Poetry in Language Learning Anna Isabel Fernández Córdoba
Why use literature in the ELT?IT CAN BE:• A joy to teach.• It enhances our emotional & cultural growth .• A way to improve our teaching practise.
HopeHope is the thing with feathersThat perches in the soul,And sings the tune--without the words,And never stops at all,And sweetest in the gale is heard;And sore must be the stormThat could abash the little birdThat kept so many warm.Ive heard it in the chillest land,And on the strangest sea;Yet, never, in extremity,It asked a crumb of me. Emily Dickinson
What is literature?A DEFINITION:“We will take literature to mean those novels,short stories, plays and poems which arefictional and convey their message by payingconsiderable attention to language which is richand multilayered”Lazar,G. (1993) Literature and language teaching, CUP.
MethodologyCarter, R & Long, M (1991) Teaching Literature, Longman.The three models:1. The cultural Model2. The Language Model3. The Personal Growth ModelUsing an Integrated Model:• Enhances students’ cultural awareness• Develops students’ language skills• Contributes to students’ personal development
Why should EFL students be exposed to poetry?• It is enjoyable and engaging and creates opportunities for personal expression.• It reinforces learners’ knowledge of lexical and grammatical structures.• It inspires them to take risks in experimenting with the target language.• It fosters critical thinking.• It promotes greater cultural tolerance.• It develops students’ literary competence.
A set of activities for two poems• It is designed to be used with teenage and adult learners of English in 3rd level of EOI.• There is practise for the four skills and for what John McRae calls the fifth skill: thinking.• Students are encouraged to trust their interpretations and reading of the poems and to reflect on their own experiences in connection with the poems.• The questions posed are aimed at different levels of understanding of the poems, and try to help students work out for themselves what the texts mean.• There are language-based vocabulary activities to help them deal with the poems and encourage them to find the meaning of words from context.• The two contemporary poems are “The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping” by Grace Nichols and “No Problem” by Benjamin Zephaniah.
• Both poems are multicultural and deal with racist issues in contemporary Britain.• There are factual reading comprehension activities that focus on the factual meaning of the poem and on the other hand there are activities concerning the language of the poem which focus on the linguistic and literary qualities of the text: unusual uses of collocation, binary oppositions, figurative language, rhyme and style….• There are activities designed to encourage inference and interpretation, to make students reflect on their own experiences in connection with the poems.• Finally creative response activities are designed to encourage students to take risks and play with the language creatively and imaginatively (McRae, 1991) either speaking or writing.
The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping by Grace NicholsShopping in London winter Nothing soft and bright and billowingis a real drag for the fat black to flow like breezy sunlight woman when she walkinggoing from store to storein search of accommodating The fat black woman curses in Swahili/Yoruba clothes and nation language under her breathingand de weather so cold all this journeying and journeyingLook at the frozen thin The fat black woman could only conclude mannequins that when it come to fashionfixing her with grin the choice is leanand de pretty face salesgalsexchanging slimming glances Nothing much beyond size 14thinking she don’t notice GRACE NICHOLSLord is aggravating
The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping by Grace NicholsWARM UP ACTIVITYSPEAKING PRACTISE:• When was the last time you went shopping for clothes?• What did you buy?• Did you try it on? Was it the right size?• Was the shop assistant helpful? Why/not?• Do you enjoy shopping for clothes? Why/not?READING ACTIVITIES1. Jigsaw reading. Your partner has the first half of the poem and you have the second one. Explain to your partner in your own words what the poem is about.
STUDENT A: • Read the first stanzas of the poems and explain them to your partner in your own words. • Now ask each other questions about each other’s picture to find similarities and differences between them.Shopping in London winteris a real drag for the fat black womangoing from store to storein search of accommodating clothesand de weather so coldLook at the frozen thin mannequinsfixing her with grinand de pretty face salesgalsexchanging slimming glancesthinking she don’t noticeLord is aggravating
STUDENT B:• Read the first stanzas of the poems and explain them to your partner in yourown words.• Now ask each other questions about each other’s picture to find similaritiesand differences between them.Nothing soft and bright and billowingto flow like breezy sunlightwhen she walkingThe fat black woman curses inSwahili/Yorubaand nation language under her breathingall this journeying and journeyingThe fat black woman could onlyconcludethat when it come to fashionthe choice is leanNothing much beyond size 14
The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping by Grace NicholsREADING ACTIVITIES2. In the poem there is a clear contrast between London and the black woman’s country of origin. Link words in the poem to each of these ideas:BRITAIN BLACK WOMAN______________________ ______________________________________________ ______________________________________________ ________________________BRITISH WOMEN BLACK WOMAN’S COUNTRY______________________ ______________________________________________ ______________________________________________ ________________________3. After reading the poem, which do you give more positive connotations to the British shop assistants or the fat black woman? Think of two adjectives to describe each of them.
