Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Past Perfection

Recently, I've been browsing poetry anthologies, looking for poems which might work well in class. Poems are so rich in language and meaning; complex, yet compact. What’s more, learning rhyming poems are a wonderful way of aiding learners’ recall, and working on stress and intonation. 

I found this charming little poem a few days ago, as I was leafing through John Hegley’s collection of poetry These Were Your Father’s.

Past Perfection
You used to be
my cup of tea
but now you’re not so hot,
you couldn’t see
enough of me
but now you see the lot,
It used to be a mystery
but now it’s only us,
Once you were my cup of tea
But now you’re more like pus.

The title of this poem drew my eye immediately, and quite sums up how I feel after tonight’s grueling grammar lesson.  Several other features make it suitable for use with my learners.

  • Everyday “nonliterary “language
  • The idioms used are commonly found in everyday English
  • It provides good revision of “used to”
  • A useful, and possibly new, item of medical vocabulary in the final line
  • Nice starting point for talking about relationships, writing a timeline of the couple’s relationship and making sentences using a range of tenses.
  • Possible creative writing and role play extension activities.
  • It has a simple rhyme scheme and is short, so learners could easily learn it, first of all marking the stress patterns and checking their ideas with the teacher.

Obviously, I wouldn’t try all of these at once. My plan is to build a little collection of good poems over the next few weeks, and start to regularly incorporate a short poetry slot into my lessons.

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