The Pedagogy of humour: inhabiting the Third Space in a tertiary French class

Ashok Collins, Bénédicte André

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Humour is a tool that has long been used at all levels in the classroom setting to engage students and facilitate the learning process. When it comes to foreign language learning, however, humour is often seen as problematic due to its inherent link to cultural specificities. The pilot study described in this contribution aimed to exploit the connection between humour and culture in order to encourage the questioning of French cultural stereotypes. A series of popular comedy clips were delivered to a cohort of students via YouTube in a third year ab initio French unit at The University of Western Australia. The theoretical framework for the study was provided by Homi Bhabha's notion of the 'third space', which offers a particularly effective way of phrasing a conception of culture that emphasises the important role of difference in identity formation both in intra- and inter-cultural contexts. The overarching aim of the study was to determine the extent to which participants identified with the comedic situations they saw on screen and thereby explore whether humour served as an effective means of facilitating a negotiation of the third space. Data was gathered through guided teacher-student discussion after the viewing of each clip and an end-of-semester survey. Results indicate that the use of popular French comedy is an effective way of engaging students by exposing them to everyday language and culture in an entertaining medium. However, although the project revealed some key facets of students' negotiation of the third space, the videos demonstrated a limited capacity to promote an awareness of cultural difference and the complexities of identity formation. Further research into appropriate techniques for facilitating such awareness is therefore required.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPractices and policies
Subtitle of host publicationcurrent research in languages and cultural education : selected proceedings of the second national LCNAU colloquium
EditorsCatherine Travis, John Hajek, Colin Nettelbeck, Elizabeth Beckmann, Anya Lloyd-Smith
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherLanguages & Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781921944918
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventNational LCNAU colloquium (2nd : 2013) - Canberra
Duration: 3 Jul 20135 Jul 2013


ConferenceNational LCNAU colloquium (2nd : 2013)

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