Humor and Foreign Language Teaching in a Multicultural Environment

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According to Pina (2014), humor is rarely present in classrooms. However, “whether in the business world, whether in health or education, there are now several scientific studies that prove the benefits of humor in the most varied areas”, proving that humor is “an important teaching tool that facilitates students' learning ”(Idem: 9). The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) associates the mastery of the humorous uses of the language with proficient C1 users. Considering the difficulty of mastering humor in a foreign language, I will debate strategies designed to provide students with autonomy in understanding humor, developed in a multicultural environment with university students at C1 level of Portuguese. The students were exposed to a variety of oral texts (radio broadcasts, sketches, and videos) and written texts (humor columns with a critical intent), with a strong multimodal component, from which they undertook oral and written comprehension activities. The work carried out allowed not only the appropriation of elements of the Portuguese and Lusophone cultures but also the contact with different registers (formal and informal) and linguistic varieties (European and Brazilian Portuguese), allowing access to “a considerable degree of slang and idiomatic usage” (CEFR 2001: 71, 122) and developing critical awareness among learners. As Bouguerra (2007: 380) states humor didactization, namely its “aesthetic-ludic-referential function represents more of a priority than an excess of luxury”, far from being mere entertainment. These activities were remarkably successful during the pandemic, with students reporting that these exercises have helped them to face isolation more positively.

Bouguerra, Tayeb. (2007). Humour et didactique des langues : pour le développement d'une compétence esthético-ludico-référentielle. Ela. Études de linguistique appliquée, 3(147), 365-382.
Council of Europe. (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.
Pina, João Aragão e. (2014). Comunicar com humor. Insensatez ou profissionalismo?. Pactor.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
EventSustainable Multilingualism - Kaunas, Lithuania
Duration: 4 Jun 20215 Jun 2021


ConferenceSustainable Multilingualism


  • Humor as a pedagogical tool
  • Humor and language teaching
  • Shared culture
  • Language and culture
  • Portuguese as a foreign language


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