Japanese perceptions of humor in the English language classroom

Peter Neff, John Rucynski

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Despite humor's promise as an educational tool in language learning contexts, questions of appropriateness, cultural sensitivity, and student expectations cannot be ignored. This is especially the case in a culture such as Japan where the time and place for humor is often dictated by the social norms of "warai no ba" or "laughter places." In order to better understand the role of humor from the Japanese language learner's perspective, the researchers conducted a survey of 918 university students across Japan to elicit their views on such areas as the importance of humor for language learning and proficiency as well as its significance in understanding cultural differences. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of the results indicate that most participants strongly favored inclusion of humor as part of the classroom experience but that cultural differences must be carefully considered by instructors. Furthermore, while variables such as gender and academic discipline did not have a significant effect on the results, the English proficiency of the participants did, with more proficient learners indicating a greater degree of comfort and cultural understanding from use of in-class humor than those with lesser ability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)279-301
    Number of pages23
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 26 2017


    • humor
    • intercultural competence
    • language learning
    • second language acquisition

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Psychology(all)
    • Linguistics and Language


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