Social Networks and Creative Writing in EFL

Social Networks and Creative Writing in EFL

Reima Al-Jarf (King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4426-7.ch007

Abstract

A sample of Facebook creative writing club pages created by Arab Facebook users and a sample of Facebook creative wall posts from each creative writing club page were collected and examined. The study aimed to find out the types of creative text forms (genres), themes and discoursal features of the Facebook English creative texts posted by non-native writers. In addition, a sample of Facebook Arab creative writers who are non-native speakers of English was surveyed to find out the personal, social, and cultural factors that impact their creativity in English as a foreign language. The chapter describes the data collection and analysis procedures and the challenges that a researcher faces in collecting, sorting out and analyzing creative texts posted on the Facebook wall. It reports results quantitatively and qualitatively. Implications for developing creative writing skills in foreign/second language learners using Facebook are given.
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Background

In foreign language classrooms, some students and instructors feel that writing is a chore. Some students are hesitant to write because they might be inhibited, might be afraid of making mistakes or because they are incapable of generating ideas. To enhance students’ writing skills, in general, and creative writing, in particular, researchers have utilized several instructional strategies and practices, such as collaborative creative writing activities and projects (Feuer, 2011; Vass, 2002), the integration of cooperative learning, journalizing, and creative writing (Bartscher, Lawler, Ramirez, & Schinault, 2001), using wordless picture books (Henry, 2003), plot scaffolding (O'Day, 2006), the cluster method (Sahbaz & Duran, 2011), the integration of creative and critical written responses to literary texts in different genres (Wilson, 2011) and others.

In addition to the above classroom techniques, several technologies have been utilized in the past two decades to develop L1 and L2 students' writing abilities. For example, early studies by Casella (1989) found the word processor to be an effective tool in helping students compose poetry, because of its formatting features and ease of revision (Casella, 1989). Similarly, the integration of electronic mail and word-processing in an intermediate pre-academic ESL course improved the academic writing abilities of nonnative students who responded to writing prompts using electronic mail and word processing. Improvement was noted in the use of cohesive features, length of text produced in each medium and text-initial contextualization (Biesenbach-Lucas & Weasenforth, 2001). Another effective technology was presentation software, such as PowerPoint, which were used by elementary school students to create electronic books that integrate text, audio, and graphics. The presentation software was used to introduce the concept, plan the story on paper with the help of a worksheet, create the story on the computer, and share it with others (Hodges, 1999).

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