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Humor in the Language Classroom: Pedagogical Benefits and Practical Considerations

Written by: Mohammad Ali Heidari‐Shahreza
Published on: Jan 18, 2021

Humor in the Classroom
Image Credit: Chris Ryan/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Humor in the language classroom seems to be still a nebulous concept surrounded by controversies regarding its pedagogical effects and implementation. While it is frowned upon as off‐task, disruptive behavior in some (formal) language classrooms, it is treated as a harmless but trivial by‐product of class interaction in some other contexts of language education.

Still, an increasing number of language teachers and teacher educators, perhaps relying on their teaching experience and intuition, endorse the use of humor in the language classroom “as a means and [to some extent] an end of language learning”.

Humor has recently been promoted from an epiphenomenal to a more phenomenal position in some language settings. Nevertheless, “the study of the use and understanding of L2 [second language] humor has been largely neglected”.

This article advocates the serious treatment of nonserious language by highlighting pedagogical benefits as well as practical considerations of language classroom humor.

TESOL Journal