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June 2020 - Year 22 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

Teaching English with Humour: Johnny English Strikes Again

Sandi Ferdiansyah is currently teaching English at the English Education Department of Institut Agama Islam Negeri (IAIN) Jember, East Java – Indonesia. His academic interests include English Language Teaching (ELT) methodology, Technology enhance language learning, and teacher professional development.

Email: sanjazzyn@yahoo.com

 

Introduction

Comedy movie is one of my favorite genres. It works best for me to relieve stress after I spent a whole day working at school. Laughing while watching the movie helps soften the tension in my facial nerve. Even in the classroom, I choose comedy film to be used as an authentic source to engage students to learn the English language with humor. I play the film with comedy genre to amuse students and break the ice while learning.  Why comedy genre? First, it is fun and relaxing. Comedy movie can become the pill of boredom for students because they study several lessons at school in a day that certainly will make them bored and tired. They can be involved in various fun activities in learning language reflecting on their experience watching the film. Secondly, it introduces students to new ways of humor embraced in different cultural background. They can learn how people acting in certain awkward ways and express certain words can make people laugh and is accepted as humor. Students’ with different cultural background from the movie may find it strange but they will soon learn how this intercultural communication means significantly to broaden their knowledge and perception. Finally, all movies taught a lesson in many different ways including comedy film. It teaches students with character building. For examples, Amy Schumer in I Feel Pretty (2018) taught people to be confident with what they are and Jim Carrey in Yes Man (2008) taught people how positive actions in life could bring people to a better life. While the benefits of using comedy film in class seem appealing, it does not mean that students can watch without the teacher’s supervision. In other words, the teacher plays a key role to provide students with guidance and explanation on the contents of the movie that might not appropriate in a particular context and culture.  

There are hundreds of comedians who starred in comedy film; I mentioned two earlier. But, one of my favorites is Rowan Atkinson. To me, he is a truly legendary comedian. I remembered watching his miniseries “Mr. Bean” on TV in early 1997s when I just graduated from my elementary school. In many of his movies, he was characterized as a clumsy person and the movies alone were emphasized more in physical comedy with little talk. This, for sure, left me with unforgettable memories in my childhood. I did not speak English at that time simply because I did not learn English yet. Even though I did not understand a word, I could still enjoy his movies and laugh out loud watching his stupid standups in the movie. Thus, driven by my experience, I felt motivated to share my joyful childhood memories with my students in learning English by watching Rowan Atkinson’s movie. 

In his recent movie, Johnny English Strikes Again (2018), Rowan Atkinson a.k.a. Mr. Bean played a role as a secret agent named Johnny English. The slapstick began early when he was invited in a mission investigating the hacker behind the cyber-attack in the city that caused all secret agent identities were exposed in public. Inside the office, he made the mess by making all the old agents fainted caused by the smoke bomb triggered by the gadget pen. He was lucky to have his former partner who helped him keep on the track and succeed the mission. Twists after twists continue and this will fill the audience with a laugh for sure.

Recently, I am teaching general English to freshmen who speak English as a foreign language. They are between 18 and 20 years old. I make use the movie Johnny English Strikes Again as a tool to engage students in communicative activities in a daily life context. Grounded in the collaborative learning approach, I design the following five activities to help foster students’ interaction in class with meaningful and joyful ways. Additionally, as a teacher, I play a role as an observer to mediate the learning instructions.  

 

The most favorite and humorous scene

  • Goals:
    • To help students develop their confidence to speak and express their argument
    • To help students exercise their creativity and critical thinking in choosing the most favorite and humorous scene of the movie
  • Preparation
    • The teacher provides students with the movie DVD for them to watch in a group.
    • The teacher makes sure that all groups have access to a laptop.
    • The students are trained to use snipping tool software to capture a screenshot.
    • The students are encouraged to use Power Point as a tool for presentation
  • Steps
    • The students are divided into a group of 3. They will share different responsibilities such as scene locator whose job is to lead the discussion on what scene to choose, presentation designer whose job is to lead the discussion on how to work with screenshot app and design of presentation, and presenter whose job is to present
    • The students will be asked to answer the following discussion to prepare their presentation:
      • What is the most favorite and humorous scene your group has chosen?
      • What is the scene about? Write in 3 sentences
      • Why does your group choose it? 
    • The students present the result of the discussion to the other group. A similar choice on the most favorite scene among the groups will receive a star

