Activity 8: Retelling Jokes

▶ Duration:  20–30 min
▶ Aim:  Oral fluency practice
▶ Summary:  Students retell jokes in their own words.

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Retelling a story (in this case, a joke) in one's own words provides oral fluency practice. In this activity, each student is initially provided with a joke which they later retell to other students. The inherent interest of the jokes provides the motivation.

Locate about eight different jokes. Rewrite them if the language is too difficult or idiomatic. When choosing jokes, make sure the humour is comprehendable to the students: puns are definitely a bad idea, and many jokes are culturally specific.

Give each joke a memorable title (such as "The Joke About x") and produce enough copies so that each student will receive one joke.

Make a list of the joke titles, and produce enough copies for each student to receive one. On this sheet, they will tick off the jokes which they have heard.

See the Resources section for examples.

Explain that you will give each student a joke for them to read and then hand back. Then they will retell the jokes in their own words (no need to memorise the original text), but only to one student at a time (not a larger audience). Show them the list of jokes, and explain that they should tick off the jokes as they hear them. Tell them that they can retell any joke which they have heard, not only the one which they originally read. Check:

Hand out the list of jokes first, and then give one joke to every student. After a while, invite those students who are confident that they can remember their joke to hand back the sheets. Those students who have returned their sheets can start talking.

One interesting follow-up is to have a quick vote on which joke is the best. You might also ask one or two students to tell one of the jokes which they've heard—allow them to choose a joke which they remember clearly.

You may wish to explain that jokes and stories can be told in either past tense or present tense (the latter being informal, but quite common). But of course, you must use one tense or the other, not both in the same story!

A way to encourage retelling jokes that the students hear, in addition to the joke they originally read, is to add two columns to the list of jokes: one column for the student to tick when they hear the joke, and one which they tick when they tell the joke.

I used these eight jokes in my class: jokes.doc (html preview). The table of joke titles is on this sheet: jokes_table.doc (html preview). Alternatively, this is the modification to the jokes table mentioned in the Variations section: jokes_table2.doc (html preview).

Note that you should probably explain the word genie. Also, this set includes a blonde jokes, so you might need to explain the concept of a "blonde joke". To help do this, I told another blonde joke as an example. It goes like this:

A blonde walks into a shop, and finds a sales assistant. She asks, "How much does that TV cost?" But the sales assistant says, "Sorry, we don't sell to blondes". The blonde is disappointed, and leaves the shop. But then she has an idea: she'll change the colour of her hair. So she dyes it brown, goes back to the shop the next day, and finds a different sales assistant. She asks again, "How much does that TV cost?" But that sales assistant also says, "Sorry, we don't sell to blondes". The blonde is surprised, and asks, "But how did you know I was a blonde." The sales assistant says: "Because that's not a TV, that's a microwave." (You will probably get more laughs if you can quickly translate microwave oven into chinese: weibolu).
Rating: 5 stars

Straightforward, and fun.

That's fantastic! I love it.
30.07.2004 , 09:51

Good when teaching stress,juncture, and rhythm
fauzy halim []
08.01.2005 , 02:20

I have liked here when i came here frist,today,i come here again!
I am a new english learner.i have studing english two years ago!at frist i am very confident ,and i believe that i can do it well.but i am present i know this is a very hard work.i'll crazy!!!
I need help!!!please help me.what can i do now?
xxyy []
19.02.2005 , 13:13

the jokes you posted is very interesting and humor , i really want to hear more jokes that i can have some topics to talk to the foreigners.
carol []
06.10.2005 , 17:33

i want to be fluent in English speaking pls help me
nusrat fazal []
13.10.2005 , 12:11

i want to know about the more joke
sultan []
15.03.2006 , 13:09

pls help me
sultan []
15.03.2006 , 13:09

thank you so much for posting this site. I ve just started begginer english with adoults. Individual classes thou, but this helps so much.
Thanx so much from Serbia
30.03.2006 , 17:06