The Effectiveness of Social Media on the Lexical Competence of English Language Users
: A Case Study of Higher Education Learners in Jordan
With the Arab spring, people rushed to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to voice their concerns to the outside world (Crystal, 2001). In most cases, they use English to communicate to the rest of the world. Social media English is a component of computer-mediated communication (CMC) that has a unique lexis, such as spamming, lurking, and flaming. As a result, there is a gap between the English they are taught at the university and that which they use for personal communication. This indicates that the digital era has far-reaching linguistic consequences. In this regard, the proposed study will investigate the effectiveness of social media on the lexical competence of English language users in Jordan.
There is extensive academic literature on the impact of Netspeak on written English by different users in the United Kingdom, the United States and the rest of the world. Beauvois and Eledge in their study conclude that foreign language learners benefit from computer mediated communication when they have time to edit and review emails (1996). Similarly, Gonzalez-Bueno notes that foreign English language learners make remarkable progress when they write their emails in English because it gives them relatively more time to develop and edit the competence and complexity of their language compared to when they are writing in other circumstances (1998). Meyer examined his findings that many potential dates replied to online messages written in accurate Standard English and less to messages written in Netspeak with the creative characteristics of internet English (2009). His findings indicate that even Netspeak creativity is not totally celebrated and not all may understand its use in offline English. Baron notes that the debate on the negative impact of computer mediated communication on offline English is almost over, and there is little evidence that it can damage offline English (2008). Thurlow supports this argument when he notes that as far as the features of language like lexicon, spelling, and syntax are concerned, computer-mediated communication has no impact (2006).
Nonetheless, language continues to change due to the interplay of technological development and social change. It may be the case that standard written English may continue to exist, but this only happens along with other communication modes that develop in ways we do not yet understand. Social media could have far-reaching implications on Jordanian English students` lexical competence because they may abandon the correct rules of formal writing, grammatical constructions, and the norms of use. They may make use of inaccurate and informal English in scenarios that demand the use of formal English. English users in the digital era tend to tolerate punctuation, spelling and grammatical mistakes. Maybe they are not so much interested in language forms, but rather on the meaning and content. The speed in social media writing communication coupled with the pressure to promptly respond may give rise to habits that leak into offline English where they are less suitable.
Therefore, this study seeks to examine the effectiveness of social media on the lexical competence of English language users at a Jordanian University. The only study done in Jordan so far was by Mahfouz, which examined the perception of students on the impact of internet use on English language acquisition (2010). The author found that the majority of university students were of the view that internet use enabled them to enhance their writing skills. There is a significant literary gap on the effectiveness of social media on the lexical competence of English language users in Jordanian Universities and other Arab universities, and this study seeks to bridge this gap.
1. To what extent do English major students in Jordan use social media?
2. Is lexical competence for English students affected by social media only, or are there discrepancies in this analogy? What can be the changes before and after the use of social media?
3. What perceptions do Jordanian English major students have of social media English?
A sample size of 100 students will be used for the study. The Research instrument will mainly be questionnaire, made of three sections. The first section includes biographical data. The second section will include information student`s access to the internet and use of social media. The final section will have questions relating to the students` perception of social media English and its perceived impact on their lexical competence. The responses will be evaluated based on ‘strongly disagreed’, ‘Agree’, ‘Uncertain’ ‘Disagree’ and ‘strongly agreed’. The data will then be categorized and analyzed using frequencies and percentages in excel spreadsheet. In the choice of the sample group, caution will be taken by selecting subjects who have been exposed to social media and how their lexical competencies changed before and after its use. This will be resolved by using participant variables of social media users and nonsocial media users. By employing a counterbalancing experimental design, each participant is assessed on their lexical competency while using social media, and while not using social media. Periods are assigned for each of these groups to ensure best results. The counterbalancing experimental design is used to avert issues associated with order effects such as social and demographical backgrounds. Additionally, qualitative research will be used to find parallel research on the topic, which can be used to reflect on the accuracy and credibility of the quantitative research.
Baron, N. S. (2008). Always On: Language in An Online And Mobile World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Beauvois, M. and Eledge, J. (1996). Personality Types and Megabytes: Students’ Attitudes toward Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) in the Language Classroom. Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium Journal. 13 (2&3): 27-45.
Crystal, D. (2001). Language and the Internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
González-Bueno, M. (1998). The Effects of Electronic Mail on Spanish L2 Discourse. Language Learning & Technology 1 (2): 55-70.
Mahfouz, S. M. (2010). A Study Of Jordanian University Students’ Percep – Tions Of Using Email Exchanges With Native English Keypals For Improving Their Writing Competency’. CALICO Journal 27 (2): 393-408.
Meyer, D. (2009). Netspeak Won’t Get You A Date. dy/dan. N.p.
Thurlow, C. (2006).’From Statistical Panic to Moral Panic: The Metadiscursive Construction and Popular Exaggeration of New Media Language in the Print Media. Journal of Comp Mediated Communication. 11 (3): 667-701.