The Reading Experience for Children and Young Adults: A Territory of Transformation in TEFL

The Reading Experience for Children and Young Adults: A Territory of Transformation in TEFL

Esther de la Peña
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 32
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4670-3.ch008
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The main purpose of this chapter is to expose a model of TEFL based on the use of literature as an interdisciplinary tool. Reading authentic literary texts embraces the exploration of the linguistic aspects of the English language and integrates a multifaceted study of the historical context, cultural manifestations, and philosophical features of the literary works. Firstly, a brief overview about the role of literature in language teaching over the past years is presented. Secondly, the advantages and benefits that literature offers students are explained in detail. Finally, a model approach to integrating literature in the EFL classroom is suggested. In all, the scope of this comprehensive pedagogical model provides students with a challenging learning experience that starts in the first year of ESO and is carried out throughout the four years of compulsory education.
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In Spain, an English-language teacher in primary and secondary education eventually realizes that the use of literature in the EFL classroom is usually neglected in the Spanish curriculum for compulsory education. Unlike the old system that used literary texts as samples of grammar and writing through translations and memorization, literature is often pushed into the background, with little relevance for anything concerning the teaching of a foreign language. However, since 1990, with the advent of new directions in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Bilingual Programs, researchers and scholars have developed programs and proposed approaches and resources that genuinely contribute to successful language learning. Thus, the use of literature has emerged as a valuable new resource for language teaching. Despite that recognition, nowadays, most textbooks integrate short paragraphs or excerpts from classic literary works, but always as extra activities in reading and writing preparation. Likewise, those excerpts are often abridged and decontextualized from the original source, usually creating a boring exercise for students, of little effective use to teachers. In short, literature is not considered a necessary tool in teaching a foreign language.

In the author’s case, the integration of authentic literary texts into the English syllabus made lessons more dynamic and interactive. Throughout years of experience, student participation has broadened, language acquisition has improved, and personal involvement has increased. However, the reluctance of colleagues at work to start implementing literature as a key element in their curriculum, and the limited knowledge of the benefits that literature could bring to students, led the author to embrace academic research for several years, culminating with her doctoral dissertation. Subsequent updates to that investigation have followed, and this chapter is based on those findings and revisions. Thus, if someone asked why teach literature in the TEFL/EFL context or in Bilingual Programs, reading this chapter would lead to a plausible response. The final part of this chapter shows an eclectic approach to the use of literary texts in primary and secondary education. Literature offers teachers a cross-curricular, interdisciplinary resource for instruction, and provides students with both real and imaginary situations (life experiences) that support many kinds of growth in academic foundation and character education.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Authentic Literary Text: A text that has not been adapted or modified for teaching purposes. It was not specifically written for language learning.

Reading: A written receptive skill.

EFL: English as a foreign language.

Secondary Education: The kind of education which is given after the primary education stage.

Literature: An artistic manifestation expressed in written form.

Interdisciplinary: A combination of two or more academic disciplines in one activity.

Primary Education: The kind of education that normally starts between the ages of 5-7 preceding the period of secondary education. During these years of primary education learners are provided with fundamental skills in reading, writing, mathematics, etc.

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