Challenging all foreign and English as a second language teachers

During a wonderful colloquium at the American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) in Atlanta (more on that in a subsequent post), I set forth a challenge to the audience and co-presenters who were interested in using Twitter with their FL and ESL/EFL students: Try to learn a language using Twitter yourself.

As teachers/researchers, we always deliberate the implementation of new tools (especially Web 2.0 ones) in our classes. We research the literature, we outline our agenda, implement the tool and make the necessary adjustments as our project proceeds. The most rewarding part of our research is when we analyze our data and review the students’ perceptions so then we can reflect on the challenges and reconsider the project for future implementation.

So we’re ready to go with our action research, right? Well, why not familiarize ourselves first hand with what we want our students to do by putting ourselves in their shoes? I know that although we are already bilingual (or trilingual or polyglots), we are interested in learning other languages. So why not use Twitter as a tool to language learning ourselves?

Start by finding speakers of the language on Twitter. Start following them. Create a Twitter list (see my list for my Spanish tweeps from whom I’m learning) so you can follow their tweets. If you are a little gun shy initially, that’s OK…just read their tweets, follow their conversations, view their links (no, this is NOT stalking😉 ). Eventually though, you may want to say “buenos días” and “¿cómo estás?” so that later you will be in a position to interact with them as you become more comfortable with the language you are trying to learn.

Can you learn the language by using Twitter alone? Of course not! But the tweets are a good springboard and I hope they encourage you to discover all other media available out there (books, blogs YouTube videos, music, movies (and clips), etc.)

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