Dartmouth foreign language classes embrace Twitter

Perez, who had never used Twitter before the class, also had to get used to the format. She read her classmates’ tweets to get a sense of what kinds of things people tweet about _ the weather, food, routine daily details _ before jumping in with her own observations.

“I would tweet about when I had too much work, or when it was really cold outside, or when I was going to a concert or something I was really excited about,” she said.

Convertini said she was fascinated to read tweets in which students said they didn’t want to study for an exam or complete their homework.

“But they are actually doing the homework. So there’s this sort of forgetting where they are doing something for school but they don’t realize it,” she said. “And they come to class in the morning and they have something to talk about.”

Another student, Zhenwei Mei, said she was surprised to have Twitter incorporated into the curriculum. Mei, whose first language is Chinese, followed the Lazio soccer team and other groups and said she was surprised at how similar some parts of Italian culture were to her own.

“I like the new approach since it provides context, is easy to use and is fun,” she said.

Perez agreed, saying while she appreciates the more formal language instruction she received in middle and high school, Dartmouth’s approach greatly improved her conversational Italian skills.

“On Twitter, if I wanted to say `I’m so tired,’ and I didn’t know the word for tired, I would look it up, and that way I became more fluent,” she said. “And I was also more comfortable afterward having a conversation with a professor or other students because I had used Twitter.”