Dependency on technology has changed every facet of lives and no exception with the culture of learning which resulted in major changes in instructors’ approaches, and methodologies of teaching english. A perfect teacher is the one who regularly adopts and incorporates variety of aids or pedagogy according to the needs and interests of a student to facilitate them learning and interacting not just in the classroom but even beyond the class room walls. In day today communication, social media has unavoidably integrated in to our lives and has taken a predominant role, especially among young people. Round the clock ‘hanging out’ on Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat or Instagram etc; writing on friends’ walls or posting the updates of moments of the lives, or tweeting an hyperlink from any imaginable walks of life has become the prior entity of life. If any news or information or rumour is not on any one of the social media it literally meant that has never happened. The power to bring together the people of different cultures and with different perspectives under one umbrella as a community is the most contributing factor of social networking. The upsurge of online communities has affected the way the society looks, in all spheres of life from culture to politics including the realm of teaching learning process. This trend of social media which has the power to reach out and open doors for the young learners to learn interestingly should be used as a tool to promote language teaching and learning. Using of social media as a supporting tool of communication plays an active role rather than the conventional methods of receiving information by a teacher or reading textbooks. It even expands the ability of expressing the opinions in an individual styles. Apart from disseminating information it enhances the interest of learning new things around. It attracts the young people to learn languages as it is in a funny, informal and laid-back way. In a research project of the British Council on “how the Internet has affected the preferred learning styles of young people wanting to learn English around the world” revealed that 69% of learners found, Social Network had helped them learn more effectively because of its informality and relaxing atmosphere (Dalton, 2009). The drawbacks of todays generation is not being responsible and loosing interest on the required things in life. Especially though being aware of the importance of English language to connect themselves in this globalised world, the ignorance towards learning language is prevalent much in them. Some thing which motivates them continuously being very innovative makes the adhere to it. That can be achieved through social networking sites. In particular, popular social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, Edmodo, and LinkedIn offer educators even more ways to help students increase motivation and reinvigorate the classroom climate (Mazer et al., 2007). Developing activities for language learning by engrossing the students is a critical and a herculean task that teachers and educators face. Incorporating technology as a potential tool for teaching is explorative though it may change perception of traditional learning in the classroom.The role of teacher has to be completely altered to facilitator. Social web tools can, in general, facilitate educators in setting up collaborative learning, as they place students at the core of the learning experience while at the same time allowing the teacher to function as the mentor and guide of knowledge construction and sharing as argued by Karpati (2009). Brick (2011a) argues that the power of online social networks in learning languages cannot be ignored because it may become possible with the distinctive features of the networks, to improve various contextualized linguistic skills, such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking. These distinctive features include: the combination of Internet-based communication instruments and Web 2.0 tools (Malhiwsky 2010) such as web pages, chats, group work, blogs, group and individual messaging and e-mail, commenting and private messaging between users (Heiberger & Harper 2008).
Weblog/ blog is one of the powerful educational tools of social media that unleashes learning and reflection through collaboration and interaction. It is the one which provides opportunity of learning outside the class room. According to The Encyclopaedia Britannica a blog as an “online journal where an individual, group or corporation presents a record of activities, thoughts or beliefs. Some blogs operate mainly as news filters, collecting various online sources and adding short comments and Internet links”, which classify them as hypertexts. It creates right platform with real and wider audience and provides the supportive community of learning. Usually the exposure to heterogenous audience reduces the fear and builds in confidence to communicate. With blogs, apart from instructor, the blogger’s content, words, ideas expressed, spread to the peers, other class students, students of other institutions or countries or anyone who has access to the internet. It can be said that writing on a blog is nothing but publishing your piece of writing to global audience. The blog provides the dynamic interaction between the writer and audience.The real value in their academic writing is understood.The perception of the specific writing can be improved through the support of the community as the blogs bring forth the opportunity to post comment on the writing. The exposure to wider range of audience helps to involve the student in the higher level of communication. Apart from writing, the blog enhances the reading speed, proper usage of grammar and provides exposure to more words due to multitude of topics. Frequently, the student get exposed to extensive vocabulary in varied modern context that leads to comprehensible communication. It is rightly said that the language of blogs is not intended for the sophisticated readers, as some scholars claim that it is simple and easy and blogs are a source of talking to an ordinary reader (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
Facebook is the other tool of learning that enables “collaborative and active participatory roles of its users.”(Selwyn). Mahmud and Ching (2012) has given a clear picture of incorporation of Face book as a pedagogical means in the ESL settings and concluded that the students’ skills such as reading and writing can be enhanced, their social circles can be expanded, communication skills can be improved, and their apprehension can be minimised when language used among their peers. Facebook improves the interaction and eases the learning of language. Facebook is an open platform to share the experiences/ memories, to comment on the posts, to upload the creative work which requires persistent usage of language. This further facilitates an appropriate environment to connect teenage readers and publishers, and increase literature circles between them (Walker, 2010). Most of the communication on Facebook demands to be in English for to reach different audience, it creates motivation in students though forcibly or slowly at the initial stages but it inculcates a more positive attitude towards learning English. The main focus about todays young people is to facilitate confidence, social behaviour, attitude and motivation. As per the research conducted by Kabilan et al., (2010) it revealed that students’ confidence levels, making more brave to usage of language in terms of writing along with social behaviour had improved significantly. It open access to learn vocabularies due to the exposure to various writings. Melor & Salehi (2012) reveal that the comments of the reading group members’ help students to learn new vocabularies, and the spell-check feature can help reduce spelling errors. The fear of students getting involved in informal way of writing through social media is existing in most, but firstly the inhibitions which the students have must be washed out and obviously the ease of using language is no more a tough task. According to Elliott, Maguth, & Yamaguchi (2010) Facebook and other social networks remove limitation of communication between learners, and help them to identify information for communication. The main advantage of Facebook is interest of students in its usage fosters student participation encouraging peer-to-peer interaction.
