COURSE CODE: ENGL 4740COURSE NAME: COMPUTER APPLICATION IN LANGUAGE STUDIESNAMES: AHMAD AIZUDDIN BIN AZIZAN MOHD IQBAL BIN AHAMAT MUHAMMAD AMZAR ZAMIR BIN ABU BAKAR (0910369)
INTRODUCTION This paper will summarize an empirical research that was done by a group of students fromShanghai Jiao Tong University, China, on the use of Twitter as a medium of second language learning.The research is entitled “Microblogging for Language Learning: Using Twitter to Train Communicativeand Cultural Competence”. The researchers are Kerstin Borau, Carsten Ullrich, Jinjin Feng, and RuiminShen. The method of using Twitter as a medium of second language learning is used within sevenweeks and two days, and it is applied to several blended classes which differ in terms of the sizes whichrange from 80 to 120 students. Blended classes refer to the nature of a class which consists of studentswho attend the lecture in a face-to-face setting, and online students who attend the lecture through theInternet connection, for example, online video and etc. In addition, the use of Twitter is also used as aboost to increase the participation of the students as the posts of the students will be counted andgraded regardless of the contents. The focuses of the study are divided into 2 divisions which are: 1) the use of Twitter in languagelearning which further concerns with the training of communicative competence and culturalcompetence; 2) the analysis of the student community which marks the positive influence on learningmotivation.METHODOLOGY In this process, the course instructor creates a new Twitter account. In return, the students willalso create their own Twitter accounts and be friends among themselves and the teacher. After they areall connected, they will receive messages that their instructor or friends have posted. The teacher asksthem to respond to the particular message by making seven posts a week and read the comingmessages of their friends. Besides, several different sets of questionnaires are distributed to thestudents inquiring their opinions on Twitter and other areas which will be presented later in thesummary.FINDINGSCommunicative competence refers to the focus of communication as one of the means of languagelearning and teaching. The research states that it consists of four different areas but their main focuses
are on two only, which are sociolinguist and strategic competence. Firstly, sociolinguistic competencedenotes the ability of the students to use language in different situations appropriately. Regarding theresearch, the researchers pay attention to the skills of expressing their attitudes and they find that thestudents are having hard time in using a consistent style (formal/informal). The following exampleportrays the mixture of different styles that they use in Twitter: “due to there will no classes on August,so I made a plan to visit Hongkong with my family.” Another example: “So I take the responsibility ofbuying vegetable”. In social networks, it is somewhat awkward to use formal expression such as “dueto..”, and “I take responsibility..”, since the setting is supposed to be colloquial. For this concern, theresearchers drive the attention to the role of the teacher to take these and a lot of other examples anddiscuss in the class about the appropriateness of them. Another area of communicative competence is strategic competence which concentrates on theability of the students to avoid communication breakdowns. The researchers notice that the studentsuse code-switching in order to get their messages across. For example, “普洱茶’ is useful to loseweight”, which means “at least, it helps me a lot. Sorry, I dont know how to say it in English”. Andanother example: “桂林米粉 how to say in English?”. The researchers then distribute sets ofquestionnaires that ask them generally whether they use dictionary or not. Results show that 69.51% ofthem sometimes use dictionary when writing messages, while 15.85% answer that they never usedictionaries, and 14.63% state that they use a dictionary frequently. Similar results were producedregarding the use of dictionary when reading messages, which show 67.07% sometimes use dictionary,while 19.51% never use dictionary, and 13.41% often use dictionary. After the researchers have done analyzing the data, they make a conclusion for their secondpoint in the use of Twitter in second language learning, which is communicative strategies, that Twitteris not helpful since a post is limited to 140 characters only and the lack of use of dictionary incommunicative strategies is also the reason why Twitter is seen as not much of a help n trainingcommunicative strategies. The second main focus of the research is training cultural competence through Twitter. Culturalcompetence is one of the branches under sociolinguistics. It is made up of four categories: awareness ofones own cultural worldview, attitude towards cultural differences, knowledge of different culturalpractices and worldviews, and cross-cultural skills. Relating to the research, Twitter is seen as a tool thathelps to enhance cultural competence since it provides opportunities to speak with native speakers.
Also, English speaking-Web service facilitates in generating cultural awareness. All of these add up to theEnglish language skills. The researchers have done a survey on the frequency of the use of the Internet.The results show that 90% use it daily. On the other hand, 10% use it weekly. Unfortunately, it is alsoreported that the websites that are mostly visited are administered in Chinese. Specifically, 37% of themvisit mostly Chinese websites, 57% on the other hand show a little bit of balance when they visit moreChinese that English websites, 4% visit more English that Chinese websites, another 2% more visitmostly English websites. In addition, there is a huge number of students answering that they live in a strong bond ofChinese communicative environment that make it much more difficult for them to train culturalcompetence. However, it is interesting to know that nearly half of the students answer in thequestionnaire that they communicate with native speakers on Twitter. But these responses arequestionable since there is a possibility that the students are giving false answers. Only a little numberof updates or posts show clear proofs that they are talking to somebody that are not in the class bytyping the addressee’s user name. In conclusion, the researchers state that it is impossible to develop cultural competence onlythrough social networks. However, due to the fact that Twitter does provide opportunities tocommunicate with people from different countries which have different cultural backgrounds. This willlead to the awareness of the strategies that the students need to employ in order to interact with themeffectively. After successfully analyzing the data, the researchers add something which can be considered asadditional finding since it is not really related to the topic of the research which concerns with the use oftwitter in second language learning. This finding is under the sub-heading entitled “Motivation throughCommunity”. It is stated that there are evidences that show those learners who participate in theproject using Twitter in second language learning construct a community. The first evidence is thequestionnaire whereby when they are asked whether the use of Twitter instills the sense of communityor not, 40% of them answer that they totally agree, while 32% of them somewhat agree, another 23%were neutral, and the last 4% disagree. In addition to that, another evidence shows that there is a number of linguistic markers thatillustrates association such as greetings, group reflective observation (comment on a group or identity),and also comical posts as shown is the following example:
“Good morning everyone.”“ Morning!” .And also (comment on the community)“This "TWITTER" same as schoolyard~~~”Plus the evidence of funny post when a teacher is spending time checking the exam paper, a studentmakes humorous comment:“@kerstinlaoshi I volunteer to proofread the exam paper for you!” Our personal view on this research is that, it is important for universities or schools to applyteaching method like this because it is really attractive since the teaching method uses an elementwhich is closely related to the students or teenagers. This avoids the possibility of the lesson being dulland boring. Regarding the language lesson, by learning the second language in this way, the studentswill easily grasp not only the intended lesson, but indirectly learn about the use of the target language inother societies. This will also lead them being aware of what is right and wrong in the use of thelanguage, and eventually produces students with good communicative manners. Al-Qur’an hasmentioned: “And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, "For us are our deeds, and foryou are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant”. (Surah Al-Qasas: 55) This verse can be related to the importance of learning sociolinguistics because not only wegain benefits from the knowledge, but it also helps us to live our life in the right path and keeps us safefrom any harm due to linguistic misunderstanding between people from different cultural background.
APPENDICES:Table 1: No. of students Total updates/posts 35 1-19 39 20-99 12 +100 10 Between 100-162 2 449 & 236*total update within the stated period is 5574 which equals to 796/week or 113/day.Table 2: No. of students Experience (have ever used Frequency Twitter or not) 82 yes once 14 no -*75% of the students were female, while 25% were male*50% of the students were aged 20-25; 40% were aged 25-30; 10% were aged over 30