It is common knowledge that social media has streamlined communication in the past decade. We have never been more connected from various points on the globe. When it comes to learning a new language, the digital world has revolutionised how we study and communicate.
Right now, you can meet someone in Germany, who has never left the country but has nine American friends through social media. It is easy to take this aspect of life for granted. People on average spend at least two hours a day on social media. We know how to use social media to make memes and take glamorous pictures but how can social media help enhance our ability to learn new languages?
- Facebook Groups
- Create Content
- Set your apps to your target language
- Follow accounts in your target language
- Follow language learning accounts on social media
Facebook (or META) is the world’s most popular social media platform. It’s insanely popular and world renowned that the amount of dead people with facebook accounts will outweigh the living within the next 50 years. In terms of accessing people worldwide this has to be your go-to.
Facebook has a group feature where people who share similar goals or interests are invited to share their experiences, resources and network with each other. You can search for these groups by name and you can find an abundance of groups whose focus is learning another language. Regardless of what you want to learn, these groups can streamline your experience. They can also provide online support where it may be lacking in your personal life.
With countless new learners and others at various stages of their language learning journey who are willing to support you. This is a convenient and inexpensive way to build a network while reducing the anxiety of learning a new language.
If you do not know already, Reddit is the world’s home to thousands of communities. It’s often used for endless conversation and authentic human connection. Whatever you are interested in, there is a ‘sub-reddit’ (online community) for it you can join. Reddit is known for its high-quality content, despite its basic interface and aesthetic. Millions of users visit the site every day as users are constantly active and offer unique content based on the category.
This is why subreddits such as ‘language learning‘ have over 100,000 users. They all want access to the years worth of content available to them. The best part about Reddit is that you are granted privacy and anonymity. You do not have to use your photo or personal information to create an account. You can get the most out of the resources and converse with fellow users. All without them having a scent of who you may be which may be appealing to new language learners.
The video sharing social media platform Youtube and the audio streaming service Spotify are the world’s leaders when it comes to having an immense catalog of video and audio content. These platforms can be used to passively increase your comprehension skills. Using music and digital media to stay engaged is a great way to incorporate studying into your daily life. Depending on your target language, you can create whole playlists full of videos. Alternatively, you can create a playlist of songs that can take your learning experience up a few notches.
You don’t need much to get started either, even if you are struggling to pin down what you need. There are already countless playlists that allow you to take on your own journey. These platforms work best because they encourage you to actively recall what you hear or are listening to. This is the basis of storing a memory. Most importantly, they’re free, easy to use and perfect to give yourself a boost when picking up new languages.
Did you know that you may have already been slowly learning a new language without knowing? If you watch any Netflix shows like Narcos, Squid Game or Money Heist in its native language, you may have been passively absorbing a few key phrases or words without intending to. Watching shows in a foreign language with subtitles is an underrated way to gain comfortability learning a language. Doing this can help you understand another language’s dialect, tones, or sentence structure. Even something as simple as watching five episodes of a spicy Spanish drama series contributes to the progression of your language skills.
Don’t forget to use the subtitles to your advantage when learning your target language. For example, if you enjoy watching your Spanish soap operas dubbed, try watching with Spanish subtitles. See how you handle that then explore switching the audio to Spanish with English subtitles. Eventually, you will progress to Spanish audio with Spanish subtitles. This is a great method for those who don’t have people to practice with and need to hear what they are learning consistently. So next time you are about to feel bad about a binge watching weekend, remember it is for a good cause.
Engaging is more than just sitting on the sidelines, applying yourself and reaching out to communities. Creating content in your target language is how you get the most out of your experience. It is a unique and refreshing way to develop new learning methods and outlets. Creating content also makes your journey much more interesting. It doesn’t mean you have to put all your energy into becoming a new bilingual version of yourself. However, you can’t expect to reap the rewards without putting yourself in pole position. Use social media how it was meant to be used and join the conversation.
If you are anxious about displaying your new interest on your established social media account, don’t be afraid to make a new account. Completely dedicate the new account to learning and practicing this new language. By just putting yourself out there and letting those with similar interests come to you, you can grow a small community through your interests. You would be surprised at how easy it is. This can look like making an Instagram post every now and then discussing the food you were impressed by or which attractive artist you are currently obsessed with within your target language. Create your own world for what you love and let new interests flourish, you won’t regret it.
Setting App Languages
Changing the settings on an app to your target language can be an effective way to build on your vocabulary. This can help you to challenge yourself on a daily basis. Even when downloading a new game or app, switching to language you want to learn keeps you on your toes. It requires you to try and use your prior knowledge to break down certain words repetitively.
If you already have struggles with reading comprehension or don’t always feel like picking up a textbook to practice, this method is a perfect way for you to put the time in without too much effort. Thanks to social media, you get to immerse yourself in your new language in a way that was previously impossible. If you want to prepare for a trip to a new country, this can see that you get the vocabulary down. It helps to have an understanding of instructional and direction based words that are commonly used on computer and phone applications.
Follow Accounts in your Target Language
The primary benefit of social media is its reach. It is particularly important that popular brands reach as much of their audience as possible. New Language learners benefit the most from this since you have the ability to completely take charge of your timeline to your target language.
Sports, news and entertainment apps with massive followings typically have “sister” versions of their accounts. These accounts display the same content that caters to audiences in different languages. This is an opportunity to familiarise yourself with not only the accounts but the community related to it. For example, Sky Sports Italia updates multiple times a day. For sports fans trying to learn Italian, something as simple as reading the comments is incredibly progressive for new learners. Social media has been built on exploring and expanding interests, so use this to your advantage and let what you love lead you to fluency on your language journey.
Follow Language Learning Accounts on Social Media
This is a method many could easily overlook only because it seems to be deceptively straightforward. Language learning services like Babbel, Duolingo or Memrise typically stay active on social media, and can be a well of information and inspiration for the new learner.
Take advantage of the fact this information is displayed to educate above all. Don’t be pressured into feeling you have to purchase a subscription to learn effectively. Furthermore these social media accounts are ideal for beginners as they primarily post content which is easily digestible and appealing to potential first time language learners.
Using social media in a way that feeds you content to build your vocabulary and to test out your skills in a "real world" environment is in many ways more valuable than any book. Try to keep your goal in mind because as we all know, it's easy to wander off online. This way you can turn your free time into time well spent.