“Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.”
Snapchat is a photo and video messaging app that is used by millions of youth and adults worldwide. Chances are many of your language learners are already Snapchatters. If so, motivate them to dedicate some of their Snapchat time to learning English outside your classroom.
Snapchat has many cool features that you can use to enhance your language learners’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. These features include the ability to record videos, take photos, chat, access the feeds of popular media sites in English, and create individual and group stories. Additionally, users can enhance their videos and photos with text, drawings, links, stickers, filters, special effects, sounds, and costumes. Become more familiar with these features here.
Create a class account to get started with any of the suggested activities below. Note that your learners have to be at least 13 years old to set up an account and will have to friend the class account to see the updates. Don’t forget to get permission first from administrators and parents.
Snapchat is a great annotation tool. You can mark up images and videos with stickers and draw arrows or circle or underline key points and examples. With the text tool, students can add captions or labels. Students can even take snaps of paragraphs from their readings and highlight vocabulary, quotes, or main ideas. Check out #BookSnaps for an example of how educators are doing this.
Your language learners can subscribe and receive news and content daily from publications, such as CNN, Mashable, Vox, and The New York Times. Students use the Discover tool to find this media and subscribe. After subscribing, students have the ability to download these news stories. They can then create “stories” with the content, in which, they talk about what they learned through their own snaps or by annotating the news stories. Learners can download their snaps to submit to you through a Google Form. Alternatively, they can upload them to your virtual classroom.
Motivate students to learn about the content before they walk into class. Create “stories” about the topic with animated images and video. You can include URLs that lead to an activity or quiz to ensure students reviewed the content. If you don’t have time to create your own snaps, then grab great content from companies like Flashsticks and NatGeo, or subscribe to publications such as CNN, Mashable, Vox, and The New York Times.
Use the Snap Map feature to experience global events virtually. Students can pinpoint an area on the global map and see snaps of breaking news, festivals, or sporting events in that country. They can also go to Search and click on the categories Travel and Attractions to go on virtual field trips. They will see the snaps of visitors and organizers.
With the Custom Stories feature you can add students who are the class reporters for the day. They are responsible for taking pictures of student activities and the lessons. They can also conduct video interviews with classmates to ask them what they learned or to find out their thoughts about the topic. Save these stories and send them to parents who can review the material with their kids.
Authentic English Examples
Create a custom story for the unit and direct students to contribute snaps of real world examples. For example, if the unit is about restaurants, they can submit snaps of menus where they have highlighted their favorite items and described them. They can submit videos of ordering food in English and highlight key phrases or proper etiquette. They can submit snaps of favorite recipes. Students need to be added to contribute to your custom story. When all have contributed, download the entire custom story and upload to the class website. Share it with parents or keep it for future lessons.
How-To Videos and Tutorials
Each of your learners has knowledge or skills valuable to their peers. Direct them to create a short how-to video or snap story for their peers to learn something, such as how to do a magic trick, draw something, or throw a baseball. Have them write down clear and simple instructions on each snap with the text tool to illustrate the step. Their peers will then use these videos to complete the task.
The most popular way to use Snapchat is to tell stories. Students can use Snapchat’s filters, stickers, and lenses to add special effects, props and backgrounds to animate their own digital stories. They can disguise themselves as animals or characters with these tools and let their imagination run wild. You can tie the story topic to what they are learning or provide a vocabulary list of words they should include.
Create a group chat where peers can help support each other right before a test or as a backchannel. Up to 32 individuals can take part in a group chat. Just remember group chats only last 24 hours.
For more ideas on how to use Snapchat with your language learners, check out these resources:
- Snapchat for Education
- Teaching Business English with Snapchat
- How I Use Snapchat for Language Learning
- Directory of Libraries on Snapchat
- ELT Chat – Twitter & Snapchat
In what ways would you use Snapchat with language learners?