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Laughter is the Best Medicine

April 11, 2011

With exams coming and stress increasing (not too much, I hope), I thought it would be an appropriate time to lighten the mood. This will be the last post until after midterm tests.

Marketers have long realized that not only sex but also humor sells, so when you want to find something cleverly funny, look to commercials. The following are a couple of funny commercials about learning English. The first one is from Germany and entices language learners to sign up for English lessons at Berlitz, a famous language institute. The humor revolves around a mispronunciation error (‘th’ and the ‘s’ sound), which some of you may be acquainted with. Click here. (Note: “mayday, mayday” is a distress signal used by sailors or pilots in life-threatening situations. The Coast Guard is the government organization responsible for rescuing sailors in distress.)

The second video is from Holland, I think, and also encourages students to take English language classes. The humor comes from not understanding English vocabulary which, unfortunately, makes the people in the commercial appear unsophisticated and the ‘butt of a joke.’ Warning: the video contains quite coarse and offessive language with sexual content, so you may skip it if you wish. However, since we are all adults, I’m sure that we can find the educational benefit from studying it. Actually, when I first saw it, it reminded me of a few occasions in Korea when I heard music with interesting and catchy beats, but similarly offensive lyrics. Although I would never suggest learning offensive language for speaking use, I do advise learning some of it for listening to avoid embarrassing situations as in the video.

Students: You can either comment on one or both of the videos above, or provide a link to a video you think is funny and give a description of that video. Also, feel free to comment on other students videos.

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. Gabriel permalink
    April 13, 2011 8:54 pm

    “We are sinking!!” ” Ah..What are you thinking about” God..the first commercial was really funny and impressive. The commercial gives a good lesson of how important it is to learn English and makes people feel desperate to improve their English skills!

  2. sososo permalink
    April 13, 2011 11:21 pm

    I saw these funny commercials. I think sometimes laughter is necessary to learn English. Because we are so exhausted to learning a foreign language. But it is sad, at the same time.
    People of these video seem to be in my situation. T.T
    I will try harder to improve my english.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 15, 2011 4:51 pm

      It’s probably natural for most language learners to be (a little) self-concious of their pronunciation, including myself whenever I speak Korea. (i.e: I notice that most students laugh at my attempts to use Korean in class.) However, I think the laughter is mostly light-hearted and innocuous, and that only the most insensitive and rude (people) would deride sincere attempts to use a second language. Life is too short to worry about those types of people. From a practical standpoint, although some students could benefit from accent reduction practice, most of the students I encounter in our English department have either passable, acceptable, or fine accents.

  3. April 13, 2011 11:39 pm

    These videos are just hilarious. I always thought pronounciation is not as important as grammar or vocabulary in using English, but the first video completely changed my mind. Bad pronounciation does significantly affect the flow of a conversation. The situation of the second video actually happens quite a lot. Some Koreans wear clothes with some nonsense English words on it..shame:P

  4. April 13, 2011 11:40 pm

    These videos are just hilarious. I always thought pronounciation is not as important as grammar or vocabulary in using English, but the first video completely changed my mind. Bad pronounciation does significantly affect the flow of a conversation. The situation of the second video actually happens quite a lot. Some Koreans wear clothes with some nonsense English words on them..shame:P

  5. Sunny permalink
    April 14, 2011 10:40 am

    These videos made me funny and realize the importance of English studying. Also, I like that those are using humor especially in the first ad. I, suddenly, am curious about what foreigners think of my pronounciation and English speaking as.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 15, 2011 4:50 pm

      It’s probably natural for most language learners to be (a little) self-concious of their pronunciation, including myself whenever I speak Korea. (i.e: I notice that most students laugh at my attempts to use Korean in class.) However, I think the laughter is mostly light-hearted and innocuous, and that only the most insensitive and rude (people) would deride sincere attempts to use a second language. Life is too short to worry about those types of people. From a practical standpoint, although some students could benefit from accent reduction practice, most of the students I encounter in our English department have either passable, acceptable, or fine accents.

