Macquarie University
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The use of humour in multicultural classrooms: a case study of teachers' and students' perceptions and practices from a university ELICOS centre

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posted on 2022-03-28, 23:58 authored by Mai Thi Hoa Tran
This thesis reports on an investigation into the employment of humour in multicultural classrooms, focusing teachers’ and students’ perceptions and practices. A mixed method approach was used. Participants included 7 teachers and 104 students from a university ELICOS centre in an Australian city. Data were collected through class observations, teacher interviews and student questionnaires. First, teachers’ practices of using humour, including the frequency of humour attempts and choices of different humour types, were obtained through class observations in which the researcher played the role of a non-participant observer. These teachers’ perceptions of the role of humour in teaching and their preferences for certain humour forms were investigated through the subsequent interviews. In general, all the teachers were of the view that engaging some humour in language teaching would probably bring about more benefits rather than disadvantages, however, they warned against the use of too much humour, which might distract students from their studying. They also claimed that certain types of humour should be avoided in the classrooms so as not to cause misunderstanding or make students feel offended. The questionnaires for students aimed to investigate the students’ perceptions of the humour-learning relationship as well as responses to their teachers’ humour usage in class, and to look for patterns in demographic data: gender and nationality. The findings show that the incorporation of humour in EFL teaching and learning was viewed positively by the teachers and students in this study. A classification of humour types including 4 main categories (related, unrelated, self-directed and other-directed humour) and 25 subcategories was inductively developed using the content analysis of the successful humour attempts by the teacher participants. Student gender and nationality were found to correlate with some aspects of their perceptions of humour as well as responses to their teachers’ humour usage: on average, females expressed more positive attitudes toward humour than males did, and non-Chinese students showed stronger agreement with the positive effects of humour on learning as well as preferring more frequent use of humour in teaching.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Literature review -- Chapter 3. Methodology -- Chapter 4. Findings -- Chapter 5. Discussion -- Chapter 6. Conclusions -- References -- Appendices.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 126-133

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jill Murray


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