Summer with Monika

Summer with Monika by Roger McGough

Poems are a wonderful way of developing the students’ skills in pronunciation, stress and intonation.

They are particularly welcome at the end of the week when something completely different might be considered.

This poem is best used with adults rather than young people. It always raises a smile and encourages a lot of discussion.

There are a lot of possible activities that can be done with a poem. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. This poem is called ‘Summer with Monika’ and the teacher could ask the students to suggest what they think the poem is about.
  2. Ask them whether they drink milk or eat cereal. In many countries people do not eat cereal and regard it as a very strange food. Discuss its pros and cons.
  3. How do people in different countries obtain their milk? What about in the UK?
  4. Ask them which lines rhyme. If necessary, tell them that lines 1 and 2 rhyme, then 3 and 4 and so on to the end of the first verse.
  5. Give them verse one with the final words of each line deleted.
  6. Give them a word that rhymes with each pair in verse one e.g. ball for 1 and 2, head for 3 and 4, red for 5 and 6, peas for 7 and 8, fleas for 9 and 10.
  7. Ask them to suggest suitable words for the end of verse one.
  8. Go through their suggestions. Compare contrast and discuss.
  9. Give them the whole poem. Tell them to read it silently.
  10. What is the poem about?
  11. Why are there constant references to bottles of milk?
  12. What is meant by the reference to cheese?
  13. Why different thicknesses? Why different shades of white?
  14. Elicit suggestions from the students to make sure the vocabulary is understood: neighbour, a-turning, persistent, utter, passion, queuing
  15. What does this mean? … persistent carol singers without a note to utter…
  16. What does this mean? … silent carol singers a-turning into butter…
  17. Ask individual students to read the poem aloud. Help them with the pronunciation and intonation.
  18. Do the students like the poem? Why? Why not?

Summer with Monika by Roger McGough

ten milk bottles standing in the hall
ten milk bottles up against the wall
next door neighbour thinks we’re dead
hasn’t heard a sound, he said
doesn’t know we’ve been in bed
the ten whole days since we were wed
no-one knows and no-one sees
we lovers doing as we please
but people stop and point at these
ten milk bottles a-turning into cheese

ten milk bottles standing day and night
ten different thicknesses and
different shades of white
persistent carol singers without a note to utter
silent carol singers a-turning into butter

now she’s run out of passion
and there’s not much left in me
so maybe we’ll get up and make a cup of tea
and then people can stop wondering
what they’re waiting for
those ten milk bottles a queuing at our door
those ten milk bottles a queuing at our door.