Learn a language through laughter

Every July in the province of Quebec, Canada, the largest international comedy festival in the world, ‘Juste Pour Rire’, fills the vibrant city of Montreal with laughter. Juste Pour Rire, or ‘Just for laughs’, began as a two-day French-speaking comedy event in 1983 and is now a huge platform for both francophone and other comedians from all over the world.

As language learners, we can gain a lot from watching comedy in the language we’re learning. Humour is a huge part of everyday life all over the world, and being able to understand and make jokes in another language requires a good understanding of both the language and the culture. Stand-up comedy also often includes slang and plays on words, making it a real test for your language skills! This is why, for many people, the first time you understand a joke in another language can feel like a real landmark in your learning.

The Juste Pour Rire festival gets underway today in Montreal and continues for two weeks. To join in the comedy, we thought we’d share some jokes with you in the languages you’re learning.

A Spanish chiste

We’ll begin with un chiste in Spanish:

¿Qué hace el tiburón perezoso que tiene que atrapar la cena?

Translation: “What does the lazy shark do when he has to catch his dinner?”

La respuesta es…
(The answer is…)


Remember that nada has a double meaning, un doble significado.

nada can be translated as:

1. ‘nothing’
2. ‘he/she/it swims’ (from the verb nadar)

A French blague

Next, we have une blague in French:

Pourquoi le hibou est-il l’animal le plus heureux ?

Translation: “Why is the owl the happiest animal?”

La réponse, c’est…
(The answer is…)

Car sa femme est chouette !

Translation: “Because his wife is chouette!”

Une chouette is another word for ‘owl’, but the adjective chouette translates as ‘great’.

An Italian barzelletta

Now, are you ready for an Italian barzelletta?

Che cosa deve avere un musicista disorientato?

Translation: “What does a confused musician need?”

La risposta è…
(The answer is…)

Un piano!

Un piano also has more than one meaning:

1. ‘a plan’
2. The musical instrument

A German Witz

And unfortunately we decided not to include a German Witz …

… because German jokes are the Wurst!

(Wurst (f) = ‘sausage’)

We hope you’ve enjoyed these chistes, blagues, barzellette, Witze and can see how jokes can really test your knowledge of a language, and are therefore a great way to practise!

Fancy a challenge? Why not try making up a joke in the language you’re learning? If you do, make us laugh by posting it in the comments section below!

2 thoughts on “Learn a language through laughter”

  1. German tourist to waiter in English hotel dining room: “I have been waiting for my breakfast for 30 minutes. When do I become a sausage?”.


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