What advice would you give for blogging with ESL/EFL students?

Can you help?

I’ve been asked for advice for blogging with ESL/EFL students.

I’m sure that ESL/EFL educators and their students will provide the best advice.  So I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Larry Ferlazzo’s Thoughts

And to get the conversation started Larry Ferlazzo (from Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day……For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL) has kindly shared his quick thoughts on blogging with ESL/EFL students:

  1. Help students get email addresses
  2. Compile a list of user names and passwords because someone will forget theirs.
  3. Choose a blogging solution that includes an option for leaving an audio comment as it is a MUST – (if you use Edublogs.org you need to use either a Pro blog or Campus blog)
  4. Identify some very, very simple tasks that students can do (refer to my Class website Intermediate English for ideas) and then they just have to paste the URL address of their creation in the comments.
    • They’ll get used to the tech that way.
    • Model on a computer projector each task and what is required so everyone sees.
  5. Next, have students leave audio and written comments.  Highlight examples on computer projector.
  6. Gradually use more complex tasks, like on my class blog.
    • Students can paste essays they write in the comments section, but should type them out in Word first to take advantage of grammar and spell check.
    • However, first, they should write it out longhand so they don’t get intimidated by all the mistakes Word will show them making.

Your thoughts

Would love to hear your thoughts!

  1. What have you found works well?
  2. What hasn’t worked well?
  3. Do you have any questions on blogging with ESL/EFL students you would like answered?

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Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

11 Responses

  1. LaFlecha says:

    In addition to Larry’s suggestions, I would add that you have to decide the objective of the blogging. I have blogged with third & fifth-graders in a multi-level, multi-lingual classroom. So, the first thing is understanding your class and deciding (with them, if possible) the ways you’ll use blogs in class. In my school, we do a lot of “reaading responses”, and the blogs became a way to do that in a more interactive way (as opposed to just in their notebooks).

    Also, you’ll need to decide the level of supervision you’ll need with their English. For example, for me, I taught a range of true beginners to advanced, and, so, I had a range of goals such as being introduced to the technology, practicing writing in English and responding to each other via comments, being more descriptive in their writing, the language needed to express opinions, etc. So, my main job was **not** correcting their English because my main objective was to get them writing frequently and comfortably. I wanted to limit how self-conscious and ill-equipped they felt in English. However, I would use their blogs as a chance to discuss certain recurring errors. Other teachers might decide differently, especially if their ELLs are more advanced.

    I also made it a choice. Some students felt more comfortable writing short comments on posts rather than whole posts themselves.

    If you’ve never done this before, part of your decision involves how much time you can/want to spend yourself in monitoring their posts, and how you want to do that. You may want to assign some students as helpers.

    Also, since bilingualism and maintaining their first language is very important to me, I decided to allow students who were literate in theirs to blog in it. This also became a way to teach how to use different translation sites, and discuss their effectiveness/ineffectiveness, etc.

  2. afowles says:

    Provide graphical prompts.

    Periodically give kids print-outs of their blog posts to take home (many of these kids will not have internet access at home)

    Provide ample time to compose (real-time collaboration with the teacher here is a great thing, as the teacher can provide on-time input)

    Use a very simple blogging platform at first (posterous can do community blogs via e-mail)

    Let students write in their L1 if they are quite new to English (you can always run it through Google Translate and post both versions)

  3. Great ideas have already been explained. Another idea is to team up with another class and begin with comments to each other after learning how to and practicing good commenting strategies. From reading and commenting on others’ blogs, the students engage their own conversations in their own blogs or a class blog.

    Places to find classes:

    theedublogger.com/check-out-these-class-blogs/
    http://www.learncentral.org/
    http://www.jenuinetech.com/
    teachersconnecting.com/
    voicethread4education.wikispaces.com/Classroom+Partners
    school2school.ning.com/?
    supportblogging.com/Links+to+School+Bloggers

  4. Simon says:

    Hum. Larry’s examples are interesting – this is not blogging at all, in the original sense of the word. Have I missed something essential, or is this a case of the wrong tool for the task at hand? If the point is to assemble student work on the web, then there are lots of applications (i.e. any LMS) that will do the job better than a blog. Ditto if the point is to get students to see and comment on each other’s contributions (VoiceThread is pretty good here, as it allows both text and audio).

  5. teacherjane says:

    In response to Simon, yes blogging is so much more than whatever your ‘sense of the original word’ is. Yes it is exciting, colourful, collaborative, interactive, promotional,educational, global/universal, and so flexible. LMS is a little dull in comparison. Voicethread is a small part of blogging (embed into blog).
    The weekly workings of a blog keeps a track of students’ input and involvement.It is dynamic. It can be linked to any other platform, I use Facebook to get students to look at the blog, (currently). I use email for the PDF lesson/worksheet which might take them to the blog or FB group. Links, videos, VT, cartoons, movies,images, surveys – all these tools can be used in any way to teach the content. At the moment, photos are a good way to start our new group up and get them to feel like ‘this is our blog, here is me…’
    The challenge coming up is an exciting way of getting students motivated in learning the new technologies and the subject follows. In this case, ESL. I think that for participants, the learning curve is exponential. (teachers included)
    I am a big fan of Larry’s incredible journey on-line. His students are more advanced and can do great things. My students are new to computers. Still, I like the possibilities and give it a try..and they love it.
    Jane

  6. Cory Sheldahl says:

    I’m not an expert, but I would also experiment with software that can read the material to the students. Several cell phones do this with texting already, so I would think that an open source version of Dragon software, could readily do text-to-speech, and vice versa.

    • Odda says:

      Larry,I guess I’ll never be able to shake that moniker hdraest working person ! Could be worse . Just want to keep your name out there I know many new teachers are landing on my blog and you should be their first go to . Good to see you taking in the Wisconsin events you guys down there need some good old Canadian teacher support. A lot I don’t like about Canada but I do like how secure and strong, the teaching profession is up here. David

  7. Gila Efrati says:

    drop.io is a great website for ESL. they can call and record their comments.

  8. Sue Waters says:

    Thanks everyone so far for sharing your ideas and thoughts. I know we all really appreciate it. My plan is to let everyone share as many ideas as possible then come back to write a post to share all the ideas.

    I would also like to apologies for taking so long to thank you all. Very un-Sue like but wasn’t well week :(

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