This guest post comes from us courtesy of Cristy Vogel, one of the moderators of a highly active series of conversations between languages teachers across the world using Twitter. I try to keep on top of new technologies, but was late to the table when it came to Twitter – thinking it was mainly for teenage fans to engage with their idols. How wrong I was! Twitter has become an important source of professional development, and the #Langchat series has offered many ideas and words of advice and inspiration. As someone who has until now merely sat on the sidelines, I wanted to get involved in the discussions, and so I invited Cristy to explain the ins and outs of getting engaged.

Profile2013-smCristy Vogel is  a high school French teacher and the department chair at her school in Columbia, SC, USA. She serves as a co-moderator of #LangChat, a weekly Twitter chat for world language educators. She has also served as president of both the South Carolina chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French and the South Carolina Foreign Language Teachers’ Association.

Thanks to recent advances in technology, educators across the globe are using social media, videoconferencing apps, and other tools to connect with each other for collaboration, networking, and support. Twitter IS, I dare say, the most powerful social media tool out there for education professionals. In fact, teachers have been connecting via Twitter for several years now, but its popularity continues to grow as more and more people are talking about it at workshops, edcamps, conferences, and other professional learning events.  Tons of world language educators share in this forum on a regular basis, so join the fun for access to FREE professional learning 24/7! One of the best ways to see immediate value in this tool is to check out one of the weekly hour-long Twitter chats.  For world language educators, #LangChat would be a great place to start.

What is #LangChat ?
In 2011, a few educators in the United States formed a team of moderators to run a weekly chat (#LangChat) on all things world language learning. At a set time each week, teachers pull up Twitter, or another site that makes it easy to participate in chats, and discuss a chosen topic.  Participants can vote on a topic earlier in the week by clicking on the poll link that is tweeted out by the moderators. Not only is it a weekly, hour-long chat for world language educators, but it is a hashtag (a searchable term.) All you have to do is type it in the Twitter search box, and Voilà! You’ll only see tweets that include the hashtag, #LangChat, in the feed.

Please visit the official #LangChat website to read about the team of moderators and check out the archives (every tweet sent during each chat) and/or the summaries: http://langchat.pbworks.com/w/page/39343677/FrontPage

When is #LangChat?
In the United States, it takes place every Thursday from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. EDT. For our Australian friends, that translates to Friday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m (AEDT). Recently, a second edition of the Thursday chat was added, and takes place on Saturday morning in the U.S. (10 a.m. EDT.) Therefore, Australians could potentially join the repeat discussion on Sunday mornings at 1 a.m. (AEDT).

How do I join the conversation ?
Just before the chat start time, log in to your Twitter account. Pull up the chat by searching for the hashtag — #LangChat – in the search box. Only chat tweets will come through your feed at that point. If you want to participate in the chat, simply write a tweet and include the hashtag, #LangChat.  By the way, it’s a good idea to sign up to use one of the social media platforms like Tweetdeck.com or HootSuite.com because you can have a nice visual of the chat feed.

Who do I follow?
To begin with, follow each #LangChat moderator because they will tweet out topic voting and chat information. You can find their Twitter handles (A handle is the @ symbol and the Twitter username.) on the chat website. Next, follow participants with whom you communicate during the chat or even the ones whose tweets interest you. Your professional learning network, or PLN, will grow! Finally, be sure to add some sort of photo and a bio to your Twitter profile. People are more likely to follow you back if they see something other than the default egg photo and if they know that you work in education.

What do you discuss during the chat?
#LangChat participants discuss a wide range of topics that relate to world language teaching and learning. Recent topics include target language use in the classroom, assessment, higher order thinking, and games. Chats have been archived since 2011, and you can access them all here: http://langchat.pbworks.com/w/page/92653920/Summaries%202015

Can I submit a topic for a future chat?
Yes, you can! Any time you have a topic idea, submit it in the form of a question here: http://langchat.pbworks.com/w/page/45375080/FUTURE%20TOPIC%20SUGGESTION
Each week, a poll is created with three of the suggested topics and then participants vote. The top pick determines the chat topic.

Want more info?
Please feel free to contact me on Twitter ( @msfrenchteach ) or via e-mail at vogel.cristy@gmail.com. I would be happy to answer any of your questions about Twitter and its uses for education professionals.

Happy Tweeting!


*Are you a Twitter user?
*What are your experiences of using Twitter and other social network platforms to engage with other professionals?
*Have you,  or will you now, join in the #langchat discussion? Tell us your experiences.

Add to the discussion in the comments below,
or in our Facebook comments.

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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