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How can Twitter facilitate language learning?

There's no doubt that Twitter offers a wealth of opportunities. But how can Twitter help us learn a foreign language? I've got some ideas, but I'd be thankful for your input as well! So comments are more than welcome!

Twitter offers several advantages for languages learners:
1) Here people usually write what they think in a conversational style. So it's a great tool to master conversational English/Russian/any other language that people use on Twitter.
2) You can make friends here and practice the language you are learning. Besides, if you make friends with the people who speak this language, you have a chance to get to know their culture, traditions and other interesting things without having to read boring textbooks ;) I strongly believe that it's impossible to master a foreign language without getting to know the culture of people in the country whose language you are studying because then you won't be able to understand many concepts which are unique only for this particular culture.
3) Twitter can be very useful for introverted foreign language students. They may be too shy in class to express their thoughts and feelings, but they can share them on Twitter! Besides, they can get feedback from other people, discuss different issues, and maybe even learn to persuade others. Twitter is all about interaction, and interaction is the best way to learn to communicate in a different language.

So here are some tips that I came up with for language learners:
1) First of all, it would really help if you use Twitter website in a language you are studying. This doesn't apply to students with the beginner level, but it's a good practice for those with intermediate level and up. You will get accustomed to some terms and slang words around Twitter, which will do you only good :)
2) You can use some of the following hashtags to find the information you need about learning foreign languages. What's a hashtag? It's a way of organizing tweets into subjects or conversation topics. Users can then search a particular topic, using a hashtag. You start with the symbol "#" and then type the topic you are interested in. (the definition was taken from this post by Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton)
Here are some hashtags about language learning:
#flteach  – Tweets about teaching foreign languages
#elt , #eltchat , #ESL , #TESL , #TESOL , #EFL  – Tweets about learning and teaching English as a second or foreign language
#langchat  – Tweets about learning and teaching languages
#mfl  – Tweets about modern foreign languages (This is the source where I took the information)
#edchat is a popular hashtag used by many to discuss educational or learning related issues on Twitter.
#DistEd – Distance education and e-learning
#innochat – Innovation in education
#Lrnchat – Learning issues for educators
I have found a great source of information about hashtags, including the tips on how to follow/save a hashtag, how to create a new one and much more! Here it is!
Hashtags can help you not only to find links to useful resources. They can also help you find people to follow! 

For teachers:
As I was preparing this post, I found a great presentation with ideas about using Twitter in class and after class with a group of language students! You can find it here. I hope it will be helpful for you!

Teachers, are you planning to use Twitter? Or are you using it? If so, how? Students, are you using Twitter for language studies? If yes, how?

Comments

  1. Thanks for info, Olga.
    I'll try my n-th attempt to use Twitter (:

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are very welcome! Twitter is very useful when you know how to use it. It can also be very helpful for your online business. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just wondering (and this is from someone who only speaks english) what/how learning languages written/typed/twitt'd and speaking compares?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Jonathan! Thanks for your question! Well, you have probably noticed that I specifically mentioned such term as "conversational style of speech". Conversational style is the way we would speak to friends, or relatives, or other people who we know very well and treat as equals. Formal style is different both in the vocabulary and in syntactic structures we use. Written language is often more formal than spoken. The sentences are generally more complex whereas in oral speech we tend to use simpler words and grammar structures. So one of the big advantages of Twitter is that here people usually write in an informal, conversational way, almost how they'd say it if they were speaking. And another advantage is that it's usually hard for a language student to understand informal speech because it's different from what is taught in their textbooks (not always, but often. You mentioned Queen's English once when we were talking. That's a good example of a more formal, or classical phonetics, grammar and vocabulary). So it really helps when language students can actually read the sentence and understand it, because then they'll be able to use the same structures in their speech more confidently. I don't know if that's a clear enough answer. If you have other questions, please let me know!

    ReplyDelete
  5. http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/speech/differences.htm - here you can read more about the difference between written and oral speech.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi, Olga.
    This week I found this post suggested by someone I follow on Twitter and I must say thank you very much for the great hints on the hashtags. I had been willing to create a paper.li about teaching and learning English, but had no idea what sources I could use. The hashtags provided by you finally gave me the opportunity to create it and now both my students and colleagues have access to tons of daily information available in only one URL.
    So thanks again! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Lisandra,
    You can't imagine how happy I am that you found my post so useful. Thank you so much for letting me know! I'll gladly follow your paper.li news about language teaching, too!
    P.S. I didn't find those hashtags all by myself. The posts by Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton and Zaid Ali Alsagoff (I gave links to their posts in this blog) were my primary source of info about hashtags.

    ReplyDelete

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