Using Humour in the Primary Classroom

Written by: Valentina Kikerkova, ELTAM, Macedonia
valis@freemail.com.mk

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Abstract:

Humour helps the students to reduce barriers, increase networking potential, inspire positive attitudes, building positive relationships, refresh the mind, after “serious activity” and release stress. Teachers can use jokes at the beginning of the lesson, as a warm up activity or at he end of it.

Introduction:

The doctors say that humour is the best medicine. Why don `t we use humour in the classroom? If the students are smiling or laughing they probably fell relaxed and this contributes for better learning. Humour helps the students to reduce barriers, increase networking potential, inspire positive attitudes, building positive relationships, refresh the mind, after “serious activity” and release stress. Teachers can use jokes at the beginning of the lesson, as a warm up activity or at he end of it. They can be used both with children and adult learners. Laughter can help students forget their learning problems and give them courage to face them. Laughing makes learning easier.

One quality of a good language teacher is the good sense of humour.  Teachers of course do not need to be stand-up comedians but to have the ability to tell jokes effectively is a valuable skill which a teacher should posses.

Importance for jokes` memorability

Jokes are considered as memorable and like proverbs, rhymes and quotations are part of our memory and will always come out to our lips automatically in certain situations. Jokes, quotes and proverbs are self-contained and complete. They are not meaningless fragments of the language like we often find in the textbooks.

Jokes, quotes and proverbs need to have the following important requirements for  “memorability”:

  • They are short
  • They are meaningful
  • They have strong linguistic patterns
  • They are completed and self-contained
  • They are interesting and/or useful

Many English jokes are not funny at all. They depend on their effects of puns, homonyms, and homophones and are perfect instrument to practice stress, intonation, and individual sounds.

Here are some examples of my student `s favourites:

1. “Knock, Knock!
Who is there?
Doughnut.
Doughnut who?
Doughnut open until Christmas.”

2. “Knock, Knock!
Who`s there?
Mice.
Mice who?
Mice to meet you.”

3. “Knock, Knock!
Who`s there?
Doris
Doris who?
Doris slammed my finger. OUCH!”

But, I have to point out that the use of jokes, quotations, question and answer; funny cartoons do not replace the regular work with the textbooks. I am presenting you a couple of activities that can be used during the classes to break every day class routine.

  1. Practice in pairs – find out your partner circulate through the room and perform the joke (question and answer).
  2. Dictate a joke –students divide a peace of paper into two columns headed “Question” and “Answer” .The teacher dictates questions and answers in random, as the students listen they write them in the correct place.
  3. Put the joke in the correct order. Find some short jokes (possibly in dialogues) cut them in pieces. Give task to your students to put the joke in correct order. Then students perform the best jokes.
  4. Fill a gap – It is a way to escape of the routine of practicing vocabulary. It is important to mention that longer jokes better work in this activity or sometimes you can use two jokes.
  5. Put the verb in the correct form. This activity also better works with longer jokes. But it is a good way to make the students revise using tenses in context.
  6. Using cartoons- Find out the correct quotation. You need some cartoons with quotations, cut them stick them on pieces of cardboard mix the cartoons and quotations divide the class into groups. Give time and the students complete cartoons and quotations. You can even use cartoons and ask the students to give their own comment although it isn’t right. Later the correct answer can be given.

The use of jokes, question and answer exercises do not replace the textbooks. They can be just use at the beginning of the lesson as warm-ups to get the lesson off to a good start, or in the middle of the lesson to fit the text book, or at the end of a lesson on a high note. They create positive atmosphere of the whole course.

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