E-Journal

THE TEACHING OF ESL/EFL LITERATURE AT THE UNDERGRADUATE LEVEL: QUO VADIS

Dr. P. N. Ramani

Quality Assurance Department, Ministry of Manpower, Oman (ramanipn@yahoo.co.in)

&

Dr. Abdu Moh'd Al-Mekhlafi
College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman (rayan3@gmail.com)

 

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of past practices and current status with regard to the teaching of English literature at the undergraduate level, especially to Literature major students. It is argued that there has been very little change in the ways in which English literature has been presented to ESL/EFL students and their learning assessed. Teachers have been largely using the transmission mode to provide a biographical account of the writer and explicate the texts, even dictating notes to students. As such, students have not been involved in the process of grappling with the texts on their own. The paper establishes the urgent need for re-examining the situation and suggests future directions for the whole exercise to become relevant and meaningful to students as well as teachers.

 

Introduction

With regard to language teaching, “there have been too many drastic shifts of paradigm in the past” (Widdowson 1983: 34).  The ‘developments’ in the field of teaching English literature over the past fifty years or so, however, have been few and sporadic. On the one hand, the place of literature in a language curriculum has been debated over and over again, and literature is now accorded a place, albeit grudgingly, in an ESL/EFL classroom. It is now recognized that literature can be used as one of the authentic resources in the language classroom along with non-literary resources like newspapers, magazines, brochures, and so on. Another positive development has been the large number of publications that provide useful classroom techniques for using literature in the ESL/EFL classroom.

 

Despite these sporadic efforts, however, the teaching of English literature at the undergraduate level as the Literature Major has remained essentially the same throughout this long period – teacher-centred and teacher-directed, the literary texts being presented to students through lectures, summaries and paraphrases, with little or no involvement of students in understanding and appreciating those texts on their own.

 

The aim of this paper is to examine the current practices relating to the teaching of English literature at the undergraduate level and suggest the directions the field should take in future if it were to be meaningful and relevant to students and not continue to be a wasted effort, as it has been till now.

 

Past Practices and Current Status

The teaching of English literature to students majoring in English had seen very little change over the past several decades. In many classrooms, the teaching of literature has remained unchanged with emphasis on teacher-centred and text-directed approaches and methods (e.g., lectures; period and genre surveys; biographical summaries; teacher’s explication and ‘critical analyses’ of canonical texts; stereotyped exam questions requiring stereotyped answers).  Literary texts continue to be taught as finished products, to be unilaterally decoded, analyzed, and explained (Kramsch p. 356; cited in Harper 1988). 

 

Such an approach tends to minimize learner involvement, engagement and participation, and undermines the value of learners’ responses to literature as readers in their own right, resulting in frustration and a lack of interest and motivation on the part of learners.  Most of our undergraduate students also have limited linguistic and critical-analytical skills for responding to literary texts as works of art and for articulating their experiences of reading such texts when asked to do so.  For them, the course in English literature may become a “painful lesson in deciphering” (Santoni p. 434; cited in Harper 1988).

 

While reading literature, “students are expected, as if by osmosis, to acquire a kind of competence in reading literature” (Lazar, 1993).  It may, therefore, be safely asserted that “we unfairly blame our students for difficulties that essentially stem from our own methodological weaknesses and unrealistic expectations” (Scher p. 56; cited in Harper 1988).

 

The situation has also been complicated by confusion over the objective of literature teaching, whether it is increasing the language proficiency of the learners, or transmitting the cultural and social values embodied in them, or developing in the learners an adequate capacity for responding personally to literary texts, and interpreting and appreciating them appropriately. 

 

Teachers and educational policy makers have not made sincere attempts to clarify to themselves what exactly they are seeking to develop in learners except by making vague statements, such as ‘sensitizing students to great literature and developing their literary competence’.  This is the central problem with literature teaching at the undergraduate level; that is, to specify the particular function of literature in the educational system in terms of specific objectives and, consequently, to spell out in no vague terms what is meant by the notion of ‘literary competence’ (Ramani 1986).  Besides, students’ attitudes and goals in terms of linguistic and literary competence are not given importance in curriculum design (Akyel and Yalcin 1990). 

 

The literature syllabus has been hitherto spelt out only in terms of texts and historical periods; the methodology has been confined almost to lectures; and the evaluation of literary learning has only been emphasizing rote memory and reproduction of borrowed critical opinions.  In other words, there has been very little reading and study of literature with clearly spelt out objectives and methodology. 

 

The teachers of English at the undergraduate level and above have maintained that applied linguistics cannot make inroads upon literature teaching as such studies are essentially subversive and felt to be a threat to the aesthetic and humanistic dimension of literature.  These teachers would maintain that application of linguistic principles or language teaching insights would only amount to ‘murdering to dissect’ aesthetic artifacts and hence the whole exercise would be demotivating to students.  This is not a valid assumption, as it only tends to mystify literature and thus make it inaccessible to a majority of students. 

 

A review of published work on teaching literature brings into focus the following major issues identified by researchers, for example Paran (2000):

1.      The role of literature within the mainstream of EFL is still not firmly established despite a fairly steady stream of theoretical publications and teaching materials; For a majority of ESL/EFL teachers, literature is still not considered to be an essential element of ESL/EFL students’ overall learning experience.

 

2.      ESL/EFL teaching and the part which literature has to play within it have not been seen as part of the whole educational endeavour, but apart from it.  For many years, there has been a tension between an instrumental view of literature (i.e., beneficial to language learning) and a humanistic view of the role of literature in the target language within the larger educational system.

 

3.      The methodology to be used and its role have not been outlined clearly. Ways of exploiting a few selected poems, short stories, or novels have been suggested, but principled ways of matching appropriate methodologies to types of text have still not been proposed.

 

The current situation regarding the English Literature Major programme has been summarized by Mekala (2009). Learners’ needs and interests are neither documented nor considered at the time of preparation of English literature syllabuses. The students, a vast majority of whom have low proficiency in English, are exposed to challenging and often unsuitable texts, which are beyond their understanding and linguistic competence.  The teacher, therefore, resorts to lecturing, explicating and translating the texts, and dictating notes. 

 

The current practices tend to promote content-based and memory-oriented study of literature. Classroom teaching usually consists of a long monologue by the teacher on a piece of literature, this monologue taking the form of the teacher primarily attempting to explain the meaning of the text preceded by a ‘brief’ introduction to the author and his works. The teacher may be much admired for his erudition or scholarship, but his lectures are little understood. As a result, students rely almost exclusively on guidebooks and resort to rote learning. The inevitable result of all of these is that the students hardly feel the necessity to have a direct encounter with the texts – they are passive listeners, and are not encouraged to react to what they read, or think critically, or do any original writing on the texts.

 

Moreover, the teaching and study of literature are largely exam oriented.  Examinations also seek to test students’ memory of reproducible content. The focus seems to be solely on passing examinations and acquiring a paper qualification. This has a negative wash back effect on teaching. 

 

It is interesting to note that, for nearly 25 years, the situation does not seem to have changed –stating clear objectives, principled selection of texts, appropriate methods and strategies of using those texts, and valid methods and tools for assessing students’ literary competence (Ramani 1986).

 

Future Directions

From the discussion above, it is clear that there has been very little change in how English literature has been taught at the undergraduate level as a major or specialist subject of study over half a century. If the status quo were to remain, the relevance and popularity of the English literature curriculum would decline further considerably and it might continue to exist in universities and colleges, but only in a vegetative state devoid of any life. Several steps have, therefore, to be taken immediately to make literature teaching more meaningful, relevant and purposeful to the learners as well as more satisfying to the teachers.

 

The ‘literature major’ curriculum should aim at developing in the learners an adequate capacity for responding personally to literary texts, and interpreting and appreciating them appropriately.  This “fundamental ability of a good reader of literature” is “the ability to generalize from the given text to either aspects of literary tradition or personal or social significances outside literature” (Brumfit, 1985:108). The process of reading is a process of meaning-creation by integrating one’s own needs, understanding and expectations with a written text (ibid:119).

 

One of the first steps is, therefore, to evolve a theoretical model of what is involved in responding to literary texts, i.e. literary competence.  Literary competence is taken to refer to a complex network of procedural capacities with which a reader interacts with a literary text on the basis of shared conventions.  It is the procedural capacity on the part of the reader to bring into convergence the textual patterning signaled by the writer through cues such as foregrounding and the schematic pattern in his own consciousness and thus establish coherence and meanings (Ramani 1986).  In effect, this model of literary competence should incorporate a dynamic view of discourse processing and should be relevant and useful to the reading and interpretation of literary texts.

