Learning with laughter: integrating humor into the adult ESL classroom





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A young man from the Czech Republic, whose English skills were very advanced, did not understand a joke that was told with a group of Americans. This inability to get the joke triggered my Capstone research on the interplay of humor, language and adult learning. The literature on language acquisition and adult learning attests to the benefits of using humor in the classroom. The adult English as a Second Language (ESL) field lacks material that integrates humor into the classroom. To fill this gap, adult ESL educators completed a survey and formed a focus group to report methods that use humor effectively as a language learning tool. Details of the difficulties in language and cultural knowledge when using humor were also relayed. The outcome of this Capstone project has been an increase of methods that integrate humor more effectively in the adult ESL classroom where many diverse students learn together.

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