Teaching english literature to english as a second language learners

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This thesis reports on a critical action research project aimed at improving teaching and learning in undergraduate English literature courses in the EFL context of Thailand. It addresses the need to adapt the tenets of communicative language teaching to local contexts. The project explores the application of reader-response theory to the teaching of literature with a view to realising its potential to increase the quantity and quality of student talk in the EFL classroom. The underlying assumption was that the reader-response approach, using techniques such as literature circles, would expand the scope of communicative language teaching into literature-based classrooms and also offer the potential to develop the learner independence beyond the classroom. In close collaboration with lecturers, an intervention was designed to introduce literature circles to undergraduate English major classes in two regional universities in Thailand. For this project, data, which included students’ questionnaires, diaries and writing assignment, teachers’ interviews, transcription of lessons, and classroom observation, were collected over one semester. The data analysis applied tools drawn from Systemic-Functional Linguistics (SFL), discourse analysis and thematic analysis. The overall results pointed to enhanced quantity and quality in student L2 production as well as positive responses among participating students and teachers towards the approach. This project provides an example of a teaching and learning model that will enhance target language use within the classroom and develop the independence of learners beyond the classroom. The findings make clear that this literature circle model offers clear opportunities to maximise the unrealised potential of literature classes in Thailand. The research highlights the benefits that accrue from this approach such as building language knowledge and skills, and the provision of the more appropriate levels of cognitive challenge for undergraduate students in language courses.
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