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October 2021 - Year 23 - Issue 5

ISSN 1755-9715

Fun with Visual Puns

Hanna Kryszewska is a teacher, teacher trainer, trainer of trainers. She is a senior lecturer at the University of Gdańsk, Poland. She is co-author of resource books: Learner Based Teaching, OUP, Towards Teaching, Heinemann,  The Standby Book, CUP,  Language Activities for Teenagers, CUP, The Company Words Keep, DELTA Publishing,  and a course book series for secondary schools: ForMat, Macmillan. She is also co-author of a video based teacher training course: Observing English Lessons. Hania is a Pilgrims trainer and editor of HLT Magazine. E-mail:  


What is visual pun?

Pun is a kind of word play which refers to the double meaning of a word, phrase, or even a sentence. It may use similar sounding words or associations. Visual pun uses these elements but also adds a visual component. It is a bit like a rebus with a humorous effect. Understanding visual pun requires linguistic, visual/spatial and sometimes even musical intelligence. Creating them additionally involves playfulness, humour and creativity. More at:

Visual pun can be used with language learners of various levels; it all depends what kind of examples we choose. Activities using visual pun can enrich our classes and give students an opportunity to explore lexis and to be playful with the language they are learning. This kind of approach to language taps into the creative and playful potential of the learners.


Introducing visual pun

Show some examples of visual pun to your class. Discuss the double meaning and how humour is created. Start with single words and then show phrases or idioms.  For example:






More visual pun

Then move on to sentences. For example:



Students explore

Ask students to work in pairs and find they own examples online. Tell them to google: visual pun/ images and choose the 5 they like best. Tell them to save them on their devices or save the links. When they have problems understanding some puns try to help them. But it may happen that nobody will understand a visual pun, then ignore it.

Then students share they findings with the whole class. When necessary they explain the joke. Here are some examples of what my students found:






Make your own

Give students the following list:

Well well well

This is not a drill

Iron Man

Spring Chicken

Sleeping pill



Make sure they understand the words, phrases and sentences. Then ask them to create their own examples of visual pun on A4 sheets. Organise an exhibition of their work. Alternatively you can create an exhibition on padlet or some other app.


Sources of the images


Please check the Pilgrims f2f courses at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Pilgrims online courses at Pilgrims website.

Tagged  Humour