language teaching and learning

READING ESL: beautiful river (poem)

Choral Speaking Competitions

I wrote this poem for a poetry recitation competition that we didn’t win. No hard feelings.

Choral speaking events are very popular in Malaysian primary schools, and it reminds me very much of my childhood experiences in South Wales. As far as I know, Malaysia and Wales are unique in their love of choral speaking events. My colleague who is the same age group as me was brought up in the neighbouring English county of Herefordshire, and she’s never heard of it. Choral speaking events are not a ‘thing’ in New Zealand, either.

It’s an acquired taste, I must say. But it is also very hard work for the competitors and their coaches, and some of the work is superb, even If you don’t like that sort of thing. Obviously, these verses were written to be read aloud. So, as I was writing the verses I read them back to myself to see if they sounded OK, and I was surprised to hear myself reading out loud in a Cwmbrân accent from my primary school days in South Wales.

The theme for the poetry recitation was a choice of Beauty’, ‘Freedom’ or ‘Hope’ and each entry had to be original work of 4-6 minute duration. There are one or two unfamiliar words for English learners, so I have added a short glossary at the end.

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