World Poetry Day and foreign languages


Today is World Poetry Day and poems are a great resource for both CLIL and FL classes. In traditional education systems pupils are made to learn poems by heart and to recite them in front of the class. Perhaps you remember a poem you learnt like this at school? However, times have changed and so have our pupils. Nowadays, learning about poetry in class can be fun, exciting, inspiring and challenging for pupils and teachers alike!  Questions such as, ‘Why do people read poems?”What is a poem?’ ‘Why do people write poetry?’ ‘How do you write a good poem?’ encourage thinking skills and lively discussions.  Furthermore, poetry can be used in any type of class either to teach literacy skills through the means of a foreign language, or to teach the foreign language itself. You could also choose a poem related to a topic (food, plants, the planets, the environment, art) as an attention-grabbing way of introducing a new unit of work in your Science or Art classes.

If you would like to introduce your pupils to the world of poetry, here are a few ideas:


What is poetry? Questions worksheet (Delete the answers before you print. I left my year 4 primary pupils’ answers for you to see.)

Elements of poetry

The Ning Nang Nong by Spike Milligan (Great for teaching pupils about rhyme, onomatopoeia and for revising the /ng/ phoneme.)

A Thousand Hairy Savages by Spike Milligan (This short poem is easy to learn, also contain onomatopoeic words and helps to teach children about the importance of rhythm. It is great if you are working on the topic of food and is nice for children to illustrate.)

Similes and comparatives example poem

Similes flashcards

Narrative poems

Stopping by Woods by Robert Frost (Worksheet with questions,  video and information about Robert Frost)

Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen (text and great video)

The Crocodile by Roald Dahl (text and video)

Shape poems

You can introduce the concept of shape poems with these presentations

Acrostic poems

These are great for any occasion and require very little preparation. Give the children a word, or they could even use their name and let their imagination run wild! Great for learning about adjectives, using a dictionary and revising vocabulary.

End of unit activities

Choose a poem for a class anthology (Provide your pupils with a large collection of different poems and let them read as many as they like. Then they have to choose one that they liked for a class anthology and analyse it using their newly acquired knowledge of poetry!

Make a class book, display or blog post with poems that your pupils have written. It is highly motivational for the children to see their work on display and gives them a real reason for writing. They can also enjoy reading their classmates’ poems.

Self assessment worksheet – What I know, what I want to know and what I have learnt about poetry.

For more ideas, take a look at this website or this blog entry from CIEP Parque Europa in Utebo.


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