As an iChamp I am lucky enough to take part in a very interesting and innovative project with Alessia Plutino – entitled “Twittiamo“, meaning “Let’s Tweet” in Italian. Many students are using social media such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter daily, writing many of their posts in English. The beauty of this project is that it allows students to interact both with each other and their lecturer, but using Italian as the main language instead of English. Furthermore, due to the 140 character limit, students are encouraged to focus more on quality rather than quantity when tweeting, which can do wonders for concentrating on improving grammar skills.
Not only do students have the opportunity to “tweet” in Italian, they can also use it to share photos, videos and interesting weblink, all of which have something to do with the Italian language and/or culture. We have also discovered the app #Voice, which works on apple phones, and allows students to record themselves speaking Italian and upload it directly to Twitter, so that the teacher can check the pronunciation and grammar even during the holidays. It is also a fun and different way for students to interact with each other, as it gives students the chance to use their listening skills.
The project is still being developed, and both myself and Alessia are still working to fins new and innovative apps that work on both iPhones and androids (as it seems that students have a large mixture of these), in order to make learning Italian via social media both easier and more fun. Il meglio deve ancora venire!
From personal experience, this project seems to have had a lot of success! Both in the first year of it running when I was one of the students learning Italian through it, and this year with the latest students. When I came to class on the 1st of December to present the project and explain the functioning of Twitter, all of the students in the class seemed very enthusiastic, willing to learn, and appeared to enjoy the idea of learning Italian through social media. All students in the class signed up to Twitter in that very lesson and some even created and shared their first posts even, in Italian, all within 45 minutes! Not a bad start!
During the following week, students continued to tweet, both within and outside of lesson time, in Italian. Their posts were interesting, with some even managing to comment on my own posts and ask questions – such as what my pizza toppings were that night (I had shared a photo of my home made pizza).
In the second class today (Tuesday 8th December 2015), yet more students signed up to Twitter to take part in the project. I also introduced the #Voice app, which allowed iPhone using students to upload voice recordings. So after a mere few weeks, we have a whole class onboard and using social media akaTwitter in an effective way to learn italian, by using a variety of online techniques such as sharing weblinks, videos, photos, tweeting and uploading voice recordings.
I learnt from this project that social media can be used in a variety of different and effective ways to encourage and help students learning a foreign language. Perhaps one of the reasons or its success is the ease of use, and the speed, as students can even use the dead 5 minuted waiting for a bus to improve their language skills, and sharing this experience with their friends.
So if you fancy tweeting your way into Italian, please find and follow us on Twitter at: @MelitaChurchill and @TwitTIAMO_UoS