How I Use Snapchat for Language Learning (+ free downloadable guide!)


After the last post focused on goal setting, in this post, we’re turning our attention to social media and how to make the most of it for language learning. In this post, I’m sharing how I use Snapchat for language learning. Time to get snappy.

Have you tried Snapchat for language learning? In this post I share my three favourite ways to use the amazingly versatile free tool. Click through for your free downloadable guide!

One thing that’s great about the Internet is what it’s done for language learners. We’re connected. We can share ideas, motivation, and progress with the aim of encouraging each other to keep going.

I also love YouTube in particular for this reason.

However, the problem with YouTube is that if you want to practise your languages, whatever level they may be, they’re left there in the open, out of context for all the world to see for as long as you wish to keep them public.

This is great and you may well get comments of encouragement and motivation. But it may not always be constructive.

A while ago, I was considering sharing regular multilingual vlogs on YouTube with an aim to practise more of my languages, including the ones that don’t get a look in because I’m not actively studying them, as well as the aim to share some more “raw” content with you.

I was all set to go and didn’t really care about the negative comments I’d get from the inevitable errors of a person babbling away in languages that she hasn’t studied for years.

However, something was holding me back. Maybe I wasn’t set for the negative comments after all.

YouTube is wonderful, but my advice would be simply to ask yourself one question before posting a comment there or anywhere else on the Internet: would I say this to the person’s face?

Anyway, this blog wasn’t supposed to be about YouTube.

It’s about Snapchat. And Snapchat filled that void for me.

Snapchat allows me to share daily snippets of my life in different languages, it allows you to get a more personal and unedited look at my life and my language learning, and it allows me to do this with no fear of negativity coming my way.

Here’s the thing – Snapchat doesn’t have comments, or likes, or dislikes, or sharing.

And you know what else is awesome for impromptu multilingual stories? They’re deleted after 24 hours.

You have the option to save them for yourself of course, but you have no “profile” as such with a stored history of your every mistake.

So if you too are looking for a space to practise out loud but in private, if that makes any sense whatsoever, Snapchat could be just what you’re looking for.

Shall we start by being totally honest? Snapchat wasn’t easy to figure out from the get go.

I spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos and reading blogs about how to use it. It didn’t make any sense to me!

Your Free Guide

I’ve explained how things all work in a Bonus Guide that you can download to your inbox riiiiggght abooouuut now by clicking the image below. Grab your guide, and then read the rest of this post to understand how to use this versatile tool for language learning. Ready? Let’s go!

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is one of those social media platforms that is so often associated with the younger generation, so you’d be excused for reading this if you’re over 19 and feeling like you’ve just discovered your first grey hair. Vomiting rainbows and bad press about teenagers sexting may be the only thing you’ve heard about this incredibly versatile app, but there’s so much more to it that that.

Here’s everything you need to know in 5 bullet points:

  • Snapchat is an image and (9 second) video sharing app
  • You can share private Snaps on a one-on-one basis and also Snapchat Stories that are available for anyone that follows you to see
  • Snaps can be viewed for up to 10 seconds once opened
  • Snapchat Stories expire after 24 hours
  • You can download anything you create, such as a Snapchat Story, to your phone (before they expire!)
  •  
    That really is the barebones of Snapchat.

    Their Support pages on their site have a clear and detailed guide on everything from how to download the app to how to add the current temperature to your Snap. I know, right?!

    Related: The Quick Start Guide to Instagram for Language Learning

    How to Use Snapchat for Language Learning

    Daily Multilingual Vlogs

    The way I started using Snapchat was to practise various languages throughout my day based on my day. I’d share my breakfast in Italian, my working day in French, and my study time in German.

    Taking those little moments and translating on the spot made for a great way to practise my language learning.

    It’s pretty darn versatile too.

    My personal preference is to speak in the target language, write text over the top of the clip with an English translation, and then select and emoji flag for the language I’m speaking in that clip to put on screen too.

