“English literature is a kind of training in social ethics. English trains you to handle a body of information in a way that is conducive to action.” – Marilyn Butler
Literature, as a discipline, has always enjoyed a high status that has been studied as a cultural product, and as a resource for language learning. The teaching of literature includes the study of plot, characterization, motivation, and also, sometimes the study of the author, their historical and literary background. It develops the individuality and creativity of the readers and helps them to derive an experience which is much higher than any other experiences.
To make students familiar with the greatest work of renowned authors from all over the world, they are made to study these works from lower grades. These classics are treasure houses of values, morality and need to be taught and propagated. Students are expected to cope with all kinds of literary works, specially the older ones, which often demand the knowledge of contextual clues to be fully understood. At the same time, it is a fact that in an excessively academic situation students gradually lose their self-confidence when they have to express individual critical point of views. Here at this point an expert’s guidance plays a pivotal role in arousing their critical way of thinking and expressing themselves in an apt way.
Role of an English Literature Expert:
Literature as a medium for language acquisition purpose is becoming extensively popular. William Litllewood, among others, argues that literature is a perfect vehicle for the learning of differences between language varieties and also of a foreign culture. Study of literature helps students to start a discussion, enables opinion exchanges among students.
As literature is the rich source of linguistic inputs, it helps learners to practice four language skills – -speaking, listening, reading and writing along with the grammatical structures and presenting new vocabulary. An English Literature Expert uses the following approaches.
They use the “Text and Activities” method by introducing fiction and poetry in the classroom. A piece of literary work is not only used for explaining and understanding but also for stimulating readers and students for practicing their language skills. Emphasis is laid on the linguistic inputs that readers/students can get, such as the grammar structure and vocabulary usage and the use of literary work for practicing 4 (four) language skills.
The most important thing to keep in mind while introducing a literary text to the students is to prepare the students to read the text. This preparation helps motivate the students to want to read and lead them towards the enjoyment, aesthetics, understanding, imagination, information and knowledge, cognition, and language of the text. Pre-reading activity introduced by the expert helps the students to understand the problems of human being expressed by people through literary works which is always interesting because it reflects human’s problems and their response towards the problem. The interpretation of literary text helps readers as well as students to perceive the importance of reading and studying literary works to enrich their perspective of life.
Post reading activities involve some questions that the students have to answer at the end of the reading. The student’s response and expression towards the problem presented in the story leads to further discussion and analysis. Experts also guide students to identify important phrases, grammatical structures and vocabulary words which in turn enrich the student’s language concept.
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A literary work plays an important function in enhancing the language through the use of four language skills. It is important to apply for all of the four language skills at once. The students when asked to express their opinion on a prompt, are able to make use of knowledge and research which in turn opens up their critical thinking towards the topic and gets them into a discussion. This activity develops their language competence in the long run. Analysis of the linguistic inputs in a literary work such as grammar structure and vocabularies and other literary devices used in the literary work act as a sample before the students when they apply those techniques in their creative writing. Tutoring from an expert would be effective as they act as a guide when the student explores their writing skills.
A piece of literary work rich with information and knowledge nourishes the reader’s creative process of imagination and provide them with possibilities to elaborate their original ideas. An expert through various teaching methodologies helps the students to expand their imaginations through words and expressions. Expert tutor guidance not only increases the student’s storehouse of knowledge, but also stimulates the students to think in many different dimensions by encouraging questioning and critical thinking. Creative thought and imagination are intimately related to higher-order thinking skills. Hence, literature is essential to honing and lending direction to imagination as it illustrates the unlimited range of human imagination and extends readers’ personal visions of possibilities. Students learn to appreciate the beauty of language through literature. As language and thinking are closely related, the ability to think on one’s own depends on the mastery of the language to a great extent.