Utilizing Humor in Teaching English as a Second Language - Студенческий научный форум

XI Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2019

Utilizing Humor in Teaching English as a Second Language

Хамраева Ж.У. 1, Латанова Р.У. 1
1ЕНУ им.Л.Н.Гумилёва
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In this study, the author investigates the effect of humor on teaching English as a second language in order to define the relationship between humor and successful second language acquisition. The pivotal question lying behind the research is: Does humor help the English language learners study more effectively? It can be found in the findings of the research that humor does influence the efficiency of SLA process and the result can be positive if only it is relevant. Therefore, teachers should use humor and more importantly, utilize it appropriately to gain success in teaching English as a second Language.

Key words: pedagogical humor, SLA, teachers, students.


Humor is considered to be one of the most crucial phenomena of human’s life without which we cannot imagine this world. Moreover, humor can assist foreign language teachers very effectively. No one can deny that learning foreign languages, especially learning the English language in Kazakhstan is one of the main standards which leads to success in education and career etc. Therefore, teachers try to create positive environment which enhances student’s desire to study, consequently they use numerous innovational technologies and methods to inspire them to learn English. Besides innovational technologies, teachers should not forget another effective tool in EFL – humor.

Nevertheless, the teaching is a very serious and responsible job, and learning English language is not an easy process, we cannot disagree that students want to attend the lessons that are conducted in a positive, relaxing environment. Humor is the exact instrument which helps teacher create such kind of environment which attracts students.

Literature Review

The word humor can be interpreted as something said or done by people which is supposed to be funny and cause laughter. Humor can be considered as a very effective tool that teachers can use in a classroom. Different researchers studied the use of humor in studying a language and teaching one and they have highlighted the benefits of humor in motivating students and making the process of language acquisition more effectively. Garner observes that “Students indicate that humour can increase their interests in learning and research has demonstrated that students who have teachers with strong orientation to humour tend to learn more” (Garner, 2006, p.177). “Humour is a catalyst for classroom “magic”, when all the educational elements converge and teacher and student are positive and excited about learning” (Kher, 1999, p.1)

In another study, Loomans writes about humor, “there are two distinct sides of the of the humor coin: the comic and the tragic, humor can act as a social lubricant or social retardant in the educational setting. It can educate or denigrate, heal or harm, embrace or deface, it’s a powerful communication tool, no matter which side is chosen”. (Loomans, 1993, p. 14). According to Prosser, humour builds unity, relieve stress and enhance creativity. Humour helps the instructor enjoy teaching and empowers the learner to participate in the project (Prosser, 1997, p. 2). (Buckman cited in Psathas, 1973, p. 37) saying that "by asking people questions we discover what they are experiencing, how they interpret their experiences and how they themselves structure the social world in which they live" (Buckman, 2010, p. 64). The present study focuses on the importance of uses of jokes in an English language class to make the teaching/learning process more interesting and enjoyable one.

Findings and Analysis

In order to identify the role of humor in learning process, there was carried a survey including 63 students whose major is English language. All of the students who took part in a survey agreed that positive atmosphere is the best for studying (figure 1).

Over 30 % of students totally agreed that teachers should use humor, while about 70 % of the considered it helpful if only it is appropriate. It should be mentioned that no student considers that humor should not be used by a teacher (figure 2).

It is interesting to learn that over the 80% of students mentioned that the teacher of their favorite discipline does use humor sometimes. We can see that positive psychological approach as humor can be interrelated with motivation. (figure 3).

Results and Discussion

The results of the research acknowledge that humor plays very crucial role in teachi ng foreign languages. As we can observe from the findings of the research, language learners prefer classes conducted by a teacher who uses relevant humor while teaching. Moreover, the Figure 3 delineates that there is an obvious connection between the learner’s motivation and the use of humor by teacher.


This study examined how humor used by a teacher effects the language learning process. The importance of the relevancy of humor was discussed. According to the findings of the research, it can be concluded that humor plays vital role in SLA, especially it is important to use relevant, not offensive jokes in order to implement the efficiency of the language learning process. Therefore, foreign language teachers should use appropriate humor in order to enhance the students student’s abilities, their motivation to learn English. Furthermore, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of using humor in SLA, researchers can conduct a survey with experimental and control groups.


Bonjour, R. (2011). The Essence of Good Teaching-Humor.

Casper, R. (1999). Laughter and humour in the classroom.

Garner, R.L. (2006). Humor in Pedagogy: How ha-ha can lead to a-ha.

Gorham, J., & Christophel, D. M. (1990). The relationship of teachers’ use of humour in classroom to immediacy and student learning. Laughing Matters: Humor in the language classroom. Communication Education,

Krishmanson, P. (2000). Affect in the second language classroom. How to create an emotional climate

Loomans, D., Kolberg,K. (1993). Laughing classroom.

Prosser, M. (1997). Relations between the perceptions of the teaching environment and approaches to teaching.

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