By Kari Jenkins
Personal Learning Network (PLN) is something that this current generation should get used to, as it forms the backbone of how we approach learning going forward. A survey conducted revealed that 98% of educators use social media to create a PLN for their students. With the high availability of access to a social media platform, it becomes a helpful tool to allow students to feel less isolated. Social media platforms spark interest and debate, which are both helpful and critical during the learning process. For those hoping to learn a new language, a PLN is a no-brainer.
One of the most important things about learning a new language is seeing it play out in context. Social media provides this as there is always an opportunity to read the dialogue and while not always grammatically correct or in perfect format, the learner will understand the colloquial language of that specific region. Those who are interested in the various nuances of a language and have no person to practice the dialogue with will find social media the ideal plan B. It will also be the ideal platform to participate in the conversation, even if not fully trained in the language.
There are a number of resources online that make learning a new language so much easier, but it’s not just about the actual language tool. Apps like SharedTalk and Babble offer users a variety of language combinations that will allow them to practice their new language. There are also online blogs that provide online forums for newbies. It's best to find a quiet place for study such as a place of learning with a high-speed WiFi connection in order to get into the right frame of mind for study. Be sure to have a pair of headphones handy so as not to disturb the other users. Being among others while studying is known to stimulate productivity, which should promote those language skills a little faster.
If there is one thing that social media does right, it’s encouraging the power of community. A powerful tool for language students is the ability to form part of a community that may have previously been out of reach. One of the best ways to be part of a community is by joining a Facebook group that encourages conversation. For language students, the power of these groups transcends purely making contact with others. It also enables them to learn their language in a setting that allows them to be part of something. The lure of learning this new language suddenly evolves from just a learning session to one that promotes a sense of family and belonging. Members are often from all parts of the world. This means that the student is not only exposed to the language but the entire culture too. It’s not uncommon for friendships to develop during the learning years.
Learning a new skill such as a language requires more than just the theoretical side, and students are encouraged to immerse themselves in communities that promote this growth.