The Use of Humourous Texts in Improving ESL Learners’ Vocabulary Comprehension and Retention

  •  Nursyafiqah Zabidin    


Successful language acquisition requires extensive word knowledge. However, learners are reportedly unable to increase their word knowledge due to insufficient meaningful input in the language classrooms. This paper intended to present another tool to encourage learners’ vocabulary development. It examined the effect(s) of using short narrative jokes on ESL learners’ word comprehension and retention. The study involved an experiment in which two intact groups of tertiary students attended four reading sessions. In each reading session, before they began reading, the participants were given a vocabulary test (pre-test) to measure vocabulary recognition of the target words. The experimental group was then exposed to short humourous text while the control group was exposed to comparable non-humourous text. After each reading session, the participants were given immediate vocabulary test (post-test 1) to measure vocabulary comprehension. After a week, the participants were given delayed vocabulary test (post-test 2) to measure vocabulary retention. The participants’ gain scores were assessed by comparing their post-test 1 to pre-test score. Lastly, the gain scores and scores in delayed vocabulary test of the two groups were compared using t test. The findings of this study indicated that humour could relatively influence word comprehension and retention. One of its implications is for language teachers to include humour in vocabulary teaching and learning.

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