Humor and Play in Language Classroom Interaction: A Review of the Literature

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Elizabeth Reddington


The past two decades have seen a growing interest in the role of humor and play in secondlanguage (L2) learning and teaching. Vega (1990) went as far as to propose viewing humor as a fifth element of communicative competence; more recently, Cook (2000) has argued that language play should be regarded as “both a means and an end of language learning” (p. 204). Teachers have, in fact, long been advised to introduce elements of humor and play into the language classroom (e.g., Holmes, 1980; Schmitz, 2002; Trachtenberg 1979). However, as Bell (2009, 2011, 2013) has pointed out, such recommendations have largely been based on assumptions and intuitions rather than empirical research. Studies of specific pedagogical interventions have generally been lacking (Bell, 2013).

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