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Transformational English Teaching and Learning based on Social Learning with Social Media and placed in the context of the failure of English as a Second Language programmes to improve learners’ speaking abilities.
Download the full paper PDF Peer reviewed and first published in Connecting Online for Instruction and Learning (edited by Dr. Nellie Deutsch, ISBN 978-1481034579))
This is a study about a randomly chosen yet typical highly educated adult Chinese English learner, Jane (27yrs), who, like millions of others, considered herself to have failed to learn to speak English after 16 years of formal English study.
Jane was provided with self-study English course materials in PDF and MP3 formats that prepared her for focused online speaking practice facilitated using social media services Facebook and Skype. She was allowed to choose the level of her materials and the process involved offline self-paced study followed by a short practice conversation with the researcher and then two or three similar conversations using the same language with fluent or native speakers (non-teachers) that the she had befriended online. All calls with the researcher were recorded from start to finish and then Jane listened to the recordings again a few times on her iPod before starting the next lesson.
Jane began the study speaking like a beginner and chose to work with beginner’s learning materials with Chinese instructions. The sixth lesson she chose was an intermediate lesson with English instructions and she managed to complete the speaking practice task sounding like a comfortable intermediate speaker.
This result proves it is possible to quickly and inexpensively transform the speaking ability of adult language learners who have failed to achieve their primary goal of speaking a second language comfortably after years of conventional English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.
Finally, the result (amd the way in which it was achieved) raised questions about the overall effectiveness of ESL courses. Most claim to improve a student’s reading, writing, listening AND speaking skills but our research concludes that this is not true and that ESL course publishers and providers are knowingly misselling their products.
Keywords: English as a Second Language, social media, speaking, self-study, social learning, transformation