Language in Diversity

A.   Definition of Approach

Based on Cambridge advanced learner’s dictionary, approch is a way of considering or doing something. Based on Edward Anthony (1963), approach is a set of correlative assumptions dealing with the nature of language teaching and learning.  An approach is axiomatic. It describes the nature of the subject matter to be taught. [1] Based on Richard and Rodgers´definitions: approach is  beliefs, assumptions and theories of learning .[2]

B.   Definition of Teaching

Based on Cambridge advanced learner’s dictionary, teaching is to give someone knowledge or to train someone. Teaching is Profession of those who give instruction, especially in an elementary or secondary school or a university. The teaching profession is a relatively new one. Traditionally, parents, elders, religious leaders, and sages were responsible for teaching children how to behave and think and what to believe. Germany introduced the first formal criteria for the education of teachers in the 18th century. In the 19th century, as society became more industrialized, the concept of schooling became more universal. In industrialized nations today, most teachers are university graduates. Teacher-training programs usually include both general and specialized academic, cultural, or vocational courses; the study of educational principles; and a series of professional courses combined with practical experience in a typical school setting. Most countries also require professional certification following formal training.[3]Based on Toward of Scientific Definition of Teaching (B. O. Smith’s) “teaching is the process of carrying out those activities that experience has shown to be effective in getting students to learn”.

C.   What is Literature ?

Literature is a term use to describe written or spoken material. The term is most commonly used to refer to words of the creative imagination including works of poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction. Literature is the art of written works. It is the body of written works of a language period or culture. Literature is published in written works in a particular style or particular subject. Literature is the mirror of life. Our life and all the subject are related to our life is the subject matter or element of literature. So we can get the touch of our life trough literature.[4]

D.   Teaching Literature

Advantages

– Literature can be very enjoyable to read.

– It provides examples of different styles of writing, mirrors various authentic uses of the language.

– It is a good basis for vocabulary expansion.

– It fosters reading skills.

– It can supply an excellent jump-off point for discussion or writing.

– It involves emotions as well as intellect, which adds to motivation and may contribute to personal development.

– It is part of the target language culture and has value as part of students’ general education.

– It encourages empathetic, critical and creative thinking. It contributes to world knowledge.

– It raises awareness of different human situations and conflicts.

– It provides a basis for communicative activities involving the 4 skills.

– It provides an opportunity for negotiation of meaning which is essential for FLA.
Teaching literature can and should be a part of our routine and schedule as future English teachers. Not only in order to teach our potential students rules, structures, grammar and such, but also to provide them with the best of what we know and to make them appreciate the language in different unusual methods. Literature can be taught and used as a tool to enrich their intellectual, personal and emotional world; however there are specific ways in which we must do it, in order for it to be as success oriented as possible.

The advantages of teaching literature in EFL class are:

1. It is enjoyable to read.

2. It provides examples of different ways of writings.

3. It is a good basis for exposure to new vocabularies.

4. It can foster reading skills, such as: reading faster, learning to differentiate between the main idea and the less important details.

5. It can supply good jump off points for class discussions as well as for writing.

6. Alongside the intellect that is invested in reading poetry, it involves emotions too (which adds to the students’ motivation and contributes to their personal lives)

7. It has value as a part of students’ general education, since it is part of the target language culture.

8. It can encourage empathetic emotions (towards the poem, the author, the idea of it) as well as creative thinking – thinking “outside of the box”.

9. It raises awareness of different conflicts and real life events.

10. It provides a good basis for communicative activities involving the four skills: reading,

writing, speaking and listening.

11. It can also provide an opportunity for negotiation of meanings which is needed and essential for Foreign Language Acquisition (a good learner will not hesitate to ask a question or any clarification, and literature provides students that opportunity – to negotiate on meaning).
Disadvantages

– Much literature is written in language that may be difficult for FL learners to read and understand.

– Simplified versions of classic literature are often a poor representation of the original.

– Many literary texts are long and time-consuming to teach.

– By using texts as a basis for language teaching we may spoil students’ enjoyment and appreciation of them as literature.

– Students of science and technology may find literature irrelevant to their needs.

– The cultural background may be so foreign to the students as to make the text virtually meaningless.
Alongside the many advantages there are some disadvantages of teaching literature in EFL class:

1. Much literature is written in language that could be, at times, too difficult for FL learners to read or understand.

2.Simplified versions of classic literature pieces are often a poor representation of the original.

3. Many literary texts are long and time consuming to teach.

4. By using different texts as a basis for language teaching, the teacher may spoil the students’ enjoyment.

5. Students of science and technology may find literature not related to their world and may often be irrelevant to their needs.

