Poetry can be used to exploit various aspects of the English language in the foreign and second language classroom. Poetry can beharder to write than prose, it is also true that it is a most personal kind of writing and it needs sensitive treatment, especially with older students. Poetry is subject to interpretation and is as subjective as it can be objective. But some simple forms can be just as esy and fun to write. Besides it will give the children the opportunity to explore language, organize ideas, manipulate strucutre and vocabulary and give free rein to their imagination and feelings.
Cut-ups and collage
The Locust Tree in Flower by Williams Carlos Williams.
Write down on a large piece of paper as many words and phrases about a given topic as you can think of, e.g. spring / the sea / March
Cut the words and prases out and rearrange them to make a poem.
Cinquaine verse doesn't rhyme but you can use alliteration or rhyming vowels. It follows a pattern of 5 lines and can be on any topic. The form presented in your handout is simplified for use with children.
One way of working with these poems is this:
- Give the children examples of cinquaine poems.
- in groups ask them to identify the structure of the poem
- what is the relationship between the first and last words of the poem?
- what is the feeling of the poem?
- brainstorm as many possible pairs of synonyms as they can create. Put the pairs up on the board ( holidays-vacation, life-journey )
- choose one of the brainstormed pairs and write a cinquaine together on the board
- working individually with the outline in your handout they can write their own poem on subjects of their choice.
Line 1 one word (title, the subject of the poem)
Line 2 two words (describe the subject)
Line 3 three words (action, describe what the subject does)
Line 4 four words (describe a feeling about the subject)
Line 5 one word (refer back to the title)
You can make it more challenging by doubling the number of words on each line.
After the students have tried these simple forms, they may be ready or old enough to try some more sophisticated writing, perhaps combining cinquaines and couplets or writing sequences of cinquaines or writing persona poems. These poems are more suitable for older students, perhaps 7th. graders.
A persona poem is a structured 8-line poem, biographical in nature. they make a good in-class assignment at the beginning of the term when students and teacher are just getting acquainted with each other. Students bring in photos or small mementos, collect pictures from magazines or draw their own pictures of things which are self-representative. This becomes the basis for their follow-up collage.
In small groups or as a class, they look at the example poem about Kate and discuss the structure of each line. What parts of speech or groupings of words tipify each line.
Using the model structure, they can work alone and write about themselves, or work in pairs and write about their partners.
Students finish their poems and include it in a persona collage. These can make good wall posters and can be used as interesting starting points for more interesting conversations.
- LINE 1 Kate first name/nickname of person
- LINE 2 tall, energetic,happy, intelligent 4 adjectives that describe the person
- LINE 3 sister of Danny X of Y, describing important relationship
- LINE 4 who loves music, books and fresh air 3 things s/he loves
- LINE 5 who is afraid of President Trump, spiders and heights 3 things s/he hates or is scared of
- LINE 6 who wants to see Latin America, the end of poverty and summer 3 things s/he wants to see
- LINE 7 resident of this moment resident of + place/time/concept
- LINE 8 Thompson last name of person in poem