Finding a Language Learning Community Online
Just because you're learning a language on your own doesn't mean you have to learn it alone.
Learning a language on your own is fantastic, but sometimes, it can feel a little lonely. I mean, the whole point of becoming bilingual is that you’re unlocking the ability to communicate with a massive new cohort. Fortunately, you’re not actually alone. The internet is filled with other people learning a language — maybe even the same one as you! There’s no better way to improve your journey than by finding a community to join. Here are a few places you can look to for inspiration and companionship. It should be noted that for most of these, it will be useful to do your own research on hashtags and labels that line up with the specific language you’re learning.
Yes, I know, Reddit has gotten a bad reputation lately. It can seem like their whole website is filled with nihilistic meme-makers with too much time on their hands. But if you check out r/languagelearning, you can find a huge group of people asking questions about language learning methods. And because the community is so large, there are also lots of smaller groups that discuss lesser-known languages, like Pennsylvania German, Cajun French and Cherokee. No matter your skill level or language, there’s bound to be a place on Reddit that you can explore.
Tumblr is a world unto itself, with tons of microcommunities devoted to any topic you can think of. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people on Tumblr who are devoted to learning new languages (and posting about their experiences). There are studyblrs, where people post pretty pictures of notebooks and highlighters for #studyinspo, along with more language-focused bloggers who can provide inspiration for your own learning journey. One useful place to start is Polyglot Weekly, which discusses a wide range of languages. It’s supposedly only for polyglots, but provides resources for anyone interested in multilingualism.
Instagram has become the social media of choice for many by now, so it makes sense that lots of people would be posting about language learning. You can follow individual people who post about life and language learning, such as @joyoflanguages. There are also lots of devoted Instagram accounts that just post word translations, like @everysinglewordinicelandic or @inuktitut_ilinniaqta. You can get involved by posting videos of yourself and asking people to correct your mistakes (people aren’t as cruel as you might think, I promise), or participate in contests like the Instagram Language Challenge.
Few people would tell you that the comments section of a YouTube video is a good place to make friends. In fact, it might be the worst. And yet, that hasn’t stopped language YouTubers from fostering their own little communities. They build trust through teaching language and encouraging participation with interactive activities and vlogs, where they share the more personal parts of their language journeys. There are accounts devoted to almost every language, like Learn Italian with Lucrezia and Learn German with Jenny, so you’re more than likely to find the right YouTuber for you.
Good Old-Fashioned Forums
What is it, 2003? Sure, forums aren’t as popular as they used to be, but they can still provide a sense of community. They’re unlikely to be as popular as, say, a Facebook group, but sometimes that can work to your advantage, as it allows a somewhat more enclosed community to grow together. The websites Omniglot and Fluent In 3 Months both offer forums, and they attract serious language learners who will be able to help you along your way.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention our own online community, Babbel Explorers, which is a small Facebook group with lots of language-learners. It’s a closed group, but people are added quickly, and it’s another great chance to meet people who are learning the same way you are. Not every community is going to be for you, though, so if you end up not liking one, remember that there are near endless places for people to gather on the internet. It’s certain that you’ll find a friendly, helpful community that will keep you motivated and educated as you learn.