Sharing Commonalities, Celebrating Differences: Literature’s Role in the EFL Curriculum
Keywords:literation, translation, foreign language teaching
The use of native literature in translation on chosen themes, especially in comparison with English works of a similar nature, provides a fertile source not only for enhancing students’ linguistic, cognitive and communicative skills, but also their knowledge regarding various types of discourse, as well as their intercultural competence. 49
Why include literature in the EFL curriculum? Firstly, there is the fun element, the motivational factor. This is particularly important given that we are teaching a generation used to more instant forms of gratification (video movies, computer games etc.). However, if students find the material interesting — and rewarding — as well as relevant to their own experience (past, current, and projected), they are much more likely to be receptive to the pedagogic goals we are trying to achieve.
Individually, the three main approaches: to the teaching of literature in the EFL classroom (the Cultural Model, the Language Model, and the Personal Growth Model) have all been found wanting. What is needed is an approach which integrates elements of all three models, one that not only attempts to improve students’ linguistic development, but also encourages critical thinking so as to foster critical awareness and enhance their political and social consciousness.
Finally, literature offers the opportunity to explore the similarities and differences between Western English-speaking cultures and non-native speaking cultures. It might be a good idea, in this respect, to stay within the students’ own sphere of experience, for example by selecting stories written in English by authors from South, Southeast, and East Asia, among others, who deal with themes that are not too far removed from their own experience or real-life schema.
Participants will learn how to select texts in terms of appropriateness of length and theme, and the various ways in which to exploit these texts. Such stories should be firmly linked to a discussion of contemporary problems facing communities around the world, thereby inculcating in the EFL learner an understanding of local and global issues, fostering a mindset open to different viewpoints, and encouraging a multicultural worldview, so essential to peace and harmony in our increasingly globalized world.(298 words)