Memes in the Classroom

I’m always on the lookout for quick, fun warmers. Bonus points if it’s connected to pop culture and can allow me to remind students that the language points we cover in class are all around them out in the “Real World”.

I love me a good meme, and every so often a meme comes about that combines innocuous, accessible subject matter with some aspect of language in use, which just begs for it to be brought into the classroom. Here are a couple I think would be great warmers.

Doge

If you’re interested, click here to get into the details of the emergence of the Doge meme (and here for a discussion of how it’s even pronounced). What most of them have in common is a picture of a dog, with snippets of the the dog’s internal dialogue pasted onto the photo in multi-coloured Comic Sans.

The thing is, Doge’s grammar ( and sometimes spelling) is not that great: count/non-count and noun/adjective errors in the use of so/such/much/many account for much of what gives Doge its idiosyncratic nature of speaking. These also happen to be grammar points introduced at the pre-intermediate level that remain troublesome even for more advanced learners.

Before putting a a Doge meme up on the screen, I’d  cheekily pose my class the question: “Is your grammar better than a dog’s?”, and then give them a set amount of time to translate the Dogespeak into standard English. A Google image search will bring up hundreds of instances of the Doge meme–I’ll leave it to you to choose a few appropriate in subject matter to your particular teaching context.( I haven’t brought Doge into my classroom yet, but I can’t wait to do so.)

doge-cookie

LOLCats

LOLCats is another meme that, like, Doge, features cute animals and text riddled with errors. The LOLCats weakness is not only grammar (lots of subject-verb agreement, superfluous plurals, word order and auxiliary verb errors, etc.) but they have major issues with spelling.

i-can-has-cheezburger

This meme I have used in the classroom before; Here’s a Powerpoint of fun, classroom appropriate LOLCats that I’ve used several times with my university-level students. I used it much in the same way I described above. I ask my students if their grammar is better than a cat’s, and give them a time limit to correct the text on each of the images. The images of cats elicit rounds of “AWWwwww!!!” without fail, and discussions always  arise over different possible corrections and meanings of new vocabulary such as pounce.

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