What is social media?
Social media includes any kind of website that people use to connect with each other. That includes sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious, Technorati, Digg, forums, blogs and anywhere else people talk to each other online in english of course. There’s also an increasing number of sites designed specifically for language learning. They allow language learners to talk to each other, and with native speakers, and often include language learning exercises to try. What all social media platforms have in common is that they allow people to create informal networks that are not bound by geography. That is what makes them so useful to language learners: they are informal, fun, easy to use, and allow access to a far broader range of experience than would be possible without them.
Things to do with social media:
1. Find like-minded native speakers
Use Twitter and Facebook to talk to native speakers on their own terms. Think about your interests and activities, and try to find native speakers who share them. So, if you’re into mountain biking, find a page in French on Facebook aimed at French mountain-biking enthusiasts. If you’re learning a language with a view to move abroad, find pages related to jobs you’d like to do, or towns you’d like to live in. It’s a great way to increase your knowledge of specialist terms that are relevant to you, as well as to improve generally.
2. Find new tools
Use specialist social media sites for language learning like forums in English. Many offer you the opportunity to try exercises and then chat to fellow language learners. They are like a virtual international classroom. While many people still want to learn English and other languages in a real classroom, many others are unable to do so because of time and cost restraints. So, if you want to improve your job prospects by taking business lessons in English but you can’t travel to the UK or the US for whatever reason, free social media sites could make this possible.
3. Find solutions with fellow learners
Learning a language online rather than in a classroom could be a lonely experience. If you’re not careful, you can miss out on what is usually a social experience. Aside from the classroom-based learning, when you study abroad, your new city inspires you to immerse yourself in the culture. For example, for international students at somewhere like St Georges in English school London can provide a vibrant social setting in which to learn a language. But when you are learning on your own, all those long evenings spent memorising vocabulary could keep you from interacting with others. Social media allows language learners to chat informally in their own language or the one they’re learning, picking up hints and tips on how to progress.