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Language learning and social networking

facebookSocial networking means there’s now plenty of new ways to improve your language skills and make friends with native speakers at just the touch of a button. University of Southampton modern languages student Elizabeth Grant explains how.

Use the settings option on your Facebook or any other social networking profiles to change the language to the one you are trying to learn. You will be surprised how much vocabulary, technical and otherwise, you will pick up by just browsing through your account every day.

Changing the language setting means the adverts and pop-ups you receive will also be change, which will expose you to colloquial and current forms of the target language. Advertising offers interesting insight into language and culture, as it often incorporates humour and cultural references specific to the people who speak the language.

If you have friends overseas your feed can also help you to see everyday expressions and abbreviations written down. You can also click on their events pages or any links and notes they share, which will give you access to sites and information you wouldn't usually find by yourself. 

Twitter allows you to follow organisations, print and internet media, artists, musicians, celebrities and even governments from all over the world. You can receive all sorts of different registers, vocabulary, topics, and tones of language all in one single feed. You can also keep up to date with what's happening in the countries you're interested in.

There are even some social network sites that are designed for language learners. Pop the words 'tandem' or 'language exchange' into Google and a whole host of sites will appear offering everything from language learners’ databases to actual exchange programs abroad. These sites often have forums and the option to build friendships with people across the world, who want to learn your first language (especially if it's English!). Joining these sites or just browsing through will give you a healthy dose of the target language in a very authentic context.

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