The Potential of Poetry

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.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hamid Raza says:

    Dear Jennifer,

    I am from EC,i like these poems and most important the rhyming words.

    Thank You

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