The Use of ICT and Blogs in Teaching Foreign Languages

Having been an English teacher for 15 years already, it is obvious that learners today are different from the learners of yesterday: the Generation Z is less focused, but better multi-taskers, they are less interested in bargains, but prone to become early starters (as they tend to go straight into the working world, applying for online higher education, if at all); they are much more entrepreneurial and have much higher expectations that we did at their age; they were born social, but seek uniqueness and are more global – with the world coming online, Generation Z will become more global in their thinking, interactions, and relatability.

I love using technology myself, for personal use and in teaching. But there has been much debate over the use of computers and the internet in foreign language teaching over the past few years. The techniques offered, the activities and the degree of application in the language teaching syllabus have undergone a number of serious changes alongside the evolution of technology.

The process of learning a second language may be structured in different ways – in a classroom or at home, with or without a teacher, emphasizing or minimizing grammar, gradually exposing the student to native speakers or prompt immersion. With the advancements in ICT, Web tools are becoming more and more commonplace in schools. With the change of a “read” Web to a “read/write” Web, teachers are discovering new ways in which to engage technologically savvy students in computer-based educational activities.

The World Wide Web is a means of providing an authentic global audience for classroom productions. When students write or speak for a broader and more international audience, they pay more attention to polishing their work, think more deeply about the content they produce, and consider cultural norms more thoughtfully. Thus, the rapid advances in technology has led the development of ICT which is thought to offer new opportunities to promote the quality and effectiveness of foreign language teaching.

There is no more doubt that the use of ICT through blogs has positive effects on foreign language teaching/learning.

According to a study led in many European countries, having as an object the use of ICT in the teaching process, the foreign languages are among the subjects to benefit the most from use of ICT. Thus, the first subjects to make use of ICT are:

  • Sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) – the efficiency of ICT use is estimated to be 59,7%
  • Modern Foreign languages – efficiency is about 57,4%
  • Geography – estimated at 50%.

For foreign languages, blogs create opportunities for visualisation, communication, graphic organisation, and representation, all offered by the new technologies.If we use blogs in the learning activities of foreign language classes, our students can get engaged in creating final products, such as: handouts, graphics, magazines, blogs, forums, tests, various educational software, games, advertising leaflets, online dictionaries etc. These products can be used in interactive educational activities, that would engage students from different countries, gaining socialization and communication skills.

Using blogs in the teaching-learning-evaluation process is widely appreciated by students.Their use makes lessons more attractive, especially when we introduce elements of interactivity and socialization, such as email, forums, videoconferences.

Many students, through independent learning and the use of various new technologies, become more confident and the learning process becomes much easier for them. In this context, the specific competences for the foreign languages can interact with the key competences of ICT, thus resulting in modern activities of teaching-learning-evaluation.

The advantages of blogs usage in foreign language teaching can be listed as:
1. Capacity to control presentation. This capacity marks the difference between computers and books. Books have a fixed presentation, unlike computers, which can combine visual with listening materials, text with graphics and pictures.
2. Novelty and creativity. A teacher can use different materials for each lesson, not like in teaching with textbooks, where all classes presenting a certain topic are the same.
3. Feedback. Blogs allow a fast feedback to students` homework tasks posted in the comments, giving the appropriate advice.
4. Adaptability. Computer programmes can be adapted by teachers to suit their students` needs and level of language knowledge. Unlike books, which are produced in a single uniform format and need to be taught irrespectively of students` problems, computer programmes are more learner- friendly. Teachers can use a variety of web2.0 tools appropriate to the topic that is taught.

First and foremost, ICT – and the internet in particular – provides language learners with the opportunity to use the language that they are learning in meaningful ways in authentic contexts.  An example would be the recording of their voice using vocaroo that my students frequently enjoy.

A second important benefit derived from the use of blogs in a language classroom is based on the opportunities it affords for cooperation and collaboration with one’s peers. The eTwinning collaborative projects I involve my students in would be an example in this respect.

A third major benefit of the use of blogs in blended language learning classrooms is the opportunity that ICT-based tools give to language teachers so that they can tutor their learners more effectively. With the help of ICT-based tools and the constantly growing number of available educational resources language teachers are able to give individual and personalized guidance to the learners.

According to the European Commission, the digital competence is one of the 8 key-competences and consists in using multimedia technologies to find, stock, create, present and exchange information.

According to UNESCO, to be acquainted with technologies means to have a whole lot of skills, such as: choosing the appropriate instruments, operating with tools and apps, using them to manage, analyze, integrate, evaluate and create information, in a wide variety of forms.The majority of students already have the necessary technologies to be used in the learning process: smartphones with photo/video cameras, podcasts, voice recorder, etc. the students also have the necessary skills to use these apps, but they don’t make use of them in the appropriate way, or only for distraction. The teachers should explore their skills, and make them use these skills in education purposes, involving them in activities that make use of ICT.

Introducing ICT in the curriculum should be made “to use ICT to learn”, but not  “to learn to use ICT’ and refers to exploring the potential of the ICT for the improvement of teaching and learning through integrating into the curriculum of activities that allow the use of ICT. That is why the key-competences that are developed at ICT classes should be applied in the studying of foreign languages, in activities that imply the use of ICT. the foreign language teacher should know the competences that his/her students possess.

For information and documentation, the following sources can be mentioned: Google ,Yahoo, Bing, iSEEK Education, Education world, Altavista etc.
For presentations, the following are the most used ones: Microsoft PowerPoint, Prezi etc.
For digital publications, the following are widely used: Microsoft Word, Open Office, Microsoft Publisher, Adobe Digital Publishing etc
Besides the local editing tools, there are also online editing tools, the best ones being: Google Docs, Zoho, ThinkFree etc.
Among the graphic and multimedia apps, can be mentioned: Photoshop, Photopaint (images), Movie Maker, Any Audio Converter, Audacity (video-audio) etc.

ICT presents a powerful learning environment for learners in the classroom. Many countries make investments in ICT integration as ICT is viewed as an effective tool for renewing educational practice in any field. Because teachers are the main characters to employ ICT in educational contexts, they should be trained in how ICT can be integrated into the teaching process [3]. The use of information technology maintaining contact, that bond between us that let our students know that support was only a click away, and at the same time giving them a sense of freedom to work on the areas of their learning that they considered important. These tools also promote authentic communication in an environment where this input is scarce and at the same time helps prepare them for the technological workplace of the future.

In brief, ICT cannot itself resolve educational problems in the developing world. If used prudently, ICTs will enable developing countries to expand access to and raise the quality of education. Today‘s technologically competitive world needs integration of ICT in education. If ICT is aptly adapted, then it will be lifelong learning process for the learners.

Without a doubt, technology has revolutionized society in many places around the globe, including how language instruction is taught and delivered. To sum up, if we try to integrate technology in our teaching, our new, refocused approach to teaching will propel us a long way to making technology and the internet a more rewarding partner in the teaching and learning process.


prof. Tatiana Drăgan

Liceul Teoretic Mihai Eminescu, Florești (Floreşti) , Republica Moldova
Profil iTeach:

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