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Explain the Joke

by Sean (Tomás) Fleming, currently teaches EAL at Colegio Roosevelt in Lima, Peru

Even though E. B. White warned of the dangers of dissecting humor, sometimes analyzing jokes can lead to understanding both vocabulary and culture. If you are looking to add some humor and/or language learning to your class, check out Explain the Joke (All of the jokes are family friendly.)

I began Explain the Joke in 2013 when I was working with English learners who were interested in jokes but did not understand them. As we learned new jokes, the students discovered that telling jokes gave them social credibility with their friends. This made them even more willing to learn the jokes, and the meanings behind the jokes.

From my perspective as a teacher, I was able to increase student engagement while talking about idioms and parts of speech. Language acquisition increased. If you are looking for an easy-to-use bell ringer, or an end-of-the-class (educational) extra, try it. If you or your students have a joke that you would like me to explain, send me a message. (By the way, this is a hobby of mine where I publish about one joke a week. I receive no money from the site and there are no ads.)

Bio Sean (Tomás) Fleming is originally from Minnesota and currently teaches EAL at Colegio Roosevelt in Lima, Peru. You can find him on Twitter @STomasFleming or on his blog at


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