The Emissia.Offline Letters Электронное научное издание (научно-педагогический интернет-журнал)
Издается с 7 ноября 1995 г. Учредитель: Российский государственный педагогический университет им. А.И.Герцена. ISSN 1997-8588
Агафонова Лидия Ивановна
Ерёмин Юрий Владимирович
Использование социальной сети ВКонтакте в смешанных курсах обучения иностранным языкам
Рекомендовано к публикации:
Use of Vkontakte Social Networking Site in Blended Foreign Languages Learning Courses
Social networking sites have become an integral part of people’s social life. The vast majority of university students in Russia use VKontakte social networking site, which is the most popular social networking site in Russia, having more than 70 million users in January 2015. Vkontakte social networking site allows them to create pages about themselves, make friends, and share information, mainly in their native language, in Russian. It is important for EFL students in Russia to become Vkontakte members, which use can help students develop their communicative competencies in English.
Research about social networking sites use has emerged. However, research on usage of social networking sites in blended foreign languages learning courses is new [1-8].To our knowledge, there are no studies about potential of Vkontakte social networking site to develop communicative competencies of students of English.
Language learners in Russia have begun to utilize different social networking sites, which have been extremely popular since their inception in 2004 (Facebook) and in 2006 (Vkontakte). This research with participants of twenty groups of students – future teachers of different subjects studying English in a blended course at A. I. Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia explores the potential of social networking site for developing students’ communicative competencies in English. The EFL students in this study joined VKontakte social network for social and academic reasons. Its use over academic year period showed that they were able to communicate in English with existing friends, and learn about English-speaking countries.
The research was conducted in different English blended courses. More than 200 students participated in the study. The majority was female; their majors were psychology, law, economics, tourism management, sociology, intercultural communication. Students’ initial placement English level was different, mainly pre-intermediate. We started by creating a Vkontakte regular account, which students were able to add to their friends' list. The classes used printed textbooks Face2Face pre-intermediate and intermediate levels, English textbooks on students’ subject matters, as well as worked with EFL online materials. Activities and tasks on Vkontakte were mainly centered on the social aspect of this social networking site, the level of difficulty varied from A1 to B2, according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, and students found these activities the most motivating.
Let us introduce some examples of activities and assignments.
The first example of such an activity was connected with describing
pictures. It is obvious that pictures are an essential component of
any social networking site. We developed such an activity to allow
our students to maximize communicative ability in English. The
objective of this activity was to teach students how to share their
personal life experience and write in English about it. The task
statement is as follows:
1. Share one picture
you have taken. You can also attach a picture not taken by you, but
please obey copyright. It means you have to copy a picture from a
copy-friendly service, such as Flickrhttps://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/,
Photo Pin http://photopin.com/.
Please mention the author and the source.
Another real life activity was connected with songs as songs are ones of the most shared items in any social networking tool. The aim of this activity was developing writing competence, recycling vocabulary on hobbies and music, motivating students and enhancing students’ autonomy of using various English learning online resources. Here is the task statement: I am sure all of us like songs. It is a great way to improve your English.
The news feed, organized by date, acted as a voice thread and an archive for teacher’s and students’ written activity in the English language. News feed threads were different: introducing the curriculum and explaining the credit policy, posting weekly lessons plans, attaching links to online exercises, games and other free English learning resources, congratulating on holidays and motivating students do some fun activities on, recycling some grammar and vocabulary. The postings were written both at the lessons when it took place in a computer class with each student sitting at a computer, or at homes, or while travelling to and from work or study in a metro as majority of students had mobile devices and often brought them to the lesson.
To sum up, it is important to say that such social networking tools as Vkontakte enable to develop and experiment with many different activities, tasks and assignments in a blended English learning course and substitute real communication with a native speaker, though in a partial way. Social networking sites are additional innovative online tools for motivating digital natives and developing their learner autonomy, supporting teachers to develop new types of curriculum, tasks, activities, exercises and credit policy, to manage, ensure and enhance the quality of learning and teaching foreign languages. The EFL students were successful at communicating with existing friends and the teacher on Vkontakte social networking site, improving their communicative competencies in English ability.
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