Literature in an ESL TEFL TESOL Classroom

Teaching Literature to English Language Learners

Professor Colin MacCabe of the University of Exter School of English says that to truly know a language, you must know something of the literature of a language.

Literature is intellectually stimulating because a book allows a reader to imagine worlds they are not familiar with. This is done through the use of descriptive language. In order to understand, the reader will create their vision of what the writer is saying. In this sense, the reader becomes a performer or an actor in a communicative event.

Using literature versus a communicative textbook changes the learning approach from learning how to say into learning how to mean (grammar vs. creative thinking). Conversation-based programs tend to focus on 'formulas' used in contextual situations so there is little allowance for independent thought and adaptation of language. On the other hand, literature-based programs focus on personal interpretation of the language so students begin to experiment with the language. This experimentation can be especially helpful to the students for use in different subjects such as science.

Per Carter and Long, the 3 main approaches to using Literature in a language classroom are:

1. Cultural model

    * Based on the notion that literature is the expression of: Socio-cultural attitudes. Aspirations of individual societies. Mythic and universal values.
    * Text is regarded as finished product.
    * Associated with teacher-centered approach

2. Language model

    * Literature is taught for the promotion of: Vocabulary Structure Language manipulation
    * Puts students in touch with the subtle and varied creative uses of language.
    * Emphasizes language observation.
    * Student-centered methodology.

3. Personal growth model

    * Concerned more with student's: Maturity as individuals Progress as individuals through reading
    * 'Literature for life' approach
    * Promotes individual evaluation and judgment.
    * Learner-centered approach.

When adding literature into the classroom remember to choose some good books that students can relate to. Visual books are very helpful to help spark interest in children. For older students, you can incorporate questions into the reading process that require thought and expression from the students. In addition, set aside specific times for reading. Don't worry if students don't respond well when you begin because they will start to enjoy it more (and therefore interact more) as they relate to the stories and experiences shared.

Some Literature School Basics by Lorraine Curry of the Easy Homeschooling Companion

1) Select a number of well chosen books.

2) Set a particular time to read each book.

3) Let nothing interfere with your scheduling.

4) Use discussion and research to create interest.

5) Process, by writing or narrating.

Each child should have the opportunity to read aloud each day to encourage pronunciation practice. During this time you can note and correct mispronounced words.

Older Students

*Present questions that require thought. Some questions may not have one perfect answer. Some may not have an answer at all. Nevertheless, thought is stimulated and learning takes place.

*Copy challenging writing in order to practice English skills and increase comprehension.

*Do extensive research in order to understand deeper writing such as poems. *Research authors, times and places.

*Report by presenting orally or compiling results of research in writing. The quantity and quality of written assignments should increase with older students.

*Solidify language-learning with a formal grammar course and a formal writing course

Some good online literature teacher resources:

Total ESL Resources: totalesl.com/resource.php
Total ESL Lesson Plans: totalesl.com/lesson.php
The Children's Literature Web Guide: career.vt.edu/JOBSEARC/interview/TEACHER.htm
Literature.org: literature.org
English Literature on the Web: lang.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~matsuoka/EngLit.html
The Literature Network: online-literature.com
Bibliomania: bibliomania.com
Literature Learning Ladders: eduscapes.com/ladders
BBC Arts and Books: bbc.co.uk/arts/books


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