Effectively Incorporating Blogs for the L2 Literacy Development of Teenage Language Learners

Effectively Incorporating Blogs for the L2 Literacy Development of Teenage Language Learners

Christina Nicole Giannikas (Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2722-1.ch006

Abstract

Digital technologies have become an important part of language learning and teaching across the globe at various levels of education. The advances in question have altered texts and tools available to teachers and students and have given practitioners and researchers a new understanding of L2 literacy development. More specifically, the successful attempts of integrating the blogosphere in language education suggest the improvement of L2 writing. Through blogging, students are given the opportunity to use the new language they are learning and new technologies to strengthen social bonds and express their thoughts and reflections on the online platform. This chapter elaborates on the use of the blog in teenage learners' L2 literacy in the digital age, and examines the impact that blogs have on the authorship, personal expression, writing fluency, and confidence of the L2 teenage language learner. The chapter also offers a theoretical, practical scope to establish the full perspective of integrating blogs into the language classroom.
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Introduction

Literacy refers the understanding, evaluation, the ability to use and engage with written text in order to achieve one's goals and develop one's knowledge and potential (OECD, 2013). Learning to write in either a first (L1), second language (L2), or foreign language is one of the most challenging tasks that one can endeavor (Archibald, 2004). However, in a number of learning contexts across the globe, the writing task is more concerned with the form rather than with abstract thinking to construct meaning. Richards’ (1990) observations show that the process of moving from concepts, thoughts, and ideas to their written form is rather complex. This is due to the fact that writing is a difficult skill to develop and master, as it demands syntactic and lexical knowledge in the L2, and the capacity to organize and present thoughts in a way that can be clearly communicated to the reader (Quintero, 2008).

The complex area of writing can bring anxiety to language learners. Researchers have made suggestions on how teachers can assist and tackle students’ writing anxiety. Lee (2001), for instance, has suggested that there needs to be an appropriate relationship of writing apprehension to the revision process, and the selection of a relatable topic would be a positive factor for students’ learning writing and reducing their anxiety. Anxiety, however, is a very complex area that can cause problems to the majority of students in both the L1 and the L2. Rollinson (2005) has suggested that students’ anxiety can be released via peer feedback. This suggestion is valid as it can help discharge students’ negative emotion. Digital technology can be employed to put this suggestion to practice and to support students with their writing. One of the greatest transformations in the teaching of literacy in the 21st century is that our understanding of the term has challenged the traditional understanding of literacy. While traditionally literacy was seen as being only about the ability to read and write, more recently the term has come to encompass the barrage of technological and digital innovations of today (Kinkead-Clark, 2017).

Digital technologies have become a pivotal part of English language learning and teaching across the globe (see Ruhe in this volume). The advances in question have altered texts and tools available to teachers and students and have given practitioners and researchers a new understanding of L2 literacy development. In the light of these advances, several studies have lent support to the assertion that Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) and their contribution to language education have been beneficial to the development of L2 literacy (Chapelle, 2009; Hubbard, 2008). A form of CMC that has provided a number of benefits to L2 literacy development is the blogosphere. The blogging experience in a language learning setting provides the potential for alternative expression and reflection, leading to deeper learning (Bartlett-Bragg, 2003). Empirical studies have described successful attempts of integrating the blogosphere in language education for the purpose of improving L2 writing and developing an L2 community of writers (Downes, 2014; Hourigan & Murray, 2010; Quintero, 2008). More specifically, research has explored how teenage learners use language and new technologies in order to strengthen social bonds and articulate their thoughts and reflections online (Guzzetti & Gamboa, 2005; Lankshear & Knobel, 2002), and through social networks (Grinter & Palen, 2002; Lewis & Fabos, 2005; Shiu & Lenhart, 2004). The outcomes present various perspectives of L2 literacy development a teenage learner may endure in the digital age. Students and teachers are now presented with a world of online resources and platforms that can intrigue them to explore literacy in a different learning environment, using a different approach.

Key Terms in this Chapter

L2 Writing: The ability and knowledge of writing a text in a second/foreign language.

Blogger: Someone who writes on an online journal or website regularly.

Blogosphere: A collection of blogs, with their writers and readers as a distinct online network.

Emoticons: A blend of “emotion and icon” that refers to facial expressions represented by keyboard characters.

Digital Citizens: Regular internet users who understand its appropriate use.

Digital Literacy: The ability to understand, process and create media content in a digital environment.

Cyberbullying: The use of electronic communication to bully someone online.

Netiquette: A blend of the words net and etiquette, which have come to mean the proper and appropriate use of online communication.

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