Learning English through Poems and Songs

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Learning English through Poems and Songs (Secondary 4-6) A Resource Package English Language Education Section Curriculum Development Institute Education Bureau The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ©2010 Learning English through Poems and Songs Preface This resource package is designed and developed in support of the English Language Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 – 6) (2007) and the Suggested Schemes of Work for the Elective Part of the Three-year Senior Secondary English Language Curriculum (Secondary 4 – 6) (2007). It provides learning resources and teaching ideas for the development and implementation of the elective module “Learning English through Poems and Songs”. Aims The rationale behind the package is that students will have ample opportunities to enrich their English learning experience and extend a range of language abilities through exploring poems and songs. Carefully designed and sequenced, the materials and activities in this package aim to: strengthen students’ skills of understanding and appreciating the themes, structures, features and language in a range of poems and songs; help students to respond to and give expression to the imaginative ideas, moods and feelings expressed in poems and songs through written, oral and performance means; and enable students to apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in their own creative production and critical appreciation of poems and songs. How to use this resource package This resource package comprises student’s handouts, teacher’s notes, supplementary materials and a CD-ROM. It covers the key focuses suggested in the SoWs for the module organised under five parts, i.e. “Module Introduction”, “Introduction to Poems and Songs”, “Reading and Writing Poetry”, “Appreciating Songs and Writing Song Lyrics” and “Presentation on Poem or Song”. The first part gives students an overview of the aims and requirements of the module as well as the purposes of the Poem and Song Journal that students are encouraged to keep. In the second part, students learn to identify, understand and appreciate the features, structures, language and themes of English poems and songs. The third part exposes students to different types of poems including acrostics, shape poems, poems making use of different grammatical patterns, limericks, haiku, narrative poems and ballads. Apart from allowing them insights into their characteristics, purposes and effects, it encourages free expression and personal responses through engaging students in writing and performing poems. In the fourth part, students explore the meanings, language and features of the lyrics of some pop songs, commercial jingles and musical numbers. They will From this point forwards referred to as SoWs i Learning English through Poems and Songs also develop the skills to write their own lyrics and perform a song. Towards the end of the module, students are given the opportunity to demonstrate their critical understanding of one or more poems or songs as well as their knowledge and experience gained from the module through presentations and display of their Poem and Song Journals. Given the range of learning activities in this package, teachers are encouraged to exercise careful planning, be selective about the materials and freely adapt them to suit their school contexts and students’ needs, interests and abilities. Student’s Handouts The student’s handouts (indicated by the page number prefix “S”) provide learning materials which enable students to understand and appreciate the themes, language and features of a range of poems and songs which will develop their integrated language skills, cultural awareness, critical thinking and creativity. Teacher’s Notes The teacher’s notes (indicated by the page number prefix “T”) provide explanations of teaching steps and alternative teaching suggestions as to how to carry out the activities. Where appropriate, teachers may feel free to select and flexibly adapt the activities into assessment tasks to promote learning and teaching. To help teachers to support “less advanced students” and stretch “more advanced students”, additional suggestions are contained in “Catering for Learner Diversity” boxes. Suggested time allocations have been provided for each activity for teachers’ reference during lesson planning. However, the suggested time is for indicative purposes only and will vary according to learners’ needs and abilities. Teachers should use their professional judgement to gauge appropriate timings with a particular group of learners in mind. References to websites that contain materials helpful to the learning and teaching of particular activities are also included in the teacher’s notes. The weblinks or addresses which were accurate at the time this package was published are yet subject to change. Teachers might like to make use of a search engine to regain access to any resources that have been relocated, or may look for similar resources on the web. Supplementary Materials The supplementary materials section provides additional teaching materials and resources for teachers’ use and reference. The following items are included in this section: Supplementary vocabulary and grammar activities related to individual activities