How many times have you heard your students say, “This is boring!” or “Learning should be fun”? If you struggle with keeping your students’ attention, you can try adding humor to your English lessons. Humor is an effective way to engage students and increase attention. Plus, it is a lot more fun for everyone!
There are many benefits of using humor while teaching English. Humor is a great way to create a comfortable classroom environment, relieve stress, and bond with your students.
In addition, it increases engagement by keeping students interested and eager to learn. There are many simple ways to bring humor into the classroom. One word of caution: Never use humor to make fun of a student or at the expense of a student’s self-esteem. Never tell offensive, rude, or sarcastic jokes. Humor should always be a positive and fun addition to the classroom!
5 simple ways to add humor to your classroom
Laugh at yourself
The number one way to add humor to the classroom is, to be honest, and be yourself. Do not be afraid to laugh at yourself when you do something silly or wrong. Tell funny stories about mistakes you have made, especially mistakes you’ve made when speaking or writing in English.
This is not only a great way to relieve stress, but it also helps you connect with your students and show them that you are human too. Everyone makes mistakes, and it is okay to laugh at our own mistakes!
However, even though it is okay to laugh at yourself, it is not okay to make fun of others. Never make fun of students for making mistakes in their English. Teach them that it is okay to make mistakes, and sometimes our mistakes are funny!
Add funny items to worksheets, tests, quizzes, and homework
This is an easy way to add humor to your lessons. Insert funny questions or reading passages in worksheets, tests, and homework. Use puns and jokes to make homework fun. These questions help ease stress when students are working and helps keep them engaged.
Another way to do this is to use funny, high-interest stories such as the Emma and Jerry Short Story Collection from Really Learn English. These short stories are an amusing way to engage your students in reading practice.
One tip: Make sure that you only use humor that your students can understand with their level of English. Also, avoid using humor that students may not understand due to a lack of background knowledge necessary to understand it.
You do not have to be a comedian to bring humor into your classroom. Videos and video clips are an easy way to bring humor into your lessons. Many teachers use videos for “brain breaks” to relieve tension or stress while learning. Videos are also a great way to begin a class period or to introduce a new lesson or idea.
In an English classroom, you can watch funny television episodes in English to practice comprehension and listening skills. You can also use captions to help students follow along. Search for funny English instructional videos on Youtube.
Here are some examples you can use in your classroom right now!
Studio C can be a great addition to any classroom, especially for teens and adults. Studio C is a sketch comedy television show produced in the United States by BYUtv. You can watch Studio C on the BYU website or by searching on Youtube.
Studio C videos are great in the classroom because they are clean, family-oriented comedy, and the episodes are only 3 to 5 minutes in length on average.
This Studio C episode teaches about the word “literally” in a fun way!
My students also like to use fun songs to learn new content. Teachers can use this Figurative Language Rap by Rhythm Rhyme Results to learn and review different types of figurative language in English.
Like videos, cartoons (humorous drawings) are also a simple way to add humor to your lessons.
They also help develop skills in reading (in small chunks), listening, speaking, and writing. In addition, cartoons and comic strips usually use authentic, real-world language and slang.
Editorial cartoons are popular cartoons that usually focus on a specific current event or political or social situation. You can analyze these cartoons with students in terms of the specific political or economic issue it identifies.
Students can discuss the cartoon in small groups, practicing their English conversational skills. You can explore the persuasive techniques that the cartoonist uses. These cartoons can also be used to start conversations and as writing prompts.
Cartoon comic strips are a short series of images in sequence. The last image in the comic strip is usually the punch line of the joke.
Teachers can use these cartoons in a variety of ways:
- analyze figurative language used
- identify the type of humor the cartoonist uses
- draw and write comics to retell a story or summarize a lesson
- create comic strips explaining the use of a specific part of English grammar
- identify and analyze punctuation marks
- identify and analyze the use of italics, underlining, bold words, and different fonts
- act out the comic
- retell the comic with and without the visual aid of the comic strip
- describe the images to another student
- prediction skills – tell what is coming next
- write the comic strip as a story (in paragraph form)
- identify missing words (see explanation below)
- jigsaw activity (see explanation below)
Teachers can use comics for vocabulary practice or using grammar in context. This is a simple activity. Print out a few comic strips and remove words from the comics with white-out or by coloring over with a black marker.
Have students identify the missing words using the context of the story or by inserting vocabulary words from a list.
Another variation of this activity is to delete an entire part of the dialogue in the comic. Have students fill in the bubble with appropriate dialogue that makes sense in the joke.
Cut a comic strip apart. Ask students to put the pieces together in the correct order. Have students read the completed comic aloud and justify their reasoning for the order.
This activity can also be completed in groups. Give each member of the group one part of the comic strip and have them work together to put the comic strip in order. This activity promotes English conversational skills and is fun.
Bring your lessons to life
You can use humor to bring your lessons to life through games, voices, funny pictures, acting, and more. Here are a few ways you can bring your lessons to life:
- Use children’s picture books to introduce a new concept. Read the book with fun voices or have students act out parts of the story. You can even use wigs, hats, costumes, and props to add to the story.
- Practice new vocabulary by combining words to make funny combinations of words. For example: jumping monkeys, banana tacos, and tiny giants. Students can also draw images to illustrate the funny combinations of words.
- Start with a quote of the day or a quote of the week. Not every quote needs to be funny, but humorous quotes are a great way to bring laughter into your lessons.
- Have a joke day. Ask students to bring in their favorite jokes in English to share with the class. Make sure you have rules for which jokes they can use. Jokes should not be offensive or rude.
- Use props to bring your lessons to life. For example, wear a funny beach hat when learning about summer vocabulary, dress in colorful rain boots and a raincoat when learning weather vocabulary, or bring a “crystal ball” when students are learning to make predictions in stories.
- Use impersonations. Try practicing different accents or impersonate a famous celebrity.
These are just a few ways that you can add humor to your English lessons and your classroom. Learning does not have to be boring. The best piece of advice is to be yourself and have fun with your students!
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