Social networking (SN) tools have the potential to contribute to language learning because they promote linguistic interactions in person-to-person communication, increasing the opportunities to process input in the L2, engaging learners in negotiation of meaning and requiring learners to produce L2 output, as proposed in the interactionist theory by Long (1985, 1996). These virtual personal connections with other learners and language experts around the world could provide a rich environment for sociocultural language exchanges (following the principles of the sociocultural approach proposed by Lantolf, 2002, based on the work of Vygotsky, 1978) that may increase motivation for learning, develop L2 sociopragmatic competence and learners’ online identities through expression, interaction and community building, as researchers have found (see Lomicka & Lord, 2010, for a summary of SN research). In addition, social networking is also believed to promote autonomous learning because the learners take responsibility of their own learning process in socially interactive environments by exploring the L2 through communication, collaboration and experimentation (Blake, 2013). Due to the popularity of social networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, language teachers have explored different ways to integrate them into the language education curriculum. This presentation will describe the #InstagramELE global learning community of Spanish learners and teachers. Instagram involves sharing photos and images that lend themselves to the development of descriptive language. The use of visual elements often leads nicely into cultural issues and development of cultural awareness and competence. We will describe an instructional task, the #instragramELE challenge, that could be a vehicle for the acquisition of new vocabulary, cultural topics, and the development of reading and writing expression. This challenge has already accumulated more than 30000 tagged photos, from all over the world. We will also discuss its benefits and challenges as an autonomous learning tool and some ideas for classroom implementation and teacher training.
Munday, P., Delaney, Y. A., & Bosque, A. M. (2016). #InstagramELE: Learning Spanish through a Social Network. Digital presentation presented at L2DL/AZCALL 2016 in University of Arizona, Tucson.