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This paper attempted to investigate the instructor's perception of humor and its use in the teaching of English as a foreign language at the University of Bahrain (UoB). To that end, a survey was given to 30 native and non-native English speaking instructors in the English Language Centre as well as in the English Department at UoB. The findings revealed that there was an agreement among the instructors in that humour has an undeniable role to play in lowering the affective filter by creating an enjoyable and convenient atmosphere and also in contributing positively to making language learning easier and more effective. This finding clearly supports earlier research in other studies such as Deneire (1995) and Tuncay (2007), among others, which provided evidence about the benefits of the employment of pedagogical humour. However, the participating instructors seemed to be unsure about how humour is to be implemented in English language teaching. Based on the results of the present study and those of other studies make it necessary for course book and material designers acknowledge this benefit of humor, not only for lowering the affective filter but also as a useful language teaching tool of targeted linguistic features. In view of this positive result, which represents only part of the overall picture, there is a need to complete it by further research that examines humour in actual teaching and evaluates its impact on learning of specific language features and on English language learning as a whole.
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  editor@iaset.uswww.iaset.us HUMOUR AS USED AND PERCEIVED BY INSTRUCTORS IN EFL TEACHING AT THEUNIVERSITY OF BAHRAIN  Nuri R. Ageli  Department of English Language & Literature, College of Arts,University of Bahrain,Bahrain  ABSTRACT  This paper attempted to investigatethe instructor's perceptionofhumorand its use in theteaching of English asa foreign languageat the University of Bahrain (UoB).To that end, a survey was given to 30 native and non-native Englishspeakinginstructorsin the English Language Centre as well as inthe English Department at UoB.The findings revealed that there was an agreement among theinstructorsin that humour has an undeniable role to play in lowering the affective filter by creating an enjoyable and convenient atmosphere and also in contributing positively to making language learningeasier and more effective.This finding clearly supportsearlierresearch in other studies such as Deneire (1995) and Tuncay (2007),among others, whichprovided evidence about the benefits of the employment of pedagogical humour. However, the participatinginstructorsseemed to be unsure about how humour is to be implementedinEnglish languageteaching.Based on the results of the present study and those of other studies make it necessary for course book and material designersacknowledgethis benefit ofhumor,not only for lowering the affective filter but also as a usefullanguage teaching tool of targeted linguistic features. In view of this positive result, which represents only part of theoverall picture, there is a need to complete it by further research that examines humour in actual teaching and evaluatesits impact on learning of specific language features and on English language learning as a whole.  KEYWORDS:  Humour,Ambiguity,Teaching,Learning,Motivation  Article History Received:17Feb2018| Revised:03Mar2018| Accepted:06Mar 2018 INTRODUCTION Since the introduction of the grammar translation method in the19 th centuryand the subsequent methods,the development ofapproaches and techniquesforimproving theteaching and learning languageshave never ceased tofind and implement the most effective ways that learners, teachers and curriculum designers can adopt in order to give thebest results,not onlyin terms of lowering the affective filter,language anxietyand providing a relaxed atmospherebut alsoachieving easier and more effective learning and teaching. Yet,compared with the research work conducted on the use of strategies for improvingteaching andlearningin general, the subjectof humour is still understudied (Pham 2014).Thusone wonderswhat humourisandwhatrole it playspedagogically as regards languagelearningand teaching.Humour is defined as the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that are funny (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary). Another definitionof humouris providedby Wikipediaas the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provokelaughterand provideamusement . International Journal of Humanitiesand Social Sciences (IJHSS)ISSN(P): 2319-393X; ISSN(E): 2319-3948Vol. 7, Issue 2, Feb-Mar 2018; 9-20© IASET  10  Nuri R. Ageli Impact Factor (JCC): 4.7985NAAS Rating 3.17  The language of humour stems fromthe fact that it isconsciouslyand deliberatelyplannedand designed, relying,to a great extent,on puns, and ambiguity whether itis spoken or written to createa dramatic effect on the reader or hearer.Humour isalsodescribed by Farghal (2006:1)as asocial, collaborativeact in which the teller/writer, the listener/ readerand the humorous utterance simultaneously engage in a socio-cultural function.As a result