What attracts us to learning a new language? Is it a book you found strolling in a bookstore? An upcoming trip you have planned to France? Whatever it is, learning a new language can be a challenge and sometimes even more challenging to stick with. There are so many tools to aid people in learning a new language. However, finding one that works for you isn’t always easy.
It’s common knowledge the best way to learn a language is through human interaction. Books, podcasts, and apps are all great ways to start to learn a language but eventually we have to put our skills to the test with real people. This can sometimes be challenging. If you’re learning Icelandic in New Jersey for example, there’s probably not a lot of opportunity for practice.
With technology advancing every day, there will always be a new language learning tool, but in reality how much time and money do we have to spend on them? That’s why social media is becoming such a mogul in the language learning world. There are thousands of accounts designated to teach language to non native speakers by native speakers. Books are great and so are audio courses but there’s no resource that’s more accessible, relevant, and updated daily than social media.
No matter how much animosity we have towards social media, whether it’s that annoying facebook post or that one person who posts too many selfies, we all use it. Social media has become an element of our day to day lives. In my opinion, there are four key strategies when learning a language: goal setting, community, connection and progress. Social media allows us to find and implement these at our fingertips.
Goals: Social media is a great place to set goals. Setting goals for yourself is one thing, but announcing your goals to the world adds a lot of pressure. You can use social media, and your followers, to hold yourself accountable for whatever goals you set. There are new challenges for users almost daily that thousands partake in. Challenges like #icebucketchallenge where you can help a good cause or #30daychallenge where you can share 30 days worth of photos, or #bookchallenge to keep you up on your reading game. Why not use it for a #languagechallenge and set a goal to learn a new language.
Community and Connection: Human connection is a great way to see if you’re retaining a language. Social media represents millions of peoples narratives globally. It’s through them we create the view of the world and each other. Instagram operates with over 800 million users around the world and supports twenty-four different language pairs. Twitter generates over 300 million active users and offers more than forty language pairs. These are just two examples of social media platforms that are available today. With such an expansive user base, social media allows us to easily interact with and learn from people around the world. Most social media platforms offer an in app translation tool, allowing users to interact with and connect to people outside of their fluent language. It allows us to be a part of a community that may be physically inaccessible from where we are.
Progress: Social media is a great way to track and show your progress. Whether its through a story or a post, documenting your language learning journey on social media allows others and yourself to know what you’ve been working on and what you need to work more on. Stories act as a great way to practice speaking your new language, and if you mess up it’s only there for 24 hours. Hashtags make it easy to keep up with, find and explore other peoples language journeys. If you’re setting goals, forming a community and making connections, it’s inevitable that you’re going to make progress.
Using social media for language learning is simple and accessible. It doesn’t take much time to set up, and there are no purchases required. It’s simply using the apps you already use every day in a new and enhanced way.
Some cool accounts to follow: