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Why most EFL teachers don’t teach ‘literature’ What can be done about it? Dr. Rob Waring Notre Dame Seishin University LiberLIT, February 18, 2012 Meiji.

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Presentation on theme: "Why most EFL teachers don’t teach ‘literature’ What can be done about it? Dr. Rob Waring Notre Dame Seishin University LiberLIT, February 18, 2012 Meiji."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why most EFL teachers don’t teach ‘literature’ What can be done about it? Dr. Rob Waring Notre Dame Seishin University LiberLIT, February 18, 2012 Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo

2 Why teach / use literature? Authentic material - our lives are stories Learners need to cope with unmodified language Literary texts have multiple levels of meaning Literary texts expand awareness of the human condition Literature engages the whole person and help them to develop attitudes and belief systems Literature is the high water mark of a language reflecting its culture Provides a challenge to learners A good model for language due to inherent patterning and coherence ‘To truly know a language, you must know something of the literature of a language’ (MacCabe)

3 Why teach / use literature? II Provides a meaningful variety of contexts Contains a wide range of vocabulary, dialog, prose etc. It appeals to the imagination, enhances creativity Encourages critical thinking It helps foster the learners’ own cultural, linguistic and interpretive skills Can reduce cultural and affective barriers Serves as a stimulus for writing and discussion Broadens intellectual perspectives and cognitive maturation Helps develop a feeling for the target language Helps us to become ‘better people’

4 Some (US) reading statistics 33% of high school graduates (42% college) never read another book the rest of their lives Most people never get past page 18 of a book they bought 80% of families did not buy a book last year (av person spent $7) 70% have not visited a bookstore in the last 5 years 44 million US subjects have difficulty with reading skills 105 hrs reading, 195 hrs magazines and newspapers, 1600 hours TV 40% of people admit to lying about having read a certain book So who’s to blame?

5 Teacher:Congratulations, Satoko. Satoko:Thank you very much. Teacher:You majored in literature, I think. Is that right? Satoko:Yes, American Literature. Teacher:That's great. Which author did you enjoy the most? Satoko:Umm, well we concentrated on Steinbeck. Teacher:I see. And which of his books did you read? Satoko:Well, I only read one book Teacher:Oh, really? Just one book? Satoko:You see, there were so many difficult words. I had to spend hours looking them up in the dictionary and my book is covered in translations, but I still couldn’t understand it well. Teacher:Wow, that sounds like a lot of work. Satoko:Actually, In order to understand it, I had to read it in Japanese. Well, I had to, or else I couldn't graduate. Teacher:How long did it take to read the English version? Satoko:Well, we started in my junior year, and we translated about 4 or 5 pages a week so we could understand it in detail. I guess it took about two years, but even then we didn't finish it. We spent the first 6 months just on the first chapter. Teacher:One book in two years! I see. Can you understand it better now after all that work translating it? Satoko:No, I still can't say I understand it well. Teacher:So, now that you’ve graduated and you have a bit more free time, are you going to read more American Literature, in English this time? Satoko:No way! It was far too difficult. I'm never going to pick up another English book in my life. I'll watch the movie instead!

6 Why don’t most EFL teachers teach ‘literature’? Literature is considered ‘hard’ and irrelevant to the needs of most EFL learners (not on tests and not in Monkasho’s curriculum) Literature is highly culturally charged and therefore conceptually difficult and can hinder rather than facilitate language learning It’s seen as a specialist luxury not a general topic It’s inaccessible to many Japanese due to lack of language ability 90% of what we read in life is non-fiction Non-standard and sometimes outdated language use Not interactive – doesn’t suit some learner types Most EFL teachers are not trained in literary studies Most non-lit teachers only read 1-2 books (50% no books) a year

