Twitter for language learning: the learners’ view

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Rebecca Ferguson
17 May 2016

Fernando Rosell-Aguilar

Language Learning was quickly identified as a subject area that could be enhanced by the use of Twitter. Among the many possible uses of Twitter beneficial to language learners, there are linguistic benefits (noticing vocabulary, expressions, idioms and grammar), cultural benefits (access to native speakers and insight into their routines, opinions, media and general interests), and social benefits (extending learning outside the classroom, social presence and distribution). Other benefits for language learning include opportunities to participate in online communities, and searchable authentic language in context, language tandems and learning about current affairs, politics or culture, engaging in language play and posting homework and brief questions to respond to, intercultural information and exchanges as well as raising awareness of popular culture, humour, and sharing experiences of visiting a target language area.
A number of studies have looked into the use of Twitter for language learning, but these have mostly been small scale evaluations carried out by teachers researching the effectiveness of their own initiatives to use Twitter with their own students. To date, there has not been a large quantitative study of how language learners use Twitter independently. This paper reports on a large-scale study of language learners who use Twitter: the participant profile, their practices (how often they use Twitter, how, where, using what devices, in what language), and beliefs about how helpful Twitter is as a tool to contribute to their language learning experience. The study was carried out using an online survey and promoted through Twitter. The results show that participants use Twitter often, learn vocabulary and facts about the areas where the target language is spoken, and have positive beliefs about the use of Twitter to improve their knowledge of the language they are learning.

 

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