Jokes & Funny Stories in ESL & Language Lessons

Jokes for Speaking and Writing Practice
Jokes and amusing anecdotes are common to all languages and cultures. Working with jokes helps students not only use new vocabulary but also gain insight into a new culture.

Why are Jokes Funny? What Makes Humans Laugh?

Jokes usually point fingers at idiosyncrasies in people and various aspects of culture. Students will gain understanding and develop perception into new cultures and manners that are different from their own. Humor varies from language to language so working with jokes enhances insight into humans and thus into new language patterns.

Jokes – Clean, Short, Funny Jokes and Quotes Appeal to Everyone

Here are some ideas pertaining to jokes that can be used in the classroom to develop a multitude of skills.

Starting off the Day with a Joke: For listening, learning new structures and vocabulary. Start the class by presenting a daily joke or amusing story. Either tell it or use an overhead projector to show it. Although discussing the joke may ruin it to an extent, the idea is to analyze why the words and content are considered amusing. The choice of specific vocabulary and grammar structures can be explained by the teacher.

Everyone Writes a Joke: For writing practice. Hand out a copy of the same cartoon picture to each of the students and have them write their own words. Circulate the jokes around the class for everyone to read the other results. For more ideas about cartoons, read about them at this link.

Jokes focusing on a particular topic: For reading and discussion. Use the Internet to find jokes on different topics. For example, type in “chicken jokes” or “elephant jokes”. From the list, choose appropriate ones and type up a page of them. The students can read these to each other in pairs, and discuss them. The teacher can talk about the vocabulary, grammar and content in the jokes.

Watch and Repeat: For listening and pronunciation work. Using a video sitcom or comedy, keep the remote control ready to stop and start the video. The students sit in a circle. They listen and watch the program. The teacher stops the video after each sentence. Each student, in turn, gets ready to repeat what the actor has just said. Mimicking pronunciation is fun and quite helpful for articulation practice.

Watching a Sitcom: For listening practice. An age and subject-appropriate sitcom can be used for students to watch. “Friends" for example, is very popular with high school teens. Tell the students to jot down some of the jokes they hear while watching. Discuss the amusing parts, sentences and jokes they noted, after the program has been viewed.

Telling a Funny Story: For writing and relating. Students have to write down a funny story or incident that happened to them or ones that they have heard told in their family. Each of the students has to read his or her anecdote to the class.

Smiling and Joking Create an Environment for Learning

An atmosphere that is relaxed makes for active, productive students who may be happy to experiment with new language, and become creative in their new medium. These ideas are not intended to remove serious, hard work in the classroom, but have a place in lessons to encourage students to participate and enjoy their new studies.

Related Articles with Fun Topics for the ESL Classroom:

Comics and Cartoons for Grammar and Writing Practice. Fun ideas to help students to increase their grammar and writing skills