Composition 5

晶文薈萃 十優文章

Dear Editor,

I refer to the letter to the editor dated 13 March in your newspaper regarding the necessity for secondary students to learn about poetry in English lessons. It is the writer’s opinion that students should not learn poetry since it is difficult and in no way practical. However, I would like to air my idea that students should learn poetry in English lessons so long as they possess the abilities. There are many conspicuous factors supporting my view.

To start off, learning English poetry is a good way to learn about the western culture. Without a shadow of doubt, you must be familiar with the culture if you intend to pick up the language of a country. Poetry is a symbol of the culture and history of the western countries. It has been recording the status of previous society, the lifestyle of people in the past, the western custom, the development of language, to name a few. For the above reasons, students can learn about the western culture via the eyes of the poets. Thus, it is easier for students to immerse themselves in the English culture. And a proper atmosphere can be created in the class to push students to learn English. More importantly, poetry can enrich their knowledge and broaden their horizon.

In the second place, students can learn the practical English language from these poetry. Hong Kong students nowadays usually learn English by bearing a chain of vocabulary in mind and endorse the only one or common meaning of a word that they first find in the dictionary. However, vocabulary in a poem may possess multiple meaning, some may possess the interior and undertone meaning. By reading these poetry, students can consolidate their English foundation and build their word bank. Added to the above, it is commonplace to see that there are multitudes of proverbs appearing in the poetry. By learning these brilliant sentences, students can sharpen their delivering capacity and build up their writing style.

In the third place, Miss Lang seems to intend to create a sense that all Hong Kong students dislike learning poetry. However, it is wrong. It is by no means proper for us to overlook the interest of some students on learning poetry. We should never neglect this type of students. Frankly speaking, they can ‘read’ poetry through books or Internet. But the point is school is the best place for them to ‘learn’ poetry in that teachers have the expertise to direct them to learn. Education should be fair. We should respect the quest of some students for further knowledge.

In the letter which is written by Miss Lang, there is a point that we should spend more time learning some useful skills just like grammar or practicing for the examination. The exam-oriented is, however, so shallow that it totally misses the point. First, the value of education is not to produce the machines of examination. Its aim is to enrich the knowledge and cultivate students’ cultural quality. As I have mentioned in my letter, learning poetry can achieve this target. Thereby, it possesses the value and should be put into English lessons. Also Miss Lang has neglected the fact. In the DSE English Examination paper I part B section 2, here exists the probability of testing candidates about poem. As a result, poetry is also practical for exam. In order to cater for the DSE, we should learn about poetry in English lessons.

Frankly speaking, we cannot deny the truth that some Hong Kong students’ English basic skills are not enough. They may feel frustrated in reading poetry. To prevent that they will lose interest in English, these students may be the exception of learning poetry. Yet, I also hold the optimistic belief that they can overcome the hardship of poetry by sustaining learning and the effort of teachers. And for the general students in Hong Kong, I think they possess the abilities to learn about poetry. They should take the opportunities in English lessons to learn poetry.

Finally, I would like to restate my opinion that students should learn about poetry in English lessons so long as they have the abilities. As the old saying goes ‘Learn more, gain more!’, I believe that they can gain from learning English poetry.

Yours faithfully,
Pat Poon