English Language Learning Using ‘WhatsApp’ Application

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English Language Learning Using ‘WhatsApp’ Application
Akhmad Riyanto

Language learning by using ICT has a great impact to improve language skills. The recent trend in ICT is using social networking such as WhatsApp. It has become very popular during the past few years, and it plays an imoprtant role in our life nowdays. It also helps us in the field of education. With various features in the application of WhatsApp, it offers collaborative language learning. Sharing questions in whatever the subjects or skills, send it to all people in the group through a broadcast or start a meaningful discussion on concepts we need to get more comprehend. Using WhatsApp can improve english language skils such as reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Keywords: WhatsApp, Social Network, Language Learning

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has a great impact to human life. People, from children, adults up to parents, especially in big cities are used to watching television, to communicate via mobilephone, social networking, texting via the internet, as well as visiting various portals or web without limits. ICT also affects greatly in the education world. The use of ICT in education, including language teaching and learning, is a positive response to the development of the information and communication technology in the third millenium. (Hartoyo, 2009). It is in fact can improve the quality of education by using ICT especially in language learning.
As we know that recently, there has been a new trend in the ICT world which is called the social network. Social network has been defined by many and generally viewd as referring to networked tools that allow people to meet, interact and share ideas, artifacts and interests with each other. (T. Aderson, 2010). This social network has opened up new opportunities of interaction and collaboration between teachers and learners. The use of social network has become a popular in everyday communication. It is even used for collaborative learning especially in language learning. Social network applications such as facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and many others alike have been phenomenally popular in the communcation world.
The most recent popular social network is WhatsApp application. WhatsApp Messenger is a proprietary, cross-platform instant messaging application for smartphones. In addition to text messaging, users can send each other images, video, and audio media messages (Wikipedia, 2013). WhatsApp allows its users to use their Internet connection to send messages to each other. WhatsApp is like a chat program for mobile phones. Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular and WhatsApp is available for almost all Smartphone. Founded in 2009 by two ex-Yahoo employees Brian Acton and Jan Koum, it is said that Cross-platform messaging app WhatsApp continues to grow in popularity, with the revelation Thursday that its user base has crossed the 250-million mark (Trevor, 2013). A big reason for the popularity of such apps is that they allow their users to message one another without paying high fees for text messages (Rolfe, 2013). Users take advantage of WhatsApp to text their friends in other countries without paying the exorbitant international texting costs that come with traditional communications.
Hartoyo (2009) also stated that Laptop, netbook, and iPad are now commonly used both by studetns as well as teachers. There are also mobile gadgets such as cellphone and smart phone are within this group. Using those gadget and internet connection, ayone could chat, browse, or discuss with each other. The application of WhatsApp which combine the smartphone and internet connection offers many advantages for language learning.
Many students that have whatsapp running on their mobile always think about its capacity as a social networking and chatting platform and less people are thinking about how this mobile application can be effectively use for education collaboration and learning. It is also very few people use it for language learning. In fact, we can use whatsapp hidden features for education and learning, including english language learning. Based on these ideas, the writer would like to focus on english language learning using WhatsApp application.

Why WhatsApp?
There have been many opposing view over the used of communication technology especially the social network in which it has negative impact on language learning. Learners of English using new communication technology especially text messaging commit numerous errors ranging from incorrect spelling to grammatical sentence structure. Mphahlele and Mshmite (2005). If we take a look closely, the social networking is easy and quick in term of accessing accessiblity, reviewing, updating, and editing learning material needs any time and anywhere. In addition, it allows for option to select learning materials from large quatity of courses offered online with the learner needs and it also makes easier distribution of courses material.
In the field of E-learing, the social network sites handled the big problem raised by educators in the recent educators. For example, a lack of humanitarian aspect and described it as teaching lack spirit (Ashraf, 2012). It should be noted that social networking provides participation through such virtual classrooms, chat rooms and meetings by video. Social networking helps students to reduce stress and increase satisfaction among them. Face to face classes are likely to enable high levels of emotional understading, while the convenience and flexiblity of online components can motivate students to complete educational tasks. For social network like WhatsApp offers various features including audio and video enable the users to take benefit for learning especially language learning.
In fact there are still very few people realize that by using WhatsApp can support their language learning. There are many advantages we can take from using WhatsApp in education including english language learning. WhatsApp is not only sending text message but files and message broadcasting. With message broadcasting, we can select or make a list of people in our contacts we wish to share educational and learning resources with and we can create a broad based discussions on many subjects. We can also create a forum or group discussion by using WhatsApp. We can ask questions in any subjects and send it across to all people in the group through a broadcast or start a meaningful discussion on concepts we need to understand much better. Even with WhatsApp, the learning and information sharing happen at the comfort when we are bed.

