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Weblog or blog is one of the new features of second generation web (Web 2.0). Blogs have emerged as a new way of online communication when people widely use blogs for purposes such as publishing personal journal, reporting news, sharing knowledge and information and discussing topics of interest including business and politics. Blogs even become a new way of journalism (Lasica, 2003). Herring, Bonus, Scheidt & Wrigth. (pg.1, 2004) define blog as web pages that regularly personalize in which dated entries are listed in reverse chronological sequence, which means the latest entries will be at the first list. The types of blogs have been categorized based on its function. According to Nowson (2003), there are three types of blogs which are news, commentary and journal. While according to Herring et al. (2005, cited in Grimes and Warschauer, 2007), there are three types of blogs each named as personal journals, filter blogs and knowledge log (k-log).
Nowadays, blogs have become an important medium of information because of their timely publication, easy to use (free software), and wide availability. Blogs are one of asynchronous communication tools that according to Vonderwell (2003) it has a factor of delay that affect learning. The nature of blogs that it give learners the space and time to reflect and publish their understandings, provide opportunities to give feedback and express their new ideas, make it a useful teaching and learning tools (Ferdig, 2004). This statement means that asynchronous E-learning increased reflection and capability to process information (Hrastinski, 2008). Blogs are also started to be used as a potential tool in language learning and teaching. For instance, Grimes and Warschauer (2007) stated the work of Bloch (2007) to describe the use of blogging in encouraging critical literacy and academic writing in a university ESL composition class.
There are previous studies conducted on how the uses of blogs could enhance second language learning. However, the results of the study remain unclear as it is still in early stage to be confirmed. For instance, research by Yu-Chih Sun on Blogging as a way of learning to write supported the claim that blogs help in English language learning. She reported that practicing in wide-ranging writing, gives learners an opportunity to improve their writing proficiency and also to develop their logical thinking skills that vital in writing academic writing. Discussions about the language of blogs in previous studies are also not specified in particular blog's genre. Even though there are some others studies support the claim, there is still concern about the use of language in particular blogs genre especially the English language used by bloggers (user of blogs) in blog's posts, comments and forum discussions. The concern is whether or not the use of English language in particular blogs is appropriate and how far it would aid or jeopardize second language (L2) learners in learning English both for speaking and writing skills.
A number of people publishing personal blogs has been increasing and many people nowadays rely on educational blogs to assist their second language learning outside classrooms. Blogs also have been used for political purposes. In addition, Bloggers come from varies countries and many of them are non-native speaker of English. How they use the language, is there tolerance in grammatical error, formal or informal and what tone bloggers use in different blogs are an arouse issues. In what ways this could help and hinder English learning process are also become a concern. Nilsson (2003, cited in Nowson, 2006) who studied on the language used in a community of researchers' weblogs, stated that there are frequently use of informal language; in-group terms such as, me, my, we, us and our than out-group term such as they, them and their. Moreover he added that blogger write posts in 'short, paratactic sentences' utilizing non-standard constructions and slang. All these issues arouse a question on how do blogging will helps or hinder the process of language learning.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of this research is to investigate the use of English language in personal and educational blogs, and how do blogging activities assist or inhibit English learning process among L2 learners.
The research questions addressed by this research are stated below:
What are bloggers' opinions toward blog as a language learning tools?
What are the factors that may aid or jeopardize English language learning process?
In what aspects blogging activities foster language learning?
Significance of the Study
It is important to discover how bloggers use English language. In order for the non-native readers and bloggers itself especially who are non-native speaker of English to become more careful and aware before using any materials in blogs as the learning aids. Second language learners would benefit by knowing which aspect of blogs would help and which would jeopardize their learning process. In addition, in the future bloggers should ensure to use English language appropriately in posting and commenting in the future.
Scope and Limitation
The scope of the study will be focusing on the three types of blogs that use for personal journal, educational purposes and political purposes.
Definition of Terms
Blogshere - community that use blogs or community of bloggers
Asynchronous - For Computers and Telecommunications. of or pertaining to operation without the use of fixed time intervals (opposed to synchronous ).
Features of Blogs
Blog is a websites and asynchronous computer-mediated communication as stated by Herring et al (cited in Gumbrecht, pg 1.).According to Trevino (pg.2, 2005) an interactive characteristics of blogs is that it can be update consistently. However Herring et al (cited in Grumbrecht) claimed that there is a limited interactivity between authors and blog readers as the blog readers possibly delay comments on blog posts any time.
