Hello! Welcome to the first post in a series of how to use social media to enhance your language learning. Pfft! Why social media? Isn’t that just where you go to see endless baby scans, engagements rings, and cat videos from people you knew once somewhere in your past? Well, yes, apparently. But we still can’t help ourselves. We spend time on social media. It’s 2015, it’s in our pockets, it’s going to happen. So we may as well make that time productive and use social media for language learning. Today, I’ll be giving you some tips on how to use Instagram for language learning.
Instagram now includes the option to upload (or record within Instagram itself) video content. There is a maximum time of just 15 seconds, which is ideal if you’re in the early stages of learning a language and want to practise a few basic lines. I’ve done this myself and found it very motivating. In fact, in October, I made a little video each day speaking Japanese and found it to be really productive. It’s a little scary at first but the benefit is that Instagram is a relatively friendly form of social media and if you ask for any tips or corrections in the description, if the right people find it, I’m sure they’ll be willing to help!
Here’s an example of this in action. Another bonus is that you get to pick the still cover image. As you can see, my speaking Japanese face is made for still cover images.
Another note about corrections. People are really helpful on Instagram! There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve posted some text, a video etc that I thought was correct, and people have helped me iron out my mistakes.
If you have a question about a grammar structure or vocabulary, it could also be worth posting a photo of the tricky bit in question and asking for help. Of course, if you’re new you may not have any followers that can help you with this just yet. Here’s where the next point comes in…
When I first signed up to Instagram, I couldn’t work out how I was ever going to find anyone or how anyone was ever going to find me. It didn’t take me long to realise that the little magnifying glass is the most useful thing if you want to connect with people on Instagram. Probably not really much of a surprise there. You can type a word or a name and search for people. Pretty logical. However, if you’re after something specific, try the hashtag feature. Think about it though. If you’re Japanese, are you going to be using English hashtags? Maybe, but probably not. So perhaps try searching via hashtags in the language you’re learning. You can find out about downloading different language keyboards for your phone to make this easier here for Apple and here for Android.
Follow specific accounts
Ok, to list every single useful Instagram account here for language learning would be tricky. Firstly, which language are you learning? Secondly, I don’t want to miss anyone out! However, I’ll share a few with you that I’ve found interesting (and regular) for specific languages. I’ve gone through these recently, and I’m only listing accounts here that have posted within the past day or two.
General & Multilingual
Follow other speakers
This is where Instagram differs from other social medias. Facebook is personal. People want to keep it private. I do too so I respect that. Twitter is too impersonal. Nobody really knows anybody else. Yet it serves its purpose. However, don’t you think Instagram fits that happy medium? The in between of not knowing people but still being happy to share with them? Instagram is the perfect place to follow 2 types of people to help with your language learning: native speakers, and other learners.
Of course, it doesn’t really need to be said; any kind of network that involved following instantly sounds like stalker paradise. I’m not saying you should stalk people. We should probably clear that up first. What I’m saying is that Instagram is a great social network to make connections on. Where to start? Way back up to number 3: hashtags. Has someone else just posted a photo of their shaky Arabic writing like you? Reach out to them. Try commenting in Arabic. Use emojis if you’re not too confident with your language skills yet. If you’re going to be spending time on Instagram then using your language skills while you’re there just makes sense.
Do the Instagram Language Challenge!
Have you joined in with the Instagram Language Challenge? It’s a fun way to get a little bit of extra language goodness into your daily life. The idea is that you use the daily prompt to think of a new word, phrase, idiom, or sentence in the language you’re learning and share it on Instagram with the hashtag #IGLC. You know what’s great about it though? It’s completely open to interpretation! There’s a couple of days saved at the end of each month to give you a chance to review your words and maybe even record a little video of you practising them if you’re feeling brave. Although I think you should totally be brave and do this bit! However, if you fancy making videos throughout the month then that’s cool too. There are no rules in this challenge. It’s not like a regular challenge, it’s a cool challenge. (Guess the film, anyone?) Here’s this month’s prompt list – it’s not too late to join in!
Do you use Instagram? How do you make it work for your languages? Share your ideas in the comments!