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Great Poems for ESL Students


Poems are great for young learners, as the natural rhythm helps bring the language to life. With a few well placed rhymes, even the most monotone student will have your class in tears... hopefully of laughter. Because there is certainly a gaggle of hilarious poems out there for kids.

Like this one about a child trying to stay home from school:

"I cannot go to school today,"

Said little Peggy Ann McKay.

"I have the measles,

or maybe the mumps,

A gash, a rash,

some purple lumps?

My mouth is wet.

No! My throat is dry.

I'm going blind!

Wait, which eye?

My tonsils are as big as rocks,

I've counted sixteen chicken pox

Look! One more - that's seventeen!

And don't you think my face looks green?

My finger's is cut,

my eyes are blue -

It might be that odai-ji-ni flu.

I cough and sneeze,

I gasp and choke,

I'm pretty sure, my leg is broke -

My hip hurts, when I move my chin,

My belly button's going in,

My elbow's bent,

my spine's not straight,

My temperature; five-hundred-eight!

My brain is shrunk,

I cannot hear,

There is a hole, inside my ear.

Eh? What's that?

What did you say?

Today is ... A sunny saturday?

Well good bye,

I'm off to play!"

This is
a classic by the wonderful Shel Silverstein, which has been edited to be appropriate for ESL learners. Silverstein is wonderful at connecting with the everyday world of children.

Another wonderful element of poetry is that it can introduce students to the subtler side of English. With image-inspiring vocabulary, or more complex comparisons. Here is a classic by Joseph Parry which has been edited for ESL learners, but that any child can understand.


Make new friends,

but honor the old;

Those are silver,

but these are gold.

The best friendships,

like good wine,

Will age and mellow,

over time.

For with our friends,

tried and true,

Once more we,

our youth renew.

But old friends, alas!

may still go,

However, new friends,

there are to know.

Cherish friendship

in your chest -

New is good,

but old is best;

Make new friends,

but keep the old;

Those are silver,

these are gold.

We hope you've enjoyed these selections of poems for ESL learners. Please share poems or experiences in the comments section!

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