Following on in our little series on enhancing social media to your advantage for language learning about Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter so far, today I wanted to share some ideas on using Facebook for language learning.
The thing about Facebook compared to other social media platforms is that we tend to use it more often than others. When people complain about spending too much time on social media, they’re generally referring to Facebook.
Before we go on…
Before we get into the ways that you can maximise Facebook for language learning, let’s trim down your current feed.
Establish When and How You Access Facebook
Do you check it on your phone throughout the day? Do you check once or twice a week on desktop computer? How does it make you feel when you are on Facebook?
Chances are however you use Facebook, you’ll want to tidy things up a bit first.
Recently, I cleared my Facebook feed and now it’s so much better!
Clear Your Feed
There are a couple of ways you can do this before piling the language on top of everything. Firstly, stop following people. Yes, I know how scary this is.
“What if they see and then hate me and don’t invite me to their wedding?!”
I get it. And that won’t happen. Facebook now allows you to be friends with people but also to follow them (or not follow them).
By unfollowing people (you know who I mean, the people you went to school with or worked with 10 years ago but can’t delete due to mutual friends) you’ll still be Facebook friends with them, they won’t know you’ve unfollowed them, and your feed will be less cluttered.
The second thing you can do is to stop following pages and groups that don’t interest you. This works in much the same way as with friends. You can still remain a member of a group but unfollow notifications and just check in when you need to without getting distracted from scrolling your feed.
If you’re on a desktop, the easiest way to do this is click the down arrow in the top right hand of your blue bar at the top of Facebook. Select ‘News Feed Preferences’ from the drop-down menu.
You’ll then see a pop-up box with a few options, but in particular ‘Unfollow people to hide their posts’. Click away and clean your feed, amigo!
If you’re on mobile, click the three horizontal line icon in the bottom right hand corner, scroll down and click ‘Settings’ and select ‘News Feed Preferences’ to get to the same place.
If you’re on desktop, there are a few Chrome extensions that you’re probably going to love.
News Feed Eradicator – this is one of my favourite Chrome extensions! I often have to visit Facebook during my working day for Lindsay Does Languages reasons, not Lindsay Williams reasons.
News Feed Eradicator means that I don’t get drawn into a meaningless scroll. It’s useful for language learning if you want to focus and check in to particular groups or pages without getting distracted.
Strict Workflow – Even if you have News Feed Eradicator installed but still find yourself heading to Facebook and clicking around when you don’t want to be, try Strict Workflow.
This extension works based on the Pomodoro method, which I love, and blocks certain websites during 25 minute sessions, followed by 5 minute free time when the sites you’ve listed are unblocked.
Now your feed is ready to go, we’ll get started with input, in other words, ways to use Facebook to fill your feed with examples of language from other people to read, listen to and watch.
Change the language
Chances are most of your Facebook friends speak your native language, which instantly means that a lot of Facebook will always be presented to you in that language.
If you’re lucky, you might have some international friends on there sharing statuses and the like in different languages. However, this isn’t necessarily the case for all of us. So how can you make sure you get at least some exposure to your target language?
Change the language of your Facebook.
How do you do this?
You’ll need to get to your Facebook Settings. Click the down arrow on the top right side of the blue bar at the top of Facebook, and you’ll see Settings in the drop-down menu right underneath News Feed Settings.
When you’re in Settings, you’ll see Language as it’s own tab on the left hand side. After clicking Language, you get quite the selection of language options.
Firstly, select the main language you want Facebook to be in, then you can edit what you see in your News Feed by answering three questions:
1 – Which language do you want stories to be translated into?
2 – Which languages do you understand?
3 – Which languages do you not want automatically translated?
And finally, you have the option here to write multilingual posts. Enable this and we’ll come back to it later in the post.
Follow famous folk
So now your generic Facebook lingo such as ‘like’ and ‘What’s on your mind?’ is in your target language and you’ve tailored the rest of your language settings, it’s time to work on your feed content.
Perhaps our little feed edit earlier has left your feed a little empty.
To fill your feed with language without resorting to adding strangers, why not try following pages of bands, brands, or other people and stuff originating from countries that speak your target language?
When you click the Pages tab in the left sidebar on your homepage, you’ll see the pages that you currently like. You’ll want to click on ‘Top Suggestions’ before we do anything. These will be suggested based on your current page likes and groups etc.
If you’re not sure where to start with finding popular pages sharing content in the language you’re learning, check out Social Bakers and pick a country that speaks your target language to see the fastest-growing pages and the most popular pages in that country.
And if you’ll still looking for more, you can use the search bar too. Woop!
Join like-minded groups
Believe it or not, there are plenty of people out there with the same interest in languages as you. Facebook Groups make it easier to find them.
I don’t want to necessarily suggest specific groups here – Facebook will do enough of that for you. Plus it completely depends on your languages, your level in these languages, and what you’re after.
How do you find these groups?
Head to your homepage on a desktop, on the left sidebar underneath the header ‘Explore’, you’ll see ‘Groups’.
When you click ‘Groups’, you’ll see groups firstly that your Facebook friends are in, groups that are local and then groups by popular categories.
You may get a few ideas here of relevant groups to join for you, but you might need to do a little searching too by using the search bar to narrow down what you’re looking for.
If you’re feeling inspired, you can make your first group my one – the #WeDoLanguages Facebook Group. I go live Monday-Thursday to answer your questions and share motivational tips for independent language learners and teachers.
The group is growing into a really friendly one with tons of support and cool stuff being shared. Yay! Join us here.
Of course, the magic really starts to happen when you begin to produce your own examples of the language you’re learning. Yay!
Share your goals
One of the key factors of successful language learning is accountability.
Telling yourself in your head that you’re going to learn a language is one thing, saying it out loud is a bit better, publishing it on Facebook? Well, no-one wants their friends and family to be asking how your studies are going for you to reply, “They’re not”.
Sharing your goals on Facebook, with a simple text status update, an image or a video, however you choose, will help you to hold yourself accountable.
Practise writing and post on Facebook
If it’s writing practise you want, Facebook can be a great way to document your progress.
You can set yourself a goal to regularly write something on Facebook in the language you’re learning, either on your profile or in a group that is full of people who might be able to help and correct you.
Remember earlier when we enabled the ability to post in multiple languages? Well, now that’s made your status update box a pretty useful language learning tool.
See that little ‘Write post in another language’ text? Click that, select your language, and add as many other languages as you wish to practise writing in.
But what’s so great about this? Why not just post in one language?
As well as giving you the chance to do some instant translations into multiple languages, according to Facebook “Your post will be shown to your followers in a language that is most relevant to them. Comments and likes will be added to the same post.”
This means if you’re worried about annoying friends with lots of crazy different languages in your feed, don’t be. Facebook will keep this nice and tidy behind the scenes. Woop!
Share video of you speaking on Facebook
However, if it’s speaking you’re looking to practise, you could try sharing video of yourself speaking in your target language, scripted or unscripted – there’s no rules! You can even do this live now on Facebook.
Sounds kinda scary, right?
Yes, and that’s good!
I can’t guarantee that you’ll only get joyful comments and happy thoughts sent your way but you have a community of supportive fellow language learners in the #WeDoLanguages Facebook Group.
One of our rules is not to share live video or individual writing practise because this isn’t this place for that. But it is the place to turn to for support if you struggle with someone saying “Hey you suck! You can’t speak that language!”.
If video sounds like something you want to do but Facebook doesn’t sound like the right place for you, try Instagram for that purpose.
Do you use Facebook for language learning? Share your tips in the comments!