 

Scene guess

  • Goals
    • To help students develop their reading comprehension and writing skill as well.
    • To help students develop their creativity and critical thinking in choosing an interesting scene but challenging for the other group member to guess.
  • Preparation
    • The teacher provides students with the movie DVD for them to watch in group.
    • The teacher makes sure that all groups have access to laptop.
    • The students prepare a paper and pen
  • Steps
    • The students are put in pair
    • The teacher will ask the students to write 3 scenes in the movie to be described. They have to describe each in 3 sentences as a clue. For example:
      • English and his partner were in an undercover mission
      • They were wearing the same clothes
      • English put away the fire  
    • The other pairs must locate the scene and screen shot it to answer the guess
    • For each correct answer, the pairs will receive a star

 

Parody

  • Goals
    • To engage students in speaking activity and develop their confidence.
    • To help students develop their creativity to create the parody and perform it.
  • Preparation
    • The teacher provides students with the movie DVD for them to watch in group.
    • The teacher makes sure that all groups have access to laptop.
    • The students prepare a piece of paper and pen to draft the dialog.
  • Steps
    • The students are put in pair.
    • They are required to take a look at a particular scene and understand it. The length of the scene is 1 minute and must include a conversation between actors. 
    • Since they may not be able to understand the spoken language of the actors, they are allowed to draft the dialog in their first language and later on translate it in English.
    • They are given 5 minutes to rehearse and perform in front of the class after that.
    • Each successful performance will receive a star.

 

What should Johnny English do?

  • Goals
    • To foster the development of students’ writing skill.
    • To help students develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Preparation
    • The teacher provides students with the movie DVD for them to watch in group.
    • The teacher makes sure that all groups have access to laptop.
    • The students prepare a piece of paper and pen to draft the writing prompt and suggestions.

 

  • Steps
    • The students are put in pair.
    • They choose one scene in the movie that depicts how English acted ridiculously so that some of his attempts failed. For example, when English and Bough climbed the cruiser with magnetic booths, they were caught by Ophelia and his men.
    • They wrote it on a piece of paper and exchange it to the pairs.
    • The group will be required to write a suggestion (in three sentences) that may change the situation better.
    • Each group that can complete the suggestion in well written English and present it to the class successfully will receive one star. 

 

Poster presentation

  • Goals
    • To engage students in speaking activities and boost their confidence.
    • To help students exercise their creativity and technological skills in creating the poster.
  • Preparation
    • The teacher provides students with the movie DVD for them to watch in group.
    • The teacher makes sure that all groups have access to laptop.
    • The students are trained to use snipping tool software to capture a screen shot.
    • The students are encouraged to learn how to use online poster generator such as canva.com to create poster.
  • Steps
    • The students are divided into a group of 3. They will share different responsibilities such as a poster designer whose job is to design the poster, a content author whose job is to put lines in the poster, and a presenter whose job is to present.
    • They will be asked to create a poster that advertises the movie through the online poster generator.
    • The group needs to make sure that the poster is attractive and informative enough so that other students are interested to see the film. The presenter can also explain a brief review of the movie.
    • The other group visits and gives some comments on the poster in terms of creativity, content, and language use. 
    • Each group who makes a successful presentation will receive a star.

 

Conclusion

Movie is one of the greatest sources of learning. It comprises moving visuals, sound, effect, and music that can make students enjoy learning not only language but also culture. Additionally, movie can become an effective meaning making tool in language classroom. It inspires teachers to design learning activities that enable students to talk and write about the movie. Besides learning the language, students can learn the culture embedded in the movie. This will deepen their knowledge so that they can better understand and respect the diversity of culture in this universe from their improved perspectives.  With comedy film, students are expected to learn the language in more fun and relaxed ways. They are free to laugh at some points and become serious when doing the given tasks. Finally, they can collaborate with their peers to discuss topics related to the movie. Collaboration is fruitful to help them learn from each other.   

 

Please check the British Life, Language and Culture course at Pilgrims website

Tagged Humour 
  • Teaching English with Humour: Johnny English Strikes Again
    Sandi Ferdiansyah, Indonesia