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Teaching the Crocodile's View:

Mimicking of Style to Overcome     Grammatical Difficulties.

Creative writing is a much neglected tool for teaching ESL/EFL students. Colleagues often complain that their students are not imaginative enough or not advanced enough to do any serious writing.

While it's true that kids often do not have the grammar necessary for doing serious writing, it is absolutely not true that they lack the imagination. Mimicking the style of others is one way to overcome the grammatical shortcomings of child writers.  When given a structure to work with, the students don't have to worry about forming correct sentences.  Instead they can concentrate on the more colorful aspects of writing.

Lesson Preparation:

This lesson was originally taught to some advanced middle school grade one students. As well as being a good creative writing project, it also teaches environmental awareness. The results were astonishing.

Copy the creative writing sheet Beware of Humans. Prepare explanations for the more difficult words such as crafty, beckon, guile, treacherous, and reptilian. Beckon can be taught with gestures but you may need a dictionary for some of the others.  And you will definitely need dictionaries for the creative writing segment.

Start a short general discussion about crocodiles: Where do crocodiles live? In the river, in Africa, In the swamp . . .  What do they eat? Are they dangerous?

Read the poem, explain the difficult parts, and check their understanding. Reading the poem while guesturing a smiling, beckoning crocodile is effective.

Option1: In groups have the students memorize a line each and then recite the poem as a group.

Now start a discussion on the relation between humans and crocodiles.  Ask who endangers who? Make a list of the ways that humans harm crocodiles.  Answers may include: hunting, turning them into wallets (as one student wrote), taking away their land, taking away their fish, polluting their environment,and making too much noise.

Now make the students rewrite Jack Prelutsky's poem from the crocodile's perspective.  There is a natural opening for their poem:

Beware the ________ human.

All of the students picked up on this. And this is why mimicking is effective. They don't have to labor over how to begin, or writing grammatically correct sentences.

After finishing this project, students can share their works with the class.

Finally, as a class project or as individual work/homework, make a list of rules for dealing with humans. Another option is to leave the whole creative writing project as a homework assignment. This has also worked well.

This Lesson Plan was prepared by Chris Gunn who teaches English at Inchon University in South Korea



 The Crocodile*

                           by Jack Prelutsky


Beware the crafty crocodile

who beckons you with clever smile

to join him in the river Nile

and swim with him a little while.


His smile is not a friendly smile,

it springs from his dishonest guile

and treacherous reptilian style.

Beware the crafty crocodile.

        Student Works (unedited)

The Human

       by Crocodile's Elder                 Donghyun

Beware the sly human

who beckons you with tasty food

to join him outside of the river

and walk with him a little while.


His food is not a true heart food

it springs from his nasty trick

and aweful ape's style

Beware the sly human.


The People who Eats Crocodiles

        by Joon-won

Beware the people who has fork and knife

He tempts you with the freshest food

and waits until you eat it

After all, he stings you with a sharp spear


His food is not a good food,

it makes you wound or die

Beware the cruel people.


The Crocodile's View

            by Chang Hee

Beware the horrible human.

who beckons you with terrible smile

to join him in the hunting ships

and play with him a little while.


His smile isn't a kind smile

His face is a cannibal's view

and many people will kill us

If you want to live, thenyou are going to run away.

Beware the crafty human.





Rules For Dealing With Humans



Crocodile's Textbook


        by Crocodile's Professor



(1) Don't go near humans unless starved for months.


(2) But you can eat them up in peace of mind if they don't have any weapons.


(3) You have to be careful with their weapon: especially the sticks which can fire the small metal things. (People call it 'gun')


(4) The best way to eat people who have their 'gun' is to attack them very swift so they can't use the weapon.


*The Crocodile was originally published in Zoo Doings

by Jack Prelutsky, Greenwillow Books, 1983