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MON: Facebook As A Vehicle For Learning English - A Case Study (LInda Nevin-Drummond)
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30 January 2019
Facebook is the most popular social networking site worldwide (Statista, October 2018). Founder Mark Zuckerberg began by setting up a social network for a university group; so, since its inception Facebook has been associated with learning. This project focuses on the use of Facebook(FB) for English language learning purposes.
Manca and Ranieri, 2016 set out two main affordances of FB for learning: Firstly, a mixture of instructional material and information and knowledge produced elsewhere, and secondly, a mixture of a learning context blended with learners’ social and personal lives. Studies summarised in Pritchard, 2013, have looked at these uses of FB in formal and informal learning. Positive outcomes were reported in terms of FB’s free, easy access to learning sites with the motivating factors of allowing autonomy and already being within the learners’ competence. ( Akbari et al , 2015) The second affordance emphasised the motivating factor of relatedness, which can be blended with learning.
The case study group was a community English group, utilising formal and informal learning. Students were surveyed and FB was identified as the most common SNS (social networking site) used.(n=12 out of a possible group of about 30 ). Students completed a short mainly closed answers questionnaire exploring their feelings about FB and how they currently used it. They were asked about their interest in learning English and were finally invited to join a closed FB group with the stated purpose of learning English.
The group was set up and students were encouraged to join. The tutor of the group (myself) utilised various features of the FB group. In the discussion section, students were invited to answer questions based on the week’s lesson. Links were posted to education websites and quizzes and polls were set up. Students were encouraged to use the chat section but were not given any particular direction.
Eleven out of twelve of those already using FB said they were very positive or slightly less positive about using it – one was negative. All used it to keep in touch with family and friends in their own language, added photos and commented on others’ posts.
It took some time for students to sign up to the group. The numbers were small (n=4) and a qualitative analysis has been made of their use of FB, and which of the two affordances have been most utilised. A blog /running commentary has been kept by the tutor as well as an analysis of the use that the learners have made of the features of FB – chat, discussion and responses to the educational activities posted. The findings so far indicate a more enhanced response to the second affordance, in line with other studies. Before the presentation, short interviews will be conducted to explore motivation and perceived learning both in those who used the FB group and those who did not.
This case study report will be shared via public media to enable feedback to be received from a broad audience.
1. Akbari, E, Pilot, and Simons, R-J. 2015 Autonomy. Competence, and relatedness in foreign language learning through Facebook. available at
accessed December 27th, 2018.