The Project and the Action-Oriented Approach to Submerge Literature in Reality in Foreign Languages Teaching

The Project and the Action-Oriented Approach to Submerge Literature in Reality in Foreign Languages Teaching

Benoit Filhol
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3379-6.ch004
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The role of literature in foreign languages teaching is not a matter of debate today. If we observe the number of publications and conferences organized on the theme of teaching literature in foreign languages in recent years, we quickly realize that this is a dynamic field and constantly evolving. However, this vitality is not found in textbooks where literature still does not have the presence that teaching discourses which justify it grant it. In addition to providing some reasons for this disaffection, this chapter intends to use the latest teaching developments attempting especially to advance on the theoretical reflection about the articulation of the action-oriented approach and literature teaching through project-based teaching method. First, the authors try to justify the use of the project, and then they notify the theoretical mutation that this practice requires, before dealing with the types of project that may integrate FL classes. Finally, they look at how it should be structured to ensure that teaching take into account all dimensions of literature.
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The presence of literature in the teaching of a foreign language (FL), and in particular French as a Foreign Language (FLE), is no longer a subject of debate today and if we look at the number of publications and conferences organised in recent years on the theme of Literature teaching in French as a foreign language, we quickly realise that this discipline is a dynamic and constantly evolving field of reflection. However, when we look, for example, at the current French language textbooks, as Argyro Proscolli (2009) did, we see that Literature still does not occupy the place it should if we take into account the large number of speeches that legitimize it. The main points of the observation that Jean-Pierre Cuq and Isabelle Gruca made in 2008 about the place of Literature in FLE class unfortunately still seem to be relevant:

  • Discrepancies in the portion given to the literary text: presence or total absence of one book to another;

  • Uneven distribution of literary documents within the same editorial series: generally absent in the first two levels, they appear in level 3;

  • Limitation to the selected excerpts, generally very short;

  • Almost generalized forgetting of Francophone literature;

  • Literary exploitation by the global approach of the general communication situation;

  • Absence of a real read-write articulation or real applications of writing workshops;

  • Exclusion in the questionnaire of the theories, in particular linguistic theories, which have already proved their worth in mother tongue class applications (cf. typology of texts, textual linguistics, etc.) or of the theories on intertextuality which could highlight the intercultural nature of the phenomenon;

  • Neglect of the phenomena which ensure the “literarity” of a fictional text in opposition to other types of writing (media, functional, scientific);

  • Lack of integration/proposal of instruments / analysis tools that the learner could gradually appropriate to become autonomous in accessing literature1(2008: 418-419).

It is true that literature continues to be the victim of twofold competition: on the one hand, it suffers from the privilege granted to informative texts and, on the other hand, it is sometimes set aside by specific approaches to learning French that meet current linguistic needs and focus on more pragmatic objectives. Moreover, when a foreign language method includes a literary text, it is too often used in the traditional way, either as a source document for a cultural aspect or to work on a language point. While these are very respectable goals, we are convinced that literary education can go beyond these practices and become an integral activity at the heart of language teaching.

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