Use of Short Stories as a Tool of Teaching Reading in English as Foreign Language

By Ahmad, Aziz | The Journal of Educational Research, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Use of Short Stories as a Tool of Teaching Reading in English as Foreign Language


Ahmad, Aziz, The Journal of Educational Research


Abstract

In recent past, the relationship between Literature and English Language Teaching was taken as an uncomfortable marriage. However, many linguists like Collie, J. and S. Slater (1987), Hall, (2005) and Paran, (2008) have recently supported the inclusion of Literature in language teaching classroom. This paper dilates upon the use of short stories as an effective tool for teaching basic language skills particularly the reading skills. The use of short stories in language teaching and learning gives it a holistic approach. Short stories are a unique literary genre which has a compact structure and can be used in language teaching very effectively because of their readability in a limited class time. Short stories offer authentic reading materials which give the language learners an opportunity to interact with the text emotionally and involve themselves personally. The element ofhuman interest in short stories motivates the learners to respond the universal themes and other human experiences in their own way. Short stories are available for the learners of all age groups and for all levels of proficiency. English language teachers should select the stories carefully, keeping in view the linguistic and conceptual level of the learners.

Keywords: Short Stories, Language Teaching, Reading Skill, Activities, Authentic Material

Introduction

The role of literature as a basic component and source of authentic text for teaching Reading in English language classes has been gaining attention for the last two decades. Collie and Slater (1987) supported the idea of using literature in English language classroom because it provides valuable authentic reading material, persuades learners to develop personal involvement and helps them to understand foreign culture as well as the niceties of language. "In sixties and seventies, in fact, there was a distinct reaction against the use of any literary English at all in the classroom, but the pendulum has swung the other way..." (Hill 1994). Bradford Arthur (1968) advocates introduction of literature as a potent source of teaching language structure, vocabulary and culture. The role of literature in general and short story in particular as a tool for teaching Reading in EFL classes have been the topic of heated discussion over the past few years. Many linguists have put forward very excellent arguments for the use of short stories in the curriculum of Reading in EFL class.

Why a short story is the most suitable tool?

Stories are as ancient as humankind itself. In real life people read short stories extensively for variety of purposes. Fairy tales, folk tales, fables and short stories have always been used as a vehicle for developing understanding of centuries old wisdom of mankind, for entertaining and instructing the people because of their distinctive pattem and narrative elements. Edgar Allan Poe's definition of short story gives us an answer to the question of why short story is the most suitable literary genre to be used in EFL classes. He defines it "as a narrative that can be read at one sitting of from one-half hour to two hours, and is limited to 'a certain unique or a single effect,' to which every detail is subordinate" (Abrams 1970). Short story usually has single plot with little description of setting and aims at giving a single effect. It is easy for the learners of foreign language to follow the story. The moment student's start reading a short story, they begin to inhabit the text and develop curiosity to find what happens next. They develop a sort of affiliation with some of the characters and share their emotional responses. Short story initiates an inner monologue in the students. They talk to themselves about the story they read and predict about the final outcome of the events narrated in the story. In this way, short stories spark critical thinking among the students. In addition to it, short stories have sequential and cumulative pattem, that make them an excellent medium for teaching Reading in EFL class. …

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Use of Short Stories as a Tool of Teaching Reading in English as Foreign Language
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