ESL Made Easy - Teaching English as a second language can be a serious task, but that doesn’t mean that your classroom needs to be a stark, humourless void. The truth is that incorporating a few laughs into your lessons can have tremendous benefits and help make you a more effective teacher. Your students, many of whom are feeling nervous or suffering from a lack of confidence in their own abilities to master the subject at hand, will feel more at ease after some humour. It makes your class, and your lessons, more memorable too. Plus, getting a few laughs will help your confidence as an instructor — you’ll feel that your students like you and are genuinely listening to what you have to say.
Unless you’re a natural comedian, though, incorporating humour in your classroom is probably easier said than done. How do you do it? Here are four ideas for incorporating humour in your classroom...
1. Borrow a laugh. Even if you’re not a natural jokester, you probably appreciate it when something is funny: a comic, a short video clip, and so on. Collect these, and when they’re relevant to the task, bring them into lead into a lesson or close one out. If you rely on PowerPoints for teaching, this is incredibly easy to do.
2. Use funny examples. This is especially good if you’re teaching English as a second language. When you’re teaching students the words that are used in a particular situation, make that scenario a somewhat preposterous one. This is a great way to make your lesson memorable; students will be able to recall the words better because the humour will stick in their brains. My favourite: Funny little anecdotes that happened to me or with my kids over the weekend! I always have a story to tell!
3. Put in a funny (and obviously wrong) multiple choice test answer. This can really help to lighten the tension during a stressful testing or review day. You’ll probably get some quiet giggles, and your students will feel good knowing that they can safely eliminate at least one wrong answer.
4. Laugh at yourself. Did you slip up in saying something? Or inadvertently wear something that doesn’t quite match? Point it out to your students and laugh at yourself. Again, this lightens the mood of the class, but it also shows your students that you’re a laid back teacher who isn’t afraid to be a little self-deprecating when it’s called for.
Bringing humour into your classroom isn’t that hard, and it helps to create a warm environment in which learning can take place. One thing you do want to avoid, however, is being funny at your students’ expense. It’s never wise to make fun of them directly or point out differences which they may be sensitive to. The best advice is to direct your humour at yourself or at the world in general. Remember, the goal is to keep the mood light! Your job will be more fun, and your ESL students will truly enjoy your class and get a lot out of it.