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1.0 Introduction English is taught as a second language in all Malaysian schools which is also a compulsory subject in both primary and secondary schools. Over the years, the teaching and learning of English in Malaysia has been under fire due to the level of language competency among Malaysians. Low language ability and motivation in the language has resulted in various efforts to ensure that English becomes a strong second language among Malaysians. At the same time, the world has seen many changes technologically and this has caused the world to become relatively smaller and borderless. New technology has provided many benefits and advantages in various fields. It is imperative that second language (L2) classes plug into the advancement of technology to capitalize on the social and academic opportunities that high-tech learning has to offer. Unfortunately, elearning tools have yet to be viewed as a mainstream component of second language teaching and have yet to become a foundational element used in L2 classes. There is a need to develop learning and teaching training through hightech means especially the Internet in order to improve English language proficiency.

1.1 Background of the study

The process of teaching and learning of English is constantly undergoing changes in line with the development of the nation's vision in producing younger generations that are engaged in facing new challenges in the era of globalisation. Teachers are no longer restricted to imparting knowledge but it extends toward producing holistic, competitive and true to the market needs students. Good English language proficiency is needed in order to compete in the world today. Efforts to improve the teaching and learning of the English language are needed to improve the language proficiency among students, therefore the teacher must seek new teaching and learning approaches.

Nowadays, it is no longer the teacher or the student who remain central in the learning process but the learning process itself has become significant. A Learning process has become independent of place and time. Learning does not only occur in the classroom. With the advancement of technology, learning has become possible any time or anywhere. In addition, the choice of what technology is situation dependent. A triangle between teacher, student, and content should be further explored as new possibilities emerge. What content, which pedagogical approach and with what technology to use should be considered (Hudson, 2008). A gradual but significant change has taken place resulting in less emphasis on teachers and teaching and more stress on learners and teaching (Abdul Samad & Sakdev Singh, 2010).

With the introduction of social networking sites and the consequent changes in education, the question arises whether students are able to deal with social networking sites as a learning tool. In view of the fact that Facebook is currently considered as the most popular site for online social networking, it would be beneficial to investigate if there are activities that directly or indirectly lead to the learning of English as a second language among secondary students in Malaysia. It is estimated that there are 845 million active registered users of Facebook, with 50% users logging in to Facebook on any given day and more than 425 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices ( 2012). These figures clearly show us that Facebook is a popular platform of social networking and is most likely to continue in the upcoming years.

Over the last decade, the Internet has had a profound effect on the private and professional lives of Malaysian citizens, offering them an increasing number and range of opportunities for accessing information, gaining and exchanging knowledge and realising personal learning goals. The number of Facebook users in Malaysia has surpassed the 12 million mark. According to social media statistics portal, the estimated total now stands at 12,193,600 users ( 2012). The largest age group is currently 18 to 24 year olds with total of 4 145 824 users, followed by the users in the age group of 25 34. Given the huge number of Facebook users, would Facebook be an efficient learning environment for secondary students to facilitate their learning of English as a second language? What are the views of secondary students of learning

English through Facebook? Can Facebook truly augment and support students in terms of learning English as a second language?

1.2 Statement of the problem

Knowing the fact that English is important, many changes have been done to improve the teaching and learning of English in Malaysian schools. Malaysian students are lacking in the competency of English language skills and have a low motivation towards the language. Therefore, it is crucial for students to improve their language ability through the use of appropriate learning strategies. Furthermore, globalisation has encouraged the use of the Internet across the world. Information is shared through an extensive network system connected by users of the Internet across the globe. Internet usage is further expanded with the use of social networking sites which connects users among each other. Social networking sites are used to build communities where they can share activities, interest, opinions among many other things.

In Malaysia, the number of Facebook users has exceeded the twelve million mark, with teenage users making up nearly 35% of them (, 2012). With this high penetration rate among Malaysian teenagers, the possibility for social networking sites like Facebook to become an English language learning tool among secondary school students is feasible. Most researches in Malaysia have been done to determine the use of social networking sites as a learning tool among learners in higher education (Kabilan et al, 2010; Zaidatun et al, 2011).

There is a lack of research among the use of social networking sites among secondary school students especially in learning the English language. This study will identify the secondary school students' general practices or uses of Facebook and whether they regard Facebook as an online environment to facilitate English language learning. Little is known about the practices of Malaysian secondary school students' practices when engaged in Facebook.

Our failure to identify Malaysian secondary school students' pattern of general practices and uses in Facebook and their perception of English language learning through Facebook could result in a huge loss. We will never fully comprehend what it is that our secondary school students do on Facebook or the reasons why they choose or do not choose to participate. The biggest loss, however, is that we will never be able to take full advantage of the social networking site, Facebook, which is readily available at our disposal or realise its full potentials. Thus, in this study, the researcher aims to identify the students' general practices or uses of Facebook and whether students consider Facebook as an online environment that facilitates their English language learning.

1.3 Purpose of the study The purpose of this study is to investigate if students consider FB as a useful and meaningful learning environment that could support, enhance and/or strengthen their learning of the English language. This research would enable educators and researchers to identify and comprehend how online social networking sites such as FB could contribute to English language learning. In addition, a better picture of how second or even foreign language learners could improve their language ability through online social networking sites, especially in terms of writing, reading and vocabulary. With such knowledge, researchers and practitioners will be able to devise and develop specific, appropriate and creative pedagogical ideas or methods that make effective use of FB for English language learning.

1.3.1 Research Objectives

The objectives of this study are as follows:

1. to identify students' general practices or uses of Facebook and, 2. to identify whether the students consider Facebook as an online environment that facilitates their English language learning.

1.3.2 Research Questions

The research questions for this study are:

1. What are students' general practices or uses of Facebook? 2. Do the students consider Facebook as an online environment that facilitates their English language learning?

1.4 Rationale of the study

Most studies on social networking sites have been focused on university students. Very little research has been done on the benefits of social networking sites for secondary school students across the world and nearly non-existent in Malaysia. The National Board Association (2007) found that in America, the topic of most conversation at these social networking sites is education and 60 percent of the students' survey said they use the sites to talk about education topics and more than 50 percent use it to talk about specific schoolwork (p. 17), thus it would be interesting to see whether similar findings will be found in the Malaysian context. This study will contribute to the existing literature and fill the gap in literature.

1.4.1 Conceptual Framework of the Study The conceptual framework of the study is summarised below in Figure 1.1: Figure 1.1: Conceptual Framework of the Study

Research Questions 1) Questionnaire to students

- Five level Likert Scale - Open-ended Questions

2) Semi-structured Interview
- Random selection

Demographic Information: i) Gender ii) English proficiency level

General practices or uses of Facebook

Students perception English language learning in Facebook

Figure 1: Conceptual Framework of the study Quantitative Data Analysis Qualitative Data Analyis

Report Data Analysis

The researcher will conduct a survey among secondary school students to gather data on their general practices and uses of Facebook and identify whether the students consider Facebook as an online environment that facilitates their English language learning as illustrated in Figure 1.

1.5 Significance of the study

This study will be a significant endeavour in promoting the teaching and learning of English for secondary school students in Malaysia. This study will also be beneficial to the students and teachers in effective learning and teaching strategies using new mechanisms of technology. By understanding the practices and expectations of secondary school students of Facebook, teachers and students will benefit as leaning will occur. Moreover, this research will provide discussions and recommendations on how to evaluate the future use of Facebook in accordance to the teaching and learning of English as a second language. This study will be helpful to the field of second language teaching and learning through social networking sites. It will also serve as a future reference for researches on the subject of second language teaching and learning.

