Oh the irony! As I try to write this article, I am distracted by social media!
Whether we like it or not – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others, are here to stay. There are now 2.3 billion active Facebook users – more than the population of any country. So how can we use social media to our advantage? Can you use it to improve your English skills? Let’s see if we can change distractions into learning opportunities.
Switch to English
It is very likely that most of the content in your social media pages will be in your mother tongue – as it comes from friends and colleagues – however, don’t underestimate the power of changing the language of your environment. If your homepage is in English, it will automatically give you some connection to English every time you use your phone.
Think about this question. What do you currently use social media for? Depending on that answer, here are some ideas of how to anglicise the experience.
- To stay up to date with news and current events – Try subscribing to popular English-based news pages, such as The Guardian or The Huffington Post, on Facebook or Instagram. If your News Feeds are still heavily in your mother tongue, then try unsubscribing or un-liking some pages. On Twitter, try following English-speaking people that interest you. Avoid people who can’t spell!
- To provide light entertainment – On Instagram, follow 9gag for funny memes, follow natgeotravel for animals and landscapes with short stories, and if you like quick cooking tips, try Food52. If those pages don’t have you reading enough – then follow tinderconvos, to see what funny things people send each other on tinder.
- Networking – If you use social media to talk to your friends and family, you probably can’t suddenly start doing this in another language! However, you can network with other people with similar interests or of your profession, for example with Facebook pages for primary teachers, people who play chess, or those who are living abroad.
- Share opinions and comment – Unfortunately, social media can often be a bad place for exchanging ideas – we have all seen comments sections that turn into childish fights! One good way to get around this is to use Kialo for your discussions! It is a website and app that is designed for more intelligent and creative debates.
Do it yourself
The main difference between traditional media and social media is that in social media you are an active participant, rather than a passive reader! So, make your own content! You don’t have to be a professional to write sentences or film a short video! There are many people today who choose to create content in English despite it not being their first language – in fact, over half of written words on the internet are in English despite only 5% of the world having English as their first language! Don’t worry about making mistakes – just give it a try. If there isn’t an active Facebook group about the subject you want to talk about – make one!
How do you use social media? What for? Do you think social media can help you to learn English, or anything else? Let us know in the comments section below.