WhatsApp and Language Focus Skill
The use of WhatsApp in language learning should be aimed to encourage students in learning the lesson especially English. By doing this, the learning process will be student-centered. However, the teacher plays a great role, so the teacher must choose the suitable topic to use in the discussion, and should help the student understand the lesson by using various features on WhatsApp application.
As a start the teacher create a group or forum in WhatsApp application and the students are asked to join the group. Then, a series of activities are presented as a sample, so that teachers get concrete ideas about how to use WhatsApp in language learning. A student-centered approach is presented in this sample. This approach allows more exploration of WhatsApp in english language learning, offers the students more opportunities to formulate their own ideas or feeling about the issues as well as to improve their basic skills in the language learning process. To cater various learning styles, it is necessary to devise various kinds of tasks and activities. All of them are carried out in English to immerse students in an English-speaking environment.

A. Reading
The activities conducted to improve reading skills of students the teachers send a simple reading text in the group discussion of WhatsApp. It can be sending a short story to the WhatsApp group. Short story is very useful in the trials to improve students’ vocabulary and reading. Using The Story of Smart Monkey and Dull Crocodile (See the appendix), the activities that can be conducted to help students to acquire more vocabulary.
1. Ask the students to read the story and understand it.
2. Ask the students to find the definition/synonym of the words below that most closely matches.
a. Ask ……………..
b. Dangeraous ……………..
c. Sick ……………..
d. Near ……………..
e. Bring ……………..
There can be as many words as the teacher thinks necessary. However, there should not be too many words as not to make students lose interest the activity. This activity helps students to learn more vocabulary, and it also teaches them how to use a dictionary.
3. Choose the word/phrase from the words in the previous activity to fill the blank words below.
a. He ……. a lot of flowers to his girlfriend.
b. Johan was ……. yesterday. He did not attend the class.
c. My house is quite …… to the railway station. That is why I feel disturbe with the sound of the train.
d. She ….. her father much money to pay the school fee.
e. It is very ……….. bring an explosive materials to the gas station.
In activity 3, students practice using the words they already understand the meaning. Intermediate and advance students also profit from literary texts. What they read gives them the opportunity to come up with their own insights and helps them speak the language in amore imaginative way. They become more creative since they are faced with their own point of view (Parlindungan, 2011).

B. Writing
Teachers can create a variety of writing activites in WhatsApp group to help studetns to develop their writing skills. They can ask students to write comments on the topic of discussion or more complex writing activities if students have reached a high level of language proficiency. Students can also be asked to write any responses raised by the teacher in the group discussion of WhatsApp which can help them to improve their writing skills. The teachers can directly give correction if gramatically, there are any incorrect sentences. The teacher can send the picture of a place in WhatsApp and ask the students to anwer “Where it is?” or ask them to write and describe the place.
The teachers can also assign the students to answer the question based on the text, e.g. The Story of Smart Monkey and The Dull Crocodile.
1. Where did the story take place?
2. Did the crocodile agree to help the monkey accross the river? Why?
3. Why did the monkey ask the crocodile to swim back to the river bank?
4. What do you think is the moral lesson from the story?
This activity are suitable for middle intermediate level and upper intermediate level. Oster (1989) stated that literature helps students to write more creatively.

C. Speaking
WhatsApp application offers features which can be used for learning speaking. Students can hold discussion on chatroom on the WhatsApp group. The student can find the topic of discussion themselves or the teacher can also give a suitable topic for learning activities.
The teacher can also ask the students to record the voice and send to WhatsApp group. This activities can be done:
1. The students can record their oral reading of the story of Smart Monkey and The Dull Crocodile in WhatsApp application. Then send them in the group.
2. For higher classes, the students can retell the story and record it.

