Significance of Literature in Foreign Language Teaching

By Babaee, Ruzbeh; Yahya, Wan Roselezam Bt Wan | International Education Studies, April 2014 | Go to article overview

Significance of Literature in Foreign Language Teaching


Babaee, Ruzbeh, Yahya, Wan Roselezam Bt Wan, International Education Studies


Abstract

This research aims to consider literature as a significant tool for teaching fundamental language skills including speaking, listening, reading and writing. Reasons for the use of literature in language classrooms and major factors for choosing appropriate kinds of literary texts in such classes should be highlighted in order to make readers aware of the primary reasons that why language instructors are suggested to use literary texts. Furthermore, teaching language skills through literature, advantages of various kinds of genres of literature to language teaching and some issues faced by language instructors in teaching language via literature are considered in the present study.

Keywords: literature, language skills, foreign language teaching, target language

1. Introduction

The theories of language teaching and the trends in language acquisition have changed over the last hundred years, influenced by linguistic, psychological, educational and political perspectives derived from "a mixture of assertion, theory, observation and experiment" (Hall & Cook, 2012, p. 272). But, since two decades ago, literature has been considered as an influential tool and trend in foreign language teaching. Literature plays a significant role in language curriculum and teaching. However, many language instructors have argued that why and how literature should be embodied in language curriculum. Many instructors have considered the use of literature in language teaching as a valuable and interesting strategy (Sage, 1987). Although Literature is very significant in the language curriculum, many language instructors have faced with some problems in their teaching language through literature. First, there are few suitable pedagogical materials used for teaching language through literature. Second, there is not enough preparation in the field of literature for teaching in the language curriculum. Third, there are not enough goals to define the significance of literature in language classrooms. A couple of language teachers have attempted to consider literature in their teaching, but insufficient training in this area has made them unable to fully achieve their goals.

The language instructors are undeniably a crucial factor in language education for learners (Pinter, 2006). They also play a significant role in teaching language through literature. Thus, in order to make their teaching efficient they require considering some factors. First, they should define the goal of teaching language based on the learners' expectations and demands. Second, they should choose the suitable language teaching approach. Third, they should choose literary texts relevant to the goals of their teaching. By considering these goals, they can have affective teaching language through literature.

The present study investigates why language instructors should use literature for language teaching and what kind of literature should be used in language classes. In addition, the advantages of using literature for teaching language are considered. Totally, the position of literature as a significant instrument for teaching a foreign language will be examined in the present study.

2. Literature Review

There is a close and undeniable relationship between literature and language. Literature is composed of language and it also provides space for the applications of language. Brumfit and Carter (1986) considered literature as "an ally of language" (1). Such method is undoubtedly novel, because literature has been greatly employed as a means in teaching language skills. Here, first, we consider the changing function of literature in the tradition of foreign language teaching and then come to its current condition within the communicative method. Literature, in the grammar translation method, played a role. Literature of the target language was read, translated, and used as samples of good writing and "illustrations of the grammatical rules" (Duff & Maley 1990, p. …

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