So you’ve decided you’re serious about learning a new language this year? Well, congratulations! Deciding to master a new language shows you’ve got gumption and, hopefully, determination. Just like anyone who speaks more than one language will tell you, I can attest to the fact that practice and exposure are two absolutely critical components to mastering a new tongue. Whether you’re brand new to the language or have struggled for years and are just now getting serious about truly learning it, why not make 2014 the year you finally reach your goals?
If you’re like most people, social media is a part of your daily life. You frequently update your status, check your news feed, post a 6-second video–or, more than likely, you do a combination of all three on any given day. Fortunately, social media addicts are in luck. You don’t have to give up your Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram accounts to make time for learning a new language. Instead, try these 3 tips to use social media to crank up your efforts this year:
Follow international brands on Facebook
Use the popular social media site to your advantage by liking businesses that post in the language you’re trying to learn. Are you obsessed with fashion? Pay the Vogue Paris page a visit and see what they have to say. Is shopping your favorite pastime? ‘Like’ South American department store Falabella and develop your Spanish skills. Merge your interests with your social media obsession in the foreign language and you’ll have extra incentive to practice and learn.
Make language boards on Pinterest
If you’re the artistic type, you may think Pinterest reigns supreme when it comes to social media. Start a collection of boards that focus on different aspects of the language you’re learning. Create a board of Italian dishes, learning the names and how to order in a restaurant as you add to the collection. Collect images of all the places you dream of visiting on a trip to the Czech Republic, searching only in the native language to build your board. Turn it into an even better learning tool by writing a sentence to describe each picture as you add to your collections.
Use Instagram to build a growing flashcard collection-–and network
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so just imagine the potential for language learning when you use this photo-centric social media network. Tap into your organizational side by creating your own series of flashcards with the vocabulary added on to each image, plus a brief description. If you’re taking language-learning classes or are friends with native speakers, form an online community with them to really grow the collection. Using the site’s search tool, find and follow native speakers to practice the language even more. For example, if you want to learn Italian, use the Explore function to search #Roma and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands of new things to see.
These are just three of many ways you can use social media to your advantage while learning a new language. There is one disclaimer though–it’s important to admit if you have the will power to put your social media addictions to use, and, if not, think about limiting your time on the sites in order to make language learning a priority. Believe it or not, there’s even an app for that–FB Rehab limits your time on Facebook to 20 minutes a day. Be realistic about the time you spend on social media and maximize the learning opportunities to make 2014 the year you master a new language. It sure beats posting selfies!
Image credit: Cortega9, via Wikimedia Commons
Dusty Fox is a full-time writer and world traveler who especially loves Latin American culture. She represents Listen & Learn, which offers language training and a variety of free online games, like the Spanish Verbs Race.