Sunday, March 28, 2010

Using Literature in the ESL Classroom

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If, as C.S. Lewis once said, literature "irrigates the desert that our lives have already begun,"  then literature has a central role to add spice to your ESL lesson plans.

If you are searching for authentic texts to enliven your discussions with upper level students or to debate topics germane to our daily lives, literature in English (bias toward American) is an excellent way.

The inspiration for this post came after wanting to learn how I could incorporate literature fearing it would be too dense or above the level of non-native speakers. Rubbish!

"Literature in the ESL Classroom" by Sandra Mckay offers great suggestions like focusing on language use and aesthetic reading - where the reader relates his or her real world experiences to the text.

The big key? Selection of an adequate text.

I have chosen Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter" to compile an extract for my classes. Of course we do not have time to read the entire "short" story. I remember Beatrice, Giovanni, and Drs. Rappaccini and Baglioni from my own English class in high school.

How have you used literature in your classes? Did the students like your selections? I will update you when I use mine in the classroom.
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