Network Your Way to Better Language Skills and a Better Life

This post is a guest article from Tim Wenger, and I was bowled over by his motivating and positive attitudes about networking. We often hear how this can benefit people in their career, but have you ever thought to use your network by mentioning languages in the same way? Tim has some awesome tips here.

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My Challenge Results & 17 Tips For Language Learning on Social Media

social media tips

This is 2017: Social media is more powerful than ever. The next US president is tweeting at all hours. The Facebook algorithm has contributed to shaping public opinion. And over 80% of the population (in the USA) are on some kind of social network.

You'd think we're all a bunch of timewasters, scrolling our life away. But in this world of chaos, a small idea came and brought new motivation: "Use social media for good", it stated. Let's all stop wasting time and turn that naughty Facebook habit around.

Today, I'm here to tell you how that idea works out in practice. I've just completed a 28 Day Social Media Challenge, supported by the course Social Media Success. This course by Lindsay Williams is made for language learners and builds up your new study habit over 4 weeks.

Download the Guide

If you want to get more "behind the scenes" insight and find out which social networks are my top recommendations for language learners, be sure to download the new Guide to Social Networks from my Fluent Cool Kids Club by signing up here for free..

My Challenge Results

In my main language, Welsh, I spoke more sentences, discovered more native speakers, and added new vocabulary. In other words: HECK YES. This habit does not replace bigger study sessions, but it didn't take away the time for them either. Instead, I spent an effortless extra 3 hours on language learning.

I also found more time for my secondary languages. Currently these are Malaysian and French, and in the challenge I did things for both of them. Just a little bit, but it was there and lets me build onto them. I'm already working on a schedule.

17 Quick Tips for Language Learning on Social Media

Over the course of the 28 days, I collected short and simple tips that can help anyone get started with language learning on social media. Feel free to try a few of these, or even just to pick one.

Learn when you are busy

We already spend so much time on social media that this isn't a new time demand for most people. In fact, when was the last time you checked Facebook or Twitter? 20 minutes ago? Good! If you can do that, then you will find the language activities very easy. I was able to stick with the plan even on days where I travelled for over 12 hours, or met my whole extended family.

Here are my top tips:

  • Mix language tools (flashcards) and social media together

For example, you can add new words you learn on Snapchat to a list on Memrise, or document your Duolingo tree in a Facebook group.

  • Edit your newsfeed to stay focused

Are you following someone who tweets more nonsense than helpful things? Edit your newsfeed! You can mute some posts and set up focused lists to help you get there and save time. Twitter is my favourite tool for this.

  • Newsfeed a mess still? Make a new profile

I created a language profile on Instagram so that I could stay focused on languages and have a newsfeed that gives me support and motivation. You can do the same on any social network, and most apps now support quick switching.

It pays off in 4 ways

Lanugage learning on social media is not just a way of taking your language skills to the next level. It also keeps you accountable, meaning you will stay motivated and keep going for longer. You will create documentation of how you're doing in languages, allowing you to see and feel progress. And finally, the community of language learners will start connecting to you meaning you make new language loving friends and find more interesting things about your language.

Here's how to get the most out of this:

  • Follow teachers, bands and businesses

Social Media for Language Learning is about getting your newsfeed right, so make sure you follow as many useful accounts as you can. Find them by searching for your languages or seeing what's related to people you follow.

  • Find existing communities

Every social network has a bunch of great groups that are already talking about your language. Check out Instagram challenges, Twitter chats, subreddits and Facebook groups.

  • Avoid hiding your mistakes

When there is something wrong, people like to comment and correct it. This is how you find the best language community online, so forget about looking flawed and start putting your mistakes out there - they're like community bait!

  • Make and share a goal

If your followers know what you are working on, they will be more invested in your success and you'll get lovely support messages. This also works for your own motivation, as stating the public goal keeps you more accountable.

Not every social network is great for language learning

In my experience of working through the social media jungle, some apps and websites emerged as stars and others felt like a waste of time. You can read more about my experiences in the special guide to social networks I created for the Fluent Cool Kids Club, which is free to join.

  • Organise everyone you follow

On Facebook it's groups, on Pinterest it's boards, on Twitter it's lists. The better your organization, the faster you can find the right people.

