Use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills



Use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

Research Problem

There is a broad spectrum of ethnic groups and nationalities that fall under the category of English Language Learners. This category entails more than 600,000 international students including Saudi students, attending universities, colleges and trade schools in the United States. This number will continue to increase as an ever increasing pipeline of students learning English as a second language moves through elementary, middle and high schools and finally into post-secondary education. Despite the formal education of Saudi students in universities and colleges in the United States, many of them have restricted exposure to the vocabulary and structure of academic English. As such, even though Saudi students in colleges and universities in the United States are conversant with English language or have passed qualifying tests, for instance, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), many of them still experience difficulties when faced with more intricate and rigorous demands of written and spoken English.

Most institutions of higher learning have put in place programs that focus on helping international students sharpen their vocabulary, typing and phonics skills so as to ease their transition into the novel education system. These programs are usually in the form of classes, short courses or sessions that foreign students, such as Saudi students as is the case in this study, are recommended to attend to help in their better comprehension of the English language especially with regard to its use in academics. These programs are helpful, but they fail to provide the individualized attention required by most Saudi students to meet the multiple course prerequisites. This is a problem that most institutions of higher learning acknowledge, and they are open to ponder the provision of additional support needed by Saudi students to fully grasp the concepts of English language. However, most colleges and universities lack the necessary resources or staff to provide such additional support. Thus, technology has become a viable and better option to aid Saudi students, as well as other international students to learn and improve their utilization of English in formal and informal occasions. Use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

Learning and using a foreign language can be a difficult task for any individual. Undertaking education in a foreign language is an even harder task since one must be able to read, discern the language and not only speak it fluently but also write using that language. Saudi students learning in colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, as well as other dominant English speaking countries face these language and communication problems. Literature on the subject of how educational technological tools can be utilized to improve language and communication skills of Saudi students in foreign institutions of higher learning evinces that researchers are conversant with this problem and conduct research on the subject. For instance, the study done by Sun and Chen (1997) reveals that a lack in cultural awareness, lack of language proficiency and academic achievement are some of the factors that make international students experience difficulties when learning and using English language. Thus, despite the high scores recorded by Saudi students in GRE and TOEFL tests and pre-exposure to English language, they still experience problems related to language and culture shock.Use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

Another study conducted by Yang(2007) reveals that international students find it difficult to discern and communicate verbally in English due to difference in discourse patterns between English and their local dialects. This means that Saudi students often find themselves being victims of direct translation from their local dialect due to the difference in discourse patterns between the two languages. Reading is also a problem when it comes to reading in English for international students. This point is reiterated by Alderson who states that foreign students find it difficult to read in English compared to their native speaking counterparts in institutions of higher learning (Alderson, 2005). Thus, most Saudi students normally find themselves in a position whereby their reading is slower and less successful due to problems of readers’ proficiency, text difficulty, types of texts and task demands. Therefore, as evident in the studies conducted by discordant scholars in various fields and involving distinct nationalities including Saudi students, international students in various English speaking institutions of higher learning experience difficulties when it comes to reading, writing and speaking English fluently. Notwithstanding, a viable solution to this problem is educational technology that is capable of providing the much needed additional support to help Saudi students and other foreign students learn and utilize the English language effectively.

Today, laptops are used in all colleges and universities. Improved access to the Internet in various institutions of higher learning has placed a vast array of resources just a click away. The Internet has also revolutionized the manner in which instruction in college and universities are delivered. There are numerous online course and the interaction between teachers and students has been enhanced by the Internet. Research denotes that many innovations in educational technology were geared toward helping students with different learning and physical abilities to surmount education barriers and succeed in school. For instance, communication devices helped students who are physically unable to speak to communicate with their teachers and fellow students, alternate keyboards and touch screens were introduced in schools to reinforce physical access to computers and text readers were developed to provide auditory reinforcements for struggling readers or students who are visually impaired.Use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

It is not a surprise therefore that educators who utilized text-to-speech software with special needs children recognized the potential of the software in helping foreign students grasp the concepts of English language faster. While the text-to-speech software and other software are critical in helping international students improve their phonics, typing and vocabulary skills in English language, the trajectory of educational technology has been toward online learning or learning via the Internet. Based on this understanding, more and more Saudi students are finding it easier to learn English language through programs or software available online, as well as online English sessions, courses and classes. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Snapchat also facilitate learning and use of English language by Saudi students through interaction with other students and colleagues.