in the package are included. Teachers are encouraged to select those that are suitable for their students for consolidation and extension purposes. ii Learning English through Poems and Songs Supplementary activities on appreciating different types of poetry provide a broad range of linguistically rich learning resources to develop students’ language skills. The selection of poems in this section, presented in alphabetical order, includes additional materials to Part 3 “Reading and Writing Poetry” as well as poem types not covered elsewhere in the package. Teachers could select the types of poetry and activities to cater for students’ diverse interests, abilities and needs. Supplementary activities on appreciating Oliver cover songs in the musical not included in Part 4. A variety of tasks and an inventory of questions are provided to deepen students’ knowledge and skills in appreciating various aspects of the musical. They also serve as a reference for teachers to develop materials for other songs and musicals deemed suitable for their students. CD-ROM The CD-ROM consists of an electronic version of the learning and teaching materials in this resource package, as well as recordings that support some of the learning activities in the package. The text files are available in both PDF and MS WORD formats for teachers’ ease of use and adaptation. The audio recordings in the CD-ROM include examples of poetry reading and advertising jingles that illustrate the use of stress, rhythm, rhyme and a range of basic literary techniques used in English poetry and songs. There are also three audio recordings and one PowerPoint file on individual presentations to demonstrate effective delivery techniques. Track numbers of the recordings as well as information on the PowerPoint file are provided in the explanations for relevant activities as well as on the cover page of each unit in the teacher’s notes. To further support the implementation of the module, other relevant online teaching resource materials for each module have been developed and can be accessed at the English Language Education Section website http://cd.edb.gov.hk/eng. iii Learning English through Poems and Songs Acknowledgements We are most grateful to Mr. Philip Leetch for his expert input in designing the materials and activities for this resource package. We are also much obliged to the following poets for permission to reproduce copyright materials: Nicholas Gordon for the poems “On Passing Air” and “I Know It’s Only Half a Year” Myra Cohn Livingston for the poem “Swimming Pool” Kenn Nesbitt for the poem “I’m Feeling Rather Full Tonight” iv Learning English through Poems and Songs Introduction Warm-up Activity Favourite poems/songs 1. Work with a partner. Make a list of three to five poems and songs (in either English or Chinese) which you like. Do they have anything in common? What do you think makes poems and songs good? Be ready to share your views with the class. _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ 2. Listen to a poem your teacher reads. Work with a partner and decide what your reaction to it is. Do the feelings and/or words please you? _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ 3. Listen to a song your teacher plays. Work with a partner and decide what your reaction to it is. Do the feelings, words and/or music please you? _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ S 2 Learning English through Poems and Songs Poem and Song Journal The purpose of this journal activity is to encourage you to access poems and songs as an independent language learning activity. In parallel to what you will be doing in class for the module, collect five pieces of work (including both poems and songs) that you like and give your personal response to them. Include the following in the Journal for each of the five poems or songs: • The poem or the song lyrics • A description of the theme of the poem or song • Language that you have learned from it (e.g. vocabulary, metaphors, similes, expressions) • Your personal response to the poem or song (e.g. Did you like it? Why or why not? What did the poem or song mean to you?) The Journal will be used to assess your participation in the module and the progress you make during it. It should also be something of value to yourself as a reflection of your taste, and something you can share with others. The entries can be of different lengths. Some examples are given below for your reference. Journal Entry 1 I just heard a funny song. It’s really crazy: an old woman swallows a fly. She wants to get rid of the fly so she swallows a spider to catch the fly…and so it goes on until she swallows a horse Of course, each verse gets longer as she swallows more things. Here are the seventh and eighth verses. There was an old lady who swallowed a cow. I don’t know how she swallowed a cow She swallowed the cow to catch the goat. She swallowed the goat to catch the dog. She swallowed the dog to catch the cat. She swallowed the cat to catch the bird. She swallowed the bird to catch the spider That wriggled and jiggled and wiggled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. But I dunno why she swallowed that fly. Perhaps she’ll die. There was an old lady who swallowed a horse – She’s dead, of course. Excellent ending S 3 Learning English through Poems and Songs Journal Entry 2 My