Archive for April, 2017

summary of the presentation I gave at this year’s IATEFL Conference in Glasgow (2017) How understanding humour can improve students’ comprehension

April 5, 2017

 

Different types of humour: (1) 

a riddle, irony/dry/deadpan, or slapstick

  1. a) irony/dry/deadpan Saying the opposite of what you mean e.g. when there is a storm saying ‘What a lovely day!’
  2. b) slapstick a clown accidentally walks into a door
  3. c) a riddle a question that has a humorous answer e.g. What is black and white and red all over? Answer: an embarrassed zebra

Different types of humour: (2) 

black humour, innuendo/ double entendre, a pun

  1. a) innuendo/ double entendre suggesting something else, usually sexual or unpleasant g. ‘How do you like it?’ ‘I beg your pardon?’ I mean the coffee, do you have milk or sugar?’
  2. b) a pun an amusing use of a word with two meanings g. 7 days without water can make one weak (1week)
  3. c) black humour deals with the unpleasant things of life in a bitter or ironic way g. If we were on a sinking ship with only one life vest…I would miss you so much.

Different types of humour: (3) 

satire, sarcasm, a joke

  1. a joke A made up story that makes people laugh e.g. While a man was working in a store dressed up as Santa for the little children to tell him what they wanted for Christmas, a small boy asked for a train. The Santa told him he might have to share it with his Dad. After more conversation, the Santa asked the boy what else he wanted. He said ‘another train’!
  2. b) satire using humour to expose silliness e.g. The prime minister is so keen to improve the trains she has decided to drive them herself.
  3. c) sarcasm saying the opposite of what you mean to make an unkind joke, e.g. when a student arrives an hour late, the teacher says: ‘Good of you to arrive so early.’

Another type is anecdotal humour when you tell a true, funny story.

Anecdotal humour involves telling exaggerated, humorous, personal stories.

The longer you stretch them out the funnier they become.

They usually involve laughing at yourself or others.

worksheet: Some different kinds of humour

 

Worksheet:

Fill the gaps. Choose from: anecdotal humour; blue (off colour, risqué); irony; farce; a joke; dry/deadpan humour; pun;  innuendo/ double entendre; parody; play on words; riddle; sarcasm; slapstick; black humour, a lovable rogue:

Smutty (uncouth, crude, vulgar, rude); satire; bawdy (coarse, lewd); clowning; cartoons

­­­­_______________ exaggerated humorous personal stories e.g. ‘When I was working in the supermarket, some idiot took one of the oranges from bottom of the display I had spent hours preparing. There I was, trying to look calm when hundreds of these oranges rolled all over me.’

_______________: deals with the unpleasant things of life in a bitter or ironic way, e.g. A man takes off his belt to hang himself. His trousers fall down.

_______________ deals with humour that is rude or indecent

_______________ someone with a dry sense of humour pretends to be serious when they are not, e.g. I see you’ve set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public. or No not that left hand, the other left hand.

_______________: silly, absurd, ridiculous e.g. a clown deliberately trips over.

_______________: something that makes people laugh, e.g. A man says he has a dog that plays the piano and a snake that sings. His mate challenges him. The dog and snake are brought in and the dog plays the piano while the snake sings. The mate is amazed and apologises. The man pauses saying he feels guilty. When asked why, he explains that the dog was a ventriloquist.

_______________ using words that suggest something else, usually sexual or unpleasant e.g.  ‘How do you like it?’ ‘I beg your pardon?’ I mean the coffee, do you have milk or sugar?’

_______________: using words that are the opposite of what you really mean in order to be amusing, e.g. saying ‘What a lovely day!’ while walking through a hailstorm.

_______________: copying or mimicking something well known for comic effect, e.g. The ten commandments for cooks are …’Thou shalt not ..’

_______________: using a word that is interesting or amusing because it has two very different meanings, e.g. patient: ‘Doctor, doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains.’ Doctor: ‘Well pull yourself together!’

