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Instagram as a tool in the language course

by Alsu Buiting, Teacher of Russian Language Proficiency
Alsu Buiting
Alsu Buiting

Instagram is one of the tools which we use for our Russian courses to foster interaction, inspire each other, and engage with class content outside of the class. It is a free photo and video sharing app available on Apple iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Anyone can create an account by registering an email address and selecting a username. We have a private Instagram account which can only be used and viewed by our students.

Possible use cases

Instagram is a multifaceted platform which allows to post images and videos, conduct polls and to broadcast in real time. We used the platform for writing and speaking tasks:

  1. Make a photo essay of one day of your life. 10 photos + min. 10 sentences explaining photos + 2 short videos (intro + end). For this task, the students were asked to take pictures and describe their daily life. The students could use Internet images, but the ‘original’ pictures were better appreciated by the peers. The students were also free to choose a format for posting their pictures: they could use an Instagram carousel or make a photo essay in a video format.
  2. Rewrite the poem written by one of the Russian poets and post the video and text with your version of the poem. This task also worked well offline but sharing poems with the whole group was more engaging.

The students mentioned Instagram in their evaluations.

“What I liked especially were these various platforms we used, like YouTube, Instagram etc. Videos, commenting, tests etc are a fun way how to learn a language, and I fully support further usage of these platforms.”
“…it was appreciated that you used a lot of diversified and modern means (such as Youtube, Instagram and Flipgrid) to support us in the learning process. We learned from you but also from each other.”
“…the various innovative ways that were used to engage with the students in other ways than just Blackboard Collaborate (such as the YT videos and the Instagram page) brought originality and charm.”

In brief

Advantages. Visual (photo and video), interactive (views, comments, polls), different tasks (speaking, writing, reading, listening)

Disadvantages. If you do not have a business account (which we didn’t) you will have to give access permission to your students.

Costs. Free.

Learning curve. 5 minutes to create an account and 30 minutes to learn the basics.

Additional information

More Instagram ideas:

  1. 8 awesome ways to use Instagram in your ESL classroom
  2. Using Instagram as a Teaching & Research Tool: Tips, Resources, & Best Practices
  3. Using Visual Social Media in Language Learning to Investigate the Role of Social Presence. This paper describes the pedagogical value of Instagram for the development of the online social presence of language classes.
Last modified:04 June 2021 11.52 a.m.
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