In September 2014 Dr Ulrike Bavendiek presented at the conference of the Gesellschaft für Angewandte Linguistik e.V. in the picturesque city of Marburg. This is the biggest international conference on Applied Linguistics in Germany which attracted hundreds of linguists from Germany and abroad to the Philipps-Universität Marburg from the16th to the 19th of September. This year’s symposium was entitled ‘Posting, poking and tweeting in and outside the classroom – the potential of social media for language learning’.
In her paper, ‘Developing New Literacies for Language Learners – the role of reflection, awareness and linguistic knowledge’, Dr Bavendiek argued that participation in the foreign language on social media sites can be an enjoyable way of learning a language. It enables learners to engage with the foreign language community at a distance and to continue their language learning after they have graduated from university. However, active participation in the foreign language can be daunting. Digressions from the standard language, innovative language use and shifting and quickly evolving rules are typical on social media platforms. When breaking the rules becomes the norm, traditional teaching methods are no longer appropriate. Instead, in her final year linguistics module Ulrike Bavendiek encourages her students to observe and reflect on examples of creative language use and, hopefully, to participate themselves one day, with confidence and fun!