There are over 150 million blogs on the internet today. Why so many? People read blogs and rely on them for information. Reading blogs is great, but why should ESL students start blogs? It is a good question. Here are 5 great reasons for ESL students to create a blog in English.
1. Improve your English.
Blogs are a great way to communicate with people around the world about topics that interest you. Since languages are learned through the exchange of meaningful messages, blogging in English becomes a great way for you to master your English language skills while indulging your interest in your favorite topics.
Of course, you can learn about the properties of English by doing exercises and practice activities, but for grammar and vocabulary to really stick in your head, it is essential for those linguistic forms to be linked to meaning in your brain. Blogging in English is a very meaningful way to practice a language. Not only will you find yourself reading other blogs and watching YouTube videos in English for inspiration, you will also want to make an extra effort that you are expressing yourself correctly and in a way people will understand. A number of useful tools are available to help you, and blogging will give you the motivation to use them.
You can use Chrome or Chrome Portable to help you with your pronunciation. If you don’t know how to pronounce something, your browser can model how to pronounce words and phrases for you. You can also check your pronunciation to see if it is clear enough for someone else to understand you by using Chrome’s speech recognition system. Very cool.
If you want to check your English for common grammar errors, punctuation problems, and capitalization mistakes, use the Virtual Writing Tutor. The Virtual Writing Tutor is a free online grammar checker designed especially for ESL students.
You can check your word choice on FieldRelated.com to identify conversational and academic vocabulary, as well as field-related vocabulary.
There is Google Translate which works like a bilingual dictionary but with speech recognition and speech synthesis.
For video blogging or vlogging, there is CamtasiaStudio and its free counterpart Camstudio and its portable version. Creating video tutorials, uploading them to YouTube and embedding them on your blog will give you an opportunity to practice your English speaking skills online.
2. Become an expert that people know and trust.
When people have a question about something, they usually go to the internet to do a search. If you use the keywords they use in their search in your blog post, their search engine will include you in the search results. Once people begin to find you and read your blog, it will help to establish you as an expert in your field of study. People will come to recognize that you are a valuable source of information.
You can’t become a valuable source of information unless you have information to share. This means developing your expertise by exploring recent research and technological innovations in your field and presenting it in a way that people will appreciate. Search engines and Wikipedia will help you track down new research that expands or refines our understanding of topics related to your field. Following up on new products released by leading companies in your field is another great way to develop your expertise and communication skills in your field. As you learn more about your field and explain it to people in a way that people appreciate, they will begin to recognize you as an expert that they can trust.
3. Make money.
When it comes time to search for a job or start a business, your blog will show prospective employers and customers what you know and what you can do for them. When people know you, trust you, and like you, they are more likely to buy from you. Affiliate links, ads and online stores will then become significant sources of income that can make money for you while you sleep.
Think about it. If people read your articles and watch your video tutorials, they will come to respect you. Since the information you provide is free, they will certainly appreciate what you have done for them. That sets up the norm of reciprocity. You have done something nice for them and they will want to do something nice for you. When you recommend a product and provide a link, they may take the extra few seconds to find out about that product. If they are curious, they are more likely to indulge that curiosity by clicking on ads in your blog post. If they are ready to buy, they will prefer to buy from you than a stranger, and pow! You have made ad-revenue, or a commission on a sale, or sold your services. That’s digital marketing in a nutshell. It takes time, but it works.
4. Join a virtual community that spans the globe.
Perhaps money is not your thing. People who obsess about money are boring anyway. Interesting people know stuff, make stuff and connect with other interesting people who know stuff, make stuff and connect with interesting people. You will find that your blog will bring you into contact with faraway people who share your interests and have skills that complement your own.
You will see that there are people who are more skilled and knowledgeable than you and and others who can learn and benefit from knowing you. Eventually, you will discover that you are in the center of a worldwide network of nerdy-cool people. Bloggers belong to a community that stretches beyond their family and gang of neighbourhood friends, a virtual community that stretches over the internet and out into the wider world. While your buddies are talking hockey or politics or fashion, you will look up to see an airplane flying overhead and realize, “Hey, I know a guy in Kuala Lumpur. If I got on a plane, I could go there and shake his hand. Cool.”
5. Develop your digital literacy skills.
When you blog, you use the internet on a deeper level than most young people do. Most college students go on Facebook to flirt or joke around. They use only the buttons and tools that Facebook provides them. With a blog, you can switch from “Compose” mode to “HTML” mode and gain insight into how websites are made.
Even if you never switch to HTML mode, blogging will introduce you to concepts of hyperlinking, labels, URLS, alt tags, keywords and search engine optimization. These are important elements of a successful blog because of their influence on the way search engines find you and send traffic to your blog. Knowing how a search engine ranks one page above another will help you understand how machine determine the reliability of sources of information.
These are my 5 important reasons for college ESL students to start a blog. What are your reasons? Why not start your blog with a listicle explaining your reasons?