Jokes and Their Place in ESL Teaching


Jokes can be an important part of your teaching program.esl curriculum Scientists know that when people laugh, the body secretes hormones that make the person feel good. Don’t you want your ESL students to feel good about what they are doing? We think that humor can be used very effectively as a teaching tool.

Are English Jokes Funny for ESL Students?

Jokes make us laugh but they can be very serious for English Foreign Language students. Sometimes they don’t understand the subtle references or the play on words.

How can we help them?

Riddles with a picture are the easiest for beginner or high beginner students. You’ll find riddle books available in the children’s section of the book stores. You can find free funny videos that the class might enjoy. We even showed our students videos of Charlie Chaplin, in which the humour was self explanatory, and they loved them!

When we move into real jokes the challenge will be to get the students laughing and not feeling embarrassed because they don’t “get it”. We suggest that you start with something easy – a joke where you will act out the story. Some jokes need to be acted and they’ll laugh even if they don’t “get it”. You, the teacher, will end up being the joke but they’ll love you for it.

Another way to help them is to start with a picture. People who tell jokes don’t usuallyesl curriculum show pictures, but this is an English class and the students will need all the help they can get!

A truck driver had a job to take some penguins to the zoo in the next town. His truck stopped on the way. He was fixing it when another trucker came. “Can I help you?” he asked.

“If I give you $100, will you take these penguins to the zoo in the next town?”

The trucker said that he would.

Later, when his truck was going, he drove into the next town and saw the man walking down the road with the penguins.

“Didn’t you take them to the zoo?” he asked.

“Yes, we went to the zoo, and there was money left over, so now we’re going to the movies.”

See also:

Lists of Ways to Enhance Your Teaching

Monkey Business Video

The Fussy Monk Video

What a Question

The Educated Goats

Our curriculum is in use in more than 75 countries around the world.

About brian_mu8dft39

Successful ESL was created out of our first company, Learning English With Laughter which began in 1990 when we, George and Daisy Stocker, traveled to the historic city of Karlovy Vary in Czechoslovakia, to teach English in a private language school. Communism was over and the people were embarking along the road to democracy. There were hundreds of students eager to learn the English Language, but suitable textbooks were non-existent. Consequently, we wrote as we taught, making countless revisions as we listened to the students' special needs. Upon returning to our home in Victoria, Canada, we have adapted the Teen-adult Series to meet the cultural needs of students in a number of different countries. A variety of adaptations have been achieved through contacts with many countries. Thousands of students have encouraged us to use a conversational approach to English that stresses communication in a variety of everyday situations. See our facebook page:
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