The Use of Online English Language Learning Platforms by Undergraduate Students of Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau

Citation: Anka, S.M. (2024). The Use of Online English Language Learning Platforms by Undergraduate Students of Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau. Tasambo Journal of Language, Literature, and Culture, 3(1), 175-181. www.doi.org/10.36349/tjllc.2024.v03i01.020.

The Use of Online English Language Learning Platforms by Undergraduate Students of Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau


Shafaatu Muhammad Anka
Department of English
Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau, Zamfara State
Emal: smanka@fcetgus.edu.ng
Phone: 08060375440  


The status of the English language in Nigeria has made it the most widely used language. People of various backgrounds aspire to speak the language and become competent in it. With technological advancement, which led to the social media invention, various means of teaching the English language are made available on different platforms. Therefore, this paper aims to find out the online English language learning platforms by undergraduate students of Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau. Three objectives were formulated to guide this study. These are, to find out the students’ awareness of the vast online platforms for learning the English Language, to find out the aspect of the English language the students have an interest in studying and to determine the benefit of engagement in the chosen aspect. Rogers’ (2003) Diffusion of Innovation theory was adopted as the theoretical framework- The population of the study consists of 1,417 Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-affiliated undergraduate students of various fields of study. Purposive sampling was used to select level two English language students. Focus group discussion was used for data collection and thematic analysis of the data was conducted. The finding is by Roger's (2003) Diffusion of Innovation theory which emphasises that “getting a new idea adopted, even when it has obvious advantages, is difficult” Hence, the availability of more user satisfaction, compatibility, simplicity, triability, and observability make the Innovation-Diffusion process faster. Therefore, the present study concludes that the use of these vast materials by the students is very low. However, the participants who employ its use agreed on its enormous benefits and have tagged it as a priority.

Keywords: Language learning platforms, English language, Facebook


The English language is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It is spoken as a second language in many countries globally. The status of the English language in Nigeria has mandated the quest for its knowledge and mastery at various levels. being the language of education, government, media and inter-ethnic communication, peoples’ elitism, intelligence and civilization are measured by the kind of English they speak. Moreover, those majoring in the English language at colleges and universities aspire more and appreciate materials that will enhance their learning. With the advancement of technology, information in books, journals and other materials is shared on the internet which can be accessed through the use of phones. Sani (2017), posits that students who constitute a large population of daily internet users are addicted to networking sites due to information availability that has been made common for users’ access. Empirical research reported a serious decline in the use of books and other physical reading materials. Therefore, English students and other information-seeking individuals use online materials for coursework, assignments and other self-demanding services. The objective of this study is to find out the level of awareness choice and benefits of using Online English Language Platforms, particularly on Facebook by undergraduate students of English at Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau.

Statement of the Problem

There are a vast number of online English Language teaching and learning platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which operate as a medium for students to learn English if used wisely. According to Shih (2011), social media helps people to connect and build a good network with others as well as create a platform to expand their circle of friends all over the world. Hence, people can share all types of information and knowledge in online discussion boards or share status. Nasution (2022) strongly believes that learners can be encouraged to engage in discussion through online forums. This explains that social media gives large benefits in learning the English language among undergraduates since they can contribute information and knowledge, and thus, increase their English language proficiency. On the other hand, Chun (2016) shares that learning English solely in the classroom, in an exam-oriented way results in intense pressure on students. Therefore, online English Language learning platforms (ELLPs) provide opportunities for learning leisurely at one available time, and at their own pace.

Online Language learning platforms are videos that normally appear on Facebook, in which instructors make presentations for the general public on the chosen area of the language. These areas range from pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, writing and reading. These videos are sometimes live where the presenters take into consideration their audience and even give tasks to evaluate their progress. On the other hand, some upload their recorded presentations for viewers to improve their use of the English Language.

The vast numbers of these online ELLPs are all over the net. They are found easily and without any request, especially for a first-timer. The enormous and constantly expanding body of knowledge, especially in teaching the English language is now accessible online. As one gets on Facebook, he may come across a video, audio or text presentation by an unknown instructor on a selected aspect of the language. These presentations are seen as an opportunity for learners to engage especially after school hours. Moreover, it is an avenue where students can learn from native speakers and other experts in the field. They can equally acquire other skills such as how to make presentations, self-confidence and communication. Students show their interest and appreciation whenever such materials are shared with their school’s Whatsapp groups ( Choi & Chung 2021).

