What role do the social media play when it comes to learning new languages?

Gone are the days when Facebook was just about scribbling on people’s walls, Youtube was just about watching randomly interesting videos and Twitter was just about following people. Times have changed. All these varied social media platforms now use their strengths to do more – for instance, they can now help people around the world learn new languages.

In recent times, social media and learning new languages have certainly become inseparable. The reason? The social media makes the learning languages an easier process by being fun, interactive and interesting. The same environment that helps people connect with each other also comes forward to make learning a more enriching experience.

The language of social media

With the internet sealing information and knowledge into an everlasting pact, many language oriented networking sites have come about. Here’s a glimpse of a few of such sites.

Live Mocha – The year 2010 saw Time magazine naming Live Mocha among their top 50 websites. Facebook-like in feel and functionality, Live Mocha focuses on building networks between people wanting to learn new languages. Students can create their own profiles and interact with other students. Live chat functionality promotes discussion. The ‘Mocha points’ feature makes sure students feel driven to do their coursework well and on time. Even teachers can win brownie points thanks to the ‘Teacher points’ feature. Anyone who helps others with reviews, translations and flashcards becomes entitled to scoring Teacher points. www.livemocha.com .

Italki – Italki is another platform that brings social media and learning new languages together. 100 languages, 200 countries and 900, 000 users find space on this community. Italki gives people the opportunity to connect with native speakers of a language they want to learn. A free language exchange programme is available for members. Here, members not only get to learn a language they are interested in but also give lessons in their native language. http://www.italki.com/

My Happy Planet – Loads of written as well as video lessons make My Happy Planet a good place to be. The search tool makes it quite easy for students to find native speakers of different languages. Members can increase the rate of learning activity by crafting lessons themselves. http://www.myhappyplanet.com/

Old is gold

The social media’s role in learning new languages is not restricted to language-specific networking sites only. Students could also rely on their usual social media platforms to keep up with their learning.

Facebook – Send a friend request, ‘like’ a post or even comment – Facebook opens up the world of social connectedness. This is a platform where a page can be created to post language lessons. And, whoever ‘likes’ this page, is automatically able to view the lessons.  Every time there is an update, students get an alert message. Once a lesson is posted in a new language, students can use Bing, a translation tool, for deciphering and learning.

Twitter – Learning languages through social media can be a simple process on Twitter. Students can start following their foreign language teacher. The teacher can post lessons in a foreign language and set a rule that students can tweet back only in that language. Learning a new language on Twitter, however, can be especially challenging because of the 140 character limit.

Youtube – As a visual medium, Youtube can be a good learning platform. Students can look up language-specific videos and interact with other students through comments. As a means to perfect a language, they can even upload their own videos having coordinated with their teachers.

Why does it work?

The social media’s role in learning new languages has been a growing one because of sheer convenience. People can now learn without being chained to the confines of their homes. They can be queuing up somewhere even as they take a test in a new language. There is no dependence on specific devices, making the process more accessible.