In schools where many pupils are failing the basics of English language, they cannot be expected to progress to a more complex level of English study like poetry before the basics have been mastered.
It is like asking a student who cannot count to solve a highly complex algebraic equation; completely impossible because the groundwork remains a nemesis. If the pupils cannot understand the basics of reading, writing and grammar, they will certainly struggle to with more complex concepts fundamental to the study of poetry such as similies, personifications, metaphors and extended metaphors.
Let us take the UK as an example, for it is a country in which many students do not make progress in basic English. A report in 2011 voiced concern at the number of school children struggling with English and the published some horrifying statistics; “Hundreds of thousands of pupils are falling behind in the basics after starting secondary school, official figures suggest … three in 10 are not making enough progress in English, according to Department for Education data.160,000 did not make enough progress in English.”1
1Press Association, “Many secondary school pupils failing to meet expectations, report reveals”, guardian.co.uk, 9 June 2011,http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/09/secondary-school-pupils-…, accessed 1 September 2011
On the contrary, poetry is helpful to teaching English. Learning poetry involves chanting, exploration of syllables and vowel sounds. As the pupils chant the syllables, they read the letters that go into making that sound and so spelling will be improved. Reading poetry aloud improves reading ability because the student is vocalising the building blocks that form certain sounds to make words. Public speaking ability will also be improved from a vocal exploration of poetry.