  • Organise early, but not too often

Invest half an hour at the start to get your lists or groups set up, and then don't worry about it anymore and enjoy the journey!

  • Be ok with not being everywhere

Over time, you will realize that some apps or networks feel more like an obligation than a pleasure. The best way for you to find out what works for you is to try the challenges in Lindsay's course. After 28 days, look back and ask what worked best for you - then ditch the duds and stick with your daily practice where it matters!

Oh, by the way: This is fun!

Maybe this all sounds like a lot of hard work, but let me tell you: I had lots of fun with my languages. This way of learning is creative and lets you try out anything such as practice with kids, singing new songs, sharing pets or photos of your books.

Some tips to get more out of this:

  • Use apps to go with your apps

The app store is full of great ways to take your photos and words to the next level! You can create images with apps like Wordswag, discover Snapchatters on Ghostcodes, and much more. Simply search your app store for the name of any social network and you'll find new ideas instantly.

  • Explore more social networks

No one said you have to stick to Facebook and Twitter! Try language learning networks or look around on the boards of Fluent in 3 Months or Italki for example, or investigate the extra social networks in my new Cool Kids Club guide.

  • Use algorithms to find more and more

Once you follow a language learner, the social network will learn what kind of people and topics you're interested in. Wait a few minutes, and watch your newsfeed transform into a language class like no other!

At the end of every week, you should spend 30 minutes on a review for new words and lessons. Here's what I did:

  • Review your liked/saved posts

On most social networks, you can access a list of everything you've "Liked" so that you can use this as a bookmark system and work through it once a week as you review the best of the week.

  • Learn social media vocab

The easiest way to find out vocabulary for "post", "comment", "tweet" etc is to switch the user language in your social network.

  • Add your new words to a separate vocab list

Every week, it pays to invest a little bit of time to take all those new posts and words out of the internet and put them into your notebook, flashcards, and, ultimately, brain.

  • Stay organised

Building habits is not the same as doing an intensive challenge, but this investment of your time in "little and often" will pay off. Use a diary, a tracker or follow the Social Media Success schedules so that you don't give up halfway through. The goal here is to start a daily language practice, not to become fluent in a short time!

So here's the conclusion: Social Media for Languages is something you should try - immediately! It won't take a lot of time, and it will pay off for sure.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment here and tell me what worked for you and which social network you use all the time.

And don't forget that my free guide to ALL social networks is waiting for you in the Cool Kids Club!

Social Media for Language Learning: Tips for Twitter, Pinterest and Hashtags

Millions of people use apps to learn languages. Duolingo, Memrise, HelloTalk, Skype...all of these apps are made to help you learn languages. But what about the ones you use with your friends?

Can you use a fun social network like Facebook for language learning?

This is the question at the heart of my quest "28 Days of Social Media for Language Learning". I am using materials from the course Social Media Success from Lindsay Dow - a great strategic course to help you learn languages.

Now I'm in Week 3

More than halfway through now!

Obviously I'm developing favourites but I'm also enjoying the ones I started with and I am valuing the accountability.

One of the best results is that I feel like my progress is more visible. On many days when I can't find the time for a study session, the social media tasks from Lindsay's course are helping me add a little more time.

This week, it's been impossible to find concentrated time to learn my main language. But social media came through again.

Mistake Goals

In Social Media Success, Lindsay talks about the idea of making mistakes. She has cool recommendations for the best social networks and also for the easiest ways of doing this.

Her course talks about making mistakes as a part of documenting progress. In other words, you need to do this - you can't avoid it. Lindsay's mistake goals are a way to celebrate your language learning progress by showing the work you do behind the scenes. I found that the best social network for me to do these was Instagram, not Snapchat, as it was more likely that I would get corrections and encouragement.

Key Lesson: Make mistakes in your learning and share them proudly. It's a great way to get helpful feedback from native speakers.

Pinterest

The cool thing about this week was that the algorithms of Pinterest learn very quickly. I have added no more than 10 new pins about the Welsh language, but the homepage is reacting very quickly and showing me more relevant pins. I haven't been able to find a lot of variety for Welsh, and I think the best languages on Pinterest are "school languages".

