Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Utilizing Reflective Journal to Raise Critical Language Awareness: A Critical Literacy Practice in a Reading Classroom

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Utilizing Reflective Journal to Raise Critical Language Awareness: A Critical Literacy Practice in a Reading Classroom

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Most of EFL students who do not have adequate exposure and experience of English language find it difficult to understand English literary works. This problem happens partially due to the lack of qualified teachers or improper methodology for teaching. Considering language teaching, it seems that reading is of two kinds. According to Burns, Roe, and Ross (1999), the first one is literal comprehension which is the immediate meaning of the words and is directly expressed in the text. The second one is a higher level of reading comprehension which is beyond the literal understanding of a context. It includes higher-order perception process called as critical reading which is the building block of literary competence (LC). The problem was in the fact that LC is almost ignored and underestimated by EFL instructors. In fact, many literature reading classes mostly focus on the first type that is on elements such as correctness, lexical diversity, structural details, literal meaning and other linguistic matters to the neglect of students' creativeness (Khabiri & Pakzad, 2012). What happens as a result is a chaos in which students remain uncritical readers with poor LC who are totally disappointed whenever confronted with the task of comprehending literary works. Freire (1972) believes that this kind of reading is problematic and encourages insensitivity in students and closes their minds to the wider objectives of learning literature, i.e. critical reading to find subtle and underlying ideas conveyed through literary texts.

Actually many students can easily read and look through the texts but to be able to communicate with the content and comprehend it, remains as the main challenge. He/She may not know how to appreciate a literary work such as a piece of poem or a novel. His/Her knowledge of language might help him/her to understand the literal meaning of words, phrases and sentences but he/she may not know the implicit concepts, breadth and depth of meaning or the other ideas the novel tries to express. Isenberg (1990) believes that EFL/ESL students need to make a good progress in their reading strategies which is one of the primary premises of literature courses. In fact, critical reading can pave the grounds for in depth understanding of texts as learners try to understand and analyze the ideas in the context and suggest new methods of confronting the text. Actually, reading words, phrases, or sentences in any text can encourage a reader to think (Mangal, 2005). For this reason Halpern (1996) insists on comprehension in the realm of critical thinking and states that critical thinking and critical reading stand on the same pedestal. Thus, critical reading can promote reading skill as well as independent LC because it calls for a profound operation of delivering conveyed concepts of the text which seem to be vital if a literary comprehension should be acquired (Kodama, 2012).

Furthermore, reading comprehension of literary works means the realization of all dimensions of the text that are needed to be understood correctly with no erroneous interpretation which are not beyond the intention of an author (Kavcar, Oguzkan, & Sever, as cited in Aksan & Kisac, 2009). The difficulty is that, a prosperous reading comprehension along with a high LC is hardly achieved because it needs a dynamic role of a reader, and a self-organizing manner while reading a text (Harris & Sipay, 1990). In fact, a critical reader needs to bridge the gap between the text and his personal knowledge by emphasis on the procedure of discovering the main concept from words and involving with text instead of just reading the words. Amer (2012) believes that this kind of reading can play a significant role in eradicating the socalled barriers which prevent students from moving beyond and over the surface meaning of literary words to reach to a superior comprehension of the literary works. Akin, Koray and Tavukcu (2015, p. …

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