Tweeting: it's not just for the birds

by Linguarama 9. February 2012 05:56

This blog post looks at the Internet phenomenon of Twitter. We've all heard of Twitter. But do you tweet? And why would you? 

Tweets are short messages, under 140 characters, sent from a computer or mobile phone and received by anyone who 'follows' your tweets. The most interesting tweets are often re-tweeted by followers, so messages can sometimes spread round the world very quickly.

Twitter gained publicity as newspapers reported the tweets of people caught in accidents and terrorist attacks; more and more famous people (the president of the USA, Lady Gaga) began to gather thousands of followers.

So how is this new form of communication used in business? Here are four ways:

  1. A CEO announcing something important knows his or her words will be tweeted around the globe faster than journalists can publish the story.
  2. A conference speaker  understands that audience members will be tweeting during the talk to those who cannot attend. These tweets might contain uncomplimentary views about the ideas in the presentation: "Rubbish!" In fact, Tweeters could be having a silent conversation in the room! This is called ‘backchannel’ communication.
  3. Marketing departments  can send a message to thousands. The tweet 'Great product launch!' goes to 1,000 followers. Imagine if each one re-tweets that immediately...!
  4. Employees follow gurus in their field as part of their professional development. Do you follow anyone?

What about Twitter and language learning?

Tweeting is a good example of how fast language (especially 'writing') is changing. Abbreviations are used to squeeze messages into 140 characters,

 e.g.Thnx 4 the RT = thank-you for re-tweeting

Technology often provides 'newer' meanings for words. Think about: follower / to tweet. New words also emerge: twitterverse. How do these words translate in your own language?

So, could tweeting improve your language learning? Maybe. Try following someone who tweets in the language you are studying! Find out what your teacher thinks - perhaps they use Twitter to connect with teachers across the world as part of their own professional development. 

To experience the world of Twitter, open an account for free at:  

Then, why not follow Linguarama's tweets? 


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