Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Defense Of Facebook For Learning English

I know most parents would think I am crazy. My twelve year old has a Facebook page. No, you cannot be his friend. You see I monitor all of his activity. I check before he adds friends and read his wall. I have his password.

I went to him and asked him to "FB" a certain friend to send me a copy of a movie he cast Haddy in. It got me thinking.

The reason it really benefits him is he learns to self edit his English. This is how it works.

Facebook is a form of letter writing or journaling. Anything he sends out is read by his friends. His friends are his peers from school, camp and other activities. Some of his friends are his teachers. Most of his friends are hearing kids from school and have command of written English.

Every-time he posts he has to edit his English. He doesn't want to look like he can't write. He wants people to know he is "smart". So he watches the language of the other kids and mimics it. The kids from his school do use a bit of text talk but for mostly use high register English.

The result is he is learning to better present information in well written English. The down side is it is not a way he has used to connect with deaf kids. The good news is it levels the communication playing field with his hearing friends.

I often read horror stories about social media. In our case it happens to be a benefit right now.


  1. I think poking my eyes out with a sharp stick more preferable than accessing facebook, surely there must be proper educational avenues to improve English rather than accessing 'anti-social' sites like FB ? FB along with Twitter is choc full of trivia, is virtually unmoderated, and allows everyone from a 10 yr old to Al-Qudea terrorists to exhort their views.

    This combined with extremely poor spelling, leaving you and your son wide open to identity theft (Take care to NEVER access adverts for games for your son, underneath the ad, you accept who ever set the ad up can have complete access to your FB life, your and your son's friends, and all other links. Also social sites are full of 'buzz' words they make up themselves, which is hardly conducive to acquiring real English skills. My child is banned at home from accessing twitter or facebook and certainly no sites with 'rooms' and ONLY sites with intense moderation attached.

  2. I have a Facebook account, and so does many of my family members including my mom, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Like anything else, Facebook, Twitter, etc all need to be used correctly. I've used Facebook to connect with friends from high school, college, and now even family members.

    I don't use the apps and games, I'm not on Facebook THAT much but several people I know do use them. As for links and advertisements use common sense and don't click them (although the most they seem to do is put a cookie in your system which remembers what ads you've liked and then you see related advertisements more often).

    I do see the benefit in using social sites for practicing/developing social English skills, especially for Deaf children who may not have a chance to develop those skills through daily in-person interactions. If someone is your son's age, of course you want to provide supervision and teach common sense. And on the internet, it levels out the playing field as everyone is using their eyes

  3. i think it is great! message boards and Facebook has helped my writing because it have been a long time since someone mock my writing. don't worry, he will know who isn't spelling correctly. or writing correctly. We are pretty good at spelling. I rarely run into deaf who can't spell, even with those who write in ASL.

  4. With respect to children, I have qualms about anything to do with the Internet in these days of no policing, lack of controls and lack of oversight (kids being what they are, they will access the internet any way they can, even if at their friends' homes.)

    It is a valuable and rich resource, and requires a whole education just to use to its fullest extent including how to avoid spam, identity theft, whatever. I wish there were departments that can be locked onto that impose safeguards on content and times of access. Perhaps soon that will be available for the non-technical parent and even include choices for grade level, sophistication, challenge, content and friend access.

  5. I think sooner or later facebook will HAVE to be more pro-active about what goes on, at present it is an unmoderated free-for-all that poses many risks to the unwary, FB reluctance to close down sites that promote harm to users and to others is a warning too.

    The rules toprotect your ID are blown out of th3e water because all you need is "Accept or Not accept" this user and Show all or show none but who you want show info too, that's about 3 or 4 options yet FB offers DOZENS and if you miss one you are still exposed.

    Privacy is designed NOT to work on FB. Twitter isn't private either. Tweets are protected ? maybe YOURS are but not every tom dick and harry you know doesn't do it, and it just takes 5 minutes of reading what you posted to the wide open sites to understand the privacy aspect is a joke.

    It only works if there are NO open access to Twitter for anyone. I also think that those who look no further than 'It's a good way to interact with others on a level playing field' are hugely naive. It's inter-text interactions, and most would critically FAIL face to face because the playing field outside FB is NOT level.

    So you are a 'world' person in your own mind really, and these people mostly are NOT Friends at all, they just collect 'followers'. While your son is learning English the world is learning ALL about YOU !

  6. Good thing I have a cup of coffee. I knew this post would disturb some folks. Heck it would of freaked me out a year ago.

    "surely there must be proper educational avenues to improve English rather than accessing 'anti-social' sites like FB ?"

    We of course there are "proper" ways to teach English but this a way he enjoys. It is peer review writing. He hates peer review in class but in a social context he engages. I just noticed him editing and thought it was cool. I remember when he was little and fell in love with comic books. I freaked out and wanted him to only read "real" books. A very literate deaf English teacher told me that was how a lot of deaf kids improve their reading skills. I have learned to be flexible. He now reads way above grade level.

