Thursday, 22 March 2012

Poetry Please

One of the most wonderful things about poetry writing in the English classroom is the way that direct translations of phrases and metaphors from the learners’ L1 produce such fresh results. Tonight was our second poetry translation workshop and there are some beautiful pieces of work in the making. I hope to be able to share some next week.

To ease the learners into the session we watched a couple of poets perform their work on the Poetry Station:
 John Hegley’s Rowena is a hilarious poem about unrequited love, and the humour was not lost on the class.  Before watching the performance, I wrote down five or six words from the poem and asked the class to generate as many rhyming words as they possibly could. They did well with this, and even managed to predict some of the words which occur in the poem itself. After our first viewing, I asked the learners to listen out for some of the insults Rowena dishes out to her boyfriend. They did well here, getting the “dead below and the above the belt” one as well as the particularly nasty “you’re thicker than your glasses”.  I have never used the poetry station before, but it’s an excellent resource which I will certainly be returning to before long.
We then got down to the business of continuing with poetry translation.  Many of the learners had already translated their poems' basic meaning. They then began to play around with the words, adding rhyme and reading aloud to listen to the rhythm, before sharing their work with their designated PP (Poet Partner). This part of the lesson worked really well, and I was heartened to overhear some really constructive and thoughtful discussion between partners. 

This morning’s plenary by Steven L Thorne certainly gave me yet more food for thought.  He spoke at some length on the language learning opportunities presented by online gaming sites such as World of War craft. Steven is an energetic and convincing speaker and I came away keen to investigate this possibility more thoroughly. This said, although I find the idea of engaging with such resources appealing, I’m not sure it would suit my teaching context. Many of my adult learners look forward to English classes as a social event, not just an “English lesson”, and I’m not sure how they would react to being immersed in a “second life” virtual world. Still, I will keep an open mind on this until I have had a chance to explore this area in more depth.

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