Four Characteristics of Facebook Activities for English Language Learning: A study of Malaysian University Students’ Needs and Preferences

Shaidatul Akma Adi Kasuma


This paper identifies Malaysian university students’ needs and preferences for online English language activities on a Facebook group that supports their formal learning. Two methods of data collection were employed; content analysis of the Facebook interactions, and semi structured interviews. Four main learning preferences or characteristics of online activities are identified; a) teacher-led activities (tasks and learning content provided by teachers), b) teachers’ presence (one or two authority figures to facilitate learning and keep group lively), c) topics or content (entertainment-oriented, grammar quizzes, opinion-based discussions), d) structure of the group (optional and ungraded). The passive participants found the activity beneficial in improving their online communication ability, while the more active participants felt a boost of confidence to use English in a more public space like Facebook. The findings indicate that the students are in need of technological changes in learning, but are dependent on teachers’ instructions to initiate the process. They exert selective interests in learning topics and content, and demonstrate partial autonomy in negotiating the online group’s structure. The theoretical and practical implications, and recommendation for future research are briefly presented.



Facebook, language learning preferences, selective interests, online communication skills, topics, teacher-led activities

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