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Literature is an example of language in use. Studying the language of literary texts as discourse can enable learners to develop both a knowledge of linguistic rules and a knowledge of how to use these rules for effective communication.
The use of literature in language teaching is not one of recent development. In their extensive survey of trends of literature in foreign language education over the past century, Kramsch and Kramsch (2000) clearly indicate that learning a foreign language in the early part of the twentieth century entailed a close study of the canonical literature in that language. Though literature disappeared from the language curriculum from the 1940s to the 1960s with the advent of functional models of learning, the growth of CLT from the 1970s through to the 1990s brought literature back into the curricula and methodologies of language teaching. As a mark of celebration of its return, ELTJ dedicated its July 1990 edition to the teaching of EFL through literature. CLT saw in literature “an opportunity to develop vocabulary acquisition, the development of reading strategies, and the training of critical thinking, that is, reasoning skills” (Kramsch and Kramsch, 2000:567).
Literary texts are used in language teaching for linguistic, methodological and motivational reasons. They expose learners to language in use that can enable them to understand the register, the social context in which it is used, the role-relationships involved in the communicative event, and the form-function relationships. Since literary texts are open to multiple interpretations, they can generate a great deal of interaction in the classroom which helps learners to hone their communication in the target language. Learners can get connected to literary texts as they embody human feelings that can stimulate learners to express their opinions and relate the topics and the characters in literary texts to their own life. In the words of Lazar (1999):
By exposing students to the rich language of the text, we can expand their language awareness, their overall knowledge of how words and grammar can be used. By presenting students with the complex themes
in the literary text we can motivate them to reflect imaginatively on their own experience and on that of writers in different societies. By gently encouraging them to make their own interpretations of a text, we can develop their confidence in forming well-reasoned interpretations of the language that they read and hear. (1999: 14-19)
There are three approaches to using literature in the ESL classroom: the cultural model, the language model, and the personal growth model. The cultural model treats literature as content and requires learners to explore and interpret the social, literary and historical context of a specific text. It is teacher-centric. The language model views literary texts as examples of language in operation. It sensitizes learners to literary text as a genre in terms of its physical appearance, register, form-function relationships, sound, movement in terms of tense, images, unusual uses of collocation, binary oppositions, figurative language, rhyme and style. The personal growth model encourages learners to make connections between their own personal and cultural experiences and those in the text. Lazar (1993) suggests the integration of these three models for ensuring learners’ enjoyable involvement in using literature in the classroom. Collie & Slater (1987) and Lazar (1993) offer a series of tasks and activities which can be used to exploit literary texts for developing materials for ESL learners.
Literature has always enjoyed a special place in the Indian ESL classroom since the introduction of English education in India. However, there seems to be little change in the way a literary text is handled in the Indian ESL classroom despite having made considerable progress from method to post-method in the history of English language teaching. Interestingly, at regular intervals, curricular changes are made and the previously prescribed textbook is replaced with a new textbook that claims to have adhered to the principles of the method in vogue at that time. However, but for the changes in the selection of the texts and the freely borrowed name of the method of the time, like old wine in a new bottle, the textbook continues to promote rote-memory by including only factual questions. The undergraduate textbook currently in use in Telangana is a case in point. In its preface, it states that communicative curriculum has guided the design of the
textbook. It includes eight poems and eight prose pieces each of which include pre-reading, comprehension and post-reading questions that encourage only factual information to be recalled. These are followed by decontextualized grammatical notes and vocabulary exercises under the heading language development. This seems to be the trend across the country.
These poems and prose pieces in the textbook are indeed examples of authentic texts. But, unless learners get connected to these texts, their authenticity is suspended and they only retain genuineness which is far from authenticity (widdowson, 2004). The following may be some of the reasons why these texts do not connect to learners:
1. Learners with low language proficiency may find these texts difficult due to deviant language, complex grammatical structures and vocabulary.
2. Learners may lack literary competence to generate valid interpretations of a text. Even if students reach their own interpretation of the text, they may not have enough proficiency in English to express it.
3. There may have been a mismatch between learners’ interest and that of the materials writers in the selection of literary pieces.
4. Even the length of the text also may be a reason for learners to be put off.
Having identified some of the difficulties in using literature with low proficiency learners, the present study proposes to develop materials that address learners’ needs. Bearing in mind that low level learners need to expand their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, the present study will design tasks and activities that enable them to move beyond individual words and sentences. The tasks and activities will raise learners’ overall language awareness. For example, they will become aware of the elements of discourse such as cohesion, coherence, information structure, organizational patterns; inferring meaning from the text by activating appropriate schema. Finally, in a gradual manner, the tasks and activities proposed to be designed will enable learners to reflect on themes and to draw on their personal opinions and experiences.
The objectives of the proposed materials will be to
? To raise ESL learners’ language awareness by focusing on what such students
need most in their learning.
? To develop their own well-reasoned interpretations of a text, and
? To enable them reflect on their own experience and those in a text.
Target group
The target group for the proposed materials are ESL undergraduate learners with low proficiency.
Four poems and four prose pieces will be included.
Criteria for the selection of texts
The following criteria will be followed in the selection of texts: ? learners’ interest
? learners’ level
? language difficulty,
? learners’ cultural background, and ? the length of the text
Type of tasks and activities
The following activities will be prepared:
1. Students free-associate around key words which embody thematic polarities in the
2. Students complete a gap-fill activity.
3. Students make further associations around lexical groupings from the text.
4. Students complete a sentence about themselves which is modelled on one from the
5. Students are cued in to the themes of the poem by completing two lists.
6. Students complete a multiple-choice reading task.
7. Students guess the meaning of difficult words from context.
8. Students suggest a title for the poem.
9. Students complete a gap-fill exercise by supplying whole sentences in the spaces provided.
10. Students write their own verse using the verses in the poem as a model.
11. Students order sentences in the correct sequence
12. Students match words to pictures (Lazar 1993; 1994)
After developing materials, they will be tried out with students in the classrooms for 45 hours. Based on how they work with learners and the feedback received, the materials will be further modified.
After the try-out with students, they will be sent for vetting to an expert. Based on the feedback received, materials will further be improved into a publishable form.
Following the vetting, the materials will be submitted to the university for a publication. After the publication, they will be widely distributed to instructors and all learners with low proficiency.
Duration of the Study
One year six months
Work Plan
Each phase of this proposed study will be completed as per the dates given below:
Selection of Texts
Designing tasks and activities Trying-out
15. References
Collie, J. and S. Slater. (1987) Literature in the language classroom: A resource book of ideas and activities. Cambridge University Press.
Damodar, G. (2009). English for Empowerment. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan Kramsch and Kramsch. (2000). The avatars of literature in language study. Modern
Language Journal 84: 533–73.
Lazar, Gillian. (1993). Literature and Language Teaching: A Guide for Teachers and Trainers.
Cambridge Teacher Training and Development.
Lazar, Gillian. (1994). Using literature at lower levels. ELT Journal, 48(2),
Lazar, Gillian. (1999). A window on literature. Cambridge University Press.
Widdowson (2004). Text, context, pretext: critical issues in discourse analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.
English Language Acquisition through Purpose ful activities for Under Graduates ( plus three level )students
Needs to create design activities for under graduates – that is the help that I need.

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