Chinese Primary School Teachers’ Perceptions of Social Media-Based Microlearning for Improving Students’ English-Speaking Abilities

Ping Ning, Dorothy DeWitt, Hai-Leng Chin, Yanling Li, Guoguo Liu
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 23  •  2024  •  pp. 009

This study aimed to identify primary school teachers’ perceptions of leveraging social media-based microlearning to improve students’ English-speaking abilities.

The value of social media as an effective educational tool for English language learning has been recognized by educators in higher education in China. However, there is a lack of investigation into primary school teachers’ perceptions of using social media to improve English in China, especially English speaking, which has long been a weak component for Chinese EFL learners. Microlearning, as an effective learning approach for training, has been effectively adopted in various fields. Therefore, exploring the Chinese primary school teachers’ perceptions of social media-based microlearning to improve students’ English-speaking abilities may contribute to innovative learning for EFL speaking.

This study served as a case study, particularly a single-case design, in investigating how in-service Chinese primary school teachers perceived the role of social media-based microlearning in improving students’ speaking skills. Data was gathered through an online qualitative survey and analyzed via Thematic Analysis using NVivo 14. Twenty participants were recruited through convenience sampling from a primary school in Chengdu, Sichuan, in southwest China.

This study contributed to the awareness of using social media-based technologies to improve Chinese college students’ English-speaking abilities by providing the teachers’ perspectives.

The analysis yielded several subthemes for the six primary themes, namely Disparities, Affordances, Drawbacks, Challenges, Suitable Content Types, and Helpful Suggestions. Specifically, the affordances of social media-based microlearning included Flexibility in Learning Pace, Accessibility and Convenience, Diverse Learning Resources, and Authentic Language Exposure. Additionally, there are five suitable content types: Multimedia-based Stories and Content, Practical English, Popular Channels, and Learning Skills. The analysis of drawbacks and challenges indicated that the learner-centered design of social media-based microlearning still needs improvement. Lastly, focusing on the creation of a supportive learning community, several subthemes were listed for Helpful Suggestions.

The findings revealed that social media-based microlearning is a promising approach to English-language learning in primary schools. Relevant guidelines, challenges, and suggestions found in this study should also be taken into consideration for effective application.

For researchers in the field of instructional technology, it is essential to realize that this study primarily focuses on teachers’ perspectives in terms of the use of social media-based microlearning for learning, which means that incorporating the viewpoints of students and experts may be necessary for an in-depth needs analysis.

Leveraging social media-based microlearning to enhance students’ English-speaking abilities presents advantages and disadvantages. Yet the potential for effective social media-based English learning, if well designed, becomes promising.

More empirical studies investigating social media-based microlearning modules on students’ English speaking should be conducted for future research, along with integrating new technologies or teaching paradigms, such as social media-based collaborative learning.

Chinese primary school, teachers’ perceptions, social media-based microlearning, English-speaking abilities
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