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Secondary Success Stories: Helping students to read and write about poetry

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Working in a low-resource context with inappropriate materials, a secondary school teacher shares how he succeeded in getting students to read and write about poetry.

In this video, Amarnath, from Bihar, India, talks about the difficulties of getting students to read and write about poetry.

In Bihar students do not need to pass an English exam and many do not attend lessons. What is more, the four books he has to work with are well above the students’ comprehension level. To aid understanding, he provides dictionaries and encourages his students to write translations in pencil in the books. He also provides a very simple structure on the board consisting of a few lines for students to follow.

With the aid of this simple structure and some dictionaries, Amarnath has succeeded in getting his students to read poetry, write short interpretations and give brief information about the poets too.

Reflection and discussion

One of the purposes of these resources is to help you with your own teacher development in related contexts. The questions in task 1 and task 2 are designed for you to think about and discuss with colleagues, either informally or as part of your formal professional development.

Do you have access to dictionaries? What are the benefits of getting your students to use dictionaries?