1.6 Limitations of the study

One assumption of the study is limited generalization of the quantitative research results to a wider population. Not all secondary school students participated in the study and the sample population is a small figure of the actual population. The study is conducted in two secondary schools within the Timur Laut District in the state of Pulau Pinang.

1.7 Definition of terms

For a clearer understanding of the terms used in this study, below are their meanings: i) Facebook - a free online social networking site with 70 languages and various applications. ii) Community of practice (CoP) CoP is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. iii) Online community of practice - a group of people with similar goals or interests who connect and exchange information using web tools. iv) Social networking sites (SNS) SNS are sites which allow users to set up online profiles or personal homepages, and develop an online social network. The profile page functions as the users own webpage and includes profile information such as gender, religion, interests and many others. v) Second Language Acquisition (SLA) - the process by which people learn a second language. vi) Second language (L2) - Second language refers to any language learned in addition to a person's first language. vii) Web 2.0 - Web 2.0 is an enhanced Web application that enables dynamic user interaction, collaboration, and user-created content. Web 2.0 is the platform that supports social media tools such as blogs, podcasts, and wikis. Web 2.0 enables social media applications such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.



LITERATURE REVIEW 2.0 Introduction The information revolution associated with social networking sites is an outcome of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is a blanket term used to refer to both a host of social media tools such as blogs, wikis, podcast, social networking tools. According to Davis (2010), Web 2.0 is dynamic and interactive; it has enabled anyone to create digital content without knowledge of program coding. Web 2.0 has contributed to the growth of information available on the Internet. In the last decade research has illustrated how the Internet and various communication technologies also support meaningful educational experiences (Belz & Kinginger, 2002; Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Sykes, 2005; Arnold & Ducate, 2006). Social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, Ning, and MySpace, which are the typical application of Web 2.0 technology, have been popular and widespread across multiple age groups in different educational institutions over the past few years). The educational possibilities of social networking tools have been a recurring subject and as such warrants attention.

2.1 Malaysia English language scenario

Malaysia is known for a multi-racial country with a combined population of more than 28 million people who are multicultural and multiethnic society consisting of Bumiputera, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups. Although Malay is the official language, English is widely spoken especially when it comes


to business and English is a compulsory subject in schools. The diverse ethnic composition results in many religious practices like Islam, Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism with Islam being the official religion of the country. Malaysia is made up of two regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia with Kuala Lumpur being the capital city.

Since the dawn of independence in 1957, education has figured predominantly as the integral part of the governments development policy. Education has undergone tremendous change and development over the years. Malaysia has been keen in nation-building, and busy enhancing its national unity through a unified educational system, a national curriculum in which Bahasa Melayu (national language) has been the medium of instruction and communication technology have enhance quality education. Recent curricular revision has encouraged student-centred pedagogical approach which brought about the inclusion of a positive attitude to knowledge and skills.

Bahasa Melayu (BM) has been used as the medium of instruction for all subjects in Malaysia schools for more than thirty years. In 2003, the Malaysian educational system switched to using English to teach Mathematics and Science in its schools. This policy is known as Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Melayu or its acronym (PPSMI). The government of the day rationalized that Malaysia must maintain a competitive edge in the face of globalization. Imran Abdullah and Muhammad Yahya (2006) stated that using English in Science and Technology would enhance and facilitate the acquisition


and access to science and technology more rapidly. They also added that using English would also be an added advantage in promoting Malaysia as a regional and international education hub. However, after six years of implementation, PPSMI was reverted due to the decline in the results of Science and Mathematics. MBMMBI (To Uphold Bahasa Malaysia & To Strengthen the English Language) was introduced to replace PPSMI with the main aim of strengthening the English language.

In Malaysia, the role of English is more important today as Malaysians need the proficiency and aptitude in the language for a variety of reasons. In terms of usage, English still remains the universal language and the main medium of instruction of the Internet. English is also used as a medium of instruction in private colleges and most literary references are in English. Hence, proficiency in the English language becomes important.

According to Asmah (1992) there has been a drop in the attainment level of English among Malaysians and this is proven by the results of English language in schools, colleges and universities. The decline in the English language proficiency and its effects on the secondary school students academic achievement are further explained by the SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) results. The percentage who scored A+ for English in SPM 2010 was only 3.7% (The Star, 2011). Of late, the declining standard of English has taken its toll, in other words its plunge is so rapid apart from all the measures taken by Ministry of Education to uphold the standard of English in Malaysia until our current


Minister of education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has suggested to make it compulsory to pass English before getting a secondary school certificate (Utusan, 2011). Making it compulsory to pass English would create another set of problems especially for learners and the quality of English being used. To increase Malaysian's proficiency in the English language, there should be a revamp in teaching and learning pedagogical approaches. Teachers should be given training on current second language acquisition and up to date pedagogical approaches to improve English language proficiency among students (Saran Kaur Gill, 2002).

2.2 Technology in second language classrooms

One of the fundamental facts about languages is that they are always changing in time, albeit if slowly. New technologies have been attributed to language change as a result of the way language users generally realign their language use to reflect social and technological evolution. This involves creation & innovation in language use (Hazadiah et al, 2010). According to Prensky (2008), todays technology, though, offers students all kinds of new, highly effective tools they can use to learn on their own from the Internet with almost all the information, to search and research tools to sort out what is true and relevant, to analysis tools to help make sense of it, to creation tools to present ones findings in a variety of media, to social tools to network and collaborate with people around the world.


Educational technology provides a fundamental theoretical basis for research and practice in teaching and learning. The field of educational technology is relatively new and has been defined as the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources (Richey et al. 2008). The main element, which supports the evolution of current educational technology, is the Internet. It has developed at an unprecedented speed over the last 20 years. The Internet started as a new, open system of information sharing between a few thousand scientists and evolved into a worldwide force for economic growth for billions of people.

Research of technology in second language classrooms have been done vigorously over the past decade (Theobald, 2011; Roblyer et al, 2010) and many support the use of technology in the classroom. The education community continues to establish the role of technology innovations in the classroom. Baird and Fisher (2006) suggests the effective use of social networking and media technologies provides course designers and instructors with the ability to interject emotion in the online space, thereby providing opportunities to make emotional connections with classmates just as they do in the real time world of the brick and mortar classroom model (p.14).

It is indisputable that technology has become a natural part of everyday life and is now infiltrating the language education sector (Promnitz-Hayashi, 2011). There are numerous technology tools which can be integrated into the


classroom and used outside class, such as chat, email, blogging and social networking, to name a few. Social networking has increased in popularity in recent years and sites such as MySpace and Facebook can be a very useful tool in the classroom as they promote both target language use while also promoting learner autonomy among language students. For language learners to participate in an increasingly digital world, they will need to use the technology via English to meet their social, personal and educational needs. To do this, they need to learn to navigate the Web, using it to find information and often to provide information. To access information on the Web, learners need to be online, that is, using a computer that is connected to the Internet. The Internet is the worldwide network of computer networks that connects computer users who gain access through an ISP (Internet Service Provider). Research has shown that using computer-mediated communication can facilitate language learning (Murray & McPherson, 2004). Murray and McPherson (2004) have identified three advantages of teaching and learning languages through the Internet which are authentic language use, allow scaffolding among learners and students will learn new literacies.

