- “Can I Change The Ending Of The Story?”- Literature In The Classroom - January 3, 2021
- Colleagues cannot digest the Success of their Co-Colleague Psychologically - December 28, 2020
The purpose of this article is to provide some guidance through the wealth of literature for many teachers, the most powerful instrument in their school bag literature as a tool for language learning. This article reflects the reasons behind using literature as a good source in teaching English Language.
“Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree”.
Language generally represents Literature. Literature is the media of teaching and learning authentic language also. It may fasten the development of reading, writing, speaking, listening and critical writing skills. Language learning is more than a means to certification of competency. It introduces learners to cultures and people beyond their immediate environment. An ELT classroom can be a site for active and creative meaning making by facilitating reflection on literary works through activities that encourage critical thinking.
Students as critical thinkers:- Students as critical thinkers raise vital questions and use abstract ideas, think open-mindedly and communicate effectively with others. Passive thinkers suffer a limited and ego-centric views of the world. Literature gives us a huge platform to think. We read different literary honours and work of different great authors. We become familiar with their ideas, their point of views and thus we imbibe those and apply them to our immediate environment and look for creative solutions for life and everything. Literature also offers us scope to design a range of activities in the classroom like language related activities, creative activities. We can give a design literature in the classroom. So, literature classroom is a very rich classroom.
- Enabling diversification in teaching methods.
- Using language learning through literary works to promote
- Greater empathy
- To sensitise the students towards the society.
- Able to appreciate the physical and the social environment around them and be creative about it.
Literature is most commonly used to refer the words of the creative imagination, including works of poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction. People are divided on the issue of the importance of study of literature. Some say it is worthwhile to study literature, whereas others are opposed to its study.
“No two people read the same book in the same manner”:- For example, “The diary of a young girl, also known as The Diary of Anne Frank” is a book of writings from the Dutch-language diary kept by Anne Frank while she was hiding for 2 years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. We literature lovers read it as a piece of literature and looked at human aspects but historians have read it to reconstruct the history of World War. Second example we can take is “The Great Fire of London” by Samuel Pepys which is the dairy written between 2nd Sept and 15th Sept, 1666 about the great fire of London and how everybody was affected by the fire. He talks about how much money were lost in rents with the burned houses. He mentions how much the lives of the people that lived there would be affected. Reading this diary gives a different view to the literature readers in contrast with the historians with the bird eye view they read historical tragedies.
Adds Aesthetic Dimensions to Readers:
Literary texts offer a rich source of linguistic input and can help learners to practice the four language skills-speaking, listening, reading and writing. The role of literature in the ELT (English Language Teaching) classroom has been re-assessed by many experts. Literature has not only many functions, but power. (Kelly, 1996) many experts identify this power. It is the fact that good books give readers pleasure and enjoyment while reading them. Aesthetic pertain to the beauty that the readers perceive in a literary work. Literature is a verbal art that leads readers to appreciate the beauty of language. It adds aesthetic dimensions to readers lives, leading them to view their personal experiences in different ways. Fictions, Non-Fiction and Poetry are artistic interpretations of experiences, events and people.
Valuable Authentic Materials:
Literature offers a rich and varied body of written material which is rich source of fundamental human issues, Its implications may vary the passage of time but it never becomes irrelevant. For example, the stories of Tolstoy, stories of Premchand were written long ago but they have relevance even today. Even today we read those stories, we empathise with human beings, we look at the situations, we critically analyse those situations. Probably the situations have changed little bit but the human emotions have not changed, human feelings and our sensitization towards other human beings has not changed. Thus, literature plays a big role to empathize people. Therefore, we find literature in our textbooks and we can say that “We learn language through Literature. “
Timeless authors: Psychology of students
Leo Tolstoy, Munshi Premchand, Charles Dickens, R.K. Narayan, Shakespeare, Wordsworth were great timeless authors who already discussed about constructivism, learner centered teaching environment and should avoid rote learning in their writings.
