Poetry in the ESL Classroom: Imagism

I like literature and poetry, but honestly don’t have a lot of experience using it with English language learners. (My colleague Ayesha Mushtaq, on the other hand, has a great method for using fairy tales to teach critical reading in EAP. Cool stuff! I wish some of her talks were online…)

In doing some house-cleaning of some old teaching materials, however, I recently came across an activity I had made a while ago focused around imagist poetry. The lesson includes a definition of what imagism is, a few of my favourite imagist poems, and then finished with students writing their own. Imagist poems are so clear and straightforward that I think this lesson could work with students B1 and up.

I’ve only ever used this activity once, with a group of B2+ EAP students, and the poems they produced were fantastic, ranging from the mundane to intensely romantic. Those students whose cultural background includes a strong poetic tradition  of long, epic ballads freaked out a bit initially at the simplicity of the poems on this worksheet. I assured them that we do have other types of poetry in English (and encouraged them to check them out…)


Imagism_ESL (.docx file)


One thought on “Poetry in the ESL Classroom: Imagism

  1. Lovely simple and straightforward approach to using these poems. I first came across the ‘This is just to say’ poem during my DELTA while reading ‘Implementing the lexical approach’. Yours is another post that gives me an itch to get back in the classroom!

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