2.3 Social Networking Sites (SNS)

2.3.1 Background

Recent developments of the World Wide Web are collectively often called Web 2.0 technologies, referring to a shift toward more interactive Web-based


applications that derive the majority of their content from users themselves. Examples of recent Web 2.0 technologies include: weblogs, social bookmarking; personalized photo and video sharing; online social networking sites; wikis, and RSS feeds (Ryan, 2008). With the rise of Web 2.0 technologies, computer-mediated communication has entered a new stage of networked individualism, where communities are situated within the context of ones online identity, allowing one to maintain an extensive network of both strong and weak social ties (Ryan, 2008). People have new and varied ways to communicate via the Internet due to social networking sites. People can easily create their own online page or profile to communicate with their network of contacts. Among the examples of social networking sites are MySpace, Bebo, Twitter and Facebook.

Boyd and Ellison (2007) define social networking sites as web-based services that allow individuals to:

1. construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, 2. articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and 3. view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.

Social network sites allow individuals to meet strangers, as well as they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise be made. The rapid growth of social networking sites in recent years indicates that they are


mainstream communication technology among people (Baird & Fisher, 2006; Boyd & Ellison, 2007) and are likely to continue (Redecker, Ala-Mutka, & Punie, 2010). Table 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3, shows the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of SNS respectively.

Table 2.1: Characteristics of SNS Characteristics Profile of oneself Description The basic level of entry in most SNS is the 'profile' which is a personalised entry of the user. While SNSs have implemented a wide variety of technical features, their backbone consists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends who are also users of the system. SNS support new ways for people to connect between themselves. Users of these sites may choose to communicate through various digital objects, such as tags and in-built applications within the SNS. SNS provide the ideal platforms through which users with similar values and interests can come together to collaborate effectively and cheaply. A major attribute of SNS' popularity is their simplicity. Anyone with basic internet skills can create and manage an online SNS presence. SNS are free of charge and open for anyone to join. Most of them require registration, while others limit membership through an invitation from members who are already members of the site.

New ways for community formation Sharing

Ease of use

Table 2.2: Advantages of SNS 18

Advantages 1) Sense of community 2) Ease of interaction 3) Sharing

Description Users of social networking sites may develop a sense of community among each other (Promnitz-Hayashi, 2011). Users may easily interact with one another in the comfort of their own homes. Interaction has indeed become easier and flexible (Ashraf Jalel, 2012). Users of social networking sites share interests, knowledge and others during their interactions (Boyd & Ellison, 2007).

Table 2.3: Disadvantages of SNS Disadvantages 1) Privacy Description Social networking sites are open for anyone who wants to participate. Studies have shown that users will express very powerful concerns about privacy of their personal information, but be less than vigilant about safeguarding it (Ashraf Jalel, 2012). The integrity of friendship developed through social networking sites can be questionable. Information may not be accurate, honest and reliable (Ashraf Jalel, 2012). Asraf Jalel (2012) states that social networking sites may affect on health of individuals who spend too much time on it, because spending a lot of time browsing these social networks can affect the way the genes operate within the human body, and weakens the immune and hormone levels, and function of arteries. Social networking sites do not afford the users with the same opportunities of explanation and clarification that occur in face-to- face interaction, therefore there is a possibility of miscommunication. Face to face allow individuals to body language whereas in an online environment these are lacking.

2) Surface friendship

3) Health

4) Miscommunication

2.3.2 History of Social Networking Sites


During the early stages of social networking sites, some of the most popular early web services consisted of online matchmaking, classified ads, and virtually establishing ones offline relationships (Boyd & Ellison, 2007; the virtual campfire). The first recognizable social network site,, was launched in 1997 and it allowed users to create profiles, list their Friends and surf the Friends lists. (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). SixDegrees promoted itself as a tool to help people connect with and send messages to others. While SixDegrees attracted millions of users, it failed to become a sustainable business (Boyd & Ellison, 2007) and due to both the limited number of people using the Internet at the time as well as a lack of new interactive features, in the year 2000, the service closed (Ryan, 2008).

The next wave of SNSs began when was launched in 2001 to help people leverage their business networks. Ryze's founder reports that he first introduced the site to his friendsprimarily members of the San Francisco business and technology community (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). However, Ryze never acquired mass popularity, grew to attract a passionate niche user base, LinkedIn became a powerful business service, and Friendster became the most significant but eventually lost its popularity due to profile regulations which prompted MySpace to grow rapidly by capitalizing on Friendster's alienation of its users. Teenagers began joining MySpace en masse in 2004 (Boyd & Ellison, 2007).


Unlike previous SNSs, Facebook was designed to support distinct college networks only. Facebook began in early 2004 as a Harvard-only SNS. In 2006, Facebook founders allowed the site to become mainstream and have now become the most popular form of social networking (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Facebook is a social network service that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. According to Facebook, there are 901 million monthly active users at the end of March 2012 and during March 2012, on average 398 million users were active with Facebook on at least six out of the last seven days (, 2012). These statistics show that Facebook is indeed a very popular social networking site for the masses. Below is Figure 2.2 which illustrates the timeline of major social networking sites.


Figure 2.1 Timeline of the launch dates of many major SNSs and dates when community sites re-launched with SNS features (taken from Boyd and Ellison, 2007) 2.3.2 Social Networking Sites for Learning

Social networking sites serve many purposes including networking, communication, recruitment, and sharing knowledge. Social networking media engages the user in the content and allows them to be included as an active participant as they construct a learning landscape rooted in social interaction, 22

knowledge exchange, and optimum cognitive development with their peers (Baird & Fisher, 2006, p.24). SNS are already affecting the ways in which people find, create, share and learn knowledge, through rich media opportunities and in collaboration with each other (Redecker, Ala-Mutka, & Punie, 2010).

With social networking sites playing an increasingly important role in today's society, educators are exploring how they can be used as a teaching and learning tool. Membership in social networking sites is increasing rapidly. The proliferation of digital, social and mobile technologies has created a culture in which youth participate more in creating and sharing content, profoundly changing the way students communicate, interact, and learn. According to Phillips and colleagues (2011), in many cases students spend as much (or more) time online in an informal learning environment where they interact with peers and receive feedback rather than they do with their teachers in the traditional classroom.

2.3.1 Facebook for learning

In an article focused on social networking site applications, Demski (2009) discussed how 49 primary schools have created internal social networking sites to support learning, develop communities, and prepare students for the real world. These internal SNS primarily support writing performance and collaboration. Skiba (2008 as cited in Davis, 2010) studied the use of Twitter in higher education to facilitate discussions and tweet or message, nuggets of knowledge.


In Malaysia, various researches on benefits of Facebook usage among students of higher education have been explored (Hazadiah et al, 2010; Kabilan et al, 2010; Zaidatun et al, 2011). Research on using Facebook for teaching and learning of History among secondary school students by Mohamad and Mohamad Shariff (2011) found that social networking sites were able to increase motivation to learn and student understanding. It is therefore, possible for Facebook to become a learning tool.

