The fastest and most efficient way of learning a foreign language has always been total immersion, using the language on a daily basis, almost to the exclusion of your mother tongue. For people who are not living in a country where their target language is spoken, this is easier said than done.
Luckily for the modern language learner, the internet — and especially social media — offers unrivaled scope for interacting with native speakers on a daily basis, offering an excellent way of increasing your immersion and instinctive language abilities. Among the various social media platforms, Twitter is especially helpful for students of foreign languages, for these reasons:
Most newspapers, including those in your target language, run Twitter accounts tweeting their most important headlines. The very nature of tweets means that the sentences will be short rather than overwhelming, and as a bonus will often include some wordplay or other illuminating examples of usage. If the headline is easy to read and interests you, you can continue to the main story; if not, you’ve only lost a few seconds while still practicing your skills.
Follow Social Media Savvy Linguists
There are some Twitter users who are leaders in language. One such user is Erik Hansson. These Twitter users can provide you with a wealth of useful information on language, culture, localization and more.
Swedish word of the day: längdåkning = cross-country skiing.
Credit: Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se#sveword pic.twitter.com/2YRtDyRLBD
— Erik Hansson 🇸🇪 (@erik_hansson) January 5, 2020
‘Word of the Day’ Accounts
Whichever language you’re studying, there will likely be at least one Twitter account posting a word or phrase of the day, with a translation and examples of use. Depending on the popularity of the language, you can probably find many such accounts, and following a few can be a quick but manageable way to build up new vocabulary on a wide range of topics.
Checking the follower lists for the daily vocabulary accounts is an efficient way of finding other people studying the same language as you. This can give you an opportunity to interact, but you can also learn a lot simply by following people who talk about their struggles and successes with their studies.
Rotation Curation Accounts
Rotation curation refers to Twitter accounts in which different people take turns tweeting around a certain topic for a week or so. Many of them are related to a particular country, and although they are often written in English, they can give a valuable insight into the culture and lifestyle of the region whose language you’re learning. And if you find the tweets of a curator particularly interesting and helpful, you can usually continue following them in their native language account too. Try searching Twitter for accounts such as “I am (country of choice)” to see if there’s an account relating to your language.
Celebrity and Gossip Accounts
Social media is a veritable playground for celebrity gossip and other ephemera. While this might not be your first choice of reading in your mother tongue, following suitably “lightweight” accounts in your chosen language can give you a relatively simple way of tuning into modern idioms, slang, and other usages which would be difficult to tap into by other means. Following the conversations these accounts provoke can also give you strong insights into the casual language that you’d be likely to come across in everyday situations.
Few people find that becoming proficient in a new language is easy, but it needn’t just involve hours of dusty book learning and reams of baffling grammar. If you’re already one of the millions who use Twitter regularly, then simply following a few of these kinds of accounts can be a powerful and enjoyable stimulus toward everyday fluency.
About the Author
Peter Swift has been working in writing, content development, and online business for over 15 years, of which a decade was spent as content and marketing manager for a credit brokerage. His writing experience covers diverse topics including finance, marketing, online business, and health.
Peter’s specialty is to research new topics in depth, and deliver succinct and engaging texts with an emphasis on value for the reader. He will happily create content in US, British, and Australian English. He also offers German-to-English translation services at competitive rates.
Peter is originally from England but now lives and works in a small mountain village in Austria, Central Europe.