781117065006001 hbel3403 teaching of literature

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Teaching of Literature






1. IntroductionLiterature is defined as pieces of writing that are valued as works of art, especially novels, plays, and poems (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, 2005). For literature in English, William Shakespeare is one of the famous writers who had produced massive masterpieces. He had been widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's most excellent dramatist (Greenblatt, 2005). Literature is also known as the window of the world as it offers the learners or readers the gist of ones culture, history, and traditions (Carter & Long, 1991)Literature in English has been implemented in the Malaysian education system to improve students proficiency in the English Language through the study of a set arranged literary text, as well as contributing to personal development and character building (Ministry of Education, 2000The claim "the study of literature is fundamentally a study of language in operation" (Widdowson: 1971) is based on the understanding that literature is an example of language in use, and is a context for language use. Thus, studying the language of literary texts as language in process is seen as enhancing the learner's appreciation of aspects of the different systems of language organisation (OSullivan, 1991). By the end of the secondary school English Language program, students ought to achieve the objectives set for them.

2. Literature in the Current CurriculumThe current curriculum includes literature in English and Malay as elective subjects and as components of the English and Malay language subjects. Literature is also offered as an elective subject at the SPM and STPM levels. The English Language syllabus has introduced Childrens Contemporary Literature in Year 4, 5 and 6 in order to provide an early beginning and a foundation in literature. Pupils will develop an understanding of other societies, cultures, values and traditions that will help them in their emotional and spiritual growth. The implementation of KSSR has put more emphasis in children literature. The standards for Language Arts in Year 1 and Year 2 will explore the power of story, rhyme and song to activate pupils imagination and interest, thus encouraging them to use English language widely. The standards for Language Arts in Year 1, Year 2and Year 3 for SJK will also explore the power of story, rhyme and song to activate pupils imagination and interest, thus encouraging them to use English language widely. In addition, the Language Arts module also provides pupils an opportunity to integrate experiment and apply what they have learnt in the other modules in fun-filled, activity-based and meaningful experiences. The value of incorporating literature in English in the Malaysian Curriculum also includes the development and enhancement of the basic language skills that are used in a literature in ESL Context. One of the most important skills that can be developed in the study of literature is reading. The process of reading literature requires that a student engage with literary texts based on their past experiences, knowledge and worldview. Reading literature is crucially linked to the critical and creative thinking skills (CCTS), an important set of skills that is the focus of the teaching and learning objectives outlined in the Malaysian Secondary Schools Syllabus. The development of CCTS skills in students can be facilitated by the practice of making interpretations in their reading of literary texts which are open to various readings. Students would also be able to acquire the skill of expressing their understanding and views of issues and themes portrayed in literary texts from the dynamic reading, thinking and interpreting process. With exposure to texts of various genres and cultural contexts, students would also learn about intercultural engagement from literary texts that portray cultural and ideological differences.

3. Literature Teaching in Malaysia In 1979, the School Division, MOE initiated the introduction of the English Language Reading Programme (ELRP). It was devised to encourage good reading habits amongst school children to improve their English proficiency. Graded readers were selected by the Curriculum Development Centre and provided to schools. However, according to Abu Samah (2008) due to a shortage of staff and other administrative constraints, the programme suffered from a lack of monitoring and training with the result that the books were not properly utilised. After these problems and the KBSR (Kurikulum Baru Sekolah Rendah) and KBSM (Kurikulm Baru Sekolah Menengah) curriculum reform, the Class Reader Project (CRP) was introduced in 1990. A compilation of abridged literary texts were selected by a special committee at the MOE, which stipulated that one of the five weekly English periods should be devoted to the CRP. Despite the improved plan, the success of this programme was very limited as it was not an examined component of the curriculum. As a result, the MOE made the bold decision to absorb the literature component directly into the mainstream English language syllabus. The literature-in-English component was introduced in March (2000) at Form One and Form Four levels in every secondary school in Malaysia (Ministry of Education, 2004:3). Developed in line with the Malaysian philosophy of Education to produce holistically developed individuals, the ministry hoped that through the literature component, students would be able to get a firm groundingin the appreciation of literature in English with its concern of humanity, values, beliefs, and customs as well as its great tradition and heights of imagination and creativity. (Ministry of Education, 2004:5) Additionally, Hajjah Noor Baba, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Education in Malaysia, in her Keynote address at the Malaysia English Language Teaching Association (MELTA) 2005 stated that the ministry had made provision for the study of English literature as a stand-alone subject, not integrated into the English Language syllabus. She further affirmed that English Literature too had evolved and new directions in the approach to English Literature had been designed, as she further describes: .....especially in the shift from classics to contemporary works by both native and non-native writers from all over the world thus resulting in a change of labelling from English Literature to literature in English. Another significant change is the inclusion of more genres at the SPM level, where instruction is not restricted to the study of novels and plays alone, a practice which was prevalent before the late 1990s. Students of literature today are exposed to short stories, poems, novels, and plays. (Baba,2005:90-96). However, the aim to make English literature a stand-alone subject at secondary level has not materialised as it is still a component of the English Language curriculum from Form 1 to Form 5. Baba (2005) highlights some critical issues concerning, for instance, the teaching and learning of literature in Malaysia which displays a mismatch between study demands and teacher supply. She further explains that teachers who are qualified to teach literature are sent to places where literature is not in high demand or schools where literature is a popular subject but short of qualified staff. Another concern, Baba added, is teacher competence. Although the intake for language teachers is high, this does not necessarily mean that they are all capable of teaching English literature. Baba sums up; trainee teachers now are the 16 product of the fully implemented Malay or Bahasa Melayu curriculum. The criterion for what is to be taught is an ongoing issue, and how literature should be taught is another, which brings the issue of materials or text selection. The question is what should be the basis of the text selection and the genre of texts? Are texts written by native speakers superior to those written by non-native speakers and they are culturally suitable for Malaysian learners? These are some of the issues that are surrounding the literature teaching realm in the Malaysian setting.

4. The Benefits of Teaching Literature in the ClassroomApart from that, teachers should have discovered the benefit of teaching literature in ESL classroom. According to Dr. Ganakumaran Subramaniam, a president of Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (MELTA), literature is introduced into syllabus for plentiful purposes. Literature is hoped to be able to (1) provide rich and diverse exposure to language, (2) improve vocabulary, syntax, and structure, (3) develop perception and interpretation skills,(4) develop comprehension and motivation. As stated in the Curriculum Specification (also known as Huraian Sukatan Pelajaran Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah), the study of literary texts is meant to inculcate values and broaden learners outlook. All the objectives mentioned can be related to literature component that existing English Syllabus.There are three core areas that literature can help a language learner. The first aspect is literature assist learners language development. According to Fook and Sidhu, (2010), a literature-enriched curriculum not only helps learners improve their reading and writing skills but more importantly helps them internalize grammar and vocabulary. Sidhu(2003) and Savvidou (2004) add that the study of literature unconsciously enhances students overall linguistic competence including their knowledge of syntax, morphology, semantics and phonetics. Himanolu (2005) stated that, literature provides learners with a wide range of individual lexical or syntactic items.


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