Purpose of the study-use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

The purpose of this research is to explore how Saudi students can utilize technology to practice and improve their communication and English language skills outside the confines of the ESL classes or programs. This research subject is of extreme importance as it will enable ESL teachers, Saudi students and other international students to learn more about the educational technological tools and how they can be utilized to improve their language skills. The main research question is: To what extent do Saudi students in English institutions of higher learning utilize technology to improve their spoken and written English and what is the impact of these educational technological tools on the performance of Saudi students?

Literature Review-use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

This part of the research presents some of the literature related to the effects of technology on learning English among ESL students. International students are the major targets of these research works and definitely, the studies also apply to Saudi Arabian students. As a result, it is important to look into some of the works already written on the topic and see how they have addressed the research issue. This part will critically analyze a number of studies done, looking into their definition of technology tools utilized by ESL students and how these tools have impacted the students.

A notable discussion about the application of technology in supporting language learning is addressed by Gordon (2007). He uses various reports to come up with the conclusion that significant improvements in the content and approaches to learning or even teaching English as a second language has been stimulated by technology. He admits that the understanding level and open-mindedness of young learners has greatly increased because of technology (Gordon, 2007). As a result, many advantages can be construed from technology tools to enhance learning process of Saudi students.

The Impact of Using Technology in Teaching English as a Second Language by Bassma Basheer

Bassma Basheer highlights the role of technology in learning English as a second language. The author looks into the techniques employed by learners in order to improve their English and mentions online English language learning web sites, computer assisted language learning programs, presentation software, electronic dictionaries, chatting and email messaging programs, listening CD-players, and learning video-clips (Basheer, 2013).

As far as the use of computers is concerned, the article outlines both visual and voice inputs which are utilized to enhance ideologies and information while also developing speech and listening skills. Internet voice chatting using English is singled out as being excellent in improving communication capabilities. With this regard, the author ought to have also mentioned English learning tutorials which have proved to be a significant aid to Saudi ESL learners.

Another technological strategy listed by the author, which Saudi students in English institutions of higher learning utilize technology to improve their spoken and written English is broadcasting. The author mentions watching and listening to T.V and Radio learning programs. The student should be careful on the choice of program to concentrate on. The author also mentions the use of CD players. Perhaps a strategy that has been used less frequently presently, lectures and listening examinations are saved on audio CDs and used by ESL students at later dates.

A notable and highly applied strategy applied by Saudi students learning English, which has also been mentioned by the author is simply reading. Basheer (2013) mentions several methods which can be used to improve the reading ability of an ESL learner namely: the use of computer reading-based programs, the use of multimedia software, browsing over the internet, the use of electronic dictionaries and reading CD-ROM based newspapers.

In summary, Basheer’s analysis of the extent in which students in English institutions of higher learning utilize technology to improve their spoken and written English is informative. It is imperative to also analyze how these strategies are being employed by Saudi students and the effect on them. Notably, one thing comes out clear according to Basheer’s analysis: that majority of ESL students preferred using computer technology of all the aforementioned types.


The Impact of Digital Audio Listening On Saudi Arabian English Language Learners’ Speaking and Comprehension by Nawal AlotaibiUse of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

In this thesis, Nawal Alotaibi delves specifically into the impact of digital audio listening on Saudi Arabian students. Digital audio listening is one of the technologies that is employed by Saudi students while learning English. Knowing their impact gives a foundation as to whether they can be considered most effective compared to other technologies. The research was focused on answering three major questions: how listening to educational radio programs impact language skills of English learners? How such programs impact the comprehension skills of such learners? And the preferred kind of educational radio topics by the ESL learners and why? (Alotaibi, 2014).

The research involved the filling in of questionnaires. Six international students were subjected to a listening session and interviews were also made on their preferences with regard to using educational radio programs as a listening tool. The findings demonstrated that there is a positive impact on ESL learners in using radio programs for educational purposes. The article outlines that it influences the listener into English vocabularies and sentences and also trains the learners’ ears into listening and understanding fast English speakers. Precisely, the author suggests significant benefit from listening to language programs on the radio (Alotaibi, 2014). He also notes that the participants did not feel any difference between radio English and that encountered in their daily life.

This literature is not just vital in analyzing the impact of radio programs as a technological tool to Saudi ESL learners, but also explaining how attending formal classes can ideally be replaced with such programs. The author conclusively looks into how such stations as National Public Radio (NPR), Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) and School of the Air radios have played a major role in improving English language among Saudi Arabian students in the United States. The deficiency in the research is that it disregards other forms of technology and their role in comparison to radio programs.Use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

The Effects of Technology on Learning English as a Foreign Language among Female EFL Students at Effatt College: An Exploratory Study by Salmah Alsulami

This literature work investigates the effects of technology on learning English as a foreign language but with a major focus on female EFL students at Effatt College (Alsulami, 2016). The research work which involved the administration of questionnaires, sought to answer four questions about the technological tools which improve learning the English language. How often students use technology to learn English, The technologies used by students to learn English, whether students enjoy using technology to learn English and the impact of technology in learning English.

