What are the methods of teaching poetry

A poem is a work of art and a display of the poet’s craftsmanship in using words to express his emotions, feelings and experiences. They offer a rich, varied repertoire and are a source of enjoyment for learners and teachers alike. The language that poetry uses is not the same as we normally use in daily communication. This language does not have the same structure as the language of prose.

Poetry is recreating language. The poet deliberately uses words in a way that ordinary speakers of the language cannot. His words carry more meanings or multiple meanings than we could normally think of in real-life communication.

The aim of teaching poetry is to enable learners to understand and appreciate it as a piece of art in the same way that one appreciates a good painting/picture. Schiller says, ‘All Art is dedicated to Joy, and there is no higher or more serious problem that how to make men happy’. The use of poetry in the ESL classroom enables students to explore the linguistic and conceptual aspects of the written text without concentrating on the mechanics of language. Especially, if the poem is in dialogue form (as most of the classic ballads are) it acts as a powerful tool in stimulating learning while acquiring a second language because the learners become intellectually, emotionally, and physically involved in the target language within the framework of the new culture.

Poetry, rich in dialogue provides students with a dramatic script. Drama places the learners in situations that seem real. Learners use the target language for specific purposes, language is more easily internalised and is, therefore, remembered.

Nobody can enjoy a poem unless he understands it. But comprehending a poem may not be simple for learners. The teacher’s job is to help the learners not only to appreciate the poem but also understand it by drawing their attention to the different nuances of meaning that words can get in poetry.