Site Search:
 
TEFL International Supports Dave's ESL Cafe
TEFL Courses, TESOL Course, English Teaching Jobs - TEFL International
Job Discussion Forums Forum Index Job Discussion Forums
"The Internet's Meeting Place for ESL/EFL Students and Teachers from Around the World!"
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Ways to be More Humorous in Class
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> China (Job-related Posts Only)
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
chryanvii



Joined: 19 Jul 2009
Posts: 98

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:31 pm    Post subject: Ways to be More Humorous in Class Reply with quote

I am being pressured by my boss to be more humorous as a result of complaints I am getting from the students about being "too serious" and "too boring". There is a really "awesome" teacher at our school who is a total comedian, cracking whips every 30 seconds, and it is really hard to top this guy.

The other part of just "never minding" and "being yourself" as has been suggested is too difficult to deal with as well, as I often hear it through the walls, and find it to be distracting, and often hear the students say how much they like this guy.

I have heard that the best way to be humorous is to pick on students, but I'm not quite sure how to do that. I pull up a lot of "ESL jokes" in Google searches, but the kind of jokes the students are looking for I think are ingrained within spontaneity and personality, and not from just reading them, if you know what I mean.

Can we get an ongoing list started of some different things we can do in class to be "more" humorous? I will get started...

1. If the students have multiple teachers, you can pick on your colleagues [Tom is bald...Johnny is Fat] [this one was suggested by my supervisor]

2. You can pick on yourself [I am really tall...I am really ugly]

3. You can ask someone about their boyfriend/girlfriend [even if they don't have one] or if they are married [young students]
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9127
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow.

Quote:
1. If the students have multiple teachers, you can pick on your colleagues [Tom is bald...Johnny is Fat] [this one was suggested by my supervisor
]

Great way to endear oneself to colleagues....


Quote:
2. You can pick on yourself [I am really tall...I am really ugly]


Building credibility....

Quote:
3. You can ask someone about their boyfriend/girlfriend [even if they don't have one] or if they are married [young students]


....and risk them thinking you're coming onto them?!

I sympathise with the situation (a little; it's a silly requirement!), but isn't there a way to be funny without picking on anyone or getting personal with students???
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 2314
Location: China

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The most popular questions in the cocktail/mingle resource that I use are:
'What makes a good boyfriend?'
'What makes a good girlfriend?'
There are others of similar vein.
Young adults are absorbed by these things, so while I agree that a teacher asking can look creepy, if the students ask them of each other it can create a buzz.
OP I don't think you should try to emulate the 'all singing, all dancing' guy.
You can spice up your presentation in other ways.
Edit: I assume you are teaching Oral English.


Last edited by Non Sequitur on Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 958

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you're being asked to be a dancing monkey to me. Personally I'd find a new job if the pressure's really that bad.

A similar story happened to a former colleague of mine. They were brought in as a replacement for a teacher who left. For six months all they heard in class was, 'XXX was a good teacher', 'we miss XXX' etc. I can't begin to think how demoralizing this can be.

I don't think there's a way to 'learn' to be funny. It comes naturally and is an aspect of your personality. Sure you could memorize jokes, but that just seems lame. Please, please, please don't make fun of colleagues or your students, that's just low. You'll end up being hated and you never know how a comment will be taken by someone. What may be a quick, off-the-cuff remark to you could cut someone to the bone.

What sort of institution are you working at? If it's a uni a lot of students don't actually expect 'ESL lessons', sad but true. A lot expect to turn up and goggle at the foreigner, they see it as a break from the tedium that is studying at a Chinese university. So if you're there delving into 'Syntactic functions of prepositions' or whatever (I just opened up a grammar book and took the name of a section) you're not going to be very popular. Not that I'm saying your lessons should be all fun and games (unfortunately that's what a lot of students expect) but that it should aim to engage the students in a way their Chinese teachers don't.

Have you asked your students what they would like to learn? How they prefer to learn? What topics they're interested in?

May I ask what your background in teaching is?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3204

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Sounds like you're being asked to be a dancing monkey to me. Personally I'd find a new job


Ditto.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
muffintop



Joined: 07 Jan 2013
Posts: 803

PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Ways to be More Humorous in Class Reply with quote

chryanvii wrote:

1. If the students have multiple teachers, you can pick on your colleagues [Tom is bald...Johnny is Fat] [this one was suggested by my supervisor]


Wow....

Have to agree with those who said find a new job. The real joke here is the school.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
teenoso



Joined: 18 Sep 2013
Posts: 217
Location: east china

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:43 am    Post subject: Re: Ways to be More Humorous in Class Reply with quote

chryanvii wrote:


I have heard that the best way to be humorous is to pick on students,

Can we get an ongoing list started of some different things we can do in class to be "more" humorous? I will get started...

1. If the students have multiple teachers, you can pick on your colleagues [Tom is bald...Johnny is Fat] [this one was suggested by my supervisor]

2. You can pick on yourself [I am really tall...I am really ugly]

3. You can ask someone about their boyfriend/girlfriend [even if they don't have one] or if they are married [young students]


This must be trolling!

