Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

Teaching Functional English to Students of Technology through Literature

Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

Teaching Functional English to Students of Technology through Literature

Article excerpt

In today's world of globalization, the significance of English language need not be accentuated. It is said that literature has the power to shape the teaching practices. Literature and language are interrelated. This paper endeavors to highlight the symbiotic relationship between the two and also attempts to present how a teacher, with the help of literature, can make the classes more stimulating and help students get involved by reflecting upon the themes, recurring ideas, characters, etc. The paper tries to demonstrate how the teaching of literature can be fun, departing from learning grammar by conventional methods, and also examines how literature has its own pivotal role in helping the students in acquiring their life skills besides imparting communication skills.

Language, for native speakers, is a natural phenomenon beyond conscious effort and is at the heart of human life and a unique characteristic of human beings. It remains as a potentially communicative medium capable of expressing ideas, concepts, moods, feelings and attitudes. Learning any other language (L2), including English, is not easy. As English has come to stay as a global language, a language with universal acceptance and proficiency in English is synonymous with success in life, it has become necessary for students to master this language though it is a second language.

Language is said to be "the medium of literature as marble or bronze or clay are the materials of the sculptor" (Sapir, 2005). Literature, a versatile subject, is considered to be an essential part of a balanced education, and it has the power to shape the teaching practices. Literature and language are interrelated and a symbiotic relationship exists between the two. Literature plays a pivotal role in the acquisition of language proficiency. The present paper endeavors to highlight how literature acts as a vehicle in imparting communication skills and helping the teacher to lead the students for success instead of simply participating in the teaching/learning process.

As a "basic component and source of authentic texts of the language curriculum rather than as an ultimate aim of English instruction, literature has been gaining momentum"(Hismanoglu, 2005)because of its functional role in language acquisition. In the 19th century, English language teaching was through the Grammar Translation Method, and the translation of literary texts into the vernacular languages occupied major space in teaching practices. But during the 1960s and the 1970s, Structuralism, concerned only with the structural forms and vocabulary, almost overlooked the use of literature. The subsequent methods like Direct Method, Audiolingual Method, etc., concentrated on language teaching, ignoring literature. The Communicative Approach of the late 1970s and the early 1980s aimed at communicative competence and did not utilize literature. Later, there was a radical change in the situation and the inclusion of literary texts in the curriculum attracted the attention of the teachers of English (Pardede, 2010). Thus, the pendulum swung towards integrating literature in the curriculum which adds a new dimension to the teaching of English language, thus proving its effectiveness in language acquisition.

O'Sullivan (1991) confirms that "The teaching of literature has recently been resurrected as a vital component of English language teaching." It is also said that "Literature is a vehicle for training the character and inculcating the right sense of values" (Devi et al., 2004, p. 143).

Thus in the modern scenario, the use of literature has become a worthy concern of the teaching/learning process. Emphasis is now laid on working with literature, which provides a wide range of opportunities for familiarization with the grammatical structures, usage, vocabulary and also with the social and cultural aspects. This has also become an accepted practice for teaching and reinforcing basic language skills. …

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