 

This literary competence should be spelt out in terms of its constituent or component skills and sub-skills, similar to the attempts to spell out the dimensions of communicative competence in terms of language skills and sub-skills (Yalden 1983; CEFR 2001).  Taxonomy of measurable competencies, proficiency levels and indicators should be evolved. It is worth remembering that “in the area of literary education, the focus on competences and their assessment has to be put in the context of a broader conception of the purposes of education” (Pieper 2006:6).

 

Another future direction should be to develop clear statements and guidelines on teaching methodology.  It has been pointed out that the main orientation in literature study has been content-based and that too much energy is expended on rote learning and reproduction of isolated facts, thus rendering learning and study unnecessarily laborious.  There has to be a shift of emphasis away such from episodic knowledge to conceptual relational knowledge, i.e. from the memorization of facts towards the development of a powerful and flexible set of strategies for acquiring, organizing and applying knowledge irrespective of the specific content in a text. 

 

There is a need to examine what is really involved in the interpretation of literary discourse and consequently to explore appropriate strategies for developing the procedural competence to interpret literature.  Literary texts by their very nature allow for divergent responses and hence offer enormous scope for interactive strategies to be developed in the classroom provided suitable tasks are formulated to create the required communicative pressure. Teachers must adopt a variety of teaching methods instead of following the same route and “the students should be encouraged to play a dynamic and creative role in literary study” (Jia and Miao 2009:18).

 

There should be a corresponding effort towards specifying principles of selection and grading of literary texts on the syllabus, such as proceeding from the familiar to the less familiar. If literary texts are to be used successfully, they must be carefully selected and approached in a manner which promotes an aesthetic interaction between the reader and the text.  Obviously, the teacher has to make choices about what is to be read by students, what sort of assistance the students need before and while they are reading, and what type of follow-up exercises to give.  “If we are talking about helping students to read, we need to look at what we are talking about in the classroom from the teacher’s, not the academic’s point of view” (Gower 1986).

 

It is important to know students’ needs and attitudes towards studying literature in an ESL/EFL setting. Students have many fears and anxieties about studying literature, especially poetry.   Student attitudes, taken along with teacher goals and suitable texts well chosen, will make the course satisfying to students and teachers alike (Hirvela and Boyle 1988; Ramani and Al-Mekhlafi 2009).  The literature syllabus should be an accurate reflection of student needs and classroom activities should be primarily student-centred.  The essential factor is to create conditions in which students can develop genuine response to literary texts.

 

The use of literary works written in non-native varieties of English will make it easier for the teacher to enhance the students’ awareness of their own society, their sense of self identity, their communicative competence within their community, and their command of the standard language itself (Talib 1992).  The incorporation of multicultural literary texts in the curriculum will “introduce students to an exciting and challenging range of world literature, particularly, postcolonial literatures in English”, “help students develop a critical understanding of literary variations”, and “give students a substantial introduction to non-canonical texts and the relationship of culture, politics and history to the study of literature.” (Mohammadzadeh 2009:27).

 

Finally, the existing examination format should be thoroughly examined for its effectiveness in achieving the redefined objectives and modified to help assess learners’ literary competence.  Within the classroom, the teacher needs to devise activities that will assist in the process of developing the skill that might be measured finally in the literary essay. Literature examinations should return students to the text and its uses of language as the originating centre of their experiences (Carter and Long 1990).

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, it may be said the suggestions made here are tentative, but they should be attested through specific proposals and empirical work in varying contexts so that their validity and feasibility are established.

 

References

Akyel, Ayse and Yalcin, Eileen (1990). Literature in the EFL class: a study of goal-achievement incongruence. ELT Journal, 44/3:174-180.

 

Brumfit, C. J. (1985). Language and Literature Teaching: From Practice to Principle. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

 

Carter, Ronald and Long, Michael N. (1990). Testing literature in EFL classes: tradition and innovation.  ELT Journal, 44/3:215-221.

 

CEFR (2001). The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

Gower, Roger (1986). Can Stylistic analysis help the EFL learner to read literature? ELT Journal, 40/2:125-130.

 

Harper, Sandra M. (1988). Strategies for Teaching Literature at the Undergraduate Level, The Modern Language Journal, 72(4):402-408.

 

Hirvela, Alan and Boyle, Joseph (1988). Literature courses and student attitudes.  ELT Journal, 42/3:179-184.

 

Jia, Yu-ping and Miao, Yong-gang. (2009). New concept on teaching English literature to college English majors, Sino-US English Teaching, 6(5):15-18.

 

Lazar, Gillian (1993). Literature and Language Teaching: a Guide for Teachers and Trainers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

Mekala, S. (2009). Perspectives on Teaching English Literature to English Literature Major Students. Language in India, Vol. 9 (4 April 2009), pp. 312-322;

http://www.languageinindia.com

 

Mohammadzadeh, Behbood. (2009). Incorporating multicultural literature in English language teaching curriculum, Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1:23-27.

 

Paran, Amos (2000). Survey review: Recent books on the teaching of literature. ELT Journal, 54/1:75-88.

 

Pieper, Irene. (2006). The Teaching of Literature. Report presented at the Intergovernmental Conference on languages of Schooling: towards a Framework for Europe. Language Policy Division, Strasbourg, (October 2006).

 

Ramani, P. N. (1986). The Teaching of English Literature at the Undergraduate Level: Towards Developing a Model of Lierary Competence. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Madras.

 

Ramani, P. N. and Al-Mekhlafi, Abdo. (2009). An Investigation of the Student Teachers’ Attitudes towards Studying Literature as a Major Component of the EFL/ESL Programme. Alandalus for Social and Applied Sciences, 2(4): 7-16.

 

Talib, Ismail bin Said. (1992). Why not teach non-native English literature? ELT Journal, 46/1:51-55.

 

Widdowson, H.G. (1983). Talking Shop: H. G. Widdowson on literature and ELT. ELT Journal, 17/1:30-35.

 

Yalden, J. (1983). The Communicative Syllabus: Evolution, Design and Implementation. Oxford: Pergamon.

 

Note on the authors: 

Dr. Ramani, curriculum developer, teacher trainer and ELT administrator, is now Quality Assurance Specialist with the Ministry of Manpower, Oman.  With over 35 years of teaching experience at various levels, he has also initiated and helped implement curricular reform projects in ELT in India and the Middle East. He has authored several ELT course books and research papers, besides guiding research at the Master's and doctoral levels. He can be contacted at ramanipn@yahoo.co.in.

Dr. Abdu Mo'd Al-Mekhlafi is now Associate Professor of ELT at the College of Education in Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat. Since 1990, he has been teaching courses related to ELT at both the postgraduate and undergraduate levels as well as EFL/ESL language skills courses. He has been training and supervising practicum students and supervising MA dissertations. He has also published a number of papers and participated in a number of conferences and workshops.  He may be contacted at rayan3@gmail.com.

 

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Decolonizing English Teaching and Studies in India: Need to Review Classroom Practices and Teaching Material

 

Dr. Prashant Mishra

Professor and Head

Department of English

Government S.V. P.G. College

NEEMUCH(M.P.) 458 441

 

Dr.Susanta Kumar Bardhan

Associate Professor

Department of English

Suri Vidyasagar College

SURI( West Bengal) 

 

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

Decolonization implies the need of the emancipation of the colonized countries like India from the subservient psychology and mindset subjugated by the fabricated colonial ideologies imposed on them due to long term rule of the colonial powers. Even after independence these countries used the colonial content and methodology for teaching English language. Imposition of stereotyped and homogeneous methods and materials in a pluralistic country like India proved to be a hurdle in the way of learning English and have even been looked upon with fear by the student community. Hence the need to decolonize ELT in India by contextualizing teaching methods and materials with respect to Indian socio-cultural setting and class room situation has been strongly felt. The present paper emphasizes on the need to review ELT methods and materials in order to decolonize English studies and language teaching to improve communicative competence of the learners to meet the requirements of the age of globalization and information and communication technology.

 

Key-Words: Decolonization, contextualization, localization,  individualizing, ELT.

 

Introduction

 

Decolonization is a political process which the world experienced in the 20th century. From a historian’s perspective, decolonization was one of the most important political developments of the twentieth century because it turned the world into a stage of history. (Duara 2004: 1). In the countries outside Europe ‘the process of decolonization, which began towards the end of World War I, was accompanied by the appearance of national historical consciousness.’ (Duara 2004: 1). Decolonization movement, as it appears, is a global phenomenon and aims at emancipating the people of the colonial countries from the political, economic, social as well as mental bondage developed due to long colonial rule. Jawaharlal Nehru (1946) in his famous book The Discovery of India has propagated his idea about the changes necessary for the growth of the nation being free from all sorts of dependence on the foreign colonial forces. For this purpose he stresses the importance not only on the political freedom but also the creation of opportunities for economic, educational and cultural growth of all the sections of the nation/state.   

