Teaching Poetry to ESL Students

On 28 May, 2021

Understanding the figurative language of poems can be a challenge to ESL students. These tips and activities can help students appreciate poetry while learning English.

Teaching Poetry to ESL Students

Using Poems to Boost English Language Skills

Until recently, the responsibility of teaching poetry to middle and high school students had belonged to English language arts teachers. Many immigrant English as a second language students had limited access to this form of literature prior to moving into regular English classes. Now that more and more English learners in many states have been prevalent in the past and must participate in mandatory testing, ESL teachers need to include more instruction in literature in their lessons, in addition to their core mission of improving their students' reading, writing and listening skills. , and speaking skills.

Although most ESL students may be years away from understanding a Shakespearean sonnet, there are many ways to introduce students to poetry and use it to boost their language skills. Now I know more but there was a time when I had to buy my essay online.

Choose Appropriate Poems

Teachers need to consider their students’ language level when choosing poetry material. Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, Nikki Giovanni, and Gary Soto have written poems that are accessible to intermediate-level students; the vocabulary is simple and the themes, including racism, poverty, love, and work are relevant to many students’ lives. Some children’s poetry can also be used as long as it doesn’t seem too juvenile and students can relate to the themes.

Teach Poetic Devices

The understanding and appreciation of a poem often depend on how well the students understand the use of figurative language. Examples of poetic techniques such as comparison, metaphor, personification, and alliteration can be presented separately or in poems, and students can consider their meanings and why the poet used them. It is also important to make sure that students understand other vocabularies, such as lines and stanzas, to discuss the arrangement of devices as well as the poem in general.

Students can later apply that knowledge by looking for examples in different poems or using poetic devices in writing exercises. When preparing for state-mandated literature tests, teachers can expose students to questions used in previous tests to familiarize their students with how they might have to demonstrate those concepts.

Use Poetry for Language Development

Students can practice listening comprehension by filling in the missing words of a poem that is read to them. A poem can introduce or reinforce target vocabulary around a theme; a pre-reading exercise can involve defining or using those words. Another strategy for teaching vocabulary is for students to read the poem and use the context to guess the meanings of unfamiliar words they encounter.

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Write Poems

One of the most creative and satisfying ways to get students to apply their poetry knowledge is to have them write their own poems. Teachers who introduce their own work as models demonstrate to students that anyone can be a poet. For example, I could write my law essay by myself.

If students are not comfortable with free verse, different prompts such as using magnetic poetry and providing a first line can also be used. Two popular strategies with English language learners include the "I am" poem, which encourages students to explore a subject using senses and characteristics, and the list poem, which is a list of anything, such as a shopping list or a list of what bothers the student. Students with more advanced English skills and an understanding of poetic devices should be encouraged to incorporate those devices into their poems.

Complete Poetry Projects

As a final product for a class unit on poetry, an oral presentation is an opportunity for students to display both their language skills and their knowledge of the subject matter. Students can choose a poem, recite it to the class, identify how the poet uses metaphor, repetition, or other poetic devices, and share what the poem means to them. They can also present their own work in a similar fashion, or write a detailed response to their poem of choice.

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