However, it is observed that these platforms reported to be beneficial have not been utilized fully by the students, especially at Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau. The students’ preference lies in the use of such medium in chatting, playing games and communicating with friends with evidence of pronunciation, grammatical and spelling errors. It is against this backdrop that this study investigates the use of online English language learning platforms specifically on Facebook by Ahmadu Bello University Zaria affiliated undergraduate students of Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau.

Research Questions

1. Are Undergraduate students of FCE (T) Gusau aware of the vast online platforms for learning the English Language?

2. What aspect of the English Language do they prefer?

3. What is the benefit of engaging in the chosen aspect?

Online English Language Learning Platforms (ELLP)

Over the past two decades, the Internet has opened up new avenues for human contact and learning. Social media platforms like Facebook, WeChat, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and WhatsApp enable millions of people all over the world to communicate and keep their friendships and family ties (Al-Kadi & Ahmed, 2018). Many educational institutions offer learning opportunities through social media. Students worldwide spend most of their time on social networking sites, doing various activities, chatting, playing games, and interacting (Baruah, 2012). Teachers and students’ lives have significantly transformed in recent years due to the growth of digital technology, multimedia, and social networks (Karim et al., 2022). These advancements and discoveries have had a substantial positive impact on the teaching and learning of foreign languages and education generally (Leung & Valdes, 2019). People use information and communication technology (ICT) and the Internet everywhere and at any time. Hence, academic environments are significantly impacted by technology.

Facebook is one of the common social media platforms where educators can share notes, assignments, online assessments, academic forums, academic teaching, and learning tools like videos, quotes, images, boards, and sample essays. Dhanya (2016) indicated that the endless benefits of using social media platforms are not merely for social gains but also academic enhancement. He also shared that the use of social media not only fosters good rapport among learners but also gives dynamics in classrooms by encouraging student attendance as well as enabling them to follow their course.

Online ELLPs particularly on Facebook could be located through a link or by searching the page. They are made by native and non-native speakers. The researcher found over 100 online ELLPs on Facebook and few are presented in this paper. These are English 101.com ( teaching English grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation), Hello English –Rupam (speak English fluently), Winnie’s School of Elegance, (speak elegantly by improving your vocabulary), English with Emma (improving spelling and pronunciation), easy English with Dinara (speaking practice), Advanced English for professionals (speaking skills) English with Katherine (pronunciation, idioms and meaning), Sollyinfusion (pronunciation), English learning time (vocabulary), BBC English (vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar), Dr. GAB’s English for Today (grammar, vocabulary and syntax) English takeaway with Sani sambo (grammar and pronunciation), Jahun English Academy- JEA- (word usage and meaning), Table of knowledge TV (grammar) and many more. Others make their presentations by teaching English in a bilingual context.

Benefits of Online ELLPs

Technology's widespread use has impacted many facets of human existence, including education and learning. Many academics have attempted to investigate the viability and efficiency of social media integration in education. Due to technology, teachers can now include various teaching techniques based on the needs of their students for information and communication, people use online media or social media as a tool. Human beings of any age or status use social media as it is one of the most famous platforms. Kaplan and Haenlein ( 2010 ) assert that online media platforms are a gathering of web applications that permit the formation of different substances on the planet. It is not difficult to pursue these types of web-based media freely, because of this reason, the vast majority utilize them. These kinds of web-based media are frequently utilized by individuals, particularly students since they give them amusement.

Choi and Chung (2021) point out that online media have a few attributes, for example, intuitiveness, stage quality, and information-sharing system. Most of the students know how to update their knowledge about classroom materials quicker through web-based media in comparison with other media like paper-based materials. Karim and Hasan (2020) concluded in their study that a huge number of learners are satisfied with the online mode of learning. In another study, Ahmad (2020) conducted a study on learner-initiated language learning through social media sites among Yemeni EFL learners. He reported that online ELLPs helped build various aspects of their language proficiency. They were found more useful for their writing and reading skills, expanding their vocabulary, having access to authentic materials and communicating with English-speaking friends both native and non-native. When ranked regarding their use, Facebook rated first, followed by WhatsApp and then Twitter. In another research by Karim et al on the study of social media and learning English by undergraduate students of Assam India, the findings emphasized that students learn new things and gather new knowledge using social media. It equally stressed that social media plays an important role and helps the learners to improve all their skills in the English language.

