I got a kick out of this post yesterday questioning the value of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in language learning. (And no, it's not funny because of the URL, though that did make me laugh.)
What's funny to me is the irony of a post questioning the value of Facebook and Twitter, which has both a "retweet" button and a "like" button at the bottom. Is the realization hitting you yet?
Just in case the point isn't already obvious, I'll spell it out: if a person had such a blog, and he actually wrote useful posts about language learning, people could re-tweet and like those posts, and they'd be providing valuable language-learning resources on Facebook and Twitter!
To be honest, I am generally of the opinion that people who write such rhetorical wonderings are usually not really wondering at all, but rather posturing a bit, in attempt to make the erudite implication that they are above such "trivial nonsense" as Facebook or Twitter, the opiate of less-intelligent people. And to anyone who thinks that way, I say, "wake up, fool, because you're missing out."
It's much more useful than it first appears
The true value of Facebook isn't readily apparent to a lot of people yet. But I think a lot of people are starting to catch on. While social networking is the feature that caught on, I think the real value of Facebook is the newsfeed! You "like" various web pages, people, clubs, groups, etc., and then their updates show up in your feed. It's like RSS, but on a much more usable level.
For instance, I have "liked" Fluent in 3 months, ielanguages, Transparent's Italian, Dreaming in Italian, Lithuanian language, Untemplater, and several others. Now, every time one of these sites posts an update, it shows up in my news feed on Facebook. But I can also get more than just web page updates. Some, such as Benny, also post additional information, notes, etc from time to time, including info you can't get by just reading the web site or subscribing to the RSS feed.
More importantly, when any of these sites posts an update that I like, I can click the "like" button and instantly share it with all of my friends and contacts on Facebook. And likewise, they can share such things with me. I often learn of cool new language-related information on Facebook long before the same news finds its way to me though RSS or email or general web surfing.
You can also increase your network
Perhaps the biggest potential on Facebook, though, is right there in the name social network — that word network. You can find and add new friends by Facebook, including native speakers of the language(s) you are studying!
Sometimes it's a simple friend-of-a-friend scenario, where you see their comments on someone else's status — maybe someone you know, or maybe on a page you're both fans of — and you can start a dialog and add a new friend. Or maybe you both participate in the same discussions page. Or maybe you're the type of person who sees nothing wrong with doing a friend search in another country and just adding people you don't know! Either way, there is no better way to learn a language than to use it!
And all of this is just on Facebook. It says nothing of what you can do with Twitter. Maybe I'll explore those possibilities next!
Meanwhile, with all this talk about Facebook, I think now is a good time to remind everyone to go to my Facebook page and click the "like" button so you can get those updates in your newsfeed too! Yes, you could also do that by clicking it up in that little box at the top of the right side of my web page, but you would miss out because I, too, add additional info and discussions on my Facebook page that you can only see if you go there.
And if you've already "liked" this web site, help spead the word. Clicking the "recommend" link and share it with your friends!
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.