According to Tilemma (2000), “teaching is a complex cognitive activity and it is believed that the teachers’ conception helps in shaping the instructional decisions in the classrooms.” In other words, teachers’ perceptions and personal beliefs are highly influential when it comes to the teaching and learning environment. Besides, it is the major role of the teachers to determine what is needed or what would work best with their students.
It is the fact that students of English language will be more willing to participate in a learning environment which allows them to feel relaxed. The necessity to form a “welcoming” classroom for language learning is for the learning environment to not feel threatening or intimidating, (Krishmanson, P.2000, pp. 1-5).
Moreover, humour that is said verbally, for instance, wordplays, funny stories, puns, and content related jokes, play an important role in English language learners’ development of (socio) linguistic and sociocultural competence. Regardless of such breadth and scope, it is the fact that humour is not being used or discussed widely among language teachers. In fact, it is seldom used in the classroom on a conscious level.
On the other hand, self-efficacy is arguably an important factor contributing to an individual’s mental health. Moreover, self-efficacy is the concept of believing that one can achieve personal goals as a result from their own actions (Baron et al. 2008, p. 127). High self-efficacy has been connected with positive friend support and lower self-efficacy have been connected with a tendency to be “expecting the worst” (Cicognani, 2011), which is arguably an important factor for a general positive attitude to life, (Schwarzer and Jerusalem, 1995) (Cicognani, 2011). The importance of self-efficacy, addressed by the General self-efficacy measure (Schwarzer and Jerusalem, 1995) has also been found in its mediating role in work stress and stress symptoms (Liu, Siu and Shi, 2010), and its mediating role on the influence of life satisfaction (Strobel, Tumasjan and Spörrle, 2011). Arguably, this is showing that self-efficacy is an important factor in general psychological well-being and it is therefore important that further investigations into self-efficacy is emphasised in research areas, such as its relation to humour styles, which will be investigated by the current study.
Thus, the aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between humour styles, self-efficacy, gender and age of the English language teachers. The researcher tends to study the self-efficacy of English teachers in using humour in English lessons. This research paper outlines the background of the research, statement of the problem, rationale of the research, significance of the research, limitations of the research and definitions of terms.
BACKGROUND OF THE RESEARCH
Results from past studies indicates that not only instructional practices and classroom behaviour that is influential of teachers’ self-efficacy, but also related to students’ achievement (Grossman, Reynolds, Ringstaff & Sykes, 1985; Johnson, 1992; Prawat & Anderson, 1988). Thus, knowing the perceptions and beliefs of teachers enables one to make predictions about teaching and assessment practices in classrooms. One important belief that appears to be an important influence on teacher and student outcomes is teachers’ self-efficacy. It is important to note that self-efficacy is a motivational construct based on self-perception of competence rather than actual level of competence. Actions and behaviours are better predicted by beliefs rather than actual accomplishments.
Thus, the self-efficacy beliefs are important as through them the learning processes, motivations, passion and selectiveness regulates the individual’s use in different areas (Bandura, 1986). Accordingly, pour Jafar Doust (2007) according to the definition of the self-efficacy for the self- regulation (Bandura 2006) considers the self-efficacy as a born capability that should be organized in behaviour, sensational, social and learning sub- skills including the self-believe (Self- confidence, problem- solving, positive thinks), self- control, regulating the thinks and behaviour to reach the goal, self-evaluation, self- monitoring, positive thinking, controlling the behaviour to reach the goal step by step, and self-simulation to overcome the losing. If a teacher’s self-efficacy level is low, it may hinder the level of students’ achievement in class. The level of a teacher’s self-efficacy depends on some personal and environmental factors. Research has shown that teachers with high self-efficacy report higher rates of work satisfaction, lower levels of work-related tension, and less difficulty in coping with the misbehaviors of students (Caprara et al., 2003). This was also supported by another research, in which, in their study involving frontline service staff, Sousa et al. (2012) showed that personal values are also powerful predictors of workers’ self-efficacy.
