INTERNET HUMOR AND CLASSROOM LANGUAGE LEARNING: EFFECTS ON LANGUAGE PERFORMANCE
The possibilities of using humor strategies to increase content learning, positive attitudes and student satisfaction in the classroom has been widely debated, and its effects are usually considered to be positive because of their influence on reduced anxiety and increased motivation (Banas, Dunbar, Rodriguez, & Liu, 2011; Berk, 2002; Bryant, Alan, Silberberg, & Elliott, 1981; Garner, 2006). This study uses online audiovisual linguistic humor in the second language classroom, and evaluates its effects on self-reported student satisfaction, and perceived learning.
30 monolingual Spanish students of English as a foreign language participated in the study. They were enrolled in an intermediate English language course in secondary school and reported that they had not spent more than two months in an English-speaking country. They were divided into two groups of 15 students, and one of them was the control group.
We selected the jokes from Youtube, which is the most popular source for internet audiovisual material (Shifman, 2012; Silva & Garcia, 2012; Thelwall, Sud, & Vis, 2012). We used the keywords “jokes”, “most popular jokes” and “most common jokes” and selected a sample of 30 jokes in different videos. Only 20 jokes were finally included in the experiment, and the speakers were all speakers of American English, since it was the native dialect of the majority of videos found. 20 fragment of music with a similar duration were used in the control group.
The majority of students reported that the jokes increased their satisfaction more than the music fragments. 71% of students agreed that the jokes increased their satisfaction as opposed to a 56% of students who reported that the music fragments had increased their satisfaction. Regarding perceived learning, 68% of students reported that the jokes had improved their learning, and a 73% of students in the control group reported that the music fragment had improved their learning.
These preliminary results suggest that internet humor may be an interesting strategy to improve classroom satisfaction, but it is unclear whether it may be important for learning. A language test will be included in future studies to assess whether perceived learning correlates positively with results in proficiency tests.
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