Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Using Literature with English Language Learners

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The joy of literature helps language learners appreciate the culture attached to any language. Thus, I agree with the premise of the argument made in the article, Using Literature with English Language Learners (ELL) in ESL TEFL TESOL Teaching.

As a certified translator, I know language is culture. The two are inseparable.

In the case of English Language Learners (ELLs), both British and American literature offer great works to provide students a deeper appreciation and understanding of English. One caveat however - the text needs to be level-appropriate to avoid frustration.

Literature is sometimes even difficult for native speakers to comprehend let alone an ELL.

For example, I have used Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird with intermediate level students. The rich culture of the pre-Civil Rights US South in the 1950s and expressions prove challenges.  I am a firm believer in pushing students to excel and keep reaching higher for goals.

Given reading is the best way to learn vocabulary, literature is perfect for this purpose. Also, I encourage reading to study the structure of the language to improve writing. Emulation is a powerful tool to learn how to write in a second language.

Lovers of American literature may want to consult this Top 10 list for some suggestions.

Happy Reading and happy learning English!
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egtrigg said...

I happened upon your post while searching for information for an assignment. Very timely, as I am attempting to convince a professor that a short story by Zora Neale Hurston has a place for adult ELLs. What might your opinion be on a literary piece that includes slang, patois, etc.?

Ace Translator said...

Literature encompasses culture which is important in learning any language.

The student just needs to understand the difference between literary writing and what actually is correct English in the daily course of events.