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EFL Teaching - How To Add Humour In The Classroom

February 15, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 156

"Why did the chicken cross the road? To move him to the alternative street edge."

You won't have them rolling in the aisles for any other reason than that they find your punchline amusing for its awkwardness. Learning to be 'funny - ha ha' in a second language is something students pick up, usually after some mild embarrassment at being found 'funny - peculiar'. It's a troublesome road littered with obstacles thrown down by the language barrier - in-jokes, puns, double entendres and alien schemata, but one it is ill-advised to ignore. It can often be the key to a propulsion in the desire to learn, especially for interpersonal and linguistic students, keen to play with their new language knowledge and, simply make their friends laugh.

Clearly EFL teachers can't impart the knack of being funny, but they can at least spend time addressing some of the language areas students are most commonly exposed to. Although there may be a degree of academic snootiness when speaking of 'laughter lessons', the value of giving L2 learners the tools they need to interact in a more natural, rewarding way with their peers, speaks for itself.

So how can we address humour in the classroom?

If a Russian student can't understand why people laugh when he says his favourite 'dick'ed' (decade) for music was the 80s - perhaps explain why some of the students are sniggering. There's nothing worse than not understanding why you are the subject of giggles. This could lead to a lesson on homophones and humorous misunderstandings - especially in song lyrics.

A Spanish speaker insisting he enjoys 'lying on the bitch' needs to understand why this mispronunciation will cause raised eyebrows and can lead nicely on to a pronunciation session on /I/ and /i:/.

Audio-visual lessons area a great way to introduce a degree of levity into learning English - and a gentle introduction to the nuances of British humour. Instead of another tired listening from the coursebook, why not find an appropriate clip on YouTube that will engage students, address the target language and help them understand how and why things can be funny in another language. This may come at the expense of visual-only comedians.

Of course, not everyone wants to be a comedian, but equally not everyone wants to focus purely on grammar - there is a place for using social skills to examine target language. The fact that some the awareness-raising may centre around the puerile is not something that should make teachers shy away, as students need to know how to react to such 'jokes', whether or not they are appropriate and what they might mean.

Using humour in the world of EFL should not be a case of 'bring on the clowns' - but it should bring on the language learning.

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To find out about our courses, visit Tudor Hall School of English

Sarah Short PRINCIPAL Tudor Hall School of English

Source: EzineArticles
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