Getting Your Students Reading Blogs, H2LE (1)

This is part of a new series (H2LE) with information you'll be able to share with your adult English language students.

Have you had a chat with your students about learning English by reading blogs?

While they're aren't that many blogs specifically aimed at English language learners here are a few of the one's we really like:

I also feed in Sean Banville's Breaking News

And sometime next quarter I will restart my own How to Learn English (more on that soon).

What I do

I feed these blogs into my students' Ning using a Google Reader widget.

To view current entries in my widget, see here - to grab the same one for your students, click here - to create one of your own, simply join Google Reader (free) and add the blogs you and your students like, then go to
  • Settings
  • Folder and Tags
  • Add clip to your website

What they do

As I mentioned above, these blog urls feed into our site so whenever my students have completed a task and are awaiting for the others to, or they've participated in a forum discussion and are awaiting answers on that or they've just completed a blog post... but their neighbour is still adding photos to hers, then I encourage a hit the blogs while you wait approach...

The interesting thing is, without me ever telling them to, some continue to visit the links outside of class-time :-) and have commented!

(sighs, proud teachermommy)

What do you do?

  • Do you know of any more blogs specifically aimed at English language learners? What are your general thoughts about these? My links are aimed at adult learners (because that's what I teach) however feel free to mention ones aimed at younger students for my other readers ;-).
  • Do you find it difficult getting students to comment on public blogs?
  • Do you have other tips for helping promote learner autonomy?

Google Doc for your Students
in Word so you can download, add or change before sending on


15 Responses to “Getting Your Students Reading Blogs, H2LE (1)”

  • Anne Hodgson says:
    January 16, 2010

    Dear Karenne,
    Thank you !!! And now I'm going to send this link to my students, because you've collected my favorites and introduced me to a few new ones. What about your blog for learners, are you still planning to keep that up or have you moved on?
    All the best!

    January 16, 2010

    You're very welcome Anne - probably restart around April/May (have to get some things out of the way first) but yes, it'll come back - in a slightly different format as shifting over to Wordpress with that one.


  • Shelly Terrell says:
    January 16, 2010

    I began using blogs with my students last semester and they loved it. We posted on Miss Shonah's blog, which is another great blog for students. The topic was travel and the students left comments on this post Then, Shonah responded which was fantastic. One thing that I would recommend is that these blogs for students would have email subscriptions. Many students and teachers I meet are still learning about RSS feeds. However, all my students said they would subscribe via email and the blogs I did find with email subscriptions are the ones they subscribed to.

  • Dominic says:
    January 16, 2010

    A big thank you for this. I've come across most, but not all, of these. Great to have them in one place.

    And agreed to email subscriptions from Shelly. RSS is very Web2.0 with all that that implies. I still look at my Google Analytics but, as a blogger, the only stat I really care about is my Feedburner email subs. The Feedburner subscribers are the ones who typically visit in depth.

    Incidentally, a tip I picked up from somewhere is to replace the word subscription. People tend to associate it with money. My feedburner form now tells people they can get "Free email updates". Seems to work.

    January 16, 2010

    Excellent tip Dominic, and just in time - busy figuring out how to redo my template and confess that I never looked into the feedburner thing -figured they get to my blog via reader or I'd write to people via my website but honestly, I've been horrendously crap at doing that!!!!

    Thanks so much for the great advice!


    January 16, 2010

    Thanks Shelly, I forgot about Miss Shonah's blog, I will add it to my reader!

    Here's the clickable link to it:

    Miss Shonah

    Ta also for the tip about email subscriptions (as attributed to Dom above ;-))

  • Unknown says:
    January 16, 2010

    Not much chance of my students reading blogs and commenting on them. I know them too well. I'm not being negative - just realistic.
    What would get them reading blogs is if they had to do something with what they had read, like produce some kind of worksheet or even teach others something that they had learned from reading the blog.
    Does anyone have any ideas/relevant experience in this respect?

