Learning to write for Facebook

Posted by Betsy on September 29, 2012 in InstructionalDesign, Language, Web2.0 |

This post accompanies an in-class teaching presentation that I will give on 10/3 in my second language writing class.

Writing for Facebook

Use The Wall Machine to teach Facebook-style written communication.


After showing students some examples, try the following instructions:

  • Your friend posts the following on your wall:
    “Are you busy on Friday?”
    Respond to your friend appropriately, and continue the conversation on your wall.
  • Construct a wall that represents content read in class or something in the news (e.g., the American presidential elections, the latest device from Apple or Samsung).
  • Think of a conversation that you had in your L1 on your Facebook wall. Try to recreate it as best you can in the target language.


  • Students work alone, in pairs, or small groups.
  • After they have made their own and understood how the walls work, have students reorder posts to make them chronological.

Note that the instructor and other students can read the walls and comment. Assess student work based on the content, grammar, pragmatics (e.g., language appropriate for Facebook), and ease of understanding transitions from one comment to the next.


  • Good for foreign language classroom, low-proficiency second-language classroom.
  • Gives students a safe place to practice Facebook-appropriate writing in the target language.
  • Novel and lends itself to humor.
  • Teacher and students can comment on walls.


  • Requires a real Facebook account to use.
  • Can post to your status without asking, so you might want to go into Facebook and delete what it posts.
  • Not exactly authentic writing.


  • Create a new Facebook account that you and the students use just for creating these walls. This will avoid unwanted posts to your personal Facebook account.

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