Posted 9/11/07
This short film was directed by Ehsan Amani (Iran). It is titled Sili which seems to be translated as The Slap.
  • Language level: Pre-intermediate (A2) +
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Activity: Listening; Writing; Speaking
  • Topic: Transport
  • Language: Verbs of thought (wonder, wish, hope, etc)
  • Materials: Video; Worksheet
The train tunnel joke pdf [downloaded 3594 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Tell students that you have a joke for them. Tell them the following:
  2. There are four people in a train carriage: An attractive girl, an older woman, a young soldier and a colonel. [Make sure that students understand that a colonel is a high-ranking officer, far superior to a lowly soldier] The attractive girl is reading a book. The older woman is knitting. The colonel is reading a newspaper. The soldier is looking out the window, lost in thought. The train goes into a tunnel and the carriage becomes completely dark.
  3. Find out if anyone knows the joke. If so, ask them to keep quiet at this stage. For those that don’t know the joke, ask them to guess what happens at this point.
  4. Play the video clip from the beginning and pause it at 1:45 (after the train has come out of the tunnel).
  5. Ask students (who don’t know the joke) if they can guess what happened: Who kissed who?
  6. Give out copies of the Thought Bubbles worksheet (included in the PDF download). Ask students to decide what each passenger is thinking and write their thoughts in the appropriate bubbles. This can also be done in pairs or small groups. Note that if there are students who already know the joke this does not matter as they will have to recall the various thoughts and put them into words.
  7. When all worksheets have been completed, let students compare and share their ideas. During this step and the previous one, the teacher can circulate and help with language.
  8. Ask students to tell you what they wrote in the woman’s thought bubble.
  9. Play the clip until 2:10 and find out what the woman is thinking.
  10. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for the girl, the colonel and the soldier. In each case, ask students to share what they wrote in the thought bubbles before playing appropriate sections of the clip (see table below).
  11. Make sure that everyone understands the joke.


During steps 7 – 9, students will realize that neither the woman nor the girl were kissed. In most cases, this will present a logical problem. The situation becomes yet more complex when we find out what the colonel is thinking. You may want to change the activity so that students are ‘detectives’. After hearing each thought, they must reassess their theories about what happened in the tunnel.

Posted 9/11/07

10 Responses to The train tunnel joke

  1. James Wylie says:

    Used this for five minutes at the end of an FCE class yesterday. Students certainly enjoyed it. Nobody had heard of the joke before, but one of them figured out the solution – must be quite quick-witted.

    I guess if people had more time to use it, it could be adapted for higher levels depending on the complexity of what they have to put in the thought bubbles; plus, you may or may not want to use it for modals of deduction.

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hey James
    Wow – I wouldn’t have thought that it would be possible to work out the joke. What a bright spark you must have in your class!

  3. Eva Luptakova says:

    It is always positive if humour is a part of lessons. I think this is a great example how to teach in an interesting way and also learn about what we have in common with people living in different countries. Thank you, Jamie:)

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thank you Eva
    I am currently writing a lesson plan for another joke which involves 26 nationalities. I’ll be posting it in the next few days. Hope you like it.
    Jamie :-)

  5. Marta says:

    hi, I’m not sure if the third conditional is good for A2 level, but for sure you can use the joke to practise ‘be going to’ for prediction or will for guessing.
    Thank you!

  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hey Marta
    In principle, if everything else works well, I wouldn’t worry about the presence of a third conditional for A2 level. As long as they understand it. We’re not trying to get them to produce third conditionals at this stage. Such is the messy nature of materials that have not been created for language learners/learning!
    J :-)

  7. Diana Corona says:

    Hi there!

    I’m usually quite slow in understanding the punchlines for jokes. Can someone explain the train tunnel joke to me.
    I’ll try watching it again.

  8. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Diana
    Did you get it in the end?
    So when the train went into the tunnel, there was a kissing sound and then a slap.
    The idea is everyone though that the one of the soldiers kissed the girl and then she slapped him.
    But in fact, the young soldier made the sound by kissing his own hand and then he slapped the colonel.
    I have seen this as a joke as well. Here for example:
    Do you get it now?
    J :)

  9. Diana Corona says:

    Dear Jamie,

    Ahhh, thank you so much for giving it to me. I don’t think I would have understood on my own. After a week, I tried viewing it again and I still didn’t get it.

    I can definitely use this for my lesson.

    Thanks again!

  10. Jamie Keddie says:

    Happy to help Diana
    I’m glad you like it :)