Learn while you laugh

Humour is important in learning a language. Not only does it enable the student to learn new vocabulary in context but it also is a motivating force. When a student understands a joke she begins to feel like she is in the world of the new language. Puns are especially valuable because they stress meaning. We’ll give a few jokes and puns as examples and hoope that they will move other teachers to use this powerful resource.


Puns usually make people groan. They say that for a pun to be good, it has to be really bad. As a matter of fact, they are called “groaners”. A pun is a little word game, playing with language. Most puns use a word that has two meanings, or use two words that sound almost the same.

Here are some puns.

Why is an empty purse always the same?

Because there is never any change in it. In this pun, the word “change” has two meanings: 1. coins and small bills, 2. alteration.

Do you know why it’s easy for a hunter to find a leopard? Because a leopard is always spotted.

“To spot”, verb: to see, to identify. “spotted”, adjective: with spots.

The principal called the young cross-eyed teacher into his office. “I’m sorry to say, Ms Jones, we’re going to have to let you go.” “But why, sir? I thought I was doing a good job.” “It’s simple,” said the principal, “you can’t control your pupils.”.

Of course, the word “pupil” could refer to a student or to the middle of the iris of the eye..


Those were puns, now for a few jokes

First Joke: A police officer stops a woman for speeding and asks her very nicely if he could see her licence.

She replies in a huff, “I wish you guys would get your act together. Just yesterday you take away my licence and then today you expect me to show it to you!”

Vocabulary and expresssions: “In a huff”: annoyed; “get your act together”: get organised

Second joke: Recently, a distraught wife went to the local police station, along with her next-door neighbour, to report that her husband was missing. The policeman asked for a description of the missing man.

The wife said, “He is 35 years old, 6 foot 2, has dark eyes, dark wavy hair, an athletic build, weighs 185 pounds, is soft-spoken, and is good to the children.”

The next-door neighbour protested, “Your husband is 54 years old, 5 foot 6, chubby, weighs 275 pounds, is bald, has a big mouth, and is mean to your children.”

The wife replied, “Yes, but who wants HIM back?”

Vocabulary and expresssions:

Hubby: popularform of “husband”, spouse

Distraught: stressed, very worried

Chubby: slightly fat

Mean: In this context, strict, severe, even a little cruel

Bald: no hair

Next-door neighbour: the person who lives in the house to one side of yours

If you share the belief that puns and jokes are good ways to help learners of English, you can enter “esl puns” or “esl joke” in Google to find many sites.