 2.0. These characteristics point to how active Internet users have a great influence on the applications, information and experiences to be had on the Internet. Web 2.0 is a much more organic web than Web 1.0, changing in relation to and reaction to Internet users. While prominent Internet developers such as Tim Berners-Lee have argued that Web 2.0 is nothing really new (Laningham & Berners-Lee, 2006), the possibilities for communication, collaboration and interaction on the Internet have unquestionably expanded. Because of this expansion, foreign language learning also has possibilities to change (Mandarin 2.0, 2007).

Still, while the Web 2.0 revolution insinuates change, great improvements in FLE due to Web 2.0 remain far from certain. First of all, Web 2.0 requires Internet access and computer proficiency. Though Internet access continues to increase throughout the world, there are still many people for whom Internet access is unavailable or not consistently available, and there are still many people who do not use computers proficiently. These issues are both especially of concern in institutional contexts where learning might require all students to have computer and Internet access as well as requiring a teacher proficient enough to manage an Internet-based project. Secondly, Web 2.0 offers collaboration and interaction in new ways, but how these new ways impact foreign language learning is still only beginning to be understood. On the one hand, it is reasonable to assume that more people than ever find themselves interacting and collaborating with international counterparts through Web 2.0 tools like video, voice and text chat, blogs and wikis, and online gaming and online interactive worlds. On the other hand, does this activity lead to better foreign language learning than studying a textbook by one’s self or taking a language class with a skilled instructor? Despite the new connections offered in a Web 2.0 environment, how that environment is used will pervasively affect its benefits. The potential of Web 2.0 is very exciting, and hopefully that excitement will translate into thorough research and practice to create new opportunities for FLE.

This chapter examines weblogs, one of the best-known members of Web 2.0. Weblogs, commonly known as blogs, are one of the oldest 2.0 technological advances — about 10 years as of 2008 — in fact preceding Web 2.0 itself (Stauffer, 2008). Originally conceived of as online journals, blogs now contribute to society in many ways as news, research, business sites, and still as personal online journals. As such an important new communicative tool, blogs are of interest in education, specifically in FLE. In fact, as one surveys the different tools and media of web 2.0, blogs hold a special place as a center of communication, a hub where other technologies link and can be hosted. Blogs are often a user’s “home” on the web, easier to create and edit than web pages, and they can host a variety of multimedia as well as display a user’s profile, sometimes containing contact information such as email and text messaging addresses. Blogs provide an updatable template for writing, and their ubiquity on the web makes them a source of reading on innumerable topics. Despite this promise, as with Web 2.0 in general, blogs’ place as a learning tool is unclear. How exactly can this new exciting tool contribute to language education?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Networking Site: A blog site that promotes the sharing of personal information and has built in features for connecting with other users so as to promote communication and exchange. In contrast to blogs, social networking sites generally contain more multimedia and the capacity to add friends so users can participate in a community and share images, video and textual information easily.

Comment: A feature common to most blogs that allows readers to write messages in response to blog posts by the blogger. Bloggers can often control comments by (for example) requiring that commenters be logged in to the blog application, or be required to provide personal information such as an email address or name.

Hyperlink: A connective link from one web page to another, or from one place on a web page to another place on that same page.

Trackback: A feature on some blogs that notifies a blogger that someone has hyperlinked to their blog. The purpose of this feature is to increase connectivity and create relationships between blogs.

Google Reader: This is a social aggregating site that allows users to keep track of all of their favourite web sites. One of its main features is that it allows users to easily share their favourites with others by using an accessible public space.

CAPTCHA: This terms stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. CAPTCHA is used to screen comments on blogs, forcing commenters to type a codeword in a text box, thus preventing computer-generated spam comments.

