Literature in the ESL Curriculum

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The place of literature in education Why read literature? To many of us, such a question seems as strange as asking “why breathe?” as literature has been part of our life, family, school, and community for as long as we can remember. Of course, there are those who argue that what today’s students need is preparation for the “real world,” but in the push for practical preparedness we sometimes overlook the importance of educating students’ imaginations. Literature offers windows to worlds outside students’ experience as well as mirrors onto the world they already know. Literature also prepares students for the personal challenges and moral dilemmas they are likely to face. We interpret the world constantly in all our experiences every…show more content…
What can easily be tested by questions with wrong and right answers is not, typically, what is of most interest and value in the literary text. From 1939 to 1945, literature becomes “a political safeguard against indoctrination and propaganda” and as a way to know what “others” were thinking. Literature is increasingly seen from 1945 to 1957 as only appropriate to advanced level study, to which the student gains access after having mastered the linguistic structures carefully graded through audiolingual methods, a pleasurable reward for the successful, and an “entertaining supplement to audiolingual drills”. In the next period, roughly 1957 to 1979, culture becomes a more important area of study and literature is seen as reflecting a particular culture. From 1979 until the end of twentieth century literature comes to be valued in the context of the rise of communicative language teaching, as “authentic text”. Now literature gives the opportunity for vocabulary acquisition, the development of reading strategies, and the training of critical thinking. The learner is the most important in the communicative paradigm, the author, his or her intentions tend to be forgotten and the language of the text is more an inconvenient obstacle on the way to examination of “culture” and society, rather than central to those notions, and of interest in itself. A similar story emerges
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