A Study of Comparative Effects of Humorous versus Non-Humorous Text Types on Vocabulary Learning of Iranian EFL Learners at Two Proficiency Levels

Document Type : Original Article


1 Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

2 MA in TEFL, Department of English Language and Literature, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran



The purpose of this study is to explore the effectiveness of utilizing humorous versus non-humorous texts on receptive and productive vocabulary learning. This research is also conducted to seek whether language proficiency of the participants would be a factor influencing the effectiveness of two types of treatments used in the study. The materials employed in the present study include 17 humorous and 17 non-humorous texts which contain the target words. 87 students at two proficiency levels participated in the study and almost half of them were exposed to the target words through humorous texts and the second half learned the words through non-humorous texts. The target words with their English definitions were presented to the participants. Each text was accompanied by some comprehension questions, either in the multiple choice format, fill in the blanks or open ended questions. Following the treatment, an unannounced immediate post-test was administered to measure the effectiveness of two text types on vocabulary learning. After a three-week interval, an unannounced delayed post-test was administered to check the efficacy of text types on long-term vocabulary learning. The findings suggest significantly better vocabulary learning both in immediate and delayed post-tests for the less proficient participants learning target words through humorous texts. However, in the case of the more proficient learners, it turns out that humor is considerable in long-term learning of the target words. Based on the results, it is recommended that teachers and materials developers include more elements of humor in the language classes and course books.


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