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Technology in the Foreign Language Classroom: The Role of Social Media in
Enhancing Second Language Learning and Student Engagement

Kimberly Hughes
Touro University


In schools throughout the United States, technology and 21st century learning skills have
become a major priority in our educational system. Technology is highly encouraged to not only
prepare students for their future careers, but also for active learning and engagement while in
school (Moersch, 1995). No matter what level of technological expertise or the amount of access
to technology at any particular school site, nearly all teachers throughout the nation are in one
way or another using, or at least becoming aware of, technology and its new role in the
classroom. (Sheingold & Tucker, 1990) It is crucial, especially at the high school level, to
prepare all students for the 21st century challenges they will be faced with when entering into
higher education or the work force. The purpose of this study was to discover how social media
tools could be used in a high school foreign language classroom and the impact of their use on
student writing abilities in the target foreign language.

Background and Need
Foreign language studies is a content area in which students can easily use technology to
enhance learning as well as 21st century skills. At one northern California high school, all
students enrolled have access to several kinds of technology. Each student is given their own
laptop to use throughout the year, wireless internet is available on campus for student and teacher
use, and other devices such as smartphones and tablet technology are allowed and encouraged to
be used during the school day. In the year prior to this study, the positive benefits of these
technologies brought to the learning environment were witnessed first-hand. For example, easy
access to communication tools allowed for constant collaboration and communication between


teachers, students, and peers. Easy access to resources at any time facilitated lessons and
allowed for spontaneous referencing and investigations. Also very noticeable were those
instances where there was a lack of technology use. One of those places was the researcher’s
own classroom.
A challenge many foreign language teachers face is the incorporation of technology into
lower level classes. The term “lower level” refers to the criteria of the American Council on the
Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL, 2012) proficiency guidelines which set the following
levels of proficiency: superior, advanced, intermediate and novice, along with sub-categories in
each level. According to ACTFL, Spanish levels 1, 2 and 3 range between the novice and
intermediate-low to intermediate-mid ranges, while upper level classes like Heritage Spanish and
Spanish 3 and 4, are in the intermediate-high to advanced ranges.
When one thinks about technology in a general sense in the classroom, the first things
that may come to mind are creating digital presentations or doing in-depth research on specific
topics. However, in the lower levels of a Spanish or French class, students simply do not have
the language capabilities to complete either of these tasks in the target language yet. The issue of
how teachers can provide lower level foreign language students opportunities to use technology
in the classroom while simultaneously ensuring that these technologies keep students engaged
and enhance their abilities to write in the target language is foundational to this study. Language
learning is typically done face-to-face and is extremely social in nature. This leads to the
question of how can social media technology make the learning experience an authentic one for
our digital native learners?

Statement of the Problem


While many different avenues for study with regards to technology in the foreign
language classroom are possible, the primary focus of this paper will be on whether the use of
social media communication tools will increase student output in the foreign language. Foreign
language teachers are constantly trying to figure out new and creative ways to encourage
students to produce the target language orally and in writing. The question of, how can
technology aid teachers in eliciting student language production, drove the design of this study.
More specifically, how can the social media site, Twitter, improve student learning and serve as a
platform for students to demonstrate target language knowledge?
To begin gathering information, it was important to look at the school’s technology use as
a whole first. In which content areas are teachers and their students using technology
consistently? How well is the technology enhancing the content learning? What are the staff and
student perceptions of technology use in the classroom and, if there are challenges being faced,
what are they? By gaining a broad view of technology and how it is being used on campus
currently, helped to guide the specific use of technology tools in the foreign language classroom.
An entirely new set of questions arose from this preliminary work: Which foreign language
teachers are currently using technology in the classroom at the high school? Are these high level
or low level students? What are the perceptions of technology use in language learning, as
foreign language teachers can be known to teach using very traditional methods?
It seemed crucial to have this information before beginning action research because all
teachers on campus were trying to figure out ways to best incorporate technology into their
classrooms and curriculum. Understanding other teachers current practices and learning about
student and teacher perceptions informed the design of this research study.


