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Exploring the Blogosphere: Use of Web Logs in the Foreign Language Classroom Lara C. Ducate Lara L. Lomicka PP Presentation: Alan Itkin
Introduction What is a blog? “A blog is an electronic journal kept by a blogger, who regularly updates the journal (known as blogging)” (410). What does this mean? The author’s thoughts & personality, informal tone, links.
Advantages of Blogs over Discussion Boards “They showcase the unedited voice of a person.” “They are user friendly.” “They are multilinear: Thoughts can easily be connected with resources or articles on the World Wide Web with little or no technical knowledge” (411).
Current Uses of Blogs Individual pursuits. Business endeavors. Educational uses (jackpot!).
Blogs in Foreign Language Teaching Four benefits of blogging (Ferdig & Trammel 2004): “Students can become subject matter experts.” Students interest and ownership in learning is increased.” Students become active participants in a community of practice.” “Blogging opens the door for a multitude of diverse perspectives” (413)
Foreign Language Reading Reading blogs of interest to the students can “enhance cultural learning and connections with other disciplines.” “Students can gain the insider’s perspective on various cultural topics” (41). Students can read native-language travel and cultural blogs.
Foreign Language Writing “Writing blogs offers students an interactive way to improve their writing skills and to encounter and build new ideas through discussion with other students.”
French Special Project Fourth-semester French travel blog, March 2004: “Students in a French class in the US were paired with a French student with whom they would spend a week during the trip abroad. Two weeks after the trip to France, the French correspondents traveled to the US to visit their American hosts. The travel blog was active for a 2-month period” (415).
Reactions to French Project “Very few students had ever used a blog before traveling overseas, and most were not even familiar with the term. The results of the questionnaire… revealed that students enjoyed both reading and writing blogs” (415).
German Special Project Second-semester German class: “Students were asked to read the same German blog every week for 6 weeks, summarize it in English, and write five new vocabulary words they learned” (415). “Students gained access to current events accompanied by a German perspective.” “The instructor provided them with the background information” (417).
German Special Project Second-semester class (continued): “After reading for 6 weeks, students were asked to write their own blogs.” “The students were asked to use their blog as a way to think critically about cultural topics.” Writing the blogs “provided students with a means to use critical thinking skills to examine specific aspects of German culture and compare it to their own” (417).
Blogging Caveats Bloggers “are not writing with a class of students in mind and therefore do not always write according to a regular, predictable schedule, do not always write content that is appropriate for students to read, or use language that students can easily understand” (418- 19).
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