Reconsidering language teaching through a focus on humor






Formal language education is often predicated on a series of modernist fictions that greatly simplify the nature of language and the process of communication. Acts of linguistic creativity involving humor and language play are frequently either ignored or considered deviant. In this paper, we contribute to ongoing efforts to re-conceptualize language education in ways that make use of more robust (and less modernist) theories of language and communication. We revisit calls for more pedagogical focus on humor and language play and illustrate how more attention to these types of language might help us to move away from some of the classroom fictions that currently constrain teachers and learners alike. Specifically, we present recent conceptions of language and of communication, and discuss how, in light of these, humor and language play can be used to increase learners’ metalinguistic awareness and expand their communicative/interpretive repertoires.

Author Biographies

Nancy Bell, Washington State University

Nancy Bell is an Associate Professor and coordinator of the ESL program in the English Department at Washington State University. Her research interests center mainly on the discourse analytic investigation of conversational humor and language play, especially with respect to second language users. Her work has appeared in such journals as Applied Linguistics, Humor: International Journal of Humor Studies, Journal of Pragmatics, Language Learning, and Intercultural Pragmatics. She is also the author of A Student’s Guide to the M.A. TESOL.

Anne Pomerantz, University of Pennsylvania

Anne Pomerantz is a Senior Lecturer in the Educational Linguistics program at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, where she teaches classes on language and identity, second language pedagogy, and intercultural communication. Her work has appeared in Applied Linguistics, Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, Journal of Language & Identity in Education, Journal of Language & Intercultural Communication, Modern Language Journal, and Multilingua.



How to Cite

Bell, N., & Pomerantz, A. (2014). Reconsidering language teaching through a focus on humor. EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 1(1), 31–47.



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