Theoretical Framework

This study hinges on Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory. This theory is the most appropriate for studying technology adoption in the educational environment. Rogers (2003:1) discovers that “technology is a design for instrumental action that reduces the uncertainty in the–effect relationships involved in achieving the desired outcome”. He therefore proposes four main components of the theory which include innovation, communication channels, time and social system. All these components can be matched to English language online platforms, social media tools, level of comprehension and accessibility. At the utilization stage, Rogers (2003), posits that the innovation-decision process which consists of knowledge of the innovation seeks information about what, how and why. Persuasion follows as an individual chooses to adopt or reject the innovation. Moreover, implementation and confirmation are added as users of the online ELLP put the innovation into practice and look for support for their decision.

Rogers (2003) argues that innovations offering more user satisfaction, compatibility, simplicity, triability, and observability are adopted faster than other innovations. Rogers cautions that “getting a new idea adopted, even when it has obvious advantages, is difficult” (p. 1), so the availability of all of these variables of innovations speeds up the innovation-diffusion process. This will likely influence students’ adoption of new technology for self-learning.


This study adopts the qualitative research design. Focus group discussion is used as a method of data collection. Questions were raised based on the research objectives and the responses were analyzed through thematic analysis by deductive-semantic approach (Caulfield, 2023). This is an approach that involves analyzing the data with some preconceived themes expected to be found there. It entails analysis of the data to identify themes and patterns that are important in answering the research questions (Maguire & Delahunt 2017).

The population of the study comprises all undergraduate students of the Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau as of the 2022/2023 session. There are 1,417 undergraduate students in various fields of study. What binds them together is that they are all bachelor of education students. In other words, they are students undergoing training to be teachers of various fields ranging from sciences, social science and arts. Purposive sampling was adopted and 51 level two English language students were selected and taken as a group. Focus group discussion was conducted for thirty – minutes and the responses were recorded and later transcribed. The discussion questions were formulated from the research questions.

Theme: Awareness of Online English Language Learning Platforms

Sub-Theme: Logging Into Facebook

a.   Log into Facebook for news updates.

b.   Log into Facebook for picture viewing

c.    Log into Facebook from a friend’s device.

d.  Log into Facebook for political updates

e.   Log into Facebook for fashion and design.

f.     Log into Facebook when someone refers me to a page

g.   Log into Facebook for cooking recipes

h.   Log into Facebook and YouTube when a piece of video is shared by someone on Whatsapp.

Sub-Theme: An Idea about Online English Language Platforms

a.   I sometimes come across such platforms by chance

b.   Often come across it mostly on WhatsApp. And think of where they can be found.

c.    Have no idea

d.  Have no capable device

e.   Have an issue with the data

Theme: Preference for Online English Language Learning Platforms

Sub-Theme: Choice of Aspects Covered by the Platforms

a.   Aspect of sentence construction

b.   Aspect of reading and writing

c.    Aspect of vocabulary

d.  Word meaning

e.   Presentation with translation

f.     Word translation

g.   Word usage

h.   Reading fiction

i.     Aspects of pronunciation

j.     Speaking skills

Sub-Theme: Choice of Type of Instructor

a.      I prefer foreign to be familiar with the accent

b.      I prefer foreign so I can speak like them

c.       I prefer foreign because the language sounds more natural

d.     I prefer foreign to emulate the accent

e.      I prefer local because it is easy to listen to them

f.        I prefer local, their speech is easily understood

g.      I prefer locals because they sometimes translate and give contextual examples.

