The Dilemmas of Teaching and Testing Literature in EFL Amos Paran Institute of Education, University of LondonWhile you wait for the talk to begin, please do have alook at the two poems on your handout and giveyourself an account about what your reaction to themis; you may even discuss the poems and yourreactions with your neighbour!
Outline of talk Why we use and teach literature Ways of reading Dilemmas in testing/assessing literature Principles for testing/assessing literature Tasks for testing/assessing literature Future tasks for testers and researchers
Teaching literature teaching literature vs. using literature affective personal growth intellectual growth encourage private appreciation of literary works
Why teach literature?Present in every human being are two desires, adesire to know the truth about the primary world, thegiven world outside ourselves in which we are born,live, love, hate and die, and the desire to make newsecondary worlds of our own or, if we cannot makethem ourselves, to share in the secondary worlds ofthose who can. W. H. Auden (1968)
Why teach literature?What really happens (when a reader engages with atext) is that the story-maker proves a successful ‘sub-creator’. He makes a Secondary World which yourmind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is ‘true’: itaccords with the laws of that world. You thereforebelieve it, while you are, as it were, inside. J. R. R. Tolkien On Fairy Tales
Why teach literature? ‘education (indeed all communication) is an attempt to change others - to interfere with them… The issue is not one of whether teachers should inculcate value judgments into their pupils, but of which values these should be.’ (Cook 1996:152-153) ‘language teaching, and the part which literature has to play in it, have to be seen as part of the whole educational endeavour’ (Paran 2000: 76).
Why teach literature? potential to ‘promote greater understanding and knowledge of human behaviour’ (Carter and Long 1990: 217) ‘a means of introducing learners to … a serious view of our world, of initiating them in the process of defining themselves through contact with others’ experience’ (Brumfit 2001: 91-92)
Why teach literature?‘literature is inherently affective in a waywhich perhaps applies to no othersubject’the ability of literature to lead to ‘anenhanced awareness and understandingof one’s own emotional life.(Parkinson and Reid Thomas 2000: 143)
I bring nearly 35 years of experience of trying tomake my grasp of biomedical science useful tothe astonishingly diverse population of KentishTown in north London. And in Mrs Dalloway,Virginia Woolf describes one of thecompensations of growing old as ‘the power oftaking hold of experience, of turning it round,slowly in the light.’
Efferent vs. Aesthetic ReadingEfferent reading: focuses on the public meanings present in a text product orientedAesthetic reading: focuses on the personal, private, lived experience of engagement with the text; reading as a transaction with the text process oriented Rosenblatt 1985
Dilemma 1:To test or not to test? Teaching Internal, personal goals and processes Differentiation and individuality Divergent process Cooperation Testing Externally driven goals and processes Equivalence and equity Convergent process, differentiating product Individual
Or testing something else?The poem ends “And that has made all of thedifference”. This quote describes how the speakerwill relate to his decision later on in life. How does hethink he will feel about his decision?NOTE: For this question use ONE of the thinkingskills from the Appendix on page 14.Thinking skill I chose …….ANSWER: ……. (10 points)Explain why you chose that particular thinking skill toanswer question 9a.ANSWER: ……. (5 points)
Thinking skills Comparing and contrasting Distinguishing different perspectives Explaining cause and effect Problem solving Inferring Explaining patterns
Dilemma 3: Testing knowledge or skills?(Carter and Long 1990): 3 main types of questionParaphrase and context ‘Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.’ Explain this quote in your own words. George tells Chris: ‘When you make suckers out of people once, you shouldn’t try to do it twice’. What are the TWO times he is talking about?
Dilemma 3: Testing knowledge or skills?Describe and discuss Describe Snowball and explain what happens to him. (Carter and Long 1990)Evaluate and discuss In Act III Jim says to Mother: The compromise is always made. According to the play, is compromise a necessary part of life? In your answer relate to ONE character in the play. Illustrate from the stories how Lawrence’s attitude to his characters is often a mixture of ridicule and compassion. (Carter and Long 1990)
Dilemma 3: Testing knowledge or skills?Sue says she does not want Ann and Chris to live nearthem after they marry because:a. Chris and Jim have never been close friends.b. Chris might influence Jim to go into research.c. she is jealous of their relationship.d. Ann’s father, Steve, is a criminal.
