Facebook Groups for ESL Classes

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I love Facebook. I use it a lot, and Facebook Groups are an easy way to share links, pictures, and videos with an entire class. Plus, they serve as an excellent practicing ground for ESL students to post and leave comments in English. However, they don’t work as well as they did a few years ago.

On the first day of my class, I suggested that we create a Facebook Group for our class. I wanted a frictionless way to share interesting websites with my students. Adding students as ‘friends’ can be dicey, so a group is a perfect way to connect. Everyone keeps a bit of personal privacy and separation.

Facebook makes it relatively simple to create a new group. In the left sidebar, just click “Create new group,” give it a name, and select the privacy level you want. The only caveat is that you will need to add at least one group member.

I named my group after the call number for my class. This looks professional and makes sense to students. I chose to make it ‘Closed’ because I wanted it to be semi-private to protect my students. For my first group member, I chose to add a colleague’s name. I wasn’t ‘friends’ with any of my students, and I wanted to get the group set up as soon as possible.

Once the group has been created, students can search for the group name and request to join. Doing this in class with your students can ensure everyone joins the group.

One of the best features in Facebook Groups is the ability to see which students have actually seen which posts. Underneath each post, there’s a “Seen by …” feature. Hovering your mouse over this will show the names of each student that has viewed the post. This can be valuable if you’re posting homework assignments or other crucial information.

Hover over this and reveal the names of who’s seen the post

It was underwhelming to discover that my class was not paying attention to our Facebook Group. I was the only one posting to the group, and I was tagging students in my posts in trying to drive traffic there. The responses were lukewarm at best. Occasionally, a student would comment on something, but most of the time nothing.

I will continue using Facebook Groups with my class because I think it’s a powerful tool. Who knows, maybe I just need to find more engaging content for students.

Are you using Facebook with your classes? If so, how? I’d love to hear some ideas.

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