              

It is evident that decolonizing, in the context of education in general and English Language Teaching (ELT) in particular, refers to demythisizing and decentering the age old colonial stereotyped methods and materials which were general and universal in nature. It refers to contextualization of the teaching methodology and material development and their use according to the needs of the Indian students. It is an idea raised against the colonial mindset which ‘looks at the impact of the west as a civilizational development and considers it as a means of modernization’ (Gundur 2009: 36) and thereby aims at projecting a path towards the development of the postcolonial mindset and gives importance to the revival of native culture. 

 

Now the aim of English studies in India does not remain merely to develop aesthetic sense and the creative and critical faculty of the students. In this globalized world English (Crystal 2005) has no longer remained a colonial language but a language which various countries and people are using for communicative and commercial purposes. It is now no longer a colonial language of oppression meant to subjugate people but has become a medium of transporting of knowledge between countries and people rather than to fulfill colonial design of imparting particular colonial ideologies and colonial values through it. In the beginning of the 21st century we have realized that English studies and teaching particularly in India and other Asian countries is to be reoriented to suit the communicative needs of the globalized world to disseminate information through communication technology for scientific, commercial and other purposes. Hence using old methods and materials of teaching English language and literature particularly lecture method to explain and elucidate classical texts does not serve our purpose. Therefore need to review class room material and practices in order to decolonize English studies and teaching to improve communicative competence of the students has been very urgently felt.

 

Need for Contextualization of English Studies in India

 

In the present world, English studies do not merely mean the study of the texts written by British and American authors. Many writers from Africa and Asian countries enriched English Literature through their writings. Their works have become very popular in their countries due to their proximity with the cultural ethos of the native population. To decolonize English studies it has to be contextualized by using native regional as well as local cultural, occupational and experiential resources for generating content for teaching English language. In order to make English studies children friendly and pedagogically more viable; it has to be contextualized by relating it to material of the children’s mother tongue. Earlier common text books were adopted for all the children irrespective of the vast cultural and linguistic diversities prevalent in our country. This has made children to look at English literature and language as an alien imposition on them. Non-contextual text books also created a wide gap between the cultural content of the home language and English. In order to decolonize English studies, therefore, local, cultural, occupational and experiential knowledge can be exploited for class room teaching. Use of texts written by Indian English writers hailing from different Indian regions can be fruitfully used as a learner friendly material in English studies as it reflects Indian ethos and experience. Similarly English translations of rich folk literature popular among rural and tribal communities can be exploited judiciously to make the learning of English suitable to local context. Various community resources can also be used for pedagogical purposes.

 

 

 

 

Nativization and Localization of the Content used in English Studies and Language Teaching

 

To decolonize English studies in India the common curriculum and texts used for all the children irrespective of the cultural, linguistic, and regional and occupational diversities should be replaced by native texts dealing with the cultural values and experiential backgrounds of the students. The colonial content that is homogeneous and elitist in nature do not have any bearing with the local, regional and native ethos and experience of the students. It retards the learning process and sometimes even stops it. As students are not familiar and friendly with the alien textual material, it distances them from learning English. Content pertaining to the local, native, cultural, experiential and personal interest of the students is easily comprehensible, intelligible and readable. The alien references used in a text put impediments in the way of its comprehension and a teacher has to gloss a large number of references in order to assist the learners in understanding a text. This diverts a teacher’s attention from teaching and providing practice to the students in the use of language and engrosses most of his time in the explanation of a text. Even in a country like India where there is lot of diversity at the regional, ethnic, cultural and occupational levels, the common teaching material never remains relevant and effective for students in urban centers and in villages. The material chosen for teaching English in the cosmopolitan cities do not prove relevant and viable for semi-urban and rural areas where students hail from a totally different background and the colonial and the elitist material imposed on them create distaste and fear in their minds for learning English.

 

Innovative and Creative Use of Methods and Materials

 

Decolonizing English studies require innovative and creative use of teaching methods and materials to suit the needs of the native students. Decolonizing means rejection of the old imported stereotyped methods of teaching English which were used alike irrespective of the heterogeneity prevalent in the Indian class rooms. Stereotyped grand teaching methods were not able to produce good results due to their general applicability and not able to respond to typical local situations and problems. It requires empowering individuality of the teachers to take decisions about selection of the teaching material and adopt flexibility in their teaching methodology. A teacher should be provided full autonomy to select his teaching material according to the background, interests and needs of the students so that the selected material would not seem alien and hostile to the learners. Similarly a teacher should be flexible in his approach of teaching. Decolonizing ELT methodology implies flexibility in approach rather than rigidity of the old colonial methods. Flexibility refers to the change of methods according to the demands, standard and available resources for the learners. To decolonize English studies, the approach of a teacher should not be inclined towards imparting a particular ideology. In stead of content centered, the approach should be aimed at teaching language to the students in order to make them proficient in the use of language. A teacher, therefore, has to select his method of teaching according to the language standard of his students, the size of his class and the location of the school – in rural or urban regions. Task-based, situation-oriented, communication-centered and culture-sensitive methods and materials may be employed as per the demands of the teaching and learning purposes. Even content to be used for teaching can be selected and created by interacting with the students about their locale, occupations and cultural preferences, ‘individual and social constraints and resources’ (Van Lier 1996). This is supported by the following statement made by Deep (2009: 6):

 

-  Our (Indian) students come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. To meet this challenge, we need to revise our course-contents to incorporate our native cultural legacy. Or I should say, we need a socio-cultural view of teaching and learning. It will not only help to solve the problem of identity crisis to a certain extent, but it will also facilitate the process of learning ESL in a congenial environment.       

 

In addition to the prescribed syllabus based materials, teachers should try to judiciously use authentic materials such as newspaper, advertisements, local radio and programmes, invitation cards, local (non)government/notices, etc, keeping in mind his/her learner’s ability, social backgrounds. This attempt to incorporate thematically local and national contents for ESL teaching will develop learners’ interest and motivation in learning English. The effective use of all such selected materials will make learning of English amusing and lively which is so much necessary for its successful teaching.

 

Implications of Indian Writings in English for Decolonizing English Studies

 

Earlier English studies and language teaching depended solely on texts written by British writers. Many archaic, allusive and highly poetical texts were introduced in the curriculum. The thrust was on teaching of content and not on the learning of language. Writers like Shakespeare, Lamb, Shelley, T.S. Eliot etc. were taught at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. However, in spite of reading these great writers, students failed miserably in acquiring proficiency in the use of English. In order to decolonize English studies and to make it learner-friendly, the need is felt to introduce Indian writers writing in English whose works represent the native Indian experience and ethos. The Indian English writers not only produced many readable plays, poems, novels and stories but also contributed to the emergence and growth of Indian English. Their literary and linguistic contributions have provided native Indian colours to English language and writing. Therefore, need is felt to introduce Indian English writers rather than British so that students who read about their own culture, experience, problems, joys and sorrows will find themselves more homely and comfortable in the learning environment. The teacher’s precious time will also be saved from searching for alien historical, geographical, cultural, religious and other references and explaining them to the students who generally find them unpalatable due to their alien associations. It is believed that uses of Indian English texts will not only decolonize English studies and language teaching in India but will also make teaching and learning of English easier, faster and teacher and student friendly.

 

 

 

Use of Translations of Regional and Local Texts for Decolonizing English Studies

 

In order to decolonize English studies in India, it has become necessary to bridge the gap between the culture of English and home language. Generally a common curriculum is used for teaching English for all the children irrespective of the cultural, experiential and linguistic diversities. The common curriculum failed to relate the home and local experience of the students to the content used in teaching English in their class rooms. In India a lot of literature is produced in various regional and local languages every year representing the wide variety of rich cultural patterns spread in all over the country. Rich folk literature of the rural and tribal communities is available in books, magazines and newspapers. Sahitya Academi’s bi-monthly journal ‘Indian Literature’ regularly publishes translations of poems, plays and stories of various regional writers in English. Use of the English translations of the popular regional and local texts will extend the culture and experience of the students to the English class rooms and will create congenial learning environment. Use of cultural and experiential community resources will contribute to the production of learner friendly teaching material. Moreover, this attempt will inevitably honour the socio-cultural rights of individual learners and thereby will not only make English teaching-learning lively and attractive among its beneficiaries but also arouse awareness about their respective cultures among them and consequently motivate them to sustain their cultures and traditions.  

 

Humanizing and Individualizing English Studies and Language Learning

 

It can be claimed that decolonization in the broader perspective means deconstructing and discarding all the grand narratives fabricated in the name of nation, class, society and gender etc. Since grand narratives are general in nature, they have proved to be anti- individual. Therefore decolonizing English studies and teaching in India also implies individualizing and humanizing language learning. As learners differ in their backgrounds, interests, aptitude, intelligence and so many other factors, the same material and methods can not be applied alike on all the learners. Therefore humanizing and individualizing learning becomes very important. Language learning also requires individual participation of the learners in the learning process. Therefore, respecting autonomy of the learners become very important. Since a teacher is the agent who initiates, regulates and monitors the learning process of an individual, he should also be given freedom to choose material and methods according to the needs of the situation. Adopting activity based and child centered methodology by using tales, songs, plays, cartoons, pictures, clips of the interesting, readable and enjoyable material from the internet, a teacher can individualize the learning experience.

 

Conclusion

 

The movement in the name of decolonization as a whole is an attempt to come out of colonial rulers’ expectation relating to English teaching in India as evidenced in Macaulay’s (1834) statement. According to Macaulay, the purpose of English teaching in India was to

 

- - form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions that we govern; a class of persons Indian in blood and colour but English in taste, in opinion, in morals and in intellect.  

 

Our aim through decolonization of ELT is to cater to the needs of English education of all the sects of the society irrespective of their castes, creed, religions, etc., and to produce true Indians not only in blood and colour but also in spirit, morals, opinion and intellect. Techniques like role-play, self directed learning, language games, self-evaluation, pair work, group work, cooperative learning, etc., can be utilized keeping in conformity with the teaching materials already selected and available. Teacher being an Indian is expected not only to be learned and well conversant with pedagogy but also to be acquainted with the learners’ background and the local and national customs, culture, climate and natural settings. Thus, by capitalizing on the available native resources and using them innovatively and creatively, a teacher can create native teaching-learning situation and can reap better results by decolonizing and Indianizing   ESL teaching-learning.      

 .     

             

References

 

Crystal, D. 2005. Language Revolution. Cambridge: Polity Press.

 Deep, K. 2009. ‘Curriculum Designing for ELT: Current Trends and Challenges.’ The Journal of English Language Teaching (India) XLVII/6. PP. 3-8. 

Duara, P. ed. 2004. Decolonisation: Perspectives from Now and Then. London: Routledge.

  Gurdur, N. S. 2009. ‘They Own it Who Use it: The question of Whose English it is.’ The Journal of English Language Teaching (India) XLVII/3. PP. 35-39. 

Macaulay, T. 1834. ‘Minute on Education’. 

Nehru, J. 1946. The Discovery of India. New Delhi: OUP.

Van Lier, L. 1996. Interaction in Language Curriculum: Awareness, Autonomy and Authenticity. London: Longman.

 

 

INCORPORATING LITERATURE IN ESL TEACHING AND LEARNING

         Dr.A.Joycilin Shermila

        Associate Professor in English

   Annammal College of Education for Women

    Tuticorin – 628 003

                                           TamilNadu, India

         ajshermila@gmail.com

            Literature that was initially read and enjoyed by enthusiasts and elites has gradually paved its way to become a more dynamic resource in teaching English as a second language.  Literature in language classroom can enhance the critical thinking abilities of the learners.  It can also create a learner friendly environment.  Incorporating literature in language classroom can be lively and motivating and it can provide an interactive climate which can improve the communicative competence of the learners.  Literary texts are a rice source of classroom activities and they provide motivating atmosphere for learners.  Literature cultivates the critical abilities of the students.  It encompasses every human dilemma, conflict and yearning unraveling the plot of a short story or decoding the dialogue of a play and is more than a mechanical exercise.  According to Langer (1997:607) literature can open “horizons of possibility, allowing students to question, interpret, connect and explore”.  Literature in language class can make it vibrant and enthusiastic.

            Many educators and researchers in both L1 and L2 have recognized the various benefits that language learners can gain from the integration of literature.  Lazar (1993:15-19) provides five reasons for using literature in ELT –

i)        motivating materials

ii)       encouraging language acquisition

iii)     expanding students’ language awareness

iv)     developing students’ interpretative abilities

v)      educating the whole person

 

Collie and Slater (1987: 3-5) mention that literature offers valuable, authentic and relevant materials that provide cultural and language enrichment, as well as personal involvement for students.

            Literature is rooted in a language and language gets life thorough literature.  So Literature and language are closely interconnected.  According to Lazar (1993), "Literature should be used with students because it is motivating stimulus for language acquisition, students enjoy it, and it is a fun, it is found in many syllabuses and the like." Literature, a convenient source of content for a course in foreign language, provides motivating materials for language teaching. According to Carter and Long (1991), "Literature is a legitimate and valuable resource for language teaching."

In the 1980s, literature has made its presence into the language curriculum through the new evolution in Applied Linguistics and Literary Theory in the 1970s. In the area of Applied Linguistics, through experts in stylistics and discourse analysis, a new move has been identified that emphasizes on the need to use learning materials that can present emotionally engaging and intellectually stimulating experience for the language learners (Delanoy,1997).

Brumfit and Carter (1986) asserted that literary texts not only can grip the reader’s imagination more strongly but they can also be promoted for the examination of language at work. Littlewood (2005) also observed that although such texts were predominantly valuable for developing reading skills, it could be exploited for purposes such as explaining grammar teaching and indicating various types of language usage.

            Literature can be used to teach language through interesting activities such as brainstorming, role playing, word association, situational scenes and prediction.  Literature in language classroom will give opportunities for students to express their opinions about general subjects.  Literature is an important window letting one to have a view of the world and realizing the expression of culture by means of sharing individual or collective life experience.

As in any language learning, especially English, the four major skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening are very important aspect in which all learners of the language must grasp, before mastering the language. Literature therefore provides a platform where teachers are able to first provide learners pleasure by engaging their emotions (Hill, 1989:9). When using literature in the language classroom, skills should never be taught in isolation but in an integrated way. Teachers should try to teach basic language skills as an integral part of oral and written language use, as part of the means for creating both referential and interactional meaning, not merely as an aspect of the oral and written production of words, phrases and sentences.

English literature, in schools and colleges, includes selected works of English writers such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Shelley, Charles Dickens, and a host of many others. Reading the texts of these writers is considered an important part of English culture as well as literary development. It can be especially valuable in generating intellectual growth, aesthetic appreciation, and an understanding of how experiences of people in the past and present can be represented (Cox, 1991; West, 1994).  By strengthening the affective and emotional domains of students, literature develops a sense of involvement in them (Carter and Long, 1991; Collie and Slater, 1987; Lazar, 1993). Course-books do not provide for any emotional and reflective engagement with the target language.

Krashen (1993) mentions the difference between acquiring and learning language. While learning is consciously undertaken, acquiring is subconsciously done. Reading literature encourages learners to adopt the language subconsciously because it doesn’t focus on forms intentionally. In case of nursery rhymes and children literature, predictable and repetitive patterns allow children to feel and link the language to their own lives (Ghosn, 1997). As the authentic material, literature imparts the diverse forms and functions of written language (Hadaway, et.al., 2002). Without having to memorize it, skilful readers will be aware that telling a story requires the use of past tense and writing a letter follows certain formats and conventions. Literature presents the registered language for different contexts.

Literature helps students to understand another culture.  Reading Shakespeare will give students an idea of how people lived at certain period of time in England.  When students read harry Potter series they get a glimpse of the government system in English since the stories involve some incidents where the main characters need to contact the government.  Choosing the suitable materials plays an important role in using literature in ELT setting. Familiar international fairy tales, such as Cinderella and The Little Red Riding Hood, provide good samples to start since most children know the story. As children learn by imitating, it is then a progress when they are able to use the narrative structure in retelling the same story. Literary texts in English reflect a wide range of cultural diversity of our world.  The wisdom of a culture is transmitted through its language and literature.  Literature gives awareness and insight to students by encouraging them to read the texts written by different writers.  Literature stretches their imagination, deepens their experience and heightens their awareness.

Though the world of a novel, play, or short story is an imaginary one yet it presents a setting in which characters from many social backgrounds are described. A reader can discover the way the characters in such literary works see the world outside i.e. their thoughts, feelings, customs, traditions, possessions; what they buy, believe in, fear, enjoy; how they speak and behave in different settings.  This world in a literary text can help the second/foreign language learner to feel for the codes and preoccupations that shape a real society through visual literacy.

Duff and Maley (2007) stress that teachers can cope with many of the challenges/difficulties of teaching language through literature if they ask a series of questions to assess the suitability of texts for any given group of learners:

                        a) is the subject matter interesting to the group,

                        b) is the language level appropriate,

                        c) is the text right lengthwise for the time available,

                        d) does the understanding of the text require exhaustive cultural or literary      background,

                        e) is it religiously or culturally offensive in any way,

                        f) can it be easily exploited for language learning program?

Once the teachers finds answers to the above questions they can precede with the task of using the text for teaching language. Appropriate selection of literary texts would undoubtedly lead to better results.

            Through a piece of literary work a learner can learn vocabulary, discover question answers, evaluate evidence individually and learn grammatical aspects.  The focus of teaching literature is to make the students comprehend the meaning, which the author tries to express. Students will keenly feel this effect if teachers enjoy the texts they are teaching. Literature deals with the topics, which are fundamentally interesting, as they are about human experience and are designed to engage the readers’ attention.

            Literary texts provide aesthetic, intellectual and emotional pleasure.  Because of its symbolic density literature provides much impetus for language learning.  Literature provides ample opportunities to develop students’ interpretative power and it can familiarize students with many features of the written language.  Study of literature is not merely concerned with skill acquisition.  It serves to foster a comprehensive outlook on life.  Literary texts help students to become more mature, liberal and responsible citizen.  It’s encouragement for sympathy and tolerance, its plea for open-mindedness, is an admirable aim that learners readily embrace.

Valdes (1986:137) claims that it is simply accepted as given that literature is a viable component of second language programs at the appropriate level and that one of the major functions of literature is to serve as a medium to transmit the culture of the people who speak the language in which it is written.  When we use literature in language classroom, we are teaching language. "Literature is a high point of language usage, arguably it marks the greatest skills a language user can demonstrate. Anyone who wants to acquire a profound knowledge of language that goes beyond the utilitarian, will read literary texts in that language" (Basnett and Grundy, 1993).

According to Collie and Slater (1990:3), there are four main reasons which lead a language teacher to use literature in the classroom. These are valuable authentic material, cultural enrichment, language enrichment and personal involvement. In addition to these four main reasons, universality, non-triviality, personal relevance, variety, interest, economy and suggestive power and ambiguity are other factors requiring the use of literature as a powerful resource in the second language classroom context.

When selecting the literary texts to be used in language classes, the language teacher should take into account needs, motivation, interests, cultural background and language level of the students. One major factor to take into account is whether a particular work can arouse the learners’ interest and can elicit strong, positive reactions. Reading a literary text can have a long-term and valuable effect upon the learners’ linguistic knowledge when it is meaningful and amusing. Choosing books relevant to the real-life experiences, emotions, or dreams of the learner is of great importance.

Poetry can pave the way for the learning and teaching of basic language skills. It is metaphor that is the most prominent connection between learning and poetry. Because most poetry consciously or unconsciously makes use of metaphor as one of its primary methods, poetry offers a significant learning process. There are at least two learning benefits that can be derived from studying poetry:

-         The appreciation of the writer’s composition process, which students gain by studying poems by components

-         Developing sensitivity for words and discoveries that may later grow into a deeper interest and greater analytical ability

Saraç (2003:17-20) also explains the educational benefits of poetry as follows:

·        provides readers with a different viewpoint towards language use by going beyond the known usages and rules of grammar, syntax and vocabulary,

·        triggers unmotivated readers owing to being so open to explorations and different interpretations,

·        evokes feelings and thoughts in heart and in mind,

·        makes students familiar with figures of speech (i.e. simile, metaphor, irony, personification, imagery, etc.) due to their being a part of daily language use.

Short fiction is a supreme resource for observing not only language but life itself. In short fiction, characters act out all the real and symbolic acts people carry out in daily lives, and do so in a variety of registers and tones. The world of short fiction both mirrors and illuminates human lives (Sage 1987:43).  Using drama in a language classroom is a good resource for language teaching. It is through the use of drama that learners become familiar with grammatical structures in contexts and also learn about how to use the language to express, control and inform. The use of drama raises the students’ awareness towards the target language and culture.  The use of a novel is a beneficial technique for mastering not only linguistic system but also life in relation to the target language. In novel, characters reflect what people really perform in daily lives. Novels not only portray but also enlighten human lives.

The teacher has an important role in teaching English through literature.  The teacher should select the literary texts relevant to the aim and the objectives of second language teaching. Literature provides students with an incomparably rich source of authentic material over a wide range of registers.  Language and literature are strongly related.  Literature enriches language and it is language that helps to understand literature.

Reference:

Basnett, Susan and Peter Grundy (1993). Language through Literature. London: Longman

Brumfit and Carter, R. (Eds.), Literature and Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 140-149.

Carter, Ronald and Michael Long (1991). Teaching Literature. London: Longman.

Collie, J. and Slater, S. (1987). Literature in the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Collie, J. and S. Slater (1990). Literature in the Language Classroom: A Resource Book of Ideas and Activities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cox, B. (1991). Cox on Cox: An English Curriculum for the 1990, Seven Oaks, California: Hodder and Stoughton.

Delanoy, Werner. (1997). Teacher Mediation and Literature Learning in the Language

Classroom. LCS. 14, http://www.wilstapley.com/LCS/articles/wd.htm

Goshn, I. (1997). ESL with Children’s Literature: The way whole language worked in one kindergarten class. English Teaching Forum, 35(3) pp.14-19.

Hill, J. (1989). Using Literature in Language Classroom. London: Macmillan

Publishers Ltd.

Langer, J. (1997). Literacy Acquisition through Literature. Journal of Adolescent and Adult

Study, 40, 602-614.

Lazar, Gillian (1993). Literature and Language Teaching. London: Cambridge University Press.

Rosenblatt, L. (1995). Literature as Exploration. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

Hadaway, N. (2002). Literature-based Instruction with English Language Learners, K-12. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Krashen, S. (1983). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. New York: Pergamon Press.

Littlewood, William. Literature in the School Foreign Language Course. In Brumfit and Carter (eds.).

Maley, A. (1989). Down from the Pedestal. In Literature as Resources. (Ed.) R. Carter.

Sage, H. (1987). Incorporating Literature in ESL Instruction. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Saraç, S. (2003). A Suggested Syllabus for the Teaching of Poetry Course in ELT Departments of Turkey. Unpublished M.A Thesis. Ankara: Hacettepe University.77-183.

Valdes, J. (ed.) (1986). Culture Bound. Bridging the Cultural Gap in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

West, A. (1994). The Centrality of Literature. In S. Brindley (Ed.), Teaching English. London: Routledge.

 

 

 

 

              TEACHING OF ENGLISH LITERATURE IN INDIAN UNIVERSITIES: A REVIEW

 

   Ravindra  B. Tasildar                                                                                                 Assistant Professor, Department of  English,

S.N. Arts, D.J.M. Commerce and B.N.S. Science College,

SANGAMNER  Dist.  Ahmednagar (M.S.)

ravishmi1@gmail.com

 

Introduction

In the conventional degree programmes, the courses in English offered by Indian universities at the undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) levels are Compulsory English, Optional English, Additional English, and Special English. An elective course offered at the UG level only to the students from Faculty of Arts is known by different names - English (Honours), English (Major), Principal English, English (Special) and Special English. The term Special English has been used here as used by Gokak (1964-65) and the Curriculum Development Centre in English (1989).

The present paper is an attempt to review the Special English courses, during 2007-08 to 2010-11, offered in the following five state universities from Maharashtra.

1.      University of Mumbai (UoM)

2.      University of Pune (UoP)

3.      Shivaji University, Kolhapur (SUK)

4.      North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon (NMU)

5.      Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open  University, Nashik (YCMOU)

Hereafter these universities are referred to with their abbreviated forms given in the brackets.

The papers offered in the BA (Special English) course

The B.A. (Special English) course varies from one university to another. For instance, in SUK English (Special) can be studied as the only major; in UoM English (Major) can be opted for as one major along with one other major while in UoP English Special is one of many subjects to be studied. The papers offered in Indian universities are mainly of two categories – papers related to literary studies and papers on language studies.  Besides, allied papers exist.