Current practice in Foreign Language instruction at the the school site employed a
methodology adopted to teach Spanish is called TPRS, Teaching Proficiency through Reading
and Storytelling. This methodology is based upon Steven Krashen’s (1981) Comprehensible
Input (CI) theory which is considered to be a key component in many foreign language
classrooms throughout the world. The Comprehensible Input theory suggests that students must
receive lots of quality input from their teacher; they must hear and see a sufficient amounts of
language before they can be expected to produce it. The goal of CI is to simulate how language
learning occurs naturally and try and immerse students in the target language as much as possible
to make it feel like it's a part of their everyday life (Ieong & Lau, 2011). This means that the
teacher is the primary source of modeling the language and giving constant input for students,
making it a very teacher-centered learning environment.
Reading in and listening to the target language are necessary aspects of the learning
process and create a strong foundation for students, however the social connections and
interactions are very important as well. In any language, we have a desire to be social and
communicate with others which in part requires some sort of output or language production. The
challenge for a TPRS teacher is that of, encouraging more student output despite the CI
requirement which asks the teacher to provide comprehensible input from themselves, while also
helping students gain 21st century technology skills. With a teaching style that could be
considered traditional, how can technology be effectively incorporated into classroom practices
so students produce Spanish output while practicing 21st century skills?
Purpose of the Study
The overarching question this study sought to investigate was: Can social media be used
to support students to write in a foreign language while simultaneously keeping student


engagement high and providing opportunities to develop 21st century technology skills? Using
Twitter, this research examined how this social media tool enhanced second language output in a
TPRS Spanish classroom. It also explored teaching practices facilitated this learning.
Review of Literature
The purpose of this project was to examine the effect of technology used in a foreign
language classroom that focuses primarily on comprehensible input. This literature review will
address the areas related to language learning and acquisition hypotheses as well as the blending
of technology in the foreign language classroom. The first section will address research related
to comprehensible input in the language acquisition process. The second section will address
research focused on target language output and, the third section will address research focused on
the incorporation and uses of technology for students of a foreign language.
Comprehensible Input and Second Language Acquisition
Teaching students a foreign language and the best theories on how to do so have been
debated for many years. Should students just hear the language? Should they be forced to
produce language? Can one learn a new language after a certain age? Can students learn from a
textbook or is immersion a must? Questions regarding best teaching practices are endless and
many foreign language teachers struggle with them on a daily basis. One theory that is widely
agreed upon by foreign language teachers around the world is the importance of Comprehensible
Input (CI). CI is a theory from Krashen (1981) that states students must hear the target language
constantly to produce language (Ieong & Nau, 2011). In addition to how we teach language, we
must also take into consideration how humans acquire language. The Teaching Proficiency
through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) methodology promotes the idea of language
acquisition, rather than traditional rote memorization or grammar lessons of ‘learning’ a


language. This is best known as the Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis. The following is linguist
Krashen’s definition of this hypothesis and an explanation of what acquisition looks like in
comparison to learning.
“... second language acquirers have two distinct ways of developing ability in second
languages. Language acquisition is similar to the way children develop first language
competence. Language acquisition is a subconscious process in two senses: people are
often not aware that they are acquiring a language while they are doing so. What they are
aware of is using the language for some communicative purpose. Also, they are often not
aware of what they have acquired; they usually cannot describe or talk about the rules
they have acquired but they have a "feel" for the language. Language learning is
different. It is knowing about language or formal knowledge of a language...In everyday
terms, acquisition is picking up a language. Ordinary equivalents for learning include
grammar and rules.” (Krashen, 1981, p. 68).
In many high school foreign language classrooms, Spanish is taught with this hypothesis
in mind, very little formal grammar lessons or rules of the language are taught. The goal is that
with consistent Spanish input from the teacher, students will acquire language and begin to hear
what simply sounds right, rather than getting formulas or rules for the language. To ensure that
students do in fact learn language and move on to higher levels, they must receive input that is
not only comprehensible but slightly above their current language level. This means that the
teacher must use language that is familiar to students, but include other content that forces
students to use context clues to figure out what is being said (Krashen, 1981).
Teaching in the target foreign language and giving students as much comprehensible
input as possible has extremely positive effects on students and their language acquisition. In a