Facebook: This is a social networking site that allows users to connect together in online communities and share personal information. The site is free and is based on the printed books of students used by many American colleges and universities that allow faculty and students to become acquainted with their community.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Mark Warschauer
Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas
Chapter 1
Michael Vallance, Kay Vallance, Masahiro Matsui
The grand narrative of educational policy statements lack clear guidelines on Information Communications Technology (ICT) integration. A review of... Sample PDF
Criteria for the Implementation of Learning Technologies
Chapter 2
Mark Pegrum
This chapter discusses the application of a range of Web 2.0 technologies to language education. It argues that Web 2.0 is fundamentally about... Sample PDF
Communicative Networking and Linguistic Mashups on Web 2.0
Chapter 3
Bernd Rüschoff
Current thinking in SLA methodology favours knowledge construction rather than simple instructivist learning as an appropriate paradigm for language... Sample PDF
Output-Oriented Language Learning With Digital Media
Chapter 4
Infoxication 2.0  (pages 60-79)
Elena Benito-Ruiz
This chapter reviews the issue of information overload, introducing the concept of “infoxication 2.0” as one of the main downsides to Web 2.0. The... Sample PDF
Infoxication 2.0
Chapter 5
Margaret Rasulo
The aim of this chapter is to discuss the effectiveness and the necessity of forming a community when engaged in online learning. The Internet and... Sample PDF
The Role of Community Formation in Learning Processes
Chapter 6
Tony Mullen, Christine Appel, Trevor Shanklin
An important aspect of the Web 2.0 phenomenon is the use of Web-embedded and integrated non-browser Internet applications to facilitate... Sample PDF
Skype-Based Tandem Language Learning and Web 2.0
Chapter 7
Gary Motteram, Susan Brown
Web 2.0 offers potentially powerful tools for the field of language education. As language teacher tutors exploring Web 2.0 with participants on an... Sample PDF
A Context-Based Approach to Web 2.0 and Language Education
Chapter 8
Lut Baten, Nicolas Bouckaert, Kan Yingli
This case study describes how a project-based approach offers valuable new opportunities for graduate students to equip them with the necessary... Sample PDF
The Use of Communities in a Virtual Learning Environment
Chapter 9
George R. MacLean, James A. Elwood
Prensky (2001) posited the emergence of a new generation of “digital natives” fluent in the language of cyberspace and familiar with the tools of... Sample PDF
Digital Natives, Learner Perceptions and the Use of ICT
Chapter 10
Steve McCarty
In a cross-cultural educational context of TEFL in Japan, the author sought to enhance the integrative motivation of students toward the target... Sample PDF
Social Networking Behind Student Lines in Japan
Chapter 11
Antonie Alm
This chapter discusses the use of blogs for foreign and second language (L2) learning. It first outlines the suitability of blogs for language... Sample PDF
Blogging for Self-Determination with L2 Learner Journals
Chapter 12
Revathi Viswanathan
Training ESL students in soft skills and employability skills with the help of Web 2.0 technologies is the current trend in Indian educational... Sample PDF
Using Mobile Technology and Podcasts to Teach Soft Skills
Chapter 13
Andy Halvorsen
This chapter looks at the potential use of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) for educators and second language learners. It views SNSs broadly through... Sample PDF
Social Networking Sites and Critical Language Learning
Chapter 14
Nicolas Gromik
This chapter reports on an ongoing project conducted at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. A mixed group of seven advanced EFL learners produced... Sample PDF
Producing Cell Phone Video Diaries
Chapter 15
Thomas Raith
This chapter explores in how far Web 2.0, Weblogs in particular, has changed foreign language learning. It argues that Weblogs, along with Web 2.0... Sample PDF
The Use of Weblogs in Language Education
Chapter 16
Nat Carney
This chapter gives a comprehensive overview of blogs in Foreign Language Education (FLE) through reviewing literature, critically analyzing... Sample PDF
Blogging in Foreign Language Education
Chapter 17
Pete Travis, Fiona Joseph
In particular, this chapter looks at the potential role of Web 2.0 technologies and podcasting to act as a transformational force within language... Sample PDF
Improving Learners' Speaking Skills with Podcasts
Chapter 18
Volker Hegelheimer, Anne O’Bryan
The increasing availability of mobile technologies is allowing users to interact seamlessly with a variety of content anytime, anywhere. One of... Sample PDF
Mobile Technologies, Podcasting and Language Education
Chapter 19
Jenny Ang Lu
This chapter aims to investigate how podcasts can be made to fit into the repertoire of resources utilized by teachers, especially in language... Sample PDF
Podcasting as a Next Generation Teaching Resource
Chapter 20
Matthias Sturm, Trudy Kennell, Rob McBride, Mike Kelly
Web 2.0 tools like blogs, Wikis, and podcasts are new to the vocabulary of language acquisition. Teachers and students who take full advantage of... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Implications of Web 2.0
Chapter 21
John Paul Loucky
This study describes a task-based assessment (TBA) approach to teaching reading and writing online. It then analyzes key factors emerging from the... Sample PDF
Improving Online Readability in a Web 2.0 Context
Chapter 22
Jaroslaw Krajka
This chapter contrasts the use of corpora and concordancing in the Web 1.0 era with the opportunities presented to the language teachers by the Web... Sample PDF
Concordancing 2.0: On Custom-Made Corpora in the Classroom
Chapter 23
Darren Elliott
This chapter looks at the ways in which teacher training and teacher development are taking place online. It seeks to address the ways in which... Sample PDF
Internet Technologies and Language Teacher Education
Chapter 24
Sarah Guth
This chapter discusses the potential of social software and Web 2.0 tools to enhance language learning in a blended learning context. It describes... Sample PDF
Personal Learning Environments for Language Learning
Chapter 25
Shudong Wang, Neil Heffernan
This chapter introduces the concept of Mobile 2.0, a mobile version of Web 2.0, and its application to language learning. The chapter addresses the... Sample PDF
Mobile 2.0 and Mobile Language Learning
Chapter 26
Euline Cutrim Schmid
The first part of this chapter discusses the transformative potential of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs), by analyzing the opportunities of using... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Potential of Interactive Whiteboards 2.0
Chapter 27
David Miller, Derek Glover
This chapter summarizes the work underway to chart, critically evaluate, and systematize the introduction of interactive whiteboards (IWB) into... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards in the Web 2.0 Classroom
Chapter 28
Samuel Holtzman
The process of technological inclusion begins with an analysis of the features and functions of the specific tool in consideration. Pedagogy should... Sample PDF
Web 2.0 and CMS for Second Language Learning
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