Social networks are spaces on the web where people can meet and share ideas, pictures and opinions. They are very diverse and most platforms have a specific purpose: share pictures (instagram) or to share short thoughts (twitter), just to name a few. Most people use them for entertainment but due to their high reach more possibilities are opening every day since it is a fact that young people get more new information from the technology they use outside of school than they do from their teacher in the classroom.
It is possible to use social networks for business, maybe to promote a small personal company, to find a new job or one of the latest: to teach! By using social Networks you can teach a variety of things: how to cook, how to dress up with style, music, and of course languages. Obviously our concern is the later. According to a research conducted by the British Council in 2007 “The Internet has affected the preferred learning styles of young people wanting to learn English around the world.”
The final results suggested that “if teachers are to remain relevant and effective, then they need to use 'learning technologies' to help students reach the world outside the classroom” this impose a new challenge for teachers in those countries in which the use of technology is growing more and more. This does not mean that teachers have to leave the classrooms or formal teaching environments but maybe to blend their courses a little bit with online resources.
We can help students to learn more effectively by working collaboratively. Teachers might find they are more successful if they: organize group work in their classes, make fun exercises to motivate students and finally teachers may take on the role of 'facilitator' rather than the role of 'giver-of-knowledge'.
It is also important to take into account another finding of the British council study that claims that “students who felt they were getting enough opportunities in their lives to socialize informally were also successful in their learning”. Combining both studying and socializing helps them to be successful at both.
In order to incorporate this tools teachers need to be aware their students’ knowledge about this technologies, their available resources and of course their favorite ones. Teachers have to find sites that students like, guide them though it appropriate use for learning purposes.
The BC study mentions the “five top social networks for teachers and learners of English”:
1. Facebook - has a growing number of teacher and learner groups.
2. Ning - allows anyone to set up their own private social network, so very popular with teachers.
3. Orkut - particularly popular in Brazil and India, and full of English language groups.
4. Second Life - an online world in which you have a character that can walk around and meet people.
Reference: Dalton, A. (2007). Teaching and learning through social networks. Available at:
Finally, here you can find a very interesting article. They give advice to teachers on how to deal with some situations that may occur when using Social networks with educational purposes,
There is also an article on the online version of “The Guardian”. The author of this article states that: “We are late to the party. Children now default to social media in nearly every aspect of their life. They use it to communicate with their friends, play games and watch TV. Our failure to provide language learning resources must partly be due to teachers and parents who either don't appreciate or don't understand the power of social media.”