With the popularity of Facebook among various walks of life, it is entirely possible for it to become a tool for learning English among students. While the age demographics among Facebook users have changed rapidly, the teenager user base has been increasing with 13-18 age demographic growing (Theobald, 2011). From a pedagogical perspective, Ertmer (2005) believes high-level technology such as synchronous chat, discussion forums and social networking websites are usually promoting constructivist practices in which the students have to collaborate as compared to low tech variety such as Microsoft Office applications. According to Luke (2006), Internet-based activities can involve quality learning experiences through specific communication technologies that are transforming society. High-tech e-learning technologies are the way of the present and the future and, as Prensky (2007) noted, the twenty-first century will be characterized by even more enormous, exponential technological change. Facebook is a powerful learning tool that is not only built off of the synchronous and asynchronous technologies that has transformed learning but has also extended the reach of those communicative tools.


There are various applications within Facebook, among them is Groups. Joining Groups in which users share similar interests is another feature that is extremely popular on this Social Network Sites (SNS) and it is the pedagogical potentials of this particular application. Any user can create a group which can be open to any users or restricted to a targeted, pre-selected audience. The very nature of the site is rooted in community building, social networking, and interpersonal relationships but the Group application can be utilize in language classes in a variety of constructive manners. As Garrison and Kanuka (2004) pointed out, a sense of community is necessary to sustain a dynamic and meaningful educational experience over time and is a valuable asset to promote higher level thinking and the construction of knowledge.

Recent investigations have pointed out that Facebook can have a positive effect on the student-to-student and student-to-teacher relationship (Mazer, Murphy & Simmonds, 2007). Mazer and his colleagues noted that by accessing a social networking sites, students may see similarities with peers and instructors personal interest which can lead to more comfortable communication and learning outcomes. Erik Mobrand, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore (Ragupathi , 2011), highlights three pedagogical advantages of Facebook: 1) engage students in a discussion; 2) allow students to easily post and view video clips and pictures and; 3) bring the learning environment to students social space.


Students are fully engaged in 21st century technology, therefore, it is reasonable to assume that they will rapidly take advantage of such opportunities to collaborate and develop a mutual interdependence if they have not yet done so. According to Blattner and Fiori (2009), technology is an inherent part of students daily activities. Teachers need to capitalize on the fact that Facebook is already an integral part of many students e-routine. Consequently, if educators decide to provide guidance to the students to use such a site it will be an invaluable asset to their educational and social experience. This makes Facebook and its Group application a very noteworthy learning tool ripe for introduction into the language classroom. Although Facebook's primary purpose is to provide an online communication platform for users to make new friends and interact with them, it can also foster online communities of practice for students to work together to enhance collaborative learning.

2.4 Communities of practices (CoP)

The theory of Community of Practice (CoP) was first coined by Lave and Wenger (1991) and used it to describe learning through practice and participation. CoP puts an emphasis on communication, sharing of ideas, passions, common problems and issues, and learning together as a team. Community of practice was a term coined by Lave and Wenger nearly two decades ago. Although the term is relatively new, the concept, however, is not. Historically, communities of practice have been formed everywhere and we are generally involved in them, whether at work, home or for leisure and interest. According to Lave and Wenger (1991),


community of practice is defined as: a group of people who share a concern, a set of problems or a passion about a topic and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis (p 4). In a community of practice members interact and engage mutually with one another; sharing ideas and stories as they work, have lunch, or socialise outside of work. Through this mutual engagement, knowledge is shared and created. Members also share insights, adopt or critique others practices and share frustrations (Iverson & McPhee, 2002). Mutual engagement is understood as relationships that are grounded in mutual interest, not just information exchange, networking, or interaction. Communities of practices support engagement by facilitating members to share what they have done and what they have been (Brosnan & Burgess, 2003).

Practice is the unifying factor in a community of practice. It is important to understand that communities of practice are about shared practices and are learning communities (Wenger, 1998). People in a community of practice have a certain level of competence and knowledge of a domain (Lai et al, 2006). It implies that they learn together through joint activities and build a community around a domain. In a typical CoP, there is a range of levels and types of expertise to support the knowledge creation and sharing process. Members in a community of practice have different roles, such as moderators, mentors, and learners (Fontaine, 2001).

2.4.1 Online Community of Practice (CoP)


With the advent of the Internet, communities of practice have expanded into the virtual world. According to Baran (2006), many online communities of practice have emerged due to the development of new information and communication technologies and have become important for learning and teaching. The main features of Facebook are ideal for online communication and sharing, thus it is an ideal platform to implement online CoP environments. In online communities of practice, communication is primarily computer-mediated rather than face to face (Molphy, Pocknee & Young, 2007). Unlike conventional communities of practice, online communities overcome barriers of time and distance and offer advantages of convenience and flexibility as communication can occur at any time and from any place (Lieberman & Mace, 2010). Since the membership of online CoPs is more open compared to that of conventional CoPs, their sizes, consequently, are also relatively bigger.

Preece (2000, p.10) defines online communities of practice in terms of its four defining characteristics, which are people who interact socially to satisfy their own needs or perform special roles; a shared purpose, such as interest, need, information exchange or service that provides a reason for the community; policies in the form of tacit assumptions, rituals, protocols, rules and laws that guide peoples interactions; computer systems to support and mediate social interaction and facilitate a sense of togetherness. Research identified the importance of creating a community of learners in educational environments a few decades ago and defined the term sense of community in a variety of ways (McMillan & Chavis, 1986; Lave & Wenger


1991) among them as mutual interdependence among members, connectedness, trust, interactivity and shared expectations and goals. Davidson and Goldberg (2009) states that the single most important characteristic of the Internet is its capacity to allow for a worldwide community and its endlessly myriad subsets to exchange ideas, to learn from one another in a way not previously available. These positive characteristics create an intrinsically rewarding reason to continue participation in such a group (Kuo, 2003).

2.4.2 Facebook as an online community of practice

Facebook can be an asset in building an online community of practice. Facebook offers opportunities for learners to connect on different levels. Collaborative learning through discussion can foster the development of critical thinking, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of others ideas (Gokhale, 1995, p.25). Social networking sites have created an (online) community that is able to draw from multiple social Web resources to meet a learners intrinsic needs, while still providing opportunities to participate with their peers in a collaborative, social exchange of information (Baird & Fisher, 2006, p.23). Facebook, if used appropriately, fulfils the criteria of an online community of practice.

Students can use online tools to discuss school work, confer with friends, and seek assistance. An established online community simply provides them a moderated, centralized location to do what many of them are already doing. Facebook can also be an important tool to increase general communication


between student and student and between student and teacher. Aside from responding to the discussion on the wall, students can post questions to be answered by other students or by the teacher. Also, Facebook has a chat feature allowing immediate feedback to address trouble with assignments or other general questions. The sense of community cultivated online could carry over into the face-to-face classroom and promote a stronger sense of community in the physical class (Theobald, 2011).

Networking, socializing, and discussing are all things that many students are already doing in virtual spaces. According to Theobald (2011), creating an educational space that taps into that already existent craze seems a natural transition. Students can debate and discuss in real time and stretch the confines of the traditional classroom. Thus, Facebook as an online community of practice will enrich the students' experience in learning English.

2.5 Conceptual foundations and theoretical background

By providing additional avenues and purposeful communication among students and teachers such as social networking sites, it can become a contributor to successful learning. According to Robyler and colleagues (2010), interaction is a key indicator of quality in online learning. This heading attempts to identify various theories that are embedded in social networking sites.

