Developing Teachers.com
A web site for the developing language teacher

On Literature in the EFL classroom
by Nelly Zafeiriadou
- 3

The personal growth model

The third approach outlined by Carter and Long (1991) is an attempt to bridge the gap between the previous two models. This is the personal growth model, which highlights the need of the students' personal engagement with the reading of literary texts. The model focuses on the use of literature as a resource and not on the study of literature, or as Carter and Long (1991:3-4) put it 'the knowledge of and the knowledge about literature'. The first one involves the reading of literary texts within the academic setting of literary studies and deals with the knowledge and use of critical concepts, literary conventions and metalanguage which is often required by students in talking and writing about literature. As opposed to this, using literature as a resource or the knowledge of literature suggests a less academic though no less serious approach. It aims to the development of language competence and literary competence of the students and is better expressed in terms of the pleasure and personal fulfillment which come out of the reading of literature and the making a literary text one's own. And this could not be measured in terms of passing any examinations in literature; the model rather aims to infuse a continuous love and appreciation of literary texts, which would continue beyond the classroom. (Carter and Long 1991:3-6)

Furthermore, the model focuses on the pedagogical role of the teacher as an educator and an enabler for the transmission of knowledge rather than as the infallible possessor of knowledge who gives his/her lectures in the name of the implementation of a syllabus ignoring or missing the real communication with the students. On the one hand, the teacher as an enabler 'comes down from the pedestal' and works with students, encouraging them to read and appreciate literature thus, contributing to their emotional and psychological growth. On the other hand, the teacher as an educator and a role model to the students is personally committed to and enthusiastic about the benefits of literature. This implies that aims to motivate and enliven the students in the literature class by selecting appealing works to which they can respond linguistically and emotionally so that the process of reading should be an enjoyable, responsive, individual and collective experience for all. (Carter and Long 1991:16-19)
The personal growth model highlights also, the necessity and the pedagogical value of developing the students' critical awareness so that they become critical readers of literary texts and not passive accumulators of whatever is being taught to them. In this perspective, the personal growth model to the teaching of literature appears compatible with the notion that education could and should aim to be a means of empowerment (Benson and Voller 1997) and the current pedagogic trends on ELT such as humanistic language teaching and learner-centredness (Tudor 1996) which will be developed further on in the following section.

II. Doubt Shall Not Make an End of You or, a new pedagogic approach

After consideration of the above approaches and suggestions as to the teaching of literature, I will attempt in this section to outline what constitutes good pedagogic practice. In essence, the approach to be used is a blend of Carter and Long's (1991) personal growth model and Tudor's learner-centred approach (Tudor,1996)

The overall philosophy of this pedagogic approach can be summarized as follows

• literary texts should appeal to the students interests, concerns and age; only then they have the potential to bring motivation in the language classroom and instill in the students a love for reading literature which goes on beyond classroom;

• the teaching of literature in an EFL context should aim to elicit the students' responses to the text, and to guide them to 'a personal discovery' thus, bringing in them the pleasure and enjoyment which comes from making the text their own'

• literary texts in a foreign language context should be approached as a resource and not for study not only for the students' language and literary enrichment but as a motivating and a fruitful opportunity for their education and their personal growth.

• Literature in the language classroom should be explored in the light of a learner-centred pedagogy and as such it is meant a teaching which is centred on the students' communicative needs, goals, aspirations, learning preferences.
In this work the term will be seen the way Tudor (1996) sees it as:

'a broadly-based endeavour designed to gear language teaching, in terms of both the content and the form of instruction, around the needs and characteristics of learners'
(Tudor 1996: preface ix)

• This global perspective of learner-centredness on language teaching is implemented through the learner-centred curriculum (Nunan 1988) which is expressed by the view that language education has the potential to lead to the students' empowerment, and should aim to establish the conditions for autonomous language learning.

• A new role and responsibilities for the teacher are established. The teacher is not anymore the unquestionable 'authority' in the language classroom. He becomes an enabler and a coordinator in the language process who 'reads' both the diversity of the needs of the students and the variables of the context they work in so as to adopt a broad range of pedagogical and course planning options.

• As to the implementation of this approach in the language classroom this is attained through a language -based classroom practice where literary texts are explored as a resource for literary and linguistic development and serve to the students' personal growth and not any examination purpose.

• The exploration of texts comes closer to the students' personal experience and to what relates to their life through teaching techniques and practices divided into pre-reading, while-reading and after-reading activities. Prediction activities, jigsaw reading and listening, matching activities with beginnings and endings of texts, gap-filling exercises, listening comprehension and oral presentation that lead to debates of issues ,creative writing and group projects are some among others.

However, it has to be pointed out that these language-based activities should seek ways to leave considerable space for the students self-expression and to encourage critical thinking so as to foster critical awareness and enhance their political and social consciousness. This new perspective on the teaching of literature in the language classroom which aims to develop skills in critical and creative thinking contributes to the students' personal growth and fosters their autonomy first as language learners and then as individuals.

To page 4 of 4

Back to the articles index

Back to the top


Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page


Copyright 2000-2016© Developing Teachers.com