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As much as I try to resist, when I pull up Chrome, my finger automatically gravitates toward the F or T keys. Facebook and Twitter have some kind of gravitational pull over my hands, I swear. Apparently, I’m not alone—28% of all time spent online is on social networks.
There’s no reason that social media has to be a time suck, though. In fact, I highly recommend social networks as language resources (I mean, I do run a few of them for Transparent Language). I’ve discussed how to use Pinterest to learn a language, but Twitter just might be my favorite social platform when it comes to languages. Here’s why:
1. Following language-specific accounts for new vocab, grammar, etc.
Here’s an obvious one, but if you haven’t searched Twitter for accounts devoted to your language of interest, go do so right now. Transparent Language has more than two dozen language-specific Twitter accounts, to which we post a Word of the Day, blog articles, tips, etc. There are plenty of other pages out there, too. I’ve been learning French for more than a decade and @frenchwords still teaches me a thing or two each week.
— Transparent French (@frenchlanguage) August 2, 2015
— French Words (@frenchwords_) August 7, 2015
2. Following well-known native speakers to see authentic language use.
Accounts that intend to teach you a language are great resources, but the beauty of Twitter is the abundance of natural and authentic language use. Follow famous musicians, athletes, authors, politicians, etc. who speak (and tweet in) your target language. Chances are they’ll introduce you to new slang and abbreviations while exposing you to the country’s pop culture.
https://t.co/eNLCVpofz4 < NOUVELLE VIDÉO : LE HATER ! Ça commence bien mais un commentaire haineux vient tout gâcher… RT ÇA À FOND !! <3
— Cyprien (@MonsieurDream) June 12, 2015
3. Following local news sources to keep up with current events and culture.
We all know the benefits of reading the news. Following news accounts in the target language doubles those benefits—not only are you practicing the language (typically at a higher level than you’ll find in other resources) but you’re also keeping tabs on what’s going on in your region of interest.
— Le Monde (@lemondefr) August 7, 2015
And if the traditional news isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of other journalistic accounts out there to pique your interest. From sports columnists to fashion magazines, there’s plenty to choose from.
— Vogue.fr (@VogueParis) August 7, 2015
4. Search for new words or phrases.
Twitter isn’t all about following, though. The search functionality can be very powerful for language learners. Come across a new term that you don’t quite understand? Type it into Twitter’s search box to see real-life examples of how to use it! For example, if I didn’t know the French expression “tomber dans les pommes” (to fall in the apples—what?), I could Twitter search it to give it some context. Turns out, it means to faint!
— Michel Barisano (@MichelBarisano) August 7, 2015
Who are you following on Twitter to help with your language skills? How else do you use social networks to practice?