Communication Through Classics: An Innovative Approach in Language Teaching

Communication Through Classics: An Innovative Approach in Language Teaching

Punitha S. (Vellalar College for Women (Autonomous), India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3464-9.ch001

Abstract

This chapter describes how in a globalized world, the need for learning a new language becomes inevitable. If a speaker speaks in his native tongue, he will be able to address his language community only. Whereas, if the same speaker speaks in fluent English, his speech gathers him more attention and audience. From the period of development in language and various trades, the need for knowing other's language created the necessity for learning another language. Various tasks based on the level of the learners were propounded to exhibit their innate nature in learning. One such task-based strategy in teaching the communicative skills is through literature – storytelling, narrating lifetime incidents, cracking jokes, sharing the day-to-day news in the classroom. Teaching Greek myths in an Indian classroom is an interesting task. It makes the learner to enter a new world, creating a new scenario of pleasant learning. The teacher undertakes various roles as analyst, counselor, and group process manager.
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I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn. - Albert Einstein

In a globalized world, the need for learning a new language becomes inevitable. English is adored as the universal language which adapts itself to any circumstance and with any language. If a speaker speaks in his native tongue, he’ll be able to address his language community only. Whereas, if the same speaker speaks in fluent English, his speech gathers him more attention and audience. English as a foreign language or English as a second language is the method adopted in large scale at various organizations to develop or train the students master the language.

Even though the students excel in learning the language, they inhale the hesitation to speak out their ideas in the newly acquainted language. Until there is a necessity to learn, the language cannot flourish. Development of a person’s language skill especially the communicative skill depends more on the living style, his surrounding, exposure and culture. And this goes more with the necessity and thirst for knowing the language as Audre Lorde points out: “The learning process is something you can invite, literally invite, like a riot.”

The job of the teachers is to invite this riot in each and every individual to enhance a holistic development in them to achieve their goal. From the period of development in language and various trades, the need for knowing each other’s language created the necessity for learning another language. Due to globalization, political and social changes, English emerged as a very important communicative language. From the early 1970s, various methods have been propounded for teaching the language to the unknown learners.

Previously, Grammar-translation method had been the approach followed by the language teachers. This method allowed the learners to learn the basics of language and their grammatical structures in an elaborate way and then imply these learning in translating the passages from the native language to the target language. Gouin’s emphasis on the need to present new teaching items in a context that makes their meaning clear, and the use of gestures and actions to convey the meanings of utterances, are practices that later became part of such approaches and methods as Situational Language Teaching and Total Physical Response. (Richards, 2010, p. 6) Suggestopedia, Silent method, Neurolinguistic Programming, Multiple Intelligences, The Audiolingual Method, The Oral Approach and the Situational Language Teaching, etc. are some methods suggested by Jack C. Richards and Theodore S. Rodgers are adopted in teaching the language to the non-native speakers.

Each method has its pros and cons. The language teacher was given a free hand in adopting to any particular method or can imply any particular module of many methods. According to the classroom’s need, the method of teaching gets modified. When there are numerous modules and methods practiced in teaching the language, various activity-based learning emerged as a new trend among the learners. The problem of poor communication skills grows unabated in India.

Various tasks based on the level of the learners were propounded to exhibit their innate nature in learning. One such task-based strategy in teaching the communicative skills is through literature – storytelling, narrating lifetime incidents, cracking jokes, sharing the day-to-day news in the classroom. Stories give some sort of convenience for the learners. They can either narrate or enact it in their classrooms paving way for exploring new horizons. According to Brumfit and Carter in Literature and Language Teaching insisted:

a literary text is authentic text, real language in context, to which we can respond directly. It offers a context in which exploration and discussion of content (which if appropriately selected can be an important motivation for study) leads on naturally to examination of language . . . Literary texts provide examples of language resources being used to the full, and the reader is placed in an active interactional role in working with and making sense of this language. Thus, literature lessons make for genuine opportunities in group work and/or open-ended exploration by the individual student. (1986, p. 15)

There are various pieces of work combined together to frame the label of literature such as – fiction, drama, non-fiction, poetry, etc. All the literary books need not be fictions. Any piece of interest can be accumulated among the learners to read through the books.

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