TXT-ing for Language Learning

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February 12, 2014 by k. liz

I know that there are a lot of posts out there on incorporating SMS language into the classroom. This isn’t one of them. This is a post encouraging the real act of txt-ing for language learning. I lived in Turkey for the last three years, and was working to learn Turkish (though I never took a lesson. There just wasn’t a good opportunity between working and studying full time.) All of my language learning was from friends and contextual. Moving back to the States, I was nervous about losing my language. Thankfully, I got a job at a Turkish restaurant right off the bat, and so was able to practice sometimes with my co-workers. But, the second best thing for me besides making new Turkish friends has been communicating with my old friends via phone. I know that this is not revolutionary, but I want to share with you a couple of reasons why this has been so helpful, and some tips for making it as helpful as possible.



  1. Using apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, or the Facebook Messenger App lets me communicate with friends almost the same way that I would if I were sending them an SMS message from down the street even when I am across the world.
  2. Although this can also be true for the computer, I find I pay way more attention to it when I am using my iPhone: download the keyboard for the language you are trying to learn (directions below). Many people believe that SMS is actually deteriorating the quality of language, due to incomplete sentences and shortened spelling techniques. HOWEVER, it has been the opposite for me. You may or may not know that Turkish utilizes vowel harmony (if you don’t know and want to, email me or leave a comment), and for me, by utilizing the Turkish keyboard, it initiates Turkish auto-correct. Seeing the options pop up for what they think I am trying to say really helps to solidify conjugations and word forms in my head.
  3. The context of messaging on these platforms helps to make me comfortable with using Turkish, because it is very low-risk, but high-interest.  I also get feedback {at least as far as whether or not my friends understood!} quickly and in a generally non-embarrassing manner. It also creates a natural context for new language, rather than a workbook that is in a way forcing me through a context with little room for creativity.

So, again, I know that this is nothing new under the sun, but I wanted to share with you how the simple act of downloading the Turkish keyboard on my iPhone, activating the auto-correct feature, and chatting with friends has increased my awareness of Turkish structures, and has really helped continue my Turkish language journey. Now, just in case you don’t know how to access the keyboards, I’m going to show you. There is a very long list of languages to choose from, so most likely you can find the one you’re looking for!!


  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Choose General.
  3. Click on International.
  4. The keyboards you already use will be listed on the screen, click “Add New Keyboard” to see the list of available keyboards.

**To activate the keyboard when writing on your phone, just click on the globe icon next to the space bar at the bottom of the screen to switch keyboards in order.

So, how can you incorporate ideas like this into the classroom? Have you utilized these features for your own language learning? What is another idea for furthering your language learning in a more individualistic way?


By the way, if you’re interested in my ‘real life’ and were wondering where I was the last couple of weeks, you can read this post that explains a bit more of what’s been up for me recently.

Have a great day!!


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