You wouldn’t believe how many students request that I teach them ‘funny English’. What is that?! I’m not there to run a comedy club – I can’t teach them how to be funny (I need someone to teach me that). But still I get these requests to teach funny English.
What is funny English?
I’ve been putting some thought into what exactly they want. Perhaps it’s catchphrases (“Are you having a laugh? Is he having a laugh” – When the Whistle Blows) or comedy one-liners such as “I never forget a face but in your case I’d be glad to make an exception” (Groucho Marx). Or maybe it’s the comedic way of speaking in the mould of The Mighty Boosh (“Who are you!? Wesley Snipes?”) or Garth Marenghi (“I’m Garth Marenghi; author, dreamweaver, visionary PLUS actor”).
It could be our famous British sarcasm that they want to learn – that’s a GREAT way to be funny in English. My only other idea is that they want to learn stupid words and phrases like ‘pull my finger’, ‘bobby dazzler’, or ‘Hasselhoff’. Or our famous British headlines.
Another request I get a lot is to teach non-textbook English. That’s a bit of a dilemma. Should I disregard my ethics and teach them our much used but grammatically incorrect colloquial parlance? Yeah, why not?
England is littered with accents, phrases and clichés, making it rife with local ways of speaking. The most obvious one that springs to mind is cockney rhyming, but I could teach phrases like ‘Why-aye’, or ‘Och aye tha noo’ (spelling?). The usefulness of such language is questionable, though, so I think I might just teach them some of our everyday mistakes in pronunciation and sentence structure.
Your input, please!
I hope you’ll forgive this blogs shameless plugs for my favourite comedians, but I’d be quite intrigued to find out if other teachers are getting the same requests, or if it’s just that I’m teaching a bunch of wannabe Chris Morris’s (ones enough for the whole world, I think). Let me know! Leave your comments below.