Why not Literature?: An Investigation into University Teachers’ Perspectives of Teaching English Through Literature in the EFL Classroom


Though literature has been viewed as one of the best authentic materials in foreign language instruction since the late 1980s, and its linguistic, cultural, cognitive and aesthetic benefits have been confirmed and supported by a growing amount of research, it still plays a marginal role in many EFL/ESL textbooks, classrooms, and curricula, and is seldom included in TESOL/TEFL courses and programs. In Taiwan, for example, literature has been reserved only for the advanced literary courses for English majors and kept off the majority of university English courses for non-English majors. To explore the reasons, concerns, and problems that might hinder a university English teacher from using literature in the language classroom, the current study investigated these teachers’ perceptions and experience of teaching English through literature by means of a questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews. The major findings show that language teachers’ lack of confidence in handling literary texts as well as their perceptions of non-English-major students’ needs for a more functional, practical kind of English led to their reluctance to use literature while literature teachers’ feeling of uncertainty about how to turn a piece of literature into a good language lesson made them choose to rely heavily on ELT textbooks, most of which have very few literary texts, when they teach English to non-English majors; 2) literature teachers were more enthusiastic about learning how to use literature in ELT than language teachers. It is hoped that these findings will provide valuable insights into teacher development and training in this area.

Author Information
Wan-lun Lee, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2016
Stream: Language education

This paper is part of the ECLL2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon