Twitter is one of many social network sites. Although people usually use it for communication and information sharing, Twitter has attracted the attention of academics who use it for educational purposes (Abdelmalak, 2015; Lomicka & Lord, 2012).
This presentation will address one of my doctoral thesis findings that answered the research question: How do Saudi female students use and perceive the educational use of Twitter in learning? In my study, I analysed 15 interviews with Saudi female university students and their Twitter posts.
In this presentation, I will discuss the participants’ ingenuity of using of Twitter to support their second language learning without any demand or direction from their university teachers, as voiced by the participants during the interviews and reflected in their Twitter accounts. In this presentation, I will discuss the participants’ ways of learning a second language via Twitter and types of languages. I will also share some screenshots of my participants tweets.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
1- Ways of Learning Second Languages on Twitter
Students discussed three learning ways that they used to learn a second language on Twitter: first, following Arabic teaching accounts that are established especially for teaching a specific language; second, following the accounts of fluent speakers of the language that the participants wanted to learn; and third, practicing writing on Twitter to improve foreign language learning.
Regarding the first way, I identified four methods of language teaching that were used by these accounts (in the presentation, I will discuss these methods in detail). Moreover, some of the participants seemed to prefer to learn with these accounts because they could be beginners in language learning and find that learning a new language in the complete context of this language is very difficult. Therefore, they may prefer to learn a foreign language with teachers who speak the same native language of Arabic and provide Arabic content or instructions to enhance the understanding of the other languages they teach. In this respect, Haynes (2007) suggests that new learners will benefit from a friend who speaks their first language and translates words or phrases of the second language.
Regarding the second way used by the participants, it seems that these students were not new learners, but they studied the language somewhere outside Twitter. Additionally, most of these participants said their aim of following English accounts on Twitter was to keep their practice and to prevent the forgetfulness that could happen if they did not use their English for a long time. Some of them also aim to improve their language gaining more vocabularies and learn new grammar via their reading of the English accounts’ tweets.
Regarding the third way, some of the participants explained how they benefited from writing tweets on Twitter to improve their language learning. Moreover, on the students’ Twitter feed, I found three types of tweet that include a foreign language. Firstly, the tweet that contains complete sentence/s written in only the foreign language and its characters. Secondly, a tweet that contains words from two languages (code switching), Arabic and English, written in their original characters. Thirdly, a tweet that contains an Arabic sentence/s written in the original characters but with English word/s written in Arabic characters. In the presentation, I will discuss these finding based on the finding obtained by Hoffman (1991); Novianti (2013); Poplack and Sankoff (1984) who discuss some reasons of using the code switching.
2-Types of Languages Learnt on Twitter and the reasons of learning
The participants mentioned some language that they learnt on Twitter. It seems that English was the most language frequently learned by the participants on Twitter, following by Turkish, ending with Korean and French. In the presentation, I will discuss these finding and the reasons that the students presented of their learning these languages. My discussion will be supported by the report of (Saudi Ministry of Education, 2012).
Abdelmalak, M. M. (2015). Web 2.0 Technologies and Building Online Learning Communities: Students’ Perspectives. Online Learning, 19(2), 193–213.
Haynes, J. (2007). Language Learners Language Learners. Development. Virginia USA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Hoffman, C. (1991). An Introduction to Bilingualism. New York: Longman
Lomicka, L., & Lord, G. (2012). A tale of tweets: Analyzing microblogging among language learners. System, 40(1), 48–63.
Novianti, W. (2013). The Use of Code Switching in Twitter (A Case Study in English Education Department). Passage, 1(2), 1–10.
Poplack, S., & Sankoff, D. (1984). Borrowing: The synchrony of integration. Linguistics, 22(1), 99–136. http://doi.org/10.1515/ling.1922.214.171.124
Saudi Ministry of Education, English Department. (2012a). Teaching English language course. (No. 912/9-2).