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Student engagement and second language learning through the use of social networks


Academic year: 2023

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In recent years, there has been worldwide attention to the importance of social networks for second language acquisition. The current study intends to investigate the effects of using social networks in the learning process, as well as whether students' engagement and learning are promoted while acquiring a second language. Furthermore, the study focuses on the influence of social networks on motivation and student engagement.

Disambiguation of terms

  • Social Networking sites and social networks
  • Social Media
  • Web 2.0
  • The top 15 most popular social networking sites

Facebook remains the most popular social networking site along with Twitter and YouTube ("Worldwide Social Media Statistics. On social networking sites, users have public or semi-public profiles to build a network, while social media is used primarily for communication Web 2.0 allows users to communicate and collaborate through social media as content creators in a virtual community.

Figure 1 Social Networks Source: https://books.google.com/ngrams
Figure 1 Social Networks Source: https://books.google.com/ngrams


The number of reviewed articles is approximately sixty-five, which aim at a holistic approach to the topic under consideration. Data from relevant books, dissertations and articles were carefully collected through the online search engine google scholar academia.edu and the digital library of the Hellenic Open University. In terms of tools, Zotero Reference Manager was used to organize, store and cite references.

In addition, Google Books' Ngram Viewer search engine was used to explore and analyze some key terms for this study. During the next step of the integrative review, a critical analysis of the collected material took place. The information resulting from various empirical studies, review articles and qualitative research, as well as the findings of recognized researchers, were carefully examined and analyzed.

The positive outcomes regarding the use of social networks in L2 have been approached in different ways. The contribution of the current research to the relevant literature is to review and critically analyze the case studies that have already been conducted to investigate this topic and finally to highlight some important findings regarding the contribution and deployment of online social networks in the second language process. The findings can help us identify gaps in the existing literature and contribute to pre-existing knowledge.

Although many researchers advocate the beneficial role of social networks in college students facilitating social engagement and networking, there is limited research on the ways in which this may actually occur.


Enhancing student’s engagement through social media

According to Rosenshine (1982), it is significant for the educator to design a learning environment that encourages the dynamic participation of students that leads to the greatest part of the learning experience. Ball & Perry (2011), define engagement as a student's involvement in tasks and situations that produce and promote a high level of learning. A large number of international studies illustrate that the energy and time that learners devote to educational tasks is the prerequisite for personal development (Austin, 1993).

Student engagement is associated with the energy that students devote to academic tasks as well as the usefulness of any educational practice related to its ability to increase student involvement, alongside motivation which is also a key variable during the learning process that leads to positive outcomes. of learning. According to Ryan and Deci's (2000) Self-Determination Theory, highly motivated students increase their level of engagement during the learning process. Studies have shown that the personal involvement of students in the learning process increases understanding as they actively participate in their learning and they adopt a more responsible approach (Bertin et al. 2010).

Online social networks remove the passive learning style, where students simply receive and reproduce knowledge without being able to apply the new knowledge in their daily life, but only in language situations to which they have already been taught.

Web 2.0 in second language learning

One of the most important issues in language acquisition is the level of student involvement in the learning process. The goal of language learning through social networks is to facilitate cooperation between students and enable them to communicate authentically with native speakers. A study by Lin (2012) reveals that participants felt more confident when interacting with native speakers on social media than face-to-face.

Their confidence also increased in their ability to use the language after engaging with social networks. Fewell (2014), proponents of social networks provide students with endless flexibility through a wide range of multidimensional communication tools. Clark and Gruba (2010) argue that the diverse features of online social networks, such as participation in live chats, video calls, recording speech or writing, promote students' motivation to acquire a second language.

In addition, the ability to give or receive immediate or sequential feedback, the access to numerous resources such as videos, images, web pages are also important characteristics of online social networks that increase motivation and engagement while gaining new knowledge. On the other hand, there are some negative views towards social networks regarding their excessive use and dependence as well as deprivation of material and meaningful connections between people and violation of personal data. The preponderance of researchers agree that social networks are important educational tools that trigger the level of engagement and motivation of students.

Therefore, in the next section, an overview of these social networks will be given, exploring their potential for learning.


  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Social networks in language learning: Challenges

Instagram is also considered one of the most used social networks in recent years, gaining great popularity, especially among teenagers. Sebah Al-Ali (2014), focused on the integration of Instagram into the language learning program in the EFL classroom. They claim that their motivation and confidence to communicate in the second language has increased.

It also motivates them to interact in the target language and deliver messages successfully. Online social networking tools enable learners to communicate in real time in a virtual world, promoting language learning and social cohesion. This social network has been developing in the field of language learning since 2009 (Hattem & Lamicka, 2016).

Siegle (2009) emphasizes the potential of video technology in the classroom and the positive learning outcomes achieved through the integration of videos during instruction. Simply showing videos from this website is not sufficient to engage students in the learning process. Many studies indicate that the creation and sharing of YouTube videos resulted in an improvement in students' motivation, interest and improvement of the target language.

Despite the disadvantages that social media platforms have, the positive effects in the field of education are remarkable.


More responsible judgment and critical skills need to be embedded in students so that they can integrate them into the digital age. The social media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are depicted as factors that promote interaction between students and significantly improve engagement in the learning and teaching process. In recent years, it has become apparent that many educational institutions are using social media in curriculum design to verify its educational benefits.

Scholars argue that the use of social networks can solve several pedagogical problems that occur in the language classroom, as reported in several empirical studies. Many research studies show evidence of engagement in language learning tasks as learners can tweet in the target language. In most studies regarding the investigated topic and the implementation of the social networking site in the educational field, empirical data indicate that the level of students'.

Additionally, research shows evidence that students were more relaxed and spontaneous when using social media and felt more confident to write and speak in the target language, as well as interact with their classmates and receive participate in group tasks. Few studies seem to focus on teacher-led language learning as there is a gap in the literature on how learners can engage in social networking platforms in a fully student-led language learning environment. The self-directed and self-instructed experience of language learning in an informal setting may lead to new perspectives in the field of learning, as the review found that most studies were conducted in post-secondary contexts.

The virtual canvas of learning and teaching has transformed in the last years due to the emergence of online technologies (Brailas, 2014) and this study tries to confirm the positive effects as they provide an alternative way of learning.



The use of technology should be included in the curricular framework by providing the essential creativity that enables students to increase their level of engagement by building new knowledge. Finally, it is important to conduct further research on the use of social networks in all educational classrooms to provide more comprehensive and evidence-based results for the educational process. At the conclusion of this study, it is hoped that language educators will embrace social media networks to increase motivation and engagement in language learning and reflect on social networking platforms as language learning tools.

Sequential analysis of the YouTube online discussion of a Dove beauty product company campaign: "Pressure on adolescent girls and women to conform to an artificial body ideal." In M. Social media to increase student engagement: the use of Facebook and blogs in a technological university. See you on “Facebook”: the effects of computer-mediated teacher self-disclosure on student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate.

Facebook and the use of social networking tools to increase language learners' motivation and engagement. Findings on Facebook in higher education: A comparison of university faculty and student use and perceptions of social networking sites. Embracing the Selfie Craze: Exploring the Possible Use of Instagram as a Language mLearning Tool. Issues and Trends in Educational Technology Volume 2, Number Selwyn, N.


Figure 1 Social Networks Source: https://books.google.com/ngrams
Figure 2. Social Networking Sites. Source: https://books.google.com/ngrams
Figure 3 social media. Source: https://books.google.com/ngrams
Figure 4. Web 2.0.  Sources: https://books.google.com/ngrams


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