2.5.1 Vygotskys Theory of Social Constructivism


Online CoPs subscribe to the social constructivism theory of learning (Murugaiah, Azman, Yaacob & Siew, 2010). As Facebook is identified as an online CoP therefore this theory would be applicable. Unlike earlier theories that claim that learning is largely a product of behavioural and later, cognitive, process, Vygotskys theory of social constructivism contends that learning is a social and collaborative activity (Liu & Matthews, 2005). Learners, according to Vygotskys theory of social constructivism, are active constructors, or coconstructors, of their own knowledge (Liu & Matthews, 2005). Proponents of social constructivism favor processes over products. Constructivist learning environments support collaborative construction of knowledge through social negotiation, not competition among learners for recognition (Powell, 2008). Students will construct their own knowledge through their interactions with others in their Facebook interaction.

New information gained via the course of these interactions is then fitted to the existing mental schemas in our head (Johnson, 2001). Learning, therefore, is the result of the continuous process of negotiation of meaning and adjustment of our mental models or schemas to accommodate new experiences (Brooks, 2002). Facebook allow students to get together to exchange ideas, resources and expertise. They also have the opportunity to engage in collaborative problem solving. Students who participate in Facebook to learn English work together to construct new knowledge and adjust their existing one (Sobrero & Craycraft, 2008). Whatever they learn through these virtual interactions is therefore the


product of a social and collaborative process, which is aligned with Vygotskys view on learning.

2.5.2 Laves Theory of Situated Learning

Social networking sites such as Facebook are also in line with Laves theory of situated learning. Similar to Vygotskys theory of social constructivism, Laves theory also views social interaction as a critical component of learning (Hanewald & Gesthuizen, 2009). Learning, according to Lave (1991; as cited in Drisoll, 2000), is situated within an authentic activity, context and culture, hence the term situated learning. Stein (1998; as cited in Powell, 2008) claims that situated learning is to place thought and action in a specific place and time and in everyday actions and social processes. For learning to occur, students must be placed in a real-world situation or authentic context and allowed to interact with other people (Powell, 2008).

The focus of situated learning is on learning by doing and on addressing real problems (Heeter, 2005). This explains why Lave (1991) suggests for learners to be placed or participate in communities of practice. Participating in SNSs which allow for CoPs allows students to interact with other students and construct knowledge with the help of others. Students who participate in Facebook, for instance, have the opportunity to discuss real problems with regard to learning English and work collaboratively to solve them. The SNSs, themselves, serve as the authentic context in which learning could take place.


Solving problems about English language learning requires students to interact with other students (Heeter, 2005). Language learning cannot and must not be separated from the context of its use (Swain, 1995).

2.5.3 Incidental Learning

Incidental learning refers to some form of unintentional or unplanned learning within an informal or formal learning situation that often results from other activities (Marsick & Watkins, 2001; Kerka, 2000). It is a natural way of learning and has characteristics of what is considered most effective in learning situations as it is situated, contextual and social (Kerka, 2000). Fodor (as cited in Mealman, 1993) defines incidental learning as a natural and individual response to the learning experience as a whole. According to Kerka (2000), incidental learning

through observation, repetition, social interactions, problem solving, implicit meanings in classrooms, by watching and talking to colleagues or experts about tasks, from mistakes, beliefs, assumptions and attributions.

These characteristics often occur in social networking sites when users interact with each other and incidental learning may have occurred without users realising it.


Incidental learning has its advantages and disadvantages. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of incidental learning.

Table 2.4: Advantages and disadvantages of Incidental Learning Advantages - can result in improved competence - changed attitudes - growth in interpersonal skills - growth in self-confidence or selfawareness - personally meaningful Disadvantages - hit or miss nature - often not recognised as learning by learners or others - can easily result in misconceptions and uncertainty of the learned material

2.5.4 Second language acquisition (SLA): Swain's Output Hypothesis

In the 1980s, the word output was used to indicate the outcome, or product, of the language acquisition device. Output was synonymous with what the learner has learned, however Swain believes the act of producing language constitutes as a part of the second language learning process therefore the term has shifted in meaning towards process (Swain, 2007). Krashen (1984) believed that we acquire language in only one way which is when we understand messages in that language and when we receive comprehensible input. Swain however had doubts particularly about the argument that comprehensible input was the only true cause of SLA (2007). Swain (1995) claims that practicing the language helps learners observe their own production, which is essential to SLA. It is her contention that


output may stimulate learners to move from the semantic, open-ended nondeterministic, strategic processing prevalent in comprehension to the complete grammatical processing needed for accurate production (Swain, 1995: 128). Swain (1995) identifies three functions of output:

1. the noticing / triggering function - The claim here is that while attempting to

produce the target language, learners may notice that they do not know how to say (or write) precisely the meaning they wish to convey. The activity of producing the target language may prompt second language learners to recognize consciously some of their linguistic problems: it may bring their attention to something they need to discover about their second language.

2. the hypothesis testing function - The claim here is that output may sometimes be, from output may sometimes be, from the learners perspective, a trial the learners perspective, a trial run reflecting their hypothesis run reflecting their hypothesis of how to say (or write) their of how to say (or write) their intent.

3. metalinguistic (reflective) function of output - The claim here is that using language to reflect on language produced by others or the self, mediates second language learning.

Upon interacting in social networking sites, students may notice that they cannot say what they want to say in the target language. Therefore, they will start


to notice that the language form is different from their own use. As they try to produce output in the desired target language they are undergoing various hypothesis testing of how to say something correctly. As they produce output, students reflect on the language produced either individually or through collaborative dialogue with other students. Learning English through Facebook may be feasible as it allows students to produce desired target language.

Swain explains that learners may notice a gap between what they want to say and what they can say, leading them to recognize what they do not know, or know only partially (p. 126). She highlights that noticing is essential to SLA and also hypothesizes that output has other two functions: to test hypothesis and to trigger reflection, a metalinguistic function. She explains that learners may output just to see what works and what does not (p. 132) and that they reflect upon the language they produce when negotiating meaning. When students use Facebook in learning English language they are negotiating meaning with one another and they will try to express themselves using the language form.



3.0 Introduction

In this chapter, several aspects that are essential to the research will be discussed. They include the design of the research, the selection of the location and respondents, the instrument and the methodology used in the collection of the data and how the data is analysed.

3.1 Research design

Student feedback has been recognized as one of the most important factors in assessing teaching (Holmes & Brown, 2000). The students feedback was obtained by mean of a questionnaire, which utilized both closed and openended questions, so students had to use the Likert scale grading system and they were able to comment in their own words. The instrument that was used to collect the data was through a survey questionnaire. The quantitative data was analysed using SPSS 17.0 and qualitative data was analysed using Weft QDA. This survey research is descriptive-data driven that attempts to investigate the general practices and uses of Facebook among secondary school students and whether they consider Facebook as an online environment that facilitates their English language learning. This type of research is chosen because it is a systematic method of collecting data in a short period of time. A few students are randomly selected for a semi structured interview to further gain insights on Facebook usage and English language learning. Below is an illustrated figure of the studys research design:


Research Questions

Research Population
Random selection


Semi structured interview

Quantitative Data

Open-ended question

Qualitative Data

SPSS Analysis


Weft QDA

Report Data Analysis

Figure 3.1: Research design of the study. Graphical diagram by the researcher

3.2 Participants and setting

The participants in this study were Form Four students from two secondary schools in the Timur Laut district of Pulau Pinang. Both are urban schools and English is taught as a second language in these schools. The number of participants was chosen based on the random sampling techniques. The number of samples chosen is based on Krejcie and Morgan's sample size table (1970). The two schools are SMK(P) Sri Mutiara and SMKA Al-Mashoor (L). Data was collected from 130 participants, with 70 participants from SMK(P) Sri


Mutiara and 60 participants from SMKA Al-Mashoor (L).


This research employed quantitative research designs that involve a questionnaire with a five level Likert scale grading system and open-ended questions where respondents were able to comment in their own words. The questionnaires were distributed to participants. A semi structured interview was done to randomly selected students to provide more opportunities for the researcher to learn on the topic addressed. The description of the instrument is as follows:

3.3.1 Questionnaire

The questionnaire consists of four sections, Section A, B, C and D (Appendix A). Section A consists of respondents demographic data, language proficiency and Facebook account which comprises of 8 questions. Section B consists of three questions enquiring information in the students' general practices and uses of Facebook. Section C consists of 3 open-ended questions on reasons of having Facebook and Section D, four questions on learning English with Facebook. In the study, respondent answered on a five-level Likert scale of Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. Open-ended questions were used to allow students the opportunity to elaborate on their answers.


The items in the construct of learning English in the Facebook environment, emphasised aspects of students' improvement of language skills, motivation, attitude and confidence towards English language learning. The questionnaire, with a very high Cronbach alpha score of 0.977, was adapted from a previous study by Kabilan et al (2010) on Facebook as an online environment for learning English in institutions of higher education. A pilot study was carried out in a secondary school in the Timur Laut District consisting of 30 respondents to test the reliability of the questionnaire. Some minor adjustments in terms of language use were done to accommodate the students level of language.

The data analysis in this study was done quantitatively through mean scores, frequency and percentages were used, and qualitative data were analysed to answer the research questions:

1) what are students' general practices or uses of Facebook? and 2) do the students consider Facebook as an online environment that facilitates their English language learning?

3.3.2 Semi structured interview

A semi structured interview was conducted on eight randomly selected 40

participants to obtain more information relevant to the study. A semi structured interview was chosen because it is less intrusive and encourages two-way communication. The participants were two students who did not have a Facebook account, two students who have a Facebook account and login at least once a day, two students who have a Facebook account and believe it can facilitate English language learning and lastly two students who have a Facebook account but do not believe that it can facilitate English language learning. A summary of the respondents are tabulated in table 5. Questions were designed based on three themes, Facebook practices, English language improvement from Facebook interaction and Facebook as tool to learn English language (Appendix B). The semi structured interview was done by the researcher for approximately five to eight minutes for each participant.

Table 3.1: Respondents randomly selected for interview No. Respondent Facebook Yes No Facebook for English language learning Yes No


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

FB 001 FB 005 FB 023 FB 055 FB 092 FB 096 FB 120 FB 124

3.3.3 Research Procedures

The research procedures explain how the study was carried out. The survey was conducted in a classroom setting. Their English teachers distributed the questionnaires to the students. The students completed the questionnaire within 20 to 25 minutes. At the beginning of the survey, it was explained to the students on how to respond to the questionnaire and any queries regarding the questionnaire were entertained during the administration of the survey. After analysing statistical data, eight students were randomly selected for semi structured interview to further probe the issue. Each interview took approximately 8 10 minutes and questions were asked based on their initial responses in the questionnaire. The qualitative data was analysed using Weft QDA, a free

qualitative data analysis tool.

This chapter has given a thorough discussion on the methodology of this study, which is a descriptive-data driven research. This study focused only on Form Four students two schools in the Timur Laut District of Pulau Pinang. A questionnaire is the main instrument used for data collection in this study. The


next chapter focuses on the analysis and discussion of the data.


The goal of the study was to identify to identify students' general practices or uses of Facebook and to identify whether the students consider Facebook as an online


environment that facilitates their English language learning. A survey questionnaire and semi structured interview was carried out to probe the issue. The findings are presented in four sections: demographic data, secondary school students general practices, Facebook to facilitate English language learning and semi structured interview findings.

4.1 Demographic data

A total of 130 secondary school students participated in this study. There were 60 males, with a percentage 46.2%, and 70 females, with a percentage of 53.8%, who participated in this study. These figures are almost representative of the general Malaysian secondary school enrolment in terms of gender of 49.9% male and 50.1% female (Educational Management Information System, 2012). In terms of English language proficiency, 44.6% gained A, 35.4% gained B, 13.8% gained C and 6.2% gained D in Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) or Lower Secondary Assessment. This result reflects that 93.8% of the students are graded fair to excellent in the command of English language. A mere 6.4% of the students only achieved a minimum passing mark for the subject. PMR is a Malaysian public examination taken by all Form Three students in both government and private schools throughout the country. The English language usually has both an oral and written examination. The oral examination tests the students' proficiency in speaking the language; has a listening comprehension examination and tests the students' ability to comprehend speech in daily situations. A written examination tests the student's composition skills and in


grammar and vocabulary.

Most of the secondary school students believed their language to be at least moderate to fair in all the English language skills: reading (99.2%), writing (99.5%), speaking (91.8%) and listening (100%). The languages used by most of the students in informal situations are their first language, Bahasa Malaysia with a mean score of 4.42 and mother tongue with a mean score of 4.02. Sometimes English is used but usually with a mix of their first language. The data shows that the secondary school students are more comfortable in using their first language in informal interactions compared to other languages.

4.2 Students general practices or uses of Facebook

From the 130 students who participated in this study, 83.6% have a Facebook account while 16.4% do not have an account (Figure 4.1). From these figures, 46.1% are male and 53.9% are female. Respondent FB023 answered during the interview of not having a Facebook account because no Internet connection at home while respondent FB120 stated that parents would not allow her to have a Facebook account even though she has Internet connection at home. It was discovered that 60.8% of the secondary school students logged at least once a day into their Facebook account. Most of them, 63 respondents, stated that finding old or new friends as the main reason for creating Facebook account in the first place in the open-ended question. The most frequent activity done when logged into Facebook is commenting on others sharing (mean score = 3.92) and


commenting on others comments (mean score = 3.44). This is further strengthened from the interview as respondent FB092 claimed, I love reading walls and write comments to my friends. I always wait for the notification of comments. Figure 4.1: Percentage of Facebook users among students

Among the 19 constructs on the frequency of activities done on Facebook, 10 constructs scored a mean score over 3, which shows that they did these activities at least once a week.

