Teaching language through literature112Presentation Transcript
Department of English language & Applied
Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad
A linguistics professor was lecturing to her class
"In English," she said, “a double negative forms a
positive. In some languages, though, such as
Russian, a double negative is still a negative.
However, there is no language wherein a double
positive can form a negative."
A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah,
What is Literature?
An umbrella term giving information on
every business. (Moody: 1971).
Literature is the use of language effectively
in suitable conditions (Baird: 1969).
could be said to be a sort of disciplined
technique for arousing certain emotions. (Iris
Murdoch, The Listener, 1978)
Taken in that way, using literature in the
provides wonderful source material for eliciting
strong emotional responses from our students
is a fruitful way of involving the learner as a
provides excellent opportunities for the learners
to express their personal opinions, reactions and
Great literature is simply language charged with
meaning to the utmost possible degree. (Ezra
Pound, How to Read, Part II)
Taken in that way, it:
helps the students unravel many meanings in a
text with the guidance of the instructor.
helps the students explore multiple levels of
meaning in a literary text
3. Literature is the question minus answer. (Roland
Barthes, New York Times, 1978)
the students to generate discussion,
controversy and critical thinking in the classroom
(rather than reaching any definitive interpretation
of a literary text)
Whatever your definition of literature is, the
point is that literature helps students to explore
culture of the target language
by three main genres (types of writing):
it is very motivating,
is authentic material,
has general educational value,
is found in many syllabuses,
helps sts to understand another culture,
use literature in the language classroom?
is a stimulus for language acquisition,
develops sts’ interpretative abilities,
sts enjoy it,
is highly valued and has a high status,
expands sts’ language awareness,
it encourages sts to talk about their opinions and
Traditional Method of teaching Literature
Literary terms and difficult words introduced
Analysis of literary text without actually
Outcome is Memorising / rephrasing practice
Students only learn difficult words or patterns of
Language learning efficiency reduces and
Rationale for literature:
Literary texts can be used in language teaching
because the language used in these texts is
suitable for the contexts of the events.
Containing real examples of grammatical
structures and vocabulary items, the literary texts
raise learners’ awareness of the range of the target
language and advance their competence in all
language skills (Povey, 1967)
Why Literature in EFL Classroom?
1. Cultural enrichment and awareness.
Helps understand a culture & its ideologies
Selection of works of best wisdom of that
2. Mental training: trains mind and sensibility.
3. Memorability: Easy to remember linguistic
usage (Maley & Moulding, 1985).
Why Literature in EFL Classroom? 2
Rhythmic resource. Poems assist the
learner in assimilating the rhythms of a
5. Motivating material. May be based on
6. Convenience. Literature
is a handy
7. Open to interpretation/ Promotes interaction.
Why Literature in EFL Classroom? 3
8. Linguistic model: Best demonstration of
language use and style by established writers
Students’ linguistic competence increases
&undistorted language input
Parkinson & Thomas (2000: 9-11)
Literature vs Conventional Discourse
Conventional discourse: use guess work to get to
information and skip lines/ passages and still
Literature: look for evidence of the new reality,
and adopt a procedure for interpretation to make
sense of the discourse.
Literature provides wider room for ‘inference’
which guarantees employment of more
1. What to teach when we use literary texts?
(select material appropriate to level of the class)
2. What kind of text to work with?
(select according to the need of students/course
3. What can literary text be used for?
(to teach language, not only history or themes)
4. How to make students enjoy literature?
(motivate by teaching literature of their interest)
What is Appropriate
Readability (length and cultural apropriacy)
Lexis: Easy (day to day) to difficult
(pompous or robust)
Grammar: Different levels of syntactic
Style: Do not start of with Francis Bacon if it
is elementary level
Using Short Story for Language Teaching
Vocabulary quizzes (multiple options)
Guessing contextual meanings
Prediction (what next)
Making sentences reflecting multiple meanings
of a word
Using Short Story for Language ;;;;;;;;contd.
Writing story (based on given words/
Comments on last line of the story
Create a new story based on ending of story
Creative writing as home task (response to
the story they have read)
student are asked to read a story as a chain
activity. It will enhance fluency and improve
students recall and read the story as a chain
activity using the given connectors and discourse
“consequently”, “regarding”, “as far as”.
students play different roles based on
characters in the story (Advanced)
Read the story out loud so students have the
opportunity to listen to a native speaker of English
(if at all possible); or
Play the story if a recording is available.
Who is the main character of the story?
Where/when does the story take place?
What is the problem (conflict) in the story?
How is the conflict resolved?
Using Plays in EFL Class
are short, compact and involving
Can be used for promoting speaking and
Students may be asked to enact and feel a
sense of participation
They may be asked to write a short play
on an imaginative / experienced situation
In selecting texts, three points should be considered:
The type of course you are teaching,
The type of students,
Certain factors connected with the text (cultural
Criteria for selecting texts:
The students’ cultural background,
The students’ linguistic proficiency,
The students’ literary background / literary
• Ideas, thoughts, subject matter
• Information, data, knowledge &
• Use of language and the manner
of use of language
• (manner of each individual varies)
Halliday defines a stylistician as someone
who can comprehend literary texts
through comprehension of their language
Someone who can comprehend literary
texts through a comprehension of their
Basically, this means that Halliday defines
“The linguistic analysis of literary texts.”
In doing stylistics:
- a literary text is looked at as made of
- a literary text is seen to consist of patterns
and properties which are part of language
Those patterns of language can be at the
A. The arrangement of graphic and phonic
B. The lexico-grammatical patterns
C. The semantic and pragmatic patterns
A. The analytic phase
B. The interpretive phase
The Analytic phase
The task of stylistician is
to select from the
thousands of linguistic
features in the literary
text those which are
worthy of studying in a
particular literary text.
The Interpretive phase
1. brings together various
features to show how
they form a coherent,
2. makes judgments about
the significance of such
patterns in relation to
the context of the work
as a whole.
To show why and how the text means what
it means (linguistically). (This is shared
between D.A. and stylistics)
To show why the literary text is valued as
In other words, it is interested in showing
how the text is unique in itself. (Only
Mode of the statement (indicative, imperative etc
Figures of speech (Alliteration, hyperbole,
Euphemism, personification, onomatopoeia)
Kind of vocabulary used
Sentence Analysis (SVO etc)
(verse, rhyme, alliteration,
(word formation, synonymy,
use of foreign words, pun etc
interrelationship of phrases
Distinguishing style through
analysis of author’s psyche
Studies varieties of language in a
single text/ registers
Literature is effective for teaching language since it
provides an authentic model of real life language
It not only teaches language, it also encourages
one’s cultural and personal growth by means of
moral and spiritual advancement.
Literature is not an end, it is a means to develop
creative ability which helps students relate
themselves to their socio-psychological context.