Language and Popular Culture

I’ve previously submitted an essay on how popular culture can be used to teach language . The premise was based around popular culture having examples of real life application of language, something that you may not be able to experience if you were learning a foreign language in a classroom. Before holes are poked in my theory, which I admit may need some more expanding, I want to point out that this blog won’t be addressing (or plagurizing) the previous paper but trying to expand on the idea of popular culture as a teaching tool for languages. This blog will be looking at the aspect of how. How can items from youth and popular cultures be used to engage leaners of a second, additional, or foreign language. For the purpose of this blog we’ll be looking at only how learners can engage with a language, either through communication, reading, listening, or writing.



Studies recommend for comprehensive knowledge of a language the learner must have a grasp of of language units at a phonetical, sentence (or morphonome), and a syntax or sentence or discourse level (Larsen-Freeman, 2003). Traditional activities or exercises for learning are usually teacher-guided and are a reflection of the traditional pedagogy of learning languages. Whiles there is no uniform approach to language learning (Ellis, 2005), and there is positive results being demonstrated from the applications of the traditional way of learning. This blog is suggest some alternative mediums for language learning.

D&D – I’ve written an entire blog about the benefits of the game but one particular study (Saliés, 1995) show the communicative and roleplaying aspect of the game can benefit conversational skills.

Blog writing – engage with your students passion, have them write reviews of food, music, whatever! Publish and have other students critique their work.

Songs – adding music to words seems to help with the retention of knowledge. I have a great memory of watching a friend sing karaoke lyrics to a song in a foreign language that he learned years ago in high school. Contextually, it probably won’t help him with communicating in a conversation but it still takes skill to use the language.

This is just the beginning, loads of more options are out there!

Reference List

  • Larsen-Freeman, D. (2003). Teaching language: From Grammar to Grammaring. Boston: Thomson/Heinle.
  • Ellis, R. (2005). Principles of Instructed Language Learning. The Asian EFL Journal Quar- terly, 7(3), 9-24.
  • Saliés, T. G. (1995). Teaching language realistically: Role play is the thing. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 424753)

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