Did you know that the average internet user spends over two hours a day on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram? Sounds like a waste of time, right?
Not if you can use that time to study English online! In fact, there are plenty of ways to turn these sites into free self-study tools. In this post, we’ll cover three ways to do this.
Some of our tips will apply to Twitter and other social media sites, but we’ll mainly focus on Facebook and Instagram, since posts on these sites usually have pictures or videos. Here's why:
- Pictures and videos not only make it easier for you to understand the content, but also help you better remember new vocabulary.
- Videos will also serve as great listening practice.
Follow English Content
To learn English on Facebook and Instagram, the first thing you should do is follow lots of pages and accounts in English. This way, whenever you open social media, you’ll be forced to see English.
But who should you follow? It’s not very effective to follow any English page, because if you don’t actually like the pages you follow, you’ll skip those pages when you see them. So here's what you should choose:
Pages You’re Actually Interested in.
If you like basketball, follow some basketball pages, like the NBA (Facebook, Instagram). If you like science, follow some science pages, like Science News for Students or IFLScience. At any rate, make sure you follow pages that interest you enough to make you pay attention to the English.
And of course, don’t forget to follow celebrities that you like. An advantage of following celebrities is that they usually post videos of themselves which you can use as listening practice.
Pages with Posts that Aren’t Too Long or Difficult.
If the posts on a page are too long, you won’t want to read them, so try to follow pages that post just the right amount of text for you. If you’re a beginner, a phrase or a sentence is a good length. If you’re an advanced student, you’ll learn more from paragraph-length posts.
If a page uses too much slang or vocabulary that is difficult for you to understand, you also won’t read the English, so you'll want to follow pages that use language appropriate to your level.
One last tip: On Facebook, you can choose to see your favorite English pages at the top of your news feed by using the see first feature. This way, when you open Facebook, they’ll pop up at the very top!
Post in English
The second thing you should do if you want to learn English on Instagram or Facebook is to write posts in English. This way you're not only practicing input (reading and listening), but also output (writing).
You can start by replying to people’s posts in English. Here are some basic replies:
- Great photo!
You can also post on your social media accounts in English. Start with hashtags like #weekend or #sunset. And if you feel more motivated, you can write posts in English, starting with one sentence at a time, then two or more sentences.
This may feel scary at first, but remember: people aren’t on social media to judge your English. In fact, they might even see that you’re trying to practice and find that inspiring. You can also have a tutor correct your posts if you want extra help.
You can even use social media as a way to track your progress. Every day, you can post about a new English phrase you learned or a video of yourself speaking English.
Many of our Japanese students have an Instagram account dedicated to posting about their lessons on our platform. They’ll write about what they learned and how they felt about their tutor. One student even admitted, “If I don’t take a lesson, I can’t post on my account, so this motivates me to keep taking lessons!”
If you do this, don’t forget to use the hashtag #engoo_global when you post! You’ll be able to find other users who are trying to learn English as well. You can reply to each other’s posts, share tips for learning English, and keep each other motivated.
Do Picture Description Exercises
Describing pictures is a great way to improve your vocabulary and using photos from social media makes it more fun! You can practice describing the pictures that you post or see on social media.
It’s even more fun if you do this with a tutor. For example, you can show the photos you post on Instagram to your tutors and describe them together. It’s more fun to see how your tutor reacts to your own photos, and you'll have more to say about them.
You also don’t have to limit yourself to pictures. For instance, if an advertisement appears, you can discuss the message that the advertiser is trying to send and whether you think it is effective. As you can see, describing pictures on social media can lead to all kinds of fun discussions!
Get Started Today!
To sum up, here are some ways you can turn your social media time into English study time:
- Follow English-language pages: Make sure to follow pages you are interested in.
- Post in English: Reply to posts, write your own posts, or even start a “study account.”
- Do picture description exercises: Describe pictures to build vocabulary.
Give these a try! And if you get tired of self-study or want more help, give Engoo a try! We have thousands of tutors around the world ready to help you learn English in fun, effective ways. Plus, you’ll get a free trial lesson when you sign up, so there’s nothing to lose.