Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Can Literature Improve English Proficiency: The Students Perspective

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Can Literature Improve English Proficiency: The Students Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract

Promoting the interest of learning English Language through the teaching of literature is considered to improve the proficiency of the students in the target language too. Therefore, this study aims to investigate whether the teaching of literature promotes students' proficiency in the target language. Thus this study has taken into account the students' feedback on the subject, teaching methodologies employed by teachers and the literary texts used in the school. The survey was conducted at SMK Bukit Besi to elicit information on the students' perception and interest towards literature as part of their English Syllabus. A total of 50 respondents were selected and given a set of questionnaire to provide the data. Based on the findings, it was found out that learning literature has indeed assisted them to improve their grasp of the target language. It was also found that students perceive learning literature as important and integral in the holistic development of language of the students. The study also determined that the approach and styles of the teacher, choice of literary texts and students' interest determine a successful programme. Future researchers should widen their scope of research by a more varied and wider sampling.

Keywords: extensive reading, teaching literature, perceptions, proficiency, syllabus

1. Introduction

The status and position of English in our country (Malaysia) has evolved and undergone changes since the colonial period. As a result of globalization and rapid advances in information and communication technology (ICT), there has been a change in priorities towards English. Although English remains as the second language, it is becoming more significant as it is the language used in Science and technology. The Malaysian education system is responding towards this as English is an important vehicle to opening doors of knowledge in science and technology, which is the pre-requisite towards becoming a developed nation by the year 2020.

Currently, the standard of English in our country is deteriorating. Having realized this situation, several measures are being taken by the government to counteract the decline of the language. One of the measures is the introduction of English Literature into the English Language syllabus in schools. Apart from this, other measures which have been introduced earlier such as reading programs and class reader are being reviewed due to discouraging responses from the students as well as teachers.

The Ministry of Educations has finally decided to make literature a part of the PMR and SPM examination. This will make the subject more important and hopefully it would be treated more seriously by both teachers and students. The students are expected to cultivate their reading habits through this move. It is hoped that literature would be a great tool and resource for language teaching as it has authentic and interesting texts chosen which would benefit the process of foreign language learning.

The texts would encourage students to read and thus promote language acquisition and expand students' language awareness. Conventionally the students learn purely grammar and technicalities of the language but with the introduction of literature in the curriculum, literature lessons should be enjoyable and meaningful.

Therefore, this study proposes to investigate the students' attitude and perception towards literature in improving their English proficiency. It also aims to seek answers as to whether literature assists students' enrichment of vocabulary and whether the students' reading and writing skills improve through English Literature. The scope of study also involves in finding out their opinions about Literature texts and the styles of teaching by teachers teaching English Literature in the classrooms.

The English Language Syllabus for Schools in Malaysia: English is supposed to be taught as a second language in schools but in reality it is viewed as a foreign language. …

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