Learning English by MEMASICS

In the process of learning English, many students forget that language is not only rules and exercises. This is a huge ecosystem, which is based on the daily culture and lifestyle of ordinary English-speaking people.

Spoken English, which many of us learn in courses or with a teacher, is different from the real spoken language spoken in Britain and the USA. And when a person first enters the English-speaking environment, a cultural shock awaits him, because instead of the literary “What’s happening?” He hears “Wassup?”.

On the other hand, cultural stress cannot be avoided. Linguists say that language is a living organism that is constantly changing and improving. Each year, the language is replenished with neologisms and new slang words, and part of the vocabulary becomes obsolete and forgotten.

In addition, in each social group, the features of the language are different. Tracking them all is impossible. The maximum that can be done is to observe the hype topics that are exploding the Internet. It is these themes that memes bring forth.

Seen from a scientific point of view, memes show changes in the sociocultural perception of people from 15 to 35 years old – the most active Internet users.

Despite the fact that memes are created to entertain, they reveal sociocultural changes in society, show current issues and trends.

Memes act as litmus paper in the context of daily culture. Indeed, only those messages that seem relevant and interesting to most become truly popular.

At the same time, it is customary to consider memes not only pictures, but also gifs, short videos, and even songs — any materials that are well remembered and receive separate semantic meanings.

Learn English with memes! Is this relevant?

An integrated approach to learning a foreign language is needed in any case. Without exercises and the development of speech, no memes will help you master English. But as an additional tool, they are just wonderful. And that’s why:

Memes are remembered on their own

Interest and humor are the main advantages of memes. They are wonderful to remember and at the same time do not require effort to study.

Memes always evoke emotions: laughter, sadness, surprise, curiosity, nostalgia. To watch memes, additional motivation is not needed, because they are perceived by the brain as entertainment, and not as a teaching aid.

Even if memes contain unknown words or phrases, they are perceived holistically. But even if the context does not allow you to recognize a specific word or expression, then you only need to look at its meaning in the dictionary once – and it is remembered instantly.

The reason is simple – memes create to the maximum stable chains of associations in memory. This is especially true for short memes.

Let’s see how this mechanism works, using the example of one of the most popular memes on the network for the whole of 2019.

Keanu Reeves – You’re breathtaking.

It exists in two forms: picture and video. Consider both options.



Actually, the original meme is a speech to Keanu at the presentation of the computer game Cyberpunk 2077. And the actor’s reaction to the cry from the audience instantly went to the people.

Actually, even after watching the video, you can roughly understand what “breathtaking” means – “exciting, amazing, amazing”. The word immediately becomes part of the active vocabulary.

It is such memorability of memes that makes them ideal aids for memorizing individual words. For example, in the form of exercise cards.

Take the same word breathtaking. What would be better to visually explain it: a stock image with a surprised girl or Keanu Reeves in a recognizable way? Let’s say more, we have already conducted such an experiment. The picture with Keanu improved the memorization of the word by 4 times compared with the stock image. This means that students began to make 4 times less mistakes when the word “breathtaking” comes across in the exercise.

Therefore, when creating training programs, we try, as far as possible, to select well-known memes for visualizing words. Moreover, this works great not only for individual words, but also for phraseological units and individual phrases.

Memes Diversify Routine Learning

Rules and exercises are important for learning English, but if you use only them, the learning process will get bored very quickly. And then it will be extremely difficult to maintain motivation to continue the lessons.

Memes are one of many tools that can diversify the learning process, making it interesting and unusual.

An informal topic allows you to effortlessly focus the student’s attention in English. And so you can study at least grammatical constructions, even vocabulary, even slang.

Most students are happy to pick up interesting memes on their own: pictures, gifs and videos. The only condition is that they must be in English. Signatures, subtitles and audio in English – this is what the work is going on with. A student learns a living language that English-speaking people actually use.

