1Literature ReviewSocial Environment of Social MediaThe purpose of social media is to connect people; therefore, social media inherently is


Literature Review

Social Environment of Social Media

The purpose of social media is to connect people; therefore, social media inherently is an

online social environment. It is also helpful that many members who are connected on social media

platforms tend to be like-minded peers, so there is often a more relaxed and encouraging

environment. One qualitative study focusing on videos from a language learning vlogger

showcased this when reporting a difference between likes and dislikes on the vlogger’s videos:

28,278 likes versus 251 dislikes, 3,738 likes versus 80 dislikes, 2,283 likes versus 3 dislikes

(Combe & Codreanu, 2016). Online, users have the ability to filter out content that does not

interest them allowing them to focus on preferred content. This means, users can attract other

language learners from around the world, allowing them to learn from and encourage each other on

a larger scale than a regular classroom.

Another aspect that comes with a more relaxed environment is more relaxed language.

Often the language found in textbooks can sound overly formal and/or unnatural to native

speakers. Therefore, it is important that language learners find ways to engage in more natural

settings to use language. A qualitative study conducted by Baſöz (2016) sent questionnaires to pre-

service English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers. Of those teachers, 85% believed that

language learners could be exposed to more “authentic” language through social media (p. 434).

Online, people are more likely to use a style suited for everyday use, including less complex

vocabulary, less business jargon, and more slang. However, because social media’s sole purpose is

not for teaching language, learns need to be aware that certain styles of language may not always

fit their needs


Using a platform that was not developed for language learning can leave holes where

formal learning would be able to fill. For example, sometimes there are no teachers, just a

collective of people working together. Usually in these types of communities there are rules that

help guide learners and those with knowledge find the best way to meet the needs of the

participants. Isbell (2018) conducted a qualitative study observing a subreddit (i.e., r/Korean) and

found that there were both official and unofficial rules, and the power to enforce the rules lied with

the community as a whole. This idea was reiterated by those active on the page. One of the users

stated that, “the poor sources are usually downvoted and pointed out in the comments to deter users

from using them” (p. 93). Along with official and unofficial rules to guide users, there is another

aspect of social media that can assist users in their language learning journey.

In the same way teachers can use multiple media to teach in a formal classroom setting,

social media often has multiple functions like the ability to post videos or photos or to upload text.

With these tools, learners can experience the same vocabulary multiple times in multiple ways.

One study, which used both qualitative and quantitative measures, aimed to determine how well

Facebook could be used as a learning tool (Mykytiuk et al., 2020). The post-experimental

assessment of this study was the final test for a class, half of which was taught in a formal learning

setting and the other half of which was added to a Facebook group. The results showed that the

experimental group (those in the Facebook group) out-performed the control group (those in a

formal learning setting) after they had been exposed to the target vocabulary in multiple ways

(Mykytiuk et al., 2020). While language learners can be exposed to repeated content in a formal

classroom setting, online they can be more active participants in using their target language more




Baſöz, T. (2016). Preservice EFL teachers’ attitudes towards language learning through social

media. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 232, 430-438.

Combe, C., & Codreanu, T. (2016). Vlogging: A new channel for language learning and

intercultural exchanges. Research-Publishing.Net.

Isbell, D. R. (2018). Online informal language learning: Insights from a Korean learning

community. Language Learning & Technology, 22(3), 82-102.

Mykytiuk, S., Lysytska, O., & Melnikova, T. (2020). Facebook group as an educational platform f

or foreign language acquisition. Postmodern Openings/Deschideri Postmoderne, 11.

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