All teachers want to offer their students enjoyable and fun lessons. They use varied teaching strategies to sparkle students’ interest and keep their motivation flying high. We all know that creating a stress-free environment is a key factor in the learning process. Research shows that if you can put your students in a good mood, they will learn more too. Prioritize fun, and the learning will come.
Is joke-telling a good idea to make your lessons more fun? In my experience, most, if not all, students react positively to jokes told at the right moment.
Here are some suggestions that you should bear in mind before cracking a joke.
· Always relate your joke to the topic of the lesson.
· Give some background information that will help students understand the joke.
· Use gestures and shift your voice and facial expression If you want to make your jokes a lot funnier. For example, pretend you’re talking on your mobile phone or texting someone.
· Avoid cracking jokes about potentially sensitive topics. For example, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Tell jokes that deal with the fallibility of human nature instead.
· Make sure you tell short jokes to keep students focused.
Now, let’s have a look at the three jokes below.
The first one is about a man sending a text message to his wife.
“Mary, I'm just having one more pint with the lads. If I'm not home in 20 minutes, read this message again!”
Does it make you laugh? Before cracking this witty joke, make sure you relate it to the topic of the lesson. Imaging you are discussing life in a country where after-work drinking culture is widespread. It is always a clever idea to give some cultural background information that will help students understand the joke. For example, tell them that in some western countries plenty of people get together for a drink or two after work. Also, you can use the joke to introduce a new grammar rule or go over it in an original way. Let’s say you are explaining the Present Continuous to your students. Use the sentence
“I'm just having one more pint with the lads” as an example. What a wonderful way of explaining the rule! You can’t beat that.
The second joke is about Winston Churchill.
Sir Winston Churchill was making a public speech when a woman from the crowd shouted out: “If I were your wife, I’d give you poison.” Churchill replies: ‘’Madam, If I were you husband, I’d take it.”
Funny one, isn’t it? Again, make sure you give the appropriate background information. Explain that Winston Churchill was an iconic British prime minister during the World War II and was famous for his great sense of humour and witticism. This joke is an excellent way to introduce the Second Conditional and in particular the short forms of the tense.
The third joke is about jobs.
“How did you lose your previous job?”
“Well, the company moved out of London, but they didn’t tell me where.”
For this joke, you don’t need to give any background details. You can crack it in lessons about jobs or job interviews.
To recap, joke-telling could be a handy teaching technique which makes students feel more comfortable with the language. In addition, it will definitely trigger and maximize their learning potential.