Pronunciation Practice: Using poetry to develop rhythm

Here’s the second of two ideas I’d like to share in honor of Valentine’s Day:

Activity: Poetry Readings

Targeted Skill: Using romantic poetry to develop students’ understanding of rhythm in English

Suggested works:

·         Lord Byron’s She Walks in Beauty

·         Elizabeth Barret Browning’s How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways… (Sonnet 43)

STEP 1: Listen to a poetry reading either online or via CD/cassette recording. (See above links.) Review vocabulary as needed.

STEP 2: Do a combination of readings to slowly build familiarity with the text and the rhythm of the given poem. Using the audio recording as a guide, have students use either underlining or stress dots to note the key words in each line. Also, have students use slashes to mark appropriate pausing.

·         Reading 1: In chorus led by teacher.

·         Reading 2: In pairs together.

·         Reading 3: In pairs taking turns. Listener should give feedback to reader.

·         Reading 4: Listen again to audio recording.

·         Reading 5: In chorus led by teacher.

STEP 3: Formal recitation. This may be done in class or at a school event. Verses may be divided and assigned to students. Allow them to practice so that they can achieve a fluid reading. Encourage memorization of their assigned lines.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lucy says:

    This is a wonderful activity because it systematically calls for you to recite slowly; therefore naturally paying attention to pacing and correct pronunciation. Thanks:)

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      Thank you. Yes, I like the idea of giving very conscious attention to the rhythm in Step 2. Of course, poetry is meant to flow naturally and move us with genuine emotion, so without the formal recitation in Step 3, the poems would be robbed of their original intent. Thanks for the comment!

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