7 Why don’t most EFL teachers teach ‘literature’? II A primary goal of all teaching is to meet student needs % ‘because I like English’, for work, make friends, travel 4-7% of incoming English majors want to study ‘literature’ 3% want to be English teachers A focus on literature doesn’t prepare learners for business meetings, careers in medicine, travel, EAP or ESP or the socio-pragmatic aspects or many other language needs Other concerns are considered more important – eco-awareness, global issues, business, pragmatic English Lack of awareness of what literary resources are available Literature surrounds us and they can learn the literary concepts in L1 It’s basically random unstructured unplanned input

8 Models for teaching literature As a cultural product - to explore the socio-cultural, historical or political background to a text As a vehicle for personal growth - a learner-centered process-oriented approach to develop the learners’ own opinions, attitudes, feelings and match them to their own authentic experiences As a language model - using texts to deconstruct the text into various linguistic features, increase general literary awareness of literary devices, investigate writing styles etc.

9 Literature can be … … used as a resource … by using literary texts as a vehicle to develop language, literary awareness, personal growth and critical thinking … seen as an academic topic to study to … gain qualifications in literary studies study the literary concepts, conventions and metalanguage analyze of literary texts acquire information about its heritage and background (but may be seen as an object rather than a literature)

10 Text Authenticity Traditional definition = ‘real’, ‘honest’, ‘pure’, ‘genuine’, ‘reliable’ ‘origin’, ‘authority’, ‘trustworthy’ ‘natural’ ‘real-life’ etc. Implies non-authentic materials = ‘unreliable, ‘lesser’, doubtful’, ‘false’, ‘ fake’ ‘unauthorised’ ‘artificial’ etc. A dichotomous, divisive and narrow definition externally imposed based on native norms The definition focuses on texts not the context – it implies a text taken away from its context is ‘inauthentic’ Implies that only native speakers can really process such texts authentically Reinforces the notion that literature is the preserve of the inner circle – smacks of elitist imperialism and snobbishness

11 ‘Levels of authenticity’ Brown and Menasche’s (2005) five levels of input authenticity genuine input authenticity altered input authenticity adapted input authenticity simulated input authenticity inauthentic authenticity All classrooms are artificial and therefore there’s no such thing as ‘real task authenticity’ in classrooms Non-native materials are as valid and valuable as non-native materials – fitness-for-purpose In some situations ‘authentic materials’ are ‘useless’

12 Refining the concept of authenticity We cannot define authenticity in a vacuum Constantly changing extra-linguisitic elements impact authenticity – learners, context, teachers etc. Authenticity is a property of the people, task, not the text Authenticity is a function of a text’s intelligibility and fitness for purpose The learners are not natives so we should develop their ability to express authentic reactions to the texts The selection of appropriate texts is crucial for authentic interaction to take place A great text in the wrong hands may fail A poor text in the right hands may succeed We should focus on ‘the authenticating teacher’ not ‘the authentic text ’

13 What levels of reading are there? Slow Reading speed High Low % of known vocabulary 100% Low Comprehension High 90% 98% Reading Pain (too hard, poor comprehension, high effort, de-motivating) Instructional reading (can learn new words and grammar, notice some new things) High level reading (very fluent, natural reading, ability to think beyond the text, enjoyable) Fluent reading (fast, fluent, adequate comprehension, enjoyable)

14 Bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains There are different levels of learning and understanding Cognitive domain - knowledge, comprehension, critical thinking Affective Domain -emotional reactions to materials, development of awareness in attitudes, emotions and feelings Psychomotor -perception, sensory cues, skill use and control etc.

15 Cognitive dimensionAffective dimension SynthesisProduction of unique communication, deriving abstract relationships CharacterizingMaking the ideas part of one’s character EvaluationJudgments of internal evidence and external criteria OrganizingPutting together values information into new ideas AnalysisAnalysis of elements, relationships, organizing principles ValuingAttaching a value to information, ideas ApplicationUsing new knowledge to solve problems RespondingActive participation, reacting ComprehensionTranslation, interpretation, extrapolation ReceivingPassive attention KnowledgeFacts, terms, classifications, categories

16 Reactions to texts and comprehensibility Slow Reading speed High Low % of known vocabulary 100% Low Comprehension High 90% 98% Characterizing, Application, Evaluation Synthesis Valuating Organizing Literal comprehension Focus on facts, Responding ‘Knowledge -based’ ‘Efferent’ ‘Experiencing’ ‘Affective’

17 Choice of texts should focus on … the quality of the interaction and reaction to them … communicative potential … relevance to the learner and their situation … comprehensibility Literary competence is intimately connected to the ability to perceive how patterns in the language reinforce messages It’s not always appropriate to use literary texts Graded Readers have their place in this picture.

