How To Leverage Social Media For Language Learning

social media for language learning

Massively used by people worldwide, 'social media is an Internet-based technology used by individuals to interact and communicate via gadgets.

Some social networking platforms have an enormous capability in assisting learners and the learning process by supplying opportunities to gather and access information to develop, strengthen, and share their knowledge (Gaytan, 2013). Social media networking sites are becoming an effective medium for entertainment and education. Students utilize social media as a medium of interaction daily. Since its inception, social networking has been rising; some use it for networking, some for fun and some for education.

Social media platforms in academic institutions allow students to interact with their mentors, access their course content, customize, and build students communities (Greenhow, 2011a, 2011b). As per a 2018 survey, ninety per cent of teens ages 13-17 have used social media. Seventy-five per cent report having at least one active social media profile, and 51% report visiting a social media site daily. Two-thirds of teens have their own mobile devices with internet capabilities. As of now, 60.99% of the 7.87 billion people in the world use social media; of eligible audiences aged 13+, there is 63% that are active users.

However, social media platforms are great for learning languages.

As per a report, electronic devices and social media create an opportunity for the students to experience collaborative learning and allow the students to share resource materials with colleagues (Gikas & Grant, 2013). Eight Egyptian universities confirmed that social media have a significant impact on higher education institutions, especially in terms of learning tools and teaching aids; faculty members' use of social media is seen at a minimum level due to several barriers (internet accessibility, mobile devices etc.)

Social media and mobile devices allow the students to create, edit and share the course contents in textual, video or audio forms. These technological innovations give birth to a new learning culture, learning based on collective exploration and interaction (Selwyn, 2012).

Another study conducted by Dhanya (2016) and Namaziandost and Nasri (2019) mentioned that learners could enhance their language skills due to the diverse avenues that social media has brought. Additionally, social media allows learners to participate in a relevant, real-time, ongoing actual conversation on these social networking sites (Belal, 2014) and claims social media reduces anxiety and improves language production.

To motivate language learners by providing a conducive learning situation to enhance active learning works. This can be done through social media (Rahmat, 2019). When students allocate their time on social media such as Facebook as an English learning tool, they learn the language and collaborate with individuals worldwide (Rouis, Limayem & Salehi, 2011) and accomplish language functions without meeting native speakers in real life through social media. There are negative impacts as well. However, there is now a trend on social media that could menace students' literacy ability and skills due to abbreviations and uncommon jargon in writing (Craig, 2003).

In this article, we highlight quite a few popular and most recommended ways to use social media to learn languages.

Use the 'Translate' Feature on Facebook

Most of us do the majority of our daily reading on Facebook. Although the platform is not full of literary masterpieces, it is quite helpful. By reading a foreign language on Facebook, you will be exposed to slang, common grammatical errors, and misspellings. This will force your brain to work extra hard because you will have to infer context, try to understand cultural cues you may be missing, and work out how to understand the way people talk and type. You can set "[your target language]" as your official language on Facebook and use the "Translate this message" feature. It can help you quickly learn the mentioned sentences' meaning. However, computer translation does very poorly with slang and abbreviations — you will see that machine learning is no substitute for learning a language yourself.

Listen to Music

Foreign-language music has never been more accessible to us than it is today. Spotify, YouTube and Netflix are global businesses used by plenty of people across the globe.

On these platforms, you can find something in the desired language you like the sound of, even if you cannot understand the lyrics. Then go through the lyrics online, in the original language. You can take the help of Google Translate or language dictionaries to try and figure out the meaning of the song.

Also, if you listen to it on YouTube, you can often find these songs subtitled in English. The translations may not be proper but will help you get the gist and, of course, understand the language to some extent.

Interact with People

Learning to read a new language is great, but to truly master it, you must also speak it. Attempting to talk, listen, and converse in a new language is critical to learning.

If you are not going to interact or talk to people speaking the same foreign language you wish to learn, you will not master the language. If you do not interact, you will need to speak it at home — even if it makes you uncomfortable. Otherwise, you will plateau, and your language will forever remain at a theoretical level.

Become Follower

The best way to begin your language learning via social networks is to follow several accounts posted in your target language. It would be helpful to start by thinking about an objective. For example, if you want to learn food vocabulary, you can follow a cooking account. Whether you are interested in sport, travel, memes, the basics of the general language or any other topic, there is an account for this. In addition, if you follow these accounts, they will start to appear in your diet, so you can add a little language practice into your daily schedule.

Make Boards on Pinterest

Pinterest can be a beneficial tool for language learners. The platform allows you to organize boards by keeping ideas and information (like vocabulary games and grammar rules) readily accessible, allowing you to reference it as needed, whether during an actual lesson or while you are planning to learn yourself. The platform's visual nature may be efficient for those children who learn best when they have seen images tied to words. Pinterest is bursting with creative ideas shared by language teachers and experts who have successfully taught foreign languages at home, ideas we can all take advantage of!

Join Social Media Groups

On social media networking sites, groups are a ubiquitous feature. They enable you to connect and network with like-minded people and interact with them and let you learn new things, like languages, vocabulary and knowledge about many things.

Join Blogs as Discussion Forums

Blogs have become an increasingly popular medium for content creation and are read by students worldwide. This is because educational blogs can be easily linked back to classroom groups, making it easier to quickly deliver knowledge and learn second languages. There are several platforms that you can use to learn languages.

Expert learning through online courses

Technology has ensured that one can learn anytime and from anywhere. There are plenty of online courses on social media sites that can be an excellent medium for those wanting to learn the basics and those who wish to gain mastery over a particular skill set. The courses are available for free or at subsidized rates. You can also use Learning Management Systems to manage your courses and track your growth.

Social media is indeed an excellent medium for students to learn and educate themselves by connecting with the right set of people. Learning can happen from more than one platform; social media provides just the right mix of a diverse set of platforms so that students can learn holistically.

Modify Your Phone's System-Level Language

Most of us are pretty familiar with our phone's operation; we can easily switch to multiple options on a very intuitive level. This different yet unique type of literacy can leverage our language literacy., change your device's language to the language you want to learn. It’s easy: Go to Settings > General > Language and Region > Device Language > [Your Target Language]

It might be a little more complex, but your basic familiarity with your phone WILL enable you to operate it in another language. You know what should be where, you know the general way things work, and you know what all your favourite apps say and do. Take this passive knowledge, and turn it into an active learning experience.

For instance, it would read:

Configuración > General > Idioma y región > Idioma del iPhone > [Tu idioma preferida]

This is a great way to learn everyday vocabulary. You will have to struggle more than usual to operate your phone but remember: this is a good thing.

In a nutshell, to learn a foreign language using our standard technology and social media apps, without having to change our environment, you can:

  • Watch Netflix series/Youtube with subtitles or dubbed audio
  • Change your phone's system-level language to learn vocabulary
  • Put your Facebook in a foreign language, and subscribe to foreign-language pages to see modern, casual language.
  • Use YouTube and Spotify to listen to foreign-language music and analyze/translate the lyrics.
  • Make the effort to connect and talk to people.
  • Create boards on Pinterest.
  • Join blogs, discussion forums.
  • Enrol in online courses
About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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