Table 4.1: Mean score of activities done in Facebook


Construct Sharing ideas Sharing opinions Sharing pictures Commenting on others sharing Commenting on others comment Commenting on others pictures Update profile Chat with online friends Search for old friends Keep in touch with friends

Mean score 3.14 3.07 3.03 3.91 3.44 3.33 3.08 3.86 3.71 3.40

4.3 Facebook to facilitate English language learning

4.3.1 Language Interaction

It is important to see whether there is interaction between the students using the target language. From the survey, the percentage of language used for interaction in Facebook is tabulated below:

Table 4.2: Percentage of language used in Facebook interaction


Language English only Bahasa Malaysia only Mother tongue only A mix of English & Malay A mix of English & Mother Tongue A mix of Bahasa Malaysia & Mother Tongue A mix of English, Bahasa Malaysia & Mother Tongue

Never Seldom 3.1 1.5 10.8 2.3 19.4 8.5 15.5 21.5 4.6 9.2 18.6 17.1 9.3 24.8

Sometimes 59.2 14.6 9.2 41.1 24.8 23.3 22.5

Frequently Mean score 14.6 2.9 9.2 4.42 8.5 4.02 19.4 3.33 26.4 12.4 21.7 2.95 3.79 2.96

4.3.2 English Language improvement In general, students believe that they have an improvement of English language due to their Facebook interaction. With a minimum mean of 3.0 for all the constructs for English language improvement, the data shows a favourable use of Facebook in terms of English language. The mean score for the constructs are in Table 8. 83.5% of the students believe that their interaction in Facebook has increased their overall proficiency in English at least a little. Table 4.3: Mean score English language improvement since Facebook interaction Construct My overall proficiency in English has increased I use English more often in my daily life as a student than before I have learnt new English words I have learnt new sentence structures in English Mean Score 3.23 3.0 4.0 3.0

4.3.3 Facebook as an English language learning environment The general opinion of the secondary school students is that they (96.33%)


agree Facebook can facilitate the learning of English language. Figure 4.2 shows the percentage of students who regard Facebook as a learning environment to learn English.

Figure 4.2: Percentage of students who regard Facebook as a learning environment to learn English

Students generally agreed that Facebook can be a learning environment to practice language skills and enhance students English communication skills. Table 4.4 shows the percentages.


Table 4.4: Students perception of Facebook as a learning environment to learn English Question Practice writing in English Practice reading in English Learn new words in English Enhance students English communication skills Strongly disagree 0.9 0.9 0.9 1.8 Disagree 2.8 2.8 0.9 2.8 Slightly agree 35.8 34.9 22.9 29.4 Agree 38.5 46.8 47.7 50.5 Strongly agree 22.0 14.7 27.5 15.6 Mean Score 3.78 3.72 4.0 3.75

Facebook interaction has also increased motivation towards the English language. Most students had at least a little improvement in motivation. This data again shows a favourable aspect of Facebook in students motivation level towards English language as summarised in Table 4.5.

Table 4.5: Percentage and mean score of students motivation towards English language learning Construct I am motivated to learn No 5.6 Unsure 11.2 Yes, a little 43 Yes, moderately 25.2 Yes, a lot 15 Mean Score 3.0


new English words I am motivated to read English materials I am motivated to write more in English I am motivated to communicate with friends in the real world using English I am motivated to communicate with Facebook friends (or other online friends) using English I am motivated to communicate with teachers in English

5.5 2.8 8.3

19.3 20.2 16.5

29.4 37.6 27.5

31.2 32.1 34.9

14.7 7.3 12.8

3.0 3.0 3.0













With a mean score of 4.0, 81.2% of students believed that their participation in Facebook has instilled a positive attitude towards English as a second language at least a little. This figure is important as secondary school students have a generally positive attitude towards English language due to their interaction in Facebook. Table 4.6 shows their attitude towards English language learning after they began interaction in Facebook.

Table 4.6: percentage and mean score of attitudes towards English language Construct I have a more positive attitude No 3.7 Unsure 10.1 Yes, a little 34.9 Yes, moderately 38.5 Yes, a lot 12.8 Mean Score 3.0


towards learning English as a second language. Learning English is easier. Learning English is more interesting. Learning English is more useful. I am not worried about making mistakes.

5.5 3.7 2.8 11.9

10.1 7.3 3.7 18.3

37.6 30.3 29.4 35.8

31.2 38.5 35.8 22.9

15.6 20.2 28.4 11.0

3.0 4.0 4.0 3.0

4.4 Interview Findings

To further explore the general practices or uses of Facebook among secondary school students, an interview was carried out on eight respondents. Below is a table summarising is the main reason for the respondents of using or not using Facebook:

Table 4.7: Reasons for having or not having Facebook


No Respondent Gender Facebook account Yes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 FB001 FB005 FB023 FB055 FB092 FB096 FB120 FB124 M M M No

Main reason for using or not using Facebook Influence of friends and read walls Update profile and read walls No Internet or computer at home Find new friends and chat Update wall and comment friends Always use chat application Parents do not allow the use of Facebook Playing games and chat

Most of the students admit to logging into their Facebook account for social purposes such us updating profile, reading walls and chatting. None of the respondents in the open-ended questions or the interview commented on the use of Facebook for learning. Respondent FB023 has no computer or Internet at home, thus no Facebook account. Respondent FB120 says, My father said no to Facebook but Im allowed to surf the Internet every night for other things. Friends play an important result in Facebook practices as more activity is done if friends are also involved. They utilise the chat application among each other as it is free and save money from buying mobile prepaid cards as respondent FB096 claims, I dont have to waste money on topping up that much when I chat unlimitedly.

All six participants who had a Facebook account believed that their overall English language proficiency has improved due to the reading and writing done in Facebook interaction. They only refer to these two language skills as they have not done any speaking in Facebook interaction. Respondents FB055 and FB092


believe that they are more confident in reading and writing because of sharing comments among their friends. Respondent FB124 says her English language improved because she reads update by her favourite Western artists.

Four students who have Facebook believed that it can be used to facilitate English language learning as they can practice writing comments to their friends in English. Two students, respondent FB023 and FB120, who did not have Facebook account, believe that it could facilitate English language learning. Respondent FB005 prefers to use Bahasa Malaysia in Facebook interaction as he is more comfortable using his first language. Similarly, respondent FB096 believed that she has not increased her English language proficiency during her interaction in Facebook as she used Bahasa Malaysia, ...use BM, easier for me. Not good in English, what if its wrong? Malu (embarrass). She is much more comfortable using her first language and afraid to make errors in front of her friends. Seven out of the eight participants claim that they would complete English language homework given on Facebook. Respondent FB001 says, I would do it, its much more fun than doing grammar. As the respondents had access to Facebook, they were more open to the idea of using Facebook to complete tasks given by their English teacher. Respondent FB023 however did not think she would be able to complete task given through Facebook as she has no Internet access and limited funds and time to go to the Internet cafe. Respondent FB120 said, if teacher gave me work on Facebook, Im sure my dad would allow me to use it.


4.5 Negative findings

Among the negative findings from the survey discovered that 3.67% of the secondary school students disagreed that Facebook can be used to as a learning environment to learn English. Although 96.33% of the secondary students believe that Facebook can be a learning environment to learn English, only a small percentage use English in Facebook interaction either on its own or mixed with their first language. Thus, the students are not attempting the use of English language for learning but merely for social purposes. None of the respondents commented on the use of Facebook as a learning tool. 16.5% of the students who have a Facebook account are unsure or do not think that their overall proficiency in English has increased. Respondent FB055 stated in the interview, I dont think I can learn English as I always use BM (Bahasa Malaysia), and all my friends also use BM. I rarely use any other language. The interference of first language in Facebook interactions may impede the learning of English language as the use of the target language becomes nearly non-existent.


5. 0 Introduction


This study explored whether or not Facebook, a social networking site, could facilitate English language learning among secondary school students. Secondary school students' general practices and uses of Facebook were identified. Form Four students were quantitatively studied for their general practices or uses of Facebook and their considerations of Facebook as an online environment that facilitates their English language learning. Interviews were carried out on selected respondents to further answer the research questions. Majority of the students in this study believed that Facebook can be used to facilitate English language learning. They believe the possibility of enhancing communication skills in English with Facebook. The chapter begins with a brief summary of study to provide context. Next, the research findings are restated, followed by the conclusions reached. The conclusions are presented in order of the research questions. Implications of the study and recommendations for future research are presented, followed by a summary.

