Monday, May 31, 2004

Blogging Interest by Geography
Scott notes in an email:
I think the attitudes toward English and the role English plays (or doesn't play) as a language of wider communication play a large role here. In Japan, where people are fascinated by English and American culture, but don't really seem terribly interested in being able to communicate in English, it would perhaps be a pointless exercise. In Europe, esp within the EU, where there might be a very pressing need to communicate in English soon after the class is over, students may be much more interested in blogs. Commonwealth and former commonwealth countries would bring a whole new set of issues to the table -- think of India, Nigeria, Kenya -- where one might be dealing with English as a genuine lingua franca, perhaps along with a creole English. And attitudes and experiences students have had viz technology are important here too -- would students be willing to do it if it were in their L1? Similar issues surround the use of AIM and IMs in TESOL, but there one needs to be much more concerned about cranking out the message quickly.

I think this once again reinforces the point that every learning and teaching situation is different, and teachers will always have to make changes in their approach to an assignment with each new class they teach. There are just bigger differences apparent when a teacher is teaching in a very different geographic area. There are no doubt some techniques that will work very well in Europe, but not in Asia, or really well with Asian students in the US, but not when they're in Asia, etc., etc.

I'm looking forward to seeing how I end up changing my own assignment next semester, once I find out what level I will be teaching. Oooh, and if I get a class with a wider variety of cultural backgrounds, it would be interesting to see how the various students respond to the assignment. There's a lot of interest to be explored here.

Additionally, Blinger brings up a good point in this post responding to my previous entry, when he says:
At this point I am thinking that learners may not be as motivated to blog if they do not know how to customize the look of thier blog. It seems that most teachers are sending their students to Blogger or other free blog hosts where the software is in English. While this is natural for us to do, it may not be the best for our students particularly low level ones as the purpose of blogging in English is to get students to use and communicate in English outside of the classroom. However if the medium in which that is to be accomplished is far beyond thier language ability it will be demotivating and frustrating leading to a minimum effort.

While I did write simpler instructions for my students on how to edit and change their blogs, it still took them a long time to really get it, and I think the comp sci majors in the class showed others outside of class how to do a lot of it. They seemed to get a lot more interested once they could change the sidebar links, add pictures, etc. It would be great if more services would write instructions in many languages. Maybe Blogger, in its new and improved format, should take that up.

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