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Using Literary Texts in L2 Reading Instruction


Chen Te-Hai

on 16 September 2013

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Transcript of Using Literary Texts in L2 Reading Instruction

Contexts for L2 Literature Teaching:
Why bother teaching literature
Using Literary Texts in L2 Reading Instruction
1. literature is ubiquitous across many L2 instructional contexts.

2.Working with literature in L2 instruction results in a number of favorable outcomes.

3. Teaching with literary texts in L2 settings poses unique challenges that teachers need to consider & prepare for carefully.
Advantages of Literature Study for L2 Readers:
Challenges Using Literature
with L2 readers:
1.Cultural Knowledge
Settings, characters, & dialogue tend to be rooted in the time and culture shared or created by the author.
Ex. Jane Austen or Charlotte or Emily Brotë
-->social stratification in early 19th century England
2. Rich Lnaguage Exposure
Literary devices such as inference, metaphor,
simile, oxymoron, double entendre, unusual
or unorthodox constructions, and so forth
must be correctly interpreted to ensure comprehension.
Ex. Emily Dickinson: "My life closed twice
before its close......."
3. Input for Language Acquisition
Literary sources provide lg input & reading practice regardless of the approach to reading instruction emphasized in a course.
The study of literature leads itself well to class discussion, oral presentation, and writing tasks, it promotes lg acquisition by providing stimulating, authentic content.
4. Enjoyable & Motivating Material
Evocative of universal human experience & emotions, the lg and content of literature tends to
be more interesting than other L2 texts.
5. Improved Student Confidence in L2 Reading
Ss feel successful, having accomplished something
substantial if they read a complete work with understanging & enjoyment (e.g., a novel, play, proms or short stories).
6. Personal Growth
Reading literature engages readers on emotional
and intellectual levels.
Given the influential roles of motivation, engagement, and confidence in successful reading
experiences, it would be an error for teachers not to
avail themselves of these advantages offered by literary texts.
7. Stimulating Writing Topics
Literature allows us to create the level of emotional
involvement we have been seeking in more personal,
subjective topics.
A writing task can no longer be seen as an empty exercise; it becomes a meaningful act of personal
exploration & discovery.
8. Critical Thinking Skills
Literature tends to be organized around central themes, conflicts, character development, or some combination thereof.
These themes are frequently timeless & universal, reflecting broad human experience that transcend cultural & historical boundaries.
EX. Frost's poem: bitter-sweet recollections of choices and whether they "traveled" the right "road"
1. Teacher Discomfort
Lack of teacher confidence in their ability to present texts successfully.
It is intimidating to consider teaching content with which one
is not familiar or expert.
Excellent resources to help develop relevant instructional skills, such as teacher-created websites, teacher resource books, and well-crafted textbooks for Ss.
2.Student Resistance
Limited experience reading lengthy literary texts
The perceived difficulty of authentic literary texts
Do not see it as relevant to their goals
Build inexperienced L2 readers' confidence by working initially with shorter, easier texts & tasks.
Ensure assigned texts are carefully selected & thoughtfully presented.
Ensure the reading & analysis of literature will support the objectives
of the class.
3. Time Constraints
Because of the relative length & complexity of some literary works,
together with Ss' developing abilities to read challenging texts
It is not fair to ask them to negotiate a lengthy reading assignment without appropriate scaffolding , class discussion, and analysis.
There's no real way to overcome the time barrier, but we can view it in alternative ways:
1) Literature serves as a resource for lg teaching
2)consider overall course goals & assess to what extent literary texts help to accomplish those goals
4. Text Difficulty
The linguistic complexity &
cultural information embedded in literary texts.
The context of a novel (its sociohistorical setting, plot & theme) is embedded in the novel itself and must be discovered by the reader.
It should get progressively easier as Ss become familiar with the plot, setting, characters, and style, thus creating a "context" for reading.
Teaching Fiction
Fiction can include full-length novels, short novels, and short stories.
Teachers often gravitate toward short stories because: 1) they can be read & discussed in less time 2) give Ss a sense of accomplishment more quickly 3) offer variety in the syllabus.
Teaching Fiction
Because of the compact nature & concision, short stories can be harder for L2 reader
than longer texts.
Ss may have barely acclimated to one story and author before moving on to something
completely different.
Effective reading can be facilitated by careful instructional planning. For example, break up a novel so that it neither goes too fast nor drags on too long.
Teaching Drama
Teaching Drama
Drama is perhaps the least-utilized genre among L2 reading instruction.
Plays are intended to be
performed on a stage.
Reading a play requires additional imagination & inferencing abilities
on the part of the reader.
Provide cultural & historical background about the author, the play, and its setting.
Include previewing the list of characters so that Ss can recognize
them & helping them interpret stage directions as they read them.
Follow-up Work
Once a play's plot & themes are understood, act out or rewrite scenes & analyze scenes for how lg reveals
meanings, character &
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