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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 3; Issue 2; March 2000


Pithy Sayings and Assorted Jokes

Thoughts On a station platform

It ought to be plain
how little you gain
by getting excited
and vexed.
You'll always be late
for the previous train,
and always in time
for the next.

Good Advice
Shun advice
at any price-
that's what I call
good advice.

Do you ever use pithy sayings like the ones above with your students? They are memorable if they are as well-penned as the above ones taken from Grooks II, by Piet Hein, Blackwell and Mott ltd.

Two-liners from Sweden
sent to HLT by Katarina Sjoestroem
( she heard the first two and invented the last one)

What d'you call a dairy farmer from Saudi Arabia?
A Milksheik!

Which is fastest, HEAT or COLD?
Heat! You can catch a cold.

How do very small people say goodbye?
With a microwave!

Two Stories told at an IATEFL Jokes Evening
Brighton, UK, 2001.

The "Q" Word

President Bush and Dick Cheney enter a chic restaurant in Washington. The manageress greets the President effusively:

    "Our last President was a shame to our great Country.
    I gave you my vote , Mr President.
    At last we have a man of high moral standards in the White House."

She offers both men menus. After a brief glance the President says:

    "I want a quickie."
    "hhhn, I must have misheard you, Mr President."
    "I want a quickie."
The woman shrieks:
    "I can't believe my ears." and runs off in tears to the kitchen.
Cheney leans across the table, pointing to an item on the menu:
    "Mr President, I think you pronounce this Q U I C H E !"

Three Pints of Beer

John goes into a bar and orders three pints of beer.
He takes them over to a table, sits down, and drinks first from one, then from the second and then from the third.
He goes on drinking from one glass after the other until there is no beer left.

As he is leaving the bar the guy at the counter calls him over and asks why he drinks in this bizarre way.
John smiles thoughtfully at the bar man and goes:

    " My brother in South Africa and my other brother in Sydney will be drinking the same time as me. All three of us drink for each other. That's why I like having three pints on the go together."

Couple of weeks later John comes into the bar and orders two pints, sits down and starts drinking them. The bar man doesn't know what to think. He goes:

    " Anything happened to your brothers?"

And John goes:

    " Oh, they're fine, it's just that I've given up drinking- doctor's orders".
( George Pickering told this joke twice during the IATEFL Conference, once during his own workshop and once at the jokes evening.
The workshop version of the story was told slowly, with plenty of embellishment- Pickering was fully master of the situation.
The second telling was fast, throwaway and unembellished, as Pickering was up against competition from many other tellers.
Pickering's two tellings illustrate the way that relationship and audience state of mind govern how a teller instinctively behaves.
Further proof, if any were needed, that story telling is a brilliant language teaching method in which the text is governed by the human situation in the room.)

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