Smart Words of the English Language

Humor in Second-Language Learning

There is a popular perception that learning a language is somewhat tedious for human beings. It could be easier for artificial intelligences, such as Data in Star Trek, which are typically portrayed in science fiction as having superior cognitive skills, but no sense of humor. However, the use of humor can, among other effects, significantly improve second-language learning for students.

In general, humor is likely to motivate the student to study with more fun (and as a result to learn more efficiently). Moreover, because humor frequently rests on cultural concepts such as social environment, taboos, stereotypes and so on, studying humor can lead to a deeper understanding of the target language. Finally, practice in the humorous forms of the target culture might allow a student to actively use humor in the same way a native speaker would, which increases the chances of genuine communication.

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Good Morning

Pilot: "Good morning, Frankfurt ground, KLM 242 request start up and push back, please."
Tower: "KLM 242 expect start up in two hours."
Pilot: "Please confirm: two hours delay?"
Tower: "Affirmative"
Pilot: "In that case, cancel the good morning!"


Tower: Lufthansa 893, number one, check for workers on the taxiway.
Pilot: Roger . (brief pause) . We've checked the workers, they are all working.


Pilot: "Tower, give me a rough time check."
Tower: "Itīs Tuesday."
Pilot: "WHAT?"
Tower: "Tuesday afternoon ..."

Fuel State

Tower: "Say fuel state."
Pilot: "Fuel state."
Tower: "Say again."
Pilot: "Again."
Tower: "Arghl, give me your fuel!"
Pilot: "Sorry, need it by myself..."


Controller: "Hawk 20, is this the same aircraft declaring emergency about two hours ago?"
Pilot: "Negative, Sir. It's only the same pilot.


Controller: "Mission 123, do you have problems?"
Pilot: "I think, I have lost my compass."
Controller: "Judging the way you are flying, you lost the whole instrument panel!"