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  • Teaching English Literature New Strategies Amir Ali Nojoumian, PhD Assistant Professor in English Literature Shahid Beheshti University
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  • My Aim Broad Topic! Stress on Practical Aspects Sharing My Experiences Open up discussions on the subject (No Definite Answers)
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  • Teaching: The Basics Can teaching be taught? Can Literature (or any art forms) be taught? (No! If we are thinking to train literary figures) What do we teach when teaching literature? Critical Thinking Creative Writing Science of Reading (literary approaches and methods of reading) Sharpening Senses Literary Theory?
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  • Teaching English Literature in Iran: A Brief Survey The Basic Problem!! Students No Prior Knowledge False Presumptions of Undergraduate Candidates Class Size Lecture Seminar Tutorial Teacher-Centred Education! Library Resources English Language and Literature Undergraduate Curriculum Scarcity of Teaching Staff
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  • Language through Literature: The Role of Literature in EFL/ESL Classes
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  • Cons Not Enough Expertise in Literature (Language Teachers) Lack of Interest of Language Students Lack of Proficiency of Language Students Inefficiency of Literature to develop Listening/Speaking Skills Archaic Vocabulary (Inappropriate) The Problem of Simplified Texts Conflicts with the moral and cultural ethos of the students Knowledge of literature hardly useful later in their professions
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  • Pros Developing Reading/Writing Skills Giving incentive to discuss issues Speaking and Listening Skills (e.g. Drama as a spoken text) Cultural Orientation Literature as Authentic Material for Language Classes Lexical and Syntax Enrichment Providing a Specific Goal Language at its Best
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  • Criteria for the Selection of Literary Texts (Brumfit, 1986, 188-190) 1.Linguistic Level (lexical and syntactic terms) 2.Cultural Level (close to the learners cultural and social expectations) 3.Length 4.Pedagogical Role (literature-literature or literature-life connections) 5.Genre Representation (coverage of all genres) 6.Classic Status (face validity) (the desire to read the classics)
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  • Teaching English Literature: Towards a progressive approach 1.Syllabus and lesson plans (student contributions)
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  • 2.Electronics: Computers, and the Internet The Web as the environment of interaction and following up the class discussions (Virtual Community) (More innovative in responses) Designing Web Pages (Collaborative Activities) Hypertext: Literature Teachers Paradise! EBooks and Text Sharing Role of the Teacher: Background More Control for Students Parallel Learning (Porter 1999): 1.The Library Parallel (Ebooks, EJournals, Rare boks) 2.The Seminar Parallel (Email Discussions, Conference Systems) 3.The Lecture Parallel (Teachers guided paths: Digital resources) 4.The Coursebook Parallel (inclusion of other media: film, works of art, multimedia learning materials) 5.The Student-led Seminar Parallel (Digital Presentations) (Not relying solely on oral presentation)
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  • 3.Class structure 4.Course Materials Two Preliminary Factors in Learning Motivation Self-Confidence What to start with? Term Projects Interdisciplinary Method Students Critical Thinking Creative and Artistic Aspect of Literature
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  • The Impact of Contemporary Criticism on Teaching Practices Reader-Oriented Approaches & Student-Centred Classes Rosenblatt (1985): to see the reading act as an event involving a particular individual and a particular text, happening at a particular time, under particular circumstances, in a particular social and cultural setting, as part of the ongoing life of the individual and the group. Iser (1978): Literary texts initiate performances of meaning rather than actually formulating meanings themselves.
