A STUDY OF HOW IS TWITTER BEING USED FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING: A GROUNDED THEORY STUDY
AMAL AHMED NASSER ALSAGOOR
Twitter has become a major form of communication in Saudi Arabia at this time. This research focuses on Twitter for English language education in particular. There is limited research found on the use of Twitter for informal English language learning compared to the use of Twitter in more formal settings. This study aimed therefore to look into the process of using Twitter for English language teaching by applying constructivist grounded theory methodology to address the gap in the literature. This study aimed to address some of the ambiguity in the literature regarding understanding the affective and motivational processes of using Twitter with learners by forming a substantive theory about Twitter use. In order to form this theory, it was necessary to answer this question first: how is Twitter used for informal English language learning? The specific research questions were: SRQ1) What is the main concept or concepts behind using Twitter for informal English language learning and teaching? SRQ2) What is the role of English as additional digital language, as described by the study participants? SRQ3) What are the main characteristics of this role? SRQ4) What strategies are used by teachers or learners? To answer these questions, I have collected data from participants 14 participants and 10 Twitter accounts for a digital ethnography observation that lasted for four years. Other key grounded theory tools were used like memos, critical inquiry and constant comparison. Data analysis continued until I reached saturation point. Learning English through Twitter was defined as learning an additional language by my participants. This concept of English as an additional digital language became a key finding of this study. Three major categories emerged from this core concept: the digital code-switcher, the silent digital mobile learner, the digital vocabulary builder. These categories underpinned my learners’ and teachers’ roles in the experience of English language learning through Twitter. All these details form my research substantive theory and shed the light on the educational implications and recommendation for research future. The results of the present study will enrich the corpus of work conducted on the influence on teaching English as a foreign /second language, or, as my participants called it, an additional language.