    "NOT Friends at all, they just collect 'followers'. While your son is learning English the world is learning ALL about YOU !"

    Well he doesn't have many friends but the friends he "collected" I know. I just checked his page and this is what I learned about him.

    He was born in 1910 (wow, how old does that make me?)

    He posted about the miners trapped in Chile

    His friends put up some vacation photos

    The kids all shared their school schedules

    My son only goes on once in awhile. I think you would learn more about him on this blog. Last year he asked to sign up and I said no. Then I saw what the kids at school were doing. It is really tame. I am his friend and so are relatives. I talked to some teachers about it and set up rules. So far no problems. It does allow for him to connect with kids from school who don't sign well. He can also learn subtle social graces among his peers. A good example is how to tease someone without hurting their feelings.

    So I need more coffee and my dog is barking. Of course Haddy is sleeping through that so I need to go deal with it. Oh one last thing, we don't Twitter. I tried it and it felt to ADD to me. Another reason is I talk too much and it kept cutting me off mid sentence.

  7. Literacy and its use in all forms is to be encouraged.

  8. I think it's a great idea! And since you are moderating I see no problem with it.

  9. I suppose its a form of addiction really. Best of luck, I'll give it a miss :)

  10. "A very literate deaf English teacher told me that was how a lot of deaf kids improve their reading skills."

    That's absolutely true, especially in my case. I was a comics fan from toddlerhood through college and only started reading "real" books in late childhood when I discovered the library had more content than comics.

    Not only do comics model language, they also model dialogue and popular issues and interaction. They lead one to enjoy captioned movies and TV.

    Now the There are parental control software packages and they work quite well for children under 10. Over that age, the sweet little kiddies learn to defeat it.

    Unlike comics which have a Comics Code Authority that most subscribe to, the Internet is uncontrolled, subject to criminal exploitation and worse.

    All parents can do is supervise fully in addition to use of the parental control software, teach healthy habits of using the internet, and enforce development of other entertainment such as sports and hobbies.

    And pray that the internet and gaming associated with it doesn't get out of control before the time the kiddie becomes bigger than the parent.

  11. You should install this:

    or use Window vista/window 7 parental control so he doesn't click on links that aren't safe.

    btw, why doesn't he use his actual age on facebook. It help facebook put more control on his account since he is underage.

    Yes, I remember reading comic, in fact it was the first time I was reading all by myself and I was like wow! There are bad comics but you have to monitor everything before he read. Keep your computer in the kitchen or somewhere in the open.

    There were hearing classmates (I went to public school k-12) Who added me and I didn't think they would because I never talked to them and now I got to know them ( They were the type who didn't know how to talk to me). At least he get to be in the loop at his school.

  12. btw, if you want full control, you will have to use password in your bios (YOU MUST NOT EVER FORGET THE PASSWORD--EVER).. There are plenty of linux software that let kids boot up a OS off of cds.. it take off the parental control and they can still access the internet.

  13. oh and last thing, (sorry, I'm reading posts as I go along), Twitter isn't so bad. Personally, I found it forces you to be creative with your sentences because it is short. Many writers love twitter and I didn't know why, until I tried it. I wrote too much, I have to rethink my sentence.

  14. It also allows mis-reading too, because without details you can miss background. Aka with a view put "Deafnesss sucks", and the response "Yes it does". it gives no real response without details. I think Twitter forces people to leave information out, and stifles conversations. What you read is lots of further 'tweets' having to expand on a response because there is no room for explanation. Would you even get THIS response on a tweet ? I'd rather not be forced to comply with some social software limits. It's why I stick to blogs.

  15. Some people ramble on and on and don't care about their sentences as long as it is out there.

  16. btw I wrote alot for school. It didn't help me. I needed to think about my sentence structures first.

    My friends and I kept a notebook where we pass out to each other to write notes to each other. I wrote lot. It may have helped some but I just don't think allow plenty of room to write help the deaf. They would just read and write carelessly and don't think about the "-ed", "s", etc. When I got on Facebook as well as youtube (I like to express my thoughts on video), they had limit what I can write and it was the first time I actually paid attention on how I write.

  17. I agree, Facebook can be a great tool when used wisely, which it sounds like he certainly is. I find it very helpful to use, as I also have friends who primarily communicate in ASL, so it temporarily breaks down that language barrier. Plus, it's easy and quick if you want to get a message out to a lot of people.

  18. So is an e-mail and MUCH more private. I don't buy that argument at all. Or limiting my social skills to a set number of letters, and communicating to a few hundred people I am never ever going to be able to really communicate with or see.. It forces you to think ? it forces you to edit, how precise that editing is, is debatable. If you take the wrong words out, or shorten explanations to omit vital details, then a point can be lost. You have to KNOW where to edit for clarity, not just cut the amount of words to fit. What if technical tome's followed that trend ? no-one would learn about anything properly.