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Laugh your Head Off

They say laughter is the best medicine. It can help you get through an illness. It can help you grieve a loss. It can even cure depression. A laugh a day keeps the doctor away, but can it also help you learn English?

Imagine an English class that was completely based on comedy. Is this laughable? It might go something like this:

9:00: Enter class. Read joke of the day on the board. Laugh a little. It wasn’t that funny, but you cracked a smile.

9:10: Share cartoons you found on the Internet or an English paper . (You did your homework, right?) Which student brought in the best comic? Take a class vote. If no one thinks your cartoon was funny, don’t take it personally. Laugh it off. Maybe they don’t get it.

9:30: Time to warm up your English vocal chords. Choose a partner. Try to make your partner laugh. Tell funny stories. Make funny faces. Switch partners each time you succeed in making your partner laugh out loud. A good belly laugh will help your friend forget his troubles.

10:00: Find some funny photos online. Write stories or captions for funny photos.  Check out funny Engrish. Help each other understand why the mistakes are so funny. Laugh your head off. Make a plan to bring in your own funny photos. Write out the rules for a funny photo contest.

10: 30: Break time. Have a tickle fight as you wait in line for your coffee or sandwich. Tell a joke to the girl or guy behind the counter. Will she crack a smile? If she likes your joke, you might make her day. The other guests will get a kick out of it too.

10: 45: Silent reading. Only funny books allowed. It’s Roald Dahl month, so you could pick any book from his collection. George’s Marvelous Medicine is a hilarious read. The Twits or The Witches will also crack you up.

11: 15: Describe the funniest part that you read. Read a paragraph out loud to a small group in your class. Whose excerpt is funnier? Do you need a laugh-o-metre?

12:00: Lunch time. Play with your food. Have a food fight. Just kidding. Take a break from laughing. You don’t want to bust a gut. Do something serious. Play a card game with your friends. Try not to laugh.

1:00: Watch something funny in class with your teacher. Watch episodes of Whose line is it Anyway? on YouTube or scenes from a Jim Carrey movie. Watch Faulty Towers. Have a contest. Who can find the funniest YouTube clip? If all else fails, watch and describe Mr. Bean videos. Email this link to your teacher: Mr. Bean worksheets

1:30: Make your own funny movies in the computer lab or on your laptops. Use Dvolver or  another movie maker. Share your movies with friends.

2:30: Just for Fun: Get out a piece of paper and write your name on it. Turn the paper over and close your eyes. Draw a picture of yourself with your eyes closed. Don’t look at it. Pass it to your teacher. Your teacher will hold up all of the pictures one at a time. Can you guess who the self-portraits are? Laugh yourself silly.

3:00: It’s time to write chain fairytales. Everyone needs to take out a piece of paper. When the teacher says “go” write the first sentence of a story (e.g. Once upon a time there was a frog with wings). Pass your paper on to the next person. Read the sentence you received and write the second sentence. Continue until the papers have made it around the class at least once. Read the stories out loud. Correct the English together. Read the stories again. You are all comedians!

4:00: Is it time to go home yet? Your stomach muscles may be a little sore from laughing so hard. Sit alone on the bus or train. Be as serious as possible. Try not to think about your day. You might look like a fool if you think about something funny that happened and end up laughing out loud. The person beside you might say, “What’s so funny?” Don’t keep it to yourself. Share the laughter around.


Do you love to laugh? Join the group Joke and Game on MyEC. If you have a funny joke, share it in the comments below.

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | September 2010
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.

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