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So you want to be a teacher? It has only been since the 1980s that this area has attracted more interest among EFL teachers. The purpose of this article is to look at some of the issues and ways in which literature can be exploited in the classroom. First of all, any method or approach towards using literature in the classroom must take as a starting point the question: What is literature?
Many authors, critics and linguists have puzzled over what literature is. One broader explanation of literature says that literary texts are products that reflect different aspects of society. Before doing any study of a literary text with your learners, one idea would be to ask them what they think literature is. There are many good reasons for using literature in the classroom. It is good to expose learners to this source of unmodified language in the classroom because they skills they acquire in dealing with difficult or unknown language can be used outside the class. Literary texts are often rich is multiple layers of meaning, and can be effectively mined for discussions and sharing feelings or opinions.
By examining values in literary texts, teachers encourage learners to develop attitudes towards them. These values and attitudes relate to the world outside the classroom. Literature holds high status in many cultures and countries. For this reason, students can feel a real sense of achievement at understanding a piece of highly respected literature. Also, literature is often more interesting than the texts found in coursebooks. How the teacher will use a literary text depends on the model they choose.
The cultural model views a literary text as a product. This means that it is treated as a source of information about the target culture. It is the most traditional approach, often used in university courses on literature. The cultural model will examine the social, political and historical background to a text, literary movements and genres. There is no specific language work done on a text.
This approach tends to be quite teacher-centred. The language model aims to be more learner-centred. As learners proceed through a text, they pay attention to the way language is used. They come to grips with the meaning and increase their general awareness of English.