Why blogging is great.
Writing is a skill that needs to be learned, the more you practice the better you'll become. And that applies to your mother tongue as well as to your foreign language. Blogs also offer the opportunity to reflect about complex issues, resulting in better understanding and the emergence of new ideas. So, blogging is good for your critical thinking abilities.
In the foreign language you have to start small first
If you start to learn a foreign language, you have a problem though - your linguistic capabilities are not sufficient enough to write long texts. Often, learners also hesitate to blog, as they think long blogs require longer posts. Therefore, they might start using twitter. Having only 140 characters is sometimes frustrating, but it gives beginner peace of mind. One or two sentences is enough. But soon, they might also want to go bigger.
tumblr and posterous let you go (a little) bigger
To close this gap, there are two services, you might want to use - tumblr and posterous. Both offer pretty much the same, but posterous is more a photoblogging service. There are a number of comparisons between
- tumblr and wordpress (the later a blogging tool) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- posterous and wordpress - 1, 2, 3
- and tumblr and posterous - 1, 2, 3
From my own experience, tumblr and posterous have the following advantages:
- Very good mobile phone integration.
- Espeacially for tumblr, as you can choose, whether your content is a text, quote, picture or video, you don't feel compelled to write long posts. Only a quick thought, that's enough. On the other hand, you are not constrained to the 140 character limitation of twitter.
- Posterous and tumblr work great with social websites. You can link your accounts to twitter and Facebook. Posterous supports the most common blogging services, too.
Tumblr and Posterous "in action"
Can I make it safe?
Probably, you don't want other people to see the efforts, you undertake to learn a foreign language. Both, tumblr and posterous offer protected blogs. Tumblr uses password-protection for whole blogs, whereas posterous offers you a "private space", in which you have to invite people in.
Can my students get feedback?
I have a tumblr and a posterous account. However, I would like my students to use tumblr, as it makes it easier for me to follow your efforts. Please send me an email with the details of your tumblr blog (username, blog URL).
Scenarios for students
- Start a blog about your major, write about the things, you learned and try to comment on developments in your field.
- Write short paragraphs in your foreign language on a daily basis. What have you done today? What happened? Write texts about yourself: my friends, my room, my country ... (add photos, when appropriate)
- Write something that is important to you. There are no ridiculous topics.
Scenarios for educators
- I think, teachers should rather have a "proper" blog. However, quick thoughts can also be posted there. And sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand ...
- Set up a posterous/tumblr account for your class and allow your students to contribute to a space/blog.
- Give your students blogging tasks depending on your topic.