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August 2020 - Year 22 - Issue 4

ISSN 1755-9715

A Study of Indonesian High School Students’ Perception on the Use of Instagram as English Instructional Media

Made Hery Santosa is a lecturer at Ganesha University of Education, Bali. He has been extensively speaking in various international TESOL forums and workshops for Indonesian teachers and headmasters. His main research interests are Education, TESOL, Digital Pedagogies, Educational Technology, Learner Autonomy, CALL, Translanguaging, and Learning Approaches.



This article presents the results of a small scale research conducted at two Senior High Schools in Bali, Indonesia on the high schoolers’ perception of Instagram as English instructional media. The results highlighted the students’ thoughts that Instagram would help them in learning English, especially to improve their writing and listening skills.



Instagram, social media, instructional media, learning English



Social media is a term that is thrown around a lot by people these days. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) assert that social media allows the creation and exchange of user generated content that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0. Similarly, Dewing (2012) defines social media as the wide range of Internet-based and mobile services that allow users to participate in online exchanges, contribute user-created content, or join online communities. In other words, social media is Internet-based application and mobile services that allow users to socialize or share a connection with other users in online communities. There are many kinds of social media, such as; Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Path, YouTube, Snapchat, SinaWeibo, Vkontakte, Tumblr, Qzone and many more.

Nowadays, social media has an important role in human life. Firstly, social media is used not only as a mean to do communication but also a place to do socialization (Miller et al., 2015). Secondly, in business, social media is used as a mean to promote products. Social media is used effectively in many ways to create a buzz, connect with customers, gather customer insights, and also for customer service and support (Kou, 2012). Thirdly, in the field of education, social media is used as an Educational tool (Lederer, 2012).

In the field of education, social media has been used as a learning tool since years ago. It is because educators can use social media to utilize contents that enables engagement in students’ learning (Blair & Serafini, 2014). Several researches have been conducted on the use of social media as teaching and learning media. Tur and Marín (2014) conducted a research about the use of Twitter for debate activities. The result of their study showed that Twitter is an effective way to increase student engagement and build better communication skills. Meanwhile, Leaver and Kent (2014) conducted a study about the use of Facebook in education. The result of their study showed that Facebook could increase social interaction between students during their studies.

The users of social media itself also always increase every year. According to Kemp (2018), there are more than 3 billion people around the world now use social media, up 13 percent year-on-year. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, and Qzone are the most top five Social Network Sites (SNSs) that are used by people all around the world. For Instagram, it has more than 800 million users around the world with 61 million users under 18. The use of Instagram always increases every year because of the feature that is offered by those SNSs always develops. Instagram is a social network of sharing pictures and one minutes videos which can be posted to or from other social media sites and platforms. Instagram’s popularity, as an emerging social network site, has been increasing sharply. Around 250 million images and videos are posted daily in this interactive platform.

Because of its popularity, there is a big possibility to utilize Instagram as an instructional media. Instructional media can be defined as multimedia that conveys information through two dimensions; audio and visual, which can be used not only in teaching process in the classroom, but also used in learning process outside the classroom. There are several activities that educators can do by using Instagram as an instructional media (Arta et al., 2019; Priyanti et al., 2019; Putra et al., 2018). For example, an educator can ask his students to review a book and create an Instagram video by sharing two or three key points they have learned. Another way is by asking students to upload a photo and create some sentences in the form of a paragraph or essay based upon a list of themes or concepts from the curriculum. Instagram can also be used as English instructional media as it can increase students’ vocabulary due to high exposures of the target language in the platform.

English is one out of six languages recognized by the United Nation as a challenging language to be learnt. However, at the same time, it is very useful for those who may be able to master it. According to Sumiarsa (2013), there are several benefits of mastering English, especially for Indonesians. Firstly, mastering English helps people connect to other people around the world easily. Secondly, mastering English helps people get a better education. Third, mastering English eases people in pursuing a promising career. This mastery can also be enhanced with the readiness of global skills’ acquisition (Santosa, 2019).

