What are you doing?
뭘 하고 있어?
No matter what language you’re speaking in, this is a question you’re answering all the time. So naturally, your conversation skills should improve if you learn how to answer this question in your studies. And what better way to practice than by using Twitter, a service built entirely for this purpose? As they describe it, “Twitter is a service… to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” It seems to be exactly the thing for some quick language practice. You can even set it to bug you if you don’t update it for 24 hours.
So I decided to give it a try by signing up and posting some stuff in Chinese. So far, the experience has been very positive and I even put the latest status on my blog sidebar under “Quick Update”. Answering the simple question, “What are you doing?” motivated me to look up lots of new and useful grammar and vocabulary while helping me apply the stuff I already knew. In addition, the 140 character limit helps keep me focused and motivated. I find it much easier to write a quick sentence or two in Twitter compared to journals (Lang-8) or blogs where there is more pressure to write something more significant.
One thing I did before I started was to make sure I had ready access to update whenever I felt like. Unfortunately, updating from my phone was not an option since my phone can only send English messages. (I’ll try not to rant here on the poor state of mobile technology in the US where you don’t even get a freaking email address for your phone let alone multilingual messaging!!!!!) Since I check all my stuff on iGoogle all the time anyway, I added BeTwittered, a Twitter gadget for the iGoogle homepage. There are lots of other options that might make more sense depending on your habits but you’ll definitely want to set it somewhere where you’ll see it all the time.
This is all fine and dandy but the major problem I have is that nobody reads my Twitter updates. Granted, they’re not all that interesting but it would sure be nice to have native Chinese speakers read them and reply with their comments. In turn, I can do the same for them if they’re learning English or Japanese. Hmm… does this sound familiar? Yes in fact, I have a whole list of friends that fit that criteria in my Lang-8 account. Wouldn’t it be cool if Lang-8 had Twitter integration?! What if you and your friend entered your Twitter account information into your profile and Lang-8 automatically set the appropriate followers based on you and your friend’s native and target languages? It certainly seems possible based on the Twitter API.
Until Lang-8 decides to introduce such a feature, if you speak Chinese, please follow my Twitter account! In exchange, I promise to follow yours. (I wish I could write this in Chinese but it’s too hard and I’m too lazy right now.)
In any case, if you are a Twitter user and you’re using it for language practice, leave a comment with your Twitter link! I write Japanese updates as well so feel free to follow me if it sounds interesting to you.
I didn’t know this but to reply to somebody, you have to start your Twitter message with @[username]. You can tell this is an organic feature and not fully designed as it will reply only to the user’s latest Twitter update. If you want to reply to an older message, you’re out of luck.
Link: My Twitter account