Monday, April 9, 2012

Choosing Poetry for English Language Learners (ELL/ESL)

When we think about sharing poetry with young people, we might assume that children who are learning English as a new language are not “ready” for poetry. Nothing could be further from the truth. For young people adding English to their linguistic repertoire, poetry offers a connection that can help them learn the words and concepts of their new language, stay motivated and interested in learning, and even participate as equals. Here are helpful guidelines to keep in mind.

The list begins:

  1. RELEVANCE: What questions should we ask as we ponder potential poetry book selections for young people who are learning English as a new language? The "typical" grade level suitability may not apply. The maturity, backgrounds (family, cultural, language, knowledge), and interests of English language learners vary tremendously. Choose poems that have some relevance to the children’s lives and experiences. Topics such as school, seasons, weather, numbers and counting, days of the week and months of the year, food, family, and home have some degree of familiarity and practical utility. Poetry that is deep in symbolism and divorced in time and space from their lives may be too abstract for beginning English language learners.

For more details, get your copy of The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists.
And if you already have the book and would like to offer additions, corrections, or other input, please do so in the COMMENTS area. Thanks!

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