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by Henry Fitzgerald November 11, 2011
4 Quick Ways To Use (Social) Media In Foreign Language Teaching
Sometimes, taking a class to learn a language isn’t quite enough. For people that are moving to a new country and want to learn the native tongue of the land, a class or textbook might leave you in the dark when it comes to slang, idioms or figures of speech.
For instance, students learning English may learn English as Shakespeare would have spoken it, and may be completely confused by terms like “quitting cold turkey” or “right off the bat.” Likewise, students learning French, German, Italian or any other language will need to venture outside of the textbook to have a full grasp on the language, and the Internet can be a great learning tool.
Your foreign language curriculum probably doesn’t include a vast study of slang or commonly used improper grammar. Your students will certainly learn the language the way it’s meant to be spoken, but when they move to or travel to the country, they might be a bit lost by the more colloquial speech. Suggesting a slang guidebook to help familiarize your students with the idioms of the language will help them recognize figures of speech that aren’t included in your formal curriculum.
Tumblr, WordPress or Social Media
If you’re teaching an online French course, incorporating blogs, Facebook pages or Twitter accounts that are written in French into your curriculum is an excellent way to help students recognize figures of speech and learn how they’re used in every day life. Try to find pages or blogs that are less formal. Fashion blogs, shopping sites, community pages, personal blogs and Twitter accounts are an excellent way to start picking up on commonly used slang. Reading through Facebook comments or discussions will provide even more exposure to slang and everyday vernacular.
Movies, Music and News
Reading and aural comprehension don’t always come hand in hand when learning a language. Even if your students can recognize written slang, they might not be able to understand it in every day speech. Foreign movies, music and news are a great way to get the ear used to hearing the language spoken in daily life and these mediums, especially music and movies, contain plenty of everyday jargon and will quickly familiarize students with the most common figures of speech. Additionally, movies, music and news will help familiarize students with the culture, which can help ease a transition into a new country. Keeping up to date with current news, popular music and classic movies of a country are a great way to learn slang and culture all at once.
Skype or Video Chatting
Once your students learn to recognize slang, they should also learn to use it. Having students type or chat with one another student in the language they’re learning will help establish and informal setting and will make using the slang seem much more natural. They can also learn to mix the more formal version of the language with the informal and become used to switching back and forth with ease.
With these tools, your students will be able to learn the language well enough to communicate both formally and informally. For students than plan to move or travel to another country, these experiences will be excellent preparation for successful communication and mastery of another tongue.
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