A class wiki can be a never-ending source of material and motivation for your students. Sometimes, shy students flourish when they are given the chance to ‘voice’ their thoughts and opinions with wikis, and once their confidence is boosted and they get recognition for their collaboration, they find that participating orally in class is easier.
Other times, students who often ‘over-participate’ in class find their outlet on the wiki and then tend to give others a chance as well once back in the classroom.
Another important benefit of having a class wiki is the way the class presence on the Internet helps students connect with the language. Being accountable and visibly communicating in the target language gives students a greater sense of confidence.
How to Use Wikis in the ESL Classroom
For the reasons stated above and in the previous TESOL blog, Why Use Wikis In The ESL Class, wikis are a great tool for the ESL classroom. Here is a list of possible uses for wikis in an ESL class:
- Novel Studies: Students can create different pages in the wiki to discuss different characters in a novel, or different chapters, or different events. They can post questions, comments, music, videos, or even pictures of what they imagine the characters look like. It is even better if students are encouraged to make these pictures themselves and then upload them to the wiki by taking a photo of them. This kind of analysis makes students become more interested in what they are reading and helps in their overall comprehension of the plot and the literary elements.
- Literature Circles: Groups of students can read different books and create a page about their book in which they discuss events, characters, predictions, and other literary elements. These interactions can be monitored and even evaluated by the teacher with very little intervention. It fosters independent work and reinforces the students’ cooperation. Later on, groups who have not read that book can check the wiki page in order to decide whether they want to read it or not.
- Reviews: Students can post reviews of novels, movies, TV-shows, or books on different pages of the wiki and then have a discussion with students who have similar or different opinions. The students can even be asked to create advertisements for these items and post them on the wiki page.
- Vocabulary lists: Students can add new words they find or are interested in and a whole glossary for the class will be compiled by the end of the term. Peer teaching of vocabulary is often more motivating and more effective than when the teacher chooses the new vocabulary words to be studied.
- Collections: Similarly to collecting vocabulary items, students can collect and post almost anything connected to the language. For example, if you decide to have a unit on food, students can post recipes from their home countries.
- Discussions or Debates: Students can have virtual discussions or debates on any topic connected to the class while you monitor their interaction, or participate in the discussion as well.
- Group Projects: If you assign projects to different groups, a wiki page can be created for the group to post their work. This will allow you to witness the process of their work. You can even set up one tab per student so that you can closely monitor each student’s contributions. Also, it will enable students to work together even if they cannot physically get together outside of the classroom.
- Peer Editing: Students can even edit each other’s work as they post more and more content onto the wiki page. This will certainly help them improve their own accuracy as well.
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