5.1 Summary of Study

The growth of social media and Web 2.0 technologies affects both teachers and students in the educational context. There are new pedagogical methods and approaches between teachers and their student which results in increased interaction and knowledge. Web sites, online business applications, blogs, real time chats, and SNS are some of the tools that teachers implement to remain relevant and in line with various technological development that are occurring. As teachers and students embrace new Web 2.0 tools and technologies, the impact of


Facebook or any other social networking site on English language learning is threefold. Currently the demands on secondary school students are great, but their time is limited. Secondary school students are encouraged to network to increase their access to knowledge, language skills and resources. As secondary school students join SNS, the questions that emerged are whether social networking sites could serve as an online environment that facilitates their English language learning. The related literature reviewed covered on technology in language classroom, social networking sites, Facebook, online community of practice, learning theories and second language acquisition.

5.2 Summary of Findings

The research sample for the study was comprised of 130 Form Four secondary school students. The sample group completed a questionnaire survey that consisted questions related to demographic information, Facebook general practices or uses and constructs on learning English language with Facebook. The items were statistically analysed. Interviews were carried out to further explore and reduce researcher biasness and speculation. The results were as follows: i. 83.6% of the students have a Facebook account ii. 63 students or 57.8% state that the main reason they sign up for Facebook is to search for old and make new friends. iii. 60.8% of the students log into Facebook at least once a day iv. 83.5% of the students believe that their overall proficiency in English language has increased at least a little. v. 81.2% of the students have developed a more positive attitude towards English as a language at least a little from their Facebook interaction.


vi. 86.2% of the students have a more positive attitude towards learning English as a second language after interaction in Facebook vii. 93.6% of the students believe that learning English is more useful after interaction in Facebook viii. 96.3% of the students believe that Facebook can be an online learning environment to learn English.

Eight interviews were conducted and content analysed. Themes that emerged from content analysis included the following:

i. Gain perspectives on emerging trend, practices of Facebook ii. Gain insights on students' beliefs of English language learning through Facebook iii. Motivations and barriers to participation in learning English using Facebook

5.3 Conclusion and discussions

A majority of secondary school students have Facebook accounts. They use Facebook mainly for various sharing and commenting activities. Students are aware of the technical functions and applications in Facebook and competent in its usage. Using Facebook for academic purposes is possible because students are not limited by technical skills.

This study provides evidence that Facebook can be an online environment that facilitates English language learning among secondary school students.


96.3% of the students believe that Facebook can be an online learning environment to learn English. This finding is consistent with findings found in previous research (Kabilan et al., 2010; Grosseck et al.,2011; Promnitz-Hayashi, 2011; Mohamad & Mohammad Shariff, 2011). It is therefore possible for English teachers to use Facebook to facilitate language learning as students are aware of the benefits of Facebook for English language learning.

The use of Facebook will also broaden students understanding of the subject matter. The use of a variety of teaching-learning resources has the potential of making students understand the subject matter easier as they get different perspectives; however, proper use of such resources is what brings the impact. Such tasks tend to be more fruitful when they are clear, teacher guided and students have the necessary technical skills, otherwise students tend to immerse themselves in searching for unnecessary information. Technical skills are important for full utilisation of ICT. Such skills emanate from experience and constant use of social networking sites such as Facebook. Absence of ICT in some homes limits their use and to a certain extent will impede learning of English language through this particular medium.

Secondary school students first language may be barrier to English language learning in Facebook. 70% and 62.3% of the students always use Bahasa Malaysia and Mother Tongue, respectively, in their Facebook interaction. This interference of first language will hinder the learning of English language. Students who do not use English language in their Facebook interaction will not


be able to pick up the language as suggested by Swains Output Hypothesis. Language learners should produce language in order to be competent (Swain, 1995). Language input is not merely enough. As the students do not use English language often in Facebook interaction thus language output and practice seems limited. Nevertheless, it is interesting that although most respondents always use their first language, 96.3% of them believe that Facebook can facilitate English language learning. This indicates a positive attitude towards learning English through Facebook and should therefore be fully utilised by both teachers and students.

A total of 91.6% of the students reported to have learnt new English words and 79.8% have learnt new English sentence structure from their Facebook interaction. These figures indicate that incidental learning has occurred during their Facebook interaction. Although students may not be consciously learning English, they still developed English language skills. Mealman (1993) concluded that small group activities provided especially rich opportunities for learning. As students interact with their friends on Facebook, opportunities for learning English is also amplified. This further proves that Facebook can be an online learning environment to learn the English language. The English language teacher therefore has to further guide students to use English language in their interaction by setting out specified learning outcomes in order for them to acquire the language. This is further supported by Mealmans study where facilitator led discussions increased incidental learning possibilities (1993).


Critical success factors for Facebook, which is online CoP, are shared understanding, sense of purpose, members technology skills, and acceptance of technology as a communication means (Gannon-Leary & Fontainha, 2007). These critical success factors should be present in the online environment of Facebook for learning English language. Sharing and learning need to be combined to form the sense of purpose; training practices, theories, and concepts are the shared understanding; training terms comprise the common language. English language teachers and students should accept using the Internet as a means of communication and to learn the language in an effective and authentic setting.

5.4 Future research and recommendations

This study leads to further research in regards to how we can help students involved in more supportive online community learning environments; how we can further distinguish the ways in which students can achieve positive benefits that are not possible in face-to-face environments; and how online community learning approaches are currently impacting teachers knowledge and practice.

This study has proven that Form Four secondary school students do, to a certain extent, consider the effectiveness of participation in a Facebook online environment for learning English language. Thus, English language teachers should harness on this knowledge to improve students language proficiency.


Tasks and discussions should be assigned through Facebook to motivate students to use English. English language teachers should be more open to using

Facebook to learn English as students are highly motivated to learn the language through this medium. English language teachers should be technical competent and aware of the various applications found in Facebook to fully utilise this tool for the teaching and learning of English. First, teachers and students must learn these new tools. Second, teachers must understand what existing and emerging theories apply to learning when using Web 2.0 technologies. Finally, teachers must be able and ready to provide guidance to their students and training in the use of these technologies to facilitate English language learning.

Apart from that, this study also shows, albeit indirectly, that secondary school students are not taking full advantage of Facebook as an environment for online learning. One barrier identified in this study, which is poor Internet access and connection, needs to be addressed. One of the main obstacles to participation has always been access or more specifically a lack of access. Access and connection to the Internet is the backbone of learning English language through Facebook. Without Internet connection, online learning will cease to exist and participation non-existent. Thus, there is a need for the parents and schools to provide better access and connectivity if participation is to be encouraged. There is also a need for efficient technological support and maintenance for Facebook as an online community of practice to be effective (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002). Social networking sites are already here and, we suspect, they are here to stay. It is high time that we recognize this important fact and start to take full


advantage of this wonderful learning tool.

5.5 Conclusion

This study has focused on an analysis of students' general practices or uses of Facebook and how the students viewed Facebook as an online environment that facilitates their English language learning. Of particular note is the secondary school students' favourable response to the use of this activity as a means to learn English language. There are some benefits and obstacles that face the using the social networking as educational tool. As few studies within learning of English language among secondary school students through Facebook have been done, additional research is needed to explore how this social networking site might be best used, and how secondary school students might perceive its usefulness in a variety of contexts.