Like it or not, we live in the age of social media. Even now the king of that hill – Facebook – has quickly gone from the good guy to the black sheep of Silicon Valley, people flock to the various platforms helping to connect people, businesses, and everything in between. But social media can do more than provide you with a limitless supply of cute puppy pictures (although the importance of that particular feature should never be underestimated). There are also plenty of ways you can use these websites to improve your target language.
Change your language settings
Perhaps the easiest and most obvious way to make social media work for your language skills is to change the language of the platforms themselves. That way, every minute you spend scrolling through baby-photos will also keep your mind focused on your target language. And sure, even if the people you follow don’t post in the language you’re trying to learn, managing the settings themselves will teach you important vocabulary related to the ever-growing role the Internet plays in our lives. Learning vocabulary related to media and privacy might not be the most fascinating on the planet but it will most definitely be useful. Just make sure you don’t click “yes” on anything without fully understanding what you’re agreeing to.
Follow people posting in your target language
Once you’ve changed the settings, it’s also time to change the content. Fill your Facebook or Twitter feed with people and news outlets posting in your target language. While it might take a while to find the ones that cover topics you’re interested in, it’ll certainly be worth the effort in the long run.
The idea is to provide yourself with content that you’re excited to consume and make the learning process fit your interests. While this will, of course, mostly improve your reading skills, you should also try to find some video material which would do wonders for your listening and understanding. The more ways you immerse yourself in your target language with the media you consume, the easier it will be to pick it up.
Make learning social
Making your language learning into a social process is an excellent way of keeping your motivation up. And what better way to achieve that than with social media. Whatever language you’re learning, you’ll be sure to find a group dedicated to people just like you on Facebook. Joining a couple of those will provide you with a support network and a way of communicating with people who face the same problems as you. Not to mention that you can use these groups for actual hands-on practice. While their members may not be native speakers, it’s often easier to start your language practice with other learners since they feel less intimidating. And you’ll be sure to find someone (or someones) in those groups interested in either a language exchange or simply a regular practice session.
Join a language practice event
If you prefer to do your speaking practice face-to-face, you can also use social media to find language exchange groups near you. Meetup is a great place to start your search – they list available groups for most major cities and plenty of them meet at a very regular basis. Couchsurfing is another option for finding people who might be fluent in your target language. You can also check out our list of language practice events – we’ve picked out the most frequent and popular ones for you to start with.
Follow accounts posting about language learning in general
Of course, it would be excellent if you found accounts that post about language learning IN your target language but if it happens to be one of the more obscure ones, that might be a tall order. Nonetheless, following a few accounts that simply provide great study tips or a daily dose of motivation might be a good idea. Not only will accounts such as Fluent in 3 Months or The Polyglot Dream offer you tried and tested tips from real polyglots, the people following these pages also form an encouraging group who can help keep you motivated. You also shouldn’t forget to follow Teacher Finder since we post brilliant advice articles (such as this one).
Conclusion – Make learning engaging with the help of social media
The best way social media can help you is by making learning your target language an immersive and enjoyable experience. Start by simply changing the language settings and then graduate to (almost) exclusively following accounts that post in the language you’re trying to learn. In the meanwhile, you can also use social media to find support groups of other language learners, find an event for speaking practice, or simply pick up tips on how to get better at learning in general.