Monday, September 10, 2012

Using Blogs to Meet Standards

The Internet developing fast in recent years, the way people exchange information has been changed dramatically. So does teaching. Students no longer only need to stay in the classroom to obtain knowledge. Alternatively, they can explore in the cyber world with multi-media technology and enjoy themselves in the process of learning. Hence, the development of technology can increase students learning opportunity. As for teachers, blogs can be regarded as an indispensable platform to spread information, put announcement and connect students to learn in a cooperative and interactive way. 

According to the National Standards for Foreign Language Education, Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities are the 5Cs.

(retrieved from:

I think using blogs in teaching is a good practice of these five standards. 

First, students has to use the target language to communicate with others, either educators or classmates, by reading and giving feedback. Through interaction, learners are able to negotiate with each other based on the meaningful context and they can know each other better. Also, the affective filter can be lower, when they interact with peers and talk about things they are interested in.

Second, blogs can work as a cultural kaleidoscope. Teachers can select the interesting cultural phenomenon and post them on the class blog. Students can explore them and know more about it. Also, various media technologies can be utilized. Gradually, blogs can create a collection of culture topics. As long as students are interested in the culture of the target language, they will become motivated in learning it. Plus, as they know more about the target culture, they will become more aware of the cultural differences. 

Third, blogs can help students build easier connection among others beyond time and space. Hence, it is possible for them to have international friends and interact with native speaker directly. They can appreciate the authentic language and try to understand the target culture via real interaction with someone who were brought up in the target culture. They can influence each other both professionally and personally. 

Fourth, as they know more about the target culture, they will have a opportunity to find the similarity and disparity between both cultures. Hence, they can make a comparison. Gradually, they will have a special eye to read both culture. If the interlocutors appreciate each other's culture, it will be easy to seek a mutual understanding.

Last but not least, blogs can create an invisible but strong connection between learners in the cyber world, thus enabling language learners to live in a universal community beyond time and space.

So how can educators use blogs to meet the standards mentioned above? 

On the one hand, input plays an essential role in learning. For example, we can post supplement materials and exercise for students to offer extra help. Teachers can not cover everything in a regular class. Hence, they can use blogs to help students to build background knowledge. Also, if they find students having trouble with certain subject matters, they can design or find some relevant materials for students to practice. Moreover, one advantage of blogs is that it can incorporate multi-media technology as well, video clips, songs, pictures, etc, enabling different types learners to process and retain the information more effectively. 

On the other hand, learning is a social and interactive activity, so we can use blogs to build study forums for brainstorming, sharing and Q&A. Teachers can create threads online for students to brainstorm and come up with an outcome as a whole. For example, the teacher can describe a problem and let students to brain storm the reasons and solutions. Also, students can comment on each other in a friendly but critical way, making it possible for them to improve discussion and social skills. Plus, blogs can provide students with an opportunity to share their ideas. Hence, they can experience an exchange of thoughts and know how to appreciate each other's work. 

All in all, to meet the standards, we can use blogs to provide students with input and help them to generate output in an interactive way, which contributes to the improvement of students' communicative competence as well.  

1 comment: