Tuesday, 29 January 2013

World Poetry Day

Every year since 1999, UNESCO has celebrated World Poetry Day on 21st March.  For many of us, 21st March will be the last week of this term, and so this provides an excellent opportunity for a special end-of-term project.  Poetry promotes creativity in the target language, as well as furthering grammatical understanding, extending vocabulary and improving dictionary skills.

Students are often put off writing poetry in the foreign language because they think they will have to write something that looks like the poems they read in English, and that their poems will have to rhyme.  However, poetry is accessible to language learners of all levels.

I once worked on some fruit and vegetable poetry with Year 8 students, using Pablo Neruda's Oda al Tomate as our inspiration.  We noticed how many of the short lines of the poem were describing the tomato, either directly or using simile and metaphor.  We wrote simple poems using the fruit or vegetable name, plurals of it, describing it, using possessive adjectives, prepositions and so on.  Here is an example:

There are other ways of writing poems in the target language.

Theme poems - this website is for English, but will give you some ideas 

Acrostics - these could be on a certain topic, or just using words that the students know

"I am" poem - students don't describe themselves physically but use each line of the poem to give something which represents them.  For example "Je suis le dessin / Je suis la guitare / Je suis le café noir".  This could easily be adapted to writing about a friend or a famous person.

Cinquains - five line poems where each line has a set format:
One word, giving the topic of the poem
Two words describing the topic
Three adverbs
Four verbs
One word to sum up the topic

Shape poems - where the poem is written in the shape of the subject of the poem, a little like calligrams

Diamond poems - Like Cinquains these have a set format:
One word, giving the subject of the poem
Two adjectives describing the subject
Three participles describing the subject
Four nouns, two relating to the subject and two relating to its antonym
Three participles describing the antonym
Two adjectives describing the antonym
One word, giving the antonym

Hello-Goodbye poems - For example "Bonjour les chaussures, Au revoir mon argent".  There are also Down with-Long live poems and No thanks-Yes Please poems that work the same way.

Five sense poems - Each of the five lines starts with a day of the week (usually Monday to Friday) and one of the five senses: I saw, I touched, I heard, I tasted, I smelled.  The senses are followed by an appropriate noun.

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