Bang tidy! – Using Twitter to learn a foreign language

The Chamber Of Secrets

Twitter – your charm to open the the chamber of “language” secrets!


Why I learn English 🙂

For me learning another language was never an easy thing, it seems that I just don’t have the natural talent some people have (I just realized that this really sounds like I’m adopting my posts to Harry Potter books :-)). But there are a few reasons why I keep on trying it:

  • Curiosity: I’m absolutely curious, and learning to read and speak another language opens you a lot of “secret doors”.
  • Impatience:  I just can’t wait till someone else translated something for me. 

On the road with Twitter

There are some simple and obvious reasons why Twitter is a perfect tool to enrich your learning of a foreign language:

  • You can follow native speakers, no matter if you are a student or a teacher. I always compare Twitter with walk on a crowded street: You can go along with the crowd and listen – or stop and talk to people wherever you want. Watching my Twitter-stream makes me feel being back in London, isn’t that great? Like on a real street you should be polite and avoid shouting at each other – except you like the big stage 😉 You should be aware of that the “echo” of your tweets can last a lot longer then a spoken word!
  • You can follow a foreign news-channel: A constant source of text and multimedia in the language you want to learn. You have a wide range, from yellow press to the respectable daily newspapers. Another advantage: You can avoid eating “lasagne” even before the scandal reaches the German news!
  • And for me the most important thing: You’ll learn something about the language that no textbook can teach you.

I think the reasons why I like to use Twitter for improving my English are simple:

  • It is completely free!
  • I can learn, have fun whenever I choose it’s the right time – and mostly my friends are involved!
  • 140 characters is a good length for a quick lesson, isn’t it?

Let me explain this with two personal examples!


A little bit of “hanky panky”

I was on a conference in Prague, and like often I was listening carefully and try to understand – I can’t remember in which context the phrase “willy nilly” came up but I asked what this means. After a lively explanation my friend Dughall asked his Twitter-friends for similar expressions – and I had a language lesson I’ll never forget! You can find the whole range of answers here. What I kept in mind:

  • willy nilly
  • hokum pokum
  • wishy washy
  • and of course: hanky panky

And the list of these expressions in English language seems to be endless!

It was very interesting to see what different explanations people give me to describe the phrase “hanky panky”: There was a range from “having a little bit of fun” till something that sounds like near to sexual offence!  I have forgotten tons of vocabulary already –  but you can be sure I won’t forget this one!


You’re “bang tidy”!

The other occasion happened just a few days ago, as my Twitter-friend Rachel (@rly1981) posted this tweet just before Valentine’s day :

You may laugh but try to see this from a foreign-perspective! I asked myself: Is this a serious question? Is there irony in there? And what the hell does “bang tidy” mean? The only meaning of “tidy” I learnt at school is in the sense of “tidy up your room”. I asked my search engine and it prompted me to this site:

When male calls a female bang tidy, it means that they find them very attractive and worthy enough to have sexual relations with.
“That bird is bang tidy” (Urban dictionary)

Imagine a 6 year old giving a card with a meaning like this to a teacher could course a little bit of trouble – at least in the schools I have been in 🙂

It turned out that she has a quite different understanding of the term “bang tidy”:

As I said above – that’s something a normal textbook can’t teach you! And I’ll be careful about how I use this term in public, but one’s for sure: Rachel – you are bang tidy 😀


You can help others!

It’s always a nice feeling if tweeting is not a one-way-road and you’re able to help someone else. And it can be funny too!

What are you’re experiences using twitter for learning foreign languages?

Do you know about schools using Twitter for their MFL lessons?

If you like this post, tweet or leave a comment in a foreign language of your choice – and let me know 🙂

Thanks Rachel (@rlj1981) and Keven (@kevbartle) for your permission to post your tweets and Dughall for the very interesting English-lesson!

One thought on “Bang tidy! – Using Twitter to learn a foreign language

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