Can I haz ESL? – Using lolcats to teach English and digital literacy
When designing an ESL summer camp revolving around the theme of digital literacy it was important for me to involve my students in online content creation and not just content consumption. To me one of the most amazing things about the internet is how it empowers anyone with an internet connection and an idea to become a content creator.
As a big fan of the lolcat meme genre, I wanted to introduce my students to lolcats as a way to both teach them English and to involve them in content creation.
My students know a lot more English than they think they know. If I asked them to make three sentences from scratch they’d freeze up. But if I played a game where I asked them to come up with sentences for points, they’d come up with dozens of different sentences.
Using lolcats was a way to make practicing English more fun for my students. I gave each team a number of funny cat pictures and a list of English words. Each team was then given 15 minutes to cut out the words and make funny captions for the pictures. This gave the students a chance to interact with English without them feeling like they were learning English.
Once the students completed their lolcats, we scanned them into a computer and posted them on our camp’s blog.
Online content creation and digital literacy don’t need to be complicated or intimidating. This exercise showed the student that they can share their creativity online in a matter of minutes. It also allowed them to practice forming sentences in English. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
Here are some of my students’ creations: