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New study finds that Facebook enhances English language literacy

October 18, 2018

World Education’s Jen Vanek has co-authored Social Presence and Identity: Facebook in an English Language Classroom, a study on how to leverage social media skills with students who are learning English. The study, published in the Journal of Language, Identity and Education, explored how Facebook—which students are quite familiar with—can support English literacy development in the classroom.

The study investigated how English-learning adolescents in the United States use social media to engage in social, academic, and identity work. The study was the first of a two-year summer session project at a charter high school attended by refugee youth primarily from countries on the Horn of Africa. For many of these young people, formal schooling had been interrupted; others had never been to school. All were learning a new language and trying to master literacy skills.

The research was conducted as part of Vanek’s doctoral work in second language education at the University of Minnesota. At World Education, Vanek is the director of digital learning and research and focuses on teacher education/ professional development, technical support, and research on digital literacy, adult learning, and English language and online learning through the EdTech Center @World Education. She also directs the IDEAL Consortium, and plans and implements field testing of learning technologies.

Read the study in the Journal of Language, Identity and Education.

Read the MinnPost article: Facebook enhances English language literacy among refugee students, U of M study finds.