How to use jokes in the Classroom

Everyone loves jokes. They can be an invaluable source of entertainment and an excellent vehicle for presenting language in context and promoting genuine communication while having a laugh.




  •   Just say the word ‘joke’ and they’re ready to listen
  •   To motivate students to listen, read, write …
  •   Can be a gateway to understanding new cultures
  •   To create a relaxed learning atmosphere
  •   They provide exposure to authentic language and genuine communication
  •   Students learn without realising
  •   As a vehicle for language study (many jokes are rule-governed)
  •   To break the ice or liven up a dull moment
  •   For fun. Everyone loves jokes!!



  1. Prediction. Leave the punch line out and get students to predict it. You can have this as a race too.
  2. Leave out the punch line and provide a choice of possible punch lines to choose from. You can also have this as a race.
  3. Groups compete to match the two halves of a number of jokes. The first one to match them all correctly wins.
  4. Cut one joke up in different parts or lines and give each to a different student. Students work out the order and physically arrange themselves in the correct order.
  5. Divide a number of jokes (preferably two-line jokes) in two halves and give one half to each student in class. Students then walk around the room trying to find their matching half.
  6. Students listen to the joke and identify the stressed words or syllables. They then practice telling it. Good for stress and intonation practice.
  7. Put a joke up on the board or OHP and leave out the punch line or last few words. The first students to shout the correct answer earns a point. Riddles are good for this.
  8. Take a joke that involves different characters. Give different characters to different students. Then they act the joke out. This can be planned/discussed beforehand or improvised. They can take it even further by continuing the dialogue.
  9. Give out a number of jokes to groups or pairs of students. They discuss and agree on the wittiest, funniest, etc. Good for group discussion and negotiation of meaning.
  10. Tell a fairly long joke and ask pairs or groups of students to reconstruct it from memory on paper.
  11. Use a joke as a springboard for oral or written production. For example one of the ‘battle of the sexes’ jokes can easily lead into a debate or role-play.
  12. Use a joke that includes samples of the grammar you want to teach instead of a boring text in your course book … or adapt it so that it includes examples of that grammar!
  13. Mime a joke and ask students to guess it. Then they do the same in groups.
  14. Translation. Ask students to think of some jokes in their mother tongue that lend themselves to translation and some that don’t. Students then provide a translation of the first and an explanation of why they think the latter can’t be translated.
  15. Present a model joke that and ask students to invent new ones following the same structure.
  16. Students expand the story or dialogue in a joke to add a twist to it.
  17. Do not mention the relationship between the characters in the joke (doctor-patient, policeman-driver, etc.) and get students to guess.
  18. Play Jokes Bingo! Instead of numbers put punch lines from different jokes in the boxes. Teacher then reads the jokes without the punch lines. When students hear a joke they cross out the corresponding box.
  19. Give each student the first half of a joke (or a number of them) and stick the other halves on the walls around the classroom, behind chairs, etc. The aim of the activity is to find the corresponding half. You can turn this into a race with students playing individually or in teams.
  20. Build a bank of jokes over the course. Let students take initiative and add jokes to the existing bank every week. You can assign certain days of the month/term for students to update the bank and do activities with them.


You can incorporate Jokes into the classroom but some will be used in different ways for different levels.  Jokes that work perfectly well with one group of students sometimes are a complete failure with the next. In the end, it is up to you to decide which jokes are best for which students. At the end of each joke you will find an idea as to what you can use it to teach.

Below are some examples of jokes used in all the different levels of learning English.


“Look out! You’ve got your thumb in my soup!”

“Don’t worry. It isn’t very hot!”

Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party?
Because he had no-body to go with!

What did the traffic lights say to the car?
Don’t look now. I’m changing!


Teacher: Did your father help you with your homework?
Student: No, he did it all by himself.

Why did the bald man paint rabbits on his head?
Because from a distance they looked like hares!

Patient: Doctor, I have a pain in my eye whenever I drink tea.
Doctor: Take the spoon out of the mug before you drink.

Teacher: Do you have trouble making decisions?
Student: Well…yes and no


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.”


What’s a waste of energy?
Telling a hair-raising story to a bald man!

A driver was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. As the officer was writing the ticket, she noticed several machetes in the car. “What are those for?” she asked suspiciously. “I’m a juggler,” the man replied. “I use those in my act.” “Well show me,” the officer demanded. So he got out the machetes and started juggling them, first three, then more, finally seven at one time, overhand, underhand, behind the back, putting on a dazzling show and amazing the officer. Another car passed by. The driver did a double take, and said,”Holy Mother, I’ve got to give up the drink! Look at the test they’re giving now!”


Humour, whether in the form of jokes, riddles, puns, funny stories, humorous comments or other humorous items, builds a bond between the instructor and students; bridging the student-teacher gap by allowing students to view the instructor as more approachable. A number of researchers have found that humour is instrumental in creating an inviting classroom environment, reducing stress, improving attention, enhancing learning, creating a positive emotional and social environment, reducing anxiety, enhancing self-esteem, and increasing self-motivation.



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