One thing that has been a big help in my language learning pursuits is online foreign language communities. I spend so much time scrolling the internet in different social media apps, which could be wasted time if the content I were scrolling through weren’t useful to me at least 90% of the time. I honestly think this approach is so underrated, and it is a great way to really get involved in the language you are learning, meet like-minded people and native speakers, and to use the language in contexts you are familiar with. It is such an easy way to integrate the language you are learning into your everyday life that it doesn’t even feel like studying!
By online communities, I mean online forums like Facebook groups and Reddit. These serve as forums where you can meet like-minded people and learn more about a particular topic. In the case of language, you can use these online communities to either discuss and learn more about language, or practise reading and typing in your target language. They are also a great place to network and make friends, including native speakers of the languages you’re learning. So, this post is a round up of all the best online communities I have come across.
Tips for using online communities for language learning
Join groups of native speakers e.g local communities
If your goal is to practise the language you are learning, you should look for communities which are frequented by native speakers of the language you’re learning. You can find groups of native speakers who have something in common with you, such as a hobby or the area you live.
To find groups of native speakers interested in your hobby, just search either the translation of your hobby in the target language in the search bars on Facebook or Reddit (for example, if you like gardening and are learning Spanish, you could search “jardinería”). You might be surprised at how different the culture and norms are for the same hobby in another language.
To find native speakers in your local area, you can search *nationality* in *area* in the local language (for example, “brasileiros em Melbourne” if you are studying Portuguese and living in Melbourne) .
Be web smart
When participating in communities, it is important to be diligent. You will be communicating with a bunch of strangers that could really be anyone, so make sure you keep yourself and your privacy safe. If you’re using Reddit, it’s easy to create and use an anonymous account. If you prefer using your Facebook, make sure your profile has high privacy settings, like ensuring only your friends can see your posts and only people who are mutual friends can message you or add you. Avoid giving out personal details that could identify you and getting into private conversations with people. Make sure you trust someone and can verify their identity before you give them any sensitive information about you.
Make some goals and stick to them
People participate in online language communities for a variety of reasons. Think about what yours are, and how you will make sure you get what you want out of the community. For example, if your goal is to make friends with people who are learning the same languages as you, make sure you are reaching out to such people when you come across them. If your goal is to use your target language, try to participate in a thread at least once a day to practise using it. In short, just remember your reasons for joining the community and try to get what you need out of them.
How to Learn a language using Reddit
Reddit is without a doubt very US-centric, which can make it a bit of a monoculture in many instances. However, there really is a Subreddit for almost everything, even those who want to learn more about other cultures and languages. On Reddit you can find communities for almost every language and culture, as well as other subreddits which are in your target language.
Subreddits for learning languages on Reddit
Subreddits for Language learning
This is where you can go to find out more about the technicalities behind how languages work. If you have a particular question about why or how a particular phenomenon exists, this is a good place to ask it. Be careful though – they don’t take too kindly to layman opinions around there so don’t share a thought unless you can back it up.
This is the general online community for people learning a language. Here, you will find memes, discussions, and resources related to all kinds of different languages. You can compare different languages, and learn more about the various languages and their quirks. If you’re not sure which language to study, this is a good place to start to decide which one you might like.
If you are looking for someone to do a language exchange with, this is an option to find someone. Browse the posts to see if there is anyone that could be suitable for you, or create your own calling for potential partners. But remember the golden rule: this is not an online dating service! Stay focused on your goals, bros.
This is an alternative Subreddit for discussing language learning. This is a smaller community focussed on more niche language learning content and discussion, for example: vocabulary lists, crowdsourcing language data, and language discussion.
This Subreddit is a good passive way to learn vocabulary in a bunch of different languages at once! Word of the Hour is a community to help you expand your vocabulary. Every hour, a new vocabulary word is featured along with translations into 10+ languages including French, German, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and more.
Subreddits for learning Spanish
The Spanish speaking community on Reddit is growing, which is not surprising considering how many Spanish speakers there are in the United States.