A total of thirty six participants took part in the study and data analysis done to come up with findings. The technology scope involved computer software, online videos and audio tools (like You Tube, Netflix, and MP3 players), social networking sites (like Facebook and Twitter) and android apps (including WhatsApp). A conclusion was reached that such technological tools are effective in improving the language and communication skills of students.

It is important to note that this research work brings a whole new dimension of the limited definition of technology by prior literature works. Apart from the much focused radio programs, computer sites and reading lists, the article looks into how social networking sites, online videos and android apps have impacted the language and communication skills of ESL learners. Most Saudi students utilize these technology platforms and such have a great impact on their performance. However, the research was insufficient on its scope of defining technology to only computer related platforms and nothing more. Consequently, the involvement of only female student could have also limited more important outcomes.Use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

Supporting English Language Learners through Technology by Elizabeth Brozek and Debra Duckworth

Brozek and Duckworth (2011) analyze how language learners can benefit from the reinforcement of English vocabulary and concepts through pictures, graphics and videos. They further point out how the learners benefit from being able to use technology to express themselves. By doing so, English learners are provided with a voice thereby easing the transition process to knowing English. The authors take note of the installed hardware in school classrooms and computer labs to aid in the presentation of multimedia lessons: documented cameras to project images beside their English names or terms and videos to explain things in English (Duckworth & Brozek, 2011). Since visualized things are easily remembered than theories, many would easily relate. Additionally, it will be an exciting experience to the learners.

The article by Brozek and Duckworth might be touching on the significant impact of technology in learning English but the target is not ESL but ELL students. In as much as some of the strategies are practical to ESL, most institutions of higher learning do not utilize videos and graphics in their teachings to enhance understanding. Such strategies are mostly used with young students who are learning to speak English perhaps, not as a second language. Therefore, the article does not convincingly address the issue of how students in English institutions of higher learning utilize technology to improve their spoken and written English and what is the impact of these educational technological tools on the performance of the students.

The Use of Technology to Enhance ESL by Ryan Baker, Duc Miin & Sam Mailand

This article majorly focuses on the impact of technology on ESL students’ English. Technology goes to a long extent in aiding students to improve their written and spoken English. This article is rich and significant in explaining the impacts of technology in enhancing English learning. Some of the notable significance are as follows:

To begin with, technology provides motivation for learners. Using computers has provided an interesting and more enjoyable way for students to be able to do their school work, which in turn enables them to learn more on their own even when outside the school environment (Baker, Miin, & Mailand, 2015). This therefore ensures that the students do better in their spoken and written English.

Secondly, technology has impacted also the way that English is taught. Teachers can no longer only rely on books to teach the language. With the use of technology, a vast sea of ideas, for example use of web cams, can be used to make sessions interesting and as such maintain the students interest in learning the language. Most teaching methods offered by technology provide a hands on experience for the students which will in turn give the students a taste of actual practice of the language.Use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

Use of technology has also helped the passive students in the classroom benefit from lessons. Passive students generally cannot answer questions in class nor ask questions. By use of technology, teachers can use an interactive platform where questions they ask verbally can be transmitted from devices from all their students (Baker, Miin, & Mailand, 2015). This therefore provides an opportunity for passive students to be part of the learning process as engagement and participation is used. Comprehension can also be assessed by the teacher.

Technology goes a great extent in learning English as it is not only limited to in class experience. Technology provides an outdoor learning experience as well. One of the ways learners benefit from technology is the availability of games which are downloadable from the internet that can aid their learning English. From such games, a student improves their proficiency in the language, also learn new vocabulary.

Lastly, technology improves the creative aspects of students learning the language. Technology provides a platform where students can be able to create podcasts or other pre-recorded media for the purpose of learning. This helps them to not only enhance their creative bones but also improve their listening and interpretative English skills.

