This article explores the interface between language play and language awareness. Grounded in an understanding of two kinds of language play, ludic language play and language play as rehearsal, it shows how the shared theoretical underpinnings and distinctive features of both overlap with the concept of language awareness. Spanning across cognitive, affective, and social dimensions of learners' language awareness, both types of language play highlight learners' conscious perception and sensitivity to linguistic forms and functions, attention, noticing, alertness, and particularly engagement. The paper contends that there is a close connection between language play and language awareness, and thereby argues that language play episodes, whether for the purpose of amusement or private rehearsal, could yield insights into students' knowledge about language and their ability to reflect on it through engagement with language. Finally, the paper outlines implications for research on language play episodes and for their use in teaching to incorporate humor into the language classroom.