The Role of Literature in English Language Teaching

It is clear that literature is generally thought to be the crucial oral and written production in a particular language and culture. In many respects, using literary texts in the English language classroom has positive implications on learners as literature enriches their competence in English. In other words, language learning is done through studying of literature. However, another approach is the study about literature which involves literary orientation rather than linguistic orientation.
The trend of teaching literature became apparent in the late 1980s when teaching English literature became prestigious with the influence of the national curriculum and the school examination boards in Africa, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore and Zimbabwe. Clearly, the advent of communicative language teaching brought the use of authentic materials for the purpose of providing real-life contexts of practice for learners. Additionally, the works on discourse and stylistics in linguistics point out the importance of reading literature.
The process of reading literature is an enjoyable activity which arouses emotions, dreams, aspirations and communicative needs. It is notable that reading is not a passive activity as learners are constantly building up their knowledge and seeking ways to comprehend the text. So the central idea behind literature is seeing it as a means of empowering opportunity for developing the literary and language competence. In this regard, teaching of literature in the language classroom promotes discovery-learning as learners take a critical stance towards interpreting the meanings which makes them see literature as a personal experience and take responsibility of their learning.

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