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Poetry as Teaching Resources for English Language Teaching in EFL Classes

Poetry is the genre most English teachers seem least comfortable with (Lockward, 1994). Not only students but also teachers take this part of teaching


Poetry is the genre most English teachers seem least comfortable with (Lockward, 1994). Not only students but also teachers take this part of teaching and learning as more difficult due to linguistic and cultural vagueness.  According to Povey (1972) and Bex (1994), Poems in foreign languages are a very good way of learning about human culture, values, and civilization. May be of some hidden meaning and its contextual vagueness’ the poetry readership has been remarkably declining amongst the students. Hedge (2000) also believes poems are a good way of developing receptive skills of reading.

Poetry is probably the most practised and least understood of any creative enterprise (Bhandari & Adhikari, 2007). Poetry as one of the literature products can be used to develop learners’ knowledge of English and to teach structure, grammar and vocabulary (Khansir, 2012). The good thing about teaching and reading poetry is that students read aloud, repeat often, and share in groups and they try to learn to attend to the words, which they hear and think about what those words mean. Dobariya (2015) says that poetry, in general, can be used in ESL classes to develop communicative competence. The secondary level curriculum states the learning objective as below: Compulsory English (Grade XI & XII): “to teach students skills in the use of English for academic and communicative purposes and to train them in the functional, notional and grammatical areas of English language use. A positive attitude towards poetry might reflect its place in contemporary culture. Teaching poetry can be said the most effective form of teaching for effective poetry can enhance and nourish peoples’ interest in learning. 

There are mainly two learning theories that have impacted English teaching and learning. The same theories can be applied to teaching and learning poetry in secondary level English courses in Nepal. Skinner (1968) proposed the first theory, which is known as behaviorism in education (As cited in Rao, 2018). In a traditional classroom, the teacher like the protagonist in a ‘dramatic monologue’ speaks before the students who, being silent listeners, have practically got nothing to do other than listening to what the teacher says (Dutta, 2001). Teachers with a behaviorist mindset take the classroom as a teacher-centered environment, with teachers, textbooks and other enrichment materials as the major source of knowledge (Rao, 2018). Constant repetition, avoidance of mistakes, analogy as a foundation of learning, linguistic and cultural context are the foundations of behaviorist theory of learning (Dai & Chen, 2007). Constructivism views learning as an interpretive, recursive, and non-linear process by active learners interacting with the surroundings of the physical and social world (Fosnot, 2005). There are two schools of constructivism in use, namely cognitive constructivism and socio-cultural constructivism (Rao, 2018). According to constructivism, learning is an active process in which students construct new ideas and concepts based on theory, past and present language knowledge.

According to Brindely (1980), the greatest barrier for poetry being seen distant to English as foreign language (EFL) and English as second language teaching (ESL) is the elliptical, metaphorical and highly allusive language of poetry. Denman (1988) argues that some learners are “turned off to all forms of poetry”. Researches on language teaching and learning have been dominated by behaviorist theories in the 20th century (Rao, 2018). 

A study by Rottmann (2018) found that the students preferred autonomy, quick decision-making, and personal interest when being introduced to poetry. Poetry has been used in promoting literature text in teaching and learning a language in the EFL classroom (Antika, 2016). Poetry can be used to foster students’ motivation to read and write in order to achieve their academic proficiency.

Bista (2011) reviews the history of English language teaching (ELT) in Nepal at school and university level. Bista (2011) concludes that instructors of English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL) from high school English classes find it difficult to implement necessary lesson plans in the classroom. Lamichhane (2019) reviews the bachelor’s level major English curriculum for its relevance, strengths, weaknesses, and pedagogical implications. 


Ankita, R. (2016) Poetry in EFL classroom. Tell US Journal, Vol 2, (2). 20-35.

Bista, K. (2011). Teaching English as Foreign/ Second Language in Nepal: Past and Present. 32 (11).

Brindley, D. J. (1980). Breaking the Poetry Barrier: Towards Understanding and Enjoying Poetry. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Conference on the Teaching of English. Sydney, Australia 

Dai, J., & Chen, Z. (2007). Contemporary English language teaching: Theory and practice. Hefei: University of Science and Technology of China Press.

Fosnot (Ed.), Constructivism: Theory, perspectives and practice (pp. 276–291). New York: Teachers College Press.

Fosnot, C. T. (2005). Constructivism revisited: Implications and reflections. In C. T. 

Lamichhane, S. (2017). An Appraisal of Major English Courses for Bachelor’s of Arts. Tribhuvan University Journal, Vol 31, no. 1& 2.

Povey, J. (1972). Literature in TESL Programs: The language and the culture. In H. Allen and R. Campbell (Eds.). Teaching English as a second language. New York: McGraw-Hill

Khan sir, A. A. (2012). Teaching Poetry in the ELT Classroom. International Review of Social Science and Humanities, 3 (1).

Rao, X. (2018). Learning Theories that impact English Teaching and Learning. University English for Academic Purposes in China.

Lockward, D. (1994). Poets on teaching poetry. English Journal, 83, 65 -70.

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