Training Turf

Social media and the English language classroom

Social media and the English language classroom

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Swati Rai

While it is true that technology has come to play a major role in the teaching learning process mandated by the pandemic imposed ‘Next Normal’ protocols; equally true is the fact that Social media is hardly a ‘new’ reality for digital natives being taught English to, at school.

For long, Social media has been falsely equated with frivolity and a wasteful pastime. It fell victim to being pigeonholed as either a falsity or an unsafe, needless virtual occupation. Such plain stereotyping makes us miss the forest for the wood. The mismatch between the ease of negotiation that a student enjoys across social media platforms, is starkly contrasted with the teachers’ being in the dark about the many useful aspects of tapping into this vast resource for teaching English. Teachers’ own bias, lack of proficiency with social media and lack of training opportunities may lead schools to not utilise full worth of this useful tool to teach English. It is time to familiarise our teachers with the judicious and yes, cautious use of social media to teach English. Here are some ready reckoner tips and suggested use.

Proceed with caution

The use of social media in teaching English will depend on level, age and stage of the learner set, and their context and it Is the teachers’ prerogative to decide the best form and way to initiate the students in this teaching-learning process. Needless to say, important nevertheless to reiterate, the caution that we need to proceed with while engaging students on social media. All rules of engaging them as minors, privacy policy, security settings, no disclosure of the location, sensitive content, language awareness and digital literacy need to be relayed to the students. Password secure groups, posts and social media handles require a 360-degree supervision and an acquainting the students with them thoroughly. A well thought out plan of student engagement and initiation into digital citizenry will go a long way in making them self-reliant and self-driven, motivated, and virtually aware students, in real life. So, the first axiom would be to thoroughly identify the relevant tools available to the teacher with respect to social media and suit it according to the context of teaching of communication in the English language.

Social media spectrum

Different social media platforms enable varied teaching-learning skills and offer differing modalities of engagement and offer a variety of language development opportunities. Edmodo, Google hangout, Facebook could be used for group discussions in secure class groups, class magazines could also go online in the form of blogs or vlogs (video logs) with multimedia documents and collaborative brainstorming forming a basis of the full text, to follow. This would not only develop critical thinking and collaborative work but also cut down on the classroom talk time of the teacher. Writing skill tasks such as essay or letters may go completely online in cooperative group writing. Virtual meeting apps can also be utilised fully for small group discussions and debates in breakout rooms and for ice breaking activities. LinkedIn and Twitter may be used of secondary classes. The former for drafting a profile bio, replete with strengths weaknesses and projects done in school. Twitter may be used as an exercise to compose short succinct texts /tweets around a current theme and help in teaching the drafting skill in writing.

       

 

Speaking and Listening Skills

Useful links for pronunciation, word stress exercises voice modelling the word in an audio file, practice tasks, gap filling controlled practice worksheets may be put on the shared meeting platform for easy, quick and delayed access in one’s own time too. Live sessions of book discussion with an author may be organized for literary and linguistic skill development. Suitable podcasts link for listening practice with worksheets, voice messages for pronunciation practice may also be uploaded successfully for a full use of the platform. Video enabling sites such as YouTube can be used for uploading public speaking and presentations clips of the students. The control of posting and deleting posts that do not adhere to the set standards, remaining with the teacher. Safe to say that, Social media may be used successfully, as a supplementary tool to classroom teaching, that is well into a year of virtual mode!

 

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