The whole world is connected by social media.
That means you’re connected to millions of native English speakers right now.
This makes learning English much easier than it used to be.
Social media also makes modern life a bit more complicated in general.
A few years ago, to have lunch at a restaurant all you had to do was sit down and eat.
Now, even when you’re eating alone, you’re never really alone.
Today you sit down and take a nice photo of your food for Facebook, and a nicer picture for Instagram. You let the whole world know that your friends from high school are there with you. You think of something short and funny to say about your waiter on Twitter. You find the recipe for your meal and pin it on Pinterest so you can try to cook it at home.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are all examples of social media websites. They’re websites that people use to communicate and share things with one another. They’re how we connect to other people on the internet.
As mentioned before, these kind of websites can be extremely useful for practicing English. How?
A few years ago, finding someone to practice English with meant finding a pen pal—someone to exchange actual handwritten letters with. You’d write them a letter on paper, mail it and then wait weeks to find their response in your mailbox.
Now all of us have hundreds—or even thousands—of friends who would love to help us learn a new language, thanks to social media.
You just need to know where to look for these possible language learning buddies (friends).
Here’s a quick guide to get you started learning English on the world’s 4 most popular social media websites.
Practice English Online with 4 Popular Social Media Websites
Twitter is a fantastic place to have conversations with others. Tweets (Twitter messages) are limited to 140 characters (letters, numbers, spaces and symbols), These short messages make interactions on Twitter feel like actual conversations you might have in person.
Thanks to this feature of Twitter, many people use it for holding discussions, chats and informal public conversations that anyone can join.
Because of the character limit, many Twitter conversations use abbreviations—shortenings of words. Some tweets leave out words so that the tweet still makes sense, but isn’t really grammatically correct. Keep this in mind if you’re trying to learn correct English grammar and spelling—Twitter isn’t always the best place for that!
What Twitter is good for is practicing conversations. You can join casual conversations, practice your everyday speaking skills, express your opinions in English and feel more confident about entering conversations in the real world as a result.
The best thing about Twitter are its chats and communities. To join a big conversation, users include hashtags in their posts. Hashtags are words or phrases that come after the # symbol and are used as tags so that people can search for topics.
Use hashtags to search for things like #english or #firstdates. You can find a list of tags that are popular right now under the “Trends” heading when you log into Twitter.
Top Twitter Pages for English Learners:
@HappyEnglishNY: This Twitter account, run by a private English teacher, shares common English sayings and how to use them in everyday conversations. The tweets are informative and friendly, always asking questions to encourage interaction.
#Twinglish: Use this tag to practice your English on Twitter. Searching for this tag on Twitter will display many other English learners practicing English. To join in and write your own English tweets, include #twinglish at the end of your sentence before posting. Another similar tag is #EngPls.
TweetinEng: If you’d like someone to check that your #twinglish and #EngPls tweets are grammatically correct, TweetinEng can help. This account shares daily phrases and common mistakes, but it mostly helps people using the #twinglish tag by correcting their sentences. Ask for help and you’ll get some very useful corrections and tips.
Unlike Twitter, there’s no limit on how much you write on Facebook, so you can have long and interesting discussions about any topic. You could write a whole English essay and post it on your Facebook page.
Many people use Facebook to connect with their friends and family, but there are a lot of resources on Facebook for English learners.
Facebook has pages and groups for almost any topic you can imagine. Follow pages that cover topics you’re interested in, or follow groups that have discussions and share links to interesting web pages about the topic. Don’t be afraid to join the conversations in the comments!
Practice your English skills by writing your own status updates in English. Share something interesting, a funny picture or a question that’s on your mind. You might begin a great conversation.
Top Facebook Pages for Learners:
LearnEnglish — British Council: This Facebook page has many excellent links, English practice questions and other useful posts. A lot of the posts are focused on history and culture, allowing you to practice English through interesting topics.
VOA Learning English: Learn English through news and current events (things that are happening around the world and in America right now). Voice of America’s English learning page shares news articles, videos, fun phrases and useful words for English learners.
FluentU: FluentU’s English learning page is an excellent place to find useful blogs about learning English. You can also check out FluentU’s main page for general tips on language learning. Additionally, you can give the FluentU program a go and see how amazing learning English online can be.Give it a free try and see for yourself!
Pinterest is a different kind of social media website. Instead of sharing words and comments, Pinterest is for sharing interesting links and pictures. It’s made for showing other people the cool stuff you find around the internet. Pinterest is great if you’re a visual learner—someone who learns from looking at pictures instead of reading or listening.
A lot of people use Pinterest to collect recipes, fun art projects, cool crafts (homemade items) and any other nice-looking websites or projects. Another group of people who love Pinterest are teachers.
Yes, teachers love Pinterest. There are many teachers on Pinterest who love to share their resources for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, so it’s easy to find really great worksheets, handouts and interactive websites.
Pinterest isn’t as good for having conversations as Twitter and Facebook, so it’s better for those times when you just want to learn something new, discover a new website or play a new online game that will help you build your English skills.
You can create your own Pinterest boards and save your favorite blogs, pictures and interesting online resources to them. Your boards can be your online notebook!
Top Pinterest Pages for Learners:
How do you do? Learn English Every Day! This account has a wonderful collection of words and sayings, organized by topic and paired with great pictures and definitions. It’s a visual dictionary, and although it isn’t complete, it’s a nice way to learn some new words through pictures.
We Learn English: This page is an excellent collection of cartoons, worksheets and other visual ways to learn. There’s a lot of information here, most of it presented in a colorful and memorable way. You might want to choose something specific to look for before browsing the more than 1,600 pins (and counting), because the information isn’t organized in any way. Idioms—sayings that can’t be literally translated—are a great place to start!
Writing Prompts: Pinterest is all about finding inspiration in art, and this board is a perfect example of that. Practice your English writing skills by writing responses to the many images collected on this board. Each image has a suggestion for what to write, but it’s really up to you—what does the prompt make you feel, think, hear or smell?
Tumblr is a blog which is usually used like a public diary—a place where people can write about things they find interesting and share their thoughts with others. Tumblr can be used for writing and sharing all kinds of online content, so you can find some great articles, photos, videos and pictures.
Leaving a comment on Tumblr is a nice way to show the blogger that you took the time to read or look at their work. Many of the posts invite readers to respond with their opinions on the topic. You can get into some great discussions on Tumblr.
An even better way to use Tumblr is to start your own blog. It’s easy to start and customize your page to your own style. You can get a lot of practice by writing daily or even just once a week. Write about your day, your favorite TV show or anything else you want.
Top Tumblr Pages for Learners:
In The Beginning Was The Word: This wonderful blog has posts that are written in a very friendly and casual style. The blogger writes about everyday English and how people speak, write and communicate, and also has some very informative blogs about small details like when to use “a” or “the” or when it’s not okay to use an apostrophe.
Idiom Land: If you want to know English idioms, Idiom Land is the Tumblr page for you. This blog posts cards with pictures and sometimes videos of idioms. It always gives great definitions and shows you how to use the featured idioms.
The Language Boutique: This blog posts vocabulary words with graphics and charts that make them more memorable. Sometimes you get a simple word and definition, but often there are lists of similar/opposite words, expressions that use the word, etc.
The power of the internet is at your fingertips.
Have some conversations, make some friends and learn English in the process!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. You'll have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.