The role of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook in language learning.

How can Facebook and Twitter be used in education and especially in language education?

I have to admit that I make little use of Facebook or Twitter for my own communication with people, whether for personal relations or business contacts.?? I do broadcast my posts here at my blog to Twitter and Facebook, however, and I sometimes get comments from one or the other. At LingQ we have a community of language learners who do contact each other via their Walls, talk to each other on Skype, or comment on our Forums. These people all have a common interest in languages.

On the other hand I have this feeling that spending a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter can be time consuming and somewhat aimless activities. I do not see how I would use them for my own language learning, or any kind of learning. Is this just a generational thing? Am I just too old to understand?

3 thoughts on “The role of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook in language learning.

  1. I am under the general impression that it IS in fact, a generational thing. I believe GenX was the first generation that was open to the idea of being open, and everyone after GenX practically demands it. But the Boomers and everyone before GenX seem to have an innate expectation for a certain privacy that runs contrary to Facebook, and is mostly incompatible with Twitter. Well, that’s my observation, anyway.To offer somewhat more of a conjecture, I’ve seen a lot of opinion that the Boomers are an extremly self-interested generation, and that also tends to support the disconnect, since the basic premise of success on Twitter and Facebook is sharing, which is not a natural behavior for selfish people. I’m not saying that’s my opinion, but it does provide an interesting premise for discussion.

  2. You couldn’t be more right. It is a waste of time. "How can Facebook and Twitter be used in education and especially in language education?"Ideally, a user would change the default language of their user-face, choose to not have any friends that speak their native language and make friends with only native speakers of their L2. But this defeats the purpose of Facebook. I feel that Facebook can really only serve as a major hindrance to a language learner. Facebook is the place where you talk to friends and make your existence known to society; You post about your likes dislikes, age, relationship status and so forth. "Everyone is doing it so I should to", we think to ourselves. Follow the mean. But the mean won’t bend to your interests. I am 20 years old and am currently a college student. Facebook should be the center of my world, as my demographic participates in this kind of activity much more frequently. But it is not. I do find, however, that I am a special case. I am an autodidact and I cherish my time very much. I rarely use my cellphone to text message and do my most of correspondence by e-mail and the phone. It is undeniably difficult to get by doing so, however. What’s that old saying? If you push hard on the world the world will push hard on you. As the Facespace becomes more widely used (i.e. parents, grandparents, people in foreign countries), it becomes more of a necessity. We have already seen this happen with text-messaging. It would be great if we could somehow amass all the energy people use on these sites into doing something more productive. But, ultimately, this turns into a question of finding a way to change people’s values and morals, and this kind of thing always gets messy.If someone is really passionate about learning a language, they probably won’t let these distractions get in their way.My outlook may seem cynical, but I feel people who spend loads of time on facebook have already defeated themselves; they obviously have no drive to learn a foreign language. In a sense, facebook and language-acquisition are mutually exclusive activites, to a certain extent.

  3. I don’t really resonate with the comment above (which seemed to be particularly focused on Facebook’s usability as a whole as opposed to a tool for language learning). I’m currently learning Norwegian and sometimes I post statuses or link to things in Norwegian on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve already converted my Facebook account and other web interfaces to be set in Norwegian as well.One of the biggest benefits with using sites like Facebook and Twitter are the connections people can make with native and fluent speakers. I have Norwegian friends (in real-life and from online) who often correct me if I make a mistake and they’re also available for any questions I have. And because more people are using these sites, the response is generally quicker as opposed to email. Not only this, but a person is able to follow sites or pages in the L2 language. I follow quite a few Norwegian-based pages on Facebook alone and it definitely helps me in my attempts, and also because I’m following things I’m actually interested in. I’d say Facebook and Twitter are also useful because I’m learning how the language is used and written colloquially (with Norwegian, people sometimes write in their native spoken dialects that vary across Norway, not in the standard bokm??l written dialect).It’s true that Facebook and Twitter have distractions, but people are able to modify their account settings or simply not use these sites as much if they become overbearing. But if a person is wasting a lot of his or her time on these sites, what does this say about his or her discipline? Why should the blame be attributed to these websites alone?I think social media sites can serve as a reflection of a learner’s level of dedication. Sites like Facebook are hindrances if people aren’t setting them up as learning tools. It just seems like making language-acquisition separate from your day-to-day activities is impractical.

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