If You Build It They Will Come

 
BLOG IDEAS

In a recent post I offered five tips and tricks for keeping yourself motivated and progressing when times get hard in the middle of your language learning projects. I really wanted to elaborate on one of those items a bit more and try to encourage others to give it a serious shot because it seriously works. Building a language blog or journal of your own is a lot easier than many people expect it to be, and the potential rewards for doing so go far beyond what you might have expected. It’s a fantastic way to document your struggles and successes as you progress through your language learning project and via peer pressure can help keep you on track.

Building a blog is easy

It can also be free. You can use any one of a number of free platforms, such as Blogger, WordPress or Tumblr to construct your online journal. These programs come pre-loaded with all of the fixings you need to get started. They are complete with widgets, analytic tools and all the third party software you can shake a stick at. But you don’t need to worry about those extra doohickies to make a good blog. Check out your options and try to find a host that works for you. This means finding a template and a design that you like, a writing style that suits your purposes and features that interest you and make social writing fun. If you already have your own self hosted website it’s pretty easy to create another page dedicated to your blog or to incorporate one from a third party such as those listed.

If you’re a bit shy about having people other than your mother read your work you might be happy to know that you aren’t required to make your writing public. You get full control over who gets to see your content or comment on it and if you feel that you’re not ready to start writing for a global audience – don’t.

On the other hand though, the larger your audience, the more likely you are to stick to your language goals. Part of the point of creating a blog is to put pressure on yourself to keep going. Having a regular or semi regular following of people really forces you to buckle down and make progress in order to continue providing your readers with updates. It’s important that you set a posting schedule – but you get to decide how frequently you want that to be. For a newer language learner, or someone who doesn’t feel like they have the time to devote to writing about their projects frequently should shoot to post maybe once every month. If you’re a little bit more dedicated, why not try for once or twice a week?

  
Blog (detall)

So we’ve established that creating a language blog is easy – but it isn’t always so easy to actually think of topics to write about. In a post last month titled 6 Tips For Starting Your Language Project Off Right I indicated that one of the first things you should be doing with a new language project is to write down your goals in advance – both short and long term – as well as a list of all of the words or other grammatical structures within the new language that you can think of. Why not do that on your blog? Once again – it only has to be as pretty as you want it to be, and if you’re uncomfortable showing others what you’ve been up to – don’t.

But a blog doesn’t have to be just a written journal. You can easily upload photos of your travels or of your resources, or even your cat. You can post video of yourself speaking your language. Others can watch and comment on your video and hopefully help you increase. This can take a lot more work, but nobody ever said that learning a language was always easy.

The prevalence of mobile technology makes your blog easy to take with you on the go as well. Smartphones come with all sorts of apps for not only writing blogs, but for incorporating photos or videos from other social networking sites and applications into your work.

Last but not least, and perhaps to your surprise, you could even make some money doing it. This takes work – a lot of work, but if you’ve got the time, the drive and the skills to make your blog into a seriously high quality eyeball magnet there’s nothing stopping you from taking things to the professional or semi-professional level. Advertising, guest posting, affiliate deals and more all become viable options available to the serious blogger. There’s no denying it – this requires a ton of upkeep, constant blogging best practice research and a fair degree of tech savvy, and it would be unfair of me to suggest that it will definitely work out or let you quit your day job, but the possibility is real and if it means the difference between learning your language casually and pushing it to its limits, it might be worth the time.

If you’ve been considering making a language blog for a while, or have been inspired to give it a shot, let me know! Send an email to languages.globe@gmail.com and tell me about your language blogging goals or feel free to ask for more information on specifics. There might even be some opportunities to write for LATG! I know that creating your own blog really sounds like you’re sticking yourself out on the limb overlooking the chasm that is the ruthlessness of the Internet, and you are, but it’s a lot easier and a lot more in your control than you may think and the benefits to your language learning project are real.

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  • I completely agree with you! Writing a blog is a great way to support foreign language learners. However, I personally find it quite problematic as I can’t really nail down a topic about which to write…

    • It can be difficult to think of a topic sometimes – other times ideas jump out at you like fireworks in the shower and you run off to go start writing only to decide that your idea was stupid.

      Then you come back to the idea later because it doesn’t sound stupid, halfway through you decide once again that it’s a bad idea and that nobody wants to read about it.

      The important thing to remember is that unless you’re blogging with other motives, such as attaining tens of thousands of readers or making money, that it doesn’t matter whether you put out something people want. Write about your frustrations, the new things you learn.

      Each topic you think of can actually be made into several different posts. One trick that I like to do is to create a list of some kind – a fairly easy one, like 10 strategies I use to learn languages. You summarize each point, and there’s a post. You can then make another post out of each of those individual points.

      That’s kind of what I did here, this blogging tip was raised as one strategy in a short list of tips for intermediate language learners, and I’ve turned it into its own post. Not all topics are big or intricate enough to merit that kind of attention, but you’d be surprised as to what is.

      If you’re not too shy, and you shouldn’t be :-p, you can try writing a short piece, maybe some poetry or a super short story or even just a few sentences in your new language. Length doesn’t matter unless you’re trying to make money, so the post can be as short as you like.

      Thanks for your comment and for reading! I hope you’re able to find some inspiration!