The Role of Poetry in Teaching Second Language.

3,770 views
3,556 views

Published on

The research has illuminated the beneficial role of poetry in all major aspects of second language acquisition, such as the accuracy of pronunciation, development of L2 complex syntax and vocabulary, development of understanding of the L2 discourse, cultural awareness and promotion of multiculturalism, as well as in students’ motivation. Poetry, as an authentic, non-paraphrased utterance of personal perception created in certain socio-cultural environment is a unique linguistic formation. By introducing the activities of reading and writing poetry in second language classrooms such qualities as developing students’ second language in complexity, developing the students’ individual ways of self-expression and self-realization within socio-cultural settings of a second language can be expanded.

Published in: Education, Technology
0 Comments
2 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
3,770
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
85
Comments
0
Likes
2
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Role of Poetry in Teaching Second Language.

  1. 1. Natalia Reilly What is the Role of Poetry in Second Language Learning and Teaching? Research in Second Language Acquisition Natalia Reilly, 2012 © 1
  2. 2. Natalia Reilly What is the Role of Poetry in Second Language Learning and Teaching? What is the role of poetry in second language teaching and learning? Is the role of poetry in second language acquisition beneficial or rather confusing? If it is beneficial or confusing, why is it so? What kind of qualities of the processes of second language learning can be revealed by introducing poetry into curriculum? Which style of poetry is more successful to be applied in teaching a second language? These questions, to name few of them, emerge when researchers and educators are trying to implement poetry in second language teaching. The reviewed articles explore the role of poetry in all major aspects of second language acquisition, such as in the accuracy of pronunciation (Akyel, 1995; Hanauer, 2001; Melin, 2010; Woore, 2007), development of L2 complex syntax and vocabulary (Akyel, 1995; Hanauer, 2001; Lazar, 1996; Melin, 2010; Tin, 2011), development of understanding semantics and pragmatics (Akyel, 1995; Hanauer, 2001; Lazar, 1996), cultural awareness and promotion of multiculturalism (Hanauer, 2001, 2003; Lazar, 1996; Melin, 2010), deepening the second language learners’ ways of self-expression and self-realization (Hanauer, 2012; Tin, 2011), and in students’ motivation (Akyel, 1995; Hanauer, 2012; Lazar, 1996). I. From Phonetics to Culture: The Role of Poetry in the Major Aspects of SLA 1) The Role of Poetry in the Accuracy of Pronunciation Poetry, as no other literary genre, draws language learners’ attention to such specific linguistic elements as sounds of a language, as well as to sounds’ functions and pattering. Nearly every author of the reviewed studies mentions this unique pronunciation alleviating quality of poetic genre. 2
  3. 3. Natalia Reilly First of all, poetry helps students to notice sounds—phonetics and phonology—of a foreign/second language; it is important because to learn something students have to notice this particular “something”. Studies support the assumption that poetry-reading tasks enhance students’ awareness in phonetic linguistic items. Thus, according to Akyel (1995), poetry- reading tasks encourage students to employ their knowledge of all linguistic forms, including the knowledge of phonetics and phonology, to make meaning of poetic texts. Also, as Hanauer (2001) states, poetry reading is primarily a construction process of close reading—of noticing and interpretive categories: noticing, among other elements, the particular sounds and, then, interpreting the poetical meaning based on all noticed linguistic elements. What's more, taking into consideration the aesthetic quality of poetry, Melin (2010) considers teaching poetry as reading-response aesthetic task where sounds play the leading role in conveying the atmosphere of poetic meaning, so without noticing the sounds the full meaning of poetic texts can not be derived. Furthermore, one specific research has been conducted by Woore (2007) to study the use of poetry as one of the possible ways for foreign/second language learners to improve their ability to utilize the foreign language’s symbol-sound relationships (grapheme-phoneme correspondences). In this quasi-experimental study the explicit grapheme-phoneme correspondence training was administrated to the experimental group. The training consisted of the “referring back” strategy sequence when the pupils had to (1) identify the target word with an unknown grapheme; (2) use the poems as a source of analogy; (3) search the poems for the target grapheme; (4) recall the pronunciation of the familiar word containing the same grapheme; (5) apply the familiar pronunciation to the new word grapheme; (6) transfer the pronunciation of the 3