study completed at an English Immersion school in Macao, China significant results were
demonstrated due to the quality and amount of input the students received. This school was
originally considered at risk of closure and they were desperately searching for ideas on how to
create a successful language learning school. Over a three year period of educational reform, the
school began to teach differently. They studied and implemented many ideas from Krashen's
Comprehensible Input theory, and began teaching some subjects exclusively in English. Some
benefits the school saw included obvious improvements in students’ second language abilities,
overall linguistic abilities and a broader understanding and acceptance of new cultures (Ieong &
Nau, 2011). This success story demonstrated the importance of language input, but where does
language output fall into place?
Target Language Output
Although language input is considered to be one of the most important strategies for
language learning and teaching, language output is also essential especially in a classroom
setting. As teachers we must be able to assess student learning, and if they are not required to
produce some sort of output how can we effectively determine this? First, we must answer the
question of: What is output? Output can be described as any type of language that students create
or produce, whether it is spoken or written. In Angela Anthony’s article “Output Strategies from
English-Language Learners” she discusses output not only as a product (a way to teachers to
assess learning and give a grade) but also as a learning process (2008). One way that students
acquire language is by hearing it consistently used in a correct way, but also by trying it out for
themselves. If you think of a child who is learning their first language, they begin with very
basic sentences. They have heard mom and dad using long, complex sentences but they begin


with basic words and phrases. This is similar to the stage of high school students who are
learning a second language in class.
“For example, to talk about a dog, the child would need to search through his or her
lexicon to find the word dog. Access in a first language occurs almost automatically and
without much effort. However, access in a second language requires conscious attention
as it is being acquired; automaticity occurs much later. Production strategies are used in
putting together strings of words accessed from the lexicon to form a sentence or
utterance. This requires several words to be accessed and put together in the appropriate
order to express the desired idea” (Anthony, 2008, p. 473).
When students are asked by their teacher to produce language, they are required to access
these words. By being forced to access these words, they are essentially learning the language.
Although the output they produce may not be perfect or complex, it demonstrates that students
have a foundation and that their language continuum will continue to grow and become more
automatic the more times they are required to retrieve these words.
A study from Iran focused on the effectiveness of language output, specifically written
output. In this study, research was conducted at the Islamic Azad University of Karaj in Iran.
The researchers studied 32 freshman who were majoring in English and created three different
control groups: IWPO (Immediate Written Pushed Output), DWPO (Delayed Written Pushed
Output) and Control (Birjandi & Mamaghani, 2014). After each lesson, all the groups were
given an assignment. The IWPO was given a writing assignment immediately after the lesson.
The DWPO was given a writing assignment as well, but was allowed a ten minute planning
period before completing the task. Finally, the Control group was given a traditional multiple
choice test covering the lesson information. The results showed that Written Pushed output tasks,


