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August 2018 - Year 20 - Issue 4

ISSN 1755-9715

Creative Use of Literature in the Classroom: Modern Poetry

Emese Enyedi is a teacher of English and Hungarian literature and language, head of English Department at Teleki Blanka Secondary and Primary School, Székesfehérvár, Fejér county, Hungary. She also works as an advisor on testing and evaluation in Hungary, and is a certified examiner at advanced level final (school-leaving) examinations in English, and chairwoman at school-leaving examinations. Email:



Creativity and innovation is a highly important competence, thus it is indispensable to improve the creative thinking of our students in order to give them enough self-confidence.

It is also essential to provide learners tools that enable them to express their opinion in real life situations, exchange ideas, justify opinions or negotiate.

As I teach in classes of different sizes and age-groups which consist of both highly motivated and less able students, it is a great challenge for me to make the latter group more interested while satisfy the needs of talented ones. Students hate being bored during lessons and so as teachers we have to entertain as well as teach.

Student-centred activities and practical classroom ideas for exciting lessons are needed to engage this generation. Consequently it is important to enhance student involvement in drama activities, practice changing viewpoints when analysing works of art.

Having always been interested in using literary texts as a teaching resource I introduced modern poetry in the classroom some years ago. The incentive behind this practice was a wonderful teacher training course organized by Bell International, Cambridge in 2009 titled ’From Hamlet to Harry Potter - Using Literature in the Classroom’.

The teaching aims are various ranging from developing cooperation, concentration, analysing skills as well as creativity and imagination.

The first stage entails working with poems that enable students to recognize and practice different viewpoints, voices, for example ’Not Waving But Drowning’by Stevie Smith, ’We Remember Your Childhood Well’ by Carol Ann Duffy or ’A Martian Sends a Postcard Home’ by Craig Raine. Short drama texts are also worth trying out. Excerpts from Harold Pinter’s dramas  like ’The Caretaker’,  ’A Night Out’ or ’Victoria Station’provide students the possibility to speculate about situations, places and characters, write dialogues in groups, brainstorm about the ways of producing the plays on the stage.

After getting acquainted with the fact that stating different opinions does not lead to failure and several versions are accepted rather than ridiculed, the students can be involved in drama activities to practice changing viewpoints.

These activities can easily be adapted to any level and guarantee a good atmosphere. Furthemore, students get involved to a great extent since collaboration is an essential feature of these activities.


Lesson plan

Level: intermediate

Time: 45’

poem: ’A Martian Sends a Postcard Home’ by Craig Raine









Speculate about life in the universe.

Target questions:

’Is there anybody out there?’

’Do you think Martians visit us?’

’What could be their biggest problems?’


’What about their feelings?’

’How would they see us?’


Imagine one of them is among

 us, is homesick, and writes a postcard home.


Introduce the topic, motivate students, brainstorm ideas.


picture of the universe (map), bluetack.


Matching activity:

Sts match pictures with the chunks of the poem:  

- they need to find 5 parts that correspond to the pictures



develop creativity, cooperation, and

concentration/ focus


group work

envelopes with the chunks of the poem, pictures



Sts try to arrange the chunks in the correct order,

the teacher reads the poem, sts check.

Discuss the other images in detail, write the unknown words on board.

develop analysing skills, imagination

group work

chunks of the poem






Follow-up activity:

Sts speculate about a Martian’s thoughts when:


-seeing a walking dog

-seeing sy sunbathing

-seeng sy playing football

-seeing sy taking a photograph

develop creativity, imagination, cooperation



group work







Creative writing:

-writing a simple poem related to the topic.

Sentence starter:

-imagine that the Martian is lonely, write about his/her

 loneliness based on the

following mantra:      


’Loneliness is a telephone that (never rings)………

 Loneliness is a songbird that (never sings)…………

 Loneliness is cold sheets on (a cold bed)………..

 Loneliness is being hungry (though well-fed)…….’

-sts speculate about the endings (opposites, rhymes)


enhance creativity,

cooperation, imagination

group work



Homework: describe our

everyday objects from the Martian’s viewpoint
































































































































Please check the English Language course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Creative Methodology for the Classroom course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.

  • Relative Clauses: Crossing the Portal
    Sinan Çakmak, Turkey

  • Teaching The Second Conditional with an Authentic Text
    Saziye Muge Uysal, Turkey

  • Creative Use of Literature in the Classroom: Modern Poetry
    Emese Enyedi, Hungary

  • Two Interactive Skype Lessons
    Minka Paraskevova, Bulgaria