Literature in the EFL Classroom
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You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, as long as somebody loves you.
The Witches, Roald Dahl
If you are a bookworm or have spent any time in an English classroom, you’ll recognize these quotes. These are the words of some of our most loved authors, written in books which can be read time and time again. Literature can be a magical thing, a doorway into new worlds, an endless source of entertainment.
Considering reading is something many people do in their spare time, it makes sense to bring this pastime into the EFL classroom.
While it is perfectly okay to read a translation of an English classic in your own language, there is something special about reading a book in its original language. And this is why we love the idea of incorporating literature into our English as a Foreign Language classrooms.
Why should we use literature in the EFL classroom?
- Books are authentic texts. We like to use authentic texts in the classroom because they expose learners to natural, authentic language. Often the reading and listening texts in coursebooks are graded and even written for a specific purpose. Authentic texts, on the other hand, are not aimed at language learners so they can provide our students with a genuine English experience.
- Literary texts are creative texts. Writers use language that we might not encounter in everyday spoken language. Using literature in this way provides an opportunity for our learners to discover more unusual language.
- Literary texts are easy to exploit. Texts in coursebooks are often tricky to extract meaning from beside the aim of the text. Novels, on the other hand, are full of possibilities.
- Literature is cultural. Even if there is no overtly obvious reference to culture in a book, the setting and characterization itself will unconsciously communicate the culture of the writer or the characters. This is an enjoyable way for our learners to become familiar with culture and customs.
- Reading is enjoyable. Most of us enjoy reading in our home language, so it is safe to assume that the majority of our learners enjoy reading too. If we can introduce them to English literature so that they will read a book in English purely for enjoyment, their English will improve dramatically.
How can we use literature in the EFL classroom?
To introduce literature in the EFL classroom, we usually make use of graded readers.
Graded readers are books that have been rewritten especially for language learners. While the storyline essentially remains the same, the book is rewritten according to a language syllabus based on the different CEFR levels. In other words, only words that are known to learners of a particular level are used in a reader of that level. Often there are audio versions available too, and there is extra language support provided with glossaries and pictures.
There is a range of genres available in graded readers – from the classics to popular contemporary stories. Consequently, it’s possible to find a graded reader for your learners no matter their level or interests. You can even find one which you will enjoy reading too!
Read more: Tips for Using Graded Readers
Of course, it’s very important that you choose your texts wisely. Consider your students and their interests to make sure the texts you choose are appropriate and relevant.
Our top literary picks for the EFL classroom
When we use literature in the EFL classroom, this can include but is most certainly not limited to the classics. There are so many amazing contemporary novels and short stories that it is almost overwhelming to think about where to start.
Read more: Bringing Literature into the EFL Classroom
So here is a handy list of our favourite literary masterpieces that have been proven to be popular in the EFL classroom:
- The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
- Love, Actually – Richard Curtis
- 1984 – George Orwell
- Billy Elliot – Melvyn Burgess
- Tales from the Arabian Nights – Hans Christian Anderson
Of course, if you’re interested in something a little different, you can step away from the adaptations of popular novels and choose a graded reader that has been written especially for English language learners.
Graded readers are published by a number of publishing houses. Check out these websites to see what graded readers they have on offer:
Activities for using literature in the EFL classroom
When it comes to using literature in the EFL classroom, it pays to think out of the box. When we think of reading literature in the classroom, we often imagine our students quietly reading for a lesson – but that is not the best use of time in our classrooms. Let the students read in their own time and exploit the texts during your lesson.
Here are a few ways you can work on the text during your lessons, besides reading.
One option is for students to read different stories.
- Each week the students can share their thoughts on their story so that other students can decide if they want to read it or not.
More commonly, the whole class reads the same story so that they can do the same activities during the lesson. Here are a few ideas:
- Before reading, students can predict the content of the story from any pictures used in the book.
- Students can predict the story from the chapter titles.
- Once they have finished the book, they can compare it to a film adaptation.
- Students can role-play an interview with one of the characters in the book.
- Students can draw a comic strip to retell the story.
- Students can do research on the author and the background to the writing of the book or the setting of the novel.
- Students can write a book review of the book.
Using literature in the classroom can be enjoyable for all students, even those who are not avid readers. The key is choosing an appropriate text, but with so many options available you are sure to find a great book to suit any learners you may have. Happy reading!
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LAST UPDATED: 6th June 2022
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You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.