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Presentation by Laurel Schenkoske and Yingfei Chen from University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, at the Language Symposium 2012, hosted at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
Within the scope of the language classroom, learners cannot truly approach real-life application of their skills. So how can we keep our students motivated to practice outside the classroom? As we know, students send text messages, Facebook updates, and Tweets throughout the day. Why not give them the tools to do this in their new language? While social networking sites seem to be taking over our students lives, we as foreign language teachers can use that to our advantage! We will present the case studies of two different forms of social media at play in our own foreign language department: the Chinese programs Facebook , and the German programs Ning. We examine the similarities, differences, and benefits of both for use in L2 learning, and share some statistics that map their respective uses. We also examine whether task-based assignments achieve the best results on both platforms. Both sites allow for discussion postings, blogs, videos, and polls in which students can practice all four language skills, with a special emphasis on the interpersonal mode of communication. When social media is tied to language learning, it encourages students to play with new vocabulary and structures and helps to foster a community atmosphere. Both Facebook and Ning are well suited to accompany any foreign language classroom. Come see how we use each of them in our own foreign language classrooms, and get ideas to implement them in yours!