Role of literature in foreign language learning and teaching

Emilia Luukka
University of Tampere
emilia.luukka _arvaa_ uta.fi

While it is widely recognized that literature in foreign language teaching offers opportunities for students’ linguistic, personal and cultural growth, studies show that a marginal 3% of Finnish foreign language teachers employ literature ‘often’ in their teaching (Linnakylä 2004, 181; Luukka et. al. 2008, 95). The multiplicity of authors, genres and currents in literature presents at once a challenge and an opportunity for teachers. Furthermore, an important epiphany in the use of literature in the foreign language classroom is the distinction between using literature as the object or tool for study (Tarakçioğlu 2003, 214).

With this setting in mind, my Doctoral thesis, begun in the fall of 2013, draws from language didactics, literary criticism and pedagogy, and seeks to explore the role of literature in the foreign language classroom, and to empirically test student-oriented methods of using literature in foreign language teaching. The thesis originates in part from my Masters thesis, which was an ethnographic classroom study of Finnish upper secondary school students’ interpretations of Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Cat in the Rain”. The results of the study suggested that using literature in the foreign language classroom in a way that combines knowledge of student responses to read texts, literary criticism and language didactics is likely to yield positive results in the students’ language skills, cultural awareness and personal growth.

There is much to gain in encouraging students to read in the context of foreign language learning, as the future language users will indubitably require not only the ability to communicate aptly, but an ability to see matters from multiple perspectives, among other skills. Literature in the foreign language classroom has a unique position to influence young minds, and it is my hope the coming years witness active discussion of the role of literature in the foreign language classroom.

 

Keywords: literature, foreign language teaching

 

Lähteet

Luukka, M-R., S. Pöyhönen, A. Huhta, P. Taalas, M. Tarnanen &  A. Keränen. 2008. Maailma muuttuu - mitä tekee koulu? : Äidinkielen ja vieraiden kielten tekstikäytänteet koulussa ja vapaa-ajalla. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylän yliopiston soveltavan kielentutkimuksen keskus.

Linnakylä, P. 2004. Nuorten lukijaprofiilit. In P. Linnakylä, S. Sulkunen and I. Arfman (eds.) Tulevaisuuden lukijat. Suomalaisnuorten lukijaprofiileja: PISA 2002, Jyväskylä: Koulutuksen tutkimuslaitos, Jyväskylän yliopisto, 167-184.

Tarakçioğlu, A. Ö. 2003. The Uses Of Teaching Literature In Efl Classes. Ekev Academic Review 7 (17), 213-222.

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