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Humour and language learning

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Humour is a key skill to have as a teacher, regardless of the topic you're teaching. And it is especially key when teaching languages, for the following reasons:

To most students, speaking in a new language feels scary

While they all understand on an intellectual level that nothing serious will happen if they make a mistake, schools has drilled in their heads that mistakes of any kind are unacceptable and something to be ashamed of.

A huge part of my work is to remind students that the only thing that happens when they make a mistake, is that they're learning something new. And to do that, I not only use personal examples to show that even the teacher makes mistakes, but also humour.

Students put a lot of pressure on themselves to speak perfectly

That's why speaking in a foreign language feels scary and becomes harder than it has to be. While aiming for perfection, students also forget to enjoy the learning process, to take stock, and notice their progress. They keep on moving the goal post, focusing on what they don't know yet, as opposed to what they already know. Humour is a gentle way to remind them that they're not performing open-heart surgery and that, despite what they think, they are making progress.

Using humour makes a language point more memorable

Judging from the examples I use, some of my students might think I have weird obsessions (the colour blue and dark chocolate, to name but a few), but what they don't see, is that I make a point to use silly, light examples, because they're easier to remember and they help my students not take their learning process or themselves too seriously.

Because humour is fun!

And, let's face it, we need it in our lives, now more than ever.

Don't hesitate to send me your questions.

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