I’m not being funny but…

Students always want their lessons to be fun. Most of my students, when they talk to each other about non-English related things make great jokes, use puns and offer sarcastic takes on each other’s lives.

As soon as we turn to work, the fun stops and they start to concentrate. But what if comedy was a part of learning?

This recent article made me think even more about all the skills students practice when they’re being funny. I’ve often told students that if they could replicate the manipulation of language they achieve when talking in their written work it would make great reading.

I’ve started to think of some ways comedy can be used in classrooms.

1. Trading insults. As long as the boundaries are established clearly before the exercise, and students know that profanity is banned, getting students to come up with the most creative insult can be a great exercise. If you’re teaching Shakespeare, even better, as you can see if anyone can top the Bard himself at turning a great insult.

2. A funny story. Experimenting with slapstick, students can collaboratively – using the whiteboard or large pieces of paper – create the funniest story of what happened to a character walking home. The best thing about this idea is that it allows all senses of humour a chance to shine.

3. Knock knock! An oldie but a goodie, knock knock jokes allow students to experiment with vocabulary, and offer insight in to implicit meaning which can be tricky to teach on its own.

I hope you try some of these out and, more importantly, I hope they’re fun.

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