auntie, who studied in Canada, has introduced a little old poem to me. She had to explain it, but then I decided I liked it a lot. Cherry-Ripe Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry, Full and fair ones; come and buy. If so you ask me where They do grow, I answer: There Where my Julia’s lips do smile There’s the land, or cherry-isle, Whose plantations fully show All the year where cherries grow. Robert Herrick The poet is selling cherries in the street (it’s just like the opening scene in the second part of Oliver and the song “Who will buy?”). If anyone wants to know where the cherries come from, he has his answer ready: from Julia’s lips. Lovers like to praise each other. Imagine going through your lover’s face. “Your hair’s like silk. Your skin is like the outside of a ripe peach. Your eyes are like clear rock pools in the mountains. Your lips are like cherries.” Why cherries? Because they are sweet, bright red and full of flavour, just like the lips of his Julia who he would love to kiss A charming poem. S 4 Learning English through Poems and Songs Journal Entry 3 I have just found these haiku in a school magazine in the school library. They have impressed me a great deal. Cold wind; cloudy sky; Damp, grey: rain ready to fall – But bright red New Year Sapphire sky; bright sun; School picnics in country parks – Time of youth and joy. The two poems refer to two different times of year in Hong Kong: the cold season and the dry sunny season. The first haiku belongs to February. The first line sets the mood with its description and the very similar hard sounds of “cold” and “cloudy”. Then we have the two short strong adjectives “damp” and “grey”. There is a pause as we wait for the rain to fall, and some alliteration (“rain ready”, with “ready” also echoing “cloudy”). I can almost see the low grey cloud and feel the damp air with the first drops of cold rain in it. It could be depressing, but it is also a time of happiness because of Chinese New Year. After the first two sad lines, the haiku surprises us with its bright colour and feeling of joy. We enjoy the /b/ and /r/ sounds and the “ready”/“red” echo. The contrast works well. The second haiku describes late October or early November. I like the adjective “sapphire” (a blue precious stone). This time there is no sudden contrast. Maybe the poem is simply about being young and happy, but I think there may also be sadness there (so there is a contrast): the words “time” and “youth” remind us these things do not last. For some students it is their last year at school. They are growing up. Gradually they will stop being young. Joy itself will not last forever. The many /s/ sounds bind the first two lines together tightly, and the /p/ sound in “picnics” and “parks” create a nice balance. I like these poems because they are simple, talk about Hong Kong and have deep meaning. S 5 Learning English through Poems and Songs Module Presentation By the end of the module, you will need to select ONE of the five songs or poems and give a presentation of it to your classmates. Your presentation should include: • the poem/song lyrics, the writer/singer and any other background information that may help your classmates to understand the poem/song better (e.g. when and/or why it was written) • a brief description of what the song/poem means to you (e.g. “This song helps me to feel better when I am lonely”; “The poem reminds me of my school friend who left Hong Kong last year”; “I listen to this song when I am working out because it gives me the strength to keep going”) • the various aspects of what you have learned throughout the module (you will need to determine what area you should focus on, e.g. the theme, the rhyme scheme, use of language) Consider using various means such as a poster or PowerPoint slides to make your presentation interesting and effective. If you prefer, your presentation may also include your recitation/singing of the poem/song. S 6 Part 2 Introduction to Poems and Songs Learning English through Poems and Songs Introduction to Poetry Learning Activity 1 Discussion 1. Write down some characteristics of poetry. Think of any nursery rhymes, songs, hymns and even Chinese poems you know. When you have finished, share your ideas with your partner. My ideas My partner’s ideas e.g. Poems are usually written in separate lines organised as stanzas instead of paragraphs 2. Work with your partner. Read texts (a) and (b) below. Discuss in what ways they are similar/different. (a) See you at 6pm by the clock at Times Square. (b) I really hope you’ll be there At 6, by the clock at Times Square ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ Learning Activity 2 Writing For an ordinary meal you may just use a plastic bowl and chopsticks, but for a special one you get out the best bowls and put a flower on the table. When we want words to be special we decorate them in a poetic way; we pay attention to the sounds and enjoy the language. We can do this to express emotions like love, or to give pleasure to someone (e.g. a birthday greeting), or to make our message more attractive (e.g. advertising jingles). When we add music the poem becomes a song. Read the message below: Let’s go shopping in Causeway Bay on Saturday afternoon. Come and join me in the sushi bar. S 8 Learning English through Poems and Songs Try to re-write it as a little poem. You