Click here to submit your abstract to the 2024 conference now! Submissions close on 21 February, 23:59 GMT.

Memes as Means: For the success of Second Language Acquisition in virtual English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom

With the emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual teaching and learning have become a new experience for all educators. The closure of educational institutions and the sudden transition from traditional teaching methods to more technology-based approaches create a unique atmosphere for both teachers and learners. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) on digital platforms has also become a new challenge for teachers and learners as it is less interesting and engaging. The studies conducted during the pandemic found different technological approaches to enhance the efficiency of ESL teaching and learning on digital platforms. Previous studies identified “memes” as a fun communication tool and a cultural element that is passed from one individual to another. The current study investigates the efficiency of using memes for the success of language acquisition in a virtual ESL classroom. Twenty-five students, as the experimental group, were taught using memes, whereas another twenty-five, as the control group, were taught using the traditional teaching approaches on the online platform. In the experimental group, the teacher used memes to capture learners’ attention, to design group activities, to check students’ understanding, to introduce new vocabulary, to illustrate grammatical rules, and to make the class interesting and fun. Both classes were observed by the researcher, and both groups were given a vocabulary and grammar test before and after the study. When comparing the class observations (conducted via Zoom) and the results of the pre-test and post-test, it was found that the experimental group was more motivated and engaged during the learning and excelled over the control group. It proved that memes can be used as an effective teaching tool and a fun communication tool, which always creates a unifying topic of humor to provide an interesting space for learners’ language acquisition. Further, the interviews (using five questions) with randomly selected learners from the control and experimental groups also revealed the use of memes as a great way to introduce the subtleties of the language, which acts as an engaging tool to promote their learning. The use of memes is believed to make language acquisition more encouraging and interesting in a virtual learning environment. The study offers pedagogical implications for ESL teachers on why they should use effective memes in their remote teaching as a worthwhile tool to facilitate the second language acquisition of the learners.