Dilemma 3: Testing knowledge or skills?⇒ Flight from the text (Short and Candlin 1986)
Dilemma 3: Testing knowledge or skills?Lin 2006 Guided and structured reading of poem in class, in a combination of individual/group work and demonstration/lecture from the teacher Reduction of support from teacher; individual work on a different poem with a similar theme in class. Unseen poem in exam
Dilemma 4: Testing privateappreciation or public knowledge?Candidates show independent understanding andappreciation of layers of meaning in texts through theidentification and discussion of appropriate detail.They make relevant comparisons between writers’concerns, attitudes and ideas, responding personallyto the ways in which they affect the readers’responses. They successfully communicate insightand exploratory thought in various forms. They showanalytical skill when exploring the social andhistorical settings of texts, their cultural contexts orthe literary traditions on which they draw. AQA GCSE Specification, 2011.
Dilemma 4: Testing private appreciationor public knowledge?How to study a novelStart by reading (the novel) quickly forpleasure, then read it slowly and carefully.….. Further readings will generate new ideasand help you memorise the details of thestory.….. Make careful notes on theme, plot andcharacters of the novel. The plot will changesome of the characters. Who changes?
Dilemma 4: Testing private appreciationor public knowledge?Testing personal appreciation will entail withworking with students on: Developing private appreciation (see Tutas 2006) Ways of expressing personal appreciation and supporting personal views and argumentation
Dilemma 5: Appropriate genresor essay-type questions?Fecho with Amatuchi and Skinner 2007:classroom conversation in which the teacherand pupil used classroom time to actincreasingly like two friends having a chatabout books at a coffee shop rather thantaking the inquisitor/rote responder roles seenall to frequently in too many literatureclassrooms.
Principles for Testing and AssessmentInclude both public knowledge and private appreciationUse a variety of tasksInclude choiceProvide the textsEnsure that criteria are transparentMinimise the weighting of language
The Principles Applied: Portfolios ‘most frequently identified example of alternative assessment’ (Fox 2008:99)Include both public knowledge and private appreciationUse a variety of tasksInclude choiceProvide the textsEnsure that criteria are transparentMinimise the weighting of language
Tasks for Assessing and TestingLiterature: Presenting a portfolio French ‘Litté rature é trangere en langue é trangere’. Four Criteria: Pré sentation du dossier Niveau de lecture des documents Culture litté raire Expression orale Each criterion at 5 levels - 0-1 to 5
Tasks for Assessing and TestingLiterature: Presenting a portfolio Description riche et pré cise de la thé matique et de l’ensemble des documents, ajout d’un ou plusieurs documents pertinents, justification claire et argumenté e du choix autour de la thé matique, expression d’une appré ciation esthé tique et/ou d’un jugement critique personnels Bulletin officiel no. 43, 24 Novembre 2011
The Principles Applied: Multi-part and multi-task testsInclude both public knowledge and private appreciationUse a variety of tasksInclude choiceProvide the textsEnsure that criteria are transparentMinimise the weighting of language
Tasks for Assessing and Testing Literature:Language Based TasksWrite a review of the work for a newspaper or a magazineWrite a review of the work for a websiteRespond to a review from a website or a newspaperRespond to short statements by critics
Tasks for Assessing and Testing Literature: Creative TasksWrite a prequel or a sequel.Write a literary piece on the same theme.Rewrite the work for the 21st century.Write a ‘missing scene’ or document (e.g. letter) from the story or novel.
Tasks for Assessing and Testing Literature: Art-based TasksDraw the poem/story/scene.Design a cover for the book.Choose an appropriate cover for the book out of a range of alternatives.Choose an accompanying piece of music for the work.Create a trailer/short film based on the work.All these should/can be accompanied by a written justification for the choices or the designs.
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Tasks for Assessing and Testing Literature: Tasks Combining L1 and L2Compare the poem with a poem written in your own languageChoose the best translation of a poem from a range of translations availableTranslate part of the work into your L1 and comment on the product and on the issues that arose
Tasks for Assessing and Testing Literature: Unseen TasksLin 2006Unseen texts compared with texts studied inclass: Landscape with the Fall of Icarus byWilliam Carlos Williams compared withAuden’s Musee des Beaux Arts
The task for teachers and testers Devise tasks for specific works Work on finding the most appropriate tasks for different works Create criteria Research different ways of testing