Wow. What a topic- How do you use pop culture in class??… Well, first, because I teach French, I have to have two pop cultures: mine and French; or even Francophone, which to even think about keeping current of “Francophone” pop culture gives me heart palpitations.
I find pop culture a bit of a hit or miss; by that I mean in my family unit I have a picture of the Kardashians and some students don’t know who they are! (I know right?!) And I have a picture of the Royal Family and some students don’t know who they are! (Mind Blown!) I prefer to use Pop Culture references that are humorous or will get a reaction out of students. So, I have decided to stick to the bare basics: The Simpsons, Beyoncé and Brad Pitt. (Justin Bieber* used to also be a regular reference, but not so much lately.) It sounds silly, but you can’t do comprehensible input and ask students questions about people if they don’t already know who they are and it’s hard to go wrong with those three. I’m so grateful that the Simpsons have been around forever, because they are features in many a unit. And there’s rarely been a time that I can’t throw in Beyoncé or Brad Pitt and not have that work out.
As far as French pop culture goes, I give myself a grade of “eh… significant room for improvement.” First, I don’t have the time or inclination to be spending hours exploring the latest in French culture. I’m happy if I get everything planned and the laundry done in one weekend. I follow Cyprien and Norman on Instagram and along with all the news French Twitter feeds I follow, I call that Good Enough to Get the General Idea. If I were going to plan something specific about Topic X, I would spent some quality time on the Internet researching current French popular culture on Topic X. And I imagine that if College Me were in college now, College Me would be as connected via Internet as any 20 year old French person, but I just don’t have the time that College Me had. College Me would have already watched everything in French on YouTube. College Me would be following everything getting as much as possible from all of that. (College Me doesn’t realize how good she’s got it.)
(* Let’s go with 7ish years ago I used to talk about Justin Bieber a lot. Freshmen girls loved talking about Justin Bieber, so so did I. So much in fact that some girls brought me a four-page size poster of Justin from some teeny magazine which I put up on my wall immediately. One day I was out and I came back and my Justin Bieber poster had been signed, “To my number one fan, Bethany, Love Justin.” This was my colleague being funny. So the next year when I got a new group of Freshmen girls who loved Justin Bieber, I had some girls walk up to me after class and they said really quietly, “Madame, is that poster really signed by Justin Bieber?” We were bestest buddies after that.)