Using humour in EFL classes

Andrew Blyth & Takako Ohyama

Humour is often used in different social situations including as a mechanism to break the ice when meeting a new acquaintance, for easing tensions in unfamiliar social situations, to defuse a social faux pas, and for maintaining social relations. Unfortunately, these are social strategies that are often neglected by course books and English language instruction in general. This study assumes that the aforementioned situations are valid reasons to teach and use humour in English classes. However, prior to using jokes as a subject of research enquiry, it was considered prudent to look at humour from a more pedagogical perspective. Subsequently, this pilot study aimed to measure any increases in student vocabulary acquisition and changes in students’ language awareness. Data from first-year students in two universities were used, and it was found that there were measurable gains in student vocabulary and language awareness, suggesting further and more rigorous research is warranted.