D. Listening
To develop listening skill using WhatsApp application, the teachers can do the following:
1. The teacher sends an audio recording and ask the students to listen to it. Ask them to take a note.
2. The teachers can sends a video clips with english conversation and ask the students to watch and listen to the video. After that ask them to give comment or discuss the question based on the video.
The activity can be carried out for fun or for students to find answers to questions given and explained to them before starts listening. For students to understand the story in the recording, when they listen to it for the first time, the questions can be based on literary structures, such as :
1. Who is the main character of The story of The Smart Monkey and The Dull Crocodile?
2. Where/When does the story take place?
3. Did the monkey give his heart at last? Why?
4. How is the end of the story?

Language teaching and learning using ICT is a good way to the development of the information and communication technology in this era. The recent trend in ICT is social network and WhatsApp application are among other. But there are still very few people realize that by using WhatsApp can support their language learning.
WhatsApp is not only sending text message but files and message broadcasting. We can share educational and learning resources and we can create a broad based discussions on many subjects. We can ask questions in any subjects and send it across to all people in the group through a broadcast or start a meaningful discussion on concepts we need to understand much better. WhatsApp application can be used to learn the language skills such as reading, writing, speaking and listening. However, this study is far from perfect and we welcome any further study on this matter.


Anderson, T. 2009. Social Networking. In MISHRA S (Ed) Stride Handbook 8 – E-Learning. IGNOU, pp 96-101 [Online] Available from http://webserver.ignou.ac.in/institute/STRIDE_Hb8_webCD/STRIDE_Hb8_index.html Accessed 5 July 2013
Hartoyo. 2009. ICT (Information and Communication Technology in Language Learning).Pelita Insani Printing & Publishing. Semarang. p. 1 & 34

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WhatsApp. Accessed on 5 July 2013
Mog, Trevor. 2013. http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/whatsapp-hits-250-million-active-users/. Accessed on 8 July 2013
Mphahlel, M.L. and Mashamite, M. 2005. The Impact of Short Message Service (SMS) Language on Language Proficiency of Learners and the SMS Dictionaries. A challange for Educators and lexicographers. IADIS International Conference Mobile Learning
Oster, J. 1989. Seeig with Different Eyes: Another View of Literature in the ESL Class. TESOL Quarterly, 85 – 103
Pardede, Parlindungan. 2010. Using Short Stories to Teach Language Skills. Journal of Teaching English (JET) Vol. 1 No. 1. February 2011
Tustin, D.H. 2012. Cellphone Living and Learning Styles Among Secondary School Learners in Gauteng. UNISA Bureau of Market Research
Winkler, Rolfe. 2013. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/06/20/whatsapp-surpasses-250-million-active-users/
Zaidieh, Ahsraf Jalal Yousef. 2012. The Use of social Networking in Education: Challenges and Opportunities. World of Computer Science and Information Technology Journal (WCSIT) Vol. 2 No. 1.

The Story of Smart Monkey and Dull Crocodile

One day there was a monkey. He wanted to cross a river. There he saw a crocodile so he asked the crocodile to take him across the other side of the river. The crocodile agree and told the monkey to jump on its back. Then the crocodile swam down the river with the monkey on his top.

Unluckily, the crocodile was very hungry, he stopped in the middle of the river and said to the monkey, “My father is very sick. He has to eat the heart of the monkey. So he will be healthy again.”

At the time, the monkey was in dangerous situation and he had to think hard. Then he had a good idea. He told the crocodile to swim back to the river bank. “What’s for?” asked the crocodile. “Because I don’t bring my heart,” said the monkey. “I left it under a tree, near some coconuts in the river bank.”
The crocodile agreed and turned around. He swam back to the bank of the river.
As soon as they reached the river bank, the monkey jumped off the crocodile’s back. Then he climbed up to the top of a tree. “Where is your heart?” asked the crocodile. “You are foolish,” said the monkey to the crocodile. “Now I am free and I have my heart.”


3 thoughts on “English Language Learning Using ‘WhatsApp’ Application

    Wadiah said:
    July 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    it is very nice idea, now i have started an experiment with my students. it seems that they have been motivating to this idea.

    Learning via WhatsApp is what’s up! | Masters of Media said:
    September 10, 2013 at 9:30 am

    […] of the main reasons i’m writing this blogpost is bumping into a blogpost by Akhmad Riyanto, ‘English Language Learning Using WhatsApp Application’(2013). In his […]

    Simran Lamba said:
    October 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm

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