Blogging is more than just a social tool or a place to store your private reflections. I believe it can be used effectively with language students to improve literacy skills.
I use it with English language students, helping them to create individual and collaborative articles. We decide on a topic, they research and draft at home and we edit and refine together during the next lesson. In this manner, I can achieve a balance between them working on their own or in groups and with me assisting during the final stages.
Including them actively in the decision making, regarding topics and themes, I have found to be more effective them forcing them to write about a set theme. If they can draw meaning and a purpose out of it then they seem more likely to blog.
Some are apprehensive before hitting the 'publish' button, but in general are excited when they see their work online. Receiving feedback from family and friends and comments online from readers seems to have a positive influence on their motivation to blog further.
There are valuable skills being learnt and improved on through all stages of blogging i.e. from the initial stages of designing their blogs through to publishing. Writing and reading are the most obvious but also their ability to evaluate, think critically, research, collaborate with other cultures and engage with this digital tool. Exchanging the articles with other students for correction and suggested editing, assists in improving grammar and essay skills.
A seemingly simple non-techie tool that can have a positive impact on language students' literacy skills when used effectively.