Summary-use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

There is a substantial amount of study that has been done on the use of technology by ESL students and how it has impacted on their reading and writing. Notably, very little has been done regarding Saudi Arabian students on this issue. Even though the impact might be more or less the same as with other international students, literature works still prove to be insufficient in their scope of what is considered as technological tools and the impact of these tools. Studies have also been deficient with the area covered when conducting research either by sex or size. As a result, the findings cannot be passed as conclusive. However, there is a meeting of minds on the impact of educational technological tools on the performance of students. Many international students have greatly improved in their English reading, writing and communication skills as a result of these technological tools

The problem this paper seeks to solve

It is imperative that the education system should be progressive. Technology has proved handy in ensuring that education remains to be relevant in the society today. Yet with all the technology adopted in our courses, it may be outdated. Several groups may also have challenges in accessing information from the technology. There is also a problem with the relationships between teachers and students in terms of technology. When teachers effectively integrate technology into subject areas, they grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach and that’s why the issue of technology in learning needs to be addressed.

Research Purpose-use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

The purpose of the study is to come up with a more efficient and elaborate technological strategy to improve learning. The importance of technology in the learning process cannot be understated. Technology makes it easier for the students to read and understand the lessons, as compared to them reading the books and looking at the still pictures. However, there is still need for a technology that will easily help in defining and accessing information about learning objects so that they can easily be shared among different learning management systems. This study seeks to make learning more meaningful and fun by utilizing the appropriate technology.


Research Basis

The research is about technology and education. The most commonly used form of technology in learning is the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). The research will therefore analyze SCORM and the deficiencies experienced while utilizing it.  Some of the deficiencies to be addressed will include: technology is not easy to operate and individuals are required to always have prior information or knowledge in order for them to use SCORM to benefit them to the fullest; the process of following up on the impact is also difficult and the sender only hopes the material will be read, and lastly there is insufficiency in understanding students as some of them do not auger well with their needs. Therefore, the research is about how the deficiencies of the present technology and SCORM can be addressed to fully utilize technology in the learning process.

Research Methodologies

The research will take various research methodologies but mostly grounded theory and survey. There is much works of literature on the topic of technology and education which can be found in books, journal articles and internet sources.

My Role

My role in the study will be an observer. I will undertake research on the people’s response towards technology as a tool for education. I will then end by recommending the appropriate changes that would ease the work of technology users. By doing so, I will ensure that I take into consideration the various stages. For instance, at the representation stage, I must ensure that I give it a look that will make it more appealing to the users.


Data Collection and Analysis

Data collection will be done via the administration of questionnaires and interviews. This will require a questionnaire form with questions pertaining to how technology affects the learning process of both teachers and students. Consequently, interviews will also be conducted with both parties to realize how often they use technology as a learning tool and how effective it is. Challenges faced by both parties will be noted. The collected data results will then be analyzed and a conclusion made from them. The conclusion should then be the basis of the research’s recommendation.

Using Technology to Improve the Language Skills of Saudi Students in Twitter

Twitter is a new technology that provides interactions between and amongst individuals through online interactions. This media has been found to be effective in leaning and advancing on the language skills. Teachers can interlink with the students through Twitter and learn language skill allowing them-students- to gain more efficiency according to (Prasad, et al 2017).

Quantity and survey are the methodologies that will be used to identify if the use of technology has a significant impact on the acquisition of language skills.


Some students, 100, will be picked as a sample taking half as a control experiment and the other half as the research group that will go through the experiment. The researcher will concentrate on the use of statistical analysis to analyze the effect of using technology in learning a new language between the two groups. The optimal statistical toll that is appropriate is regression model. Additionally (Vikram, et al 2015), this methodology would appreciate the use of numerical analysis helping the researcher to study trends in the advantages of the use of Twitter to learn language skills. The researcher also can use the tweets written by the learner checking on the grammar. These tweets will help the researcher understand how the student acquires the language’s skills over time.


In this methodology, the researcher issued questionnaires to 100 students randomly, and the total of 80 questionnaires was received. The questionnaire was aimed at controlling the external variables. The study follows an experimental approach in which one independent variable (Twitter as a strategy in teaching), and the dependent variable (students’ vocabulary scores). The survey divided the participants into two distinctive groups of equal portions (Vikram, et al 2015), The experimental groups were taught by using the social networking site Twitter, while the control groups were taught using the traditional ways of teaching vocabulary.

Appropriateness of using methodology

Quantity as a methodology is appropriate in the study since it provides a clear numerical analysis that helps the researcher to identify the advantages of using twitter other than traditional means of learning. For instance, those students who would not be free to interact with the teacher during the learning process, they would be freely interacting through the social media-twitter- and improve on the language (Vikram, et al 2015). This category of students can be easily isolated and placed on a percentage scale allowing for quick analysis.

On the other hand, survey as a methodology is suitable for this study in many instances. Questionnaires provide a personal response to the structured questions, and therefore the researcher can be able to deduce the difference between respondents. Those respondents who have a good vocabulary score and those with a relevantly lower score would be identified, and conclusions bound to be drawn easy. Results of using these two methods of research are helpful in the sense that it provides, with a lot of ease, the development of graphs, regression models and the computation of statistical analysis. Having the tools above essentially allows the researcher to draw a conclusion that is detrimental in the field of study.

Saudi Arabia students who used Twitter to learn the language found it easily, interesting and optimal as compared to those students who learned the language using traditional languages. Analytically (Prasad, et al 2017) found that, with the aid of the methodology, the study categorically provides feasible and favorable tools for conclusive determinations and drawings.

Data Collection Process

My research is a study on how the use of Twitter to improve learning skills of Saudi students learning English in Philadelphia and its environs. This study incorporates the mixed method approach through collecting qualitative data through surveys and interviews while also collecting quantitative data through providing the participants with tests to assess the performance of those who use Twitter and those who do not. The participants will initially be subjected to interviews to assess their perception of the effect of their learning methods on their final results. Thereafter the participants will be categorized according to the group of students that use Twitter and the group that does not. A control group will be set aside to ensure viability of the study. The performance of the control group will be compared to the performance of the participants that used Twitter to establish any variations in the performance of the students.

I will employ the use of both cognitive and non-cognitive methods in order to get both qualitative data which will form part of my analysis and quantitative data in the form of test score results. The non-cognitive methods which will be used to gather qualitative data will be in the form of questioners aimed at establishing the perception of the students towards the use of Twitter to assist in the learning of English. The quantitative data will be collected in the form of surveys to gauge the performance of the students who use Twitter and the control group who will maintain the status conjuncture.  



Study Group Characteristics-use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

The study group will comprise of participants who will be selected randomly from schools in Philadelphia and other schools nearby. The participants will be students of Saudi origin who lack proficiency in the English language or students who are not native English speakers and are taking English classes. A certain number of the population of the participants are required to have the knowledge on the use of social media platforms such as Twitter. The study group will also require a separate set of participants who have no knowledge or have not been in the practice of using social media platforms. In order to randomize the study group and ensure that the research gets a representative portion, the participants will not comprise of more than twenty percent from each school. Therefore, in a sample size of 100 students, each school can only provide a maximum of 20 students.

Sample Survey Questions

The research will employ the use of a self-report that will allow the students to share their perception and attitudes towards the use of Twitter to improve their English learning skills. Some of the questions in the questionnaire will include:

  1. Has the use of Twitter helped you improve on your English skills?
  2. Has the use of Titter helped you understand the teacher’s instructions better?
  3. How else has the use of Twitter helped you in your English learning course?

Phenomenological strategy-use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

A tentative strategy is usually not certain or fixed, it is provisional meaning that it requires work to so that it can be confirmed. The tentative strategy aims at identifying significant statements and collecting them in clusters according to how they are related then forming themes from the already prepared clusters. The researcher needs to be careful in identifying specific participants who have experienced the phenomenon being researched. The participants often dive a wide variety of information that may turn out not all that useful, which is why the researcher needs to put to use the tentative strategy. By doing this, researchers are able to filter out excess information so that the collected data becomes more neutral and is consistent. Once the data is placed in clusters or categories it becomes easier to handle especially during coding. Psychological, transcendental or empirical phenomenology is focused less on the interpretations of the researcher and more on the description and experiences of the participants. The researcher is required always to eliminate potential bias of a particular phenomenon. The researcher may have experienced the phenomenon firsthand or they may have opinions about a particular phenomenon but are required to lock all that out so that they are not biased in their research. Investigators set aside their experiences and as much as they can in order to be fresh toward the phenomenon under study. The researcher identifies a phenomenon, conducts data analysis by reducing the amount of collected information to quotes that he or she can combine to themes. This is identified as the bracketing experience because the researchers’ experience does not interfere with their current work which needs to be coded. The researcher can then create an overall experience by answering ‘what’ by description of text and ‘how’ by description of structure.

Journal 3Use of Twitter to Improve Language Skills

Preliminary interview questions and their codes

  1. Have you experienced any ethical challenges in the use of twitter? Challenges
  2. What was the situation that led to ethical challenge? Situation
  3. How did you or the management deal with the situation? Solution
  4. Have you ever been in a situation where ethical awareness was nurtured by an organization? Awareness
  5. If yes, what were some of the ethical technological issues discussed? Discussion
  6. Did the experience provide any solutions? Solution
  7. Have you set any behavioral changes since the enlightenment? Change








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