A little laughter goes a long way, especially when it comes to puns. If a class can laugh together, they are likely to learn better together too. Apart from being fun, they can be very useful in the classroom. Puns are MUCH better than just telling a joke. Puns are a play on words and are dependent on the way the language is spelt or pronounced.
There are many ways you can use puns in the classroom. Personally, I do a “Pun of the day” at the beginning of the class. I think they’re great as a warm up and establish a relaxed atmosphere. I usually write the first half of the pun on the board, go through it and help them along by using hints. Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t but either way you´re sure to get a giggle out of them!
There are different types of puns:
Homophonic puns use words that sound alike but are different in spelling and meaning. Homophones are often confused and spelt incorrectly, even by native speakers. I think the most common being your/you’re and there/they’re/their so identifying homophones are good for learning both grammar and vocabulary.
Homographic puns make use of multiple meanings from a single spelling.
Reasons to have pun in the classroom
- Puns can be great for teaching new material or reviewing material previously taught. For example, I´ve previously had lessons about jobs and money then my pun would be something like this:
- Make students more aware of the language and the ambiguities.
- Discovering the double meaning pushes students to think beyond what they already know
- Tests listening comprehension
- Can make students aware of homographs and homophones
- It´s a way to transmit a spirit of a culture
- Understanding a pun is a sign of high proficiency in the language
- Gives students a chance to play and experiment with the language
When students are familiar with the types of puns you can even get students to create their own puns as an activity.