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One student responded: "I don't believe something as personal as FB should be used too much for classroom activities" and another wanted a requirement to "add each other as friends". Since "friending" can be a delicate issue, students were not required to add each other as FB friends in a formal sense. Finally, students were asked how FB interaction has helped them to get to know and learn about their classmates. Many praised the idea and valued the opinion sharing that happened as part of the discussions "I can see what they like to do.

I am a visual learner so I can see what the culture is like as opposed to just talking about it". Others indicated that it was a "great way to get info and communicate" as well as exchange perspectives and views. Figure 5 presents a visual picture of the Discussion Board used on FB. The total number of posts for each topic varied slightly but tended to range between 20 and 26; in addition there were at times up to 13 replies to others see Table 2 for more details on a particular topic.

Although students were required to contribute as part of their course grade , there were times when they did not complete their FB assignment.

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Variations in the number of posts also occurred due to the fact that the French partners contributed on a voluntary basis so their participation was not consistent nor was it always regular. Number of Posts 7. At the end of the survey, students indicated that their favorite topic was the Roms. The forum asked students to respond to the following prompt prompts were sometimes given in French and other times in English. There are several different names for the groups of people who travel. Do the names imply a difference in meaning? Are these groups prevalent in both France and in the US?

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It happened on several occasions as seen in Figure 6 that one student tended to respond either entirely in French or English. Students indicated that they enjoyed this topic because they had not had any previous experience discussing it and this particular assignment allowed them to also develop knowledge about topics that made national headlines abroad, conduct research on the Internet and expand their critical thinking.


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One student noted that the teacher should "grade FB posts for completion, but also include corrections on grammar and spelling! So that we can learn from our mistakes". Due to the fact that the students were communicating with native speakers, who would tend to ask questions if meaning was impaired, the instructor did not provide consistent corrective feedback. In Figure 7, we see a lack of grammatical accuracy displayed by an American student. There are minor problems with verb tenses, conjugations, adjective agreement and prepositions to name a few.

However, none of these problems affect the overall comprehension of the idea. This particular project did not focus on corrective feedback or grammatical accuracy; however, a closer look and analysis of FB posts could be helpful to educators in understanding the production level of students and what grammatical points should be reviewed or emphasized.

Teachers should encourage spontaneous language practice but also provide linguistic feedback to students. Depending on the nature and purpose of the task, this type of feedback could take place in FB. In future projects the instructor will attempt to provide occasional grammatical feedback on posts as requested by students.

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Another means of feedback could be to provide grammar correction by way of native speaker partners. They identified a variety of beneficial aspects social and pedagogical linked to the integration of this SNS in their classrooms. For example, the students were graded on their contributions based on whether or not they were completed.

It is interesting to note that students' posts are consistently meaningful as they have a real audience with whom they communicate. Students seem eager to respond to the discussion topics and interact with each other reply posts to others ranged from replies per topic. Further, each FB topic contained between 20 and 26 posts, not including replies, which also reveals a positive trend in use.

Positive responses to technology such as this one are also identified in previous reports among others: Blake, ; Farris-Berg, ; Luke, In one particular report entitled "Listening to Student Voices on Technology", Farris-Berg highlighted the fact that Digital Natives enjoy computer- and Internet- based resources in their classes and want to use technology to learn. As Gabriel, Wiebe and McDonald found in their investigation of the needs, interests and skills of new learners entering higher education, the conceptions of curriculum and pedagogy need to be more inclusive of the personal and social lives of students so that they can find more personal understandings, perspectives and motivations.

Although the use of the Facebook forum may appear to be a more traditional learning tool for students in this study, it differed based on the fact that it brought the community of learners together. Traditional forum or discussion board tools lack this social element of learning that allows students to "see" when other students are online and initiate communication with them at a particular moment. Students could but were not required to use other social features of the site to interact with each other and create opportunities for additional learning and practice.

Students had to engage in authentic and meaningful exchanges, which are essential in order to develop communicative competence, and this cannot be achieved by exclusively focusing on learners' grammatical and lexical knowledge. In other words, the students discovered how FB can become a pedagogical tool in the context of foreign language classes and how they can exploit this resource outside of the classroom. We will now return to each research questions and discuss each in more detail.

While they have less experience with FB in academia, they responded positively to it in a language course. In terms of the ways students use FB personally and in academia, students tended to use FB in limited ways — for group discussions and videos. Group discussions on the forum were popular and used regularly.