If you are not humorous , then this kind of strategy of trying to find 'ways to be funny ' and jokes etc, will be a disaster. Some people and teachers are naturally entertaining. Many of us are not , but there are ways to lighten the mood and find interesting tasks for the students.
Have students doing things in class (problem-solving, role play), rather than listen to you, will be much more engaging for them , and they will learn way more than listening to teacher cracking jokes and telling funny stories.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
roadwalker



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 1419
Location: Ch

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with most or all of what's been written above. If you aren't naturally funny, don't try to be. It's painful to watch people struggle with humor. Something about me has always struck some people as funny, so I use that to my advantage in the classroom. But if I were to actually try to be humorous, I'd hear crickets and see blank faces on the students. And certainly don't go negative, unless you want to make jokes about your supervisor....

What you can do is be more obvious in your interest in the students' work. Smile with your eyes, if not your whole face. Look interested and be encouraging. Imagine you are looking at a baby taking it's first steps or some other milestone and show encouragement in your face. When a student is speaking, show it in facial expression when they are close but not quite in their pronunciation for example, and praise good efforts and good results. If the students feel more confident in your class, they will look forward to it, and will be more willing to learn the 'serious' stuff. A smile and encouragement will go a lot further than; "A foreign teacher and a duck walk into a bar.."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
dean_a_jones



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 1131
Location: Wuhan, China

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the problem is that your students find the class a bit boring and you are a bit serious (probably meaning they feel a wall between you and them) then the answer, as others have already suggested, is probably not to try to start being Mr. Funny--you either have that kind of natural humour already or you don't.

Instead, you might want to look at what activities you are running, what materials you are using, how you are engaging with the students each session etc. and try to work out why this stuff isn't seeming to work for you and your class. It is not so much that the students want you to be funny (although it does often help if you can inject a little spontaneous humour into the lesson) but that they need to form some kind of connection with you and your activities so that the learning feels less like a chore. You will never please everyone, of course, as they are all different and have different learning styles/needs.

It might help if you say a bit more about where you teach, what age, whether you have to plan your own lessons etc. Then you might be able to get more specific advice and ideas.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
haleynicole14



Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 113
Location: US

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could you show a funny youtube (or other) video during class each day and then discuss it as a warmup or closing activity?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2557
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Several suggestions here:
http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?t=10323
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
choudoufu



Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 3226
Location: Mao-berry, PRC

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:32 am    Post subject: Re: Ways to be More Humorous in Class Reply with quote

chryanvii wrote:
I am being pressured by my boss to be more humorous as a result of complaints I am getting from the students about being "too serious" and "too boring"......


sounds like you're spending your time lecturing. easy to fall back on,
with the lack of participation on the part of the students.

find some subjects the students are interested in, not YOUR hobbies,
and integrate them into individual and group speaking activities.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
doogsville



Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 563
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would forget about funny and just try to be a bit more 'animated', by which I mean just move about a bit more and throw in a few facial expressions from time to time. If you've ever had the pleasure of watching your Chinese colleagues teach, you might have noticed that they tend to stand, or worse sit still and just talk. Some of them may move around, but I've seen teachers that don't even look at the students. They face the board or screen and just look at their own PPT's. My students are very quiet, so even when they speak they can be hard to hear. I'll cup my hand to my ear and lean forward and say 'sorry, can't hear you, could you say it again?' When they speak up I'll say 'thank you Pinocchio', or whatever their name is (real name by the way).

I have a background in acting, so it's a lot easier for me, but if I'm demonstrating a point I might act it out a bit. I don't go over the top, but I try to make it seem real. For instance, I teach my business English students that when they answer the phone and the person asks for someone who's not there to always use 'I'm sorry, they're not available' and never to tell the person why. Then I act out answering the phone. 'Sorry, she's just gone to the toilet, she might be a while' or 'She's just gone for lunch with her boyfriend, can I ask who's calling. Oh, her husband, I'll tell her you called'. That kind of thing.

I was teaching reported speech the other week and I gave the example of when two of your friends aren't speaking to each other and you have to pass the message from one to the other. I played the part of p***ed off friend number one. Every time the student in the middle told me what the other one said I repeated it sarcastically. 'Oh, she's too busy to have lunch with us, I see.'

Don't tell jokes, they don't travel well, and personally I don't know that many clean jokes anyway. I just try to have fun while getting the point across. I do it more for myself than the students to be honest, otherwise I'd be bored to death too.

You're in the unfortunate position of being compared to another teacher. Did that teacher actually manage to teach anything though, or just make them laugh. Forget about him and just try to pitch it a little higher than your Chinese colleagues. In my experience the students appreciate the chance to learn as much as the chance to laugh. We had a teacher here who constantly tried to be funny but got such poor feedback from the students that they didn't renew their contract. The students said they weren't learning anything from them.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Toast



Joined: 08 Jun 2013
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two words....


Fart noises.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
muffintop



Joined: 07 Jan 2013
Posts: 803

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:48 am    Post subject: Re: Ways to be More Humorous in Class Reply with quote

choudoufu wrote:

find some subjects the students are interested in, not YOUR hobbies,
and integrate them into individual and group speaking activities.


I tried this once...

Problem is too many state their hobbies as sleeping and/or playing computer games.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> China (Job-related Posts Only) All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next
Page 1 of 5

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page is maintained by the one and only Dave Sperling.
Contact Dave's ESL Cafe
Copyright © 2011 Dave Sperling. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group

Road2Spain - TEFL and Spanish with one year student visa
EBC