might like to include some of the following in your poem: • who you are and to whom you are writing (e.g. dad and daughter; best friends) • why would you like to meet him/her (e.g. birthday celebration) • whether there is anything special about the gathering (e.g. a reunion after a long vacation) • how you could make the message more special (e.g. using rhymes, images) _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ S 9 Learning English through Poems and Songs Characteristics of English Poetry Poetry is characterised by the following:  Lines  Syllables  Rhythm (and beat)  Rhyme  Images  Alliteration You will find out more about each feature in the activities below. Learning Activity 1 Lines 1. Poetry is usually set out in lines. List poems typically consist of lines on the same topic/theme. What is the following list poem about? _______________________________________________________________________________ Toast and coffee A pot of noodles Some chicken-wings Barbecue pork with rice And a lemon tea 5 A tuna sandwich Mum’s chicken soup Steamed fish Rice and choi sum Two oranges 10 Tea and bed One day of eating Over 2. Write a short list poem on some of the places you might go to on a normal day. _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ S 10 Learning English through Poems and Songs Learning Activity 2 Syllables 1. The lines in traditional English poems are often of nearly the same length in terms of their number of syllables. For this you need to count the syllables. How many syllables do the following words have? Unwilling 3 Danced Congratulations Basketball Graduation Always 2. Read part of a funny poem written by Edward Lear below and count the number of syllables in each line. Most of the words are one syllable so counting is easy. Write down the number of syllables in the space provided. Said the Table to the Chair “You can hardly be aware How I suffer from the heat 1 And from chilblains on my feet. 4 If we took a little walk, We might have a little talk; 2 Pray let us take the air ,” Said the Table to the Chair. 8 1 chilblains: painful red swellings caused by cold weather 2 Pray let us take the air: Please let’s go out Line 1: 7 Line 2: 7 Line 3: Line 4: Line 5: Line 6: Line 7: Line 8: 3. Lines of 6 to 10 syllables are the most commonly found in English poetry, but you can find poets who like short lines and ones who prefer very long ones. Sometimes, a poet may also use both short and long lines in the same poem to create special literary effects, such as variation in rhythm or contrast in meaning. The following poem by Nicholas Gordon consists of very short lines: On Passing Air On passing air One turns around To see if any Heard the sound; 4 Then moves away To vacate where Another might Inhale the air; 8 S 11 Learning English through Poems and Songs And then, relieved In gut and soul, Becomes again A wholesome whole. 12 Nicholas Gordon The anonymous poem below has relatively long lines: On a Tired Housewife Here lies a poor woman who was always tired, She lived in a house where help wasn't hired: Her last words on earth were: “Dear friends, I am going To where there's no cooking, or washing, or sewing, 4 For everything there is exact to my wishes, For where they don't eat there's no washing of dishes. I'll be where loud anthems will always be ringing, But having no voice I'll be quit of the singing. 8 Don't mourn for me now, don't mourn for me never, I am going to do nothing for ever and ever.” Anonymous For an example of a poem with an interesting mix of long and short lines, you might like to read “Overtech” available at: http://www.daypoems.net/poems/1736.html Learning Activity 3 Rhythm or Beat 1. English words and sentences have stress. In many poems the stresses are put in a pattern. For example: Said the Table to the Chair “You can hardly be aware How I suffer from the heat And from chilblains on my feet.” Every second syllable has a stress so there is a regular beat: loud/soft/loud/soft. Read the poem very rhythmically and you will be able to tap out the beat on the table. 2. Poems for young children often have strong beats. Try to read the following aloud and make them very rhythmical. Diddle, diddle, dumpling My son John Went to bed with his Trousers on One shoe off, and one shoe on, Diddle, diddle dumpling, My son John. (loud/soft/ loud/soft) S 12 Learning English through Poems and Songs Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn’t put Humpty together again. (loud/soft/loud/soft) Learning Activity 4 Rhyme 1. Two words rhyme when their final syllables end with the same sound. They are used to create sound effects that may contribute to the mood or tone of a poem. Read the following pairs of rhyming words aloud. Can you hear the rhymes? chair/aware (sound = air) heat/feet (sound = eet) walk/talk (sound = orc) air/chair (sound = air) John/on (sound = on) wall/fall (sound = orl) men/again (sound = en) Note that rhymes cannot be decided by spelling. “Said” rhymes with “bed”. It does not rhyme with “paid” (which rhymes with “played”). Rhymes are sounds and you must say the words and check if the same vowels and final consonants, if there are any, are being used. 2. Put the following words into rhyming pairs: desperation hate right dinner complete fry dies weather survivor street eyes site potato driver weight celebration altogether high Tokyo thinner