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IATEFL Conference 2023 - Ben's Thoughts on Ciaran Lynch's Talk about Using Memes in Teaching

Ciaran's talk entitled "How do You Meme?" was a real standout of the conference for me. It really challenged my understanding and enlightened me about how internet memes, perhaps not something traditionally thought of (at least by me) as a classroom task or language-learning tool, can be used for pedagogical purposes

Ciaran tested our meme knowledge ("memetic proficiency") with a task in which we had to complete famous meme statements such as am"I may not always ...", "If you could ..." and so on. I was also introduced to the term "memetic language" and how language is used in memes.

Memes, Ciaran stated, are cultural units of information, pass from individual or groups online

and dominate online discourse regardless of language or culture.Ciaran highlighted how there are four types of meme:

- Text-based memes made up of text alone with a specific format or layout. These could be "snowclones" in which a fragment of text can be changed (such as "Keep Calm and ...").

- Image macros, which are the most common form of meme, made up of an image with txt overlaying (such a the "jealous girlfriend" meme).

- Reaction memes made up of two or more images with text; these tend to be taken from TV or film (such as the "woman shouting at cat" meme).

- Videos / gifs which are very short extracts incorporating motion and, potentially, sound (such as the "triggered" gif).

Ciaran made brilliant use of QR codes to engage us in tasks in which we produced our own memes using online meme generators.

In terms of classroom tasks, memes are sociable and people want to share them - they make great warmers and practice for lexical chunks.

In the fun atmosphere of Ciaran's session, I felt I could finally ask about a collocation I have been curious about for a while - the idea of a "dank meme" which Ciaran explained brilliantly.

A great talk and thoroughly enjoyable experience due to, in no small part, the atmosphere created by the speaker.

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