A comparative study of Facebook vs paper-and-pencil writing to improve L2 writing skills by Dizon (2016)

Posted: November 30, 2018 by sevalatici in Uncategorized

Facebook is the world’s largest social networking site and it could be used for teaching L2. However, the number of research studies is not enough to evaluate its efficacy. In this article, Dizon explores how effective Facebook use is when it comes to teaching writing. Dizon here examines any possible improvements that could be attained through the integration of Facebook into L2 writing teaching in writing fluency, lexical richness and grammatical accuracy.

Thirty students from the faculty of Foreign Language Studies of a Japanese university participated in the study. After a proficiency test (TOEIC or EIKEN), students were placed in their classes. The experimental group (n=16) was taught by the researcher whereas the control group (n=14) was instructed by two different teachers.  Participants completed 24 free writing tasks within a 12 week period. They were given a pre, a mid and a post test to evaluate their performances. The experimental group wrote on their class Facebook page while control group kept individual journals. Neither of the groups was allowed to use dictionaries or text books to aid them. The control group did not have any other tasks than their writing but the experimental group had to interact with a minimum of two students on Facebook on a daily basis. Focused free writings were not graded but given corrective feedback so that all participants received the same type of feedback. Only treatable errors were corrected.

There are three variables of the study;

  • the number of words each participant writes in the given time on the three assessments,
  • lexical richness, meaning the ratio of words written beyond the most common 1000 words,
  • the number of treatable errors made in every 100 words.

After implementing and analyzing the three assignments, the researchers concluded that

firstly, Facebook can better promote fluency of writing when compared to paper-and-pencil writing. Secondly, both groups failed to make a significant improvement in the field of lexical richness. On the contrary, there was a slight decrease in their lexical performance, which the researcher attributes to the fact that the students were not allowed to use dictionaries or other resources that might help them improve their vocabulary knowledge. Finally, the researcher did not find a meaningful difference between the grammatical accuracy of student performances in neither of the groups. So, the researcher states that the medium did not play an important role on grammatical accuracy.

There are also limitations of this study. To start with, the small number of participants makes it hard to generalize. The fact that the instructor of the experimental and control groups were different may also have played a role on the performances as teachers and their instructional practices may be different.

It is stated in the conclusion that although there are some limitations, use of social networking sites may contribute to the development of L2 writing skills. Obviously, Facebook  occupies a big part in the lives of young people and it can be used for teaching purposes after careful planning regarding the needs , abilities and available resources of the students.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s