Theme: Benefits Of Online English Language Learning Platforms

Sub-Theme: Values Added

a.   It tells that an effort needs to be made for more learning.

b.   Conscious of errors in my English

c.    There is more to learn

d.  I sometimes share with my coursemates and friends.

e.   I save the videos on my phone.

f.     I ask a friend to share with me.

g.   I correct my friends’ errors sometimes and refer to those platforms.

h.   I often come across ideas taught in class.

i.     I save and watch again if shared on Whats app.


Analysis was deductive and, hence, was based on three themes.

Awareness of Online ELLP

Except for very few, participants reported a lack of awareness of the Online English language learning platforms. Those with the awareness get the opportunity mostly through sharing. Extract from the transcript relates that:

P1: I’m not aware of those platforms but friends do share on the class’s WhatsApp group and I find them beneficial.

P4: I don’t know about those platforms, I log into Facebook to see friends’ updates.

P8: When I log on to Facebook, I sometimes come across such platforms I watch and look for more if I have the time.

Preference for Online ELLP

On the choice of participants regarding aspects of the English language, most participants chose to have an online lesson based on vocabulary development. Moreover, there is an equal choice of foreign and local presenters.

P1: I chose the platform that makes presentations on word meaning and usage. It should be from an indigenous presenter so, he can even translate and give local familiar examples.

P12: I like knowing the meaning of words, I enjoy watching it. Especially from indigenous presenters

P21: I choose presenters who dwell on teaching pronunciation and speaking skills. I also like foreign presenters so that I become familiar with their accents.

Benefits of Online ELLP

Specifically, the participants show different levels of the benefit of online ELLP, however, there is still a need for sensitization on its utilization and benefits.

 An extract from the transcript reveals that:

P17: It is beneficial, but we need to have an understanding of these platforms. There are many things regarding our classwork that we need to know. English syllabus is very wide and I think we ought to make the extra effort.

P1: I sometimes use the knowledge to correct my friend’s errors and even pronunciation, the knowledge is from a platform I watch on Facebook


Findings from other research emphasize the use and benefits of online learning platforms in teaching and learning the English language. The present study goes further to investigate the use, preference and benefits of Online ELLP by undergraduates of the Federal College of Education (Technical) Gusau. However, the findings revealed that these set of students are not fully aware of these platforms. In regards to choice, most of the participants choose the vocabulary aspect of the language. Other choices were on teaching with translation, few were on speaking skills, pronunciation, reading and writing. There is a balanced opinion by the respondents between a choice of foreign or local instructors. Although the respondents are not fully aware of these platforms, they foresee great benefits regarding the online ELLP. Therefore, it is the duty of the English language particularly to create awareness for the students in utilizing these sites as it augments their classroom learning. The finding confirmed Roger's (2003) Innovation and Diffusion theory which emphasized that “getting a new idea adopted, even when it has obvious advantages, is difficult” Hence, the availability of more user satisfaction, compatibility, simplicity, triability, and observability make the Innovation-Diffusion process faster. These influence students’ adoption of new technology for convenience, discovery and self-learning.

Suggestion for further studies

Online ELLPs are all over the internet on various sites ranging from Facebook. YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. They need to be organized to be fully utilized by the target audience. Further studies should focus on finding ways of organizing them for tertiary education students’ consumption. Longitudinal studies could be conducted especially in Nigeria in regards to online ELLPs. Online English language learning instructors should focus on a selected curriculum targeting a particular level of learners. Future research should be on the analysis of the contents of online ELLPs to identify their suitability to different levels of learners.


Online ELLPs are all over the internet. They aim to make learning easier for the general public. However, the present study concludes that awareness of these vast materials by undergraduates of FCE(T) Gusau is very low. Moreover, the participants agreed on its benefits and have shown their priority on aspects of the online instructions. It is therefore pertinent to re-organize them in line with the Nigerian education objectives.


Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made:

1.      English Teachers at all levels of education should perceive Online ELLPs as an asset that augments the teaching and learning of the English language and therefore work towards creating mass awareness of their availability and benefits of engagement.

2.      English Teachers should serve as students’ guides in utilizing the online ELLPs. They should refer their students to the links and pages of such materials. They should find a way of sharing and discussing the content to promote their utilization among learners.

3.      English teachers should participate actively in making such online presentations, especially on topics of class discussions to serve as reference materials and models to their learners.


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