Blogging in TESL

Ishbel Galloway, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

TESOL 2005, San Antonio



TESOL EV Online Blog workshops:

The 2005 Electronic Village online event included a session entitled: Using Weblogs in ESL/EFL Classes: new developments, uses and challenges. Read their blog Building a Community of Practice and find links to the blogs of many ESL/EFL teachers using blogs in their teaching.

The 2004 Electronic Village online event Creating and Using Weblogs in ESL/EFL is available too.

Educational Applications:

Read a recent Kairosnews discussion by faculty using blogs in their writing classes.

hipteacher explains why she loves using blogs with her grade 9 students.

A place to be heard. Blogging with grades 3-5.

*Blogging and RSS -- the "What's It?" and "How to" of Powerful New Web Tools for Educators.

Teaching English with Picture Books. Lucy Mellersh shares her teaching ideas.

Some examples of student journals can be found on Aaron Campbell's thenewtanuki blog

Blogging > an introduction shows how First Year Composition students at Florida University are using blogs

Barclay Barrios of Rutger's Writing Program discusses the some uses of blogs.

The Write Weblog Anne Davis' project with students at J.H.House Elementary

Best Practices

Blogs with an intercultural focus

A K-12 collaboration between schools in New Jersey and Poland

**East Asia Center -- Kyoto

*A Japanese-Belgian intercultural exchange blog

*A European Centre for Modern languages international student blog

Italian collaborative school blog

*Globally Speaking

*Our class 2005















First things first:

What is a weblog? Well many blogs are devoted to the question of definition. But here's Jill Walker's, "A weblog, or blog, is a frequently updated website consisting of dated entries arranged in reverse chronological order ... Typically, weblogs are published by individuals and their style is personal and informal. Weblogs first appeared in the mid-1990s, becoming popular ... towards the turn of the century... there is great variety in the quality, content, and ambition of weblogs, and a weblog may have anywhere from a handful to tens of thousands of daily readers." Read Jill's full defintion written for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory.

To learn about the very brief history of weblogs go to Rebecca's Pocket, the blog of Rebecca Blood. Weblogs began in the late '90s -- the word was coined by Jorn Barger in December1997. Today, there are millions around the world. In 2003, it was estimated that new blog was being created every 40 seconds. As an emergent communication technology, blogging is at least as significant a development as e-mail has been and its dramatic impact on news distribution was seen in the Iraq war and the last US election. But what is blogging's potential for language learning?

It's useful to begin by considering how they differ from bulletin boards or discussion forums. Lee LeFever explains a number of significant differences on his blog while James Farmer's incorporated subversion blog considers the same question in the context of online learning.

The question with the educational application of any new technology is the extent to which it drives/is driven by the pedagogy. Barbara Ganley's blog-musings on this in Pedagogical Applications of Blogs in the Classroom claims that "to talk about blogs means to talk about student-centered learning, collaborative knowledge spaces, constructivist pedagogy FIRST. Teaching with blogs the way I do--which means not applying them piecemeal but integrating them fully in all their messy, flexible, fluid promise-- means you have to let go of control of the classroom, give up the stage and create opportunities for learning magic to occur."

Sounds good but how many blogs show this in action? Not many that I could find. The net is littered with dead blogs; in fact many used as examples in the 2004 EV online blog event have either vanished or have not been updated for months. Others show minimal student postings and even less student interaction.

This page is a resource to get you started thinking about blogs so that you can decide what they have too offer your course or your teaching style.

Like any new technology, the success of blogging is determined by its integration into a coherent methodology. If you can find an effective way to exploit blogging's potential for self expression, reflection and community building, you'll have a great blog. Good luck! If you get blogging, please e-mailme your blog's URL!

Here's a list of the 2004 Edublog winners i.e. the sites chosen as the best scholarly and education focused blogs. Those with some relevance to ESL include Mario tout de go, a school in Quebec, Bee-coming a Webhead and SchoolBlogs which encourages collaborative projects

Blogging Tools:

For a discussion of these, read On the Job: An Overview of the Weblog Tools Market which is the source of this pie chart.

weblog pie

#1: Hosted






#2 User installed





Interesting reading about blogs:

The educated blogger: Using Weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom by David Huffaker.

Using LiveJournal for Authentic Communication in EFL Classes by Aaron Patric Campbell

Understanding Weblogs by Elmine Wijnia

Blogging to Learn by Anne Bartlett-Brag

Read the rationale for the European Centre for Modern Languages' "Web Journals in Education"project.

Education Web Logs by Carol Holzberg

Weblogs and discourse by Oliver Wrede

Why Weblogs? at Weblogg-ed: the read/write Web in the classroom

Creating a Writing Course Utilizing Class and Students Blogs by Andrew Johnson in Tokyo

Teachers/teaching blogs worth watching:

Annotated list of ESL/EFL Weblogs

Tom Banaszewski's blog on digital storytelling*

*Bee Online a meeting place for students to share opinions and relax

John Lovas

Educational Weblogs

Edblogger Praxis

The English Blog


Teachers' Blogs on Blogging in TESL


Bee-coming a Webhead

English 360 -- a Business English blog

*Linguistic Life


Other ESL/EFL teachers' blogs

Teaching Experiences in Spain.

EFL in Japan

Teaching English in Korea-ESL Blog

Scott Sommers' Taiwan Weblog

MBE (My blogging experiment) China (also an Edublog 2004 winner)

A Japanese blog for students and teachers of English