How to make culture blogs with Tumblr
One of the things I am most proud of making in this world is a Spanish culture blog called Meme Martes. It features over 100 posts of quick-hitting pop culture realia that seek to engage language learners through the study of culture. It has been by far (as in hundreds of thousands of clicks) the most popular thing I’ve ever published.
Why I used Tumblr
(a.k.a. the super secret coolest part of this) As cool as (I think) Meme Martes is for my fellow language teachers, many are unaware of its most powerful feature: searchable tags. Tags on Tumblr work like tags on other networks like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook: they serve to make the tagged content more discoverable.
As far as I know, searching for tagged content on other social networks forces you to do a search of the entire network for that tag. For language teachers, this means that searching for relevant content using target vocabulary is inefficient at best. With Tumblr however, there is a little-known feature that allows us to search a single blog for instances of the tag. For example, if I am seeking authentic cultural resources for Spanish class that incorporate the theme of colores or use a form of the word tener, Tumblr allows me to search only the Meme Martes page (as opposed to all of Tumblr) for posts that have been tagged colores or tener.
As you can see in the example above, the way to search Meme Martes (or any Tumblr blog) for tagged content is to add to the ending of the site’s url: /tagged/searchcontent.
My tagging protocol
When I add posts to Meme Martes, I tag each with as many tags as possible that relate to future potential uses. The grand plan is that there will eventually be hundreds or even thousands of posts and that the tags will help Spanish teachers find relevant culture content that can be seamlessly integrated with any thematic or vocabulary lesson. Rather than rely on textbooks to decide what cultural content to package with a lesson or unit, this aims to empower teachers and students to stand at an all-you-can-eat buffet of culture and go to town digesting what best meets their own tastes.
Consistency matters here as the search only returns exact hits, so close doesn’t count. In your own tagging, do what works best for you! For me, I try to tag in a manner that will be, in my mind, the most predictable. For verbs, I tag the infinitive form. For nouns, I tag the masculine singular. For themes, I tag plural forms (colores, numeros, etc.). For countries, I tag the country name. And because all language matters, I tag everything I reasonably can.
How to create a culture blog on Tumblr
I’ve modeled how to do this in under three minutes so I challenge you to actually open up a new tab right now and learn by doing rather than planning to come back to this when you have spare time (that we both know you don’t have).
- Go to Tumblr.com and create an account. Write down you password as you’ll need to log in later. If you choose not to provide you’re real age, make sure to select a birth year that has you being old enough to use their service.
- Pick a name. I suggest something that is both professionally appropriate and easy for students to know is you.
- You will be prompted to identify 5 areas of interest. This is so your feed won’t be blank when you get started. To save time, just quickly click on 5 topics and move on to the next screen by clicking “next” in the top right.
4. You’re now ready to create your first post. You have 7 types of posts you can make. Text posts offer the most flexibility.
5. As you can see, a Text post gives you the ability to title the post, add text and include media such as photos, videos, GIFs and line breaks. Make sure to note the field at the bottom where you will be able to insert tags.
6. Click Post in the bottom right and you’re all set! You can spend a few minutes later to add your own avatar and customize the blog using theme templates but for now you (hopefully!) have already created your first post in a matter of minutes.
- Install the Tumblr app on your phone. You can quickly draft posts from your phone while standing in line at the grocery store and then complete and post them when you get to a computer. For example, you can take a screen shot of a meme, a target language Facebook post or an infographic and use it to create a post.
- Go wild with tags! It will help you
- Click here for examples in created by other teachers in a variety of languages. Use the “reblog” button on any post to take another teacher’s post and cycle onto your blog.
- Ask for help! You probably have students familiar with Tumblr who would love to be your tech support help desk…all you have to do is allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to ask them for help.
Thanks for reading! If you found this post helpful, please click the heart to recommend it. It makes me feel as giddy as getting complimented on my Bachata moves and it helps other readers discover my writing. As always, please leave responses about how you are teaching culture, additional ideas you have to expand on this or criticism about everything I got wrong:)