Poetry In Class?!


arts-poetry-239x2511.jpgThough my suave prose here at the TEFL Logue might lead you to believe otherwise (yeah, right), I don’t read much poetry. I understand even less. And usually these are good reasons to avoid the stuff like the plague in class. But between the April 2004 issue of Modern English Teacher and the July 2003 issue of English Teaching Professional, I found a few strategies for including poetry in fun, relevant and communicative ways.

Haikus
When you are studying pronunciation and/or syllables (as in “What is a syllable?” which is sometimes necessary even for higher levels) this activity can draw students’ attention to the concept of syllables and allows them to actually produce something, rather than just counting and reporting how many syllables a word has. Give them several creative topics, like “Haikus your computer might send you” or “Haikus which explain your cat’s thoughts”. Their task is to write a haiku in pairs or small groups and read it out; the other groups have to guess which topic it is on.

One haiku I liked from English Teaching Professional:

Your file was too big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

Or, each student can write a haiku about a favorite book or movie and again, the others have to guess which one — this would be a bit more challenging to guess of course.

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Chain poems
Each student/pair writes one line of poetry and folds over the page so the next student/pair cannot see it. They write only the final word in the line (perhaps at the bottom of the page) so the next student/pair knows what to rhyme the next line with.

Guided poems
Give your students some questions or beginnings of sentences; they finish them. The examle given in Modern English Teacher was:
Despair … (perhaps you can think of a slightly cheerier topic)

Sounds like…
Tastes of…
Smells like/of…
Feels like..

And:
Describe the person.
What is s/he doing?
What is s/he thinking about?

These examples and ideas come from Jane Hoelker and Phoebe Nilsen in the April 2004 issue of Modern English Teacher.