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Use jokes for speaking and writing

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  • simonsailsaway
    It¡¯s been a frustrating experience for me to crack jokes in an ESL classroom. My students seldom laughed. Nevertheless, I think we should use Chinese
    Message 1 of 7 , May 28, 2004
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      It¡¯s been a frustrating experience for me to crack jokes in an ESL
      classroom. My students seldom laughed. Nevertheless, I think we
      should use Chinese jokes to teach English ¨C for both speaking and
      writing.

      Here is my plan:
      1. Divide students into group of 3 or 4
      2. Present a Chinese joke to each group.
      3. Ask the students to retell the jokes in their own words,
      first in groups then in class. In English, of course.
      4. Discuss each joke in class. Why is it so funny? Identify
      the punch lines. What is the issue or the irony in the joke?
      5. Suppose you cracked this joke to a foreign friend, how
      would you continue your conversation related to the joke? What are
      the possible discussion topics?
      6. Write a short essay to discuss an issue related to the joke.


      Here is a joke I received through my cell phone and here is the
      English version the students need to come up with.

      *****One day a hen laid an enormous egg and made the headline. A
      lot of reporters and cameramen came and interviewed her. They
      asked, ¡°How could you possibly lay such a big egg?¡± The hen
      blushed and remained silent.
      At the moment, her husband came along. The rooster looked very
      angry and shouted at his wife, ¡°I am going to find that ostrich.¡±
      *****

      The joke is about the consequences of infidelity. More discussion in
      spoken and written English can start from here.
    • paul from the land downunder....
      ... i think the problem you face is that many jokes are rooted in culture and do not easily translate into other languages with the same effectiveness.
      Message 2 of 7 , May 28, 2004
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        tesolwang@... wrote:

        > It¡¯s been a frustrating experience for me to crack jokes in an ESL
        > classroom. My students seldom laughed. Nevertheless, I think we
        > should use Chinese jokes to teach English ¨C for both speaking and
        > writing.

        i think the problem you face is that many jokes are rooted in culture
        and do not easily translate into other languages with the same
        effectiveness. humorous stories i think would be more effective. dave
        kees wrote several weeks ago about his method of starting a class with a
        dave letterman style intro involving a funny story about himself. this
        can be particularly effective in a cross cultural situation when you
        highlight your inadequacy in coming to task with the local culture and
        its effects on you - providing you are lighthearted - the locals are
        usually tickled pink by these sorts of stories.

        also you might find something as harmless as your chicken and ostrich
        joke might not be so acceptable given the connotations of infidelity to
        a young audience in china. modernity is prevalent in the big cities,
        postmodern thought is in its infancy. the three social taboos of sex,
        religion and politics requires some caution when dealing with these
        subjects with people in china whom you are not personally familiar with.

        paul
      • Bruce Prince
        Hi Simon IMHO, it is a brave soul who attempts to tell jokes to Chinese people. It isn t that they don t have a sense of humour, but it is vastly different
        Message 3 of 7 , May 28, 2004
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          Hi Simon

          IMHO, it is a brave soul who attempts to tell jokes to Chinese people. It
          isn't that they don't have a sense of humour, but it is vastly different
          from ours.

          As for your hen story ...

          Bruce Prince


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: simonsailsaway

          It's been a frustrating experience for me to crack jokes in an ESL
          classroom. My students seldom laughed. Nevertheless, I think we
          should use Chinese jokes to teach English ¨C for both speaking and
          writing.
        • fshdt
          I use humour a lot in the classroom. smiling and laughter release opiates and thus are an important motivating factor for students. Associating pleasant
          Message 4 of 7 , May 28, 2004
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            I use humour a lot in the classroom. smiling and laughter release
            opiates and thus are an important motivating factor for students.
            Associating pleasant stimuli with language learning keeps learners coming.

            The type of humour tends to be shared jokes based on the immediate
            environment of events in the classroom. This gives a context lacking
            in recounted jokes and sidesteps most cultural misunderstandings.
            Jokes are usually in the form of simple word play and/or irony. They
            shouldn't be laboured or forced but they don't have to be subtle. A
            fast cheery "good evening" to a late comer and then back to the lesson
            immediately would be one example.