both with and without planning time, had positive effects on student learning. The data showed
that both the IWPO and DWPO groups scored about the same, and showed no significant
difference in student achievement. However, the study did show that the IWPO and DWPO
groups both out-performed the control group which had no written pushed output task. With this
information, we can see that even if students hear quality language all day long they will not
fully learn the language if they are never required to produce it.
Incorporation of Technology Use for Foreign Language Learners
Through the previous literature review literature and different studies, we have seen that
Input and Output are necessary for language learning. Taking this information into consideration,
how can we make technology fit into this language learning model? Many studies have shown
that students are more engaged when technology is used, but how can this be adapted to fit the
very specific needs of a foreign language classroom? One foreign language teacher, Osborne
(2013), decided to try using mobile devices in his classroom to help students’ learning processes.
Specifically, he used an app (a small computer application) that his students could access to
practice vocabulary words that resemble flash cards. This app had a variety of ways to present
the vocabulary to students. Some were simple flash-card style games, while others included
images and cognates. Osborne also found that the “experience is heavily dependent on the
quality of the app used” (p. 302). Another thing he found was that because almost all students
had access to smartphones, this gave language learning a more casual feel than formal instruction
and could be used at any time and anyplace. This constant exposure to the words, that originally
would have ended when class ended, is extended to be with students throughout the day and
helps promote memorization of the words allowing a positive effect on learning. Although the
TPRS methodology and learning-acquisition theory generally disagree with the idea of


memorization, as a teacher I believe that any extra access and exposure to words outside of the
classroom can only be seen as a positive addition to their learning.
Osborne’s (2013) study showed the technology was beneficial to student language
learning, however, it was very important that the technology was easy to use and was intriguing
to the students. One thing that makes technology more interesting and enticing to students is
when they are able to create or produce their own work, rather than just complete an assignment
or fill in a handout. Another study focuses on this very idea of using web tools to produce
language, and looked at how well students learn and how engaged they are when completing
assignments using Web 1.0 tools, Web 2.0 tools versus traditional homework assignments
(Begheri, Yamini & Behjat, 2012).

Begheri, Yamini & Behjat (2012) conducted a study in which there were five different
groups of students who were all learning English as a second language. One group did all the
homework and learning in class (traditional learning) while the four other groups were given a
different web tool to complete their written assignments in the target language. The results from
this study showed that the students with the traditional teaching methods and no technology use
scored the lowest, and the students with the best scores were those who used Web 2.0 tools
socially. This research showed that blending a classroom with web tools, in comparison to a
strictly traditional classroom setting, greatly enhanced the writing abilities of students in the
target language. Results also showed that social tools (Web 2.0) were more interesting to students
and fostered greater improvement rather than using things like emails (Web 1.0).
For digital natives, having an online social presence is a key part of their social lives and
who they are. As stated before, language output is an important process in language learning.
Students are already involved in producing and creating content on social sites using their


primary languages, why shouldn’t that technology be used in a second language as well?
Harrison and Thomas (2009) attempted to answer this question in their study which focused on
the effect of Social Networking sites in the foreign language classroom and how it may enhance
language learning through social collaboration. They found that, “Language learning that takes
place in these social networks can be based on the creation and sharing of user profiles, friends,
instant messaging, blogging and comments, as well as photos and videos“ (p. 110).
When six masters students use the social media site Livemocha, Harrison and Michael
Thomas (2009) found that students had a hard time with the site and found it to be less appealing
when comparing it with other social networking sites (like Facebook). However, students
seemed to use the social networking site (SNS) to collaborate with peers to create a strong
learning relationship. The study found that a when a SNS was a metaphor of their real lives, it
almost allowed them the feeling of “hanging out” as they would in a face to face setting. This
provided not only an educational opportunity but also an informal setting that personalized the
learning.. Although Livemocha did not seem to be well liked by the students, the ability to have a
SNS to create an online environment like “hanging out” has positive effects on students and their
language learning .
These studies have touched upon many different aspects of what language learning is and
what it can be. Language learning is complex and different for each student, however the
constant that remains for all learners is the importance of comprehensible input and engaging
students with interesting and challenging, yet understandable, language (Ieong, 2011; Krashen,
1983). Language output is also an important process and pushes students to improve their
language abilities. Output helps to demonstrate understanding of content and allows students to
express themselves in a variety of ways. Technology in the foreign language classroom has


proved challenging, especially when comprehensible input and output have been taught
traditionally for a long time. However, it is obvious that the blending technology in the language
learning process can have great effect on student proficiency when incorporated correctly,
especially in regards to giving students opportunities to create target language output and to be
social (Begheri, Yamini & Behjat, 2012).
Research Methods
Project Introduction
One research question with two aspects guided this study into the effect of social media
on foreign language learning: Does the use of a social media site support students’ ability to
write in a foreign language?
Two types of data were analyzed to measure the effect of the social media use on student
language output:
1. Did student output on written assignments improve after using Twitter?
2. Were students more engaged in the classroom activities when technology is used?

