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The use of humor in the classroom

Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:54 pm
by AndreAnn
I am starting this post to have your opinions and strategies about using humor as a teaching tool. I have read several books by Ronald A. Berks such as Professors are from Mars and students are from snickers and Using humor as a teaching defibrilator. I noticed that many studies show that using humor in the ESL classroom reduces anxiety. This anxiety reduction is very important since most of the ESL students are unconfortable in an English (foreign, alien) environment. The suggestions made by Berk are to incorporate humorous items in multiple choice question or in the activities, songs and videos showed in class. At the SPEAQ campus 2011, one of the spokeperson shared with us that at the end of her classes she reserved 10 minutes ( as a reward) to talk about jokes or funny fails. This motivated the students to have a better behaviour and to acquire culture ( for the jokes).

Posted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:48 am
by Bazteach
Hi Andre,

I try to use humour in my class all the time. It's our job to get them engaged and interested like you said, but also it makes my day go by quicker. Here are a few things that I tend to do with my students.

Find funny pictures on google when introducing vocab e.g if you're introducing animals to young learners then just type 'monkey funny' into google and a load of funny pictures come up.

I try to tell funny stories about my travels and adventures, or even funny dreams or silly things that happened at the weekend.

Using funny videos on youtube is a good tool as well.

I try to encourage my students to make funny sentences too, not the typical boring stuff.

Another good one if to do visualisation activities by describing funny scenes so they can memorise them.

There's loads you can do to make their learning experience fun...

You didn't mention what you do?




Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 3:24 pm
by Dogbomb
Hi Andre,

I too use a lot of humour in class. I teach 18-24 years old in Mexico, and most of them are at an elementary level.

I find doing a lot of mimes, adding silly answers to exercises and using comedy videos helps to keep their interest and build confidence.

I also find that it helps develop their imaginations (which are sorely lacking!). One example is that I will ask them to write lies about what they did at the weekend, and I'll give the following examples:

I played tennis with the President (and won)
I flew to the moon and went on a date with Scarlet Johannson.

I normally get back pretty dry responses though, haha:
"I did not eat Pizza" for example.

Anyway, I often write about my use of humour on my blog Tall Travels. Please check it out if you want to read about my experiences.


Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 4:10 pm
by Sally Olsen
I wonder if it is lack of imagination or a cultural preferences for the truth. If the students are coming to a country that encourages imagination (thus lies) then it would be useful to warn them and have them practice. I found it hard to justify promoting the ability to "lie" though.

Many cultures don't read their children fairy tales or encourage their children to "make up" stories and punish them when they do. So how do we justify teaching them to "lie". It is not a lack but a learned response to their situation.

Posted: Fri May 17, 2013 7:59 pm
by fluffyhamster
I also like humour - funny pictures (e.g. I once drew a picture of Sadako from Ringu, but with fluffy bunny slippers on), little improvised jokes (e.g. a fly is buzzing around the classroom, I say "Oh, my pet!" and beckon it [back] towards my armpit, its home :) ), and so on. I also had fun making up little true-or-false items like "My mother is a pro-wrestler", or telling anecdotes like the time a rabid cool-tortilla-hunting New Forest pony attacked me and bit my moob, forcing me to ditch the bag from my pocket as a distraction to make good my escape, all with added gestures, expressions, and sound effects, of course! :P