6. The cultural background of a literary piece may be foreign to the students in such way that the text might sound meaningless to them (in a way that they can’t even relate to it).

Although there are more benefits and advantages for teaching literature than disadvantages, these 6 disadvantages are mainly traps that teachers often tend to fall into. Therefore, it is important to bare them in mind, so that we will know better – than simply giving up and not even try to bring literature in class.
The Three Stages of Teaching Literature

a. Presentation

– pre-reading activities

– first reading

– checking basic comprehension

b. Understanding and Familiarization

c. Analysis and Interpretation

– Only necessary in higher level classes

– Usually done through a class discussion beginning with questions such as:

“Let’s compare…..”

“What would have happened if…..”

“Why do you think…..?”

It is also possible to teach more sophisticated literary terminology, such as rhyming scheme, meter, etc.
In order to teach literature, and to do it well, there are three stages we have to go through with our students:

1. Presentation – its aim is to make an impact on the students.

2. Understanding and familiarizing – enjoyment is the aim.

3. Analysis and interpretation – its aim is appreciation of the piece of art (poem/story/etc.)
Stage one: (presentation)

1. Some kind of a pre-reading activity is needed, e.g. new vocabulary, or some kind of other information that we think that the students need without spoiling the fun.

2. First reading will always be the teacher’s reading. Otherwise we can lose the point we’ve wanted to emphasize, and the impact might not be there.

3. Check for basic understanding of what was read – mostly orally, but can be done in writing as well (to make sure they got the idea of the literary piece).

Stage two: (understanding and familiarizing)

1. Teacher has to connect it with the students’ world.

2. Teacher/students can create a picture story.

3. Students can read aloud.

4. Students can write another ending.

5. Students can draw a scene from the poem, or the entire poem.

6. Students can rewrite a scene.

7. Students can act out a scene.

8. Students can mime a character.

9. Students can rewrite the poem/story in different genre.

10. Students can write a letter to the author/poet.

11. Students can create a poster.

Stage three: (analysis and interpretation)

1. It is only necessary in higher level classes, because if it is not suitable the students will end up hating English.

2. It is usually done through a class discussion beginning with questions, such as: “let’s compare…”, “what would have happened if…?”, “why do you think that….?” And it is done orally in order to help classmates understand better the various interpretations.

3. It is also possible to teach more sophisticated literary terminology like: rhymes schema, meter and so on.

 

Choosing a literary text

– The teaching situation

– Reason(s) for teaching literature

– Type of text (poem, short story, novel, play)

– Language level of text/pupils

– Cultural background of text/pupils

– Interest & motivation of text/pupils

How to choose a literary text?

Because of the fact that literature is a very wide and varied field, it means that there are more options to choose from, and it could make it difficult on us to choose.

1. It depends on the teaching situation (is the topic appropriate or not?) – are we in a conservative community that does not approve of certain topics.

2. The teacher has to know his/her reasons for teaching literature and when he/she knows why it is important, it will guide them more easily. For example-teaching literary for the Bagrut, would mean that the teacher has a specific goal and a justification.

3. Teacher should choose the type of text: poem, story, novel, play- to know whether it is suitable and how long it is going to take to teach it.

4. Teacher should take into account the language level of the text as well as the pupils’.

5. Teacher should be aware of the background of a certain text and the students’ as well, so that if an introduction is needed, the teacher will be able and prepared to provide it.

6. Teacher should take into account the students’ interest and motivation and adapt it to the text (or the other way around) and ask him/herself questions like: will they be interested? Will it motivate them to learn?
Preparing to teach a literary text

1. Will I do any pre-teaching of language or content?

2. Will I do any other “warm-up” activities?

3. How will the text be presented the first time?

4. What should I do immediately after the first reading to encourage and check comprehension?

5. What activities or tasks might encourage interaction and engagement with the text?

6. What sorts of questions or tasks might get students to probe and explore more subtle meanings, aspects of style or structure?

7. What might be a good way to “round off” the study of this text?
How to prepare oneself to teach a literary text?

The teacher should ask him/herself some guiding questions to help him/her make sure that the text that will be brought to class is suitable in most if not all ways.

1. Will I do any pre-teaching of language before I present the poem/story? And even if I won’t, I should justify it to myself.

2. Will I do any warm up activities? (a game, a previous knowledge they should know).

3. How will I present the text the first time? How will I read it? (standing up, sitting down, dressing up to emphasize something, etc.).

4. What should I do immediately after reading the poem for the first time to encourage the students and check comprehension? (I can ask basic understanding questions).

5. What activities might encourage interaction and engagement with the text? (like the list we’ve come up with in class-for the 2nd stage).

