Poetry can be used in a variety of ways in the language class, and the good thing about it is that your students will use all their language skills with their (or other people’s) poems! Write, read, recite or listen to a poem is a rich experience that can take your class on all kind of learning adventures through past, present and future tenses. Put a little poetry in your primary or secondary level classes, you won’t regret it !
Start a lesson by reading a poem to the kids. It can be an old one, a funny one, one you wrote yourself or even song lyrics! Ask you students what they understood from it (you can do the See, wonder, think routine), and start a discussion on the topic of poetry.
Another idea, would be to use a recorded version of urban poetry (in French, it’s called “slam”). You can introduce the concept to your group (if they don’t already know it), and ask them to reflect on it. There is a huge social aspect to be used here (Eminem recently slammed Donald Trump on Youtube!). Here is a documentary on French slam.
From Shakespeare to Prévert, the option to read poetry are endless. One of the most graceful way that the human being found to express its needs, longings and emotions can be used in the language classroom in a number of ways. Here are a few:
- Read and comment – either orally or in written form
- Read out loud – individually or in groups
- Do a vocabulary hunt – with old or recent texts
- Sing a poem – and alternatively, read a song
- Read a poem and guess the author, or the time period
- Research on a poem – or find one online and bring it to the class for discussion
For more ideas, check out the British Council website on how to use poetry as a foreign language.
This is the fun part! After reading and listening to a few poems of different styles, periods and poets, ask you class to write their own chef d’oeuvre poétique! You could start with a calligram, like the ones that the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire designed….
Poème du 9 février 1915 & Tour Eiffel, Guillaume Apollinaire.
You can also read out loud an existing poem to your group, and omit the last verse. Your students would have to write the last sentence and share it with the rest of the group. They could say why they choose to write this or that. At the end of the activity, read the real final verse.
A great class project could be to make a poem collection with your group. Every student write one (or many) poems, correct them, read them and share them with the others. When the work on the text is done, ask your kids to establish an order of the poems in the collection, and eventually edit it. That could easily be done online with a Google Doc or a simple PDF file. You could also have illustrations to accompany the text, or an audio version of some poems…
There are many more ways to use poetry in the foreign language class, don’t hesitate to write a few in the comment box…