Here is a short interview made with Murat Akbıyık, the President of YOUTHART, who works as an Instructor of English and Social Media Coordinator at Kadir Has University School of Foreign Langauges English Preparatory Program.
What advice would you have for young people using social media?
Most of the principles are the same as face-to-face conversation – your language has to be appropriate to the context. We need to look at four things. Firstly, who’s your audience? Secondly, how well do you know them? Thirdly, how much do they know about the topic? And finally, what is the effect you want? What do you want them to do as a result of your message?
With social media you also need to remember that you can’t see how people are reacting as you’re speaking, so if you’re not being understood or you’re beginning to offend people, you can’t see their face or body language. Also, think about the medium – text, email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc., and what effect this has. For example, who will see the message or picture, and will it be a permanent record?
Can you be a bit more specific? Can you give some tips?
OK, so thinking about those points I just mentioned, and the ones specific to social media, it’s a question of finding the right balance. For example, between being formal and informal and giving enough but not too much detail.
So, let’s look at three areas: how to avoid confusion, how to avoid losing trust and how to get the register right.
To avoid confusion, keep your language simple, use short sentences. Show the message to a ‘non-knower’, that is somebody who does not already know what the message is about. If they can understand it, then the person you’re sending the message to, who already has some context, will also understand it.
To avoid losing trust, think about your audience and make sure that you are ‘reading’ the message through their eyes. And don’t post late at night, when you arein a rush or feeling emotional and might use inappropriate language.
To get the register right … and let me begin by defining register. By register, I mean a way of speaking or writing which you use when you’re in a particular situation. That way of speaking or writing could, for example, be formal or informal or humorous or polite or familiar. So, to get the register right, use the right medium for the message. For example, you might text or use instant messaging to a tutor or business partner that you are friendly with, using abbreviations and text speak to say thanks for a meeting. But in a business situation with someone you’re not close to, or when submitting an assignment or asking for feedback, use email or a forum and use more formal language.
So for students, what I’m basically saying is don’t transfer the language you use with your close friends on Facebook and other social media sites to the language you use when you email your lecturers.
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