Why most EFL teachers do not teach literature. And

Report
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
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)
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’
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?
http://parapublishing.com/sites/para/resources/statistics.cfm
Teacher:
Satoko:
Teacher:
Satoko:
Teacher:
Satoko:
Teacher:
Satoko:
Teacher:
Satoko:
Teacher:
Satoko:
Teacher:
Satoko:
Teacher:
Satoko:
Teacher:
Satoko:
Congratulations, Satoko.
Thank you very much.
You majored in literature, I think. Is that right?
Yes, American Literature.
That's great. Which author did you enjoy the most?
Umm, well we concentrated on Steinbeck.
I see. And which of his books did you read?
Well, I only read one book......
Oh, really? Just one book?
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.
Wow, that sounds like a lot of work.
Actually, In order to understand it, I had to read it in Japanese. Well, I had to, or else
I couldn't graduate.
How long did it take to read the English version?
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.
One book in two years! I see. Can you understand it better now after all that work
translating it?
No, I still can't say I understand it well.
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?
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!
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
Why don’t most EFL teachers teach ‘literature’? II
A primary goal of all teaching is to meet student needs 80-85% ‘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
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.
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)
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
‘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’
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’
What levels of reading are there?
Reading
Pain
(too hard, poor
comprehension,
high effort,
de-motivating)
Instructional
reading
(can learn
new words
and grammar,
notice some
new things)
90%
Low
Slow
Low
Fluent reading
(fast, fluent,
adequate
comprehension,
enjoyable)
98%
High level
reading
(very fluent,
natural reading,
ability to think
beyond the text,
enjoyable)
100%
% of known vocabulary
Reading speed
Comprehension
High
High
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.
Cognitive dimension
Affective dimension
Synthesis
Production of unique
Characterizing
communication, deriving
abstract relationships
Making the ideas part of
one’s character
Evaluation
Judgments of internal
evidence and external
criteria
Organizing
Putting together values
information into new
ideas
Analysis
Analysis of elements,
relationships, organizing
principles
Valuing
Attaching a value to
information, ideas
Application
Using new knowledge to
solve problems
Responding
Active participation,
reacting
Comprehension
Translation,
interpretation,
extrapolation
Receiving
Passive attention
Knowledge
Facts, terms,
classifications, categories
Reactions to texts and comprehensibility
Literal
comprehension
Focus on facts,
Responding
Valuating
Organizing
‘Knowledge -based’
‘Efferent’
90%
Low
Slow
Low
98%
Characterizing,
Application,
Evaluation
Synthesis
‘Experiencing’
‘Affective’
100%
% of known vocabulary
Reading speed
Comprehension
High
High
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.
What do language learners need to know in
order to understand native texts?
Very high levels of text coverage:
8000-9000 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
A
Word rank
B
C (= 100 / B)
Percentage of
Number of
general
running words
English that
needed to be
this word
met to meet all
covers
these words
once
D (= x times C
)
Volume of text you need to read to meet the
words at these recurrence rates
5 times
20 times
50 times
1st most frequent (the)
5.83898%
17
86
343
856
2nd most frequent (be)
5.12332%
20
98
390
976
25th (as)
0.44382%
225
1,127
4,506
11,266
50th (like)
0.24109%
415
2,074
8,296
20,739
100th (hear)
0.10505%
952
4,759
19,038
47,595
500th (present)
0.02477%
4,037
20,183
80,732
201,829
1000th (blood)
0.01172%
8,533
42,665
170,658
426,645
1500th (intent)
0.00677%
14,773
73,864
295,455
738,636
2000th (stumble)
0.00432%
23,103
115,625
462,500
1,156,250
3000th (sergeant)
0.00211%
47,343
236,713
946,850
2,367,126
5000th (satellite)
0.00076%
132,143
660,714
2,642,857
6,607,143
10,000th (relativity)
0.00016%
632,895
3,164,474
12,657,895
31,644,733
How many words do Japanese students
meet in JH/ SH?
Number of
different
words
Total Length
Horizon 1, 2, 3 (Junior High)
1,124
9,440
Powwow I, II, Reading (Senior High)
2,857
27,221
Centre tests (680 types / 3000 words average
per test) x 4
~1,000
12,000
College Entrance tests (590 types / 1600 words
average per test) x 4
~1,000
6,400
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.
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 16 total only 4,000,000 words
(will give you a receptive vocab of around 4000 words)
Number of words
Average Incoming 1st year English major (N=2350)
Average 4th year English major (N=1670)
1820
2460
Average JH English teacher (N=239)
2980
Average SH English teacher (N=195)
3560
Average Japanese College Literature professor (N=74)
6530
(Maeda and Asano, 2001)
What can learners of different ability levels do
with native texts?
Native texts
Inauthentic processing of native
texts
Language Learner
Literature
Can process
native texts in
an authentic
way with help
Literal
interpretations
Can process
native texts in
an authentic
way without
help
Higher order
thinking skills
Authentic reactions to texts
Coverage 70%
Words
500
Beginner
85%
2000
Intermediate
90%
5000
Advanced
98%
9000
99%
25,000
Native
Language learner
Literature
is graded
Native
books
Phonics
Easy vocab
Easy grammar
More difficult vocab
More difficult grammar
The number of words a learner will probably learn from
course work plus reading
Probably known
Course book
only
Add one
reader a
week
Add two
readers a
week
Partially Known
Probably
unknown
50+
30-49
20-29
10-19
5-9
1-4
Total
523
210
229
472
580
1,261
3,275
1,023
283
250
539
570
1,325
3,990
1,372
380
367
694
877
2,882
6,572
Data from Sequences, Foundations, Page Turners and Footprints by Heinle Cengage
225,000
60,800
570,000
174,000
(=1,029,000)
Intensive Reading
Text type
Extensive reading
Intensive reading
textbooks
Native literature,
poems, movies etc.
Graded Readers
Language development,
comprehension
Literary appreciation,
critical reading
Fluency, natural
reading practice
Difficulty
Difficult (i+ 3-4)
Native (i+α)
Fluent level (i+ 0 -1)
Learning focus
Deconstructive
Deconstructive
Reconstructiive
Rough graded / linear
Unsystematic /
Random
Carefully graded /
linear
Teacher
Teacher (learner)
Learner
Text to learner
Learner to text
Text to learner
Speed
Slow
Slow
Fast
Amount
Little
Little
Lots
Activities
Lots Pre / Post
Lots Pre / Post
Few post
Retention
Low
Very Low
High
Motivation
Acceptable
????
Acceptable / High
Main focus
Input
Selection
Text matching
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
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
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’.
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
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)
(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
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
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
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
Thank you for your time
Dr. Rob Waring
http://www.robwaring.org/er/
http://www.extensivereading.net
www.erfoundation.org/
[email protected]

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