It's also great for how-to and for goal setting and motivating systems. I am a bullet journal user, and the visual social networks like I Pinterest and Instagram are great for finding new ideas for organising things.

And finally, if you want to meet other teachers who really care about making cool language lessons, then this is your place to be.

Key Lesson: The best language materials on Pinterest are available in the big school languages: French, German, Spanish, English.

Have you found a board you love? You can share it in the comments or in our Facebook Group.

Twitter

Twitter is one of my favourite social networks. It's full of smart and opinionated people, it moves quickly and it has its own sense of humour. This week I tweeted in Welsh and I made a Twitter list (Lindsay teaches how to do this in her course, too). The list is awesome, very very useful for getting that shot of Welsh when I only have a few minutes.

Twitter has another advantage: This is where native speakers really write how they talk. You can see what slang and natural Welsh looks like, and I liked it lots. For example, this tweet from a singer Osian Roberts shows how "Dw I eisiau" becomes "Dwisio":

Key Lesson of the Week: Twitter is not just for tweeting - you can easily build a natural language resource in bitesize using lists.

Hashtagify

The site hashtagify is like a search engine for Twitter hashtags that are relevant to whatever you are interested in. So for example, you want to type in "learn German" in the search. The site will then show you popular tweets, as well as the other hashtags that people use when they talk about learning German. Very useful!

So here we are at the end of week 3. I am not sure how much new language I got to study using the social networks, but I definitely have been consuming and practicing more because of it!

Join the challenge for the last few days, here's where to go:

1) Visit our Facebook Group to connect with other language learners and download Lindsay's prompts

2) Join the course Social Media Success by Lindsay Does Languages

3) Connect with me on your favourite app!

4) You will also need the 28 Day Planner, which you candownload here.

Comment over here to tell me how it's going!

fluent online

Public Language Success: Week 2 of 28 Day of Social Media for Language Learning

It's time for my check-in at the end of the second week using social media for language learning, and it was a good one!

The Challenge: Do something for my languages every day using social media.

More precisely, I'm following my friend Lindsay's(does Languages)  28 Day Planner from the course "Social Media Success". If you want to join in with the challenge, check out the full details here or catch up with week 1 here.  

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Learning a Language When Life is Busy

Looking at a calendar, I always knew that this week was going to be a busy one. It's Christmas at the weekend and there was much to be done, including a full day of train travel from the UK to Germany. When I'm not in my usual environment, it's easy for good habits or routines to fall by the wayside. But this week, I was positively surprised: Lindsay's theories about social media seem to hold up. Facebook, Twitter, all those little apps, really do sneak into my life even when there's a lot going on. So it was possible to keep up with my language tasks in under 10 minutes every day.

Quick recap: I used 5 social networks this week:

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • Facebook
  • Periscope

In addition to those up there, I also downloaded the Tumblr app and connected it to my Instagram account, but I didn't find the time to study Tumblr in more detail.

Instagram Language Challenge

The concept of the #iglc (Instagram Language Challenge) continues to be a lot of fun: Every day I've got to take a photo or upload a little image featuring a word or video. It was a lot of fun to make my video of the week this time as I had a guest star, Mr Simon Ager from Omniglot. Maybe you remember him from our podcast episode about the secret languages of Britain?

Simon was in town this weekend and allowed me to practice my Welsh with him. We spoke for 10-15 minutes before I had to concede that my head was buzzing. Great progress - I've not felt like I can have a conversation in Welsh before!

Here's our little Insta video:

On several occasions I may have known the word for the prompt, but in the photo caption I still got to practice something new, like Welsh mutations with the word for dog.

Instagram is a great social media start for language learners because it's so fun to use the caption space and post emoji, thoughts, or just a string of hashtags. I also enjoy the sense of community that comes from sharing hashtags like #iglc, #kerstinsocial, or #languagelover. Several people have commented on my photos with help or replies in Welsh, which is both great practice and great encouragement. What more do we language learners need?

And with the little Instagram Now feature, I was even able to post a few of my errors or attempts at the secondary language in this challenge, which is Malaysian. 

Key Lesson from Instagram this week: Bring in your friends and find that language learning community - both online and offline!

Facebook

I read a statistic this week saying that over 80% of the American population are now on Facebook - that's nuts! We really do love our Facebook, and it's only right that we bring language learning into this.