    January 16, 2010

    Hi ya, Glennie -

    this practie definitely has to be a bit formalized in the beginning (download one post from a handful of blogs and get them to read in class, then set the task of each student finding their own they like to talk about in another class based on what read)-- you can do this at intervals until they naturally find that they like reading these sorts of short posts of great input (usually quite simple)

    e.g. - with Toby's Bite-Sized English, I remember a few months back my students found (through clicking on the side bar) something like interesting on shopping and it was so funny we were all in stitches, then one of the girls made her own journey over outside of class and naturally shared it!

    However, on the unsuccessful side, we were feeding in Business Spotlight for a while but unfortunately they didn't like it (too hard) and they had to keep looking in the dictionary. (online too, tho)

    Anyway, Breaking News though not a blog is fed in, (linked above) and this most definitely works for setting pre-tasks for next day discussions (it's a standard at home task for two of my bankers who want some general and world events for the first 15 mins of each class, it has audio too)

    Another class (advanced, financial) reads Mish's Global Economic and other financial blogs (see Hit the Business Blogs).

    Really hope this info helps, give it a whirl ;-)


  • Clarissa at Talk to the Clouds says:
    January 17, 2010

    I have one-- -- but I'm having trouble getting back into the habit of posting to it! I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things soon. :) For some reason posting to my blog for teachers is a lot easier. (Probably because I don't need to repeatedly rewrite everything to make it simpler.) I'll check out the others!

  • Unknown says:
    January 17, 2010

    Many thanks for the tips Karenne.

    Will definitely be giving it a go.

    January 25, 2010

    Wow, Clarissa,

    That is really a lovely and useful site for students – thanks for listing it -I will add it to my learning-english feeder for my students, do please keep posting to it.

    Take care,

  • Chiew says:
    January 25, 2010

    Hi Karenne,

    Thanks for including my blog among the list - much appreciated. Just a minor correction, please (and I think I've seen the same mistake elsewhere). The name's Chiew N Pang (the surname isn't Nang as you have it - you were probably thinking of Ning! Lol).

    As regards students reading blogs, it'll be something akin to a miracle if they come to my blog voluntarily. Even directly telling them to do so as a homework activity doesn't result in 100% turnout.

    Generally speaking, my experience of Spanish teenage students is that they are rather ill-disciplined, and not much into self development (I hope I get a barrage of attacks from the Spanish on this one! ;-))

    Most of them would rather spend their free time hanging round with their friends, playing computer console games (such as PS3 or XBox), chatting on MSN, or waste away in the many different social networks. The only way I get them to do any of my blog activities is to set them as homework and keep reminding them. If I'm lucky, I get a 10% turnout.

    January 25, 2010

    WHOOPS, Very sorry about that Chiew :-( it might have gotten muddled up with Ning, you're right, but also I'm a bit dyslexic and N's throw me for some reason. Sorry Sorry!

    Hmm... Glennie's students are Spanish too...

    Have you tried getting them blogging to catch their interest in the subjects you're writing about, something that's missing from my post above is that my students are actually bloggers... but they are adults, that might make a difference though I know Anisoara Pop had teenagers/young adults - in Hungary or Romania, can't remember at the moment but she had them blog - got them very involved in the process and in the end some of them made their blogs public and have continued them even now the course is finished.

    Good luck!


  • Clare says:
    January 26, 2010

    Hi Karenne

    Thanks for including me in your list!

    Just a couple of points I wanted to mention - for Glennie,really - but might be helpful for others too.

    The blog at is what I use to add new posts and pages. Because it's a specific skill-type site (biz writing) I tend to get comments based on this one, limited area.

    I also have another blog on my other site ( which automatically feeds into my facebook page. (It's a fan page, rather than personal page.) And a weird thing has happened. While I might get the odd comment on the blog (hosted on my site) the facebook page gets a lot more comments. The blog posts aren't that amazingly clever - "Watching films in English", or "What do you use English for" but people love commenting. Maybe this is because of the lure of Facebook, but I also think that give people a reason to communicate, make it easy (everyone has a facebook profile) and you'll get loads of interaction.

    Hope this helps!

  • Anne Hodgson says:
    February 01, 2010

    Dagmar Taylor, who writes the funniest blog for learners I know, is currently posting at Spotlight every 2nd Wednesday.

    Mike Pilewski writes a very readable blog on politics and society in the USA every Thursday.


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