TV comedy carried over to the classroom

Jonathan Harrison, Nihon University, College of Science and Technology


Quick guide

  • Keywords: Vocabulary, review, game, pop culture, motivation, ad-lib, singing, fun
  • Learner English level: All
  • Learner maturity level: All
  • Preparation time: 5to 10 minutes
  • Activity time: 15 to 30 minutes
  • Materials: A vocabulary list, My Sharona by The Knack, a device for playing music, access to YouTube (optional)


Similar to Saturday Night Live being mimicked in Monday’s classes in America, Japanese students also mimic television comedies. In the mid-1990s, Ru Oshiba entertained by speaking in half-English half-Japanese sentences to get the giggles. Between 2005 and 2008, Japanese TV taught children the pelvic thrust of Hard Gay and the OPAPI dance of Yoshio Kojima. Edo Harumi was one of the comedy successes of 2008 with her Goo!Goo!Goo! and a trademark thumbs up. The Goo is katakana wordplay for both the English word good and the present progressive word ending -ing. She currently stars on variety shows and plays multiple games using Katakana English. For some vocabulary review fun, to motivate learners, and to increase fluency, teachers can adapt TV comedy to the classroom. The following game is an adaptation of one of Edo Harumi’s games to practice vocabulary Grammar adaptations are also possible.


If YouTube is available, set up your class for a quick opening video. If not, you need a CD player, My Sharona, and a vocabulary list. Before the class, write down a phrase that can be sung with the song. Students should be able to insert both the vocabulary word and a word ending in –ing.


Step 1: Make a vocabulary list from a unit being studied. Have the students study and practice the words so they can pronounce them quickly.

Step 2: In a review class, play an Edo Harumi YouTube video or My Sharona to get the energy level of the class up. Tell the students to take out their vocabulary lists. It’s game time!

Step 3: Write your phrase on the board. I used “_____ is where we are _____-ing!” and “_____ is what we are _____-ing!” These sentences worked well for the nouns we were studying.

Step 4: Model a round for the students. Have the students shout out a word. As the teacher, try to put the word into the phrase in rhythm with the music. For example, “(A) bakery is where we are eating!” or “(A) vehicle is what we are driving!”

Step 5: Play the song two or three times and let students play the game in pairs or small groups. Although not crucial for lower-level students, higher-level students have to try to keep their speaking in rhythm with the song.

Step 6: (Optional) If your students enjoy clowning and laughing, have half of them line up near the front of class. An audience member shouts a word, and the next person in line briefly thinks on it. Then the song is played and they try to speak fast enough to stay in time with the song. After that, the audience shouts another word and the next student tries.


After the activity, model more phrases using other words. To illustrate proper pronunciation, ask the students what the Goo! means. They should answer with good or –ing. Next, mention that in speaking the final g is dropped.


To finish the lesson, I usually end with a few –ing sentences to cement the My Sharona song in the students’ minds so they can’t get that song and my lesson out of their heads for the rest of the day. I have used it in TOEIC classes as well as speaking classes. Higher-level students know the proper pronunciation, so the game is purely for laughs. Students of all levels learn the joy of quick thinking and word association. Overall, students seem to enjoy this game as it brings Japanese pop culture into the English classroom. Comedy may be foolish, but that is what makes it fun. Adapt a bit of comedy to bring a bit of fun to the end of a lesson. It may bring you back to your youth and closer to your youths.