My teenage students always loved it when I included poetry in our English lessons. (I am using the past tense because now I work as a teacher trainer ).
In my view, there are two essential factors that we should take into account if we want poetry to be both enjoyable and enriching for our language purposes.
Choose the poems students are going to read according to their language level so that you do not have to explain too many words because that would kill the enjoyment.
Vary the activities on the poems because variety is the spice of life and learning alike.
In this brief article, I would like to share some of my students’ favourite activities with you:
- Understand and perform a poem: One of my choices for this type of activity is “Invictus”, by William Ernest Henley. You can see the lesson plan I developed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1whiNmJjMM_6eOhNT29NV7F-u2byQyb1z/view?usp=sharing
- Learn grammar while you become a poet: In this activity, students choose a poem from any of the websites or the books the teacher has suggested. Then, students change either the verbs, the nouns, or the adjectives but respect the structure of the poem. Students come up with very different versions of the original poem and that makes this activity really enjoyable.
- Hold poetry circles in a similar way you would hold a Literature Circle. If you want to know how I develop Literature Circles, you can follow these slides: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vocWVS2-hMMmfXg2vTCTk6-qurZn95Ja/view?usp=sharing
- Work on sound and rhyming patterns: Students have to demonstrate their understanding of rhyming patterns and mute letters in English by answering questions such as: Which words rhyme with specific words in the poem? Which words include mute letters? You can see an example of a poem that would enable you to work on silent letters and rhyme below these lines: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eymkXLSRvWk_9kdGdWKFwYDeoKAsw2Im/view?usp=sharing
I hope the suggestions above will be useful to integrate Poetry in your English lessons.
About the author: Loli Iglesias comes from the Basque Country and has been teaching English at Secondary level for 17 years. She is currently working as a teacher trainer for the Department of Education of the Basque Government. She develops seminars on Professional Development for English teachers and CLIL. Her main interests are CLIL and ESL methodology . She blogs at clilingetxo.blogspot.com.