Social media in the foreign language classroom: ?· Social media in the foreign language classroom:…

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  • Social media in the foreign language classroom: Promoting oral communication skills online Eva-Marie Grokurth (Marburg); eva.grosskurth@staff.uni-marburg.de Leonie Wiemeyer (Bremen); wiemeyer@uni-bremen.de The large number of classroom activities and empirical studies found in the literature that promote social networks, (micro-)blogs, image and video hosting websites and wikis bear testimony to the fact that the use of social media in foreign language teaching is no longer just a fad. They are usually used in activities in and outside the classroom to foster writing skills in the foreign language, often within the framework of task-based learning. They are often preferred over traditional modes of learning because they offer opportunities to use the target language in authentic communication situations, are motivating to the learners due to their innovative character, and are a great way to combine language tasks with social and media literacy-related learning goals in autonomous or collaborative learning scenarios (cf. Unger 2012). Since communication on social media websites is predominantly written, tasks involving these networks naturally focus mostly on written genres.

    However, social media websites and applications also bear the potential to enhance oral skills in foreign language learning. Users of social networks both native speakers and learners of English have found their own ways to communicate not only through text, but also through audio and video, for example in the form of video responses or by directly addressing the online community in videos1

    In order to use these sites to encourage not only language learning but also the active implementation of media literacy, their use can be integrated into complex competence tasks. According to Hallet (2012), such tasks have the goal of initiating discourse about topics which are analogous to real-life topics, problems and discussions. Ideally, complex competence tasks also connect the learners' discourse to real-life discourse of native speakers of the target language (Hallet 2012: 12). At the same time, these tasks can be used to teach pupils about the risks involved with using social networks.

    uploaded to social networks such as YouTube and Twitter. Instant messengers with video function, such as Skype, have become well-established in the foreign language classroom for video chats with native speakers, for example in e-tandems (see, for example, Vassallo/Telles 2006). But there are also other platforms which provide opportunities for practising oral skills: Vokis, speaking avatars, are an embarrassment-free way for learners to practice their pronunciation (Biebighuser/Jahns 2012). VoiceThread, Voxopop and Audioboo can be used to create asynchronic oral discussions triggered by media such as pictures or videos, even with native speakers (see, among others, Klambauer 2012 and Brunvard/Byrd 2011). They also offer functions to create oral presentations online (Gabriel 2012).

    In our talk, we will discuss how social networks such as Skype, YouTube, Twitter and VoiceThread can be integrated into task-based learning scenarios to practice oral communication skills in the L2. Classroom activities for practising oral skills online will

    1 An example of a video created by a German learner of English addressing the online community to give her

    feedback on her English skills can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7rVLnjM_-M.

  • emphasise the innovative and motivating ways of learning offered by social networks allowing users to interact with others, comment on and discuss content and even contribute their own content. We will also take a critical view by addressing the boundaries of practising communication online, the general challenges of online tools as well as the issue of data protection in order to arrive at balanced recommendations for using social media in language learning. Literatur Biebighuser, Katrin/Zibelius, Marja/Schmidt, Torben (2012): Aufgaben 2.0

    Aufgabenorientierung beim Fremdsprachenlernen mit digitalen Medien. In: Biebighuser, Katrin/Marja Zibelius/Schmidt, Torben (Hrsg.): Aufgaben 2.0 Konzepte, Materialien und Methoden fr das Fremdsprachenlehren und -lernen mit digitalen Medien. Tbingen: Narr. 11-56.

    Brunvand, S./Byrd, S. (2011): Using VoiceThread to promote learning engagement and success for all students. In: Teaching Exceptional Children 43 (4), 28-37.

    Gabriel, Sonja (2012): Prsentationen erstellen mit VoiceThread. In: Wagner, Jrgen/Heckmann, Verena (Hrsg.): Web 2.0 im Fremdsprachenunterricht. Ein Praxisbuch fr Lehrende in Schule und Hochschule. Glckstadt: Verlag Werner Hlsbusch. 78-86.

    Hallet, Wolfgang (2012): Die komplexe Kompetenzaufgabe. Fremdsprachige Diskursfhigkeit als kulturelle Teilhabe und Unterrichtspraxis. In: Hallet, Wolfgang (Hrsg.): Kompetenzaufgaben im Englischunterricht. Grundlagen und Unterrichtsbeispiele. Seelze: Kallmeyer. 8-19.

    Jahns, Silke/Schrter, Anne (2012): Frderung der Aussprachekompetenz in DaF und EFL in Web 2.0-Lernumgebungen. In: Biebighuser, Katrin/Marja Zibelius/Schmidt, Torben (Hrsg.): Aufgaben 2.0 Konzepte, Materialien und Methoden fr das Fremdsprachenlehren und -lernen mit digitalen Medien. Tbingen: Narr. 167-189.

    Klambauer, Nicole (2012): Sprechende Bilder. In: Wagner, Jrgen/Heckmann, Verena (Hrsg.): Web 2.0 im Fremdsprachenunterricht. Ein Praxisbuch fr Lehrende in Schule und Hochschule. Glckstadt: Verlag Werner Hlsbusch. 119-127.

    Unger, Tobias (2012): Digitale Technologien und Medien im kompetenzorientierten Englischunterricht. In: In: Hallet, Wolfgang (Hrsg.): Kompetenzaufgaben im Englischunterricht. Grundlagen und Unterrichtsbeispiele. Seelze: Kallmeyer. 56-67.

    Vassallo, Maria Luisa/Telles, Joo A. (2006): Foreign language learning in-tandem: Theoretical principles and research perspectives. In: The ESPecialist 25 (1), 1-37.