John Rucynski

Okayama University

John Rucynski has been teaching EFL/ESL for more than 20 years and has taught in the United States, Morocco, New Zealand, and Japan. He is currently Associate Professor in the Center for Liberal Arts & Language Education at Okayama University. In addition to co-authoring several textbooks for university English language courses, he has edited two volumes on the role of humor in foreign language acquisition and intercultural communicative competence.


Humor competence in intercultural communication

Humor can break down cultural barriers, but there are also vast differences regarding how humor is used in different cultures. These differences often complicate intercultural communication and can lead to embarrassment or isolation for language learners (Bell, 2011; Lems, 2013). A growing number of researchers thus advocate the inclusion of humor competency training in foreign language education (Hodson, 2014; Kim & Lantolf, 2016; Wulf, 2010). Humor competency training refers to training learners to better recognize, comprehend, and respond to humor in the context of intercultural communication (Bell & Pomerantz, 2016). How can we include humor competency training as a part of English language classes? Humor competency training does not involve giving dry lectures on the humor norms of different cultures, but rather designing engaging and interactive communicative activities. The presenters will provide an overview of humor competency training units they have implemented in their university English language courses. These units include a focus on two modes of humor that are ubiquitous in many English-speaking cultures, verbal irony and satirical news. The humor training covers both interpersonal and online intercultural communication. A summary of class activities, recommended resources, and student reactions will be shared.