ofhumourbeingdiscussed by psychologists, sociologists, andeducationalistsamong others, varioustheories haveevolved,explaining why utterances come to be humorous. The superiority theory maintains that we find aperson, a situation or an act humorous when we feel superior. We laugh at other persons because we feel more intelligentthanthey areand we laugh at theirmisfortune,because we are luckier. Even when we laugh at ourselves,it is the past,inferior self we are laughing at (Billig, 2005).In this sense,humour becomes a malicious act and this may explain “the traditional opposition to laughter and humour” (Morreall, 1997). The incongruity theory states that it is theincongruous juxtaposition of two or more people, objects, ideas, or expectations that makes something humorous(Morreall, 1983). The relief theoryviews, humoras a release of tension and restraints of society and the environmentaroundus( Billig, 2005; Morreall,1983).Thelinguistictheoryconsiders humour as a cognitive activity andviewsit fromthe semantic and pragmatic perspectiveand deals with the relations between the linguistic form and the content and wherethesemanticincongruitymakesthescriptshumorous.(Raskin, 1985; Attardo,1994).Hammerrefers to a variety oftexts, butoften with subtle differences: jokes, jests, witticisms, quips, sallies,cracks, gags, puns, retorts, riddles, one-liners and conundrums (Schmitz, 2002). Meaning inhumorisnot madeclear,butit has to be worked out through cooperation between by the listener/ reader and humour producer(the cooperativeprinciple).Humour based on language can occur at different levels:phonological, morphological and semantic andpragmatic.In phonological humour ambiguity is created by playing on language sounds, stress, intonation andpronunciation. Humour can sometimes be created by playing on morphemeswhere themanipulation of the morphologicalrule is done on purpose to create this special effect.Humour canalsobecreated semanticallyin polysemous phrasal verbsor syntactically in wordorder.Pragmatic humour occurs when people concentrate on the sense of the utterance rather thanits force. The speaker deliberately intending to create humour gives less information than is required and becomesambiguous (flouting the Gricean maxim quality of the cooperative principle) thereby leading the hearer, in his/herinterpretation of the utterance, into drawing certain conclusions, i.e. implicature and replying accordingly (See Grice H. P.1975, the cooperative principle, pp. 45-6).As far as the pedagogy is concerned, most studies acknowledge the direct and positive role played by humourwhen used in education (Lucas,2005; Berk, 1996; Desberg et al 1981) as it increases the retention of information andpromote learning. Humor can be incorporated into instruction in a variety ofways, includingin the classroom, on exams,and on syllabi to name but a few (Berk, 2002, 2003; Martin, 2007).The nextsection sheds some light on the use of humourin English language instruction. HUMOUR IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING The questionof theuse of humour in English language teaching has been dealt with by many studies, whichcanbe divided into two categories:   Humour as Used and Perceived by Instructors in EFL Teaching at the University of Bahrain 11 editor@iaset.uswww.iaset.us First,the studies that deal with humour as an attention getter and tension reducer in the class:Marklin, quotedinWalker(2002) says that students enjoy humor in the form of funny anecdotes Claire (1984:v) claims that humour ensuresstudent involvement in classconversations. Maurice(1988:20) says that humour can easily be seen as a way of activatingmotivation and directing attention.Neuliep (1991)in a study on 388 high school teachersfound among the stated reasonsfor employing humour that its effect was relaxing, comforting and tension reducing,it had a humanizing effect on teacherimage and it maintained increasing student interest and enjoyment.Thesestudiesseem, in fact, tohaveechoedtheaffective filterhypothesiswhich was first introduced by Dulay & Burt(1977) and later by Krashen (1982), quotedinVadillo(1998)whonoted that a low affective filter corresponded to high motivation, self-confidence, and a lack of anxiety.Krashenadded that our pedagogical goalsshould not only include supplying comprehensible input, but alsocreating a situation that encourages a low filter. In this respect, humor can help lowering that affective filter,reducing anxiety in the class, and encouraging students' desire to take part in what is being said in the class.Second, thestudiesthatdeal with humour as part of the material used for teachingEnglishlanguage featuresorskills, (Shmitz,2002),(Hatch & Brown, 1995), (Laufer, 1997). Thelatter studiesargue for using humour particularly invocabulary learning. Laufer(ibid) states thatthe main problemsthat face the learnerin reading is the insufficient numberof words in the learner's lexicon . Berwald (1992)emphasizesthesignificanceof using humour forthe explanation andpractice ofsyntactic, semantic and phonetic and structural components.Trachtenberg(1979) claims thattelling jokesinthecontextof English as a second language offers anideal opportunities forlearning minigrammar or semantic lessons.Poljaveric (1992), quoted in Vadillo(1998),tells us about herexperience with jokeswhen used inteaching materials in herEnglish classes: Thepupilslearned without being aware of it. They had to think and react quickly, which is not easy. In avery few minutes they had to selectwhat was important to include and to discard what was not. They had to concentrate onthe vocabulary, grammar, etc., and they did it without tension or fear ” .Rubin (1982)quoted in Shmitz(2002)says thathumouris useful for learnersat the advanced levelasstudents who plan to deal with literary criticism in their universitystudies will benefit a great deal frombeing exposed tohumour intheforeign language courses. THE PRESENT STUDY The purpose of this paper is to investigate some aspects of humourandits perception and use inEnglishcollegeclassroom byinstructorsin the Englishlanguage and literaturedepartment andin theEnglish languageCentre at theUniversity of Bahrain. In order to achieve this task, the author conducted asurvey(appendixA)on thirty English languageinstructorsusinga Likert scaledsurvey.Thesurveyis based on that ofTuncay's(2007), however, some modifications weremadeto the originalquestionnaire. Instrument The studyparticipantswere surveyed on their perception and use of humourinEnglish language classes attheUniversity ofBahrainthrough a voluntary and anonymous questionnaire. The questionnaire comprised 12 questions withfive possibleLikert scaledresponses. Each question required the participants to select one alternative. For instancequestion one asked the participants to say if humour can be used as a supplementary material in English language classes.Theyshould select one of the following choices:stronglyagree, agree, neither agree nor disagree,strongly disagree,disagree.Thesurveyseeks to answerthe followingthree thematicquestions:  12  Nuri R. Ageli Impact Factor (JCC): 4.7985NAAS Rating 3.17  ã Canhumour be used in theEnglish languagecollegeclassroom asateachingtool? ã Does humour play a role in activating students' motivationand interestand reducing anxiety when learningEnglish in college classrooms? ã To what extentinstructorsuse humour in their teaching of English in thecollegeclassroomat the University of Bahrain? RESULTS Results from the survey of this study(Figures1& 2)have shown clearly that the items related to Researchquestion # one have been in general responded topositively.With regard to the use of humour as a supplementary teachingtool(item# 1),all theinstructors(100%) have indicated theirapprovalwith(43%)selecting the strongly agree and ahigher percentage ofinstructors(57%) opting for agree slot. In response to item # two, which addressed the question of whether humour was the easiest way of presenting new language features, the highest percentageofresponses (47%)wasin the neither agree nor disagree category,whereas (30%)of theinstructorsagreed to using it in teaching for presentingnew language features.(57%) of the participants agreed thathumorshould be integrated intothe course book design(item # 3) and further (20%) selected stronglyagree , the total of which is (77%). The responses to item # 4 whichaddressed the question of whether the use of humourin English language classrooms can help students improve theircommunication skills,(57%) of the participants and a further (27%) indicated their approval making a total ofagreeingresponses (84%).In repose toitem # 5 which dealt with whether humour increased students time in class, (20%) of theparticipants agreed and a further (43%) strongly agreed making the totalof positive responses (63%). With regard totranslating humour into the target language if students failed to fully understand it(item#6), the majority of participants(53%)disagreedwhile the second highest percentage ( 23%) were not sure and,hence, selected neither agree nordisagree .In response to item #7 concerning humour helping students interact inclass, a very high percentage (67%)of therespondentsopted for agreedagree and additional (20%)chose strongly agree making the total of (87%) of favourable responses.As fortheitems addressing Research Question # two, the majority ofparticipants in their response to item # 8,whichaddressed the question of humour helping students overcome their anxiety and shyness in English language classes,(60%)of the participantsopted for agree and a further (33%) opted for strongly agree ,thetotal ofwhichwas(93%).The majority of respondents (60%) and an additional (20%) believed that students wouldhave difficulty in role playinghumour( item # 9).The question whetherhumorcanchallengedue to its culture based meanings (item # 11), (77%) of theparticipants opted for agree and a further (17%) chose strongly agree .Regarding the items dealingwith Research Question #threeconcerning the use of humour in the classroom,mostofthe participants, that is, (57%)whostrongly agreed and a further (27%)whoagreed, believedthat teachersshouldhavesense of humour in English languageclasses (item# 10). For the actual use of humour in the classroom (item # 12), (50%)of the participants said that they employed at least one aspect of it sometimes whereas(20%) always used it.
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