The convenience sample population was drawn from two Spanish 3 classes taught by the
researcher. These classes were chosen because they were the most linguistically advanced out of
the lower level classes, however on the language continuum, were still considered novice-high to
intermediate. They were smaller classes, therefore providing the opportunity to work closely
with students on problems or questions. It was important to work with these smaller classes, as it
was quite possible they would be faced with some challenging and confusing moments when
trying out new web tools. Also, they were the most outspoken of the classes which, this
researcher thought, would give some true and honest insight into their perceptions of technology
used at school in general, and its role in the Spanish classroom.


To begin the research, it was important to learn about the current technology skills of the
Spanish 3 students and the tools with which they were familiar. Students completed an
anonymous survey (See Appendix) to provide insight into technology use inside and outside of
the classroom:
Results from this survey showed that 79.3% of the Spanish 3 students used technology
on a daily basis in school and 64.5% already had a Twitter account set up (Figure 1). With
regard to hours per day students spent on social media sites, as can be seen in Figure 3, 51.6%
used it less than 2 hours per day, 29% used it 2-4 hours per day and 19.4% used it six or more
hours per day. Although technology seemed to make up a large part of their daily lives, when
asked if technology makes school more fun and interesting only 33% of students agreed; 20% of
the students disagreed with this statement and 43% neither agreed nor disagreed (Figure 4).

Figure 1: Percent of students responding to the
question: In an average month, how often do you
use technology at school?

Figure 2: Percent of students responding
to the question: Do you use Twitter?


Figure 3: Percent of students responding to the
question: Hours spent online using Twitter

Figure 4: Percent of students responding
to the question: Does technology make
school more interesting/fun?

These data helped to form a foundation of information about the students and their
technology use. The two Spanish 3 classes were split into two different groups. To begin the
study, Group A was given a warm up that was to be completed using Twitter, while Group B was
given a warm up to be completed traditionally in their notebooks. Each Group was given three
questions they could answer in the target language. Group A was made up of 22 students, 11
male and 11 female, and included 9 native spanish speakers in the group. Group A consisted of
20 students, 9 male and 11 female, with only 5 native spanish speakers in the class.
For Group B, this was just another normal assignment. They were familiar with the
procedures of entering the classroom, grabbing their notebooks and beginning their written warm
up. The only thing that was different was that they were able to complete only one of the three
questions, as they are usually required to respond to all. Once students had completed their
question response, they were asked to turn on their computers. A Google Form survey was
shared that asked questions about their experience completing this specific warm up. Group A


and Group B had different surveys as they completed the warm up’s in different ways. Group B
students were asked how they felt when completing the warm up, if they thought it would have
been more engaging if technology were used, and specifically how they felt about Twitter.
Later in the day, Group A was told that they did not need their notebooks as they usually
did but that they needed to log on to their Twitter account as they had been notified it would be
used in the near future in our class. One observation was that students seemed a little more
interested in what was going on. Students had complained all year about warm ups, however this
was something new and they seemed excited to be able to use their phones.
As this was the first time this researcher had ever posted anything on Twitter for people
to respond to, it took us a few minutes as a class to figure it out. One challenge that the class
faced was finding the questions the teacher wanted them to respond to. Did they go directly to
the teacher’s Twitter page? Did peers have to be following each other to see content posted?
Could students access the questions by searching the hashtag? What happens if posts were
private? Fortunately, with the help of a few tech savvy students and class collaboration,
solutions to all these questions were eventually found.
The next challenge faced was whether students should use their personal Twitter accounts
or if they should create their own school account. This was something that had never been
considered prior to the class period. After discussing this issue with the class, we came to the
conclusion that having a specific school Twitter account would be best for everyone. They did
not want anyone on Twitter to be able to see their Spanish posts, only their classmates. Some
students already had separate accounts for other teachers, some created a new account on the
spot and others simply used the account that already existed. During this class period, I was
definitely nervous that it wasn’t going to work and that students would get frustrated with trying


