In early 2007, I joined Twitter, one of the many social networking and micro-blogging services. According to Wikipedia, Twitter
- allows users to send “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service, instant messaging, or a third-party application
- in italiano, anche da Wikipedia… Twitter è un network e un servizio di micro-blog che permette agli utenti di mandare aggiornamenti (messaggi di testo, lunghi non più di 140 caratteri) via SMS, messaggeria istantanea, email, il sito di Twitter, o un’applicazione come Twitterrific.
One of the things I have noticed is that many Italians use Twitter, which has been indirectly supported by Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere Report that rates Italian as the 4th most used language in posts.I’ve decided to experiment this semester with my students…will their use of Twitter in Italian help improve their communication in Italian? I believe if they have an actual environment that makes their use of Italian seem “real”, they will be more likely to voluntarily use the language outside of the classroom environment with their peers and possibly “real Italians” (and I hope to be able to plead with some of my Italian Twitter friends to join in on this experiment).For the time being, I have structured this experiment as follows:
- We have class on Mondays & Wednesdays. They must Twitter in Italian on two other weekdays (their choice of Tuesdays, Thursdays or Fridays).
- They must also, once a week, reply to a Tweet of one of their peers, so that a communication of sorts occurs.
So they use Twitter 3x a week…maybe, they might get hooked and find they want to create Tweets more often (perhaps for extra-credit). Perhaps they will not be intimidated by writing in Italian because of the 140-character limitation imposed by Twitter. Maybe, just maybe, they will be inclined to find other Italian “twitteri” and follow them. Perhaps, they will understand that learning a language is more than just the words but also the rich culture which underlies it. Many maybes…let’s see what the semester brings.