Facebook & the L2 classroom

Engaging 21st century students

Sherry Venere, Jason Garneau, & Darrin Griffin, US Military Academy, West Point, NY

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YbqcSrqR8k&w=470&h=365]

Click the video frame above to view the presentation. To ask the presenters a question about their presentation, please add a comment at the bottom of this page between October 6 and October 10. Presenters will check for and reply to questions at the end of each symposium day.


The current generation of college students considers their digital presence synonymous with their daily lives. Many do not take the time to check email regularly, and spend even less time consulting course sites. Facebook and other social media sites, however, are consulted daily, if not hourly, via their laptops and mobile devices.

By complementing or even replacing the often costly and cumbersome learning management systems (LMS), such as Blackboard and Moodle, with language-specific Facebook groups, instructors have a valuable opportunity to reach students “where they live”; to present important course information to students, to expose them to unique resources related to the target culture, and to provide opportunities for language practice. Language-specific Facebook groups allow instructors to post useful course documents and reminders of upcoming graded events as well as initiate additional practice of course material, especially useful in the case of less-commonly taught languages dealing with unique alphabets and writing systems. Instructors may also share links relevant to the target culture, expanding students’ cultural knowledge far beyond the often inadequate culture presented in textbooks.

Most importantly, groups encourage students to become active participants, and not simply consumers of the language, by posting their own course-related questions and their own cultural discoveries. It also allows them further practice in a variety of skills, most obviously in reading and writing the target language posts and comments. Such groups not only increase learner autonomy, but also may promote greater instructor awareness of student needs.

This presentation will showcase examples of three Facebook groups currently being used as LMS supplements at the United States Military Academy (USMA). USMA Cadets are as avid of social media users as the typical 21st century college student. The language-specific Facebook groups in elementary Arabic, Russian and Spanish provide Cadets with instant access to course syllabi and study guides, opportunities for additional language practice in writing and reading, and for sharing unique cultural nuggets. This presentation will also offer insights into group management, successes, and challenges in offering such groups to students, especially in the areas of motivation, privacy, and time management.

Dr. Sherry Venere

Assistant Professor
US Military Academy, West Point, NY

MAJ Jason Garneau

US Military Academy, West Point, NY

Mr. Darrin Griffin

US Military Academy, West Point, NY