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THE ROLE OF LITERATURE IN TEACHING ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE Author(s): Gabriella Lengyel Source: Angol Filolgiai Tanulmnyok / Hungarian Studies in English, Vol. 9 (1975), pp. 59-70 Published by: Centre for Arts, Humanities and Sciences (CAHS), acting on behalf of the University of
Debrecen CAHS

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IX. Tanulmanyok Angol Filologiai IX inEnglish Studies Hungarian

1975 Debrecen, Hungary

Gabriella Lengyel THE ROLE OF LITERATURE IN TEACHING ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

therole of literature in teaching My purposein thispaperis to discuss Englishas a I shall intermediate levels. at and first consider the the beginning foreign language I be a think would better then what remarks and traditional approach.My practice in Hungary as a high-school teacher as well as on my will be basedon myexperiences I in othercountries. may mentioncertain practices problems knowledgeof teaching - regardless - do not of theirorigin that are not universal. However, since students in intelligence and theirattitudes towardsstudy, and sinceteachers differ in basically less qualified are not considerably thanin another, mostof the problems one country commonall overtheworld. I shalltreat are presumably at the high-school The subjectthatis usuallyintroduced level is officially entitled and there is about Literature." unusual this nothing "EnglishLanguage Although it turns one. An analysis of theitemsthissubjectencompasses out to be a telling title, rise to at least two that its by "literature", gives questions teaching poses: 1.Whatis meant and 2. wheredoes languageend and literature ? begin In traditional literature has been givena belletristic teaching practice, interpretation. This approach in foreign-language date from when the theschools may teaching period to give thestudents were expected a firm and basisin grammar, translation. reading, a high-school and university education could afford However,thosewho thenreceived who were nativespeakers of the foreignlanguagestaughtat school. privatetutors Thus thespokenlanguage was acquired outside school, very oftenin the country whereit was spoken.At thesametimeforeign-language could afford teaching having academic itself the of to treatment literature as belles-lettres . strictly goals, confining Even thoughtimesand circumstances have changedconsiderably, thistreatment of literature in EFL classeshas survived is on While the emphasis throughout Hungary. to communicate in the foreign enablingthe student language,the textbooks being usedcontain numerous from passages literary manyofwhichhavenothing masterpieces to do withthepresent-day as if literature couldjustify onlyteaching spokenlanguage a This is also attitude attested the fact that teaching foreign language. by onlythefirst 59

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in thestrict skills sense. Litetwo yearsare devotedto theteaching of foreign-language Those of instruction. who is the third rature usuallyintroduced during year language in is have often wonderedwhy literature thispractice are aware of how unsatisfactory fouryearsof language at all during thefirst thetraditional senseshouldbe introduced and whether it is desirable to deal withit at theintermediate instruction, stage. in thetarget In my opinion, of literature theproblem teaching languageat thehighin professional school level has not been given enough attention publications.Those who have written on the topic in generalcan be roughlydividedinto threegroups: of EFL 1. literary mustbe includedin the curriculum scholars arguingthatliterature from excluded the should be that literature 2. arguing teaching; angry appliedlinguists these two extremes. a healthy balancebetween and 3. thosetrying to strike curriculum; of teachers languages probablyawed by the foreign Strangely enough,high-school let their voices be heard.Instead, of literature seldom theyare trying prestige foreign - i.e., to turntheirstudents in four into literaryscholars to achievethe impossible years. He is concerned the issueof literature in TESL programs. JohnF. Povey1discusses withinadequate who are "struggling about theforeign students Englishto handlethe of most word is for courses freshmen." descriptive (The "struggle" properly survey of works classical to read are made when they students English Hungarian highschool thatthe linhe thinks problems, literature.) Though Povey is aware of the existing that He presumes texts have been exaggerated. difficulties guistic presented by literary television studies aided in theirliterary ESL students are greatly by English-language I have no quarrel and merelyby living in an English-speaking country. programs aimsin theteachhisfourgeneral withPovey'sstatement. However,whenconsidering do students EFL teachers abroadmustat leastkeep in mindthattheir ing of literature, in not have the advantageof livingin an English-speaking Unfortunately, country. kinds of these offices in the and traditional inspectors' especially teaching practice "aim" reads in any circumstances. aimsare assumedto be feasible Povey's first general as follows(I am putting"aim" betweenquotationmarksbecause,strictly speaking, : of teaching or benefits whathe calls "aims" are results literature) will extendlinguistic all languageskillsbecauseliterature "Literature will increase and subtle of extensive evidence usage,and complex vocabulary knowledgeby giving the in a It will oftenrepresent generalway and exact syntax. stylethatcan properly standas a modelforthestudent." and subtle It is truethatliterary vocabulary give "evidenceof extensive masterpieces from certain however, acknowledgedmasterpieces passages usage." Unfortunately, As a case in point,let me use in foreign-language have verylittlepractical teaching. In orderto give the schools. cite a textbookthatis being used in Hungarianhigh of the the portrait it presents a notionof fourteenth-century students Englishsociety, 1John TESOL the and : The Literature inTESLPrograms 1.1,40-46. Literature F.Povey, Culture, Quarterly, 1967. 60