A)    Papers related to Literary Studies can be sub-divided into following categories.

i)                    Genrewise papers form the major component of papers related to literary

studies. UoP and SUK introduce ‘Minor forms of literature’ to the first year

students. YCMOU offers a separate paper on short story. 

ii)                   Periodwise papers, which used to focus only on British literature, are offered by some of the universities. The trend seems to have changed now as the paper like ‘20th Century Literature in English’ (UoM) is now introduced.

iii)                 In papers on Non-British literatures, ‘Indian Writing in English’ (IWE) is offered by almost all the universities (except UoP) while a separate optional paper on ‘American Literature’ is offered only by UoM.

iv)                 Papers on Translation Studies - Only UoM offers two papers in translation studies, out of which ‘Theory and Practice of Translation’ is an optional paper.

v)                  Paper on Women’s Writings is offered only by UoM,

vi)                 Papers on Literary Criticism - Almost all the universities have a core paper on literary criticism. UoM offers a half paper in literary criticism whereas there is no separate and full paper on criticism in YCMOU.

B)     Papers on Language Studies can be sub-divided into following categories.

i)                    Papers on Language Studies - These papers are introduced in the final (third) year by UoP, SUK, and YCMOU. UoM offers a half paper in language studies in combination with literary criticism (Paper –V). It also has an optional paper entitled ‘Rhetoric, Composition and Applied Language Skills’. NMU introduces phonology in FYBA, language in SYBA, both through half papers and includes a full paper on language in TYBA. 

ii)                   Papers on Communication Skills These papers are also offered for TYBA students. YCMOU has a paper on ‘Communication Skills’. UoP has replaced a paper on literary studies by a paper ‘Enriching Oral and Written Communication’ from the academic year 2010-11.

C)    Allied Papers – UoM is the only university to introduce separate theme-based optional

papers like ‘Film and Literature’, ‘Popular Culture’ and ‘Post Colonial Perspectives on Texts’ in the third year. In UoM the core papers are devoted to literary studies while the papers of applied nature are optional.

This overview gives a glimpse of the Special English courses in Indian universities.

B.A. (Hons.) Programmes Abroad

The early B.A. syllabi in the Indian universities were imitations of what prevailed in British universities (Paranjape 1993: 52 and 57). Therefore, it will be worth to turn towards the B.A. (English) programmes in other ESL / EFL countries. B.A. in Contemporary English Studies offered by Lingnan College, Hong Kong is considered here as an example.

          FYBA

                                       SYBA and TYBA

Introductory Papers

Core Papers

Electives

(Any one Group to be selected)

Introduction to Language

Language and Society      

Group (A)

Contemporary Literature

Group (B)

Applied Linguistics

Practical Phonetics

Introduction to English Grammar

Contemporary Literature in English

Asian Voices in English

Psycholinguistics

Literary Analysis

Academic Writing and Research Skills

Studies in Literary Genres

Intercultural Communication

Models of Speech and Writing

Advanced Professional Communication Skills

Introduction to Literary Theory

Language and Power

                                                         (Boyle 1998: 468 as referred in Cherian 2001: 79-80)

There are in all twelve papers to be studied by the students for their B.A. degree in Contemporary English Studies. Out of nine core papers two papers (23%) are on literary studies whereas seven papers (77%) are related to language studies. In the electives there are three papers of each category. Thus, in the B.A. (Hons.) programmes in English offered in Lingnan College, Hong Kong the emphasis is on language rather than on literature. Reverse is true in case of Indian universities.

The colleges and universities in the ESL countries abroad focus on equipping the students with knowledge as well as skills. For instance, the objective of the B.A. programme in Lingnan College, Hong Kong is “to produce graduates with a high level of knowledge and ability in English Language and Literature, and the ability to apply their knowledge to the English Communication needs of business, government and education in Hong Kong” (Boyle 1998:468 as cited in Cherian 2001: 79-80). In contrast, in India the syllabuses of the Special English courses generally do not clearly specify objectives (CDC, 1989: 17).  Even today neither the papers related to literary studies offered in Indian universities specify the objectives nor do their titles indicate the focus.

Failure of the Literature-dominated courses

Four decades ago, Gokak (1964-65) had felt the need to revise the syllabuses of Special English and Optional English existed then at the U.G. and P.G. levels. He has noted, ‘We know that our graduates are not able to write even a few sentences correctly in English. This is unfortunately true even of many students who have taken up the Special English Course for study’ (1964-65:124). The linguistic competence of the students of the B.A. (Special English) in Indian universities today is not very different from what Gokak (1964-65) has already observed. In the syllabus document of MA English Part II (2004-05) in the section on ‘Teaching Methodology’ UoP mentions “Though a minimum linguistic ability is a prerequisite for doing any course at the PG level, it would be unrealistic to teach with the ideal students in mind. The fact remains that we have to teach students who are far away from the expected level of linguistic attainment”. Thus, the literature-dominated B.A. (Special English) courses have miserably failed to develop linguistic competence of the students.

To sum up

The Indian students opt for UG and PG courses in English not only for the love of literature but also due to the job market demand for English.  Taking into account the needs of the students some of the universities have taken initiatives to introduce innovative and need-based units / papers for BA and M.A. courses in English.  This could be witnessed through the following instances.

i)                    In its B.A. English Literature course Sant Gadage Baba Amravati University (SGBAU) has incorporated applied language skills like Journalistic Report Writing, Feature Writing, Writing Advertisement Copy, Editorial Writing and Script Writing for film/radio/T.V.          

ii)                  UoP has introduced a core paper entitled Doing Research (w.e.f. 2008-09) and optional papers like Pragmatics and Multi-Cultural Discourse in Immigrant Fiction.

iii)                 University of Madras (UnoM) has introduced innovative elective papers like Copy editing, Technical Writing, Basics of Corporate Communication, New Areas of Knowledge Management, Travel, Tourism and Culture, Film Studies and English for Careers.

            These instances of the papers offered at the PG level in Indian universities indicate the winds of change.  One may expects many more such changes in the years to come.

References

Boyle, Joseph. (1998). “New Directions in University English Departments.” New

Frontiers in Education. xxviii. 4, pp. 457-471. In Towards an alternative

Curriculum for English Literature Students at the Tertiary Level. Cherian, Rita.

2001. An unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Madras: Chennai.

GoI. (1971). Report of the Study Group on Teaching of English, New Delhi: Ministry of Education and Youth Services. In The Story of English in India, Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy. 2006. Appendix III, pp. 203-219. New Delhi: Foundation Books.

Gokak, V. K. (1964-65). “M.A. Syllabus in English”, Bulletin of the CIEFL. Nos. 4 & 5, pp. 122-126.

North Maharashtra University. (2009). Online Syllabi. Retrieved from

<www.nmu.ac.in/syllabus/aspx>    on 09th July 2009.

Paranjape, Makarand. (1993). “Beyond English: Teli’s Larger Agenda” in Marathe et al.

(eds.) Provocations: The Teaching of English Literature in India. Madras: Orient

Longman, pp. 49-58.

SGB Amravati University. (2009). Syllabi of English Literature course B.A. I, II and

final. Amravati: SGB Amravati University.

Shivaji University. (2009). Online syllabus. Retrieved from  

www.unishivaji.ac.in./syllabus/arts&fineart/BA/B.A. English> Last visited 3rd July, 2009.

University Grants Commission. (1989). Report of Curriculum Development Centre in English. New Delhi:  University Grants Commission.

University of Mumbai.(2007). Syllabus in the subject of English F.Y.B.A., S.Y.B.A. and

T.Y.B.A.   Enclosure of item No. 4.8 and 4.9 dated 13/04/2007.

University of Madras. (2009). PG Syllabus. Retrieved from <www.unom.ac.in>

 on 6th Nov. 2009.

University of Pune. (2009). F.Y., S.Y.BA, and MA English Syllabus. Retrieved from 

< www.unipune.ernet.in>. Last visited 25th June 2009.

Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University. (2009). YCMOU Prospectus        

2009-10. Nashik: YCMOU.             

     APPENDIX

                  B.A. (Special English) courses in the Universities from Maharashtra

Table 1 – B.A. (Special English) course in University of Mumbai (UoM)                                                                 

                         (w.e.f. 2007-08)                          (09 Papers) 

                 FYBA and SYBA

                                       TYBA

FYBA

SYBA

 

Core Papers

                 Optional Papers

VI

(Any one paper is to be selected)

IX

(Any one paper

is to be selected)

English Ancillary I-

Reading Fiction  and Drama

P II- Reading Poetry

 

IV - British Literature (1550-1750)

 (i) Rhetoric, Composition and Applied Language Skills

(i) Postcolonial Perspectives on Texts

 

 

P  III - Indian Writing in English and Indian Literature in English Translation

 V- English Language and Literary Criticism

ii) Theory and Practice of Translation

 

(ii) American Literature

(1900-1990)

 

 

VII- Literature in English (1750-1900)

(iii) Popular Culture

(iii) Film and Literature

 

VIII -20th Century Literature in English

(iv) Literature and Gender

 

Table 2 – B.A. (Special English) course in other Universities from Maharashtra 

 

University

FYBA

SYBA

TYBA

University of Pune (UoP)

(w.e.f.

