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February 2021 - Year 23 - Issue 1

ISSN 1755-9715

My Poems for Teaching Some Grammatical Points

Anh T. Ton Nu is currently a PhD candidate in Linguistics at Macquarie University in Australia. Prior to going to Australia for her postgraduate studies, she was an English lecturer at Hue Industrial College, Vietnam, and also an English Training Coordinator at Passerelles numériques, an international education NGO based in Da Nang City, Vietnam. Her research interests include pragmatics in English Language Teaching, teacher education, and textbook evaluation. Email:



If “Happy teachers change the world” becomes one popular quotation for many teachers after Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh releases his book about integrating mindfulness in education, an unchanged motto for me during my teaching life for over 10 years to date is Fun teachers change teaching quality and learning process. There is scientific evidence that if teachers can make students’ learning experience fun, they can learn better and be more eager to continue their learning (Garner, 2006; Torok, McMorris, & Lin, 2004; Wanzer, Frymier, & Irwin, 2010).  Hence, one methodological tip for teachers of all subjects is to include jokes about relevant topics to enhance the funny atmosphere in the class for effective learning. However, the concept of ‘fun’ in class does not necessarily have to involve laughter as always. Teachers can make their lessons enjoyable by other means to create different kinds of positive emotions in learners. In my English classes, one of the tools that I often use to make my students excited and surprised is English poems, which can be masterpieces by famous poets, or my self-composed poems. Whatever I use, I have to make sure that they are relevant to the teaching content so that it can be easier for my students to remember the taught knowledge.

The two poems below are examples of my self-composed ones which are used to teach students how to make an unreal wish in English and the speech act of asking for and giving advice.

At the beginning of the class, I hand out the poem to students, ask them to work in groups and find out the sentences that include the grammatical point that I am going to teach them. They are asked to analyse the structures as well. I will then teach them the form and meaning of the structure with examples of how it can be used in different contexts. Afterwards, the students are asked to do some practice tasks to master the structure. And one homework for them is that they can try composing some similar poems and share with the whole class in the next lesson. By so doing, I can help students be more interested in their language production, and they can be more creative at the same time.


My wishes

I wish I were clouds

To wander around the sky

And if the earth becomes too dry

I will help to stop its droughts.


I wish I were stars

To light up the dark nights

And enable all kids to thrive

With my twinkling lights!


As those wishes are unreal

I try to make a good deal

By myself every day


Which can be

Lovely words to my family

Nice care to my sweeties

Volunteering in my community


Though I can’t be a luminary

With those small activities,

I may be the sweetest person

To all of my companions.


Advice for an angry person

What should I do

if someone triggers my anger?

Should I let it take control of me?

And ruin my virtue and dignity?


No, the answer is not!

It is advised not to talk

When you are angry.

On the contrary,

Keeping silent can be the best advice

So that you have sufficient time

To balance your emotion

And deal with the situation

With wisdom in your mind.



Garner, R. L. (2006). Humour in pedagogy: How ha-ha can lead aha!. College Teaching, 54(1), 177–180.

Torok, E. S., McMorris, F. R. & Lin, W. (2004). Is humour an appreciated teaching tool? Perceptions of professors' teaching styles and use of humour. College Teaching, 52(1), 14–20.

Wanzer, B. M., Frymier, A. B. & Irwin, J. (2010). An explanation of the relationship between instructor humour and student learning: Instructional humour processing theory. Communication Education, 59(1), 1–18.


Please check the Practical Methodology and Language for Primary Teachers course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Practical Methodology and English Language Development for Secondary Teachers course at Pilgrims website.

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