Presenting grammar through Internet memes in teaching English for specific purposes
The article discusses the potential of using Internet memes in teaching a foreign language. We consider an Internet meme to be a set of semiotic signs. This approach explains the potential of Internet memes application in educational process since most of the language learning methods rely on semiotic elements. Internet memes are multimodal structures that can be used as an efficient tool for presenting material in teaching English. Memes are classified into verbal, nonverbal and complex ones (combining image and verbal element). A set of sample memes presenting the combination of images and verbal elements has been selected to demonstrate the process of meaning making, which is an integral part of mastering a foreign language. Due to the importance of visual perception in learning process and the very nature of Internet memes as widespread forms of expression and communication existing in visual format, the use of them if beneficial for both teachers and learners. The elements of the sample memes are analyzed in terms of Roland Barthes’ theory of image narrative potential. We provide the evidence that anchorage and relay functions of linguistic messages account for the process of meaning making. In terms of semiotics the effects of text and image combination are examined in detail. Special attention in the article is given to the ways of memes application and the effectiveness of their use in the in-class and out of class learning process for practicing a grammar phenomenon of modality. Memes demonstrate a modal construction in the situation close to real life providing a sample of using it in context and provoking imitation of real-life situation by student. The humorous effect inherent to Internet memes is aimed at achieving a reaction from numerous addressees, thus making memes an efficient tool for teaching/learning a foreign language due to an expected feedback. Special attention has been paid to Internet memes containing constructions with modal verbs expressing irony and paradox. The article provides tools of teaching English modals via memes as well as experiment results and their analysis. The study reveals positive results of the experiment in terms of efficiency of using Internet memes in educational process that demonstrates better results in learning new material as well as a higher level of students’ involvement and creativity.
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