International Joke Day
There's nothing healthier
than a good laugh & as 1st July is International Joke
Day, we thought it would be fun for all to celebrate this
with a warmer full of jokes. Jokes are difficult in another
language so to be sure all understand them the ones below
are children's jokes. You should get a smile anyway, as
well as few groans - but as long as there is a reaction,
I'm sure it'll be an enjoyable activity. The students might
then come out with their own jokes. There are lots of joke
sites on the net so hunt around if you need some different
Here are some jokes, followed by some ideas on using them,
plus a competition:
What do you call a boomerang that
What's the difference between an
elephant & a strawberry?
The strawberry is red.
How can you tell that there is
an elephant in your sandwich?
When it's too heavy to lift.
What do you call a
camel with three humps?
Why couldn't the skeleton
go to the dance?
Because he had no
body to go with.
Why was 6 frightened
Because 7 8 9.
If the red house is
on the right side and if the blue house is on the
left side where's the white house?
When is a car not
When it turns into
Where do you find
a two legged dog?
Where you left him.
How do you get four
elephants into a car?
Two in the front &
two in the back.
Why did the chicken
cross the road?
To get to the other
Why do birds fly south in winter?
Because it's too far to walk.
Start off by telling a few
jokes to the class & introduce some of the lexical field
- to tell a joke, punchline, only joking, an in-joke, a
practical joke, humour etc - depending on level. You could
discuss whether they are good at telling jokes - I can never
remember them myself.
The most natural way would
be to give each student a joke, make sure they understand
them, & they mingle & tell each other their jokes.
Alternatively, you could seperate
the jokes, the first & second lines, hand out a different
first & second line to each student & they have
to mingle & find the punchline for the first line joke
that they have.
Or give out the jokes all
jumbled up & the students, in pairs, match them up.
At the end, get the students
into small groups & they decide on the best & worst
jokes. You could also look at the type of jokes above &
discuss whether there are equivalents in your students'
languages. You could move into a translation activity.
Humour & laughter is always
a good thing & apart from joke telling, the more spontaneous
the students & you contribute in a lesson, the more
openings there are for humour.
Win a copy of 'Laughing
We've got a copy of 'Laughing Matters' by Peter Medgyes
(CUP) to give away & all you have to do is send us a
joke about teaching, learning, the classroom etc...
Send your jokes to:
Please put 'Joke Competition' in the subject box.
see the review of 'Laughing Matters'
to the contents
We usually use trust activities
at the beginning of a course when a group of people are
coming together for the first time. The activities are used
to create a good group dynamic & as relaxation &
limbering up before more taxing tasks or tasks that ask
for the contribution of the whole group such as a drama
lesson. There's no reason why we shouldn't use trust activities
at any time during a course, they might provide that extra
element that picks up a group that has been together past
its sell by date. They are suitable for all levels as they
require little, or no, language. Here are a few ideas:
- Massage: pair the students
off, try to make sure they are with partners of similar
height, with one standing behind the other. The one behind
gives the front person a massage. Then change round.
- Blind person 1: again in
pairs, student A guides the other, who has her eyes tightly
shut, around the room with simple directions - 'walk on,
turn left/right/around, stop'. Swap round for 'revenge'.
- Blind person 2: this time
one student takes the the other student's arm & guides
her around the room, putting her hand on different objects,
which she has to say what the object is.
- Blind person 3: guide the
other student around the room with one word, repeated, so
that the blind student has to listen carefully for her partner's
voice, as well as the pitch & tone which can express
a danger of bumping into others etc. Careful this doesn't
got out of hand with younger learners.
- Touching: students, in pairs,
stand facing each other, palm to palm & as one moves
their hands around, the other moves as well.
- Free fall: put the students
into groups of eight in a circle, with one in the middle
with her eyes closed. The middle student falls but is supported
by the group who gently push her back across the group to
fall & be pushed round. The falling student trusts the
group not to let her fall on the ground.
You might think that your students would never do some of
the above. OK, but it's how you set it up that counts. Just
expecting them to do it as a matter of course helps. Obviously
some are going to be resistant but the more you do this
type of activity the easier it becomes & it's lots of
to the contents
Using the script
Scripts can be very useful
for both the student & the teacher & worth using
as a matter of course after most listenings. Here are a
- After listening extensively
& intensively, give out the scripts & ask the students
to listen & read. After, in pairs they tell each other
where they found the text difficult &, if possible,
why. Then on to a class discussion of the difficulties -
see below for pronunciation difficulties.
- Use the script as part of
a listening task - cut up the text into sections of 3/4
lines each, depending on how long the text is - you don't
want to swamp them with bits of paper. Give out the sections
& the students listen & put the text in order. It
might be appropriate to give them time to attempt to put
the dialogue in order before they listen as this will give
them the opportunity to actually read the sections first.
After listening they already have the text in front of them
- A variation of the above
would be to give a different section to each student &
they put themselves in the order as per the text. They listen
& then re-order if necessary. Lots of describing &
- After the listening, the
text is used to focus on an aspect of language, a 'noticing'
activity. e.g. the students underline all of the past tense
verbs, which are then focused on for the introduction of
some new irregular verbs that are in the text. The text
provides the context for the new language.
- Noticing some aspect of
pronunciation. The students compare what they hear with
the script & why it is different e.g. the use of intrusion,
elision etc. For
more on 'sounds in combination
Also for ongoing awareness
of tone units & prominence. Give the script & students
mark both aspects, then listen to see if they were right.
Could be done before listening to the text or afterwards.
For more on
this aspect of phonology
- For oral practice. The students
read the dialogue, or a part of it, aloud to each other.
If using a part of the dialogue - 6-8 lines - get the students
to read to each other several times, each taking a role.
Take away the texts & they work out/discuss what happened
before & after this section & then have the whole
conversation without the aid of a text.
- If you have a difficult
song, you might still want to use it despite the difficulties.
You could give out the song initially, the students read
it & you clear up any difficulties. Then, from the lyrics,
they try to predict which kind of music they are going to
hear, then read & listen to the song. Or you could just
give out the script & they read & listen before
sorting out difficulties afterwards. The same with a dialogue.
- For testing - a traditional
gap fill task. The students fill in gaps while they listen.
Careful about the speed - do they have enough time to write
& keep up with the text? If not, pause to give time.
- Give out a part of the text
& the students write the missing part(s) - the end,
the middle, the beginning. Then listen & compare. Good
- Writing the script for a
situation can be very useful as well. This gets the students
to really think about accuracy, especially if they know
they will be reading it out in front of the group. This
could be a controlled practice activity shortly after a
presentation, or a review in which the given situation brings
together several different areas of language that have been
looked at over the past couple of weeks.
Here are some past Tips about
the listening skill:
to the contents
the Past Teaching Tips