Why did the teacher cross the road? She was trying to get to some excellent lessons to celebrate National Humor Month this April.
Most people would agree that starting their days off with a laugh can make the whole day better, and April is a good time to try it with your students. National Humor Month gives us all a reason to laugh and celebrate humor in daily life, and here are some ways you can do just that in your ESL class today.
How to Celebrate National Humor Month This April
They say that laughter is good medicine. Perhaps some of your students have a story to tell which supports this parable, or maybe someone has evidence to support the contrary. You can give everyone in your class a chance to share when you make small conversation groups to discuss whether or not humor is good medicine. Ask each person to share his opinion and then give reasons to support his answer. Have your groups work together to list 10 ways laughter could improve a person’s health. Then using those answers, role-play with your class. Have one person play the part of someone who is sick (let the person choose his ailment) and have the other person make suggestions how humor or laughter might help him.
Read Up on Humor
If your class consists of adults, you may want to share this article with them on 19 Ways to Enhance Your Sense of Humor. The article offers advice like smiling more, writing funny captions on photographs, and reading the comics every day. After having your students read the article at home, pair each person with another student to discuss whether or not he thinks each of these suggestions would help improve someone’s sense of humor.
Then try some humor inducing activities with your class to celebrate the month. In your classroom, designate a bulletin board for funny comic strips. Encourage your students to read comics online or in the paper and cut out any they think are funny. Then post those comics on your bulletin board. Your students can read these during free periods during the school day. You can also bring in some silly pictures or, even better, pictures you have been taking of your students in class. Give everyone a set of photos and encourage them to write a funny caption at the bottom of the picture. Remind your students that they should use complete sentences, but they should also keep their captions short. Collect the captions and make copies of the best ones for your students to vote on. Who has the greatest sense of humor among your students?
Sometimes humor can be one of the best tools for relieving stress, and we are all familiar with what feeling stressed is like. You and your class can take some inspiration from the Red Nose Institute whose mission it is to help alleviate the stress of our military by sending red foam clown noses to troops overseas. The organization collects and purchases noses and sends them to military personnel serving our country. They encourage the service providers to share the nose with someone who might enjoy its frivolity. You can do the same with the students in your class. Give each person a red clown nose, a pair of groucho Marx glasses or some other silly item to either use themselves or pass along to someone who might need some cheering up. Then ask each of your students to note how others respond to them and their gifts. After everyone has given the funny item to someone else or worn it in public himself, bring your class back together to discuss how the silly item improved someone else’s day.
Who’s Laughing Now?
Several comedians have made their mark on American pop culture, and George Carlin is one of the better-known comics of our time. In this interview he offers on pbs.com, Carlin talks about how Danny Kay inspired him as an actor and a comedian. You can show your class the two-minute segment as an active listening exercise. The site provides a complete transcript of the two-minute interview with Carlin, which you can modify for a cloze listening exercise with your class. Simply copy the transcript into a text document and replace every fifth word with a blank line. Then challenge your students to fill in the blanks as they listen to the video. You may want to play it more than one time for your students. Then give them the complete transcript so they can check their answers. This exercise will test not only your students’ listening skills but also their overall grammatical knowledge. If your students respond well to the activity, pbs.org offers several interviews with comedians along with the transcripts of the interviews, and you can use them to make additional cloze exercises for your students.
Everybody likes to start the day off with a good laugh, so give your students a chance to take a closer look at what laughing and humor can offer our daily lives.
These activities will get them talking about humor and doing what they can to brighten their days as well as the days of others.
Do you have an exercise that centers around humor? Share it with us below.