Activities with Humor by Hall Houston
The activities in this article all have one element in common: provoking laughter in students. These activities are superb for providing a change of pace or helping students relax during an exam period.
Put students into pairs. Tell them to choose roles, A and B. For the next minute, A has to do everything he/ she can think of to get B to laugh. B, meanwhile, must face A and try not to smile or laugh. Next, get them to switch roles. Round things off by inviting the most outrageously funny student to try to get you to laugh.
Assign a topic you think your students will find amusing, such as “6 things that smell terrible” or “5 ridiculous excuses for not doing homework”. Give them a few minutes to write, then call on a few students to read out their lists.
The Worst Sentence Competition
Give students 5 minutes to compose the worst English sentence they can think of. When the 5 minutes are up, ask each student to read out their sentence. Finally, ask the class to vote on the worst sentence.
Who Said It?
Select a sentence from your coursebook. Repeat it a few times with your students. Next, ask students to stand in a circle, with one student in the middle. The student in the middle must shut his/her eyes. Meanwhile, the students in the outside circle move around and change places. One student calls out the sentence you have chosen, disguising his/her voice as much as possible, while the student in the middle keeps his/her eyes closed. The student in the center must guess who read out the sentence. If the guess is correct, the two students switch places. If not, the activity continues with the original student still in the middle.
Announce to the class that you will have a visitor from a faraway country (or planet if you wish). Tell everyone to write three questions they wish to ask the guest. Circulate and make sure everyone is preparing questions. Set up two chairs in front of the class. After a few minutes, choose two students to go outside and help you welcome the guest. Once you have left the classroom, tell your two students that they will be participating in a special activity. One will play the visitor, and the other will be an interpreter. The visitor cannot speak English, so must speak some random sounds mimicking a foreign language. The translator must also speak this “language” and help the students communicate with the guest. Return to the classroom with the interpreter. Tell everyone that your guest cannot speak English, but fortunately, this student is fluent in the visitor’s language, so he/she will help translate. Now encourage students to ask questions. After the visitor has answered a few questions (with the help of the interpreter), ask the two students to find replacements to take their roles. Repeat 3 or 4 times.
Hall Houston teaches at Kainan University in Taoyuan County, Taiwan. His articles have been published in periodicals such as It’s for Teachers, Modern English Teacher and English Teaching Professional. He has written 3 books: The Creative Classroom: Teaching Languages Outside the Box, Provoking Thought: Memory and Thinking in ELT, and The ELT Daily Journal: Learning to Teach ESL/EFL.