myTESOL Lounge

Poems for Change, for Peace, and for Learning Another Language

  • 1.  Poems for Change, for Peace, and for Learning Another Language

    Posted 18 days ago

    We always need to strengthen our resilience in body, mind, and heart, especially in 2020, the days of zoom learning, pandemic, and worldwide protest. This is a challenging time of deep reflection and reimagination. How can stay strong? Mindful poems can quiet your learners' anxious minds and protest poems can invite skillful learning, discussion, and shifts in perspective. You can find some popular poems as recordings and videos for your students at and my book, Beautiful English is available now.

    In the tradition of Poetry for the People, I write accessible, affirming poems for our English language learners about light topics such as time, family, rap music, and fun with food. Then I also weave in more serious topics such as grammar, history, identity, gender equity, racism, bullying, and indigenous people's history. I find inspiration from Joy Harjo, Taylor Mali, Paolo Freire, and Stephen Krashen.

    From the very beginning days of language learning, poetry can build community and mindful perspectives in our classrooms as we share from the heart, connecting our thoughts and our experience. We can help our international students become more communicative through the transformative power of poetry, metaphor, and voice.

    As one Brazilian student said, "poetry is a great way to inspire and motivate people. Something about the rhythm and the rhymes captivates our hearts and these poems have the power to communicate that to any English language learner."


    The El Salvadorian poet, Roque Dalton, wrote, "Poetry, like bread, is for everyone." Poems soothes us, inspires us, expresses our hearts and minds. Please share these poems with your students, and please be in touch with questions, workshop ideas, or poems to share.

    Venette Cook
    City College of San Francisco