Using last week's prompts, I remembered to check out a favourite band's Welsh language page, and I hit the "Like" button on a few of their posts. That's now the "Hoffi" button of course, since my Facebook user language is switched to Welsh.

I also posted every day in my group, Fluent Language Learners.  Even when no one replies, the accountability of posting in a group is helpful.

And here is the thing:

Facebook uses this powerful algorithm to decide which posts it wants to show me first, and it picked up on my Welsh activity very quickly. Now I see more posts from language learning groups and automatically get more articles about the language. 

Key Lesson: Tell Facebook you like language learning by liking and clicking on articles from groups & fan pages that you like, and it will respond to you in kind.

Creepy but useful, right? 

By the way: Lindsay talks about accountability in Social Media Success, explaining three big keys to accountability: goals, challenges and going public. I was pleased to find out that this current project hits all three of the goals. The information in this course makes it easy to go from time-wasting to effective action, so I would highly recommend it!

Twitter

Yay for Twitter! This is one of my favourite social networks and once again I had great fun on Twitter. I wrote several tweets in Welsh and almost every one of them got a response - incredible! Great to know that my language skills are picking up speed. Before going public and actually tweeting in Welsh, I didn't even know that my current skills were good enough for an online chat.

I haven't found the courage to post in Malaysian yet - saving that one for Snapchat.

Key Lesson: Go Public!! Even if you're not perfect, people will respond. 

Snapchat

Oof, last social network to report on. Snapchat was a great one this week. The challenge plan slowly ramps up and asked me to document five mistakes in one day this week. Luckily, I didn't have to go too far to find those mistakes to make. I simply took some grammar tests - hah!

On my busiest days, Snapchat was the easiest social network to keep up with. It can be demanding to write a tweet in a foreign language, but to quickly shoot 10 seconds of video with a new vocabulary word seems more manageable.

I also find Snapchat more forgiving because the videos disappear after 24 hours, so that I'm feeling more confident with Malaysian practice (that's the language I don't really know). And it's fun to share what I'm up to as well and to see glimpses of fellow language learners' lives.

Key Lesson: Don't get too serious about Snapchat and use it as your language playground! 

Are you Taking the Challenge?

If you're also following some prompts from my 28 Days of Social Media for Language learning, how's it going? What did you enjoy this week? Leave a comment below!

You can join in on Facebook or by using the #kerstinsocial hashtag on Twitter or Instagram.

And now, I wish you an AWESOME holiday week and hope you get great presents!! 

28 Days of Social Media: The First 6 Social Networks

socialnetworks-language

Hello, hello! It's the first Friday of my "28 Days of Social Media" journey, time to take stock and post a quick update telling you what has worked so far, what I liked and what didn't deliver.

If you want to join in with the challenge, check out the full details here on my blog.

Language Lessons from Social Media

Week 1 was great fun overall. Something I noticed straight away was that I have a head start because I already have all the necessary apps and I know how to use them.

I learnt using:

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • Facebook
  • Periscope
  • Pinterest

So that's 6 social networks. Wow!

If you aren't as confident using social media, Lindsay's course Social Media Success is a great little primer, because it contains a great bunch of intro videos for the networks we don't use for languages. For example, Lindsay shows exactly how to work Snapchat in just 5 minutes. She was my Snapchat tutor at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin this year, and I can certify that she definitely knows a few secrets.

Instagram Love

Every day of this social media challenge asks learners to take part in the #iglc, that's the Instagram Language Challenge. This challenge is run by Lindsay and she posts 28 little prompts every month, so you can reply and post something in your target language and inspired by the prompt every day.

I have enjoyed the creativity in this challenge, especially video day which looked like this:

The #iglc prompts were the most effort out of all the prompts I completed this week - following a prompt takes only 5-10 minutes, but that's more than most things on social media. I think this wasn't so much about the language as it was about wanting my pictures to look really nice and tempting, so that everyone will think I'm cool. A total social media risk!

The key here is to make sure you note down what you're actually adding and learning in one central place. Otherwise all you're making is pretty pictures.

Key Lesson from the IGLC: Go crazy, have fun. But review your words at the end of the week so you can memorize that new vocab.

