Sunday, February 21, 2010

Literature, Language Teaching and Hype

I was reading a paper today - very similar to another conference paper I sat through about a year ago - which makes a wide range of claims about asking language learners to study "Literature" (the big L is intentional).

For instance, the paper quoted research that claims there is value in discussing the unusual use of language typical of much of the greatest literature because it stands in contrast to the typical patterns of non-Literature. This seems to me to be an irresponsible empirically-unverified assertion that could easily lead to wasting the time of a large number of language learners. It may be true that part of the value of Literature is its contrast to typical linguistic patterns, but this can only be understood if one is in the position of comparing Literature to the typical patterns. Clearly, a major aim of second language learning is to guide students to the typical patterns of a language. Without the typical patterns in place, how can one "appreciate" the use of atypical patterns?

Only after intensive and extensive reading has helped students reach an advanced level will a study of literature - for those that have an interest - benefit some students.

No comments:

Post a Comment