Contents of blogs include posts, comments and hyperlinks as described by Huffaker (pg.2, 2005). He elaborate that the blogs characteristics includes publishing text or graphics immediately without a need of technical knowledge. He also describe that blogs allow authors to store preceding blog posts by dates and hyperlinks to others bloggers.
According to Grimes and Warschauer, (2007) who referred to Herring et al (2005), the organization of blogs are varies. The organization ranging from single author blogs with limited external sites links, comments and irregular updates to multi-author blogs with many external hyperlinks and tags, regular updates and ample comments. Their study resulted in blogs commonly single authored and not many have a external hyperlink and only 43% of blogs allow readers' comments.
Who Use Blogs?
According to Huffaker (pg 2. 2005), majority of the community of blogger are youth below 20 years old. More than 50% of all blogs are created and personalized by individual ages 13 to 19 years old (Henning 2003 cited in Huhhaker, pg 2, 2005). Other study revealed that 40.4% of blog authors are teenagers under 20 (Herring et al 2004, cited in Huffaker, pg.2, 2005).
Why do People Use Blogs?
The genre analysis done by former researchers have shown that blogs are categorized by its purpose or uses. People use blogs for many different purposes. According to Herring et al (pg.1, 2004), educators and business groups use blogs for knowledge sharing. For this purpose it is called knowledge blog (k-log). They also claimed that individuals use blogs as a medium to express and empower their selves and journalist utilize blogs as news resources.
As mentioned earlier, there are three types of blog as claimed by Grimes and Warschauer, (2007) who referred to Herring et al (2005). In their study they also stated that the purpose of using blogs correspond with blog topic of interest in which personal journal blogs characterized by personal experience topic, filter blogs characterized by political topics and k-log characterized by technology topics.
Blogs as Language Learning Tools
(Sun yu cih, pg.2 )
This new mode of communication increases users' target language exposure and production, improves learning attitudes and motivation, and students are encouraged to learn autonomously and cooperatively (Pellettieri, 2000; Beauvois, 1998a; Beauvois, 1998b; Gonzalez-Bueno, 1998; Kern, 1995). Besides, CMC interface is normally text-based and not length-constrained. Lengthy texts are hence not uncommon, and students benefit from this to develop their reading in interaction with writing skills (Kern & Warschauer, 2000).
Because blogs seem so popular with the youth, it is hard to ignore the implications for educational technology. Can blogs enhance learning environments? Can they be used in classroom settings? This article hypothesizes that blogs can be an important addition to educational technology initiatives because they promote literacy through storytelling, allow collaborative
learning, provide anytime-anywhere access, and remain fungible across academic disciplines. Huffaker, D. (pg.2, 2005)
Consequently, educational weblogs are gaining popularity in language teaching and learning (Betts & Glogoff, 2005).
2.6 Language of Blogs
(tomohiro fukuhara, pg.2 )
Another example is the blogosphere. Today, many people read and write blog articles around the world. According to the Technorati's report5 that analyzes the state of blogosphere in April, 2007, several languages are used in blog articles such as Japanese(37%), English(36%), Chinese(8%), Italian(3%), Spanish(3%), Russian(2%), French(2%) and so on. From these multilingual blog articles, we can find differences of concerns of people on a topic because concerns of people are different by countries and language communities. If we can find differences of concerns across countries or languages, it is useful not only for mutual understanding, but also for solving social problems such as global warming, world poverty, war, conflicts, and so on.
3.1 Research Methods
A qualitative case study approach forms the methodological framework of this study is by analyzing the use of language by bloggers in different types of blogs. Survey also use by developing a set of questionnaires.
The samples of the study consisted of fifty (50) undergraduate students who took English for Professional (LG220) course offered by Academy of Language Studies at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UITM) at Shah Alam. The students of this course are all non-native speaker of English.
The instruments used in collecting data for this research include the blogs of three purposes that are blogs for personal, educational and political purposes. Data of this research are also collected using questionnaires. The survey instruments are developed which include questionnaires that will measure the research questions. The questionnaires related to students perception toward blogs, do they constantly use English while blogging and do blogs help them in enhancing their English language proficiency.
Data Collection Procedures
The subjects of the research are 50 students taking English Professional Communication (LG220). The students are informed earlier that they will be involved in a research. They will be explained about the purpose of the research that is to investigate the use of English language in personal and educational blogs, and how do blogging activities assist or inhibit English learning process among L2 learners.