The value of using poems in the Hong Kong English language classroom has been widely discussed (Falvey & Kennedy,1997; Mok, 1997, 2001 & 2003; Murphy, 1993, Star, 1993). Essentially, poems are extremely useful for language learning as they provide rich resources for personal, language and creative developments. Not only are they a source of pleasure, they encourage personal expressions of feelings by students about themselves and the world, of which they try to make sense. Because the concept of a right or wrong answer is not possible in poetry when each reader responds in a personal way, students are not prohibited from expressing feelings in their own ways for fear of making mistakes. The experience of success they are offered through poetry thus enhances their personal confidence as well as their confidence in English. The sound of a poem can also foster in students a liking and a feeling for the language, which they pick up in a natural way. Because poetry engages the imagination and encourages personal expression, it also stimulates creativity. With its emphasis on enjoyment, personal response and expression, poetry and related class activities can provide a balanced curriculum for students’ development in various areas.
Over the years, through the many pre-service and in-service courses for English language teachers offered by the Institute, we have accumulated a rich pool of poems written by teachers in training, serving teachers and their students, which we would like to share with you. Please click on this link POEM for a collection of poems of different types, and on different themes. The texts and the oral reading of some of the poems by a group of ESL learners (Natalie Cheng, Givy Lau, Derek Law, Esther Mak, and Aaron Wu) can also be accessed through the link. We hope that the resources provided will enrich your teaching, and the learning experiences of your students. Reference • Falvey, P. & Kennedy, P. (Eds) (1997). Learning Language Through Literature. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. • Mok, A. (1997). English language enrichment programme resource book. HK: INSTEP, HKU. • Mok, A. (2001). Task-based learning, language arts and the media: a resource book for secondary English teachers. Hong Kong: INSTEP. • Mok, A. (2003). Task-based English learning: Interactive resource materials. Hong Kong: HKIEd. • Murphy, M. (Ed.) (1993). Using poems in schools. Hong Kong: Education Dept., Institute of Language in Education. • Star, M. (1993). Using Poetry: Why, What, How. In M. Murphy (Ed.) Using poems in schools. Hong Kong: Education Dept., Institute of Language in Education.
Poems Cinquain Acrostic Poems Limericks Haiku Diamentes Animals People Aspects of Life Places People Aspects of Life Animals Aspects of Life Aspects of Life People Aspects of Life Rhyming couplets Sound Shape Narrative Animals People Aspects of Life Places Animals People Aspects of Life Aspects of Life People Aspects of Life
Acrostic Poems • These are poemswhere the first letter of each line forms a word, a phrase, or a sentence. They can be on a theme or the name of a person.
Cinquains • This is a clearly defined verse where there are 5 lines that do not rhyme. What is important is the number of syllables. In total there are 22 syllables and the patterns: 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. The main focus is the effect caused by the image or feeling created.
Haiku • This is a Japanese form of poetry. There are three lines and 17 syllables, usually 5, 7, 5. These are usually based on one idea, describing one event, feeling or moment in time. The emphasis is on simplicity and effective use of adjectives and adverbs. You can create your own pattern as long as the total number of syllables is 17. E.g. 5, 7, 5; 6, 5, 6; 3, 11,3 ; etc.
Limericks • These are poems that are usually funny; there are 5 lines with a rhyming scheme (A,A,B,B,A). Usually the third and fourth lines are shorter. They are excellent for raising awareness of rhyming schemes in a fun way and raising students’ awareness of the rhythm that can be created by carefully chosen words. Often they are nonsense, so students can concentrate on the rhyme and rhythm.
Rhyming Couplets • These are simply two lines that end with the same rhyming word. Students should be encouraged to keep the focus of their topic in mind rather than just looking for words that rhyme. It must be remembered that this can be very difficult, so only ask students to write short poems and to try their best.
Shape Poems • Often poems are written so that they form a particular shape. This can be the shape of the thing that is described or it can be any shape chosen by the student. Student could write a poem in the shape of a square for example. The focus is on the words being used. For example, if the shape poem is about an animal, students should concentrate on brainstorming words that describe that animal, using the dictionary to help them.
Narrative Poems • These are poems that tell a story. They do not have to rhyme or follow any particular pattern, so from that point of view they are easy. There are many examples of narratives both traditional and modern.
Diamantes • These are diamond shape poems made up of 7 lines. The first and last lines are the topics / objects of the poem. The second and second last lines are adjectives describing the topics / objects. The third and third last lines are nouns / activities of the topics / objects. The middle line is the nouns related to the topics / objects.
Sound Poems • These are poems using words that imitate or describe a sound or an activity to create some special effect, for example, words like 'splish, splash and splosh' to describe water splashing; 'plippetty, plippetty, plop' to describe the rain.