Humor and parodies in the foreign language classroom



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This paper examines the use of humor in the foreign language classroom. Humor is an essential part of culture and a sociolinguistic phenomenon that speaks to the uniqueness of a language and culture. Thus, I argue that an application of humor as an educational objective as well as an educational strategy in the foreign language classroom is valuable in order to lower learners' anxiety and to foster language learning through an increase in culture and humor competences and critical thinking skills. First, I define humor and explore its linguistic functions as well as psychological features and effects that need to be understood to make humor an integral part of a foreign language learning setting. My theoretical research is primarily based on Raskin's Semantic Sript-based Theory of Humor and general theories of incongruity and ambiguity. I further illustrate the effects of using humor in the classroom with psychological research and Krashen's affective filter theory. I then relate the effects of humor to the National Standards of Foreign Language Learning (1996). Eventually in a case study I demonstrate how parodies, as a specific type of humor, can be implemented in the foreign language environment. This is done through the examination of the German film parody "Sieben Zwerge" and it supports my argument that humor deserves an autonomous place in foreign language education as an educational objective and strategy. Finally, I discuss pedagogical recommendations. This paper explores the opportunities and effects of an incorporation of humor in the foreign language classroom.