  4. 4. Natalia Reilly target grapheme to the target word. The study has shown the small, yet significant improvement in pronunciation accuracy for the experimental group. 2) The Role of Poetry in the Development of L2 Complex Syntax and Vocabulary The most studies concerning the role of poetry in SLA are in relation to the development of L2 complex syntax and vocabulary by second language learners. Thus, Hanauer (2001) has explored the role of the process of reading and analyzing poetry in second language learning among advanced L2 learners with the emphasis on the processes of how the non-native speakers understand poetic texts and how this understanding interacts with their second language acquisition. This introspective study has revealed the importance of grammar structures in understanding poetry for language learners. Among the participants’ utterances, divided by the researcher in 9 categories, the most frequent were the utterances of Noticing category (32.6%). Moreover, what the participants were noticing the most were grammar structures (90.13% of noticing were about the form, with 84% of unusual grammatical usage, and only 9.87% about literary meaning). Therefore, the participants used grammar structures to construct meaning. Another introspective study (Tin, 2011) went into more detailed exploration of the process of writing poetry and revealed the differences in the use of vocabulary and syntax by language learners while discussing and writing two types of poems—acrostics (poems with high formal constrains) and similes (poems with loose formal constrains). While working on acrostics the students of all levels—from under-intermediate to advanced— demonstrated vocabulary exploration and syntactic elaboration; on the other hand, while working on similes the same students were using familiar vocabulary and simple syntax. Also, while discussing acrostics, the students were using the L2 to directly access the meaning of the upcoming poems, and in the process the co-emergence of form and meaning chaotic brainstorming occurred. In terms of the 4
  5. 5. Natalia Reilly theory of creativity, chaos is a necessary predecessor of anything new to emerge, and, as a result, in the case of working on acrostics, new vocabulary and new for the students, more elaborated syntax were coming into existence. The possibilities of the use of poetic texts for vocabulary and syntax development was also demonstrated in more holistic approach to teaching poetry, while regarding the connections between the stylistic analysis of poetry and specific poetic linguistic features, and taking into consideration students’ attitude toward being taught poetic texts. According to Akyel (1995), it is possible to develop positive feelings about poetry by focusing students’ attention on the lexical items and on the unique choice of words and word associations used in poems to create meaning. Poetic vocabulary has its own specific features, which are beneficial for second language learners. According to Lazar (1996), poetry widely uses polysemous words in different contexts, and by decoding the meaning of the polysemous words, students acquire deeper understanding of grammatical and semantic contexts. In addition, the use of technology and multimedia resources in teaching poetry—the supplementary informative digital and multi-media materials—have revealed the broader functions of poetry such as strengthening language learners skills, especially vocabulary (Chun & Plass, 1996; Etienne & Vanbaelen, 2006, as cited in Melin, 2010). 3) The Role of Poetry in Understanding Semantics and Pragmatics Studying poetry helps understand relationships in meaning between words. As it has been mentioned in part 2, Lazar (1996) has emphasized the importance of focusing on polysemous words in poetic texts for better understanding semantic contexts; moreover, the author stated that poetry is often semantically rich because it is very rich in multiple levels of meaning, and that by 5
  6. 6. Natalia Reilly decoding these multiple levels of meaning, the language learners develop their interpretive abilities, which are crucial in second language acquisition. To create meaning in poetic texts the unique word associations are used, so the stylistic analysis of poems with the focus on the uniqueness of the word associations, which are more memorable, improves language learners’ understanding of discourse of the target language (Akyel, 1995). The understanding of discourse, in its turn, enhances language learners’ interpretative and inference-making skills; moreover, it develops language learners’ awareness of how the target language can be used to produce a particular meaning (Akyel, 1995). The poetry reading, according to Hanauer (2001) is a construction process of linguistic interpretation, in which, by noticing and understanding grammar structures, as has been mentioned in part 1, second language learners construct and develop interpretations of the poem content. The author has determined the series of progressions of the process of linguistic interpretation of meaning from noticing linguistic items to semantic and pragmatic construal, such as noticing the sequence of linguistic items, noticing and questioning the sequence, moving on from world knowledge to interpretive hypothesis sequence, then new interpretation following world knowledge sequence. 4) The Role of Poetry in Cultural Awareness and Promotion of Multiculturalism The role of poetry in second language learning goes beyond the benefits acquired from linguistic interpretations. As Hanauer (2001) has pointed out, poetry reading can create cultural awareness while language learners are noticing the gap between the poem content and their own world knowledge of the target culture. In his later study the same author (Hanauer, 2003) outlined the role of poetry in SLA in terms of poetry’s multicultural significance by reviewing its epistemological (in regards to the nature and scope of poetic knowledge) and ontological (in 6