18 What do language learners need to know in order to understand native texts? Very high levels of text coverage: word families to know 98% of the words in novels The grammatical and syntactic conventions Collocations, colligations, lexical phrases, idiom, metaphor etc. High level analytical and synthetic comprehension skills - to allow for analysis, an ability to read behind the lines, notice allegory, aphorisms, assonance, authorial intrusion, euphony etc. etc. etc. High reading speed – so they can read a lot and process it well

19 A BC (= 100 / B) D (= x times C) Word rank Percentage of general English that this word covers Number of running words needed to be met to meet all these words once Volume of text you need to read to meet the words at these recurrence rates 5 times20 times50 times 1 st most frequent (the) % nd most frequent (be) % th (as) %2251,1274,50611, th (like) %4152,0748,29620, th (hear) %9524,75919,03847, th (present) %4,03720,18380,732201, th (blood) %8,53342,665170,658426, th (intent) %14,77373,864295,455738, th (stumble) %23,103115,625462,5001,156, th (sergeant) %47,343236,713946,8502,367, th (satellite) %132,143660,7142,642,8576,607,143 10,000 th (relativity) %632,8953,164,47412,657,89531,644,733

20 How many words do Japanese students meet in JH/ SH? Number of different words Total Length Horizon 1, 2, 3 (Junior High)1,1249,440 Powwow I, II, Reading (Senior High)2,85727,221 Centre tests (680 types / 3000 words average per test) x 4 ~1,00012,000 College Entrance tests (590 types / 1600 words average per test) x 4 ~1,0006,400 A total of approximately 55,000 running words will be met (not counting juku and self-study). A generous estimate is 100,000 words and about 3,500 types over 6 years. Listening input would be approximately 10% of this.

21 How much text? To have a 9000 word vocabulary you need to read 30,000,000 words JH and SH learners meet a total of 100,000 words over 6 years All Oxford, Cengage and Penguins (800 graded readers) from levels 1- 6 total only 4,000,000 words (will give you a receptive vocab of around 4000 words) Number of words Average Incoming 1 st year English major (N=2350) Average 4 th year English major (N=1670) Average JH English teacher (N=239) Average SH English teacher (N=195) Average Japanese College Literature professor (N=74) (Maeda and Asano, 2001)

22 What can learners of different ability levels do with native texts? Beginner Intermediate Advanced Native Words ,000 Can process native texts in an authentic way without help Higher order thinking skills Inauthentic processing of native texts Native texts Can process native texts in an authentic way with help Literal interpretations Coverage 70% 85% 90% 98% 99% Language Learner Literature Authentic reactions to texts

23 Language learner Literature is graded PhonicsEasy vocabMore difficult vocab Easy grammarMore difficult grammar Native books

24 The number of words a learner will probably learn from course work plus reading Probably knownPartially KnownProbably unknown Total Course book only ,2613,275 Data from Sequences, Foundations, Page Turners and Footprints by Heinle Cengage 225,000 60, , ,000 (=1,029,000) Add one reader a week 1, ,3253,990 Add two readers a week 1, ,8826,572

25 Intensive ReadingExtensive reading Text typeIntensive reading textbooks Native literature, poems, movies etc. Graded Readers Main focusLanguage development, comprehension Literary appreciation, critical reading Fluency, natural reading practice DifficultyDifficult (i+ 3-4)Native (i+α)Fluent level (i+ 0 -1) Learning focusDeconstructive Reconstructiive InputRough graded / linearUnsystematic / Random Carefully graded / linear SelectionTeacherTeacher (learner)Learner Text matchingText to learnerLearner to textText to learner SpeedSlow Fast AmountLittle Lots ActivitiesLots Pre / Post Few post RetentionLowVery LowHigh MotivationAcceptable????Acceptable / High