            What the teacher is doing here is using representational language,
            language where the meaning needs interpretation and is not direct.
            It's not difficult for the learner to see that "Good evening" in this
            context means "You are late for my class and I disapprove but I'm not
            particularly angry about it". I've long been of the opinion that
            representational language is not given enough weight in current
            language teaching and now that I've finally got round to reading
            Dunbar's "Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language" I find a few
            more reasons to push more representation that tie in with the work of
            Guy Cook, Carter, McRae, McCarthy and the others.

            Biggs and Watkins in (I think) "the Chinese Learner" did a bit of
            research that threw up the finding that HK learners see English as a
            cold language. Well, they would if their learning experience is of
            English for the transmission of information. If social bonding, or
            "language grooming" is a major function of language then small wonder
            many Chinese learners find English not very satisfying as a language.
            They can pass information about but they can't groom.

            Dick
          • John Ball
            I have to say I try. One of the best laughs I have had was when one of the students asked what other experience I had teaching English. I said that I had
            Message 5 of 7 , May 28, 2004
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              I have to say I try. One of the best laughs I have
              had was when one of the students asked what other
              experience I had teaching English.

              I said that I had worked with Dutch, German and
              American people in an English speaking office and
              enjoyed teaching them English it drew hoots of
              laughter. It's funny I didn't think they would get
              it.

              Some of them were going to a talk on American culture
              and I pointed out that it was hardly worth the
              professor coming for such a short talk.

              I tried the subtle quote

              "A lecture is a way of passing information from the
              notes of the lecturer to the notes of the student
              without passing through the minds of either"

              One of my favourites. They got it but it took a while
              for the penny to drop.

              I mentioned that people in England joke about stapling
              ten pound notes (GBP 10) to their exam papers in order
              to pass and they got that one.

              Another one is where someone is looking out the window
              at a boy or a girl and you stare out trying to see who
              it is. Half the class stare out leading to red faces
              all round.

              There was the time a police car raced passed the
              college with all sirens blazing and everyone looked a
              bit worried so I said

              "It's OK he's not coming in here"

              after it went past which they thought was funny.

              But seriously and I mean this most sincerely folks it
              is a major milestone in foreign language learning if
              you can get jokes. I know it was for me when I was
              learning Dutch and one of my colleagues made a joke
              about his mother-in-law.

              John Ball,
              Shaoxing
            • dk
              Using jokes in any foreign land, not just China, is a hit and miss proposition. A Chinese English teacher once translated into English for me the funniest joke
              Message 6 of 7 , May 29, 2004
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                Using jokes in any foreign land, not just China, is a hit and miss
                proposition. A Chinese English teacher once translated into English for me
                the funniest joke he knew. While he was rolling on the floor laughing I was
                trying to figure it out. I never did.

                Dave Kees
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                Guangzhou | Reflective teaching in China | www.davekees.com
              • simonsailsaway
                My lesson plan here teaches the Chinese students how to crack jokes and amuse English-speaking audience. And the premise is that cracking jokes in English can
                Message 7 of 7 , May 31, 2004
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                  My lesson plan here teaches the Chinese students how to crack jokes
                  and amuse English-speaking audience. And the premise is that
                  cracking jokes in English can impress the foreign friends and
                  improve the quality of communication.

                  We might or might not make the foreigners laugh. But going through
                  the process can be instructive and enlightening. And the humorous
                  materials might wake up some of my students who are so apathetic or
                  sadated.

                  Simon




                  --- In TEFLChina@yahoogroups.com, "simonsailsaway" <tesolwang@v...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > It¡¯s been a frustrating experience for me to crack jokes in an
                  ESL
                  > classroom. My students seldom laughed. Nevertheless, I think we
                  > should use Chinese jokes to teach English ¨C for both speaking and
                  > writing.
                  >
                  > Here is my plan:
                  > 1. Divide students into group of 3 or 4
                  > 2. Present a Chinese joke to each group.
                  > 3. Ask the students to retell the jokes in their own words,
                  > first in groups then in class. In English, of course.
                  > 4. Discuss each joke in class. Why is it so funny? Identify
                  > the punch lines. What is the issue or the irony in the joke?
                  > 5. Suppose you cracked this joke to a foreign friend, how
                  > would you continue your conversation related to the joke? What
                  are
                  > the possible discussion topics?
                  > 6. Write a short essay to discuss an issue related to the joke.
                  >
                  >
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