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Social Media and Language Learning 1

Important Factors to Consider When Creating Social Media Content for Language



Johns Hopkins University

AS.480.600.87: Research & Writing Methods

Professor Michael Bayer

September 28, 2021

Social Media and Language Learning 2

Important Factors to Consider When Creating Social Media Content for Language


Language is one of the most essential and basic forms of communication. Often times,

after we have matured to a certain age, we don’t even consciously think about it while using it.

But there does comes a time when we are reminded about the absolute struggle that is learning a

whole new, intricate, complicated form of communication and that is when we start learning a

new language. Unfortunately, even if one is able to make time for standard second language

courses the U.S. has seen a decline in language course offerings at universities and other higher

education institutions (Inside Higher Ed, 2019), but not everyone has the time to take those

regularly scheduled classes. So, self-study has increasingly become common. However, that can

be extremely difficult as learning a new language is much easier when it is used in context,

usually with other people in social settings (Verga & Kotz, 2013). Therefore, self-study learners

might give up before making much progress. Still, having the skill of a foreign language can be

an important requirement for a job or just a hobby that helps you watch anime without subtitles,

so it is important to develop content to encourage and help language learning.

Luckily, the internet is an amazing tool that has allowed the world to more easily share

cultures and languages. There are even social media platforms (e.g., FluentU, HelloTalk, Teuida,

hilokal, Duolingo, HiNative) specifically designed to give learners at home social situations, live

and prerecorded, to put their target language in context. These platforms are designed by teams

specifically focused on language learning. However, there has also been a trend of content

creators using other social media platforms (e.g., TikTok, Instagram, YouTube) to help with

language learning at home. For example, user “My Korean Dic” uses TikTok to make short skits

showcasing both phrases and words Korean people commonly use and encourages watcher

Social Media and Language Learning 3

participation by stitching his videos (My Korean Dic, n.d.). Instagram user “koreanhooon”

creates #66daykoreanchallenge videos in which he encourages watchers to respond with a video

practicing their Korean pronunciation (KoreanHoon I Learn Korean, n.d.). There are many other

creators just like them, trying to help those learning a new language, even if they are not

formally trained in teaching a language. When you consider average amount of time Americans

spend on social media, over 1,300 hours in 2020 (Suciu, 2021), it seems reasonable to find ways

to use those platforms for educational purposes as well.

The exploration within this research brief strives to look at the trends in social media

aimed at helping language learning and determine what practices are helpful for language

learners. It is the hope that communication practitioners (e.g., content creators) will use this brief

to explore and innovate new ways to encourage language learning for those who are self-

studying. Also, that communication researchers might use this brief as a starting point to fill in

the gaps of empirical research dealing with the viability of social media platforms as possible

important language learning tools.


Inside Higher Ed. (2019, January 24). Research documents decline in languages offered over

three-year period.


KoreanHoon I Learn Korean [koreanhooon]. (n.d.). 4th challenge [Highlight]. Instagram.

Retrieved September 28, 2021, from

My Korean Dic. [@mykoreandic]. (n.d.). [TikTok profile]. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from

Social Media and Language Learning 4

Suciu, P. (2021, June 24). Americans spent on average more than 1,300 hours on social media

last year. Forbes. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from


U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2017, March 22). Department of state: Foreign

language proficiency has improved, but efforts to reduce gaps need evaluation.


Verga, L., & Kotz, S. A. (2013). How relevant is social interaction in second language

learning?. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7, 550.

Al Jahromi, D. (2020). A quantitative study of the perceived impact of social media networks on

Bahrain users’ English language learning. Teaching English with Technology: A Journal

for Teachers of English, 20(4), 23–40.


The various facets and networks of social media have had significantly phenomenal influence on

the individual life and on the societal, economic, and political status of their users. The linguistic

discourse of interlocutors on social media has also been influenced. The current study aims at

measuring how the English language learning process of non-native Bahrainis has been affected

by the use of social media. To explore such effects, a quantitative methodological measure was

used in the form of an online questionnaire administered to a random sample of L2 Bahrainis.

