It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted an update. This week I turned to social media to see if it could help my language learning.

After Easter, I had an article published on the Guardian Teacher Network blog which talked about using social media as a language learning tool. In my article, I argued that it wasn’t enough for teachers to rely on text books or even computer software to help their pupils learn foreign languages. I put forward the idea that hugely popular social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as emerging websites such as Tumblr and Pinterest, could acts as interactive teaching and learning aids if used correctly. For example, teachers could converse with pupils on Twitter in a foreign language, or allow their pupils to submit blog posts in translation.

Those of you who have been following my updates will know that I am on a mission to master French in under a year. However, since the Easter break, I have struggled to rediscover my own passion for learning. Having written that article, I decided to take my own advice and see what social media had to offer the language learning industry, with the hope of rediscovering some enthusiasm for my personal project. I wasn’t disappointed.

After logging onto Twitter, I decided to follow some French speaking users. This wasn’t difficult, as it simply required me to search for high profile French speaking celebrities and begin following their tweets. This is a good idea as the tweets naturally reflect the way a native French person speaks, and what they have to say is often more interesting than the average Twitter user. Soon, my Twitter feed was full of French tweets, and I had no choice but to try and decipher them. At first I was completely lost, but soon enough, the text started to make sense. It’s strange how quickly the little bits of French you learn at school can return, and even if I was unsure what the odd word meant, I felt confident enough to fill in the gaps based on the context of the tweet as a whole. Afterwards I would Google the word to verify that I was correct.

Next, I decided to see what Pinterest had to offer. If you haven’t heard of Pinterest before, it’s a photo browsing website that allows you to create pinboards and ‘pin’ your favourites. Firstly, I created a new board called ‘Learning French’ and then began to search for terms such as “French”, “French translation” and “learning French”. This wasn’t always productive, as the site is home to a large amount of photos related to furniture and interior decor that weren’t really what I was looking for. Amongst the results I came across French translations of famous quotes on prints or tattoos, love letters scrawled on post it notes and beautiful landscape images of France that all contributed to my understanding of the country’s culture. Looking back, I can see how Pinterest would be extremely useful for language teachers looking to challenge their pupils with images of objects and accompanying descriptions in translation.

I didn’t get a chance to trial some of the other websites I mentioned in my article, such as Facebook, Tumblr or YouTube, but I’m certain that teachers will find new and exciting ways of using these and the sites mentioned above to make language learning fresh and fun for kids today.

Have you used social media as language learning tool? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments below.