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Is English Humour an Education?

November 21, 2012
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Thoughts From The Corner

Being an English tutor to a foreign student can be fun.

So much fun, in fact, that I thought I would try to further integrate the foreign gentleman into British society by looking at our humour. I thought that Christmas cracker jokes would be a good place to start – Big Mistake!

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Chritmas cracker

I started with:

What do you call two robbers?

A pair of knickers!

Having discussed what a ‘robber’ was, we moved on to the word ‘pair’ and finally arrived at ‘knickers’. Attempting to describe someone who robs is also some who ‘nicks’ (but the student probably wouldn’t use it anyway because it was slang) found me in a mess and my student totally confused. Judging by the start to this lesson my poor student would never be integrated into British society.

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With typically British ‘stiff upper lip’ I marched on to hit him with:

Why do pixies wear hard hats?

Because of elfin safety.

The great British love affair with garden gnomes and our obsessive pre-occupation with ‘Health and Safety’ took some explaining! The more I tried to explain the deeper the hole I dug. . .

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Garden gnome with wheelbarrow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not to be deterred, I searched through my joke sheet for one that I hoped would my student would understand and somewhat restore my battered credibility.

What do you call a fish without eyes?


Oh dear. He looked at me with a certain amount of sympathy before I tried:

Two fish in a tank. 

One says to the other, ‘How do you drive this thing?’

We had previously touched on the confusing topic of ‘homophones’, so by the time I had explained the dual meaning of ‘tank’ we were part-way to a smile.

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Deciding to really ‘push the boat out’ and give it one last fling I tried the old playground favourite:

What’s yellow and smells of bananas?

Monkey sick.

After explaining that the monkey was not ill and that ‘sick’ meant vomit, he went to his online dictionary to translate the word ‘vomit’. He looked a the screen with a dour expression and a certain amount of incredulity for a few seconds  before bursting out into a raucous laugh and guffawed for what seemed an eternity.

Who says private English tuition is a waste of money!

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One Comment
  1. LOL! The English language with it’s many variations can be confusing enough to the natives. How bold of you to try to introduce humor through alternate meanings. Glad you finally broke through. LOL!

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