Apart of that, research also indicates that competent use of humour by teachers makes contributions to both teaching and learning processes, Crvikly (1986). Humour enhances students’ interest and the classroom environment, as well as improves learner outcomes. ‘Humour can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process’ taunted E.B. White (2014). It is also believed that, anything that disrupts expectations or surprises a person, such as humour, can result in psychological arousal, stated Berlyne, (1972). This can transform an inattentive learner into a moderately attentive learner, which facilitates performance. In some European countries like Britain, the use of humour in class gains acceptance. However, is that possible, and is it being implied by the English language teachers in classrooms? This research paper tends to investigate the effect of self-efficacy of English teachers in using humour in English lessons.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Different forms of humor such as irony or sarcasm may become variations of hostile, offensive, potentially conflictual humor. Both irony and sarcasm is met in the classroom also as a sanction directed towards the students. Both have common elements: can arouse laughter (less among the victims). If irony is not always malicious, sarcasm is associated with a particular harassment of the person and aims to cause pain.
According to a study, many students who learn English language are low-achievers (Alrabai, 2017). Several factors have been cited for the low levels of achievement of English language students, which includes their lack of second language exposure (L2), lack of interest in learning the target language (TL), and their reluctance to active participation. Ansari (2012) also adds that the vast majority of English language students lack motivation to learn the language, as their tests are primarily aimed at passing. Therefore while studnets may spend several school years learning the English language, they still appear to graduate with limited English language command from high school, and this turns out to be a problem when they later enrol in college.
Teacher-student interaction in a teaching and learning environment plays a major role in general and especially learning a second language or a foreign language. The classroom setting or the teaching and learning environment might influence the students. Thus, teachers are responsible to follow appropriate strategies in order to avoid a fully teacher centered or in other words being bossy which is not a suitable strategy for the students because it commonly leads them to negative attitudes, lack of self-esteem, and lack of motivation. Unlike bossy teachers, good leading teachers try to be friendly, democratic, lessons facilitators, classroom managers, and chiefly motivators. Teachers’ sense of humour can be a successful teaching tool for this purpose. So, teachers should make a balance between being serious and being humorous, in fact, students will get ready to receive information and to interact with their teachers.
It is the fact that teachers have plenty of workload and carry out multiple responsibilities. Having said so, teaching is definitely a serious profession and learning English language is not an easy job. In most of the English classrooms, there is no any engaging activities as the students are bored with all sorts of writing activities given to them without any interesting activity for them to do. This was also supported by Lauder (2010) in one of his study that, instrumental motivation was a significant factor among Indonesian students in learning English as they saw it as a means to gain access to international markets, further academic studies, and professional life. Although the students claimed to be highly motivated, their actual level was not sufficient to make them engage voluntarily in their activities, especially in writing modules, which they considered to be a boring activity. It was also proven that the students of English language are more willing to participate in classrooms that allow them to feel relaxed. According to Frisby and Martin (2010), students’ engagement was generally improved since humour increased their retention and participation. Besides, in a study by Hoad, Deed, and Lugg (2013), humour was one of the pedagogical factors that triggered students’ emotional engagement that influenced learning-related interaction. Thus, in order to have an engaging and a positive learning environment in such a way that a student not only learns but also enjoys, not hesitates but also learns and not feels stressed but relaxed, a teacher should try to implement sense of humour in lessons.
The use of humour in classroom can possibly entertain the students if the teacher knows the proper use of it. This is because humour not only reduces the boredom and anxiety level of the students of English language, but constructs students learning ability in a way that the students perform even far better. Nevertheless, the mood of classroom imprints positive effects on English language learning experience because humour can promote understanding and attract the attention of the students until end to make learning process more affective and interesting one.
It is the duty of a teacher to create a pleasant and positive attitude in their teaching so that the students take much interest, learn more and more and have a lot of fun. G. Walter claimed that the students who laugh have less disturbing outbursts in class. Therefore, when humour is applied to teaching it enhances the students’ learning ability (Walter, G., 1990, pp. 43-44). Moreover, humour plays an important role in second language or foreign language learning as English is an integral part of second language teaching and learning classroom environment. To support this statement, it was mentioned in one of the study that, humour can be beneficial to classroom learning (Cornett, 1986; Fisher, 1997). Besides, humour can promote understanding, and hold the attention of the students. To support this statement, the results of one of the study by (Aboudan, 2009) show that humour can be beneficial in the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) second language classroom. Humour promotes the feeling of understanding and helps to hold the attention of UAE students, regardless of the cultural learning situation.
Those teachers, who do not like to use humour, share and exchange jokes with their students, are not very much popular among the students. While on the other hand, those teachers who produce a friendly environment in such a way that they crack jokes, use humour funny incidents and share such things with their students are the most popular among the students.