 2008-09)

 

(07Papers)

G- I - Introduction to Poetry and Minor Forms of Literature

G II - Understanding Fiction

G III - Enriching Oral and Written Communication

S I - Understanding Drama

S III - Introduction to the Study of English Language

S II  -Understanding Poetry

S IV - Introduction to Literary Criticism and Critical Appreciation

Shivaji University, Kolhapur

(SUK)

 

(w.e.f.

2007-08)

(08 Papers)

Opt I - Introduction to the Minor Forms of Literature

Opt II - Modern English Literature

P IV - Literary Criticism and Appreciation

Opt III - Indian English Literature

P V - Understanding Poetry

 

P VI - Understanding Drama

P VII-Understanding Novel

P VIII – Structure and Function of Modern English

North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon (NMU)

 

(w.e.f. 2009)

 

(07 Papers)

 G I -    Optional English                               

                             

G II - Introduction to the Study of English Literature and Language

G III -The Study of English Language

 

S I -16th and 17th Century English Literature

S III-20th Century English Literature

 

S II -18th and 19th Century English Literature

S IV -Indian Writing in English & American Literature

Yashwantrao Chavan 

Maharashtra Open University,

Nashik

(w.e.f. 2002)

 

(YCMOU)

 

(08 Papers)

---

ENG 214  - How to Read a Short Story

ENG 255 - Indian Writing in English

ENG 215  - How to Read a Novel

ENG 256 - Understanding Drama

                         

ENG 257  - Understanding Prose

ENG 258 - Understanding Poetry

ENG 259  -Communication Skills in English

ENG 306 - Structure of Modern English

 

 

 

THE SHORT STORY: AN ANALYSIS PERSPECTIVE FOR THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH

Eliane Segati Rios-Registro (UENP-CP; PG: UEL/FA)

Cristovão, V.L.L. (UEL)

The short story is one of the literary genres that captures the reader’s attention for its brevity and  effect. From this perspective, this study has as objective to present and analyze the literary genre as a tool in Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL).  We used, as analysis corpus, The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Alan Poe and we analyzed it from the sociodiscursive interactionism (ISD) a theoretical and methodological framework as presented by Bronckart (1999/2003/2009). After our analyses, we can state that the short story is an outstanding genre to ground  the field of TEFL once its structure helps in the understanding of the author’s representations created from the understanding and functioning of the literary text.

KEYWORDS:  ISD, English literature; the short story genre.

 

 

Introduction

 

The Brazilian guidelines for the teaching of English as a foreign language in  basic education of Paraná State introduce, a proposal for the development of subjects from Discourse as a social practice, and the basic subjects to be implemented by the teachers and students inside their classrooms.   These subjects are formed by the discursive genres and also by the oral, reading, writing and linguistic analyses. The subjects take into account the social spheres circulation of these genres as well, such as the literary sphere, for example.

From this perspective, the textual genres become teaching objects and the teacher is the one responsible for managing their usage. We hardly ever find literary texts related specifically to the secondary school materials, for example, and when we do find them, they are mainly explored in grammatical terms.

Our choice here is to analyze and explore one genre of the literary sphere, the short story, based on sociodiscursive interactionism (ISD), a theoretical and methodological framework as presented by Bronckartt (1999/2003/2009). As a research objective, this perspective has the human acting, the communicative acting through language, as a way to show how the production and interpretation of the verbal units, the texts, can contribute to the transformation of the ones who act. One of the representations in it has a very important role in the development of the human acting. In addition to this theoretical framework, this study is also based on Schneuwly and Dolz’s (1998) consideration of the genre  as a “mega instrument” for the teaching of languages.  

We also consider that when we bear our studies on these characteristics, they can contribute to developing a didactic model of teaching (Cristovão, 2007), highlighting the teaching elements for foreign language learning.

To achieve our objectives, we will present the short story characteristics, the production context of the chosen short story “The barrel of amontillado”, the textual infrastructure and, finally, the conclusion.

  

2. The short story

 

            The literary genre is located in the social domain of the fictional literary culture and it has, as a typological aspect, narration.  The language capacity of this genre involves the imitation of human action through the intrigue creation.

            The telling tales art, according to Gotlib (2003), began 4000 years before Christ. Over the course of history,  this genre has changed from oral to writing, and, only in the nineteenth century, with the development of the printing press, has the short story reached the reader public of newspapers and magazines. Therefore, in the nineteenth century the modern short story is created, having as its greatest representative the writer and short story theoretician,  Edgar Allan Poe.

            From the moment, this genre gets its literary status whose main objective is to conquer and keep the reader’s  attention, assuming the style of economy with a  short theme. Moreover, the art of the short story is only consolidated as an aesthetic  composition  as the teller becomes the narrator.

            When mentioning  Poe’s style,  Gotlib (2003) describes it according to the effect principle, that is, the short story must have the perfect extension so that it can achieve the desirable effect in reading. In other words, Poe considers that the short story must be read without pauses, so that it can call the reader’s attention from the beginning to the end. Moreover, it must impact the reader, and therefore, the writer has to take into account the desirable effect he wishes to cause in the reader.

According to the author, the short story has all the characteristics of a novel, however, in a smaller extension. The narrative situation is generally unique and it can be centered either in the omniscient narrator or in one character. The characters are generally in a reduced number, three in most cases. As a consequence, the short story increases in dramatic density. In the following section, we will present the short story production context (Bronckart, 1999/2003/2009).

 

3. The production context.

 

            The production context is defined by  Bronckart (1999/2003/2009, p.93) as “the set of parameters that can exert an influence on the form as a text is organized”.  From this, these parameters can be grouped into two sets: the physical world and the socialsubjective one. The first refers to the space and time and the second, to the representations of the social and subjective worlds. Therefore, in The Cask of Amotillado we have:

Physical Context

Socialsubjective Context

Sender  (Emissor)

Edgar Allan Poe , the short story author.

The sender’s social position.

Writer and poet, best known for his short stories.

Receiver (Receptor)

Readers – society in general, students.

Receiver’s social position

People who are in search of pleasurable reading and also the school community.

Place of text production

Longman Group Ldta,  London.

Specialized in titles for learning of the English language, founded in 1724, by Thomas Longman. In 1968 it became part took part of Pearson Education.

http://www.pearson.com.br/institucional.asp

Moment of production

The Cask of Amontillado:  1846

The story was written  during the nineteenth century, when mystery and imagination had their best development.

Support (suporte)

Books

Interaction objective

To inform about history, teach literature and language and amuse people

Square 01: Analysis of The Cask of Amontillado context

 

            When writing the short story,  Edgar Allan Poe holds the title of being one of America’s greatest short story writers. Reaching most of the 19th readers,   Poe calls  attention to his mystery and imagination short stories. Our next analysis involves the textual infrastructure of the Cask of Amontillado. 

           

4. Textual infrastructure

4.1. Overview of the text

            The Cask of Amontillado is inserted in a book composed by ten Edgar Allan Poe short stories. Distributed along five pages, one of them with a picture, the short story follows the principles adopted by the author as to what characterizes a good short story: that it is short and can be read in one sitting. Moreover, we notice the effect unit that Poe seeks in his short stories, to hold the reader’s attention from the first until the very last line.

            The plot is very simple and the narration is done in the first person which we discover is Montresor. This character soon announces the name of the second character,  Fortunado, who, although the name reminds us of a lucky person, is introduced in the opposite way. Due to the injustices that Montresor is said to have received from  Fortunato, he announces, just at the beginning, that he wants revenge, and this conducts the entire short story. After that, Montresor minimally plans his revenge, without demonstrating it to Fortunato, until he has succeeded.

            The story takes place during the carnival period in an unknown European city. However, the scene changes its atmosphere to the dark catacombs as soon as revenge gets closer, which helps to compose the sinister atmosphere of the short story. Thus, the reader becomes the accomplice, who knows all the details of the murder’s mind.

           

            As we can perceive, the short story presents a short number of pages, contributing to a quick and effective read. Besides, we notice that the number of characters involved in the plot is up to three. The short story writer planned each detail, so that it could become extremely significant.