  7. 7. Natalia Reilly regards to two categories of being— individual and social) statuses. In this secondary study, the epistemological principle of unique is considered in terms of the capability of poetic texts to put the reader in the linguistically mediated poet’s unique individual situation through the individualized meaning constructions (Jakobson, 1960, as cited in Hanauer, 2003). Ontologically poetry bears socially constructed and individually contextualized meanings (Weinstein, 1999, as cited in Hanauer, 2003). Taking into consideration that poetry is a non-paraphrased utterance of a personal understanding, this integration of personal and socio-cultural in poetry creates for the reader a specific experience of connection with the writer’s individual world, as well as the writer’s socio-cultural environment. Thus, poetry has the particular value of the unique in terms of entrance into a multileveled socio-cultural linguistic human experience; consequently, poetry has value in promoting multiculturalism in the process of second language acquisition. Poetry as a tool exploring culture is considered by Melin (2010). The author suggests holistic approach to teaching poetry by combining close reading response and genre-analysis and adding writerly perspective, readership issues, and culture-performative aspects of poetry. The researcher considers that the separate approaches may inadequately address issues of culture. She emphasizes that poetry is a part of other domains of culture and should be considered in connection with language and literature cultural sources. According to the author, poetry emphasizes language-literature-culture relationship, explores the target language culture, and promotes the learning of the target culture. The combined linguistic and sociocultural analysis of poetic texts gives language learners the access to the target culture (Hanauer, 2001, 2003; Lazar, 1996; Melin, 2010). Thus, by comparing language and cultural background of the 18th century poem “The Tiger” with the contemporary English language and culture, Lazar (1996) explores in details the cultural 7
  8. 8. Natalia Reilly differences of the two epochs. The author looks into the connections between specific language items, such as grammar, lexis, and context, as well as into more generalizable linguistic principles, such as interpretive abilities in connection with cultural awareness. As a result, the author concludes that poetry gives the access to the target culture by offering insights into the particular society through dramatized situations. 5) The Role of Poetry in Deepening the Language Learners’ Ways of Self-expression and Self-realization Poetry can be a tool to overcome the problem of dehumanization of second and foreign language learning in the contemporary world with its imposition of abstract standards drawn from business world and the unavoidable decontextualization of the language in the classroom (Kramsch, 2006; Hanauer, 2010; Newman, 2005; Widdowson 1998, as cited in Hanauer, 2012). Based on the assumption that humans are in need to explore and express their own lives, Hanauer (2012) in his study combined the quantitative analysis of corpus of 844 second language poems with the theoretical research of the dehumanization in language learning. The research was conducted by using a range of linguistic, textual and literary measures, such as text size, lexical category, the Lexical Frequency Profile, poetic features, thematic organization, lexical content, and degree of emotionality (by computing emotional words). According to the author’s understanding of meaningful literacy as the language learning process of widening and deepening the individual’s ways of self-expression and self-realization within social settings, the following three stages of poetry writing has been distinguished: (1) generating personal motivation for self exploration; (2) initiating the process of autobiographical exploration; (3) poetic expression of autobiographical memory. This individualization of English as a second language also changes the EL’s attitude towards the language: from an instrument of 8