  6. Wow permalink
    April 16, 2011 12:14 am

    Nowadays, I felt a little bit depressed due to some truouble with my boyfriend and coming midterm test. Seeing these videos make me laugh in this article, I really enjoyed it. Sometimes I feel embarrassed when I mispronounce or make a mistake in speaking English and even don’t know how to pronounce a word because English words have different pronouncing depend on many situations. So, it’s hard road to learn English. T.T

  7. Chu permalink
    April 16, 2011 1:01 am

    First of all, I could relieve my stress by watching these two funny commercials. Like most of university students, thesedays, I spend most of my time doing assignments and studying hard for midterm. These two commercials gave me some time to refresh myself while studying.
    In my opinion, however, the first commercial is much more interesting and funnier to me. Due to the inability to communicate with the sailor in the life-threatening situation, he misunderstand the distress signal and accordingly can not help the sailor. At this point, I realized that language is neccesary not only for communication with many people but also survival (like in this situation) . Finally, I thought that I should study hard to have a good command of English as a English major.

    • VeraB permalink
      April 18, 2011 9:35 am

      I think you are good enough! Good luck to ur midterm!

  8. book permalink
    April 16, 2011 1:05 am

    A few days ago, I was listning to english listning tape and I listend to “seohaereo” in my ears. I stop the tape and listend again and again. But, the tape was repeated “seohaereo”
    After I saw script, I knew that “seohaereo” is Sahara that is desert.
    Sahara is pronounced “sahara” in Korea. I felt importance of pronunciation once more.

  9. MIN.Y.K permalink
    April 16, 2011 11:09 am

    What a fun video. I can stress out through this video. However, two advertisements include sarcastic meaning. Foreigner and old man are hard to study English. It is natural in terms of their English ability. but, in the adv, producer use character made idiot. It is unfair. Not knowing English cannot be humorous thing. It is included demanding learning English. Anyway, contents are enough to making fun.

  10. PCE permalink
    April 16, 2011 11:47 pm

    How absurd and funny this videos are. I do agree with that laughter is the best medicine.
    And, at the same time, I feel the importance of studying English accurately as well as fluently again.

    Firstly, when I saw these ads, what comes to my mind was various T-shirts with english logo. Many people from none-english speaking country do not much care about what is written in English on their t-shirts. But, sometimes, english-speaking people laugh to see what the words mean. It seems that this case is similar to the ads which are happened because of the lack of English.

  11. Yang woochan - critical reading and writing2 permalink
    April 17, 2011 8:16 am

    “mayday!mayday! … We are sinking!”
    This comment is a funny commercials.
    At first, I wasn’t able to laugh because of dificient vocabulary and incomprehension.
    This funny video once more makes aware of my vocabulary.
    I’ll study english harder for avoid embarrassing situations as in the video!

  12. Actor permalink
    April 17, 2011 9:45 am

    Above commercials remind me an importance of pronunciation. These happenings are not rare in our life. A light mistake of pronunciation can make a not good matter in some caces. In addition, i think that it is important for us to make an pricise accent also. We can shorten our communication sentences by using an accent. Sometimes, however, miscommunication arrise because of using a wrong accent. Hence, we should study pronunciation and accent to improve quality of our communication.

  13. S.A. Lee permalink
    April 17, 2011 5:39 pm

    These two funny comercials remind me “Dick in a Box”. yes, it wasn’t comercial but very very hilarious music video, if you don’t mind sexual content.
    Anyways, I deeply agree with the ‘laughter is the best medicine’. And, I try to control this pressureless mid-term by laughing. The Dr. Positive Noh said, “Happiness doesn’t make laughter, laughter makes happiness”

  14. Irene permalink
    April 17, 2011 7:10 pm

    When I saw the American drama, all characters were laughed by main character’s saying. There was a sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center that said, “Keep of the Grass.” However, I didn’t know why they did despite of listening once again. This was occurred by unknowing the hidden meaning of the word. The grass is used as informally indicating the drug, Marijuana. Likewise, we try to learn not only academic English for educational purpose, but also practical English such as pun for understanding more conversation and cultures.

    This video shows an interesting advertisement using the pun.

    We can catch that Nut, the middle name of product, used as meaning of not. How about finding other interesting puns in that ad?

  15. KSH permalink
    April 17, 2011 7:49 pm

    I sink these videos are really fun 🙂 I experienced the smiliar situation to the second one. I’ve loved pop-songs since I was in middle school but at that time I didn’t know much English. I listened to Eminem a lot and sometimes sang it outloud not knowing its meaning. I was attending a cram school and one of the native english teachers heard me singing ond of the dirtiest songs of Eminem and explained the meaning to me. I was so embarrassed then.

  16. whosthisgirl permalink
    April 17, 2011 9:54 pm

    hahaha I SINK these two videos are so funny! These vids definitely remind of me being as a fob when I was in Vancouver. Especially the second video made me laugh a lot since that situation is definitely what me and my friends were talking about before. One day, my friend asked me if koreans do really know what slangs in rap music mean and I said ‘definitely not unless if the person grew up in the states or somewhere’ and the friend said ‘it’s funny to see how you guys seem like enjoy those hardcore rap songs and how korean rappers write a song with slang words even though we don’t really know the words meaning’.
    I’ve listened to american songs for 10 years and kind of got used to see the lyrics but still some songs make me feel like ‘what the…o.o ‘
    To share about one of stories between me and my korean friend, I asked my friend who is really good at singing to sing a song ‘only girl by rihanna’ at karaoke after awhile she msged me ‘I’m practicing so hard to sing this english song for you but I like this song :)’ and I said ‘ oh I’m happy that you like the song but wait, have you checked the lyrics with korean traslation?’ then bam! my friend replied me ‘omg! not gonna sing this song at karaoke for you. so awkward to sing this song in front of people after I got to know what lyrics mean!’ haha

    p.s> my friends found these perfect shirts for me online

    http://www.davidandgoliathtees.com/men/i-speak-engrish-mens-preprinted-tee.html

    http://www.baboshirts.com/shop/TeeMain.php?Item_code=35&img_code=163&cate=0001|

  17. LJH permalink
    April 17, 2011 10:37 pm

    Sometimes, we confuse words that we are well-acquainted with, when we listen to the words. So we misunderstand contents of a conversation
    or of a important news and are put in an awkward position. It need to listen carefully when we listen to something.

  18. anonymouse permalink
    April 18, 2011 12:35 am

    Before I read the explanation of proftodd, I didn’t understand what the situation meant on the first ad.
    Both commercials are very interesting ,yet forcing me to study English more.
    The pressure of upcoming mid-term test upon me is frustrating me.
    Get fighting with English!(not English men)

  19. Sylpid permalink
    April 18, 2011 12:49 am

    When you want to learn other language, you have to study. We can experience thing like this for example, You’re having a listenig test but you can’t solve the question because you don’t know the word that you hear. We can even experience that in our language.
    Those two videos were funny, but reminds me to study harder for fluency in English.

  20. kim soo min permalink
    April 18, 2011 1:11 am

    At first, thank you for offering these amazing commercials. Originally, I love to watch surprising ads like these. Especially the second one makes me laugh at midnight. hahaha XD
    I think such ads containing a little bit sensational can give enjoyment and curiosity to viewers a lot. So I want to watch witty commercials on Korean TV but it will be inappopriate for our conservative feelings. T.T
    I will find more on you-tube 🙂

    ps; It can be written by smart phone. wow

  21. Terry permalink
    April 18, 2011 6:43 am

    I think It is best way for me to study English trough the media like movies. Especially, exprssion of each stuation.

