By Tarun Patel
Social Networking Sites for Teaching English, Part-1
by Tarun Patel, Faculty of Technology – CHARUSAT, co-founder of ELTWeekly
According to a British Council research, 69% of learners around the world learnt most effectively when socializing informally.
Facebook, a popular social networking site ha more than 60 million active users. This site had an average of 250,000 new registrations per day since January 2007. Another social networking site MySpace has 85% of its users below 18 years of age.
In addition to Facebook and MySpace, sites like Reunion, Bebo and Twitter have attracted millions of Internet users worldwide.
Let us have a look at the key features of these ‘social networking’ websites:
- Publisher is the main feature to post information and messages which appear on the user’s own Wall
- News feed
- Wall – The Wall is a space on each user’s profile page that allows friends to post messages for the user to see while displaying the time and date the message was written
- One of the most popular applications on Facebook is the Photos application, where users can upload albums of photos, tag friends, and comment on photos
- A blogging feature that allowed tags and embeddable images
- The poke feature allows one user to virtually poke another
- Facebook has a micro-blogging feature called “status updates” which allows users to inform their friends of their current whereabouts, actions, or thoughts
- Facebook allows different networks and groups to which many users can join
- During the time that Facebook released its platform, it also released an application of its own for sharing videos on Facebook
- Allows its users to send messages / mails to multiple users
- Status and mood history
- Printing everywhere
- A contact network is built up consisting of their direct connections, the connections of each of their connections (termed second-degree connections) and also the connections of second-degree connections (termed third-degree connections). This can be used to gain an introduction to someone you wish to know through a mutual, trusted contact.
- It can then be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one’s contact network.
- Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates.
- Job seekers can review the profile of hiring managers and discover which of their existing contacts can introduce them.
- You can add your friends from your email or simply search for them directly at Bebo
- On your Bebo’s profile page, you’d find different links there for Videos, Friends, Applications, Photos, White Board, Blog and “All” where you can view all of these contents in just one page!
- With Bebo, you can create several widgets under Bebo’s widget maker
- Bebo also has a White Board where you can either draw or write on the board
- Twitter allows you to send and read other users updates (known as tweets)
- Twitter messages(tweets) are limited to 140 characters (microblogging)
- You can send and receive updates via the Twitter website, SMS(text messages), RSS (receive only), emails or a third party application.
- You can restrict delivery to your circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default).
- You can use third party application such as Tweetie, Twitterrific, and Feedalizr to send Twitter messages.
- You can search for people by name or user name, import friends from other networks, or invite friends via email.
In addition to the above four, there are several other popular social networking websites on the Internet. Looking at the features of these four sites the word comes to my mind is ‘interactive’.
We can say that the learning process gets initiated with the beginning of an interaction between the students and the teacher.
In this article series called ‘Social Networking Sites for Teaching English’, we are going to explore several ways to employ social networks for teaching English effectively with apt learner engagement.
In the second part of this article, I will focus on teaching of grammar with social networks and how to help learners practice later.
About Tarun Patel
Tarun Patel (http://tarunpatel.net/blog/) is an ELT and Communication skills teacher, working with Charotar University of Science & Technology (CHARUSAT - http://charusat.ac.in/). He has been dealing with the Language learning processes for last seven years. ‘Technology in Teaching English’ is his favorite game and has presented several papers in national and international conferences on the same theme. He is the founder editor ofELTWeekly(http://eltweekly.com/), India’s first weekly ELT eNewsletter which reaches in more than forty countries and benefits more than one thousand teachers of English and Communication Skills. Have a look at his personal blog http://tarunpatel.net/blog/.
ELT in India , ELT Newsletter , ELTWeekly Issue#33 , English Language Teaching , ICT in ELT , Social networking for ELT