In conclusion, this study argues that humour can enhance the teaching and learning processes of English with due consideration of all the previously noted factors.This research will also find out the perception of English language teachers’ of using humour as a teaching tool. It is also used as a measurement to see how it can minimize and improve existing problem such as motivation, attitude among the students.
The main rationale of this research is to determine the effect of self-efficacy of English teachers in using humour in English lessons. The research objectives, questions and hypotheses are given in the following sections.
The objectives of this research are:
- To investigate the self-efficacy level of English teachers in using humor to aid English language teaching.
- To investigate whether the use of humour as a teaching technique affects the interaction of students with their teachers.
- To investigate whether students interact more through the teachers sense of humour.
- To investigate the attitudes of both learners and teachers toward the use of humour inside the classroom.
The following research questions are formulated in order to meet the research objectives.
- What is the self-efficacy level of English teachers in using humor to aid English language teaching?
- Does the use of humour as a teaching technique affects the interaction of students with their teachers?
- Do students interact more through the teachers sense of humour?
- Does the use of humour as a teaching technique affects the attitudes of both learners and teachers inside the classroom?
There is no significant relationship between the self-efficacy level of English teachers and humor to aid English language teaching.
- H1: There is a significant relationship between the self-efficacy level of English teachers and humor to aid English language teaching. There is no significant relationship between the use of humour as a teaching technique and the interaction of students with their teachers.
- H1: There is a significant relationship between the use of humour as a teaching technique and the interaction of students with their teachers. There is no significant relationship between the use of humour as a teaching technique and the attitudes of both learners and teachers inside the classroom.
- H1: There is a significant relationship between the use of humour as a teaching technique and the attitudes of both learners and teachers inside the classroom.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESEARCH
Teacher self-efficacy is a personal characteristic that enables a teacher to effectively deal with students stated Kounin and Gump (1974) in their study. Self-efficacy of teachers is described as the trust that teachers have in their ability to facilitate learning. That quality helps them to effectively plan, organize and execute a task (Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk-Hoy, & Hoy, 1998). Better educational outcomes depend on the level of teacher self-efficacy. On the other hand, humour creates a pleasant and conducive learning environment by stimulating a constructive effect in learners. When teachers’ self-efficacy and humour comes together, this in a way will aid in reducing anxiety about studying difficult subjects. This will bring the comfortability in students to communicate in an online or in-person class. However, humour that is used too excessively or in an inappropriate situation might cause learners to think that an important topic is trivial. Thus, humour must be incorporated with a good judgement. Therefore, this research hopefully will assist teachers to incorporate humour in lessons in order to improve students’ attention and to create conducive teaching and learning environment. This study would also provide significant insight in explaining the effect of self-efficacy of English teachers in using humour in English lessons.
LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH
Relevant humor has so many cognitive and psychological benefits of which we summarize: maintains attention and arouses curiosity of pupils / students, requests thinking, attention and develops critical thinking (Herbert, P.1991), develops the skill of nuanced communication, replaces tension and anxiety during classes with a relaxed atmosphere and promotes a positive environment, thus resulting a fun learning process , eliminates boredom, routine, and encourages students to get out of patterns and try new approaches, has a role in socialization and strengthening the group of students. We must not forget the therapeutic functions of humor – ‘it acting as a valve in the classroom’ (Herbert, P.1991). Humor can create pleasant experiences to students if the teacher knows to use a quality humor.
Some theories about humor
Over time, the problem of humor caught the attention of many thinkers, outlining a series of ideas, sometimes contrasting. In Antiquity, for instance, Plato despised humor mostly because it was directed against others with malice and contempt. In turn, Hobbes believed that laughter takes offensive forms and usually occurs when the competitive spirit is manifested between people, some showing their superiority over others.
Humour has the ability to reduce the psychological distance between an instructor and a learner. Humour gives the perception that and instructor is approachable stated, Aylor and Opplinger (2003). It helps in increasing the interactions between the teacher and the learner which leads to a more meaningful relationship. However, simply using humour without giving any thought to how to use it can end up backfiring, by hindering the ability to learn the material, or by causing to make a bad impression on others. Due to this factor, the researcher chose to study the perceptions of using humour in English language classrooms.
This research is an attempt to find out the effect of using humour in English language classroom towards teachers’ self-efficacy. The objectives of the research are to determine whether humour can be an effective means of teaching and learning English and also to develop positive attitude and motivation towards learning environment on the whole.