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Articles on literature

Ideas on how to use literature in your classes with all ages.

Using literature - an introduction

The purpose of this article is to provide some guidance through the wealth of available materials and support, to provide a platform for sharing ideas and experiences and to explore some areas that are at the cutting edge of what is, for many teachers, the most powerful instrument in their school bag: literature as a tool for language learning.

Audio and text

Using audio with text is the easiest extension from just using text. In its most effective form this consists of a recording being made of someone reading the narrative or poem. The recording might be made by the author, which gives a satisfying degree of authenticity to the project, but, sadly, not all writers are good readers.  Sometimes, therefore, the voice will be that of an actor. Either way, this is a chance to hear a native speaker reading aloud a text that the students have studied.

Text and activity

The 'Text and Activities' method is the most common approach to using fiction and poetry in the classroom. It is low tech in that all we really need are words on a page, but that conceals a problem for many teachers. Where can we find appropriate texts and what about issues of copyright and authorial permission? Once we’ve located the texts, and got permission to use them, how can we best exploit them, especially if our students are reluctant readers.

Hyperfiction

Hyperfiction (or hypertext) has been described as an alternative to ‘the authoritarian linearity of conventional book-contained text.’ In reality a number of choices are given to the reader (sometimes referred to in the more iconoclastic descriptions as the ‘co-conspirator'). These choices are made at key – or other – moments in the on-line text where a click will take the reader to an alternative narrative or ‘textual space’ (including sound, animation, 3Dmodelling graphics and the like).

Film and video

Let us be sure about what we are talking about here. This is not an article examining films that have been made from books or their less common cousins, books made from films. That is another story – as it were – altogether. It is more about the relationship between, say, poetry and film – a relationship which is reciprocal.

Manga

Manga is a form of graphic novel, with a distinctive style of graphic design, which originated in Japan. People of all ages read manga books and the genre includes a broad range of subjects: action-adventure, romance, sports and games, historical drama, comedy, science fiction and fantasy, mystery, horror, and business and commerce, among others. The first manga book was published in the 19th century, and since the 1950s, manga have steadily become a major part of the Japanese publishing industry, and more recently have also become increasingly popular worldwide.

Using Dickens in class

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and the British Council has been helping to celebrate his 200th birthday. One way that we have done this is by making teaching materials which can help teachers introduce Dickens into their lessons.  If you go to http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/dickens you will find a lot of material.  There is a performance of readings from Dickens with music.  This is 1 hour 27 minutes, and you could use it all, or sections.  There is a series of short (up to 5 minutes) videos about some of the characters from Dickens’ novels, the ‘Heroes and Villains’, and there are 14 lesson plans with materials to use in your classes.

Using poems to develop productive skills

You and your students might already enjoy reading and listening to poetry in your own language and perhaps in English too. Poems are, after all, authentic texts.

Writing picture books

One of my first full-size colour picture books was Down By The Cool Of The Pool. It was first published in 2001. When it was a fully fledged book, some time later, and I showed it to a senior editor in picture books at a major publishing house, she read it and said, “That’s a perfect picture book text.” However, its story is all but smooth and fluent.

A Spice Island

Our guest walked down the aircraft steps onto the tarmac and was greeted by a small band and a few dancers dressed in traditional costume.  I wondered if I should tell him that we hadn’t arranged the reception and that it wasn't for him. I mumbled an explanation, but I don't think I was heard.

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Text and activity

The 'Text and Activities' method is the most common approach to using fiction and poetry in the classroom. It is low tech in that all we really need are words on a page, but that conceals a problem for many teachers. Where can we find appropriate texts and what about issues of copyright and authorial permission? Once we’ve located the texts, and got permission to use them, how can we best exploit them, especially if our students are reluctant readers.

Motivating pupils to read 2 - literature article

Motivating pupils to read 2

This is the second of two articles that look at ways to apply the process model of motivation as proposed by Dornyei (2001) to a number of suggestions and techniques for making the challenge of reading authentic literature accessible and motivating.

Using poems to develop receptive skills

I like to bring poetry into the classroom because I believe that it is important and motivating for students to work with authentic texts.

Learning English through children's literature - literature article

Learning English through children's literature

This article is about the British Council's Young Learners Centre in Paris and how they use children's literature in their teaching of English

Using drama texts in the classroom

In this article, I try to define what I mean by language learning through drama/theatre texts, outline some of the benefits it can bring to the language learning classroom and some of the differing methods and approaches that can be utilised to fully exploit the potential of drama and theatre texts.

Storytelling - benefits and tips

We often give stories to our students to read, but how often do we tell them a story? This article looks at the benefits of storytelling and gives advice on performance skills

Writing picture books

One of my first full-size colour picture books was Down By The Cool Of The Pool. It was first published in 2001. When it was a fully fledged book, some time later, and I showed it to a senior editor in picture books at a major publishing house, she read it and said, “That’s a perfect picture book text.” However, its story is all but smooth and fluent.

Using Dickens in class

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and the British Council has been helping to celebrate his 200th birthday. One way that we have done this is by making teaching materials which can help teachers introduce Dickens into their lessons.  If you go to http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/dickens you will find a lot of material.  There is a performance of readings from Dickens with music.  This is 1 hour 27 minutes, and you could use it all, or sections.  There is a series of short (up to 5 minutes) videos about some of the characters from Dickens’ novels, the ‘Heroes and Villains’, and there are 14 lesson plans with materials to use in your classes.

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A Spice Island

Our guest walked down the aircraft steps onto the tarmac and was greeted by a small band and a few dancers dressed in traditional costume.  I wondered if I should tell him that we hadn’t arranged the reception and that it wasn't for him. I mumbled an explanation, but I don't think I was heard.

Audio and text

Using audio with text is the easiest extension from just using text. In its most effective form this consists of a recording being made of someone reading the narrative or poem. The recording might be made by the author, which gives a satisfying degree of authenticity to the project, but, sadly, not all writers are good readers.  Sometimes, therefore, the voice will be that of an actor. Either way, this is a chance to hear a native speaker reading aloud a text that the students have studied.

Complete poetry resuscitation

A lot of teachers get the same look - the sigh, the rolling eye, the slump. "We're going to be doing poetry in the next few classes". You cringe through it, they cringe through it.

Creating a class play - literature article

Creating a class play

In this article a teacher reflects on his experiences of creating plays and using them to help motivate students to develop their English.

Film and video

Let us be sure about what we are talking about here. This is not an article examining films that have been made from books or their less common cousins, books made from films. That is another story – as it were – altogether. It is more about the relationship between, say, poetry and film – a relationship which is reciprocal.

Get lit up: literature as a teacher's best friend

Literature. Quite a divisive word, that. Throw it through an open window into a room full of language teachers and most will dive behind furniture, fingers in their ears and looks of horror on their faces.

Hyperfiction

Hyperfiction (or hypertext) has been described as an alternative to ‘the authoritarian linearity of conventional book-contained text.’ In reality a number of choices are given to the reader (sometimes referred to in the more iconoclastic descriptions as the ‘co-conspirator'). These choices are made at key – or other – moments in the on-line text where a click will take the reader to an alternative narrative or ‘textual space’ (including sound, animation, 3Dmodelling graphics and the like).

Learning English through children's literature - literature article

Learning English through children's literature

This article is about the British Council's Young Learners Centre in Paris and how they use children's literature in their teaching of English

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