Teaching English Literature to a Heterogeneous Class: The Challenges and Problems of Differing Identities

Teaching English Literature to a Heterogeneous Class: The Challenges and Problems of Differing Identities

Sutapa Dutta (University of Delhi, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5990-2.ch009
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Abstract

Teaching English Literature to an increasingly heterogeneous class is proving to be a major challenge in recent years, especially with the emphasis on inclusive higher education in India. The differences in educational experiences and socio-cultural background mean that both the learners and the teachers bring to the classroom certain ideas and expectations. A lack of awareness of the socio-cultural relevance of what is being taught, to whom, and how might lead to miscommunication and frustration among the teachers and the learners. The communication gap that exists between producers and receivers of a text can be attributed primarily to linguistic differences and cultural gaps. This chapter addresses some critical questions related to pedagogical interpretations and actions in the classroom: How to teach diverse learners in a complex culturally diverse setting? What challenges do teachers face in importing a foreign literature and how can they make this more relevant and meaningful in a different cultural context? How can classrooms be more interactive and communicative given the fact that students are expressing themselves in a language that for the majority of them is not their first language? This chapter is based on secondary rather than primary research, but it draws on the author's extensive experience of teaching English Literature to college and university students. It highlights the necessity to question the traditional paradigms within which we teach and learn English and also suggests some ways to tackle this problem and to further understand the broader socio-cultural context wherein meaning is contextually determined and constructed.

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