I never thought it would work that well.
Learning styles are probably not real, but there is much you can say about preferences. It’s personal, not scientific: some people just like to be told things, others just prefer to speak about the thing they’re learning. I’ve got a few of those myself, and one of the stronger ones is by reading and watching things, in very small bits. This means my foreign language learning habits can fit in very small pockets of time!
This brings me to Instagram – one of the very few social media apps I still use just for fun. I was thinking of a few more accounts to follow the other day – pictures of surfer dudes, good coffee and cuddly dogs were getting old. That’s when I thought of following a few German-speaking accounts. Here’s what happened.
Foreign language newspapers – their Instagram game is strong
Experienced editors. Good quality texts. Excellent photographs. And the need to “make it big” in the social media – to make their presence count – to really promote the brand.
All this means that you are getting a lot of good foreign language practice which is free of mistakes, comes often, stays relevant to the real world, and sometimes comes with great quality photography. See the screenshots below to understand what I mean.
Foreign language jokes – if you get them, your polyglot ego grows!
I found this way of using Instagram to learn a language by accident: browsing through the recommended photos and videos, after I had followed some German newspapers already, I started seeing photos of jokes people were uploading to a German joke site. I clicked through a few.
“Hey,” I thought, “I can actually understand German jokes. And some are even funny.”
Your mileage will vary on both these statements. The first account I found was Yoodel.co – if you’re a student, you’ll find this more relatable, but older geezers like me don’t always appreciate the humor! Well, there’s always the linguistic benefit.
Production – captions and comments
Here’s a photo I uploaded on Wednesday. It was the Article 50 day, and I obviously felt a bit depressed.
My former work colleague commented on this in German! This was really nice, actually – I thought it’s a good way to treat Instagram as your own picture dictionary, which is also interactive enough to get other language learners and users to comment on it.
Do you have any more useful tricks for polyglot Instagram users?
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