Let them all toil over a line.
Their English will be closer to fine.
The search for words, the search for rhyme
Is a constructive use of time.
Through verse it is possible to touch
On rhythm, diction, grammar and such.
Think! All the possibilities
To increase their abilities.
- Culture and rhythm can be learned through common rhymes. Do your students know Eeny Meeny Miney Mo?
- Useful information can be retrieved in the target language with the help of a rhyme. Do your students know Thirty Days Has September?
- A review of the parts of speech and grammatical structures is possible through poetry. Consider taking an existing poem and making it a fill-in-the-blank text with key words omitted. First, go through the poem and identify what words are missing, for example, a noun, a plural noun, an adjective, etc. Then have students complete the poem. The results will vary from funny to serious and should be shared. As a final step, you can read the original poem to the class. If you’d like to have students generate larger amounts of language, consider using instant poetry forms with fill-in-the-blanks. Check out “I Used To” and “If Emotion Were”.
- Help students recall the spelling and meaning of a new vocabulary word through an acrostic poem. Have students work in pairs and assign each pair a key vocabulary word. Pairs must create a line of poetry for each letter of the key word. I found an interesting site that assists you in composing this type of poem. Click here. A series of screens takes you through the brainstorming process and even gives some prompts when you place your cursor over one of the key letters. The final screen gives you the option of printing out our work. I had a bit of fun with “major” and “clarify”:
Main and never unimportant
Always at the top of the list
Just think really big
Or so serious
Really it’s unforgettable
Clear up the misunderstanding
Lay my doubts to rest
Articulate you thoughts to me
Reword if necessary
Inspect your meaning
Feel your way to truth
Yes, I understand the word now
- Develop students’ sense of rhythm and rhyme by asking them to create a limerick. You can take this activity a step further and target problematic sounds. For example, if you need them to work with vowel + /r/ combinations, have them make limericks in which the first line states a name such as Bert, Curt, Bart, Harry, Mary, Murray, or Cort: “There was a lady named Mary…” Give them the basics on constructing this type of poem. A fun model about a fellow named Jerry is provided on eHow. (A more detailed explanation is given by Dan Rollins on ExpertsExchange.) Composing a limerick with a partner may help some overcome writer’s block. Be sure to make time for the limericks to be read aloud to the class.