Myths and realities of using literature in LT

The key issues given in Table 13.1 regarding the myths and realities of using literature in LT emerge from the discussion detailed above (see ‘Approaches to using literature for language teaching’ and ‘Pros and cons of using literature for language teaching’ sections). The tabular

Table 13.1 Five Myths and realities of using literature in LT



1 Literature offers quality samples ofTL.

While using literature in LT, learners' present level of language and linguistic suitability of the materials need to be prioritised. Culturally appropriate literature is likely to offer relevant sample of language.

2 It presents scopes for learner engagement.

Needs analysis of the learners and learner profiling are required to find out if they will be engaged with the target literary materials. Not all types of literature appeal to all the students equally. Judicious selection of appropriate literary materials for the target audience seems to be the deciding factor behind learner engagement (see Widdowson, 1983).

3 It presents opportunities for communication.

This issue depends on the treatment of literature by the teachers and the learners rather than the text itself. If appropriate tasks-on-the-texts are developed,‘communication’ (see Canale, 1983) can happen.

4 It offers authenticity of texts, tasks, and activities.

Authenticity of the text can be retained by not compromising, simplifying, abridging, or altering the content, whereas that of the tasks and activities can be retained by finding out if the classroom activities match with the real-life linguistic/'communicative’ activities of the learners. Proper analysis of needs, domains, and situations is needed and the findings need to be incorporated into tasks development.

5 Literary appreciation includes higher-order thinking skills, e.g. interpretation, critical appreciation etc.

L2 or FL learners might have problems with basic lexical and grammatical issues, lacking the ability to engage in cognitively higher-order activities required for literary appreciation.The primary concern of a language classroom is to improve learners’ language skills and knowledge; cognitive development and the ability of literary appreciation might occupy secondary priority.

representation of the issues converts them into more clearly definable points, making them easier to conceptualise, and turning them into criteria for evaluating literary texts and tasks used in EfT.

It is evident that many of the claims favouring the use of literature in LT are taken as granted rather uncritically without further probe. The benefits of using literature in LT are often overgeneralised. Benefits for language learners lie in the treatment of the textual content more than in the type of the content itself. Literary texts have the potential to be utilised in language classroom if they are chosen appropriately, tasks are developed suitably, learners are engaged communicatively, and finally teachers are trained to use them effectively.

Critical examination of EfT


‘Impressionistic method' (Cunningsworth, 1995; Ellis, 1997; McGrath, 2002; Mukundan, 2009) in combination with ‘micro-evaluation of tasks' (Ellis, 1997) has been selected for evaluating EfT. Such method is functional in obtaining rapid overview of educational contents, and evaluating content, language, and tasks quickly and effectively, provided that the evaluation is done by experienced teachers (Cunningsworth, 1995). Impressionistic method is used to obtain a general impression of the materials by quickly glancing at it and getting an overview of the potentialities and constraints (McGrath, 2002). Its weaknesses often include superficial and subjective evaluation of contents. It has been criticised for being unempirical or unscientific (Mukundan, 2007). In this study ‘impressionistic method’ has been employed to evaluate lessons, selected purposely. The contents and tasks of the lessons are analysed apropos the theories and approaches discussed in ‘Theoretical discussions on issues related to CLT regarding literature’, ‘Approaches to using literature for language teaching', and ‘Pros and cons of using literature for language teaching’, sections, resulting in the formation of the five concerns in the above section. Measures have been taken to reduce the weaknesses by including evaluation of multiple tasks from EfT (2015) in the light of five concerns presented above (see‘Myths and realities of using literature in LT'section). Thus, informed ‘impressionistic method' has been employed in this study. Similar kinds of findings from the analysis of the units/lessons have not been elaborately discussed to avoid monotony.


EfTis written by six authors and edited by two editors. It has 15 units with 57 lessons on 15 different themes. The lessons are of varying lengths, and not equally distributed among the units. The topics range from traffic education, food adulteration, human relationships to myths and literature, diaspora, art and music, and tours and travels. The process of ‘impressionistic method’ included glancing through EfT to find out the nature of literary contents and the tasks produced around them. Discussions are solely limited to those lessons and tasks, pertinent to the research issues addressed in this chapter. In the remaining part of this section, first a description and analysis of certain central lessons are presented which are followed by further explanation, interpretation, and criticism.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >