Technology has advanced at a remarkably rapid pace in the last few years. It has completely changed the way people communicate and interact because of the emergence of sophisticated techniques. Therefore, it has become one of the most influential factors on how people learn English. Because English is an internationally recognized language for communication across various cultures and languages, the communication platforms on the internet are mostly based on English. Among various powerful tools developed for communication among people, social media has become the most efficient platform for people to come together and interact with each other. People also benefit from using it because it is a convenient way of improving English language skills. Especially, writing and reading skills can be developed because it provides the opportunity to share our thoughts in written messages. Also, it is a good place for improving the ability of speaking English because the users can post audio and video messages. However, it also can have a negative impact on improving academic language skills because social media platform does not follow specific rules on maintaining the standards of English language. Therefore, it can impede the improvement of academic English language skills for students because of the heavy exposure to modified language patterns used on social media. Social media is an effective platform to interact and improve the English learning process, but the non-standardized modification of language due to the absence of a system to monitor hinders the improvement of academic English language skills of a user.
Social media has become one of the most popular communication tools in the contemporary society providing the uses the opportunity to improve the knowledge and skills on English language. Social media is used across the globe by users belonging to various cultures, demography and geographical regions. Among 6,000 languages exists globally, English is the single most dominant of the ten languages spoken by more than 50% of global population (British Council). Therefore, social media is a helpful tool for learning the English language because social media is mostly designed in English. Also, social media provides the facility to switch languages at the user’s choice. The authors of the article, “the impact of social media on vocabulary learning case study – Facebook” indicates that “Social Media Language Learning (SMLL) is an innovative approach in teaching languages interactively, linking social media channels to language learning. Students are thus encouraged and supported to develop communication and language skills” (Monica and Anamaria). Because of the ease of use and convenient access to various social media sites, frequent interaction is possible. Therefore, people who are interested in learning English find it helpful to improve their language skills while enjoying the interactions with others. They had the opportunity exchange messages, read blog posts, watch videos and write, record and share their own contents on the social media platform. This makes the social media the global classroom with various individuals act as teachers and others as students depending on the use. There are no time limits and restrictions to use it as long as good internet connections and data is available. Mobile phone users mostly have unlimited data facilitating increased use of social media. The study shows that “the sample group of students in Romania improved in vocabulary performance and confidence after being exposed to vocabulary via Facebook as compared to the case of students benefitting from traditional instruction only” (Monica and Anamaria). Vocabulary improvement is an important development of the core skills of a foreign language but it is time-consuming and challenging task for speakers of other languages rather than English speakers. It can also be helpful for even the native English speakers because frequent interaction with communication tools of social media adds more knowledge on the vocabulary and its use. Therefore, social media is convenient way of improving the language skills at own pace.
In addition to building up the vocabulary, social media is helpful for students to improve the English writing skills. The research project carried out in Saudi Arabia has found that the students feel more comfortable when using social media to learn the writing skills than using the conventional methods. According to the authors of the study, “Social Networks offer a chance for learners to get rid of the tension of classroom activities due to the fear of making mistakes or any negative behavior” (Alfaki and Alharthy). This is an important aspect of language learning process because it builds the self-confidence of students while experiencing less stress in learning a new language. It also removes the time barriers for students because they can learn the language through real interactions with others beyond the classroom. Non-English speakers can interact with people in the English-speaking countries so that they can have the real experience of the use of English language. This is a good opportunity for the students to improve their language skills that cannot be expected in a conventional classroom. Students in non- English speaking countries attend classes where the English is taught by non-native English speakers. Therefore, their accent, the language use and the use of techniques are influenced by the culture and the language they speak. However, interacting with native English speakers on social media provides the real understanding of the use of the language. This is helpful for international students who come to the English-speaking countries from non-English speaking countries. Therefore, they have the opportunity to prepare in advance before they come to a different culture with an English-speaking society. The same study by Alfaki and Alharthy allowed the students to engage in language learning through microblogging and training cultural and communicative competence using twitter to interact with students in foreign universities. According to the authors, “The participants clearly liked using twitter and they even asked to continue using it after the project ended because it offered them a free space to use English. It also shows that Micro blogging is useful for learning languages inside and outside classroom and it contributed to the research on using Web 2.0 tools for learning” (Alfaki and Alharthy, p.6). Therefore, it shows the fact that social media provides powerful tools for language learners to improve their skills if they use these learning tools properly.
Despite the various advantages and efficiency of social media in learning a new language, especially English, there are some drawbacks due to the use of non-standardized and transformed language. Social media allows the publication of user generated contents where the users from different backgrounds including education, culture and demography edit or add contents to the postings. They may lack the quality of academic standards in writing because of using transformed language. For example, online users modify the language to shorten the words and phrases to bring novel items to attract others which can become permanent in online communication. According to the author of the article, “audience, Uglossia, and Conlang: inventing languages on the Internet”, “Conlang is populated by high school, college, and graduate students, linguists, computer programmers, housewives, librarians, professionals and other users worldwide” (Higley). Therefore, these constructed languages can transform the standard languages significantly and become popular among the users of online interacting platforms. The eventual result is that the language learners may also follow these constructed languages without understanding how it impacts the improvements of academic language skills because they may not follow the standards of English writing. On the other hand, the use of modified words, abbreviations, shortened phrases and other typical language use on digital platforms can have negative impact on the development of language skills because they deviate from the standardized language.
Technology has significantly changed the way how people interact with each other and communicating efficiently. Digital media platforms provide the opportunity for people to communicate with others across the globe. It breaks the barriers of cultures, demographic, geographical locations and different language background. Social media is a powerful tool for people to interact and expose themselves for learning new languages. Since English is most widely used internationally to communicate with others, learners can use the various tools on social media to improve their language skills. Also, it builds the self-confidence and reduces stress levels because of the mistakes they make when using a different language in a traditional classroom environment. Therefore, it is a good opportunity for language learners to improve their skills beyond the classroom. However, there are drawbacks related to the use of social media for English language skill improvements due to the modification of the language as user generated contents are added that do not follow proper standards of the language.
Alfaki, I., and K. Alharthy. “Towards a Digital World: Using Social Networks to Promote
Learner’s Language.” American International Journal of Contemporary Research, vol. 4, no. 1, 2014, pp. 40-48.
British Council. “English – A Global Language.” SchoolsOnline, 10 Oct. 2013,
Higley, S. “audience, Uglossia, and Conlang: inventing languages on the Internet”.
Language: A Reader for Writers, pp. 128-143.
Monica, S., and Anamaria, A. “The Impact of Social Media on Vocabulary Learning Case