Performing Poems in the Primary School
Abstract Language itself, second language acquisition, and poetry all rely on repeated patterns. Children delight in these patterns, which support functional literacy. Mini narrative poems are important in the language classroom in order that young learners can create mental models of the storyworld and mental representations of the language. Acting out the rhymes and poems in the primary classroom is an excellent method to enhance the recycling of language as rehearsal is another kind of repetition, which supports holistic learning. Poems can transmit cultural knowledge, can offer opportunities for humour in a motivating classroom environment, and can – like all literature – train flexibility of perspective.
In conclusion, the chapter shows how lexical patterns and grammatical categories can be internalised through memorising poems. Although acquired as unanalysed wholes, formulaic sequences can provide primary children with an inventory of illustrative exemplars, which may later be recalled from memory. With sufficient input, the young learners may infer productive patterns, and increased command of language may gradually emerge. Thus poetry as pattern-rich, pleasurable language may also be memorised as a template for the future.