Using poems and short stories in writing classes

Peter Wells

This workshop demonstrated some ways of using poetry writing and story writing in EFL classes. The three main types of writing discussed were: short poems in free verse, haikus, and 50-word stories. In general, the argument for using literature in EFL classes is that the activity is more interesting than routine communicative tasks. Students become emotionally involved in what they are writing, which makes the process more meaningful. Also, there is a sense of achievement in producing a work of literature even while still at an elementary level. In the case of haikus and 50-word stories, the limitations imposed by the rules of the genres oblige the students to focus closely on formal features of language, such as pronunciation and grammar. Finally, the tasks are short enough to be done in collaboration, in the course of a single lesson, and they can be shared with fellow students. Students have the opportunity to use various presentational skills in these activities.