to answer the warm up question this way. Even though we encountered a few bumps along the
way, students continued to help me find solutions and eventually posted their responses on
Twitter. One observation noticed was that students put much more thought and effort into their
Twitter posts than they would have if they were just completing it in their journals. Group A
students really wanted to make sure their response was correct before posting; they didn’t want
to make any errors in case someone read it on Twitter and commented on it.
Once students had completed their warm up via Twitter, they were then assigned to go to
their Google account where a Google Forms Survey had been shared with them. These questions
were different from Group B’s, however still asked questions about the specific warm up they
had recently completed on Twitter. This researcher felt it was important to know how they felt
about using Twitter in class, how easy or difficult it was for them and if social media would be a
good thing to use in Spanish class more often. The results of Group A’s survey will be examined
in the Results and Analysis section of the paper.
As seen in the Table below, when the first run with Twitter was completed, the roles were
reversed for each group. For the next month, students in Group B were asked to complete their
warm ups exclusively on Twitter and Group A returned to completing warm ups traditionally in
their notebooks.


Table: Table demonstrates the action research process


Results and Analysis
The results of this study will be broken into sections based on the two driving questions
of this research. The first question:Are students more engaged in the classroom activities when
technology is used?
The results from Group A’s post Twitter survey showed that 56.3% of students found
completing the warm up on Twitter to be extremely easy and 31.3% thought it was fairly simple.
Because this class would only be completing one (1) warm up using Twitter I wanted feedback
on student engagement and if they enjoyed it. When asked if using Twitter was more fun than a
traditional written warm up, Figure 5 demonstrates that 43% strongly agreed and 12.5% agreed,


however 25% disagreed with that statement. Although not all students thought it was more fun or
interesting, when asked if they thought using Twitter exclusively to complete warmups would be
more fun, 12 of the 16 students who took the survey agreed or strongly agreed, while only 3
disagreed and 1 had no opinion, as seen in Figure 6.

Figure 5: What percent of students believed
using Twitter was easy for the warm-up

Figure 6: What percent of students thought
using Twitter was more fun that a traditional

For the first trial using Twitter, Group B did not participate and completed the warm up
traditionally in their notebooks. However, they knew this study was being done and that another
class period had completed the warm up using Twitter. I wanted to know how students felt about
this and if they had any opinions on using social media in the Spanish classroom even though
they had never tried it before. Group B’s survey produced some surprising results. As seen in
Figure 7, out of 18 students who took the survey, 6 agreed or strongly agreed that technology
would have made the warm up more engaging though 7 disagreed or strongly disagreed and 4


had no opinion. When asked if students would have enjoyed completing the warm up,
specifically on Twitter, 11 disagreed or strongly disagreed while only 3 students agreed; 4
students had no opinion (Figure 8).

Figure 7: Number of students who believed the warm-up would have been more
engaging has technology been used.


Figure 8: Number of students who thought using Twitter to complete a warm-up would be more

Figure 9: Number of students who believe using Twitter to complete warm-ups exclusively
would be more interesting.


Quite a few students seemed impartial or completely against using Twitter (See Figure 9)
or any other type of technology to complete their warm up, and had no problem completing it
traditionally even though the other class got to use Twitter. These results were unexpected,
because as a teacher, I figured students would automatically choose technology use over a pencil
and paper, especially since another equivalent class got to do something different. This was not
the case. Some reasons students from Group B gave as to why they did not necessarily want to
use Twitter included:

They did not have a school Twitter account and didn’t want to use their personal one.

