Magazine topic: 
Science and technology

The secret of being allowed on Facebook for hours

by : 
Kirstin Cleland

There are many different social network sites in use today, but none have changed the way in which we communicate more than Facebook. Facebook has surprised many people, and changed our lives in more ways than could have been imagined.

Nowadays, almost everybody has a Facebook page. Reconnecting old friends and allowing new friendships to develop across the world. Not only has Facebook been used for socialising, but bands promote their music, religious groups have their own page, shops can now sell their products through Facebook and even political parties are using Facebook to great advantage. Facebook was said to have helped Obama to gain election but what does Facebook mean to you?

I asked some of my students at the Liceo Scientifico in Rutigliano, Italy of their opinions of Facebook. Giuseppe, 18 years old, believes that Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends. He spends up to 2 hours a day on Facebook talking to friends, and keeping in touch with relatives abroad. Facebook has created a virtual space, where you can share information quickly and easily, no matter where you are in the world. It has transformed the idea of sitting down with your family or friends to look through photos from birthdays, holidays and travels.  Now we can upload our photos directly onto Facebook and instantly our families and friends can join in our travels and adventures, rather than waiting for our return.

Almost all the students I asked have a Facebook account. However not everyone is a fan of Facebook. Maria-Grazia, who is 17 years old, has not buckled to peer pressure and refuses to have a Facebook account. She thinks that she is possibly the only one of her friends that does not have Facebook. Maria-Grazia does not like the idea of Facebook as she finds it too intrusive. The only reason she would ever  join Facebook would be if she made foreign friends. Giusy, 18, uses Facebook regularly to talk to her foreign friends. She keeps in touch with friends she made while studying in Oxford. She often speaks to her friends in Thailand through Facebook, which would otherwise be very difficult and expensive to do. Giacomo, 18, also uses Facebook to speak to his friends abroad. He talks to his friends in London, which allows him to practise his English regularly. Facebook also gives him an insight into British culture, by enabling him to see photos taken in London, and giving him the opportunity to comment on them with his friends.

In this way Facebook is very useful tool to enhance your English learning. It can be a fun and interesting way to help you learn English, the English you learn will be current and relevant. So, when Mum or Dad asks you to get off Facebook and start studying, you can assure them that you are already working hard on your English studies . . .

The first step would be to select “English” as your Facebook language of choice. This simple action instantly helps you to increase your vocabulary and without even realising it you are starting to think and connect words in English. Keeping in contact with foreign friends, and speaking English, is a great way to develop your English in a fun and relaxed way. If you do not have foreign friends, you could set up a group with your friends where the rule of the group is to only speak in English.  Perhaps your school is twinned with an English speaking school, where you may be able to swap contact details with students and make 21st century pen pals.

You could also join English speaking groups, for example the fan page of your favourite band. By following your favourite band, you will have constant and updated access to current English language.  You could also be involved in discussions with other fans.

There are many useful groups on Facebook specifically for English language learning. In fact, LearnEnglish Teens has its very own Facebook page, where you can practise your English and interact with other users of the website.

Of course you must always be safe whilst online; you must never give out personal details. Always be careful who you talk to, and be aware.  However if used in the right way, Facebook; can be a great help in developing your English.
 

Discussion

Are you a Facebook fan? Why/ Why not?