And I would advise reviewing your words and noting them away from your social media channel, so that you can bring the best knowledge back into your language mode.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a fantastic resource for language learners, and I have been using it to inspire my lessons for years as well. You can find anything on there, from new charts to full videos in other languages. This week, I revived my Welsh learning board.

But because materials for this language are still kinda limited on Pinterest, I also started playing with my long-standing little language on the side: Malaysian! I started a new board and felt like I'm finally finding those few minutes to try out my new language.

Key Lesson: Pinterest is a fantastic playground for getting you started in a new language, but also for organizing when you have lots of things on the go.

Today is another review day in the Social Media plan, and I am so grateful that this prompt will help me really learn, not just add more to my list.

Facebook

There was only one prompt this week, which was to switch my Facebook user language. I did switch it to Welsh and learn a few new words of social media vocab.

The best thing about using Facebook was my group Fluent Language Learners because it's a great community for people who are also taking this challenge. Posting in the group every day is making me feel like I have accountability and I'm not going to stop.

Key Lesson: Find a community and tell them what your goal is, so that you can share the progress you are making.

Overall, you can probably tell that I'm having early successes already. I'm learning new Welsh words and using my Welsh, and I'm FINALLY picking up my new language without feeling a lot of pressure.

Next week, my social media update is due on Christmas eve and it's a busy one with lots of travel. Let's see how well language learning can incorporate into our lives when we do it the social media way. I'm looking forward to it!

Periscope

There had to be one that didn't work for me. This was it...Periscope didn't have content I enjoyed or understood, and I struggled with their interface too. Maybe I should download the app?

Are you Taking the Challenge?

If you're also following some prompts from my 28 Days of Social Media for Language learning, how's it going? What did you enjoy this week? Leave a comment below!

You can join in anytime on Facebook, or by posting anywhere using #kerstinsocial.

28 Days of Social Media for Language Learning

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Quora, Pinterest...are they 100 new ways to waste your time?

My friend Lindsay from Lindsay Does Languages thinks otherwise. She is obsessed with social media, but not in that "candy-crush-comment-spiral" sort of way. Lindsay is a very disciplined language learner, having created her own courses on language learning (check out my review of "Successful Self Study" here)

Last month, Lindsay brought out a new little course called Social Media Success and I thought instead of the usual course review, I actually want to put this to the test.

"Will social media really help me learn a language? Won't I just mess around on the internet?"

I really don't need more wasted internet time in my busy life, but I've decided to try this out myself.

For the next 28 days, I am going to follow Lindsay's recommendations and complete as many tasks as possible in her social media planner. Along the way, I'll post a weekly update on the blog and newsletter and let you know how helpful the Social Media Course will be.

And because this is meant to be social, I would like you to come and try out the challenge together with me.

Join Fluent Language Learners

You are invited to join the Fluent Language Facebook group, where I will post daily updates, prompts and ideas - and where we can discuss how it's going! The group is for connecting with learners of all languages and talking about our favourite study methods.

Join the Facebook group if:

  • You love learning languages

  • You want to share your ideas and learn more about how we learn best

  • You need to work out how to fit language into your busy life

  • You love travel and connecting with people!

And of course there is a #hashtag too: Post using #kerstinsocial every day or search for the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to see how I'm progressing.

Ready? #awesome!!

Click here to join the Facebook group and get Lindsay's 28 Day Planner

Where To Find & Follow Me on Social Media

Here are the social media accounts that I will be using during the challenge:

You will also need the 28 Day Planner, which you can download here.

The social media planner also talks about Periscope, but I think that one's gone away...I'll be popping up on Facebook Live in the group instead!

Ready to Start?

Comment ont this blog post to tell me your favourite social network, and how you will be using it to learn languages in the next 28 days.

I'll see you online (search #kerstinsocial) or on Friday with my first update on the blog.

How to Learn a Language Using Snapchat (Podcast Episode 45)

Everyone's talking about social media, some people are talking about social media for language learning. In today's podcast episode, get the most specific advice possible as Lindsay and I guide you through the Snapchat app for language learning.

Listen to the episode:

Don't forget to catch the mention of our good friends at Flashsticks, the language learning post-it guys. You can purchase vocabulary post-it notes in 8 languages and get 10% off with the code KERSTIN10.

snapchat language learning

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a social media app for any smartphone. It lets you share photos or videos, and your snap only lasts 24 hours unless you make it a "memory".

