The Laughing EFL Classroom: Potential Benefits and Barriers

  •  Robert Stroud    


The use of humor in EFL across the world has been widely discussed as an effective way to create a more comfortable, productive classroom environment in language learning. However, student-perceived benefits of both teacher and student-produced humor in the more specific context of a Japaneselanguage classroom have not been explored in any great detail. Two surveys of 104 Japanese high school students and a set of interviews revealedas expected positive feedback on general classroom humor usage, with noticeable positive effects perceived as improvements in retention, willingness to participation, enjoyment in learning and classroom atmosphere, as well as a lowering of anxiety.However, regardless of thisclear preference for humor inclusion in learning, several potential barriers were identified to help offer reasons why some students may not wish to use humor in class themselves. These included teacher disapproval, student confidence issues and language problems with being humorous in the L2. This study concludes with a suggested ten-step guideline for teachersto follow to harness humor as a potential catalyst for learningfor differing classes, based on this report’s findings.

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