They don’t use Twitter

They actually dislike any use of technology in school

Things constantly go wrong when using technology/unfavorable experiences

To complete the study, the two groups switched roles. Group A returned to the traditional
method of completing warm ups, while Group B completed warm ups exclusively on Twitter for
one month. Once the month was over, Group B was given a final survey. At the beginning of
the research, Group B was impartial to technology use and more often than not students preferred
the traditional method. At the end, it was found that student opinions about using Twitter were
still mixed: 23.1% claimed that they liked using Twitter from the beginning and still like it.
7.7% really disliked using Twitter. 23.1% weren’t sure about Twitter at the beginning, but
enjoyed it after.
30.8% said they did
not have an opinion


and that either method was fine. And finally, 15.4% would have rather completed the warm ups
Students were then asked about what they believed to be some positive and negative
effects of using Twitter. Refer to Figure 10 for student opinions about positive effects on
learning while using Twitter, and refer to Figure 11 to see some reasons students thought Twitter
had a negative effect on learning.

Figure 10: Student opinions on positive effects when using Twitter


Figure 11: Student opinions on negative effects when using Twitter
The second question used to drive this study is: Does student output on written
assignments improve after using Twitter? To analyze this data two sets of data will be compared.
The first will compare pre-Twitter writing scores (Fall final) and post-Twitter writing scores
(Spring final). Secondly, word count will be compared between the fall written final and the
spring written final. As can be seen in Figure 12, prior to beginning the research, Group A had
an average score of 47.5 points out of 50 (95%) on the fall writing final and averaged 143.4
words per paper (Figure 13). Group B began with an average score of 46.2 points out of 50
(92%) (Figure 12) and an averaged word count of 155.6 words per paper (Figure 13). At the end
of the study, Group A’s average score dropped to 47 points (94%) however had a 67.2 word
increase in word count, giving them an average of 210.2 words per paper. Group B’s average
score rose by two tenths of a point giving them an average score of 46.4 points (93%) and their
word count increased by 89.3 words, giving them an average word count of 224.9 words per


Figure 12: The average Writing Score for Group A and Group B’s Fall Writing Final and
Spring Writing Final.

Figure 13: The average word count for Group A and Group B’s Fall Writing Final and Spring
Writing Final.
The results from the data collected, as well as in-class observations, reveal several things
to help answer the driving questions of this study. In regards to student engagement there are


two aspects that one must look at: student opinions and teacher observations. As shown in the
data analysis section, students in Group B who completed warm ups on Twitter for one month
had mixed reviews. Some thought it was more interesting to use Twitter, however a majority
either disagreed or had no opinion. If given the option, many would have chosen the complete
the warm up traditionally due to a variety of different reasons. From a teacher’s perspective,
students seemed to be engaged during the warm up on Twitter. I believe students enjoyed the
online interaction with their peers via Twitter that they normally would not have received doing
it traditionally. When comparing engagement levels, no major differences in engagement during
the traditional warm up versus the Twitter warm up were observed. Using Twitter did, however,
seem to help a select few students who really disliked writing and those who had a hard time
staying focused for the duration of the written warm up; Twitter seemed to keep them captivated
for longer. To get a better idea for student engagement, in the future I would have another
teacher come in and observe students completing warm ups both ways. This may help bring in
points of view that I could never observe for myself, as well as diminish any potential bias that
the students or myself may have.
Students were asked their opinions about positive and negative effects of Twitter. A good
chunk of students said that one positive outcome of Twitter was the ability to see their peer’s
responses to questions. This was one of the main reasons Twitter was chosen as the social media
platform for this study. In hopes of improving student written output, I wondered how access to
other student responses would affect their learning? This was an important aspect for me as the
teacher to facilitate student learning. I was able to praise students who gave well-written
responses and guided students who needed help to places where they could find good work
samples from someone other than myself. Although students did not necessarily find this to be a


