Why bother with blogging?

Why bother with blogging?

Because it’s fun and it enhances language learning.

Today begins the second-year undergraduate remote blogging course for the third year running. I started the ball rolling by posting a message in the forum welcoming students and asking the following question: why develop a blogging course for students enrolled in English?

The short answer was because it’s fun and it enhances language learning.

In previous years I would probably have reversed the order of my response but not today. Not when our university campus has been closed since the end of October and is not looking to open before the 25th January for first-year students and the 8th February for other students (best-case scenario). Not when many students (and teachers) are struggling to remain motivated, connected and engaged with their studying (and teaching). Not when, on some days, we wake up and ask ourselves the question: why bother?

So, in the current stressful climate, pleasure which I have always believed important, I have definite Epicurean tendencies – see Not Just Fun and Games post, has, in my eyes, become primordial.

My welcome message was brief, after-all the idea is not to discourage students but awaken their curiosity and get them cracking on with the course. But there is of course a longer answer to my question and here is the beginning of it:

To approach language learning via blogging is to spark a multitude of conversations including those between teacher and learners, learners and learners, writers and readers, writers and writers, writers, readers and texts as well as bloggers and the blogging public.

What is creative about online conversations and what in learning terms does this imply? I believe that conversations are not only communicational but the loci for interaction. The link between interaction and language development is no longer contested, with interaction defined as ‘joint activity’, with ‘actions… co-produced across turns at talk’ (Van Compernolle, 2015: 198). I understand ‘turns at talk’ to take place both within and between various conversations which, in the digital context, may be either asynchronous or synchronous, depending on which tools are used.

The conversations are creative because they are the place of and the means for learner collaboration that enables the creation of an original product. They also enable engagement with the foreign language, through negotiation, mediation and internalisation, the latter described as ‘gaining the freedom to create’ by Dunn & Lantolf (as cited by Van Compernolle, 2015: 17). 

That’s the beginning of the longer answer.

It doesn’t mention the fact that one of the pleasures of blogging is that you have the space to develop your thoughts and ideas in a bit more detail that you would elsewhere.

Because your blog is your space.

And is worth the bother.

Van Compernolle, R. A. (2015).  Interaction and Second Language Development: A Vygotskian Perspective. Amsterdam: John Benjamins publishing company.

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