The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping by Grace Nichols4. Do you think the poem offers a black perspective on white society or rather white perspective on black experience?5. In the poem you will find examples of “Patwa” a spoken variety form of language which involves a combination of English vocabulary with African structures. Can you find examples of pronunciation features of patwa suggested by spelling alterations in the poem? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________
The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping by Grace Nichols6. Does the fat black woman enjoy shopping? Find evidence in the poem that backs up your answer.7. Now watch clip 1 and describe what you see to your partner. Then swap roles your partner watches clip 2 and describes it. Then together find the differences and similarities between both clips.CLIP 1:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed7C3gAXQNA&feature=relatedCLIP 2:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTtVVHg41kU&feature=related8. Discuss in small groups whether you think the woman’s shopping experience in London would have been different if she were: 1) A slim and pretty 3) A rich black woman woman 4) A White woman 2) A black man
The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping by Grace Nichols9. Now write your own poem starting “A woman goes shopping” and post it on twiHaiku:Twitter Poetry, is a free Twitter application that lets you share yourthoughts, feelings, views or ideas about anything in a poetic manner.Express genuine thoughts and feelings, in accordance with the particularobject, event or phenomenon.A woman goes shopping:she is a slow walker,a slow talker.Strong and yet sweether smile opens doorsand that she adores,on a breezy summer morning.http://www.makeliterature.com/twihaiku/twitter-poetry
No problem by Benjamin ZephaniahPRE-READING ACTIVITY1. These are the first four lines of the poem, what do you think it is going to be about? I am not de problem But I bear the brunt Of silly playground taunts An racist stuntsWATCHING DUB POETRY This is a dub poem, dub poetry is a political writing genre closely linked to Reggae music.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhaXDfIGGzA
No Problem by Benjamin ZephaniahI am not de problemBut I bear de brunt These conditions may affect meOf silly playground taunts As I get older,An racist stunts, An I am positively sureI am not de problem I have no chips on me shoulders,I am born academic Black is not de problemBut dey got me on de run Mother country get it right,Now I am branded athletic, An juss fe de record,I am not de problem Sum of me best friends are white.If yu give I a chanceI can teach yu of Timbuktu Benjamin ZephaniahI can do more dan dance,I am not de problemI greet yu wid a smileYu put me in a pigeon holeBut I am versatile.
No Problem by Benjamin ZephaniahWHILE READING2. Listen to the poem again and fill in white /dance/ black/ the gaps with one of the words in academic/ smile/ athletic the box :I am not de problemBut I bear de bruntOf silly playground taunts These conditions may affect meAn racist stunts, As I get older,I am not de problem An I am positively sureI am born ___________ I have no chips on me shoulders,But dey got me on de run ________ is not de problemNow I am branded ________, Mother country get it right,I am not de problem An juss fe de record,If yu give I a chance Sum of me best friends are _______.I can teach yu of TimbuktuI can do more dan _______, Benjamin ZephaniahI am not de problemI greet yu wid a ________Yu put me in a pigeon holeBut I am _________.
No Problem by Benjamin ZephaniahGLOSSARY1. To bear the brunt: Put up with the worst of some bad circumstance, as in It was the secretary who had to bear the brunt of the doctors anger .2. A stunt: A feat displaying unusual strength, skill, or daring.3. A taunt: To reproach in a mocking, insulting, or contemptuous manner.4. To have no chip upon my shoulder: to blame other people for something bad which has happened to you and to continue to be angry about it so that it affects the way you behave.AFTER READING1. In this poem, Benjamin Zephaniah uses “non-standard” English . This is often usedas a technique to say challenging or radical things or to emphasise that they are notpart of the ‘establishment’. Can you find examples of it in the text? What region isthe poet from? _________________________ _________________________ _________________________ _________________________
No Problem by Benjamin ZephaniahAFTER READING 2. Whose voice can you hear in this poem? What experiences are described by the poetic voice? Who do you think is yu and dey‘ in the poem? 3. In the first stanza we find a contrast between external perceptions of the poetic “I” and the poetic “I’s” self-perception, can you list them below? External Perceptions Self-perceptions ______________________ ________________________ ______________________ ________________________ ______________________ ________________________ 4. In the first stanza the line “I am not the problem” is repeated four times and finally in the second stanza it changes into “Black is not the problem”. What do you think is the main idea in the second stanza? What is the poet’s dilemma?
No Problem by Benjamin Zephaniah5. How do you think the last two lines change the poem? If we take them away, does the poem’s tone change? What do you think is the tone of the poem? Serious, reflective, ironic, satirical?DiscussI. What do you think about people’s attitude to the poet?II. Do you think these attitudes have changed? Or can you find examples of similar attitudes in your daily life?III. Make a list of examples of prejudice you have witnessed.IV. Can you avoid being prejudiced?
CREATIVE WRITING ºYour task is to write your own ‘poem’, ‘e-mail’, “song”, “blog post”, expressing asimilar conflict involving prejudice and stereotype and its consequences.
Wrapping it upREFLECTION TIME1. After working with both poems what do you think they have in common?2. What are their differences?3. Do you agree that both poems challenge the reader to think outside the box?4. Fill in the box below with information about both poems:
Poet Grace Nichols Benjamin ZephaniahTitle ‘The Fat Black Woman’ ‘No problem’Themes The poem tackles the sensitive subject of racism in a light- hearted way.Standard No- the poet often uses PatwaEnglish? words’. Many standard spellings are incorrect and the poet’s dialect is used.Imagery Many images are used. Comparisons between ‘frozen thin mannequins’ and the soft and warm black woman.Feelings? Fill in the gaps in this table based on your knowledge of the two poems.