This is an English article!

Social Media assisting language learning?

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Image credit: Thinkstock

Why would you be reading an article written in English and how can that possibly relate to social media and SAWI?

Fact #1

With SAWI being based in Lausanne, Switzerland, you are rather used to using different languages.  Switzerland is officially quadrilingual – with German, French, Italian and Romansh being the national languages – all protected by the constitution (Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation, Art. 4 National languages).

On the other hand Switzerland features many preferential attributes but most importantly:

a. an attractive job market, which facilitates the infamous work-life balance with high earnings and

b. a stable political regime surrounded by the extreme natural beauties of the country.

As a consequence, Switzerland is the top destination for expats (Expat Explorer Report 2014,HSBC), therefore making the country multilingual in principle with the following breakdown of languages spoken at home of the resident population:

Source: OFS - Neuchatel 2015

Source: OFS – Neuchatel 2015

Fact #2

In our recent times the immersion of digital in it’s totally is certainly changing the status quo of all industries.  Education of course is one of the sectors, where digital has entered and for sure is adding new dimensions to teaching/learning practices, for instance:

  1. The role of the teacher.

    No longer merely a lecturer, but rather an acrobat balancing on a vast selection of videos, audios and presentations.

  2. The end of paper notes. 

    Teachers & students now share notes online instantly.

  3. Interactive Materials.

    Notes include videos, audios, presentations, documents, not only text and pictures.

  4. Personalized Reminders and Timetable.

    With emails, social media and sms teachers may send reminders, motivational messages, class schedules etc.

Thus, so far you understand why I am writing this article: it is part of the educational plan I follow at SAWI!

As for the use of English, well I am an expat in Switzerland and decided to go for English rather than Greek, my native tongue, as English will be far more understood!

The question is how do I improve my french to be addressing you with documents in French?  It is already work in progress and it involves different dimensions both traditional and digital, as presented in the list above, but the real kick of learning a foreign language today lays on language education social networks and the joy they have added into the whole process connecting people and promoting interactivity with native language speakers from around the world!

But, let’s see in short some of the most promising options of social media for language education:

Live Mocha

Offers learning of 35 languages for free through the live mocha community of native speaking members and features a blog to assist learning.  The methodology used is the Whole-Part-Whole learning model that allows learners to observe, learn and practice.

Busuu

For 12 languages offers free interactive and premium-paid lessons, exams, text and video chat, writing exercises, reading comprehension tests and many other features online and through apps.

Italki

Offers a directory of teachers of any language and corresponding to any budget.  Students choose the teacher and arrange then skype lessons.

Lang-8

Features a community of native speakers of 90 languages, that 
find a language partner to support their learning venture.

My Happy Planet

Members create lessons on language and culture and interact with other native speakers around the world.

No matter what is your language learning objective ( i.e. traveling, studying, integration, hobby etc), hopefully you may find the above information a solid starting point to design your learning strategy !

Sources:

The portal of the Swiss Government – Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation

HSBC – Expat Explorer Report 2014

Swiss Federal Statistical Office – languages and religions – Data, indicators

Adweek Blog Network – 7 Social Networks Designed to Help You Learn A New Language

EDUTOPIA – 10 Social Media Tips for Reaching World Language Learners

THE GUARDIAN – Language learning

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