Pun Work Helps English Learners Get the Joke


  • Kristin Lems

Kristin Lems is a professor in the ESL/Bilingual Education Program at National-Louis University, Chicago, Illinois, USA; e-mail klems@nl.edu.


Native speakers of a language learn word play as part of the language acquisition process, but learners of a new language rarely get that opportunity. English has an unusually large number of opportunities for humorous puns, based on the complex system of spellings, pronunciations, and meanings of English words. There are three main categories of English puns, and these are explained and illustrated, along with lesson plans for using puns in classroom with English language learners. Suggested resources are included.