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It has only been since the s that this area has attracted more interest among EFL teachers. The purpose of this article is to look at some of the issues and ways in which literature can be exploited in the classroom.
There are also links to classroom activities and lessons with literature that you can download and use straight away. First of all, any method or approach towards using literature in the classroom must take as a starting point the question: The Macmillan English Dictionary gives the following definition: One broader explanation of literature says that literary texts are products that reflect different aspects of society.
Other linguists say that there is no inherent quality to a literary text that makes a literary text, rather it is the interpretation that the reader gives to the text Eagleton This brings us back to the above definition in the sense that literature is only literature if it is considered as art.
Before doing any study of a literary text with your learners, one idea would be to ask them what they think literature is. There are many good reasons for using literature in the classroom.
Here are a few: Literature is authentic material. It is good to expose learners to this source of unmodified language in the classroom because they skills they acquire in dealing with difficult or unknown language can be used outside the class.
Literary texts are often rich is multiple layers of meaning, and can be effectively mined for discussions and sharing feelings or opinions. Literature expands language awareness.
Asking learners to examine sophisticated or non standard examples of language which can occur in literary texts makes them more aware of the norms of language use Widdowson, quoted by Lazar Literature educates the whole person.
By examining values in literary texts, teachers encourage learners to develop attitudes towards them. These values and attitudes relate to the world outside the classroom. Literature holds high status in many cultures and countries. For this reason, students can feel a real sense of achievement at understanding a piece of highly respected literature.
Also, literature is often more interesting than the texts found in coursebooks. How the teacher will use a literary text depends on the model they choose.
The cultural model views a literary text as a product. This means that it is treated as a source of information about the target culture. It is the most traditional approach, often used in university courses on literature. The cultural model will examine the social, political and historical background to a text, literary movements and genres.
There is no specific language work done on a text. This approach tends to be quite teacher-centred. The language model aims to be more learner-centred. As learners proceed through a text, they pay attention to the way language is used. They come to grips with the meaning and increase their general awareness of English.
Within this model of studying literature, the teacher can choose to focus on general grammar and vocabulary in the same way that these are presented in coursebooks for example or use stylistic analysis. Stylistic analysis involves the close study of the linguistic features of the text to enable students to make meaningful interpretations of the text — it aims to help learners read and study literature more competently.
The personal growth model is also a process-based approach and tries to be more learner-centred. This model encourages learners to draw on their own opinions, feelings and personal experiences.
It aims for interaction between the text and the reader in English, helping make the language more memorable. This model recognises the immense power that literature can have to move people and attempts to use that in the classroom. Both are based on short texts: Using literature over a longer period of time — the set novel or reader The above lesson plans are all based on short extracts or poems and can therefore easily be used over one class period.
However, there are very good reasons for encouraging learners to read books.ESL Games Plus offers interactive online games for learning and teaching English as a Second Language.
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