6. What sorts of questions or tasks might get students to explore more meanings and aspects of style and structure of the poem?

7. What might be a good way to “round off” the study and deep understanding of the text? (it would have to be something to do with experience in order for it to be success oriented and interesting).

  After we’ve been presented with the stages, technicalities and refreshing ideas as for how to approach literature, we had to work in pairs and “test” our new skills ourselves. Each pair had to plan a lesson (with all 3 stages in it) and later on, to report back. Altogether, literature is an integral part of a language, whichever language it may be, and through which we can teach our students a great deal about the world we are living in, about ourselves, and about the various walks of life that may touch each and every one of us.

E.   The Characteristics of Teaching Literature

  Give priority to the appreciative activity than the knowledge of literature itself because the main purpose of teaching and learning literature is appreciate the value that contains in literature[5], that is an introduction and an understanding to the value of literature and a fervor to literature, then an enjoyment which evolves as a consequence of it.

Example:

The teacher has to give a chance to the students to develop their appreciative ability, then the teacher help them in providing a conducive sitution and environment, for instance provide literature texts and motivate the students to read it. After that the teacher directly makes a contact and dialogue with the literatures by reading and enjoying it. And then the teacher holds a discussion about the experiences that contain in it, the characters, diction, etc. After the students involving in those activities (recognize, understand, analyze, and feel the literatures), they are strengthened with the knowledges of literatures. The teacher can add complemet activities, they are documentation and creative activities.[6] A documentation activity is an activity to collect and arrange books and magazines of literature, make clipping, etc. Meanwhile, a creative activity is an learning or practicing activity in creating poem, short story, or mini drama.

F.    Literature Teaching Approaches

This article shows how literature can be taught in different ways.

The aricle was written by Netty Yushani Yusof in Education, December 26, 2008

Related to the models of teaching literature is the teaching approach. There are four types of teaching approaches suggested: literary-core approach, thematic approach, holistic approach and language-based approach. The teachers have to bear in their minds that each approach has its own target or aim.

The literature as content approach (literary-core approach) is used traditionally and covers the history and characteristics of literary movement, social, political, historical background to a text, the literary genres, rhetorical devices and others. Unlike in other approaches, the learners acquire English by focusing on the course rather than the language itself. Eagleton (1983) writes, “One of our aims …should be to teach our students to read literature using the appropriate literary strategies” The learners also read set texts and literary criticism to help them. Translation is also allowed for their benefit in their discussion of the texts. Eagleton states, “Students may have already acquired this kind of literary competence in their own language, in which case we simply need to help them to transfer these skills.”

Literature for personal approach encourages the learners’ active involvement, emotionally and intellectually, in learning English. G. Lazar (1991) points out that they are incited to draw their own experiences, feelings and opinions. This approach is also known as the thematic approach due to the use of themes in teaching literature. Texts are chosen according to the same theme and them compared by the learners.

Holistic approach integrates all the approaches mentioned before. It uses the critical analysis, themes and the learners’ responses. Texts are treated cognitively and affectively. This approach focuses on the correct and apposite point of entry into text which will them motivate the learners.

The language-based approach is used to help incorporate the language and literature syllabus by studying the language. This helps the learners to interpret significantly and improves their use of English. Lazar claims that the learners are encouraged to draw their knowledge of familiar grammatically, lexical or discoursal categories to make their anesthetic judgements. Despite covering a range of different goals and procedures, this approach concerns with the process reading and standard EFL procedures are used for opening up the literary text thus releasing its meanings. In other words, literary texts are used to teach language. A. Maley and Duff (1990) insist, “ The primary aim of our apporach is quite simply to use literary texts as a resource ( and it will not be the only resource) for stimulating language activities.”

Two factors are proposed the focus on the study or reading literature itself and the use of literature for language practise. The former aims to provide the learners with the tools to interpret a text in order to make competent critical judgements and help the learners to develop, explore and express their perceptions using their communication skills. The latter aims at improving the learners’ proficiency in English by using certain language-based study skills as preliminary activities to studying literature as expressed by Brumfit and Carter (1986). Brumfit (1985) claims that, “ The process of reading is a process of meaning creation by integrating one’s own needs, understanding and expectations with a written text.” However, Lazar argues that in this approach, literature is viewed with a small “l” as the texts used vary from lterary to non-literary.

As conclusion, by using literature, the learners are exposed to humanity and its values, belief and customs and taught to appreciate the language used in the literary texts. Which ever approach a teacher may use, literature helps the learners to develop their confidence in the language and stimulate them to enjoy reading. As literature offers wide range of materials, teaching literature can be interesting and the teacher need not stick to one particular approach.

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