Social networks and minority languages speakers: the use of social networking sites among young people
Keywords:young people, social networks, Welsh, Facebook, social networking sites, language use
AbstractThis paper outlines the results of a project carried out in Wales in 2010 looking at how extensively young Welsh speakers used the language within their social networks. A study of 200 young people aged 13-18 years was conducted in four Welsh medium secondary schools, two in south east Wales and two in north west Wales. An on-line questionnaire was used to gather information about the young people’s family and educational background, the language of their home, their self-perceived language ability, their use of Welsh and English in different social contexts, and their use of Welsh and English in emails, texting and social networking sites. Then a series of focus groups discussed these issues in more depth. We found that almost 90 per cent of the young people interviewed used Social Networking Sites regularly, and the language they used on these sites reflected to a large extent the language they used with contacts in the real world. There was some evidence that Social Networking Sites afforded young people in the more Anglicised areas of Wales the opportunity to use Welsh on a daily basis, and thus the use of Social Networking Sites can be useful in maintaining a minority language. However, it is necessary to consider innovative ways of encouraging young people to use it within their favoured social media.
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