viernes, 18 de mayo de 2012

UNDERSTANDING CLASS BLOGS AS TOOLS FOR LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT. The use of blogs is put to the test through EFL students' use.

This study is applied to EFL students in a language school in Brazil. It distinguishes between three different types of blogs: the tutor blog with three functions: a space for learners and parents, a repository of resources and a natural setting for feelings and thoughts; the learner blog, which serves as a type of portfolio tool for autonomous learning, and as a way to reflect on the ethical use of creating a hypertext document. The negative part of this type of blog rests on the time and effort investment on the side of teachers for its creation and maintenance; the class blog, an extra curricular extension of the classroom is the type which really fosters a feeling of community among its users and may serve as a discussion board or as project-based language learning. Together with the previous article, not only the practice of a foreign language skill is enhanced, but students share a different cultural knowledge, which is extremely enriching, as language and culture are inseparable. But the experiment proved to be not so motivating, as during some parts of the process, no activity was shown in the blog. In fact, the author recognizes the preference to involve older, more mature and independent learners, both in terms of cognitive and linguistic development. It leaves open for further research formal correction on students’ posts and reasons why students do not blog so often.

jueves, 17 de mayo de 2012

Students at home and abroad communicate through a blog to share real cultural and language experiences.

The proposal itself is a challenge for the 21st century teachers who are interested in a European projection of their students, the real context of multicultural and multilingual mobilities. It analyses the pedagogical challenges of the introduction of mobile technologies in language learning in the context of an intensive week of study abroad, that is to say, it implies the mixture of formal and informal training, a pipe dream many educators have always strived for. The unpredicted informal learning, defined as “stumble and learn” by Kukulska-Hume in 2006, has turned out to be much more effective than the formal one and should not be disregarded by course designers. Interactions within a community of learners and informal and creative engagement with a different culture from a social constructivist point of view are key aspects in the piloted mobile blogging task. According to Jones and others, mobile devices are engaging and motivating because of “ownership”, id est., they are part of the user’s life, apart from the concepts of “sharing”, “privacy” and “portability” (Jones, Issroff, Scanlon, Clough and McAndrew, 2006b). Learners acquire the main role, as they are engaged in real meaningful, contextual and situated activities, and become more autonomous and responsible for their own learning. Students abroad and students at home are asked to complete a preliminary questionnaire on intercultural awareness and their familiarity with the technology and are also asked to create an asynchronous tool, such as a cultural blog in order to become more sensitive to cultural difference, develop their cultural awareness, feel free to express themselves, share material and reflections and reinforce their sense of community. One of the main problems the piloting resulted in was the difficulty for teachers to assess the task, as all involvements in the blog differed from one another, being informal creation and participation in mobile technologies not so easy to transfer it to formal assessment. 

Comas-Quinn, A., Mardomingo, R., & Valentine, C. (2009). Mobile blogs in language learning: Making the most of informal and situated learning opportunities. ReCALL, 21(1), 96-112.