A letter to the teachers of English: 41Use funny examples for easy understanding [Archives:2004/708/Education]

February 2 2004

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb.

Dear Fellow teachers,
Using examples has always been found beneficial to the learners in English classes. An experienced teacher makes use of plenty of examples for making his/her students understand easily. For instance, when we teach 'beautiful', we say 'beautiful like a flower'; when we teach 'magnificent', we say 'as magnificent as the Grand mosque in Sana'a' etc. This kind of comparison with the familiar objects or situations enables the learners to understand difficult words or ideas and remember them for a long time. Moreover, this technique of using examples makes our teaching easier and we can avoid the use of the mother tongue in the English classes to a large extent.
Using suitable examples in grammar classes makes grammar teaching easy and the learners find grammar classes interesting. If these examples are funny, then grammar learning will be a fun for our learners. It is a common complaint among our learners that grammar classes are not at all interesting and funny examples to explain grammar items will be one of the solutions to this problem. For example, while teaching main and subordinate clauses in my class, I compare the subordinate clause to 'a lame man with the crutches' and the main clause is like 'the crutches'; as the lame man who needs the support of the crutches, the subordinate clause needs the support of the main clause. While teaching phrases and clauses, the clauses are compared to 'people alive' and the phrases to 'dead bodies', the verbs giving life to the clauses. These are just two samples, and there are some funnier ones too. These examples make my students laugh but they remember the grammar points associated with them for a long time; some of them write the funny examples in the examination in addition to the grammar points. There are a few who write only the examples!
You must have heard of grammar games for teaching grammar items. Drawing pictures on the blackboard to teach tense forms, or using objects to teach prepositions is another way of making grammar classes interesting. Most of the textbooks produced by the western writers have funny pictures to illustrate language points. Why? They appeal to the eyes of the learners and sell well. Similarly, if we appeal to the ears of our learners through funny examples, our ideas will sell well. Cartoons, for example, always have attraction and funny examples will serve the same purpose.
Funny examples are not just for teaching grammar; you can use them in other classes too, for explaining difficult words or ideas or stories etc. For example, while teaching them English sounds, you can, compare the sounds to the sounds of animals, if they are similar and if you can produce those sounds.
A word of caution. Think of your examples before the class and note them down, if necessary. Your examples should not hurt the feelings of others, should not have any political or religious overtones at all. You can get many more examples, if you think. Good luck.
Yours fraternally,