Building ESL Learners’ Digital Literacy Skills Using Internet Memes

Nguyen, N., Chambers, W., & Abbott, M. Building ESL Learners’ Digital Literacy Skills Using Internet Memes. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL du Canada, 39(1), 83-103.

This article examines and describes how internet memes can be used to support and enhance ESL learners’ digital skills. Internet memes are humourous and engaging ideas, images, and phrases that spread from person to person through online sharing, particularly on social media. (Here is a link to a short, clear explanation of memes: The Now- What is a Meme?)

Having provided a general introduction to memes and a description of popular internet memes the authors examine memes in the context of language learning in relation to the Digital Literacies Framework for Language Learning developed by Mark Pegrum and colleagues (Digital Literacies Revisited). This framework outlines the essential digital skills which language learners need to participate in a digital society, and focuses on four competencies, the ability to communicate; use information; collaborate; and re-design or create new meanings.

Based on this framework the authors provide a Meme Selection and Implementation Guide for ESL instructors. They also provide  an Exemplar Meme Task  for use with Intermediate ESL learners (CLBs 5-8; Common European Framework (CEFR) B1-2)  intended to support the development of language and digital literacy skills and which has also been piloted in a CLB 5 LINC class as part of a module on Canadian workplace culture

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