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- whichthe Tales.The passage fromthe General Franklin Prologueto The Canterbury - contains numerous unfamiliar and translate words to understand areexpected students "to be a man of etc. We "in also and expressions: style", weight", "felicity", hearty a passage from Macbeth teach a sonnetby Shakespeare, , poems by Robert Burns, novels.As a result, I now and and nineteenth-century fromeighteenthand extracts : the of sentence "to best use thefollowing thenhearmy students openings myknow- ex"I "to fail cannot but feel" not "if does me", my mind", my memory ledge", but ludicrous in discussions contents of trivial in certain thatare acceptable pressions a of and students sometimes Further, my speak "heaving big sigh" "descending topics. iftheteacher of course, is a native to thesalon."The problemis lessserious, thestairs a command of Thus has it. he or can the correct of verygood language target speaker and infelicities in usage,tone,and errors but also inconsistencies not onlygrammatical moststudents cannot useliterary levelofformality. Underaverage conditions, however, and rules of a kind the of archaic without often usage cultivating violating vocabulary use and could and In avoid we order to works. this, abridged simplified passages style. we would destroy thosefeatures andsimplifying however, them, precisely By abridging off Thus we would be better withdocumentary thatmakethemliterary masterpieces. whether a and good expository topics.It is questionable proseon everyday writings the traditional can learn"complexand exactsyntax" to student litthrough exposure is to teacha control As Donald M. Topping2notes:"Ifourpurpose ofstandard erature. thenwe are doing syntax, including compoundand complexconstructions, Elnglish thosearchaicwriters our students a terrible disservice who by askingthemto imitate standards of the rules." He awful violations modern also doubts syntactic by practice in thetarget whether literature languagewill improvethe student's reading speaking, and writing to thepointwherehe would actually use theliterary lanability listening, is I that the For do not think student to this far, expected go guage. mypart, anyway. enrichthe learner's in the targetlanguage will certainly Reading literature passive his understanding. and in thisway also increase he will also vocabulary Undoubtedly, becomemoresensitive to literary in general and different styles waysofusingthelanin noting is right that thestudent must havea firm guage.However, Toppings linguistic into the realm of A basisbefore literature. venturing premature exposureto the lanhimas to theuse of lexicalitems can onlyconfuse and grammatical guage of literature constructions. with the culturalaspect of teaching Povey's second general"aim" is concerned "Literature is a link towardsthe culture whichsustains literature:3 the expression of will American literature the of culture this to the anylanguage. openup country foreign in a manner of thenativespeaker's student own awareness analogousto theextension literature to hisown culture." reflects and actions that Undoubtedly thoughts, feelings, are the products of the writer's culture.Still I would not assertthat literature gi2M.Topping, Literature : An to or TESOL 2.2,95-100. 1968. Linguistics Approach Language, Quarterly, 3Povey, op.cit. 61

