Wondering When Students Begin Enjoying Word Play

The latest post on Film English “Missing U” introduced me to a beautifully animated short film with such clever word play! I enjoyed it so much that I watched it a few times this week, just for my own pleasure.

I don't think THIS was intentional word play...
I don’t think THIS was intentional word play…

It set me thinking though. The adults (hearing) I taught were struggling learners. Despite the lovely and useful lesson plan on the Film English Blog (which was planned for intermediate and upper-intermediate learners, not the level I taught) I think a great deal of effort would be needed for these learners to identify and understand the word play. If a lot of effort is needed, doesn’t that seriously impair the effect? Doesn’t it become “not fun / funny”?

I remember when years ago I took a course in Spanish. Last summer I also tried to study some Spanish on my own. I needed so much concentration to follow something in Spanish (and was so proud when I did) that word play would have thrown me off. I needed the contexual clues to support my budding comprehension and felt much more sympathy toward  my deaf students who abhor words that have more than one meaning.

So, from what level of English is word play suitable and enjoyable?


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