Subreddits about learning Spanish specifically:
- r/Spanish: r/Spanish – Discuss, teach and learn
- r/learnspanish: Learn Spanish: Aprende Español
- r/Spanishhelp: Spanish help
Specific region/country subreddits to learn Spanish:
- r/southamerica: A central hub for South America
- r/es (Spain)
- r/vzla (Venezuela)
If a country you are interested in is not on this list, just look it up as it very likely has its own Subreddit too.
Subreddits with native Spanish content to learn Spanish
Subreddits to learn Portuguese
Brazilians are increasingly active on Reddit, so you can find a lot of great memes as well as keep up with the current events in the Brazilian subreddits.
Subreddits about learning Portuguese specifically:
Region/country-specific subreddits to learn Portuguese:
Subreddits with native Portuguese content to learn Portuguese
- r/circojeca (similar to r/circlejerk)
- r/desabafos (similar to r/offmychest)
Subreddits to learn Chinese
The Chinese community on Reddit is not very prominent, so if you are looking to interact organically with the community, this might not be the best place. However, if you are starting out with the language and just want to find out more about the language and culture, there are many great places for that on Reddit.
Subreddits about learning Chinese
Country-specific subreddits to learn Chinese:
Subreddits to learn Japanese
Again, the Japanese don’t seem to be huge on Reddit, but you can still find a lot of useful info about the country and language on Reddit.
Subreddits about learning Japanese:
Country-specific subreddits to learn Japanese:
If you are learning another language, there is most likely a subreddit for that, too! Start by using the Reddit search bar to find Subreddits related to the countries and languages you are learning about.
How to learn a language using Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are similar in function to Reddit and subreddits, but they are on a platform that more people are familiar with. Because of this, you have a greater access to more people, and in some ways, a wider range of people, than on Reddit. However, if you choose to interact within Facebook groups using your personal profile, you should be careful to protect your identity, and make sure your settings are set to private.
How to find good Facebook groups
There are some recommended groups below, but if you are looking for something specific, the best thing to do is just use the Facebook search bar to search the topic you are interested in. You can filter the search so that only groups appear in the results. When looking for a group to join, you want a group with high engagement, so multiple posts a day. Groups with the highest engagement tend to be private groups, and groups that are run by individuals or community groups rather than businesses.
Facebook Groups for learning languages on Facebook
Bonus: If you are a language learning blogger or have a website about languages, you can also join my support group: Language Blogs and Websites.
Facebook groups for general language learning
The community of people who are passionate about learning languages seems to be far greater on Facebook than it is on Reddit. There are countless groups full of people who know or who are learning multiple languages. When I first stumbled across this I was honestly amazed that there really are so many people out there who love learning languages as much as I do! It is a great discovery to make, and it is inspiring to see what other polyglots are achieving. Also, just having like-minded people to talk to is refreshing.
- Polyglots, Polyglots, Polyglots!!!
- Polyglots (The Community)
- The quiet language learners’ nest
- Introvert Language Learners / Polyglots
- Polyglots, Linguists, Translators, Off-Topic and Ekmek (public)
- Polyglots (The Community – Free Zone)
Facebook groups to learn Spanish
Facebook groups to learn Portuguese
- LEARN BRAZILIAN PORTUGUESE
- Learn Portuguese.
- Let’s learn Portuguese (public)
- Learning Portuguese with Brazilians (public)
- Learning Portuguese, English, and Spanish
Facebook groups to learn Chinese
If you are learning another language, type it in the search bar and look for a good group about it.
Chat groups – Whatsapp/Telegram
There are various group chats set up on Whatsapp, Telegram, and various other messaging apps, with the specific purpose of practising a language. You can find them within the online language learning communities (people often post to advertise their chat group) as well as via language exchange partners.
So, you see, social media isn’t all bad and a waste of time! Fill your feeds with interesting and useful language content and you are bound to have more natural exposure to your target language throughout the day. I hope you’ve learned something about how to use online language communities to learn a language. If you’re looking for ways to learn languages online, check out these online courses you can also take, or find new methods to learn a language from home.
If you have your own tips or tricks that I haven’t mentioned here, leave a comment and let us know what it is!