Literature - beneficial in the language learning process

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Прибавен: 2007-08-02
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Ключови думи и изрази:

functions of literature in the process of learning, literary study, language study, the role of "Listening" sections, tests and examinations, literary translations in Bulgarian.

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I. Aims of the diploma paper

1. Literature is beneficial in the language learning process.

A. Cultural enrichment

For many language learners, the ideal way to deepen their understanding of life in the country where that language is spoken – a visit or an extended stay – is just not possible. Some may start learning a language knowing that they are unlikely ever to set foot in an area where it is spoken by the majority of inhabitants. For all such learners, more indirect routes to this form of understanding must be adopted so that they gain an understanding of the way of life of the country: radio programs, films or videos, newspapers, and last but not least, literary works.

It is true, of course, that the ‘world’ of a novel, play or short story is a created one, yet it offers a full and vivid context in which characters from many social backgrounds can be depicted. A reader can discover their thoughts, feelings, customs, possessions, what they buy, believe in, fear, and enjoy, how they speak and behave behind closed doors. This vivid imagined world can quickly give the foreign reader a feel for the codes and preoccupations that structure a real society. Reading the literature of a historical period, is after all, one of the ways we have to help us imagine what life was like in that other foreign territory: our country’s past.

Literature is perhaps best seen, as a complement to other materials used to increase the foreign learner’s insight into the country whose language is being learnt.

B. Two primary purposes for ‘literature teaching’

But we have to make distinction between the study of literature and the use of literature as a resource for language learning. The study of literature involves an approach to texts as cultural artifacts. Using literature as a language resource involves starting from the fact that literature is language in use and can therefore be exploited for language learning purposes. The two different approaches stem from different traditions and imply different methodologies.

Much of the confusion and controversy surrounding literature in foreign language programs arises from the failure to keep these two purposes (the study of literature and the use of literature) separate in our minds. If our purpose is the first there is an immediate rivalry set up between teaching language and teaching literature. If it is the second, we can avoid this polarization, since literature is a language. Purpose one tends to emphasize the ‘special’ status of literature, to put it on a pedestal. Purpose two regards it as one among many other equally valid uses of language and treats it as a proper object for the work bench.

We will explore the role of literary texts in the language classroom and, in particular, as a resource for language development.

Literary texts are treated in the language lesson in ways, which may not be radically different from the ways in which any other kind of text is treated.

One important question arises from this section. If literary text can be treated methodologically in essentially the same way as other texts, then why should we teach literature at all? The question is particularly acute when arguments are mounted for the use of the literature as a resource for language teaching. Is there anything which literary texts can offer in the second or foreign language classroom, which other texts cannot offer?

This is a question which is touched on in a number of papers but it is quite directly addressed by Bill Louw in his contribution to the integration of language and literature in the curriculum and in the paper by Alan Maley. Contributors generally agree that teaching literary texts should result in literary experiences and the work undertaken on the language of the text should not be an end in itself but should serve literary goals. A basic element in this literary experience could be said to be the way in which literary texts do not so much refer to experiences as represent them.

We have to assume that students have already attained a level of competence in the language, and familiarity with the literary conventions, which will allow them ready access to literary text for this purpose.

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