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- or purports - a realistic ves to give accountof cultureand society. (If it does, it is is primarily an art; consequthanliterature.) Literature rather documentary writing it and reflects an in artistic ently, (but, reality ordering, enhancing way by reducing, in a factualsense,distorting) it accordingto the author'simaginative vision,the demandsofhisliterary and analyzethe To isolate, define, ability. genre,and his writing historical, social,or personal specireality underlying any work of literature requires alizedknowledge I do notthink teachers should andtechnique. that theforeign-language be responsible Teachersof hisfor the spreading of such knowledgeand technique. and and the social to describe are much better sciences tory compareforeign equipped and societies It cultures in adequate detail and with all the necessary qualifications. is obvious that certain aspectsof culturewill inevitably be touched upon during the study of literature in a foreign-language class, and that literature may ever reveal theseaspectsmore vividly, and memorablythan scientific exposition of both the could. The teacher, thatthisknowledge shouldwarn students however, levelofstudy, andthat and the culture limited at this literature is likelyto remain they a For about either. shouldrefrain fromhastyunwarranted superficial generalizations and falseideas can lead only to falseassumptions knowledgeof a foreignliterature to. Other and is addressed it reflects aboutthesocietyand culture (notably, stereotypes) This is and background. sources of misconceptions are differences in cultural heritage as undersame is not the a word or the denotation of why understanding expression and of culture. of society in thecontext itsfullrangeof connotations Expresstanding dream"do not "the American and sionslike "beingon themove", "frontier spirit", all their lives and haveperhaps mean muchto people who live in a smallcountry spent theof connotations to the be in one place.Lengthy would clarify necessary explanations the we would have to interpret se phrases students. In other to mostHungarian words, knowa moment thestudents* at when in its of a culture language special language foreign an level. It would be like defining ledge of thatlanguageis at a ratherelementary unknowntermin unknown terms a procedurewhichis, as we all know,unpedagogical. "We mustacknowbenefit:4 to an all-inclusive Povey'sthird general"aim" pertains that literature all the indefinable, givesone awareness concept ledge though important, as one could assert be literature can of humaninsight. In thisrespect justified great to this statement. I givequalified assent thevalue of listening to a majorsymphony." a Thus the effect nature. into human us Greatliterature gives insight undoubtedly a of that to in and readers sensitive work has on of literature equal competent great differences there are listeners. Still on significant qualified major symphony similarly workcan Ifa purelymusical literature. musicandunderstanding between understanding and conventional emotions be said to express itexpresses by meansof natural anything, Thus emotions. of these and flow the of sound that nature, intensity, symbols represent and is readily and languages, a piece of music,transcending frontiers comprehensible 4ibid 62

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an international culture. butcommonmusical listeners to qualified throughout enjoyable whatever and it more than mere other on the emotions, hand,expresses Literature, ofa specific constructions isconceptualized language. bythewordsandsentence expresses is of its it neither If a literary workexceedsthe linguistic readers, compknowledge to decipherto them.And iftheyhave to devote mucheffort rehensible norenjoyable one cannot theycannotreally enjoyit as a workof art.Consequently, ingitslanguage, a verygood commandof thelanguage without literature understand and enjoyforeign without ofa foreign and enjoythesymphony whileone can bothunderstand composer in music. training "aim"5in teaching literature in thetarget languageis thepromotion Povey'sfourth and He mentions India in that of creative Nigeria,wherewriting writing language. and stylistic I would be curious to know theidiomatic in English is notunusual. fiction as of this fiction and value writhence the (beyondexpression therapy) prose quality In anycase,we cannot levelin thesetwo countries. tenby students at theintermediate where exceptional historical fromthe experience of thesetwo countries, generalize use ofEnglish as thelanguageof higher have resulted in thewide-spread circumstances and politics.(IndianEnglish,in fact,is sometimes classified as education, commerce, - though a dialect ofEnglish it mayin thecourseof timeceaseto be one ifitisreplaced as thelingua of theIndiansubcontinent.) by Hindustani franca - as it has been done traditionally - does in the target language Teachingliterature notsatisfy an especially hardtime,since involved.It givestheteacher anyof theparties in vainto explain a literary he struggles workto hispupilsin wordsthey can understand. Thisstruggle is similar to theprocess of translating thelecture of a well-known scholar intoa child's It also who frustrates the can neither understand the work language. pupils nor express their about it. Finally, it defeats the aim of the writer who, acthoughts assumes thathis reader"will be able to understand the Arthur,6 cordingto Bradford literal of the words that he is To be the reader from time to sure, meaning using. may an unfamiliar timerunacross should but this slow him not The down. . . author word, also assumes thathis readerwill be able to understand the structure of sentences used in the story. . . More subtle, but nonetheless the are that important, assumptions the authormakesabout his reader'sunderstanding of culture."If the student can meet theserequirements, thereading of literature can be an end in itself. If not,it is neither And if a teacher in trying to teachlanguage languagenor literature learning. persists and literature at the same time,he may end up teaching neither of themeffectively. Thus themostimportant to answeris: How soon shallwe start litquestion teaching erature? states this in connection: "No student should be into EdgarWright7 pushed work untilhe has sufficient literary linguistic knowledgeto understand, enjoy, and the text that will he be "While can appreciate literary studying. everybody agreewith 5ibid 6Arthur and a Second Literature 18. 1968. Bradford, ,Language 4,199-210. Reading Learning Language Learning, 7Edgar The Other TESOL 2.2,101-107. 1968. Round, Wright, Way Quarterly, 63

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it does not give us any clue as to what constitutes thisstatement, sufficient linguistic Whose should be as the norm? How ability. linguistic ability accepted manyyearsof forthe studyof literature ? studyare neededforacquiringthe necessary background I thinkthe last questionis impossible to answer, since thereare numerous subjective and objective factors to affect theprocess. and aptitude Amongthemarethemotivation of the pupils, the knowledgeof the teacher, at school, aides,the facilities teaching draw etc. One possiblesolutionwould be to the line on the basis of the numberof class meetings in Hungary, we would end up withthree per schoolyear.Accordingly, : different groups 1. thosestudents who have about 68 classmeetings per schoolyear, 2. thosestudents who have about99 classmeetings, and 3. thosewho have 198 classmeetings. two class." In the case of the first The last group is the so-called"English-section not how soon should whether the should literature be but be, taught, groups, question at all Personally, I would be inclined to say "no", sinceI consider it shouldbe taught for the students' future needs to teach thempractical, it more important everyday writers in studies. thattheycan use in theirfurther They discuss foreign expressions is With the English-section theirnative-language classes,anyway. class,the situation In two yearsthisgroup coversthe material thatthe othertwo groupsdo different. makesup one partofthematerial; in four It is truethat literature yetthemembers years. to acquirethe spokenlanguagethanthe mere of thisgrouphave more opportunities two years is alwaysa considerAfter thefirst there number ofclassmeetings mayimply. of thethird first three months the able improvement in their spokenEnglish.During and the structures the more are able to master complicated grammatical yearstudents skillsalso improve, than individualwords. Their composition rather use of phrases ideas in simplebut understandable so thattheyare able to express language.At this if we introduced authors. even introduced to modern could be However, pointthey be far from would the the traditional while framework, problem changes keeping inthereverse order:proceeding literature (say) beingsolved.Wewould stillbe teaching but correct which is historically a progression fromShakespeare to modernwritersunacceptable. pedagogically has of literature the traditional treatment In orderto do away with the confusion a redefinition 1. are in EFL the about changes necessary: teaching, following brought the forselecting of clear-cut criteria 2. the formulation of literature in EFL teaching, 3. instruction in suitableteachingmethodsat all levels of teacher teachingmaterial, of new and 4) theintroduction as at for as well teachers, workshops in-service training textsat all levelsof languageinstruction. would be desirable. a new terminology literature in EFL teaching, In redefining would leave us much broad the sense Thus theterm"reading material" in interpreted of a level at freedom as to what we consider given languageinstruction. appropriate 64

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it would be necessary to redefine the content and the difficulty of readFurthermore, level the students' of the material at each by taking knowledge ing languageas well as our teaching into consideration. the objectives Consequently, longerthe periodof are needed.At the verybeginning, timeforlanguagestudythe more definitions the of material could level be defined in "a Heaton's words8 as James reading style style that ofspoken Laterthedefinitions as wellas theselected levelwhichresembles English". reflect the distance betweenspokenand written passagesshouldgradually language. would represent thelaststagein thecontinuum. and scientific Each stage Literary styles or thestudy of thehighest forms of written shouldbe carefully documented, language will neverbecome more than an exercisein translation. The numberof stageswe would be decidedby reference to the numberof classmeetings we have forthe treat of Englishper week. Consequently, someclasseswould neverbe introduced teaching would go all the way. to whatJooscalls "the frozen style"while others should material we observe at In selecting leastthefollowing criteria: 1. the reading the students have per week as well as their numberof classmeetings future needs,2. of 3. the their and structures and the complexity of sex, age complexity grammatical the material sharedexperiences and esthetic ideas,and 4. whether presents universally values. The number ofclassmeetings students haveperweekis a verygood indicator ofwhat the serves in their lives. Thus two week mean that meetings per purpose language they in another subjectand therefore specialize expectto learnenoughto make themselves as tourists. understood of translation They also expectto acquirethebasic techniques whichwillproveto be useful in their further studies. Students who have three meetings thesameexpectations. who study However,students perweekhave practically English in specialclasses and different (6- 12 meetings per week) have significantly objectives needs.Theyhave takenup thelanguagein orderto majorin it at theuniversity or to use it as a majortool in their further studies. In bothcasestheywantto communicate as well as to readit withease. For thema fullprogram in it fluently, mustbe planned. differ Since students in theirobjectives and expectations, the same books shouldnot be used in all classes.Doubling or reducing the timeforlanguagestudyonly takes careof quantitative aspects. The students' within a class;students age does not cause specialproblems goingto the same classare of the same age. But as W. S. Fowler9 the students' sex pointsout, mustbe takeninto consideration: ". . .the storyshouldnot be too specialized or it will bore one sex or theother in mixedclasses." Thus we are better off withmaterials thatappealto a certain a rather than certain sex. age group

*James and Selection 13.1,6-64. 1968. Heaton, Elt, Literature, Editing for Beginning *W.S. Fowler, Literature Adult Students asa Foreign : 1/ Prescribed Books inthe Lower for of English Language Examination 1971. ELT,16.1,84-90. 5 Angol Filol6gia 65

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of grammatical structures and thatof ideas do not alwaysgo hand in Complexity hand.A relatively can be to read becauseof itsstyle or gramsimple story verydifficult matical structure. forexample, is noteasyreading) whileprofound (Alicein Wonderland, in can be The Old Man andtheSea, thoughts expressed simplelanguage(Hemingway's forexample).Thus selecting from Alice in Wonderland for is as unpassages beginners as to teach difficult sentence constructions and the characterpedagogical attempting of a complexstyleby reference istics to The Old Man andtheSea. Ideas thatstudents cannotrelateto emotionally will not challengethem. Consedo a such ideas not class for discussions. On theother hand quently, provide good topic will findit easy to discussworks written students on common topics,whether the I is nationalor international.have also observedthatstudents treatment are more inin learning new words to discuss terested new concepts thanin learning new lexical itemsto discuss issues thattheyfeelare typically Hungarian. Methodsof teaching in foreign-language literature classeshave not been givendue in scientific attention research and hence in teachertraining. Most practiceteachers of foreign with specialattention languagesare expectedto teach reading material to new grammatical devicesand new lexical items.Those who feelthata passage borrow categories and methods of literaryanalysis requires special treatment from their teachersat the university level. Discouraged by the poor results, or theyteach however,some of themuse the literary translation; pieces to practice new grammatical devicesand lexicalitemsbut read and discuss thepassagein thestudents'nativelanguage.Again, othersread the passagein the originallanguagebut discussit in the students' nativelanguage.(In my experience, thereis nothing more and ineffectual thanthe continuous alternation betweenthe nativelandiscouraging and I shunthispractice like theplagueand encourage languages, guage and thetarget teachers undermy supervision to do likewise.) practice The numberof class meetingsper week as well as the students' futureneeds shoulddecidewhatkindof material shouldbe used; i.e., whether we shouldemploy and languageteachers written or introduce lessons by appliedlinguists prose expository in the broad and laterin the belletristic first sense.Since I do not think and literature of otherthanspecialforeign-language thatliterature classes* belongsto the curricula of is forthem. selection material meant my proposed I would introduce theteaching of literature in thetarget In Hungarian highschools, thefourth (there yearof languageinstruction beingat leastsix classes languageduring a week and no morethan15-18 students in one group).By thistimethestudents have in and literature their world-literature a fair of American knowledge English acquired in thisclass,theyhave dealt with classestaughtin theirnativelanguage.Naturally, oftheword. are in thestrict sense worksthat masterpieces and American literary English main their For thisreasonalone,theseworksshouldnot be included Englishreading stories I would emphasize thecultural and introduce terialat thisstage.Instead, aspect of Englishwould orderin whicha childwho is a nativespeaker in the chronological withtheprinciples of contemporary them.Such an orderwould notconflict encounter 66

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- "would allow us to choose which criticism, accordingto George V. Santoni10 forour courses without literature the of history." following chronology Bradford Arthur11 thatin presenting a storywe shouldtake into account suggests theway a childlearns themin hisnative he maynot understand ; language eventhough - or the some words,he will be able to understand the storyas a whole. The child finds learner nonverbal clues in These foreign veryhelpful understanding any story. cluescan be sound effects, out, etc. For thisreason,usingdramatized pictures, acting versions of children's stories is veryinstructive. Such material is easilyavailableand does not present the has teacher to decidehow farhe copyright problems. Naturally, can let thestudents the of unfamiliar and when it is necessary words, guess meaning him for to give an explanation. whilethenativespeaker Also,he mustnotforget that, is not conscious of thefamiliar lexicalitemsin thestory, theforeign learners are consciousof thelexicalitems and grammatical structures have learned. Thus, they already even withthehelp of nonverbal themeaning of unclues,theirchancesforguessing familiar wordsare somewhat limited. Children's stories have at leasttwo properties thatmakethemveryuseful in foreign4. use and 2. languageteaching: they everyday expressions, theyprovideample repetition. To illustrate thelatter mentions Goldilocks andtheThree point,BrucePattison12 Bears.Though it does not containany unfamiliar words for fourth-year students at thisstory a good exercise affords in the use of the present tense. high-school, perfect in the case of Hungarian sinceHungarian lacks (This is especially important speakers, this semantic andgrammatical The is with such as category.) story replete rexpressions "Who hasbeensleeping in by bed?" ThePokey Little is an idealtextforreviewPuppies ing theuse of Englishprepositions: "They wentas faras theycould,over thebridge, themeadowand underthefence."Winnie the Poohis too "sophisup theroad,through ticated"forchildren underten yearsof age who cannotappreciate the subtleirony the of universal human and weaknesses. underlying portrayal ultimately This, qualities as wellas OscarWilde's The Selfish even forcollegestuGiant,is a fascinating reading dents.(One summer I had a groupof foreign adultswho wishedto learnHungarian from theHungarian translation of Winnie the Pooh.) The next step could be the introduction of shortpoems in the targetlanguage. in the is Discussing poems foreign language all the more desirable;for,as Santoni12 in coherenceand significance pointsout, poetry"internal depend solely (I would on the language,whereasthe coherenceand significance of a novel say "chiefly") information about etc." characters, may dependalso upon chronology, plot, society, The poems to be introduced could rangefromnursery to written rhymes poems by well-known these be too old nor reasons, poets.For pedagogical poemsshouldneither too modern.In the first words many case, theywould containtoo manyunfamiliar 10 Methods 5.5,432-441. 1972. Santoni, Georges ofTeaching Literature, FLA, 11 Bradford, op.cit. 12 Bruce The Literature 1964. Pattison, Lesson, ELT,18.2,59-62. 67

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of whichare no longerused; in thesecondcase,thestrange associations and theuse of as as other well would make symbolism, poeticdevices, understanding verydifficult. Thus we would have to select mainly twentieth-century poems.TeachingShakespeare, the metaphysical or the beginnings of American poets of the seventeenth century, an should be at the advanced level. objective poetry college The teaching of poetrydemands muchtimeand patience as well as theknowledge of appropriate on thepartof the teacher. In discussing a poem theteacher techniques shouldproceed in that order to make sure the students understand each idea stepbystep in it. Translation into the native cannot a means be substitute by any expressed language - not even as a time-saving - sinceit destroys for the originaltext device the poem. and a "feel"forrhythm to poemsrecited by actorsdevelopsunderstanding Listening and intonation in the target The memorization of language. poems shouldalwaysbe a selective since without listening, precededby reciting poem, knowinghow to do it harm more than does properly, good. At thisstage of foreign-language teaching, passagesfrommodernplays seem to be in order.Reading plays(especially modernones) certainly belongsto a foreignartistic and and for, theyexemplify languageprogram; shaping pointedness, despite, as in the vernacular it used real life. be flesh-and-blood may by people approximate For practical reasons,I would exclude absurd drama because its language eschews which we are trying to teachin the foreign conventional workdaycommunication, a to since it would whole be Also, play because of the language. impossible study in their studied from that the students have shortness of time,selecting plays passages best in film be the seen seems to world-literature class or versions native-language a passage would notfind out ofcontext; solution. Knowingthewholeplay,thestudents each and social implications. Beforeteaching theywould also be aware of itscultural is a of the in the short target language helpful. summary play passage, of foreign-language have always been the favorites For some reason,shortstories are that them the material in Two for teachers. commonarguments including reading and2. they arenottime-consumthemto speciallanguagelessons, 1. thestudents prefer as a separate a be treated short can since also The latter that, story ing. argument implies a sense of theunitgivesthestudents a relatively short unitwithin time,thecompletion this final towards their a significant ofhaving taken goal. Psychologically, argument step stories are beingused and abused valid. Yet, lookingat thewaysshort is undoubtedly whether one wonders in foreign-language classes, theyare reallyso useful. becauseof the level of difficulty, of time and of the shortness because partly Partly as James in versions. short stories textbooks Unfortunately, abridged many present are commonlyand inappropriately Heaton pointsout, shortstories abridgedon the This 2. their words and basis of 1. the numberof unknown length. approachignores createat least and cultural the factthatsyntactic content, constructions, implications of the storyor the numberof unknownwords.Obas the length as manyproblems is likelyto criteria to thesequantitative out according an abridgment carried viously, Thus if thatmake a shortstorygreatliterature. or destroy the veryfeatures distort 68

