Forums seem to be a quite popular thing among people on the internet. There’s so many topics to choose from that one could discuss just about anything on a public forum. It’s also a great way to connect with new people who have like-minded interests. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to meet them in REAL LIFE. (*Gasp*) Besides who doesn’t want e-friends? Not only could this train your output skills (writing) but also your input (reading) skills as well.
Finding Topics That Interest You
This is extremely important when it comes to finding subjects that interest you. Because let’s face it, most of us what to be able to describe our interests in great detail our new language(s). Who wouldn’t? Let’s narrow down our searches to specific keywords that match our interests. Think about topics you enjoy discussing on a regular basis and then translate them into your target language.
Be as specific as possible otherwise use keywords that best match that topics themselves.
After you’ve found a forum, find topics that you are familiar to semi-familiar with and go from there. If they aren’t any that relate to something you know or like, try using the search feature if they have it. Usually (but not always) forums have certain sections that discuss specific things within a niche. These are organised into subforums so you can find content related to a certain theme there.
Ex: If you’re visiting a language learning forum they might divide the subforums into different languages, less common languages, general how to learn language tips, and so on and so forth. Have a look at the forum on the right. You can see that not only do they have a scroll down navigation bar at the top of the page but there’s also a search box as well as topics arranged in specific categories with most recent topics to the right.
Learning Everyday and Internet Slang Not Found In Textbooks
As you become more active on these forums as either a member or someone who just browses topics that relate most to them, you’re bound to come across colloquialism, slang, and chat-speak abbreviations in your target language(s).
I would recommend translating these phrases: “What does ______mean?” or “What does _______stand for?” in your target language(s). That way, you’re more likely to find out what the abbreviation means and then you can look up the phrase from there.
However, sometimes you won’t find this task easy at all. If you see familiar words or new neologisms that can’t be found in an online dictionary, then it’s probably a word or phrase unique to that particular forum and the only way you’re going to know its meaning is to discover the context it’s used in. I’ve been a member of a few forums and I’ve noticed familiar words change in meaning or completely new words being made up from being apart of that specific niche community.
If you’re luckily they might have these unfamiliar terms already defined for you in a certain section of the website itself or in an easily accessible part of the forum (especially in sections for newbies).
Should I Become A Member of These Forums?
That’s really up to you! Personally, I would say don’t join unless you are able to contribute to the conversation in a way that’s understandable to the forum. Not recommended for beginners! Members will understand if you don’t speak their language natively but you have to specify that. Many forums have a section for the new members to introduce themselves. I would mention there that you’re not a native speaker. You could also get access to members only parts of the forum if you join.
However, before joining a forum it’s always a good idea to read their rules and guidelines to see what’s acceptable to do and what’s not. Many forum moderators and administrators are typically friendly to newbies and will be glad to redirect you or your post if it’s in the wrong place. But, there’s also a chance that they may not be and you could accidentally get yourself banned because you didn’t read the rules.
Another issue that you need to be aware of is that some forums actually require active participation and you will have to be posting on a regular basis in order to prevent your account from being banned and deleted.
Do you use forums to immerse yourself and help motivate you to learn your target language(s)? Was there unique expressions or slang you’ve learnt that was specific to that forum? Do you read or are you an active participant in the forum(s) you’re a member of? I’ve love to hear your recommendations for forums as well as how forums have inspired you to keep going in your target language!