_______________: an amusing use of a word or phrase that has two meanings, e.g. Seven days without water can make one weak (=1 week)   Please turn over

worksheet: Some different kinds of humour                                           Page two

 

_______________: a question that is deliberately confusing and usually has a clever or humorous answer, e.g. What is black and white and red all over? Answer: an embarrassed zebra

_______________: a way of speaking or writing that involves saying the opposite of what you really mean to make an unkind joke, e.g. when someone arrives an hour late, someone else says: ‘Good of you to arrive so early.’

_______________: using humour to expose foolishness, silliness or stupidity through ridicule, e.g. The government has appointed a new minister: The Minister for Silly Walks.

_______________: based on deliberate clumsiness or embarrassing situations e.g. a clumsy waiter carrying a cream cake trips and ‘accidentally’ falls unto a guest covering the guest’s face with the cream.

Other common terms associated with humour:

_______________: inspires empathy from us even though he is a character often from the working class who disobeys normal social rules e.g. by using his rough charm he persuades a wealthy lady to give him more money than she may have intended.

_______________ (uncouth, crude, vulgar, rude) e.g.  Two young men calling to a young woman ‘You’ve got a lovely pair, darling!’ (meaning pair of breasts).

_______________, (coarse, lewd) some lines in the poetry of John Donne e.g. the last two lines of ‘To His Mistress Going to Bed ‘

“…I am naked first; why then

What needst thou have more covering than a man.” which has sexual connotations: meaning that the poet is naked and his mistress needs nothing more than to be ‘covered’ by a man.

clowning discomfort embarrassment we laugh at people’s misfortunes the higher up they are the more we laugh. e.g. Trump’s hair shown moving like a caterpillar

_______________pictures that point out something ridiculous, even when it is true

spitting image making fun of the powerful, caricatures of powerful politicians

 

worksheet: Some different kinds of humour ANSWERS

Fill the gaps. Choose from: anecdotal humour; blue (off colour, risqué); farce; a joke; irony/dry/deadpan humour; pun;  innuendo/ double entendre; parody; play on words; riddle; sarcasm; slapstick; black humour, a lovable rogue:

Smutty (uncouth, crude, vulgar, rude); satire; bawdy (coarse, lewd); clowning; cartoons

anecdotal humour: exaggerated humorous personal stories e.g. ‘When I was working in the supermarket, some idiot took one of the oranges from bottom of the display I had spent hours preparing. There I was, trying to look calm when hundreds of these oranges rolled all over me.’

black humour: deals with the unpleasant things of life in a bitter or ironic way, e.g. A man takes off his belt to hang himself. His trousers fall down.

blue, off colour, risqué deals with humour that is rude or indecent e.g.

dry/deadpan humour: someone with a dry sense of humour pretends to be serious when they are not, e.g. I see you’ve set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public. or No not that left hand, the other left hand.

farce: silly, absurd, ridiculous e.g. a clown deliberately trips over.

a joke: a made up story that makes people laugh, e.g. A man says he has a dog that plays the piano and a snake that sings. His mate challenges him. The dog and snake are brought in and the dog plays the piano while the snake sings. The mate is amazed and apologises. The man pauses saying he feels guilty. When asked why, he explains that the dog was a ventriloquist.

innuendo/ double entendre: using words that suggest something else, usually sexual or unpleasant e.g.  ‘How do you like it?’ ‘I beg your pardon?’ I mean the coffee, do you have milk or sugar?’

irony: using words that are the opposite of what you really mean in order to be amusing, e.g. saying ‘What a lovely day!’ while walking through a hailstorm.

parody: copying or mimicking something well known for comic effect, e.g. The ten commandments for cooks are …’Thou shalt not ..’

play on words: using a word that is interesting or amusing because it has two very different meanings, e.g. patient: ‘Doctor, doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains.’ Doctor: ‘Well pull yourself together!’