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- as I thinktheydo- we must of EFL teaching shortstories belong to the curricula editions. findwaysto workwithunabridged shortstories in the The students' to understand and to discuss unabridged inability for thatthe shortstories are not appropriate either selected target languageindicates theirlevel of languageproficiency or thattheyhave not been prepared linguistically of materials of sophisticated Mistakes theselection forthestudy literature. concerning of the students on the can be easilycorrected. Insufficient knowledge linguistic part - provided thattheteaching is logically material structuredis a moreserious problem the students either that has or that the teacher been individual indicating negligent morecomplicated arenotable to cope withtherequirements ofa higher andnoticeably level of languagestudy. to theforeignThis may happenif thestudents are admitted classwithout discrimination. Undernormalconditions, however, theyshould language of certain finished the be able to understand shortstories after certain study having from passages plays. shortand classesshould be relatively Short storiesselectedfor foreign-language and withinthe students' graspof ideas and language(in thesenseof bothvocabulary If a short it shouldbe excluded failsto meetone of thesethreecriteria, syntax). story works of For its merits. reasons, by twentieth-century regardless literary practical writers seempreferable. in The introduction would mean the end of the literature of shortstories program of foreign-language high school. Long poems and novels belong to the curriculum majors. servesour purposebest at the high school Literature in foreign-language teaching but as a meansto and beginning is viewed not as an end-in-itself collegelevelsif it instruction and unwritten laws oflanguage skills. Thus all thewritten developlanguage shouldbe observed law to observeis thatnew lexical here,too. The mostimportant with actualexitemsand new grammatical shouldnot be taught structures together students be inis that the or It desirable esthetic plication, stylistic analysis, appraisal. of a piece troduced to new vocabulary and new pointsof grammar priorto thestudy of literature. of language Thus theremustbe close cooperation betweenthe planners lessonsand grammatical on the one hand, and thosewho selectthe readings drills, material forthe classes, on the other.This kind of cooperation has been conspicuous its absence.Indeed,therehas not been enough cooperation even among people by who plantheteaching materials fordifferent thatis beingused levels.Thus a grammar at a higher levelmaynotsufficiently buildon thosethatwereusedat thelowerlevels. A literary as an arrangement of linguistic forms of all be treated passageshouldfirst thatconveymeaning to thosewho are familiar rules of withtheformal and semantic the language.Consequently, a linguistic-semantic be the first should interpretation thediscussion oftheworkas a pieceofart.Thisis notat all easyto realize; steptowards will alwaysbe impatient there and students teachers who would like to riseup to the level of "pure" ideas by short-changing theirverbalexpression. One can only agree withSantoni's whichwould remark:"Impatient students skippreliminary procedures 69

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in order to reachthelevelofideasor to formulate allow morethorough comprehension Thus an ideas and of esthetic nature. be weak, imopinionsmay quiteoften opinions in . . solid foundation and . thestudents' no nebulous, probably having expressed precise, it mustbe interpreted a literary work has been explicated, in nativelanguage."After an must build on the such we of real life. In the context attempting interpretation as well as on universal and value system cultural students' life-experience, background, ideas or abstract we may discussthe work on the level of whatever values. Finally, can understand esthetic merits it may have,but we mustdo so on a level thestudents We mustnot look, at all cost,for and operateupon intellectually and linguistically. notbe any. We should andhidden valuesbecausethere might especisymbolic meanings from what the intention about writer's from refrain apart ally illegitimate speculations have destroyed and demonstrably means.Overzealousteachers theworkclearly many to figure out what discussions by askingthe students duringclassroom good stories In other of composition. theprocess thewriter was thinking words,they perpeduring has been out and condemwhich tuatein their the intentional fallacy pointed practice an outlandish critical of literary criticism. ned in thetheory speculation (Upon reading nineteenthaboutwhathe thought to do in one ofhisworks, Arany,an outstanding Janos in the margin:"The devil thought century poet, wroteonly one remark Hungarian this...") is farfromeasy. of literature When and The role of the teacherduringdiscussions he ? If he interrupts the student, mistakes be corrected how shouldthe grammatical if he waits the student until and thus disturbs the train of the discussion; destroys thought and by doingso letstheclass reinforcement he violatestheruleof immediate finishes, in this Asa general I do notknowofanymagictechniques absorbthemistakes. respect. rules of gramhis the students' firm about should be I teacher the think rule, following in ofideas. the much freedom students and the liberal he be can mar; interpretation give to or different mean slightly greatly After all, a work of art may legitimately things and on thereaders' ofmeanings on itscomplexity different readers, categories depending and methods of analysis. at students to foreign-language thatwe teachliterature I recommend In summary, we use shouldbe carefully level only in specialclasses.The material the high-school neither we end up teaching to teachbothlanguageand literature, selected lest,trying levelsshouldtryto work and university at both high-school of them.Also, teachers anduniversity better results would have teachers Thus outbetter high-school techniques. to correct. mistakes teachers fewer

13 Santoni, op.cit. 14 ibid 70

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