    Here’s an example of a Snapchat Story I saved to my phone back in October. YouTube doesn’t seem to recognise the photo stills, so excuse those grey screens – that’s where there’s a photo!

    However, you could completely flip that on its head and speak AND write in your target language, or speak in English and write in your target language. So many choices depending on how to you want to best use the app for you at whichever stage you are at with your language.

    Related: The Quick Start Guide to Pinterest for Language Learning

    New Vocabulary

    This is where most textbooks and pre-created courses fall down. And, let’s be fair here, it’s because they don’t know your life.

    They don’t know that you’re a blogger and the words for meta tag, blog, and plugin will be more useful for you than “Where is the train station?”

    Or that you love waterskiing and want to talk about this in the language you’re learning for a competition.

    Or that you’re in the National Pug Lovers’ Club and have a rather niche vocabulary to learn to connect with your French counterpart.

    You get the idea. We all have our own interests, jobs, and hobbies. And chances are we’ll want to talk about them in our target language.

    Chances are also that these things will be part of your daily life.

    Take photos (or ‘Snaps’) of the new vocabulary items across your day and save them to your Snapchat Story.

    Later in the day, watch it back and with your trusty dictionary at hand, get to work looking up these words for the things you’d never find in a textbook.

    You can even then record a video Snap of you reciting your new vocabulary, save it to your phone and you’ve just created your own personalised language learning resource with pretty minimal effort. Woohoo!

    Related: The Quick Start Guide to Facebook for Language Learning

    Speaking Practise

    So if the thought of sharing snippets of your daily life via multilingual vlog or vocab hunt doesn’t appeal, here’s one that might just be for you.

    Use Snapchat as your accountability for speaking practise on days when you don’t have a language exchange or lesson scheduled.

    It sounds ridiculous, but most weekday mornings, I speak a little Japanese even when I don’t have a lesson by using Snapchat as a way to hold myself accountable. It’s perfect!

    Most mornings during my study time I’m still dressing-gowned-up and sleepy-eyed, so I don’t even have to show myself, but more often, the words I’m reading.

    Related: The Ultimate Guide to Language Learning Podcasts

    Your Free Detailed Guide: How to Use Snapchat for Language Learning

    Feeling inspired?

    If you want to give Snapchat a go for your language practise, download your free X page guide on how to do just that. It covers the points in this guide in more detail as well as giving you some tips on how to overcome shyness with using a tool like this.

    Click the image below to get your guide. Yay!

    Give it a go and follow me by searching ldlanguages to get you started. I look forward to sharing my imperfect language learning with you on Snapchat!

    Join Social Media Success

    And if you’d like to learn more about how to use social media for language learning, join Social Media Success, my 4-week online course about just that. I share with you 4 core elements of language learning and each week you focus on one and use social media to up your language learning. It’s pretty nifty.

    Do you use Snapchat for language learning? How do you make it work for you? Or maybe you’re feeling inspired to try it out now? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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    About Lindsay Dow

    Why hello there! I'm Lindsay and I do Languages. I blog, vlog and teach all things language. I blog about languages right here at Lindsay Does Languages, and about travel over at Mundo Trundle. If you're looking for language learning inspiration then stay a while. You might find just what you're looking for. :)
    • ElfinW

      Hi Lindsay, I am reading your guide and your idea is really great ! I still have to get comfortable with Snapchat, it’s sooo different from other social networks. Have you tried using it with your students ? I feel there is potential there, but I still have to think of the logistics.

      • I haven’t tried with my students yet although I have mentioned it to some of them! 🙂 Look forward to seeing you there soon!

    • Timothy Gibson

      Reading this article really was inspirational. A friend of mine introduced me to Snapchat a few months ago. Not knowing how to use my Snapchat timeline and being interested in language learning, I decided to use my Snapchat timeline as a means of learning various languages. It’s great to read that other people are doing the same.