Using Web 2.0 tools in a foreign language classroom
Colón, Victor Antonio
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Learning a foreign language in a classroom environment can be frustrating to all involved. Presently, teachers use tedious writing assignments in order for students to practice what has been taught in class. These homework assignments are repetitive and lack the sense of realism youth seeks today. The review of the literature will show different studies completed that looked for ways to explain how today’s students learn foreign languages and how these students can be assisted in this process. The study described in this dissertation looked into a highly popular Web 2.0 tool as a way to improve students’ motivation as well as putting into practice what has been learned in class in a more realistic environment. The introduction of a social network site in a foreign language classroom was investigated to see if the virtual social interaction students experienced helped them improve their reading comprehension and writing skills in the new language. Unfortunately, when testing for differences in reading comprehension and writing skills amongst research participants, results from a post-test, as compared against a pre-test, found no statistical difference in improvement at the end of the study period. Even post-hoc comparisons conducted taking gender into consideration, showed no statistical intra-group differences in these essential foreign language skills similar to the results previously obtained. Furthermore, an online questionnaire participant’s completed revealed no difference in motivation amongst groups to further their foreign language education above the required courses. However, classroom observations and follow-up interviews with participants and the instructor discovered that, in terms of students’ motivation to learn the new language, gender was a factor when using this Web-based tool in a classroom environment. The conclusion reached is that males were more motivated to learn the language if they are engaged in Web 2.0 tools as compared to females who also wrote via the social network site. As such, further investigation is needed in respect to how students could use social network sites to further their foreign language skills and if another Web 2.0 could do a better job of offering a realistic social interaction in a foreign language classroom.