Getting Social in Language Class: Language Acquisition through Social Media

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

Short description:

The social media that most college students regularly use facilitate the acquisition of communicative skills, as well as the creation of a classroom community that aids in learning. This panel will explore how social media can be used in the language classroom to promote real-world language proficiency.


A recent (2021) Pew Research Center study revealed that 84% of 18-29-year-old Americans use social media. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok were the most popular among this age group. This high social media use means that today’s college students are likely to be distracted by social media in class, but it also means plenty of opportunities to practice real-world communicative skills and to create the type of classroom community that has been shown to be conducive to learning.

Current sociocultural theories describe learning as a social process that entails a sense of community (van Lier, 1996; Vygotsky, 1978). This is exactly what social media were designed to create. The positive emotions and lowered affective barriers that come from a strong sense of community (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Fredrickson, 2001, 2013), coupled with the increased motivation and focus that arise from completing tasks that students find familiar and relevant (Fenyvesi, 2020; Henry & Thorsen, 2020), help to optimize learning (Lambert, 2021). Furthermore, increased motivation has been linked to increased willingness to communicate (Lee & Lee, 2021), which means more practice opportunities and thus more learning (DeKeyser, 2007; Suzuki et al., 2019).

The purpose of this panel is to explore how the social media platforms that students likely already know can be used in the language classroom to facilitate the acquisition of real-world communicative skills. It invites both empirical studies and practitioner and student accounts of their use of social media in language classes to foster a multi-perspective dialogue on how social media can be employed to optimize language learning. For this panel, social media will be understood as applications and websites that facilitate connections via synchronous or asynchronous written or spoken communication. This includes—but is certainly not limited to—Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and Reddit.


You may submit your proposal for a 15-20-minute paper presentation here:

Your proposal should include an abstract of no more than 300 words, a title of no more than 100 characters, and a short biography about you, the presenter/s.