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May 2, 1999 - Poetry - 2002-02-06

INTRO: Our Wordmasters were buzzing with activity as they prepared for their weekly report on language.

AA: Roses are red, violets are blue, if you like poetry, then this week's Wordmaster is just for you. I'm Avi Arditti.

RS: And I'm Rosanne Skirble, and today we're going to talk about using poetry to teach English.


"Poems are usually pretty short, compared to other kinds of text, so you get a full topic in a paragraph or two, or a page, so you can explore a topic very quickly. "

AA: Joy Peyton uses poetry to teach English as a foreign language. She gives writing seminars for teachers and students, through the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington.


"Poets seek to touch people's hearts universally and they look for universal themes to write about. "

RS: Joy Peyton says reading and writing poetry unlocks emotions. So, she says, language learners express themselves more than they might otherwise. Also, many poems repeat words and sentence structures, and poetry helps teach the rhythms of the language.


RS: Ouch! those honeybees are angry!!

AA: Joy Peyton told us that one of her favorite poems for teaching English is called "Honeybees. " It's from the book "Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices" by Paul Fleischman.

//AA and RS read poem// TAPE CUT 3 -- JOY PEYTON

"You have 'being a bee is a joy/is a pain/I'm a queen/I'm a worker/I'll gladly explain. ' So you have two perspectives and from that you can write zillions of poems about (for example) Columbus and the people that were in the countries that he went to. You can write about an immigration officer and a person who's coming to a country. You can write about a mother and her son.

"When you read the poem, people come up with a whole bunch of ideas about two perspectives. The other thing is that people see that you don't necessarily have to rhyme. "

AA: Joy Peyton at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington.

RS: If you're a poet -- or even if you're not -- write to us. We love to hear from our listeners. Our e-mail address is or write us at VOA Wordmaster, Washington dc 20547 USA.

AA: With Rosanne Skirble, I'm Avi Arditti.

MUSIC: "Flight of the Bumblebee