  9. 9. Natalia Reilly communication it develops into the resource of a personal, emotive, and expressive self- realization. The process of writing poetry can also give second language learners the rare chance to express themselves in the L2 in a unique way—not only personally and emotionally, but also at the highest possible level. According to Tin (2011), while discussing and writing poems with high formal constraints—acrostics—the language learners have more opportunities for standing “a head taller” than themselves (Vygotsky, 1978, as cited in Tin, 2012). Not only writing poetry can give second language learners the opportunity of self- expression and self-realization; reading poetry is also a creative process of individual self- expression. According to Lazar (1996), decoding the meaning of poetry is more than mechanical exercise—it demands learners’ personal response, and by personally responding on decoding the meaning of poetry, the language learners become personally involved. 6) The Role of Poetry in Motivation Personal involving in the processes of writing and reading poetry can become a source of motivation which, in its turn, alleviate internalization of the target language (Lazar, 1996). Moreover, according to Akyel (1995), the stylistic analysis of poems with focus on the lexical items can motivate not students only, but also the teachers in the process of discovering the unique choice of words conveying meaning. Plus, Hanauer (2012) pointed out that the first stage of poetry writing by second language learners is the stage of generating personal motivation necessary for second language acquisition. II. Classroom Implications The reviewed studies have demonstrated beneficial functions of poetry in second language teaching and learning; moreover, the researchers have pointed out the ways of teaching 9
  10. 10. Natalia Reilly poetry in language classrooms, as well as the possible outcomes of teaching poetry to language learners. 1) Reading Poetry Reading poetry, according to Akyel (1995), Hanauer (2001), Lazar (1996), Melin (2010) focuses students’ attention on the form of a language without which second language learning cannot take place. To include the activity of reading poetry in the second language classroom is especially important because the highly praised in language classrooms authentic speaking activities focus on meaning while quite often ignoring the form (Hanauer, 2001). While reading poetry in the classroom, it is necessary to introduce the techniques of stylistic analysis of the poems, and it is important to make a distinction between literary analysis, like finding metaphors, and linguistic analysis of poetic texts. In the process of analyzing poetry linguistically, students are to be given the tasks of finding specific phonetic, lexical, morphological, syntactic, semantic, and discourse forms to derive the meaning of poems (Akyel, 1995). Moreover, there is one more beneficial outcome of parsing poetic texts: with focusing students’ attention on linguistic forms, reading poetry can increase language learners’ awareness of different language registers, so it will be easier for them to understand the meaning of native speakers’ discourses (Lazar, 1996). In particular, poetry focuses students’ attention on phonetic forms of language. The activity of reading poems aloud is an efficient tool for teaching the accuracy of pronunciation (Akyel, 1995; Hanauer, 2001; Melin, 2010; Woore, 2007). According to Woore (2007), the use of poems and the “referring-back” strategy sequence in the grapheme-phoneme correspondence teaching methodology in L2 phonological decoding of the L2 orthography can be considered as one option amongst the other possible teaching methods. In addition, the use of poems as a 10
  11. 11. Natalia Reilly source of analogy for working out the pronunciation of unknown graphemes is the process of helping, encouraging, and monitoring the applications of strategies in students. The approach combines the application of a sequence of cognitive and metacognitive strategies and the application of the poems themselves as a method of teaching the oral decoding of the L2 orthography. Poetry reading is one of the ways of teaching the target culture; poetry can be used as a technique to enhance language learners’ cultural awareness (Hanauer, 2001, 2003; Lazar, 1996; Melin, 2010). As Hanauer (2003) has stated, poetry has the particular value of the unique in terms of entrance into a multileveled sociocultural linguistic human experience; consequently, introducing poetry in second language classrooms helps educators in teaching multiculturalism. In addition to the uniqueness of poetic genre, Melin (2010) has emphasized the intrinsically holistic qualities of poetry. The researcher has stated that in second language classrooms, by treating poetry from the holistic point of view as a whole performance, and by incorporating poetry into curriculum, the teacher can foreground the cultural and social importance of poetry, stimulate broader classroom discussions about the relevance and unity of language and culture, and facilitate students’ perception of a foreign/second language as an intact entity innately connected with the larger domain of culture. According to the author, having been incorporated into the curriculum, teaching poetry by using the holistic approach has proved to be beneficial in terms of exploring culture, practicing creative writing, explaining literary conventions, and eliciting learners’ responses. Furthermore, Lazar (1996) has pointed out that poetry is a rich source of classroom activities, such as speaking through time while discussing cultural historical differences, or speaking across geographical distances when reading global English poetry from South Africa, 11
