When teaching English to non-English speakers, one must be creative in exploring new ways to make students proactive. One excellent way to try is to use literature as a mean of cultivating interests in English and the cultural background of the literature. The use of literature in learning English is not something new. It started getting traction in the late 80s and early 90s and has been used for teaching English to children as well as adults.
But why use literature?
Because the students can improve and enhance English proficiency by studying the “best” products of English. Learning the selected stylistic features of English can do wonders to students’ vocabulary and grammar. Students can also use literature to understand more about the cultural and social background of the literature.
Of course, you can also use literature in English learning for personal enrichment. Teachers can stimulate personal involvement by encouraging students to draw from personal views, experiences, opinions, and feelings.
So, how does one incorporate literature in learning English?
First, start with a questionnaire. Don’t take the shortcut of guessing what your students’ need. Let your students tell you what they need and want from learning English and go from there.
Once you are complete with the needs analysis, pick popular literature that can help you give your students what they need. However, when teaching English as a second language you don’t have to force yourself to find literature that are relatable or resembles anything like the local culture of your students. Your students will be happy to learn about different cultural information, life lessons, and knowledge.
At first, students may display reluctance in learning literature. It’s understandable since many people from non-English speaking countries only learn English to get jobs. The stylistics and vocabulary used in popular literature may seem unnecessarily difficult and cause problem for students when they read them.
A good way to prevent students from being deterred by those two difficulties is the teacher (you!) should step back a little and become an observer.
Arrange group discussions where students discuss the literature among themselves and read them aloud. A group discussion is an ideal way for the students to overcome their reluctance and take control of their learning experience. You, as the teacher, only steps in when truly needed.
If possible, provide access to these six books so your students have less problem with their vocabularies.
What should the teacher do?
As the teacher, It is essential to keep a professional diary to write your observations, reflections, and personal notes regarding the class. The diary is immensely helpful as a mean of planning, enactment, and reflection, which are continuous throughout the learning process.
Yes, planning, enactment, and reflection should be continuous like an ongoing cycle of development. By moving away from the traditional linear fashion, teachers have the flexibility to start anywhere in the framework. As long as it makes sense then everything is allowed.
The diary also has a role during evaluation. You can then decide how effective the method was and what can you do to improve it