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ESL and Social Networking: Get the Most from ESL Students' Free Time

ESL students spend a lot of time online and it can be a great opportunity for them to meet native English speakers. I mean, 85% of American college students are on Facebook and the majority are active members. Our ESL/EFL students could be meeting a lot of Americans online.

But more than the obvious social benefits, social networking can improve students’ English. Just look around English, baby! and you can see how social networking lets learners experiment with language in a friendly, communicative setting. Still, not many people are convinced that social networking can or should be integrated into the classroom. It’s a nice extracurricular activity, but most teachers can’t see the teaching potential.

Well, the truth is social networking is great reading and writing practice! And I am going to take advantage of that in my ESL class. I am integrating social networking sites into a reading strategies lesson. One important reading strategy is inference. Inference means interpreting beyond what is actually written and making bigger conclusions. Look around any social networking site and you’ll find there is a lot to infer. People say one thing, but they mean another. My students are going to use this handout that I found online. The handout wasn’t developed to be used with social networking profiles, but it helps students separate what people say from what they mean. And it seems to fit perfectly with the activity. Students will write a few quotes from a profile and say what they think they mean on the handout. Then, they will write a paragraph about what they think about the person.

Here is an example of inference from lastbreath. His profile was the first one I read today. He says, “: romantic dinner” He means, “I like romance. I want romance.” He says, “: romantic and romantic comedy” He means, “I am a good boyfriend and I really want romance ,” and maybe, “I want a girlfriend.” You could even infer things from his screen name.

The point is that as teachers we need to monopolize on our students’ free time. They spend a lot of time online and an English social networking site will really help their English. It will improve their reading skills and maybe it will make it easier for them to make inferences.

This is just one idea. And we need to think of more ideas because online social networking is a great way for ESL students to practice reading and writing.

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8 Responses to “ESL and Social Networking: Get the Most from ESL Students' Free Time”

  1. Mike Thorn Says:

    A great site for ESL students is AIDtoCHILDREN.com.

    AIDtoCHILDREN.com is a dual-purpose site for building an English vocabulary and raising money for under privileged children in the most
    impoverished places around the world.

    Check it out at http://www.aidtochildren.com

  2. Blog » Blog Archive » Yumm… that is delicious. Social bookmarking. | English, Baby! Says:

    […] have talked about using social networking sites in the classroom. But today I would like to highlight del.icio.us. Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site. Instead […]

  3. Blog » Blog Archive » Scanning Lessons with English, Baby! | English, Baby! Says:

    […] I wrote about using English, Baby! or other social networking sites to teach students how to make inferences when they read. Today, I am going to talk about another reading lesson that you can do on social networking sites. […]

  4. Blog » Blog Archive » Online Fun With Games Teachers Can Create! | English, Baby! Says:

    […] How can I get them to encounter the words hundreds of time? By making it fun! I have talked about taking advantage of students’ free time and using online games is yet another way to engage students during their free […]

  5. Tara Benwell Says:

    How about a social network for English learners and teachers? Members are loving MyEnglishClub and it’s free. Check it out: http://my.englishclub.com

    BTW-great idea for teaching inference!

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    I look forward to possible dialogue with more people on this topic.

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