a. Title: Hungarian University Students Blog in EFL: Shaping Language and Social Connections.
b. Journal-volume: TESL-EJ, Volume 12
Author's name: Jozsef Horvath
Author's background: A lectrurer in University of Pecs, Hungary and one of the subjects that he taught is EFL Reading and Writing Skills
Blogging is one of the latest and popular media nowadays. EFL Reading and Writing Skills (RWS) is among the core courses for B.A program. Since blogging has its potential in promoting students' self-expression, Horvath decided to apply blog as a medium and tool in a Hungarian B.A program in EFL since 2006. He wanted the reading material that he use in class relevant to the reading and writing activites so he incorporated blogging as a tool for learning. This research is a research article in which its aim is to investigate the role of blogging in linguistic and social gains for second language learner. Since blogging in RWS course has lasted for five semesters, Horvath decided to investigate the effects of blogging on students' development in writing and reading skills. The methodology that has been used by Horvath was quantitative study in which the researcher evaluated the students blogs and their comments on their friends' posts and on the use of blogging in the course. This research involved 21 students who took RWS course during Fall 2008 semester. 18 students did online blogging while the remaining 3 students chose offline blogging in which they will give the printed post to Horvath. Based on the findings, Horvath found out that the students have made linguistic and social gains. The students were not just active in posting entries in their blogs but also commenting on their friends' posts. At the beginning of blogging most of the students have used materials that they got from somewhere else but at the end Horvath found out that the students have less dependence on non-original material. Moreover, most of the student started to publish their post on weekly or bi-weekly basis. In terms of commenting, Horvath found out that the students have fair amount of posting and commenting. Besides, he managed to discover 3 types of commenting by these students which are; reformulated idea in the original post and added a personal angle, evaluative and positive and threads. Normally threads happen on hot debates like post on pulp fiction, popular TV series and fine literature. At the end of the course, most students mentioned that blogging is an effective tool to improve their reading and writing skills and at the same time opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. Other than that, Horvath discovered that blogging also contributes to stronger community bonding for the students were reading and commenting each other blogs. Even the students who took part in offline blogging have a good grade for this course.
In my opinion, this is a very interesting article as we can see the effects of blogging to the students' reading and writing skills. As a future English teacher I see blogging as a useful and motivating tool to learn writing and reading. This is because most of the students in today's world are exposed to this media and by teaching them the skills of reading and writing through a modern channel it will increase their motivation to learn. In fact, I found that blogging that we did for TSL641- CALL class is very interesting and saving as well because it is paperless. The weakness of this research is that it was done by Horvath whom happen to be the master mind of this new tool of learning. In my opinion it will be better if this research is done by someone else so that we can really know the effectiveness of blogging in shaping language and social connections and reduce bias. The implication of this research in the teaching and learning of ESL in Malaysian context is that English teachers will have a new idea and tool in teaching reading and writing especially in schools that have many students who have internet connections at home or have easy access to internet like cyber cafes. Thus, teachers will be able make some changes in the traditional way of teaching and writing exercise which is by using paper.