pun: an amusing use of a word or phrase that has two meanings, e.g. Seven days without water can make one weak (=1 week)

riddle: a question that is deliberately confusing and usually has a clever or humorous answer, e.g. What is black and white and red all over? Answer: an embarrassed zebra

sarcasm: a way of speaking or writing that involves saying the opposite of what you really mean to make an unkind joke, e.g. when someone arrives an hour late, someone else says: ‘Good of you to arrive so early.’

satire: using humour to expose foolishness, silliness or stupidity through ridicule, e.g. The government has appointed a new minister: The Minister for Silly Walks.

slapstick: based on deliberate clumsiness or embarrassing situations e.g. a clumsy waiter carrying a cream cake trips and ‘accidentally’ falls unto a guest covering the guest’s face with the cream.

Other common terms associated with humour:

a lovable rogue: inspires empathy from us even though he is a character often from the working class who disobeys normal social rules e.g. by using his rough charm he persuades a wealthy lady to give him more money than she may have intended.

Smutty (uncouth, crude, vulgar, rude) e.g.  Two young men calling to a young woman ‘You’ve got a lovely pair, darling!’ (meaning pair of breasts).

bawdy, (coarse, lewd) some lines in the poetry of John Donne e.g. the last two lines of ‘To His Mistress Going to Bed ‘

“…I am naked first; why then

What needst thou have more covering than a man.” which has sexual connotations: meaning that the poet is naked and his mistress needs nothing more than to be ‘covered’ by a man.

clowning discomfort embarrassment we laugh at people’s misfortunes the higher up they are the more we laugh. e.g. Trump’s hair shown moving like a caterpillar

cartoons pictures that point out something ridiculous, even when it is true

spitting image making fun of the powerful, caricatures of powerful politicians

Humour in the classroom

Use texts that can amuse the reader by making fun of the language.

http://www.learnbritishenglish.co.uk/i-take-it-you-already-know-of-tough-and-bough-and-cough-and-dough/

Hints on Pronunciation for Foreigners

I take it you already know …

Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through?
Well done! And now you wish perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird;
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead —
For goodness sake don’t call it ‘deed’.
Watch out for meat and great and threat.
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

A moth is not a moth in mother,
nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s dose and rose and lose —
Just look them up — and goose and choose.

And cord and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart —
Come come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive,
I’d mastered it when I was five!

Entertain the students by making fun of your weakness, such as being unable to draw. Soon enough one to the students will be willing to do it for you.

Entertain the students further by exaggerating the way you tell facts about British culture. For example the saying that ‘Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow

Set you students home work by asking them to collect a joke or two to tell the class the following day.

Make up puns. Find words that sound the same but have different meanings e.g. week/weak; bat: cricket bat/animal: pun: Which piece of sports equipment uses sonar? (a cricket bat)

Show the students parodies of serious texts. For example:

“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;”

Sea Fever by John Masefield

parody:

“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

I left my shoes and socks there, I wonder if they’re dry?’ Spike Milligan

Students could make up their own parodies.

Introduce amusing sayings:

For example:

Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow.

Don’t give up on your dreams so soon, sleep longer.

If only common sense were more common.

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

 

Introduce students to limericks. For example:

A circus performer named Brian,

Once smiled as he rode on a lion.

They came back from the ride,

But with Brian inside,

And the smile on the face of the lion.

 

Choose three jokes and give the students the punchlines. Tell one of the jokes and ask the students to guess the punch line.

 

Use humorous texts:

For example, Beecham speaking to an orchestral player:

‘We cannot expect you to be with us all the time, but perhaps you would be good enough to keep in touch now and again.’

This is a fine example of sarcasm.

Encourage students to read using their imagination. For example if they read ‘The boy went home’, stop them immediately and ask them to describe how they imagine the boy. Suggest ridiculous clothing if the students finds it difficult to think of anything. They should then at least deny your outrageous description.

Share humorous texts with your students and ask why the texts are funny.