  12. 12. Natalia Reilly the Caribbean, or Australia. Therefore, as Hanauer (2001) has stated, the activity of reading poetry, which focuses students’ attention on linguistic forms as well as on the target culture, is a distinctive tool in teaching and learning second language, and this tool should not be ignored. 2) Writing Poetry Writing poetry by second language learners is a unique activity to enhance their language acquisition in a variety of ways. As Hanauer (2012) has stated, based on the research of corpus of 844 second language poems, this activity can be successfully introduced in second and foreign language classrooms because second language poetry is short, simple in vocabulary, and focuses on visual and auditory images. According to the author’s understanding of meaningful literacy as the language learning process of widening and deepening the individual’s ways of self- expression and self-realization within social settings, the four following principles of teaching poetry writing have been formulated: (1) autobiographical writing; (2) emotional writing; (3) personal insight which promotes students to integrate a reflective process with human condition in general; (4) authentic public access which means promoting students to understand feelings of others. Therefore, such capabilities of poetry writing as individualization of language learners’ education, transformation of the learners’ attitudes towards English, and connection the language learners with other people through authentic public access while expressing themselves makes the activity of writing poetry indispensable. Going into more details of writing poetry, Tin (2011) has shown that in second language classroom, writing poems with high formal constraints (acrostics) is an advantageous activity in comparison with writing free-style poems of looser formal constrains (similes) because the highly form-oriented poetic task forces students to stretch and transform their L2 linguistic and conceptual world at a higher level of knowledge, while the free-style poetry writing task focuses 12
  13. 13. Natalia Reilly students on language meaning expressed in their L1 rather than on form and meaning expressed in the L2, and this focusing on expressing themselves in the L1 may not be a desirable feature to dominate in second language learning classrooms. Consequently, to develop students’ L2 in complexity, the researcher suggests assigning the second language learners with writing acrostics rather than similes, although the condition of unlimited time needs to be set—enough time to transform students’ chaotic brainstorming under the selection pressure of choosing the correct form into the emergence of knew L2 vocabulary, new, more elaborated L2 syntax, and new, more complex L2 conceptual world. Concluding Remarks The literature review has illuminated the beneficial role of poetry in all major aspects of second language acquisition, such as the accuracy of pronunciation, development of L2 complex syntax and vocabulary, development of understanding of the L2 discourse, cultural awareness and promotion of multiculturalism, as well as in students’ motivation. Poetry, as an authentic, non-paraphrased utterance of personal perception created in certain socio-cultural environment is a unique linguistic formation. By introducing the activities of reading and writing poetry in second language classrooms such qualities as developing students’ second language in complexity, developing the students’ individual ways of self-expression and self-realization within socio-cultural settings of a second language can be expanded. . 13
  14. 14. Natalia Reilly References Akyel, A. (1995). Stylistic analysis of poetry: A perspective from an initial training course in TEFL. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL Du Canada, 13(1), 63-73. Hanauer, D. I. (2001). The task of poetry reading and second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 22(3), 295-323. Hanauer, D. I. (2003). Multicultural moments in poetry: The importance of the unique. Canadian Modern Language Review, 60(1), 69-87. Hanauer, D. I. (2012). Meaningful literacy: Writing poetry in the language classroom. Language Teaching, 45(1), 105-115. Lazar, G. (1996). Exploring literary texts with the language learner. TESOL Quarterly, 30(4), 773-776. Melin, C. (2010). Between the lines: When culture, language and poetry meet in the classroom. Language Teaching, 43(3), 349-365. Tin, T. B. (2011). Language creativity and co-emergence of form and meaning in creative writing tasks. Applied Linguistics (Oxford), 32(2), 215-235. Woore, R. (2007). "Weisse maus in meinem haus": Using poems and learner strategies to help learners decode the sounds of the L2. Language Learning Journal, 35(2), 175-188. 14

×