What is important, memes work well only with a young audience that actively sits on the Internet and follows the trends of humor. This is especially true for regulars Reddit and Buzzfeed – this is where the majority of popular memes are born, which are then translated and published on Russian-language resources.

Memes help create a comprehensive ecosystem for learning English

English is very multifaceted, and academic study is not able to reveal all these facets in full. The ecosystem of language learning is needed precisely to diversify the sources of knowledge, creating practical skills for using the language, and not just studying the theory.

Memes often use slang expressions, idioms, and neologisms. Moreover, memes often themselves create neologisms that quickly go to the people. Understanding the principles of why and how they are created helps to better understand the language as a whole.

John Gates, an EnglishDom teacher from the USA, loves giving students one simple task: to come up with 5 funny signatures for the Chuck Norris meme. Not to find, but to come up on your own. It seems like these:

“How many push-ups can Chuck Norris do? All”.

Similar exercises help to use the language with humor. Moreover, vocabulary, grammar, and humor are simultaneously trained. And making such jokes is more complicated than it seems at first glance.

As John himself says, his collection now has about 200 unique jokes about Chuck Norris that no one else has seen. In the future, he is going to create a whole collection of them.

The bottom line is that the memes can really help in learning English, if used correctly. They can diversify exercises and help memorize individual words and phrases, but an integrated approach is still needed. On some memes you won’t get an IELTS certificate.

Popular memes today: a practical lesson

As a confirmation that memes really help in learning English, we have prepared several memasics and explanations for them.

So to speak, we will conduct a practical lesson in memology.

Me explaining to my mom

A great example of a daily language with a bit of absurdity. And the more absurd, the funnier.

“10-year-old I explain to my mother why I need 5 chocolate-smelling erasers from a school book exhibition. My mum:”.

book fair – book fair, exhibition

Area 51

The preparations for the assault on “Zone 51” and the rescue of the aliens that are being held there have really blown up the Internet. Over 2 million Facebook users have registered for this event. Naturally, there were a lot of memes associated with zone 51.

“It annoys me that every year they try to do the same.
What are you speaking about? We are storming Zone 51 for the first time!
Area 51 Guards: ”

annoying – annoying, annoying, annoying

It is a pity that literally a handful of people showed up for the real assault. Yes, and this can not be called an assault – so, they looked at the base fence. So the preparation was much more epic.

30-50 feral hogs

An example of a killer argument that resolves any dispute. Or doesn’t decide, but simply completes it, because it is impossible to select a counterargument for him. The approximate equivalent in Russian can be called the phrase “Because gladiolus.”

Original tweet:

“If you are discussing the definition of“ assault weapons, ”then you are part of the problem. You know what an assault weapon is, and you know that you do not need it.
A legal question for American farmers is – How can I kill 30-50 wild boars that will reach the yard where my children play in 3-5 minutes? ”

feral animal – wild or feral animal;
hog – pig, boar, hog; ram before the first haircut.

Tweet retweeted tens of thousands of times. The phrase about 30-50 wild boars was so popular with the Americans that a lot of jokes appeared on this subject. Of course, we will not show them. Is that just one.

You can find as many examples as you like. And for the newest memes, and for legendary ones like Chuck Norris. The main thing is that the memes are with words. And then the vocabulary will be replenished. So watch memes, get inspired, have fun, but don’t forget about classical classes.

EnglishDom.com is an online school that inspires you to learn English through technology and human care.

Only for Habr’s readers – first lesson with a teacher on Skype for free! And when you purchase classes, get up to 3 lessons as a gift!

Get it a whole month of premium subscription to the ED Words app for free.
Enter promotional code habramemes on this page or right in the ED Words application. The promotional code is valid until 01/15/2021.

Our products:

Learn English words in the ED Words mobile app

Learn English A to Z in the ED Courses Mobile App

Install the extension for Google Chrome, translate English words on the Internet and add them to study in the Ed Words application

Learn English in a game form in the online simulator

Build conversation skills and make friends in conversation clubs

Watch the English life hack video on the EnglishDom YouTube channel

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply