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International Joke Day
Expressions of trust
Using the script

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 ones.
Here are some jokes, followed by some ideas on using them, plus a competition:

What do you call a boomerang that doesn't work?

A stick


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 of 7?

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?

Washington DC


When is a car not a car?

When it turns into a garage.


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 side.


Why do birds fly south in winter?

Because it's too far to walk.

The warmer:

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 Matters'
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.

To see the review of 'Laughing Matters'

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Expressions of trust

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 fun.

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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 few ideas:

- 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 to exploit.

- 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 & discussion.

- 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 for narratives.

- 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:

Friendly Listening

Listening analysis


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