Humor in the Language Lab


Teachers frequently remark that no two seconds are the same in the classroom. My first teaching assignment was at the university level.  Back in the day of reel to reel tapes, our German textbook employed the audio-lingual method. My university classes met weekly with me in the language lab.  At the end of lessons, the tape included  a German song for students to sing.  I used to save this for the end to inject some music and humor into the lesson.  At the teacher’s station, I could listen in as students practiced speaking German and could correct individually as needed.  As a class, I could have everyone listen to portions of the tape I wanted to discuss from my teacher’s station.

The joy of the language lab was offering individualized instruction or involving the entire class. Students were expected to practice on their own in the lab outside of class as well.  They wore headphones in the lab, so I cautioned them for the portion of singing the song, to have one ear uncovered as they sang the song.  Otherwise, they sounded much like howling cats and dogs and were unaware of how they sounded to others not wearing the headsets.

On this particular Friday after the lesson, I instructed everyone to move their reel to reel tapes to where the song began. What possessed me to do that, remains unclear to this day.  Suffice to say, I instructed everyone to begin their tapes and to start singing the German song.  The problem, of course, was that thirty students began their tapes at thirty different moments and commenced singing what should have been a lovely song sung in unison.  It was anything but.  It was too late once I realized the error.  So I sat at the teacher’s console doubled over in laughter at the resulting cacophony in the language lab.

In disbelief, thirty faces looked at me laughing with tears streaming down my face. I could barely get the words out to explain. The ensuing song was a disaster of what should have been a pleasant tune.  We never sang the song using this method again.  Live and learn and laugh along the way.  Life is grand and never dull!  Including humor in the classroom was an important teaching tool.


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10 Responses to Humor in the Language Lab

  1. Oh, the lessons we learn… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes indeed and laughter involved. Humor is such an important daily element in life. We have come a long way since reel to reel tapes in language teaching and learning. Enjoy the weekend. ^__^


  2. That is hilarious. I might do that, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Annika Perry says:

    I think humour is vital and one of the key ingredients for any teacher!! This is so funny and I can just imagine the racket! 😀😀 I think we were one of the last years to use a language lab at school and I never failed to jump when the teacher would interrupt the tape to correct the pronunciation! Never any singing though. Have a great weekend, Mary Ann.😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I try to get a daily dose of humor. As a teacher, I enjoyed music and singing in German with the kids. At the university where I started, we had the mandatory language lab assigned so I used it. In my own studies at the University of Colorado, we were expected to spend two hours daily in addition to the one hour class to learn the language quickly and without a book for the first three months. We learned quickly that way. Again no music. That’s why I enjoyed our particular sessions in the language lab with a song at the end of class. Sweet memories. Of course travel to and study in Germany is the best way. Enjoy the weekend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. bernard25 says:

    Bonjour mon ami ou mon amie

    Je n’ai aucune raison de courir

    La vie me donne le temps

    Soit dans le sens du vent ou à contre courant

    Mais je vais toujours devant moi

    Même si parfois je piétine ou je vais à reculons

    Mais je réussirais et traverserais ce pont de L’avenir

    Pour finalement arriver chez toi

    Je te souhaite une agréable journée

    Gros bisous d’amitié


    Liked by 2 people

  5. The magic of those incidents make the job so much better though!

    Liked by 1 person

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