Social media in learning English in Vietnam
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Vietnamese high school graduates have low language proficiency and high school language teachers in Vietnam focus on teaching grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension. As a result, high school students have very low language proficiency. To improve high school student English skills, the Vietnamese government launched a project called the Foreign Language Project 2020, in which guidelines were given for teachers to incorporate technology in their language teaching. However, there were no empirical data about how students used technology. In this study I examined high school students’ use of and beliefs about technology, especially social media, in learning English, and then I delivered a six-week online course to investigate students’ experiences. I also investigated the effects of the online course on students’ engagement with language learning. The study participants were 204 Grade 10 students for the questionnaire part. After that, seventeen students took part in the online course. The course also involved pre-course and post-course interviews and pre-and post-course tests exploring their experiences in the course as well as the effects of online learning. The results showed that many of the students used social media for both social and educational purposes. They shared materials, joined online groups for discussions, and accessed online materials for self-study outside the classroom, such as listening to videos, and participating in free and commercial online courses.
Regarding their experiences in the online environment, they showed variable degrees of willingness to communicate. For synchronous communication, students perceived that text chat was the least face-threatening channel; therefore, they were more willing to communicate in text chat than in the classroom. Students felt voice chat was more nerve-racking than text chat but less so than video chat. Video chat was reported to be the most face-threatening mode of online communication and students perceived that video chat was as face-threatening as the physical classroom environment. It is also true for asynchronous communication that students preferred voice recording to video recording.
Regarding the effects of the six-week online course, students progressed in their listening ability after the six-week online course. Most students progressed in terms of fluency and used more diverse vocabulary, but did not use more complex syntactic structures in their speaking. The post-course interview showed that students had tried to correct their pronunciation. They perceived that they had become more fluent and remembered more words in their speaking. In terms of writing skills, students became more fluent and used more complex language in their writing, but did not advance in terms of lexical use. Students spent time looking for structures to express their ideas and they believed that they became more fluent in their writing as they practised writing a lot in the course.