Of course you can change the menu language, but with such strong visual focus that alone won't teach you a language.

It's designed for camera phones and not available on your desktop computer.

Why is it awesome?

  • It's easy, fast and low-pressure. In other photo social networks, you would be tempted to make every picture stunning and impressive and beautiful. But in Snapchat, you'll just play and learn in the process. What does that mean? No more shyness, no more reasons to avoid speaking!
  • It allows you to stitch things together into a story, so you can share a 5-second snap, or go ahead and combine several videos to show how you speak a foreign language.
  • For language learning, the new Memories feature is a way to track your progress. Record yourself speaking today, save the memory, and try the same thing in a month. You'll be surprised at your own progress!

How to Get The Most Out of This For Languages

You may have to set up a little system in order to get the most out of this, for example an evening review or a regular vocab routine.

1. Document
Lindsay studies every morning and documents her mistakes on Snapchat, while I am more spontaneous and use the system to show and share how languages pop up in my day.

2. Check and Correct Errors
One other idea is to practice what you want to practice, then check back and correct the errors that you made. We go into detail about how important it is not just to make the mistakes, but to correct the mistakes so that you can get better.

3. Make Yourself a Vocab Resource
As you go through your day, why not take pictures of all you see around you and build yourself a little daily vocab resource? You can save the story in Memories at the end of the day, or do an evening review to add the words to your vocabulary bank.

Great Accounts to Follow (Click for the Snapcodes)

Are You a Snapchat User?

If you use Snapchat for language learning (or not), leave us a comment and share your usernames and snapcodes.

Thank you guys so much for being podcast listeners, chatting to us on twitter (I'm @kerstinhammes and Lindsay is @ldlanguages) and making your voices heard!

Kerstin's 4 steps to learning a language with Pinterest

If you have never heard of Pinterest before, get excited because this super-visual social network is actually a cool education tool. In today's blog post, we'll have a look at how the service works and what you can use it for when it comes to language learning. And of course I'll show you a few of my favourite boards!

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What is Pinterest?

I usually describe Pinterest as an online corkboard, a place where you can store things you come across on the internet, get them organised and come back later. The unique thing about it is that it's all visual, so every link that you put on there (it's called "pinning") will be shown image first.

Pinterest is a powerful social network too, allowing you to "repin" anything anyone has put in there before, to like pins and to send them to others.  There are even social pinboards, where you can invite many others to contribute.

Why should I bother with Pinterest for language learning?

There are a few reasons why I think this service is one of the coolest tools for language learners:

  • The social boards are fantastic for using the pinning powers of people who have the same interests as you. 
  • The visual basis means that you can scroll easily and select from a large set of resources quite quickly.
  • The focus is often on language in use, rather than just courses and exercises, and it really gets you motivated to see beautiful quotes and infographics.
  • It lets you get more creative and find more source material than most other language learning websites. 

How I use Pinterest

Just a few examples of creative Pinterest use for you here, so you can get involved straight away.

Verbotene Liebe is a German soap opera posting character profiles for their fans on Pinterest. I've been using these regularly for practicing introductions with my early German learners. This way we can combine a good story with early language learning. Take this lady: She's married, but divorced? The two men have the same last name?! You what?!? Those Germans!

Next up, I've also had treasure hunts around the web. Students received a list of items to find and pin to a shared board.

And finally, there is nothing like a cool image or infographic to get everyone interested and give you something to come back for (I recommend the lastminute.de blog for great ones in German, by the way).  Who knew Germany was so pretty?

And here's what you do

Fancy getting into Pinterest now? I recommend that you start with the following steps: 

  1. Search for your target language, combine it with a few other keywords.

    Good searches for French would be français, apprendre français, french learning, french, langue française and any specific topic you want to look up (passé composé for example).

  2. Follow me on there - my boards are guaranteed to have some inspiration for you and you can get busy with repins to your own boards straight away

  3. Follow relevant pinners in the target language - for example dictionary publishers, native speakers and other teachers

  4. Install the Pinterest browser extension for your own browser and try it by pressing "Pin It" next time you find a resource you like