Using /r/place to Learn a Language

For those of you who do not know, Reddit had a “Place” event for the past few days that just ended. It starts as a white canvas and you can place a single pixel every 5 minutes.

This has created a lot of communities for a country/language on discord that are very active. I believe the German place discord had roughly 50.000 active members! I took this as an opportunity to hang out in voice chats with native speakers, place a few pixels, and post a lot of nonsense.

Because Place just ended, these communities will die down a little until next time, but they will stay active, and you can maybe find other communities on discord with people who speak your TL.


I have also thought about using discord to talk to native speakers. Do you have any tips on how to find discord servers in your target language where people actually want to join voice chat (and that are not servers for learners but real native servers)?

Whenever I find a French discord server people seem to only do text chat – the only servers with people who voice chat are the servers for French learners, not native French discord servers.

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Finding discords where native speakers will gather is going to require a reasonable amount of cultural knowledge. Examples I could think of could be YouTube channels (non-learning) or twitch streamers with discords. If you think of learning a language as getting a membership card into a new culture, what are the people in your new in-group talking about and doing?

Something like /r/place is a perfect storm because* it’s global (if a bit eurocentric), groups of people spark up quickly, they have a shared goal, and enough of them show up that some of them just hang out in voice chat. Yesterday, there was easily the largest group of Danish speakers I have ever been involved in hanging out and chatting.

I also wouldn’t shy away from text chatting. Some people seemingly hang out if voice chats every waking minute, but odds are most people only do when there is something going on. Communities (not just on discord) often have events, simply pay attention to when they occur and be willing to try something new or put yourself out there.

The thing to be mindful of, is this is all really catered to those that have a high degree of comfort in their TL already. If you find this community, and they are talking to one another, for them to welcome you will require you to be able to meaningful contribute to their conversation.

Since you mentioned French, they also had a very active group on /r/place. I am not certain how active they will remain, but they may link to other French discords or have other things going on.

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