  22. VeraB permalink
    April 18, 2011 9:33 am

    Haha I really laughed out loud watching both. It was when I was promoting how to teach pronunciation in one of my previous English teaching class. By watching this everyone laughed at it. One of my friends mentioned that he wondered what the sailor would think when his ship is sinking lol.
    Second one What an embarrasssssing moment! But the parents are witty! haha one time my foreign friends taught me some common sexual jokes because I could not understand and catch when to laugh. It may not be good way to learn second language but i think sometimes it is beneficial in the name of smooth conversation lol

  23. Choi Hui Young permalink
    April 18, 2011 6:26 pm

    These commercials are really funny because of the situation. The First commercial is about pronunciation as you said in the post. To me at first, the different pronunciation between ‘th’ and ‘s’ is really hard to recognize and still sometimes I can’t confirm that pronunciation. So, first commercial is real masterpiece of institutite commercial. And the second thing, I can’t sure that I think is right. I think all the family don’t know the english so whole family can enjoy that offensive lyric. In Korea, not like this commercial but simillar to this one happened. It’s in the clothes. Few years ago, some people wear the clothes which is printed offensive words on it. More problem is that they don’t know the meaning in that words and just be happy because it looks nice. Thesedays that embarrasing situation is almost gone but I guess that somewhere in this country there’s still someone that wearing those obscene clothes. Anyway, all of these commercials are funny for me and reminds me to study harder in english.

  24. Cho Suji permalink
    April 19, 2011 10:35 am

    First of all, I really like the first ‘you tube’!. “Sinking?” “Thinking?” Ha ha,, It’s very important for students who would learn English to pronounce correct pronunciations.

  25. April.P permalink
    April 20, 2011 10:00 am

    OMG, this is so funny! 😀 I have no idea for English institution commercial thing though, here is a little creepy and fun video clip. It advertises ceiling stuff, showing two lizards are in love. They’re died from cracking fragile ceiling, so the people in the video blame the ceiling to each other.

  26. QIAOMI permalink
    April 24, 2011 6:12 pm

    I can not quite understand the first video talking about
    I think it is that the importance of pronunciation
    Of course is to learn a foreign language the most important part
    However, as made me interested in the second
    I always want to want to learn a language that you must first become interested in it.
    Although the second video has some bad words, but it’s very easy to cauth the eye.
    (Have to admit vulgar can cauch the eyes easy)
    And learning a new language from the simple and the words began to make learning interesting
    and more likely to be longer remembered.

  27. Adam Lee permalink
    April 27, 2011 9:19 am

    ok, here’s my funny video,,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFVNTa1FNSo
    i hope it’s not too late… even i know it’s already very late…

  28. Adam Lee permalink
    May 5, 2011 10:05 pm

    you may not understand why the waiters or counters say such words to the italian man at the first time you watch. but you may find it very funny after watching it for a second time, and you can also know how terrible the italians’ english is and what a big trouble they have when they go to an english country.

  29. May 24, 2011 8:54 pm

    All of you already know this video since it is released on tv advertisement.
    I wonder can twins really communicate each other? I watched more than 5 times kiki
    Aren you fun?

  30. Joo permalink
    May 27, 2011 12:18 am

    I think that this way is essential to not only learning English , but also human life
    because it is very effective.

  31. lalala permalink
    May 29, 2011 6:01 pm

    Am I the only one person who didn’t understand the second video? So Sad! It reminds me when I visited America and went to movie theater. It was comedy movie and all the people laughed at the same scene except me! I couldn’t understand the jokes so couldn’t laugh! More of that, when I did dog training in front of foreign friends, I said “sit!” but they accept it “shit!”. I was really ambarrassed ;-(

  32. May 29, 2011 9:57 pm

    these two comercials give me a fun and some meaning i think.
    at first, it gives me a fun of mispronounciation.
    we are not native, so we do that kinds of error.
    listening and pronounciation’s improvement are needed.
    second, it gives me a fun effectively.
    using error, it gives me a meaning of commercial effectively.
    so i can understand easily.
    thank you proffesor

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