Tricia Feely

My area of interest is using digital technology with ESL learners, particularly those studying at private language colleges on the Gold Coast. These students are a particular cohort as they primary interest in coming to the Gold Coast is usually to have fun. They are often taking a break from stressful jobs or university study in their own countries and expect to be entertained. Apart from student visa requirements of 80% attendance- some are on work or tourist visas - their attendance and participation is voluntary. As members of the digital generation, they are easily distracted and constantly use their mobile devices during class. My aim is integrate these devices into class activities, not only to maintain their focus but because technology offers diverse learning and teaching tools for language acquisition.

I have chosen to develop an activity around blogging for intermediate level students. At this level they are developing their communication skills and will not be fazed by the task or the technology. Blogs are very simple effective means of communicating one's ideas and interests to classmates. The digital skills needed to use them are quite easy to pick up and do not impede with the language objective of the task. Moreover, blogs facilitate in establishing a class community, as students can read and respond to each other's posts. In addition, having an audience provides motivation to students to improve their writing skills. Writing tends to the hardest skill to master, hence, many weaker students are quite indifferent to it. When writing is given as a homework task, these students fail to do it. As the teacher is the only person who usually reads students' written work, there is often no incentive to complete the task. Consequently corrections are ignored and repeated. Displaying their work on a common page pushes them to take pride in their work and to develop their vocabulary and language skills.