Responses from 330 respondents from different age groups and gender types were analyzed

using measures of central tendency and other statistical measures such as t-tests and ANOVA

using SPSS. Findings have revealed that the utilization of social media has been perceived to

have positively impacted interlocutors’ lexical variation, writing style, reading skills, and

communication skills. These findings were subjective to variables related to gender, age, and the

multimodality of particular social media facets. Accordingly, some significant implications and

recommendations are drawn, the most important of which is the provision of mechanisms to

Social Media and Language Learning 5

ensure the effective utilization and employment of social media in the pedagogical practices in

L2 contexts.

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

intercultural exchanges. In S. Papadima-Sophocleous, L. Bradley & S. Thouësny (Eds),

CALL communities and culture – short papers fromEUROCALL 2016 (pp. 119-124).


The potential for computer-supported learning in educational contexts

has opened up the possibilities for learners to interact in informal contexts

outside the classroom. The context of the present research is a young American

individual’s vlog on YouTube sharing his experiences as a learner of French. This

paper focuses on the potential use of vlogs for developing language speaking

skills and intercultural exchanges between users. The aim of the study is to

describe and analyses informal learning communication using a vlog between one

American French Language learner posting his learning experiences on YouTube

and his audience. We highlight learner’s opportunities in terms of speaking and

intercultural skills in a vlog environment. This study is based on an empirical

method of collecting ecological data on the web. The qualitative data analysis

method is based on the description of the online conversation (Develotte, Kern,

& Lamy, 2011) in addition to interaction analysis and techno discursive analysis

(Paveau, 2015). We discuss the qualitative findings of the research conducted on

this multimodal corpus in order to highlight the vlog’s potential for supporting

informal language learning, speaking and intercultural exchanges between

YouTube users in a globalized world.

Lee, S. (2021). Translating YouTube vlogs for a global audience: Innovative subtitling and

community-building. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 24(5), 767–790.


Increasingly, YouTubers are translating their self-produced videos in order to reach out to a

global viewership. Those YouTubers’ translations often incorporate innovative practices that

prioritize displaying affinity with their audience. Non-representational subtitling is one such

translation apparatus. It does not seek to reproduce speech in another language accurately

but contains additional information that is not otherwise included in the content. I examine

non-representational subtitles deployed in culture-brokering YouTube vlogs, as well as viewers’

Social Media and Language Learning 6

reactions to those subtitles. The key argument of this article is that non-representational

subtitling can be utilized as a means both of expressing YouTubers’ voices outside of filmed

space during the translating process and of manipulating ways to address viewers’ different

language constituencies. I also argue that translation-driven communities are interactive

transnational networks in which viewers develop a sense of community by amplifying

translation-mediated information, suggesting alternative translations, and expressing their


Mondahl, M. & Razmerita, L. (2014). Social media, collaboration and social learning – a case-

study of foreign language learning. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning 12(4), 339-352.


Social media has created new possibilities for digitally native students to engage, interact and

collaborate in learning tasks that foster learning processes and the overall learning experience.

Using both qualitative and quantitative data, this article discusses experiences and challenges of

using a social media-enhanced collaborative learning environment in case-based teaching of

foreign languages. Based on social constructivismwe argue that foreign language learning is an

individual as well as collaborative process and cognitive processes underlying learning and in

particular foreign language learning are facilitated by means of social media and especially for

new generation of students. This article contributes to understanding of how best to make use of

social media in an educational setting and how learning may be fostered in social, collaborative

knowledge construction, sharing and building. The case-study findings indicate that collaborative

learning processes that are embedded in a social media enhanced learning platform are

supportive and conducive to successful problem-solving which leads to successful adult foreign

language learning. Furthermore, the study reports on some of the challenges in using social

media and collaborative group work for teaching and learning at university level.