“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
– Erik Qualman
Social media is a double-edged sword. We can misuse our time by scrolling mindlessly through posts and news that we don’t need, or we can adopt surfing habits that will help us advance our language-learning goals.
Surprised? Don’t be! It’s time to be re-introduced to social media as a learning platform. Social media is convenient, manageable, and allows exchange of ideas, self-study, and progression of language skills. It offers fertile ground for rich social interactions through sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and many more. This makes it an ideal setup for learners looking to enhance their language skills. Learning a new language or improving a second language can be extremely challenging and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it could be turned into a fun activity by using some popular social media websites.
Here are five ways by which social media can be used to advance your proficiency:
Join language -learning groups on social media
An easy way to improve your English or any target language is by joining and subscribing to pages and channels on social media that share English/ language content, such as grammar tips, vocabulary lessons, spelling rules, idiomatic expressions or interesting facts. You could follow English-training pages on Facebook and/or Instagram or subscribe to popular YouTube channels to learn new lessons daily. The next time you log-in to your social media account, you’ll notice that you now have a variety of learning materials on your timeline.
You could also follow English Online social media pages: Your English Online on Facebook, English Online on Instagram, and English Online, Inc. on LinkedIn to get language tips and inspiration, as well as information to help you settle in Manitoba.
Follow language enthusiasts on your social media account
Immerse yourself in real-world English by following the accounts of native speakers and other people who are proficient in the English language. Most language enthusiasts share vignettes of their life on their accounts on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Journaling and chronicling day-to-day life are one of the most commonplace activities people do on these platforms. You could follow the accounts of proficient speakers from your workplace, neighbourhood, and social circle. Don’t forget to focus on building a genuine friendship first! This can prove to be one of the most interactive and natural ways of exposing yourself to everyday English.
Change your phone and app settings to your target language
Changing your phone and app settings to your target language is another wonderful way to increase your vocabulary base. Your familiarity with your phone will help you navigate it even when the settings are in another language. Of course, this might be slightly inconvenient or time-consuming, but it will certainly help your brain translate most functions to your target language. In a few days, you will be one step further on your language-learning journey. Likewise, changing the language settings on your social media apps can be helpful in integrating language-learning with your routine activities. Did you know that social media accounts offer the option to translate content to another language? Try it to acquire new terms! An active step towards passive learning, isn’t it?
Follow the trending topics in your area
Following news and trending topics in your area on social media using hashtags can also boost your vocabulary. You will notice that much of the words used are recycled in these articles. Over a period of time, you would have acquired the essential vocabulary to read and express yourself on various topics with ease. This can help build your confidence during small talks and discussions.
Take note that the language may not be perfect when following trends on social media. You may notice wrong grammar, incorrect spelling or excessive use of slang, just like in real life. This is your opportunity to be discerning (learn from the errors), pick up common expressions, and see language patterns to help you communicate like a native English speaker.
Post/ Tweet/ or Blog to practice
Last but not the least, don’t forget to express yourself and practice your skills by creating your own content. You could choose to share your reactions or opinions in the form of a short post or caption. You could also create a video-story by recording a small interactive reel about yourself, telling the audience what you like, or your opinions on a certain topic. Or you could read a short poem or a story for your friends and followers. The possibilities are endless!
It is important to remember that language is both a receptive as well as a productive skill. You might not be so confident yet with your language skills, but just try and make your own unique content. Practicing your skills often will help you master them. Don’t forget, no one is perfect. Practice makes perfect. Besides, you never know, your posts and stories can end up inspiring another person on a similar journey!
By Tanveen Tatke
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