Aspects of Modern Language Teaching in Europe

By Wolf Gewehr; Georgia Catsimali et al. | Go to book overview
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5

THROUGH THE CAMERA’S LENS

An innovative approach to analysing literature

Pamela Faber

Introduction

Despite the many reasons in favour of teaching literature in a language classroom, the truth is that if literature is taught at all, it is often relegated to the background. However, the importance of literature as a language source cannot be overstressed because, more than any other text type, it is capable of connecting the student to the culture and the world encoded in the language he/she is engaged in learning (Collie and Slater, 1987).

The secret of using literature in the foreign language classroom is to avoid traditional classroom teaching roles, and thus stimulate motivation by creating conditions under which language can be learned (Hill, 1986:9). Using a more innovative approach, teachers can bring students into the world created in the text and cause them to become personally involved in it. In this chapter, I will show how a literary text can ‘come alive’ for students through meaningful tasks. Such activities first deconstruct the text into basic sequences of images, actions and dialogue related to basic units of structured information (frames/scenarios) already present in long-term memory storage. Second, this information will be used to construct another text, translating the extract into an audio-visual medium.

Reading literature

The process of reading is a process of meaning-creation. Precisely for this reason, reading can be said to include a wide variety of skills, interwoven with a range of cognitive procedures, perception, language, thinking and memory. Two of the most relevant cognitive skills are understanding conceptual meaning and the selective extraction of important points from a text. Both of these skills can be enhanced by reading literary texts, an activity which

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