Although there are benefits that people may achieve by mastering English, in fact, the result of English Proficiency Index (EPI) in 2019 showed that Indonesian students had a low proficiency in English. Indonesia was in the 61st position from 100 countries (English First, 2019). The fact rises an intriguing situation. English is commonly learned at school by the Indonesian students since they are in 4th grade of elementary school, which then will be continued until the students are in senior high school grades. This means that roughly, the students have learnt English at least for about 9 years. However, the evidence from the EPI score shows that their proficiency is not satisfactory. Issues, like learning dimensions, involving learning approaches, styles, facilities, and environment may also be taken into consideration (Santosa, 2017).

Based on the aforementioned phenomena, a study about perception of Instagram as English instructional media of Senior High School Students needs to be conducted.



This research was conducted at two Senior High Schools in Bali, Indonesia. The schools were selected purposively as they have brought technologies in their English instruction supported by well-equipped connectivity facilities. The design of this research was explanatory sequential mixed method research design. Mixed method research design was a procedure for collecting, analyzing, and mixing both quantitative and qualitative methods in a single study (Creswell, 2014). In the quantitative part, the data were gained through a questionnaire. Meanwhile, in qualitative part, the data were gained through an interview. Mixed-method design was selected to enable the researcher to respond to the question optimally and at the same time to minimize the biases and weaknesses of both forms of the data (Creswell, 2009). The method was used to collect the data was cross-sectional survey method, in which the data were collected at one point in time (Creswell, 2014; Ellis & Levy, 2010).

The aim of this study was to investigate the data about the perception on the use of Instagram as English instructional media of Senior High School students in selected schools in Bali, Indonesia and to describe skills of four basics English skills that can be improved of Instagram as English instructional media. The data were obtained by using a questionnaire and also an interview. The items of the questionnaire were developed from the theory of Arsyad (2011). The questionnaire was distributed to 152 senior high school students in the previously selected schools. Prior to distribution, the questionnaire were tested using Inter-rater Agreement Model (Gregory, 2014) for validity and reliability check. This method of analysis involved three experts of the related area to evaluate the instrument based on the expert judgment sheet that had been prepared. From the expert judgement analysis, it was found that the instruments were valid (content validity = 1.0) and reliable (alpha = .87).

The questionnaire data were processed using Microsoft Office Excel to find out the mean score of each dimension. An ideal mean score analysis was conducted to find out the students’ perception on the use of Instagram in this study. The obtained mean score was calculated using the ideal mean score formula proposed by Koyan (2012) to find out the qualification level of each dimension. The result of the calculation reveals the qualification level which indicates the perception category of students’ responses ranging from very high, high, average, low and very low was revealed. These categories mean that the respondents’ perception may range from very positive to very negative perception respectively.

The data from the interview process were analyzed using Interactive Model Analysis (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The interactive model consisted of four activities, namely data collection, data reduction, data display, and data conclusion. The data were collected using interview, then transcribed and coded to be displayed. During these processes, some reductions took place when unnecessary data were present. At the final stage, all displayed data were verified or concluded to answer to the research question.


Findings and Discussion

Based on the data analysis in the questionnaire, it was found that the senior high school students’ perception on the use of Instagram had expressed a positive perception on the use of Instagram. It was indicated by the mean score of the questionnaire result (69.24) and based on the ideal mean score calculation, it is in the interval of 69.08<M<78.24. This interval means that the students’ perception on the use of Instagram as English instructional media falls into a ‘High’ category, which can be classified as ‘Positive’ qualification perception level. The result of the ideal mean score calculation can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1. Ideal mean score analysis of  students’ perception of Instagram as English instructional media

Specifically, respondents in this study perceived that Instagram as English instructional media could clarify the material, overcome the limitation of senses, space, and time, increase students’ learning motivation, and provide students environment experience. This finding is similar to the study conducted by Yadegarfar and Simin (2016) who examined students’ perceptions of using Instagram application for learning grammatical accuracy of word classes among Iranian undergraduate TEFL students. The result of their study showed that EFL students had positive perception of Instagram application for learning grammar. This result may provide a stronger support to the study conducted by Kitchakarn (2016). The study confirms that a positive attitude toward social media as a learning tool can enhance students’ language learning performance.

Regarding to the data, the results of the perception questionnaire were divided into four dimensions, they are clarifying material, increasing learning motivation, overcoming the limitation of senses, space and time, and providing students environment experience. Furthermore, the result of the questionnaire was supported by the qualitative data in the form of interview result.

The first dimension is clarifying material. The result of the questionnaire showed that the respondents perceived this in high category (mean score = 28.03) and it was corresponded to the positive perception. This means that students think Instagram can be used to explain their learning materials more clearly. The result was also supported by the responses of the respondents (signified as R) during the interview section. As what had been implied by R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7 and R8, Instagram as instructional media could clarify the material delivered because its user-friendly features and capabilities. Instagram is able to display video, photo, text, and sound that could make the process of teaching and learning run smoother. The result of the study is parallel to the study by Mansor and Rahim (2017) who found that one benefit of Instagram as language learning is clarifying as well as enhancing students’ reading, writing, questioning, and arguing skill. Destiana, Salman, and Rahim (2013) posted a similar result stating that social media is ease of use and it helps speakers and writers to deliver their messages successfully. In short, Instagram as one kind of social media that could clarify the material delivered because of its rich multimodal features that eases learning and instruction of a foreign language, like English.

The second dimension is overcoming the limitation of senses, space, and time. From the data analysis on this dimension, it was found that respondents showed a high perception (mean score = 15.04) and it corresponded to a positive perception. The respondents felt that Instagram assists them in overcoming the limitation of senses, space and time in learning, making the process of learning easier, more meaningful, and manageable. From the interview responses, the respondents mentioned that Instagram could help them in managing their learning more easily, anytime, and anywhere. Using Instagram platform has helped the students to access and experience the English learning process in a more ubiquitous fashion. Yadegarfar and Simin (2016) asserted that with relevant tool, learning and instruction of a target language, like English can happen both synchronously and asynchronously.

The third dimension is improving learning motivation. In this perception dimension, the respondents’ opinions were analyzed and the result shows that their perception is in the high category (mean score = 14.24), and it corresponded to a positive perception. This result means that the respondents think that the use of Instagram improve their learning motivation. From the interview data, respondents agreed that Instagram could increase their motivation because it challenged the students to create creative content to be uploaded in the platform. With its complete features, like photo, video, comment, direct message, and live video, students felt the process of learning becomes more interactive, interesting, and is able to create a seamless learning environment in the online discussion. A similar conclusion was shared by Good and Brophy (1994 in Alizadeh (2016) who stated that motivation cannot be developed in a challenging classroom and teachers should create an effective learning environment for their learners. Since, motivation plays an important role in the foreign language learning, teachers should therefore take any possible measures to arouse student’s curiosity and develop their interest in English learning (Long et al., 2013). One of the ways to increase students’ learning motivation is by trying to use Instagram as an instructional media as it could provide opportunities and challenges to the students to create creative contents and make the process of learning more interactive, interesting, effective in the online discussion context.

The last dimension is about providing students environment experience. The result of the questionnaire analysis was in high category (mean score = 14.28) and it corresponded to a positive perception. The result means that student respondents feel that Instagram helps them to interact better with their environment and people in their surroundings, both online and offline. From the interview, respondents admitted that Instagram as English instructional media could improve their interaction not only to their classmates and their teacher but also with people in their society. Al-ali (2014) on his research stated that using Instagram in classrooms could assist in creating a socially connected community of learners, as the tool itself gives room for students to communicate and socialize with each other beyond classroom constraints. Similarly, Waycott, Sheard, Thompson, and Clerehan (2013 in Al-ali, 2014) also noted that in regards to use of social media in class, using Instagram for a project that is not limited to a single class also helped to create a stronger community of learners among students in the same level, but in different sections.

