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International AI students advance English skills through social media videos | tidings

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Many international AI students have discovered that short videos on social media are a fun and effective tool to advance their English skills.

With names such as “Reels” and “Shorts”, social media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, have sections of their apps dedicated to cute videos, often with humor for 15 to 60 seconds, on it which users can move quickly. Many creators who produce language learning content have utilized these attractive media. Such clips can introduce advanced English expressions and idioms that are challenging to many international students.

Larissa Rocha, a graduate student from Brazil, said using video clips to learn English has helped improve her skill level. Rocha thinks visualizing concepts in an engaging, humorous or conversational way can be an effective strategy for those who have some background in the target language to improve their language skills, she said.

“Social media clips like Reels can be more useful for students if they discuss these clips with their peers inside and outside the classroom,” Rocha said.

Cindy Rauth, academic coordinator for the UofAs English Language and Cultural Studies program, thinks social media clips are a great way to learn English because humor is an essential part of the practice process. Learning a language is an unfamiliar and often stressful experience, and fun and entertainment are important in improving that experience, Rauth said.

Learning a language is challenging, in part because your language is a part of your core identity, and so learning something that challenges who you are can feel threatening and can be resilient, Rauth said. Language learners may be reluctant to expose their weaknesses and when humor is involved it can reduce stress and fear factors.

Humor can help lower students’ defenses and make them more able to easily engage with materials, Rauth said. It can also make learning more enjoyable and create positive associations in memory.

Jiaying Chen, a Chinese doctoral student, thinks social media content presents a fun and modern way for international students to improve their English learning outside the classroom, she said.

The scrolls are useful in learning English because students can see directly how to use advanced English words and expressions in a scene, but I do not think it is a good idea to use those short videos in the curriculum, Chen said.

Rauth also thinks using social media as a tool makes sense for young people who are already very engaged in online spaces, she said.

I see a lot of people using their phones when they are bored and browsing the internet, so I think this can be really helpful because while they are waiting, they can watch those videos, Rauth said.

Although social media is growing in popularity among language learners, some international students prefer other methods online and in person to learn English.

Laura Mariana Echvarri Ibarra, a graduate student, said she prefers to listen to conversations, podcasts and music, use language learning apps, watch movies and read.

“I feel like I’m losing patience when I see people trying to learn English or some other language,” Ibarra said. When I look at Instagram, TikTok or YouTube coils, I feel that they are not important or attractive to me. Also, it is easier to listen to podcasts in English while I am driving.

Chen thinks social media videos may be a small tool in language learners’ arsenals, but they are not a substitute for more comprehensive learning aids, she said.

For me as an international student, I prefer a full learning process, not just short videos, Chen said. (Although) they can be a useful tool in the process.

Rauth thinks social media clips like Reels, Shorts and TikToks could be useful tools to introduce to her class and encourage her students to share with each other, she said.

I can share them with my students so that students on the bus or standing in line can watch those funny videos, Rauth said. I would recommend it to my students because I think it is a great way to continue learning.

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