This paper aims to evaluate the use of online social media as a way to engage and motivate students in language learning.
Presents a case study in which students of English for Specific Purposes first use Moodle, a learning management system, as the basis for course instruction and then supplement this with the use of Facebook for course discussions and access to supplementary materials.
For today’s university students, social media online are an integral part of their everyday experience. Twitter, Facebook and so on let them share interests and enthusiasms with a network of friends. They use web-based tools – email, blogs and chatrooms – every day to discuss what they are doing with like-minded people. All the more surprising then that online social media are not widely used in language teaching. After all, to learn a language successfully, the individual has to use it to interact with other people. So why not use these social networks to involve and motivate language learners?
An exploratory study that indicates opportunities for further research into the extent to which online social media can facilitate the development of students’ language skills.
Demonstrates the value of using a familiar social networking site in language learning to supplement more structured learning. Shows that when used in this way, Facebook can encourage active student participation and increase the sense of community among course participants.
Draws attention to the increase in engagement among language students when they can choose when and how to interact outside of the constraints of the formal learning environment.
Suggests reasons why online social media should be more widely used in language teaching in higher education. Offers evidence for the benefits of combining this with a more formal learning platform.
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