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Live Tweet Chats In Multiple Languages

September 10, 2014

Active conversation in tweet chats can be rewarding but overwhelming. Language can limit access of participants who don’t feel fluent or comfortable enough to join communities that really interest them.  The more engaging and fast paced the chat, the harder to bring people speaking different languages together.

Or is it?

We recently had the first radiation oncology journal club chat using the hashtag #radonc. We had some early enthusiasm from some Spanish speaking radiation oncologists when the pace was slower. When it came to joining the live chat, none participated.  Granted, it didn’t help that the tweet chat was the middle of the night for some. But not everyone. So how to include them?

Dual hashtags may work. If you put #radonc into the Twitter search box then select ‘All’, you will see all tweets with that tag.  If you put in two, it will limit tweets to only those with both. For Spanish, you can make it #radonc #es.

The result? In the #radonc stream, some tweets will show up from Spanish speakers with both hashtags, while the rest will be there also for all participants. For Spanish speaking participants, they can keep one tab open with #radonc for the general stream. On another tab, #radonc #es will permit real-time conversation with fellow Spanish speakers.  Depending upon comfort level, participants in both languages may be more willing to share and listen about topics that matter. If it were all one tag, then you can’t cross-pollinate as easy in real time or aggregate a larger community with a common interest tag.

There is so much to learn from each other. With simple tools like Google Translate, language doesn’t have to be the barrier it used to be. So I’d like to propose the following dual theme-language tags to add to make tweet chats multilingual:

TagLanguage# Speakers (millions)
#alArabic 295
#deGerman 89
#zhChinese (Mandarin)955

Source: Wikipedia

Bringing people together with different world views lets us share best practices in cancer care. Language doesn’t have to be the barrier it’s been in the past. The dual theme/language tags may not work. But it’s worth a try.  What do you think?

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