Monday, 29 March 2010

How to Use Twitter with an ESL group

In a previous post I briefly talked about Twitter and how teachers could use it as a resource for lesson ideas and material. However, after having used it with a group here at my school, I think I have some suggestions as to how it could be used with students to help them learn English more effectively. Here are some initial ideas:

1. Create a private Twitter group.

This is not really an activity as such, more a useful thing to do to make sure that all the information shared on Twitter is private to your class (unless of course you want to share it with other people). It's a little confusing to set up, but once you do the students grasp the concept very easily. You can use this service to set it up and they give a fairly clear explanation of what you have to do in the FAQs. If you want your students to be able to receive group posts on their phones and to be able to post from their phones, this help page is useful.

2. Posting useful links to ESL content for your students

We want our students to take every chance to learn outside the classroom, and one way to do this is to point them towards any interesting sites/material you find online for them to use. If you don't know where to find such material, this is a fantastic site to start with. It gives you video explanations of lots of great ESL sites for both students and teachers. To show you this in practice, here's a picture of a part of our Twitter group page with some links I've found.

3. Vocabulary/grammar questions for students.

Students responded well to this - better than my more general attempts to generate conversations through the Twitter group - I think because the format of Twitter lends itself well to it. I would simply give an expression and an example of use and then ask the students to guess the meaning from the context. Here's an example:

4. Get students to share new language

This is something that I do regularly in my normal classes, particularly at the beginning of the week I get students to share any 'new' words or expressions they came across over the weekend, either in books, adverts or on the web. However, this is definitely something that could be done very effectively on Twitter and it could be done on a rolling basis as students come across new language.

5. class notices/homework etc.

Applicable to all classes not just ESL, but Twitter is a really nice way to remind your students about things, trips, homework, things they need to bring to class next lesson. If they can get into a habit of using it regularly it can become a real noticeboard for the class.

I think there are a multitude of uses of Twitter in the classroom. Just take a look at this post explaining 100 uses of Twitter for academics (admittedly some of them are pretty thin as any list comprising of a 100 items would have to be). But there is a lot of stuff out there on the web exploring how it can be used inside and outside the classroom to enhance students' learning and I'll be definitely exploring this with my class in the coming months


  1. Hi David,

    Although I use twitter for my own professional development, I've been experimenting with using Edmodo ( in face-to-face teacher training, as a way of keeping the class networked via laptops, and avoiding printing anything out. Edmodo is very similar to twitter, but I find it better for educational purposes than Twitter.You can easily upload documents and audio or video files, for example to share.

    The way I use it is to create an edmodo group, invite my teacher trainees (joining a group is simple -- you just give your sts an enrolment key, none of the followed and following hassle of Twitter). Then during our daily face-to-face sessions, we all log into Edmodo, and keep it running in the background, and it's where I post any handouts/worksheets/links to consult/video/audio etc. Participants also upload their own work, and everything is instantly available to all the group. I find that my main use of it in face-to-face training is as a way of instantly sharing resources, and creating a networked paperless classroom.


  2. hi Nicky, just checked it out and must say it's a lot less confusing than setting up a private Twitter group!!! I think I might just try this out with one of my groups this term. Thanks for the tip, very useful :-)

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