Suggested reasons for students to choose from:

  1. because the answer is completely unexpected
  2. because it makes a seemingly serious question much less serious.
  3. it uses exaggerated language
  4. the author is laughing at himself
  5. the author lets his imagination go too far
  6. because it says the opposite of what is meant

For example:

‘Notes from a big Country’ by Bill Bryson (1998) CN 5910

p.16 ‘The other day I called my computer helpline, because I needed to be made to feel ignorant by someone much younger than me, and …

(It is funny because of d) and f))

Second example:

‘A spot of bother’ by Mark Haddon (2006)

p.13 ‘He stared doggedly at the seat-back in front of him, trying desperately to pretend he was sitting in the living room at home. But every few minutes he would hear a sinister chime …

(It is funny because of c) and e))

Tone of voice concerns the way you change the sound of your voice for effect, for example, speaking louder and lower with a commanding tone to instruct a dog to sit.

In reading texts and dialogues, the tone of voice is necessary for the context and the characters to be fully understood.

For example, the following dialogue could be about

business men talking about a business appointment.

adapted from: ‘Ship or sheep’ Ann Baker (1996) CUP p.88

A: Dunstan 238282

B: Hello, this is Chris.

A: Hello __________

B: What did you do yesterday? You forgot ___ _____ didn’t you? …

 

The dialogue actually concerns a boy and his girlfriend:

Girl (Daisy): Dunstan 238282

Boy (Chris): Hello , this is Chris.

Girl (Daisy): Oh hello darling.

Boy (Chris): What did you do yesterday, Daisy. You forgot our date didn’t you?

suggestions for activities for beginners

  • gestures What is wrong with the food? It’s too spicy/it smells bad/…
  • Which is the wrong word?: e.g. I ate my cat because it was hungry.
  • Write down what you hear when the students mispronounce words. e.g. I eat ships. (I eat chips.)

suggestions for activities for intermediate students

  • Learn and create puns, riddles and/or limericks
  • Actions: What is this idiom? e.g. Mime being bored/eating too much = I’m fed up.
  • Students tell short funny anecdotes.
  • Students make up ridiculous situations: If I hadn’t… I wouldn’t have…

suggestions for activities for advanced students

  • select humorous texts to share from a list of humorous authors e.g. Bill Bryson, Shakespeare (‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’), Helen Fielding (‘Bridget Jones’), Jerome K Jerome (‘Three Men in a Boat’)
  • write a funny short story.
  • prepare their own comedy sketch (e.g. like ‘Four candles’).

Good luck!

workshop on Humour at the IATEFL Conference 2017

April 3, 2017

Hopefully some people will be looking up the internet for more information about me in relation to my workshop at the IATEFL Conference. As well as a summary of the workshop on Humour that I plan to put here after it has taken place, I offer information about my publications:

The speaker: Dr Rosemary Westwell (rjwestwell@hotmail.com)

publications:

  • PhD thesis ‘The Development of Language Acquisition in a Mature Learner’ freely available at http:eprints.ioe.ac.uk/48/
  • ‘Out of a Learner’s Mouth’: an informal diary of her acquisition of Spanish as a mature learner Amazon.com
  • ‘Teaching Language Learners’ a book of ideas for new and experienced teachers of English as a Foreign Language‘ Amazon.com
  • Twenty Tips for Teaching IGCSE ESL teaching ideas for preparation for this examination Amazon.com
  • ‘The Spelling Game’ Amazon.com
  • ‘A Close Look at unseen Poetry’ Amazon.com
  • ‘John Donne Poetic Voices Study Guide for AS/A Level AQA Lang & Lit.’ a study guide for the poetry of John Donne Zigzag Education
  • ‘The Spelling Game’ Zigzag Education
  • ‘John Dementia and Me’ a personal account of her experience married to a man who gradually succumbed to early onset dementia. Amazon.com
  • ‘John’s Shadow’ a murder mystery Amazon.com
  • blogs: http://www.elyforlanguage.wordpress.com; http://www.reviewsrjw.wordpress.com