positive outcome of Twitter, as the teacher, I found the ability to give students immediate
feedback in real time an invaluable tool that could not be achieved traditionally. During this
study I would be logged on to Twitter at the same time students were crafting their responses. If
students did well or needed corrections, I could respond directly to them at that very moment.
Any time a comment was made on a student response they would get a notification, therefore
ensuring each student saw the feedback given. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that many
students enjoyed creating an online community with their classmates. Although we were a small,
tight-knit class already, I think the ability to communicate with one another via social media was
something they were used to and enjoyed in their lives outside of the classroom, therefore
making an interesting and comfortable transition inside the classroom.
Another surprising finding was that by the end of the research period, 27.8% of the
Group B students did not find anything wrong with using Twitter. This was interesting because
from the beginning of the study and throughout, students did not seem to be that interested in
using social media in the Spanish classroom and it seemed to be almost a nuisance to them.
Some students also expressed that they preferred writing by hand, rather than typing out their
responses. I believe that written output practiced traditionally is a crucial aspect of language
learning, and that typing in the second language is not something that should be done
Data in regards to written output improvement through the use of Twitter produced some
interesting findings as well. At the beginning of the study, Group A held a slightly higher written
score average than Group B did. By the end the study, Group A still had a higher average
however their scores decreased while Group B’s scores increased. One thing that should be taken


into account is the number of native spanish speakers in each class. Group A had 7, while Group
B only had 5 native speakers. Did this have have a major effect on the average class score?
In regards to average word count, Group B’s increased from the fall writing final to the
spring final. Overall, Group B used an average of 22 more words than students in Group A on the
spring final (Figure 14). When beginning this research, I was unsure how much word count could
actually tell me about student learning; more words used does not always mean that the content
and grammar is better than someone who used less words. However, surprisingly to me, the data
from this study showed that those with a higher word count did in fact receive higher test scores.

*C and D ranges were not included as there was not enough data to create an average,
however both had lesser word counts than those with higher scores.

Figure 14: The average word count on the Spring writing final for different grade ranges

When looking at the data, it does seem that students in Group B demonstrated improved
written output. However, can this gain be contributed to simply using Twitter for warm ups? A


few things should be taken into account when determining implications about student learning
from this result:
1. The amount of time Group B used Twitter was fairly short (one month). Was one month

really enough time for students to improve their written output?
2. Was a 5-10 minute warm up per day using the social media enough time to have an affect

on student learning?
With these questions in mind, in the future, questions also arise with regard to better ways to
measure the degree of impact Twitter alone has on student learning. Learning is a complex
process and impact can come from many different sources, activities and events therefore the
question of whether it is possible to observe and pinpoint how much effect this one specific tool
had on student writing over such a short experimental period must be considered.
After reviewing data, reflecting on student opinions, combined with personal
observations, Twitter seems to have a positive impact on student language output and should be
considered as a tool to use in the foreign language classroom. Twitter allows students to
communicate and collaborate in the target language while also giving the teacher the ability to
give immediate, individual feedback. Data shows that Group B made some small improvements
in overall scores in comparison to their fall scores. Although they still did not score better than
Group A overall, Group A’s average score actually dropped slightly. Group B also made some
large increases in the average word count used in their writing. This information tells us that
students didn’t suffer from this research and learning was in no way hindered by the use of this
tool; if anything, it was another way of practicing the language and may very well have had a
positive effect on student learning.


Student opinions were mixed on how enjoyable and engaging Twitter was, and many
preferred writing to typing, this leads one to conclude that Twitter is a good tool to use now and
then, but not on a daily basis. Incorporating Twitter into a common class activity seems to be a
great option, instead of completing eliminating a traditional written warm up. I believe a
blended approach using traditional writing and online social media collaboration is the perfect
solution. This will not cause overuse for either method, therefore hopefully keeping engagement
high and reducing boredom. In the future, I hope to incorporate Twitter use into all my classes at
all levels throughout an entire school year, and strive to search for more ways technology and
social media can be used to improve student written output.


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