One can learn English or any language through the traditional methods: classrooms, teachers, exams. OR, more innovative variations within the established educational rubric that include: flipped classrooms, the use of interactive digital technology and the like. However, these valuable pillars can be supplemented and enriched by other methods. Pop culture my friends can be invaluable. Why?!? It’s fun! It’s cool!

Highlights of entries to the Hubble Pop Culture competition.Following pop culture can be abandoning oneself down an inexhaustible wormhole of possibilities. Follow one link, one suggestion and a myriad of possibilities flower before you. Look at the page of one site in search of information about a band and you are led to a blog about obscure 90’s era zines which sends you down the path to a foodie discussion group’s musings or a hipster vintage clothing store’s catalogue.

What does this have to do with language acquisition? Pop culture is the veneer that clings to the fabric of everyday life. You might not know word one about the geopolitical situation you find yourself immersed in but a healthy interest in the pop culture staples of film, television, art, music and gastronomy can be your ticket throughout the world. A discussion of the latest political scandal may fall upon deaf ears but if you hear the words Breaking Bad, the merits of Greta Gerwig’s performance in Frances Ha, or the influence of Nick Cave on modern music, NOW there is a common point of reference. A discussion at a party in Valencia, might touch upon the same themes as one in a bar in Berlin or at a café in Baltimore. Pop culture is that entry pass and those passes are more than likely to be printed in English.

Here are a few links that I enjoy and hopefully you might as well:

  • The AV Club is an offshoot of the clever satirical newspaper The Onion, which provides such intriguing headlines as:

Joe Martin