26 Language learner literature For language learners not natives Doesn’t conflate the ‘end goal’ (reading native texts) with the method to get there (structured, scaffolded learning) Can aid literary competence through well-constructed interesting materials Simplified but natural - collocation, phrasing, grammatical use, colligation, text structure, etc. (Claridge, 2012) Aim is to build reading skills and fluency in a controlled way as a temporary bridge to native texts Systematic scaffolding and support at all stages

27 Language learner literature II Aim is to build reading processes and reading ability – a LANGUAGE goal Huge gains in motivation for English in general The publication of classic graded reader titles is largely an incidental by-product of trying to find good stories Criticizing the simplified nature of the text in graded readers is an argument focused on the text, not the learner’s needs Not ‘dumbed down’ or ‘infantile’ – they serve their own purpose ‘Classical’ Graded readers are not trying to emulate the original – they are different things – the simplification process necessarily changes is as many literary elements are removed and are thus not best used for studying ‘literature’. If anything the purpose is to whet the appetite for more reading

28 Limitations of Language Learner Literature Very hard to write motivating engaging stories with 300 words Some are boring (as are many classical works of literature) Simplification may lead to comprehension but not necessarily to enjoyment Some graded readers are better received and understood than the originals (Mustafa, 2011) Many are not. Many well-known titles cannot be simplified due to copyright Often restricted by government ‘compliance’.

29 How can Graded readers be used in a Literature course? To give practice in reading stories and processing text To build language awareness and overall language ability By comparing a simplification to an original to assist noticing As a primer for literary studies

30 Suggestions for ‘Literature’ in EFL Focus on matching texts to learner, not learners to texts (i.e. primacy on where the learner is linguistically, affectively and emotionally) Focus should be on a genuine authentic reaction from engaging, motivating materials Learners are diverse –> diverse variety of input -> diverse reactions We should also take into account the dynamic relationship between the context, the learners and the teachers De-emphasize the source and purpose of a text Emphasize naturalness, appropriateness and the quality of the texts and their reactions to them Focus on the use and interpretation of the texts (Breen, 1985)

31 (Hişmanoğlu) Literature in EFL is a good, but … Very few pedagogically-designed appropriate material that can be easily used by ordinary EFL teachers In a classroom A lack of preparation in literature in TESL/TESOL training Lack of clear objectives, defining the role of literature in ESL/EFL There are very few rigorous research papers showing the benefits of literature over more controlled input

32 How easy is it to find appropriate ‘literature’? Very very few resources are available for 95% of EFL students in Japan Almost all websites have lists of authors and texts without explanation or guidance – thus of little or no help Almost all of the material is native-level Very little student-generated literature

33 Summary Native texts can only be taught intensively for the vast majority of learners in Japan - few chances to develop reading speed - unplanned and random language selection with low recycling - learners cannot ‘get’ many high level elements of literature on their own – they need to be taught -> deductive approach - often done in Japanese - de-emphasis on language ‘they pick it up incidentally’ There’s a need for - a bridge between where learners are and where they are going - massive practice in reading of motivating interesting texts to build fluency, confidence and give practice in reading stories - need to see EFL and Literature as complementary not in opposition

34 Homework Create a set of common goals for students learning literature Turn it into a curriculum (Breadth? Depth?) Disseminate examples of age appropriate literature which learners of various levels can read ‘authentically’ and extensively, not intensively Create a website (‘Literature central’ ???) to disseminate information to learners and teachers Create step-by-step guides and lesson plans Create online ‘Literature in EFL’ teacher training courses Don’t make literature ‘appear’ hard Conduct research into claims about literature Write your own materials and make them widely available

35 Thank you for your time Dr. Rob Waring


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