Have you heard of Twitter? I expect you have. Perhaps you and your family and friends already use Twitter to keep in touch with each other.
I use Twitter almost every day to contact and chat with friends, business contacts, other teachers, and English language learners.
I find it a quick, easy and very useful way to learn new things, ask for and give advice and support, share resources, keep up to date with the world of English language teaching and learning, and sometimes just for having a bit of fun!
Many English language learners are already using Twitter and if you have wondered how you can use it to practise and improve your English, here is a brief introduction to Twitter, followed by a few easy ways you can use Twitter to develop your English skills.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service. It is free to use.
After you sign up for an account, you can post short messages, called 'tweets', to your friends and family.
Messages (tweets) on Twitter can be up to 140 characters long, including letters, punctuation and spaces. They are quick to write and, usually, easy to read
Commoncraft have a short video introduction to Twitter which is available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.
How do I set up an account?
Go to the Twitter web site
You can choose your language from those available, or click the Sign up button and with your full name, email address and a password.
You can also choose your Twitter username. Your username can be up to 15 characters long, with no spaces. Your username will be your public profile name on Twitter so be sure to choose something you are happy with.
Click 'Create my account' – and that's it, you have a Twitter account!
How can I use Twitter to learn English?
It takes a little while to learn how to use Twitter, and when you first start it can be confusing. However, it doesn't take long to build a network of contacts on Twitter, and if you have English learners and teachers in your network you will be able to practise your English, share links to useful resources such as web sites, videos, and blogs, and ask for help with grammar points or even discuss exam revision.
1. Build your Twitter network
If you want to use Twitter to practise your English, find and follow other people who are learning and talking about English. There are a few ways you can do this, including:
- The British Council Learn English account has a list of English learners on Twitter. Join the list, and join in the conversations.
- On your Twitter home page you will find a search box. If you search for key words with a hashtag # you can find people who are talking about topics such as #english or #learnenglish. And if you add a hashtag such as #english to your tweets English learners and teachers can find you too. Other common English hashtags are #efl #esl and #esol
Find and follow English teachers from all over the world.
There are lots of excellent English teachers on Twitter. Some post short 140 character English lessons, plus links to their web sites or blog posts they think you will find useful, and many English teachers on Twitter are good sources of English resources, information, and advice.
You can also build your own lists of English students or teachers. I am building a list of the English teachers on Twitter, and a list of people who live in my area, and I find these lists very useful for keeping up to date with what people in these lists have been posting.
Find, and follow, your favourite English-speaking celebrity on Twitter and practise your English by reading their tweets.
If you're travelling to an English speaking country look for Twitter accounts that tweet about that country's culture, news and tourist information, for example:
2. Write and read messages in English
When you write your Twitter messages in English you might have to think hard about the words you use so that you can fit what you want to say into only 140 characters.
Thinking about and using English in this way will help you practise your sentence construction and your spelling. The good thing is, you don't have to worry about your English being perfect! A lot of the English spelling and grammar you read on Twitter is informal, and is not always 'correct' because people use abbreviations etc so they can say what they want within the word limit.
Some of the abbreviations people use on Twitter will be familiar to you from text messaging, but sometimes you will have to use your imagination to try and work out what the words mean 🙂
Sending and reading tweets in English will help you practise and improve your English skills, learn new vocabulary, and aspects of English such as idioms and phrasal verbs, and build your confidence in using English in an informal, relaxed and fun way.
These are just a few suggestions for using Twitter to help you learn English, and there are many more, so how do you use Twitter? Do you have any ideas to share with us?
If you would like help with any of the suggestions above, please ask. I'm happy to help.
I'm @StudyingOnline on Twitter. See you there! 🙂
Image by webtreats