Laughter is the Best Medicine

Teaching Tips from AE – Using Humor Part 2- Identifying and Using Humor with Knock-Knock Jokes

American English American English Teach and learn American English Welcome to Teaching Tips from American English In Part Two of this Teaching Tip topic, David and Stephen will explore two types of wordplay and how to teach students to identify and use humor with knock-knock jokes Welcome back, guys! Welcome back to Part Two of this Teaching Tips series Using Humor Thanks for joining. I’m Stephen and I’m happy to be here with you. And I’m Dave, and I’m looking forward to speaking with you today about identifying and using humor with knock-knock jokes. Let’s get started! Did you miss Part One of the series where we talked about some reasons for using humor in the language classroom? Be sure to check it out by clicking on the link here. Here are today’s goals: First, we will examine two different types of humor, and then we’ll examine how to help students identify and use humor with knock-knock jokes. Using humor can be fun. Humor in the language classroom thus lends itself to word play, which is when we play with the form or meaning of words and phrases. Two examples of word play are puns and riddles. Let’s talk about puns. In general, puns are a special form of humor based on double meanings. So, it is important to emphasize that every pun has two meanings that coexist or co-occur at the same time. These two meanings are signaled by words that sound very similar, sound the same, or look the same. Dave! Yeah? What kind of flower grows on your face? What kind of flower grows on your face? Hmm…tulips! That’s a great answer. Two lips. Ok, so this is a pun that is playing on the idea of flowers and something that can grown on your face. Now, the double meaning is the flower, called tulips, and the phrase “two lips” on your face. These words sound the same. Dave… Yep? What kind of bird is found at a construction site? Hm…I don’t know. A crane! Okay, so, this one deals with words that look the same. The crane at a construction site is spelled the same as the bird whose name is a crane. Ah- I’ve got it! Now, we have discussed puns, so let’s look at riddles, which are the second type of wordplay. We define riddles as cultural and linguistic puzzles. Typically, the answer to the riddle is funny because it is unexpected. It requires seeing something differently, and it also may involve using words differently. Stephen, here’s a riddle for you. What is brown and sticky? Hmmm- brown and sticky. I don’t know. A stick! Ha! This is a riddle because brown and sticky are typically adjectives, but we are changing the meaning of sticky to mean something that is like a stick. Ah- so sticky or stick-like. Now, how about another riddle, Steven? What has a face, two hands, but no arms or legs? Hmm- I think I got it. Is it a clock? That’s right! Good job. So, again, we have a riddle playing with the words face, hands, arms. A clock has a face, two hands, a big hand and a little hand, but no arms. Now that we have talked about two types of humor a language teacher can use in the classroom, such as puns and riddles, we will now explain how teachers can teach students to identify humor. The purpose of identifying humor is to build students’ ability to recognize it, even if they may not understand it. How does a teacher do this? First, they can ask students to analyze scripted examples of humor, and also ask students this question: How is humor being signaled in this example? One such example is a knock-knock joke. That’s right, Dave. Knock-knock jokes contain a fixed structure. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Some noun. Noun who? And then the punchline. A punchline is the final phrase or sentence of the joke that provides the humor. Here are two examples of knock-knock jokes. First, Knock, knock. Who’s there? Cow says… Cow says “who?” No, silly. A cow says “moo!” Ha! This joke plays on the word “who,” which sounds a lot like the sound cows make. Moo! Therefore, this joke is a pun and plays on the double meaning of two words that sound very similar. Let’s look at another example of a knock-knock joke. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Boo! Boo, who? Don’t cry, it’s just me. Ha! This joke comes from the play on the word “boo,” and the sound that a baby makes when it cries- boo hoo. Those are great examples, Steven. Knock-knock jokes are great for all levels of language learners. Teachers can use them as transitions between stories, activities, or tests. They are used because of their shared humor. Knock-knock jokes can help build rapport, anticipate fun, you can also capture attention. Here’s one activity that any teacher can use. There are four steps to this activity. First, teachers should provide students with examples of knock-knock jokes. Second, teachers can provide empty frames of knock-knock jokes. Thirdly, students can then work in pairs to think of nouns plus who that will create a funny knock-knock joke. And finally, students tell their jokes to each other. After this, students will most likely need to explain their jokes to each other, which will create another meaningful language interaction. Here’s a worksheet that we have adapted for our English language classroom. Take a moment to pause here to take a closer look at it. Summing up, today we have talked about how using humor in the English language classroom lends itself to wordplay. We also presented two examples of wordplay: puns and riddles. We also discussed how to help your students identify and use humor with knock-knock jokes. Thanks so much for joining us today. Be sure to check out all the great Teaching Tip videos on the American English youtube channel. To check out other great Teaching Tip videos, be sure to subscribe to our American English youtube channel. You can find resources for teachers on the American English website by clicking on the link listed here, and if you haven’t already, be sure to “like” us on the American English for Educators Facebook page.

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