Tokyo / potato / / / / / / / / / Learning Activity 5 Images 1. We have said poetry decorates language. One way it does this is with images. There are three main types:  General images – e.g. spring can make one think of being young; autumn can make one think of old age  Metaphors – e.g. you are the sunshine in my life; he is the king of basketball  Similes – e.g. as sweet as honey; run like the wind S 13 Learning English through Poems and Songs Images help readers to visualise and understand the subject matter better. Poets usually achieve this by associating the subject matter with something else, such as spring and youth, running and wind. Read the old poem by Robert Burns below and answer the questions that follow. Oh my love’s like a red, red rose 1 That’s newly sprung in June : Oh my love’s like the melody That’s sweetly played in tune. 1 That’s newly sprung in June: That has just opened in June (a) Which kind of images does the poet use to show the girl’s beauty? ____________________________________________________________________________ (b) What does he compare the girl to? ____________________________________________________________________________ (c) If you were the poet’s lover, how would you feel? ____________________________________________________________________________ 2. What could the general images in the left-hand column below be associated with? Match them with the topics on the right. a long road • • anger falling leaves • • love the moon • • loneliness sunshine on waves • • sadness a tiger in a forest • • study 3. Suggest images which would help to express the following: (a) fear: _______________________________________________________________________ (b) loss of love: _________________________________________________________________ (c) failure: _____________________________________________________________________ (d) hate: ______________________________________________________________________ (e) boredom: ___________________________________________________________________ 4. Read the poem and work out what it means. Consider the various images the poet uses to express his feelings. I Know It’s Only Half a Year I know it's only half a year That you will be away, But it will feel far more than that Each long and lonely day. 4 S 14 Learning English through Poems and Songs A day without a friend is like A meadow turned to sand, A garden turned to weeds and dust, An ocean far from land. 8 Time enters a slow-motion zone, Repeating endlessly The tearful grimace of the heart Till you return to me. 12 Nicholas Gordon (a) Find one word from the first four lines that summarises how the poet feels about being away from his friend. ____________________________________________________________________________ (b) In lines 5-8, the poet has used three similes to describe what it is like to be away from his friend. Name them. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ (c) In lines 9-12, how does the poet show how he feels about being away from his friend? ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ Learning Activity 6 Alliteration 1. When two words begin with the same consonant sound (not just spelling), e.g. “kill Chris”, “new notebook”, “good gossip”, they are said to alliterate. Alliteration is common in English poetry. They are often used to make poems more rhythmical or to create sound effects that mirror and/or emphasise the meanings of the words. Which of the following pairs of words alliterate? (a) haunted hour (b) cunning king (c) charitable character (d) great gel (e) idling eyes 2. Read the following poem aloud with a partner. Do you enjoy reading it? What effect(s) do you think the poet intends to create through alliteration? Bitter Butter Betty Botter bought some butter, But, she said, this butter’s bitter: If I put it in my batter, It will make my batter bitter, 4 But a bit of better butter Will make my batter better. So she bought a bit of butter Better than her bitter butter, 8 S 15 Learning English through Poems and Songs “Hi” Section A Pre-reading: Discuss the following with your partner or group. Do you consider hunting a sport? Do you think humans have the right to kill animals for fun? __________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ Section B Read the poem and answer the questions that follow. Hi Hi Handsome hunting man, Fire your little gun. Bang Now that animal 1 2 Is dead and dumb and done . 3 4 5 Nevermore to peep again, creep again, leap again, Eat sleep or drink again, oh, what fun Walter de la Mare 1 dumb: silent 2 done: dead 3 peep: look 4 creep: move 5 leap: jump 1. Which of these statements are true? (a) The poet loves hunting. (b) The 4th line has a lot of /d/ sounds. (c) There are many rhyming words in one line. (d) The poem has six verses. (e) The poem is telling people not to be cruel. (f) The words are very difficult. (g) Three lines rhyme. (h) The poem is meaningful. 2. What is the strength of the poem? You can choose more than one item from the list below and add your own comments. (a) It’s true to life. (b) It’s entertaining. (c) It’s clever. (d) It teaches you something. (e) It’s beautiful. (f) It has a deep feeling. (g) It’s sincere. (h) It makes you think. (i) It’s fun. (j) Other comments:______________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ S 18

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