Social media. Business marketers and political parties use it as a means of promoting their products, services, and campaigns. Others use it to discuss health and social issues. But social media is as an educational tool, too, and can provide a great opportunity for facilitating language learning. Below, I share how you can learn a foreign language better by immersing yourself via social media networks, plus some powerful little features that you might not know about.
Social Media: A New Way of Socializing
Social media serves as a medium for socializing and exchanging information, both of which are a critical aspect of learning a language. Social media tools like Skype and Google Hangouts can be used to acquaint yourself with fellow language learners or native speakers, and you can even join existing language learning groups on Skype or Google+ (use Google Hangout for voice and video conversations).
Verbling, a language-learning website, shows an example of how Google Hangouts can be utilized for language learning. Verbling offers several languages (such as French, Spanish, English), using Google Hangouts as their virtual classrooms. There are up to 10 users from different countries in a class, allowing members to learn a language together and share information about languages. Apart from that, Verbling also has a feature that allows users to practice with random native speakers via video chat.
Change the Language Settings
The option to change the display language has great power for language learning. Often found at the top corner or bottom panel of a webpage, many users often miss it. YouTube has more than 55 available languages while Facebook has more than 65. The availability of foreign languages in social media has made the competition even higher than before. Thus, it is common to see websites providing several language services. You may immerse yourself by using different languages for different social media tools, such as Esperanto for Facebook, Spanish for YouTube, and Mandarin for Skype. You will expand your vocabulary as you use them.
Without realizing it, the “language settings” feature can provide exposure to numerous words in foreign languages for which you may already grasp the meaning before checking the dictionary. The position of the words gives you an idea about the meaning, for instance “Timeline”, “About”, “Photos”, “Friends” and “More” in your Facebook profile page will always be in the same position, even though they are translated into foreign languages.
Download Social Media Language Apps
You will find an abundance of language apps when you search in the app store, such as iTunes store or Chrome store. Numerous apps offer only lessons and others offer dictionaries. Language learning has become easier than before, thus, developers will not miss this opportunity to gain market share and profit. One example of this is the language app Lingapp, a Mandarin-learning app start-up company in Taiwan that has recently hit the news, after the co-founders ran around Taiwan promoting their language app.
Most of the language apps work by providing a set of courses for different levels of learners both online and offline. You may leverage your language learning by discussing these courses with fellow language learners in your society or practicing the phrases that you have learned on the street with locals (if you live in the country of the foreign language).
Social media has served as a new way to communicate in recent years, becoming an integral part of the modern lifestyle. Since it occupies so much of our time, especially for the younger generation, why not utilize it to facilitate your language learning journey?