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Twitter Lesson

Using Twitter to Learn English in Bite-Sized Bits

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Twitter has exploded across the Internet and more and more English learners are taking advantage of Twitter to practice their English. Learning English on Twitter is ideal for a few reasons:

  • Twitter's 140 character limit ensures that English is practiced in bite-sized bits.
  • Students can discover information about any topic, especially popular culture topics.
  • Students can receive bite-sized tips on English learning via Twitter.
  • The time investment required is minimal allowing students to slowly get used to practicing English on a regular basis.
  • There is almost no technological learning curve to using Twitter to learn English.
  • Students can use Twitter to ask questions and get advice from their followers.
  • This lesson focuses on introducing Twitter to students in class, helping them get up and running and, most importantly, assisting students in the discovery of interesting Twitterers to follow. Finally, there are a few suggested follow-up activities that help students continue their English learning with Twitter, as well as provide fun short discussion themes for class.

Aim: Twitter lesson to practice English taking advantage of Twitter

Activity: Introduction and continuing Twitter communication activity to help students use Twitter on a regular basis to improve English communication skills

Level: Low-intermediate to advanced

Outline:

  • Get up to speed on Twitter if you are not familiar with the service. This guide to learning English on Twitter should be of help. This short YouTube video, Twitter in Plain English, will give you an overview of the service. If you don't have a Twitter account, sign up and start experimenting by using some of the ideas outlined in the resources mentioned, as well as in this Twitter lesson plan.
  • Provide computer access either via a computer learning lab, or by asking students to bring in their smart phones.
  • Introduce the service by prepping based on class interests. Find a few Twitter streams to examine by using the search function at Twitter. It's especially helpful to use Twitter to search on popular culture. Ask students for suggestions and watch the funny comments role in. Soon you'll be helping students learn a wide variety of idiomatic phrases.
  • Create an account for the entire class to get the ball rolling. This account can then be used in follow-up activities to make sure the class continues to use Twitter. This account will help students who are shy about using Twitter to slowly understand the potential of English language learning via Twitter.
  • Choose a few favorite topics to compose some tweets. Have students break up into small groups with each group choosing a topic on which to post their first tweet. (For Twitter related vocabulary use this twictionary reference page).
  • Post the first tweets. Once students see how easy it is, they should become more interested in participating.
  • Ask students to return to their groups and discover a few interesting tweets using the search function on Twitter, or by looking for famous people they would like to follow. Each group should discover three to four tweets they especially like to read and explain to the class.
  • As homework, ask students to create their own Twitter accounts and follow at least 10 Twitterers. Explain that students should bring in their Twitter user names for the next class.
  • During the next class, collect the Twitter account names and use the class account to follow everyone. Have students follow their classmates, as well as show off some of the Twitterers they have chosen to follow.

Follow-up Activities

  • During class, as a warm-up to other comprehension activities, ask students to use Twitter search to find some interesting tweets about the lesson topic of the day.
  • Have students conduct informal twitter polls by asking questions about specific topics discussed in class.
  • When learning idioms, ask students to tweet a few examples using the idioms in question for practice.
  • Every month, ask students to base a short presentation on a topic they've discovered or explored using Twitter.
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