The English classroom as “warai no ba”: Instructor views on humor and language learning in Japan

Peter Neff, John Rucynski

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Humor holds promise as a tool to promote positive affectivity within the language classroom, but instructor differences, not to mention the effects of cultural background, make generalizations about successful employment of humor difficult to establish. This is especially true in a culture such as Japan, where the concept of "warai no ba" ("laughter places") establishes sociocultural limits on appropriate environments in which to use humor. The aim of this study is to better understand the role that humor can play in language learning from the perspective of instructors. To address these concerns, we surveyed 62 English language instructors (including both English L1 and Japanese L1 participants) at universities throughout Japan about their views and approaches to humor use. Results from quantitative analysis indicate a general overall endorsement of using humor in the language classroom and its utility in enhancing the learning process, albeit with qualifications expressed concerning instructor personality. Views among the instructor participants as expressed in qualitative responses were far from uniform, however, with a great deal of variability evident regarding individual approaches to in-classroom use of humor.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100070
    JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research Open
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


    • Foreign language education
    • Humor
    • Intercultural communication
    • Japan

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education


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