Twitter is one of the indispensable social networking sites that widens the outlook as it being the integral part of the news agenda. The stream of content on twitter never ends and it is all live. To know what is happening around the world inevitably broadens the perspective of a student. It promotes collaborative and analytical skills. In Twitter, the tweet should be of 140 characters, short format that makes more interactive and enhances concise writing and ‘metacognition’. According to Grosseck and Holotescu (2008) Twitter enables to create a classroom community, aids collaborative writing, enhances editing skills, fosters literacy skills, provides reader response, offers opportunities to discuss issues in formal and informal settings, provides collaboration across schools and countries, enhances group-project management, assess opinion and examines consensus, fosters interaction about a given topic, and enhance s metacognition.
The teacher should consider the English level of students before planning to publish the activities or information to promote participation of students. The activity, in the form of pictures, videos, charts, games etc should enable the student to question or reflect. Not all has the technical inclination to embark in creating activities for language learning and practice. The teacher need not feel it constrained or critical for planning of the activities for language learning as the web has alleviated this with its incredible power of gathering information. The net is repository of ‘authentic references and didactic material’ that are applicable for language learning. Many of the educational websites provide very large number of language inputs such as games, quizzes, tutorials, exercises, for grammar, vocabulary, useful resources such as pictures, videos, web pages and documents and specific simulation and games on LSRW to attain practical linguistic competence. The task of the teacher is to be very specific to provide an engaging learning environment. Motivation is one predominant factor to be considered to involve the students till the end to hangout to such teaching. Clark and Gruba (2010) reveals based on participants’ statements after a prolonged research that all different facilities of online social networks such as allowing learners to record their speech, writing a task for others, participating in live chats (which gives learners the necessary time to process input and produce appropriate output), and making video or voice calls for direct authentic communication with other learners or users, all play an important role in increasing students’ motivation for learning new knowledge.
Teacher must create a blog/ wall for authentic, constructive and productive interaction that promotes interests and is useful to students. In first place you have make the student fall in love for your blog. Involve the students while creating the blog which gives enthusiasm for them. Don’t make it clumsy, it should be user friendly to access. Choose the domain name and theme that determines what is the main vision of the blog for instance ‘Let’s Talk and Let’s Go Global’. What to be included in the home page is the crucial part as it is the front door which attracts visually and takes them to next step whether to proceed further or no. Providing the upcoming task/events even create excitement to participate. Upload course contents material, assignments and resources.Create polls to give and receive feedback on certain activities, space for questionnaire (students sharing their questions, insights, or experiences with a topic can expand learning and extends the classroom discussion beyond the classroom). Once the group is created ask the students to register in it. Start traditionally following our culture of introducing to everyone. Instead of just making it monotonous emphasise on the approaches that help students learn in a creative, innovative way by implementing the things which surprises and thrills them. Make them comfortable by entering into their world of familiarity to receive the full spectrum of the language benefits. Few activities are described that give positive impact on students’ learning process.
Selfie Time (Introduction)
As it is a generation mad at selfie, ask them to introduce themselves posting a selfie. The student should upload his/her photo along with the write-up regarding their self details that mirrors his/her personality. But instruct the students that too personal details shouldn’t be included. There is much danger of being very informal the teacher should be cautious to improve the social behaviour too.
Certain experiences leaves an everlasting imprint in the mind of people. Instrust the students to share their experiences as a story through a cartoon picture. This will spur their imagination, creative skills along with the focus on tense of a sentence.
People have the quality of eavesdropping and if by chance nothing is been understood except just a word or a phrase or a line they themselves cook a story. This can be used as a to reinforce creativity and to improve construction of sentences. It is a great story starter, writer explore ideas. Instruct the students to imagine themselves being on bus or train and they have overheard one person say to other “I will never forgive you in my life time”, ask them to write a story using the scenario.
People believe and feel strongly about certain things. Let’s say for example that it is believed that ‘every person should learn a second language’. Instruct the students to write about it from the opposite point of view ie from different perspective ie Everyone shouldn’t learn a second language’. Aside from teaching an English skill, this exercise teaches a life skill, empathy. Aside from that, doing this exercise is a great way to learn how to express opinions in English. It might also get you using words you would not normally use, since you’re speaking from a different perspective. You might even learn something new about yourself!
Crack the nut:
Exposure to the outworld improve the perspective of expressing opinions. Add the link from a news source such as the BBC or CNN that was on twitter. Boarder details of the story should be predicted and checked online by the student. The opinion should be posted in few lines.
While planning the activities/ assignments the teacher has to put in other shoes’ and design that are both enjoyable and fruitful and that fully engage students’ creativity. As it is not face to face interaction teacher has to go outside the formal bonds of teaching to make the learning outside the classroom more lively. Social media provides many networking sites however, it is the teachers who should resolve to implement the right approach to keep the student motivated and encouraged. Though the students will be reluctant to post their write-up at the beginning sessions, but the insightful activities brings transition in students. Adopting technology the student should be facilitated learning inside and outside the classroom.