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101 Uses For Spam In Class

spam-boy.jpgI’ve been fortunate to receive some spam with hilarious subjects in the last few months. I don’t actually open the email, but how can you not love “Free laptop, Katie [email address]” “Free lemon soda for Katie” and best of all “aggregator peanut butter banana bread”.

I came across a marvelous suggestion for spam once: use the names in the “from” box as aliases for real people you write about in travel stories or some other context. And why couldn’t I have two students Lenora Higgins and Francesco O’Reilly? Naturally all this talk of spam and its abundance in general made me wonder how to capitalize on this and use it in class. Any ideas?

I am a little curious as to how computer generated spam comes to be, and why or how the presumably randomly-generated content of some spam is better than the equally randomly-generated content of other spam. Sometimes it is almost like poetry. I would love to collect a bunch of grammatically correct but non-sensical sentences to show students. I’d say: see? This is what a computer can come up with. Computers can generally do grammar, but even though the grammar is fine – it doesn’t make sense! Grammar is not all that matters.

There must be other fun and useful ways..?

*disclaimer* I did say truthfully above that I do not open what I know to be basic spam. The above examples were pulled from spam comments here at the TEFL Logue, and the below example comes from another form of spam, a form which I really can’t resist the urge to read.

My TEFL Logue email address has also been the recipient of some emails seeking my assistance with a large inheritance deposited after a plane crash in Nigeria. As you probably know, all I need to do is send my bank account info and then half the money will be deposited. It might be interesting to consider how a letter like this could be used as an example of formal writing; in a lesson on crime or fraud, you could also challenge students to come up with an even more persuasive letter and hold a discussion on why and how these kind of schemes work.