Humor / Humour in the TEFL Classroom

Using Humor (or Humour) in the classroom is always good and a good joke can really make a difference.

It’s an excellent way of breaking the ice with your students, getting the class relaxed and generally fostering a friendly atmosphere to work in.

However, don’t over do it – you’re a teacher not a stand-up comedian – and be careful with the jokes you use. Some students are easy to take offense and since jokes are often made at the expense of an individual or type, you should try to ensure that they do not alienate or offend anyone in the classroom.

This is especially true when you are working in a foreign culture: it’s sometimes difficult to understand that what you may find amusing someone else will find offensive.

Telling Jokes (Word Play)

Often jokes will find their humor in word play – puns‏‎ and so forth. This can be useful to the English language teacher as they can be used to explain a particular item of vocabulary‏‎ or grammar. For example, take a look at this joke:

This office is closed today because of illness… I’m SICK of work!

Walking into a beginners‏‎ class and writing this on the board will probably be met with silence and no one understanding what is happening. However if you have been discussing the subject and the way in which a word like sick can refer to both being ill and being fed up then your students will understand.

Don’t forget though, analyzing a joke like we did above often removes its humor!

So… before telling a joke make sure that

  1. the students know the vocabulary and any word play
  2. the joke is of the right language level (of course you can simplify them as required)
  3. it is not offensive to anyone

Remember, you can often change the tense of a joke to suit the occasion:

A horse walks into a bar. “Why the long face?” asks the barman.
A horse walked into a bar. “Why the long face?” asked the barman.

And finally, don’t dismiss the idea of bad jokes: a groan from your class means they have understood what you have said and have enjoyed it!

Joke List

These jokes are fairly innocuous; however make sure that they are suitable for your class and will not offend anyone before you trot them out!

Some employees bought their boss a gift for his birthday. Before opening the gift, the boss shook it slightly, and noticed that it was wet in the corner. Touching his finger to the wet spot and tasting it, he asked, “A bottle of wine?”

His employees replied, “No.”

Again, he touched his finger to the box and tasted the liquid. “A bottle of scotch?”

His employees replied again, “No.”

Finally the boss asked, “I give up. What is it?”

His workers responded, “A puppy.”


Q: Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?

A: Yes I am, I married the wrong man.


A man is talking to God.

The man: “God, how long is a million years?”

God: “To me, it’s about a minute.”

The man: “God, how much is a million dollars?”

God: “To me it’s a penny.”

The man: “God, may I have a penny?”

God: “Ok, I’ll give it to you in a minute.”


Teacher: Tell me a sentence that starts with an “I”.

Student: I is the…

Teacher: Stop! Never put ‘is’ after an “I”. Always put ‘am’ after an “I”.

Student: OK. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.


Two cows are standing in a field.

One says to the other “Are you worried about Mad Cow Disease?”

The other one says “No, It doesn’t worry me, I’m a horse!”

Two cows are standing in a field.

The first cow says, “Mooo!”

The second cow goes, “Baaaa!”

The first cow says, “What was that?”

The second cow says, “Oh, nothing. Just practicing my foreign languages.”


Q: What do you call a boomerang that won’t come back?

A: A stick.


Q: What travels around the world and stays in a corner?

A: A stamp.


Write this one up on the board!
Q: What do you call a pig with three eyes?

A: A piiig.

What do you call a fish without an eye?

A fsh!


Q: What did the ocean say to the beach?

A: Nothing, it just waved!


A man inserted an advertisement in the classifieds: “Wife wanted”.

The next day he received a hundred letters. They all said the same thing: “You can have mine.”


Teacher: Today, we’re going to talk about the tenses. Now, if I say “I am beautiful,” which tense is it?

Student: Obviously it is the past tense.


Q: What is orange and sounds like parrot?

A: A carrot


Q: Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State Building?

A: Yes, because the Empire State Building can’t jump!

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Posted in How To Teach English.

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