In summary, based on what have been discussed previously, it can be said that students have positive perception of Instagram as English instructional media. They think that Instagram can help clarifying the learning materials, in ubiquitous context happening anytime and anywhere, and in the end, they feel that the use of the tool as instructional media improve their motivation and interactions during the learning process.

The result of the interview showed that there were two skills of four basics English skills that could be improved by Instagram as English instructional media, namely writing skill and listening skill. Respondent 1, for example, stated that:

“… skill that can be improved is writing skill. Because one of simple and easy activity that can be done if Instagram used as instructional media is writing.” (R1, F)


R n          : Respondent number

M/F        : Male/Female

The statement from R1 was also supported by the statement of R4 as presented in this transcription:

“… if Instagram used as instructional media, teacher will ask the students to write caption, give comment to friends’ caption. Because of the comment that is given by our friends, we know our mistakes.” (R4, M)

The data transcripts were in line with the study conducted by Mansor & Rahim (2017). They found that students were able to enhance their writing skill by using Instagram as a media for engagement in the process of learning. In this research, student respondents found that Instagram could assist and improve their writing skill as the tool provides the medium for writing activities. Students can upload photos or videos and write the description in form of sentences, paragraph, even essay on the caption feature. Ferlazzo (2014, in Blair & Serafini, 2014) have emphasized earlier that the way to use Instagram as a media is to have the students create photo essays based upon a list of themes or concepts from the curriculum, while at the same time using ‘photo prompts’ to engage students in writing responses based upon the photos, or for taking pictures of a step-by-step process while adding a caption to each photo.

Besides writing, student respondents also think that listening skill can be improved by the use of Instagram as English instructional media. Some students revealed that they use it for some activities utilizing their listening capacities. R3, for instance, stated that:

“… because we can hear so many English video, for examples, music video, conversation video. Because there are many videos to be heard, our ability can be improved.” (R3, F)

The statement from R3 was also supported by the statement of R6 as shown below.

“In my opinion, hearing English spoken is difficult. In the classroom, listening activity is done rarely because the limitation of the tool (speaker). So, if Instagram use as Instructional media, we can learn English every time we are opening our Instagram account. Besides, there is no pause option on Instagram, so when we miss some words of the video, we have to re-play from the beginning…” (R6, M)

These data were relevant to the study conducted by Khalitova & Gimaletdinova (2016). In their study, it was found that Instagram mobile application improved students’ listening comprehension skills, in particular, the ability to understand opinions and specific information in authentic speech. Respondents of this research pointed out that listening skill could be improved by listening to as many as possible English videos in the sharing video features available on Instagram. Besides, unavailability of  pause option in Instagram in a way, bring a positive impact to students as they have re-play the videos as many as they wanted until they got the message or the point of the video. This practice supports the provision of rich opportunities for learning while maintaining academic integrity, for example plagiarizing contents (Santosa et al., 2019).

It can be concluded that student respondents in this study found that Instagram helps them in learning English skills, particularly in the writing and listening capacities due to the features provided by the tool.



Based on the discussion and result of the study above, it can be summarized that high school students had a positive perception of Instagram as English instructional media. They think that Instagram can help them in learning English. Specifically, the respondents think that there were two skills that can be improved by the use Instagram as English instructional media. The skills involved writing and listening skills as the tool’s features accommodate the respondents’ learning needs most. Teachers, students, principals, and policy makers are encouraged to try to implement Instagram as instructional media for English teaching and learning process. Other similar social media-based learning tools, like TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp, or a more advanced learning management platforms as in Schoology and Moodle are suggested for further studies.

Theoretically, this study implies the development of the learning theories from the previously conducted studies, involving constructivism, connectivism, and technological pedagogical framework and at the same time broadens the resources of related studies ahead for those who want to conduct the same topic. Practically, Instagram gives more options not only to the students but also to the teachers to design meaningful and effective teaching and learning process. Students are provided with flexibilities of place and time as they can learn English everywhere and anytime. They can revisit the learning materials and tasks in their convenient time with ease of access.



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    Made Hery Santosa, Indonesia

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