If we look at “Swami and Friends “ (1935) , R. K. Narayan writes, “Swaminathan had no enemy as far as he could remember. But who could say? The school was a bad place. “ This scene exemplifies the uncertainty and sense of amorphous danger that pervades Swami’s life at school and, as the story progresses, begins to affect him outside of school as well. Here the psychology of the students is been discussed that how much they hate their teachers and Swami wants to run away from the classes. Thus, today also we are talking about the same learner centered teaching-leaning environment where students views are equally important, their context and creativity are equally important. “Hard Times” (1854) by Charles Dickens is a good example to understand that we should move away from rote memorization and should be towards constructivism. To understand the conclusion, we must try and get at Dicken’s intent with the novel. A dialogue shakes the readers, “We were learning to remember everything, but we were not learning how to manage life. Therefore, we have become complete failures. “ What was Dicken’s trying to tell us about society and it’s preoccupation with empirical knowledge, or as Thomas Gradgrind says,
“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. ” (Hard Times)
Role of Teachers:
Literature walks into the classroom through the textbooks. The types of literary texts that can be studied inside and outside the ELT classrooms include: Short stories, Poems, Novels, Plays. Literary texts provide opportunities for multi-sensorial classroom experiences and can appeal to learners with different learning styles. Literary texts offer a rich source of linguistic input and can help learners to practice the four skills- Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. Teachers in general and English teachers specifically are always concerned with the kind of material they are going to present to their students. One of the most challenging kinds of material for English classes is Literature. Although, it is so vast and so practicable that instructors cannot stop using it. Language learning requires acquiring four skills of reading comprehension, writing, listening and speaking. Some sources provides materials that can meet some of these abilities, but literature has proved a good source that fulfills these four skills. Besides, it can be claimed that the use of literature in language classes encourages more thoughtful and purposeful language learning. If we start looking from class 1 onwards, poems play a huge role in making the students familiar with the sound system of the new language. Thus, we find there is a lot of emphasis on poetry recitation in class 1 and 2. Children are made to recite the poem with actions and expressions through which they get the meaning and through little stories they learn the world around them. As they move from primary to upper primary and then to senior classes the range of literature increases which enables them to participate in experiences that go far beyond mere facts. The use of literature in the ELT classroom is enjoying a revival for several reasons.
“There was no language barrier when it came to kids, and when it came to play “
The most important advantage of the study of literature is that it has cultural value. The stories told in works in literature illustrate how it would feel to live through famous battles, Feminines, times of prosperity and times of depression. For example, a book “pinjar” by Amrita Pritam, can help us understand what women faced when India was going through the freedom struggle. Literature can help learners to develop their understanding of other cultures, awareness of difference and to develop tolerance and understanding. At the same time literary texts can deal with universal themes such as love, war and loss that are not always covered in the sanitized world of course books.
“A poet is, before anything else a person who is passionately in love with language. “
-W. H. Auden, The Complete Works of W. H. Auden: Prose, Vol-II
The next advantage of the study of literature is that it expands our horizons. When we read a piece of literature, we get to read about a life experience through the eyes of someone other than our selves. We get to walk in the shoes of a character whose life is different than our own. Such reading offers us the opportunity to feel the feelings of the characters described, allowing us to understand things through a fictional world. Once students become familiar with literature, they start reading and appreciating it which starts reflecting in their own behaviour and language. Literature helps them to become affective communicators.
Core language materials must concentrate on how a language operates both
*As a rule based system.
*As socio-semantic system.
Student Centred Activities:
A variety of student centred activities are possible
*Audio – visual aids
* Supplementing the printed page.
*Creating a whole new world of readers imagination
* Emotional dimension
Literature also enhances the creativity of the student.
“Can I change the ending of the story? “ The author has concluded the story in a particular way. Now to develop the creative element among the students and also to bring in empathetic attitude towards various characters of the story, we can ask the students to give a different ending to the story.
Though it is a very simple form of documentation, it improves the students writing skills by which they learn to reflect on their behaviour / life / learning / reflection or we can call it as an assessment of learning which cannot be done in an artificial situations and can happen only in natural situations. Thus, diary writing then becomes a very natural way of reflection and it is an important literary genre.
Discussions in the classroom:
If a piece of literature brings out the ideas of 40 students in the classroom and each student has something new to share, let’s have that discussion which is known as Child Centred Learning. Every child should get that opportunity to share his or her own ideas in the classroom. In this way the students become the part of the classroom learning process and that is the whole aim of education.
Last but not the least, literature expands vocabulary. The larger the vocabulary is, the more in depth and thoughtful discussions the students can have on important topics and issues, both in and outside of the classroom. The best way to become exposed to new words is to read Literature. Due to the descriptive nature of a story, any novel will include plenty of words the students have likely never seen or heard before. When they see those words in context, they learn their meanings passively and don’t have to work hard on learning them. The students probably don’t even realize they are building their vocabulary.
To sum-up, the study of literature is very essential in the practical world of today. It allows people to develop new ideas and ethical standpoints and can help individuals to present them selves as educated members of society. So, over all literature becomes the best media of teaching and learning language.
- Students as Critical Thinkers
- No two people read the same book in the same manner.
- Adds Aesthetic Dimensions to Readers
- Valuable Authentic Materials
- Timeless Authors: Psychology of Students
- Role of Teachers
- Cultural Enrichment
- Language Enrichment
- Student Centred Activities
- Diary Writing
- Discussions in the Classroom
“The limits of my language means the limits of my world”