Personally, students take advantage of more functions offered by FB. While these results are not surprising, they do leave avenues for exploration and could perhaps encourage instructors to exploit some of the different functions of FB more fully in educational settings. The majority of students supported the use of FB in other language classes and felt that the FB project was beneficial to their learning, which points to a positive trend toward using this tool in educational settings.

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While the response to this SNS was overwhelmingly positive, students also provided a few suggestions for change, which will be discussed in the conclusion. Students appreciated being able to talk about French culture on FB but they enjoyed even more having native speaker partners from whom they could learn. They also enjoyed being able to share their opinions while gaining a better understanding of the perspective of the French students. The atmosphere of FB , referred to by one student as "casual" and another as "pressure-free" was attractive to students in that it seemed to make them comfortable practicing their written skills outside of the classroom with peers.

Overall, their experiences were very positive, and as one student put it: "I liked everything about using FB ". We must take care, however, in pointing out that the positive response may be due to the "novelty effect", where improvements or positive reactions may occur when new technology is used. The positive results are not necessarily due to improvement in learning, but occur as a result of increased interest in the technology.

It is important to note that this project was an experiment for both the instructor and the students and although results appear to be positive, we remain cautiously optimistic and encourage further investigations to substantiate these claims. Despite growing up in the digital age and being familiar with technologies in general and especially SNSs, most of the students had never used FB for educational purposes, as the results of the survey confirmed in this study.

Further, the results of this project coincide with those found by van Olphen and Auyeung's in that students view participation positively in online collaborative experiences. In the pedagogical realm, FB should be implemented in ways that promote communication, collaboration, and student-centered activities that will facilitate student learning and encourage high academic achievement.

As Solomon and Schrum suggest, the Net Generation is already using a variety of web 2. Such a tool clearly allows students to easily collaborate on projects; these virtual exchanges enhance the communicative engagement of language learners, and increase their confidence as well as their enthusiasm for the subject matter Mills, ; Swaffar, While data from only one group was analyzed for this study, we would encourage future students to analyze data from all groups involved in order to present a more complete picture of the use of Facebook or other SNS in language classes.


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  5. Firstly, SNS should be integrated as an extension of the classroom so that language development can continue in a fun environment when students are working from other places. Secondly, educators should find creative and interesting ways to use SNS with students. In addition to forums, which tend to be more traditional learning tools, SNS offer the option of group discussion on a Wall, one-to-one text and video chat, as well as visiting native speaker groups. Research on Facebook groups based on themes i.

    Thirdly, care should be taken to discuss "friending" with classmates, whether local or distant. As Donath mentions, with the growth and expansion of SNS, traditional concepts of friendship and acquaintances emerge and should be discussed in the context of these new and social virtual environments.

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    All of these options can help to provide students with extra L2 practice of interpretative and interpersonal communication skills such as reading, writing, speaking and listening. In addition, by using an SNS in the context of a classroom, allowing classmates and the instructor to access personal sites, students are forced to re evaluate the type of information they disclose on their usually highly detailed profile.

    According to Windham , students look for practical applications of their studies and therefore, should respond positively to the fact that faculty can provide them with strategies to remain safe, and to balance the benefits of using FB with the risk of losing control of private information. One issue raised by a student was privacy of information issues related to FB posts.

    FB offers various privacy settings and the teacher could show students how to change the settings in FB ; one can choose which friends can see Wall postings or have access to various types of information on a person's page. An easy way to accomplish this would be to separate the class into a group ex. French 1-A and then assign privacy settings to this particular group. Educators can also help students to realize the importance of the public nature of FB and walk students through privacy settings available so that they can monitor which "friends" can access certain information such as pictures, videos, wall postings, tagging, checking in, and so on for more information, see O'Neill, According to Windham , students look for practical applications of their studies and should therefore respond positively to the fact that faculty can provide them with strategies to remain safe, and to balance the benefits of using FB with the risk of losing control of private information.

    Blattner and Fiori point out that it is imperative that second language L2 classes capitalize on the social and academic opportunities that high-tech learning has to offer. If students are already consistent and comfortable users of SNSs, they may eagerly embrace them in the classroom. McBride underscores that the type of interaction reading and writing that typically takes place in electronic media is different in a non-electronic setting. Consequently SNS-based activities in foreign language classes are fundamentally different from the pedagogical goals that educators aim for in a traditional environment.

    Unfortunately, e-learning tools have yet to be viewed as a mainstream component of foreign language teaching and have yet to become a foundation element used in L2 classes.

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    The use of FB may be valuable as well for blended and online classes, as Youngs pointed out that e-learning students complained of not having contacts with other students, which negatively affected course performance.