Nonsense Literature in the EFL classroom? – The “Nonsenses” of Edward Lear
Julia Veltrum, Saturday 12.00-12.30

Edward Lear’s Nonsense Literature is an exquisite example of the image-text interplay in children’s literature. Therefore, the paper proposes a choice of his limericks, alphabets, and botany, which are considered to be enriching for the EFL classroom due to their playfulness and ambiguity. While Lear’s botany and limericks are appropriate for learners with advanced English skills, his alphabets are suitable for beginners.

The limerick is a small form in verse with a distinct rhythm and rhyming scheme. Each limerick is about the destiny of an old man, an old person or a young lady touching key topics such as otherness/identity, food, or various emotional conditions (for instance loneliness, happiness or pain). The narrative often contrasts with its preceding illustration and thus serves as an impetus for further discussions.

Lear’s Nonsense Botany is also suitable for English classes at advanced level. They can be applied for demonstrating word formation processes while playfully hinting at Latin roots in the English word stock since Lear deals with this issue both linguistic and graphical point of view.

Nonsense Literature is a useful resource for EFL beginners as well. The alphabets comprise a collection of small verses accompanied by a drawing for each letter. While introducing the alphabet, the verses help to make the learners familiar with the sound and rhythm of the English language.

In conclusion, the paper states that Lear’s Nonsense Literature, his humorous texts and their illustrations, proved to be a very valuable resource in the EFL classroom.

Julia Veltum (M.A.) is currently teaching Technical English and Business English at University of Applied Sciences Zwickau. She graduated from Friedrich-Schiller University Jena in 2006 with a thesis on “Untersuchungen zur Nonsense-Literatur bei Edward Lear” (The Investigation of Edward Lear’s Nonsense Literature).