Geoff Richards

Edutainment is back

Love it or loathe it - we're in the entertainment business


Love it or loathe it, as foreign English teachers we're in the entertainment business. And I strongly believe that bringing your own unique sense of humour to the classroom is essential at all levels.

We're the falang in the equation and unless we speak the local lingo, humour is how we communicate with and motivate our students.

I don't know about elsewhere in the country, but up here in Isaan it's not uncommon for students to complain about ‘boring' foreign teachers and for those people to lose their jobs.

While this may seem a little unfair don't forget that English is the only subject that isn't being learned in the first language. It's also compulsory so you've got to make it enjoyable and fun to study for the majority of students.

Cue the excuses.

But it isn't my style! So change it then, but not overnight otherwise your students may think that you've gone completely insane.

But I'm not funny! I'm sure that your family and closest friends might have something else to say about this.

But I don't know how to make students laugh! I would suggest that you do it in the same way that you do with your best buddies, minus anything explicit.

But my students are so serious! I wonder why?

But I tried it before and it didn't work! No, the specific thing/s didn't work and trying something once or twice is hardly making an effort to change your style.

But my school doesn't like it! Don't they now? I'm not sure that I'd want to work for such an outfit. These are children that we're talking about for crying out loud.

But... but nothing. You can do it. Just give yourself time and learn from your mistakes.

Keeping it simple and innocent always works best for me.

Knowing every students name and which ones are the funniest to publicly tease is essential.

What's that? You don't know all of your student's names? Here's what to do. Have your students bring up their textbooks, workbooks and notebooks and write their nicknames in large letters on the front of each with a permanent black marker pen. At least one of these books will usually be on their desks.

Moving swiftly on, always have a ready bank of games to play. Spend time going through the material on websites like Dave's ESL Café. Never ever do this ten minutes before your lesson starts because you have no time in which to consider how the game should work properly and what might go wrong.

Games are a great way to get student's brains working in English. And, in the rarity of having any ringleaders who say that they don't want to play games, have them copy the copyright crap from the inside front cover of their textbooks while the rest of the class enjoy themselves.

If they refuse to do that have them sit outside in the sun or report their disruptive behaviour to your head teacher. Problem solved. Over and out.

If you're still not sure about changing your style, post questions or concerns on websites like Ajarn Forum. Go with the good advice.

"There's no business like show business..."




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