Probably one of the most overlooked ways to help supplement your language learning is: Social Media. There is a very simple thing to do: Go to either the top or bottom of the page and look for “language” and then change it to the language you are learning and you’re done. Just a word of caution: There are still quite a few social networks (like Mixi or ВКонтакте[VKontakte] ) that are either limited to a few languages (or complete monolingual) and may not be available in the one you’re learning. Let’s go over the two major ones first: Facebook and Twitter!
After you have changed the language (it’s located at the top of the screen), start looking for interesting native speakers to follow so that you can learn natural phrases that native speakers use. Just search for topics, tags or keywords in the language you are learning and if they interest you, follow them. If they become boring to you then feel free to unfollow them. Then use an online dictionary (in many cases a slang dictionary would help too). You could even re-tweet and reply to the people you are following for not only written practise but you could also make new friends in the process.
Whether you have personal page or a page dedicated to your business you can use this essential social media to also learn languages. How is this possible you might ask? It’s simple! You go to the page of the main page before you log-in (or after logging in it doesn’t matter it will still be in the same general place) and change it to the language you are learning. When you update your status, why not do it in a language you are learning?
Make status updates in the language in the new language. – This is a great way to practise your new language (even if it’s not exactly correct) and get feedback from friends who are native speakers. Just be aware that not all of your friends are really going to appreciate you only posting in your new language (unless all your friends are native speakers of course) and not posting in their native (assuming it’s yours too) language at all.
I remember wanting to practise my Japanese as much as possible that it annoyed a friend of mine to the point where she posted something like this: “English Koko! English!” so I tried to at least make some English posts shortly after it or provide an English translation next to it or in the comments to keep that friend (and other friends not interesting in learning Japanese or other languages) at ease. Just so that why they can understand certain posts and feel included in the conversation.
Add friends who speak that language. – When you do this make sure that you let them know why you are adding them (if you do not know them or gotten to know them personally) and if they accept your request you now have somebody to practise with.
Utilise the chat feature to practise with native speaking friends in real-time. – This could be great for responding in the language in a more quicker fashion (after doing it many times) but keep in mind you may need to consult either an online dictionary constantly or just repetitively asking the person to describe words that you are unfamiliar with so that why you can understand the context better.
One of the things I really like about Google+ is the Google Hangouts. Use the Hangouts for practising your spoken skills. This will probably work best if you already have friends (native speakers) with Gmail accounts or you have a high level in the language, you could boost your popular by interviewing a YouTuber who speaks the target language you are learning. Keep in mind that this might be more or less difficult depending on their popularity and unwillingness to participate in a Google Hangout. Other than you can use your Google+ profile to add people you find interesting into a circle dedicated for the target language and if you are gutsy enough, invite them all into a Google+ Hangout chat.
YouTube (DailyMotion/Vimeo/Veoh, etc)
There is so much content on YouTube alone that you could find anything from music videos, TV Dramas to movies in the target language. It all takes is searching for outstanding keywords or even very simplistic ones (ex: “Svensk filmer“). Be sure to change language to the one you are learning as well as the location(s) too. This will assist you in finding enriching content that will be essential for supplementing your language learning. If possible, avoid films with native language subtitles.
Wait avoid clips in with subtitles in my native language? Are you insane Koko? How am I supposed to learn the language if can’t understand what is going on in the clips?
I have seen it so many times with friends and around the internet of claiming to learn languages like Japanese through native language subtitles on TV Dramas or Animé. Sound familiar? I am not saying you cannot pick out a useful word or two here and there but let’s face: When you look at the subtitles are really paying attention to the words actually being spoken in the target language on the screen? No, you are not. You are relying on the subtitles to tell you what is going on.
Are subtitles really that damaging?
No, especially if they are in the target language and although it is highly unlikely to find subtitles that match the script exactly on the movie you are watching (unless someone literally went in and placed them into film and put it online. Like this clip where even though there is Chinese subtitles, underneath those subtitles is the transcribed script.) The subtitles in target language will usually not make what is being said on the screen and will use synonyms and summarise what is being said on the screen so that way the subtitles do not continue onto the next scene.
I feel like I am able to understand and learn more from it being raw and subtitled within the target language than I am when I am looking at my native language on the screen. I know that many of you reading this have probably done this as well. You’re watching a movie in another language with subtitles in your native language and even though you can hear the language, it’s basically background noise to you can you ignore them and try to read the subtitles to understand what is going on. Or worse you watched in dubbed into your native language (Anglophones are extremely guilty of this!)
I only just recently started using this seeing as it finally branched out of simply being a Facebook application that was invite-only. Like how Google+ was when it first came out and now everyone with a Gmail/Googlemail account has a Google+ integrated automatically. I can’t say too much other than it does have quite a few other languages that one can change to. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Do you use social media often? Which ones do you use? Are there other social networks that I did not mention about that are useful to language learning? Let me know in the comments below!