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  • Teaching Models
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  • Constructivist Model (Caine and Caine 1991) Variety of Learning Strategies Meaning is personal and unique Unique experiences Isolated ideas connected with global concepts and patterns Learning influenced by emotions, feelings and attitudes Learning influenced by environment, culture, and climate Experiential learning Classroom climate as challenging but not threatening Multifaceted teaching to allow students to express preferences
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  • Transactional Model (Probst 1988) Reciprocal and Mutually Defining relationships (reader and text) Literature as not an autonomous text The poem is within the reader, created in the act of reading, rather than in the text. Any literary work is thus changeable, variable, different for each reader, and differing even for a single reader from one reading to the other. Readers individuality: Students are encouraged to respect and examine their responses emotions, associations, memories, images, ideas. Reading in the light of other texts (inter-textuality) Rosenblatt: Aesthetic Stance (reading as a lived through experience) vs. Efferent Stance (information is deduced from the text)
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  • Transactional Model (Probst 1988) Teachers cannot impose any final conclusion on students Classroom atmosphere: cooperative Literature: leads to sharpened understanding of ourselves and our society (The conception of literary knowledge is expanded) Inviting responses Finding points of contact among students Opening up the discussion to the topics of self, text and others Letting the discussion build (feel free to change minds, seeking insights) Encouraging students to reflect upon their responses Connecting the reading with other experiences Literary knowledge is not something to be found, not something the teacher can give to the student.
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  • Cognitive and Metacognitive Strategies in Learning (Sinclair in Carter 1996) Cognitive Strategies: Those which involve actually manipulating the subject matter (e.g. in a language task: guessing the meaning of a new word by using clues from the context, practising spelling by writing down difficult words ten times each, etc) Metagognitive Strategies: Those which involve thinking about learning, planning, evaluating and monitoring. Systematic learner training consists of activities and procedures which combine metacognitive with cognitive strategy training. Students without metacognitive approaches are essentially learners without direction and the ability to review their progress, accomplishments and future directions. Training learners in metacognitive strategies only is of limited use as it denies them the opportunity for active experimentation with their learning.
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  • Theories of Teaching Literature (Showalter 2003) 1.Subject-centred theories (banking model) (knowledge reservoir) (transmission) 2.Teacher-centred theories (teaching as performance) (identity and integrity of the teacher) (charisma) 3.Student-centred theories (active learning) (two-way transaction) 4.Eclectic theories (pragmatic)
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  • My Final Teaching Model? I do not subscribe to a unified and rigid model. Integrated Eclectic Model Good teaching demands that questions remain open (Myers 1994). Each teaching session is a new experience and a different process. It is not authoritarian. It is pluralistic. Teaching Literature means teaching how to think critically and individually. (e.g. Childrens Literature: ideas, values and ethical questions)
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  • Teaching Literary Genres Teaching Poetry: Activities Teaching Drama: Activities Teaching Fiction: Activities
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  • Teaching Poetry: Activities Warm-Up Group Work Audio-Visual Aids Computer and Internet as Aids Poetry and Other Art Forms Producing a short Anthology of Poetry Recitation of Poems Gap-Filling Exercise Dramatisation of Poems Poetry Club Learning by Heart My Favourite Poem! Poem in Pieces Analysis Poetry Notebook
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  • Teaching Drama: Activities Visiting Local Theatres Watching a Performance on Video Tape Listening to a Performance Excerpt Performances Role Play: Reading a Scene Reconstructing the script (students writing their own lines) Theatre Performances at the University Visual Representation of Characters Visual Representation of the Stage
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  • Teaching Fiction: Activities Visual Representation of the setting Turning a Chapter into a Play Research into the Political-historical or philosophical context of the Novel Watching Film Adaptations Character Study Summary Activity Predicting the Future Advertise a Novel Keeping a Journal of the Reading Experience Mental Snapshots Postcard
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  • Final Word The Paradox of EVALUATION!! Conventional Written Exam: 1.Frustrates innovative voices 2.Puts an end to open questions 3.Constant Menace Remedies: 1.Open Book Exam 2.Class Participation 3.Term Projects 4.Evaluating Activities 5.Essay Assignments 6.Class Presentations
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  • References Benton, Michael and Geoff Fox (1985) Teaching Literature: Nine to Fourteen. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Brumfit, Chrsitopher (1985) Language and Literature Teaching: From Practice to Principle. Oxford: Pergamon Institute of English. Brumfit, Christopher and Ronald Carter (1986) Liter