 

4.2. Types of sequencing

           

The narrative is the style which fundamentally masters most of the short stories. According to Bronckart (1999/2003/2009) the narrative sequence only happens when its organization is beared by an intrigue process. In other words, it is necessary to consider that the narrated happenings must form a connection between the beginning, middle and end. 

            In  The Cask of Amontillado, we clearly notice the phases that, according to the mentioned author, are divided into five main phases: initial situation, complication, action phase, resolution, and final situation.

           

Initial situation:

I had suffered, as best as I could, the thousand wrongs that Fortunato had done to me, but when he began to be insulting I swore to revenge myself.

 

Complication phase:

My chance came one evening during the holiday. We met in the street. He had been drinking heavily, and he greeted me very warmly.

 

Action phase:

My servants were not at home. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them strict orders not to leave the house. I knew that these orders were enough to make them disappear as soon as my back was turned.

 

Resolution phase:

Go in, I Said, here is the Amontillado (…) a moment more and I had chained him to the rock,

 

Final situation:

                              There was no reply to this, I called and called again (…) for half a century no one has disturbed them.

 

 

            The phases above can have alterations depending on the complexity of the short story, oscillating between actions and complications until the final situation. In a more detailed analysis we could name more actions and resolution, therefore, our aim here is just to exemplify the different kinds of phases..

            We believe that when we identify the phases of the narrative sequence, it can contribute to a deeper interpretation, understanding how the development of the textuality is dealt within this genre. So, with EFL objectives, this comprehension is able to develop different levels of text comprehension.

 

Conclusion

 

            The short story genre can be considered an English language teaching object as in the English language classes and in English language literature classes. Its short form and intensity contribute to the psychological, emotional and cognitive needs during the process of a foreign language learning.

            So we conclude how relevant it is to deal with the short story along with the learning of the English language, once its structure helps us to visualize the action progress that are developed to accomplish an end, besides linguistic elements which explore the English language structure.

           

 

References:

 

Bronckart, J.P. Atividade de linguagem, textos e discursos: por um sociointeracionismo discursivo. Trans. Anna Raquel Machado e Péricles Cunha. São Paulo: EDUC, 1999/2003/2009.

 

Cristovão,V.L.L.(org.) Modelos didáticos de gênero: uma abordagem para o ensino de língua estrangeira.Londrina: UEL, 2007.

 

Dolz J.; Schneuwly B. Pour un enseignement de l’oral. Initiation aux genres formels à l’école. Paris : ESF ÉDITEUR, (Didactique du Français). 1998. p. 27-46.

 

Dolz J; Schneuwly B. “Gêneros e progressão em expressão oral e escrita – elementos para reflexões sobre uma experiência Suíça (Francófona)”. Gêneros orais e escritos na escola. Eds:ROJO, Roxane; CORDEIRO, G.S. Campinas, SP: Mercado de Letras, 2004.

 

Gotlib, N. B. Teoria do conto. São Paulo: Ática, 2003.

 

Poe, E.A.  The Cask of Amontillado. In: POE, E.A. Tales of mystery and imagination. Longman Group Ltd, 1964 : 41-47.

 

 

 

FILM ADAPTATION AS AN INSTRUCTIONAL TOOL IN TEACHING OF LITERATURE

R.TamilSelvi

Assistant Professor

Department of English

PSG College of Technology

Coimbatore-641 004

 

The main thrust of this paper is about the integration of film adaptations as an instructional tool in the teaching of literature. With the ever-involving and ever expanding world of media, teaching with the help of media in the classroom becomes more of a priority.  In the twentieth century, there are two culturally dominant ways of experiencing fiction available: the visual forms of film and the prose forms of novel. Students, of this generation, are exposed to various types of media and visual culture outside the classroom. This paper throws light on the need for literature teachers to equip their classrooms with film adaptations. It also discusses about the differences between film and novel. The sample activity given in the paper highlights the importance of screening film adaptations on the classroom. Thereby, making the students play an active role in the teaching and learning process. Various examples cited, will justify the interplay between literature and film adaptations. Finally, the paper also gives a clear picture of certain limitations a teacher has in implementing it in a classroom.

INTRODUCTION

 

The objective of this paper is to emphasize on the importance of film as an instructional tool in teaching literature. It also stresses on the effectiveness of screening popular film adaptations in the classroom. Today, students live in a visual culture, bombarded on a daily basis with web pages, video games, television, and film. Using popular movies in classroom can engage students who might not otherwise read course material. It also helps students to better understand course material by being able to relate that material to a medium with which they are more familiar. In order to take the teaching of Literature to the next level,
teachers need to take some steps to ensure that they are using films in the classroom in a way that is appropriate and legal. Watching films will create a significant learning experience for the students.

 

Much of today’s literature classrooms rely on the teachers trying to teach a Shakespearian Comedy or unrevealing a complicated plot in Thomas Hardy’s novels. Students, on the other hand, unfortunately do not undergo the same learning experience, as the teacher actively has in a classroom. They are forced to imagine and think of an era that they are not totally familiar with. Film adaptations of literary works can be invaluable to the study of literature, particularly for new or inexperienced students. Films used in the classroom often have been considered as an entertainment, or reward, but adaptations can serve two very practical pedagogical purposes in the literary classroom. Firstly, since both film adaptations and literary analyses are, at their centers, acts of interpretation, films can offer both good and bad examples of literary interpretations. Secondly, the use of video materials could enhance the students’ motivation and

provide them different ways of input.  The learning materials with visual element are more meaningful and alive and help to bring the real world into the classroom.

 

Ever since small projectors and screens were inexpensive enough for anyone to own, colleges have been using films in the classroom as an educational tool, even if it was not always a wide spread movement. With the advent of DVD players and projectors, the access to playable media useful to a unit of study seemed to know no limits. The history teacher could show a seven part series on The Seven Wonders of the World to give a visual context that no textbook with illustrations ever could accomplish, the Drama teacher could show a live performance of a play to go along with a reading in order to show how the viewing of a play compares to a reading, and the English teacher can use film to show how a novel was adapted from page to screen and thus giving a visual flavor to the text.

Consider a real life example of teaching the convention and significance of soliloquy to a group of literature students, looking at how the device is applied throughout classical literature. Students are first introduced to a Shakespearean soliloquy, looking at his plays or a collection of his soliloquies. The teacher can successfully define what a soliloquy is by saying “Soliloquies are intended to allow the audience to understand a character's innermost emotional state and unspoken motivations.” But the real victory lies in making the students understand how it is performed in the play and on the stage. No matter the teacher does his or her best to describe it with a dramatic effect, the picture is not complete until the students “visualize” it. Instead if the teachers incorporate film adaptations like Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948) or Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Julius Caesar (1953) which depicts soliloquies with grasp of reality, students might find it easier to connect to literary terms. Film adaptations can add visual context for students who are unfamiliar with the terms used in classical literature. These adaptations seem to bridge the gap between the flowery language of Shakespeare's day and the modern world of Literature students.

 

            Delving deeper into the idea of the written versus the visual, if teachers were to ask students if they would rather watch a film or read a book, most, unfortunately, the response will be, “Watch a film.” For literature instructors trying to teach students classic works of literature, engaging students who often see few connections in these books to their personal lives is a difficult and frustrating endeavor. Using popular films to teach students about literary concepts is an effective way to help students make connections between books whose themes and concepts may seem foreign to them and the movies that they may already admire. After seeing literary concepts manifest themselves across films, students can more easily discover themes, motifs, and common settings in literary works by the same author. Students are attuned to noticing literary commonalities; they will more easily notice similar themes, settings, character types and motifs across the works of, as examples, Jane Austen or Thomas Hardy.

NOVEL Vs FILM

 

The Novel -Film Relationship runs back to early nineteenth century, where novels have consistently provided filmmakers with ready-made narratives that have often resulted in prestigious, popular motion pictures. Films have been made from both literary classics and contemporary novels since their beginnings. Viewers bring many assumptions to novel-inspired films, particularly that the film should be a photo album of the book. Films based on novels ultimately transform a story based in a linguistic medium into a story told in a visual medium that his own distinctive characteristics. Also, explaining why the choices are made when transforming a literary work into a visual medium can help students understand the

strengths and unique qualities of both novel and film.

Since the camera can only show the surface, the film has to use some other methods to express people’s thought. For example, in the first scene as for the ball in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice (2005), the film could show the excited people, the beautiful ladies and the handsome gentlemen as well as their actions. However, it can’t reveal Austen’s detailed description about people’s changing attitude toward Darcy, specifically, how “Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room” at first, and why “everybody thought Darcy was the proudest, most disagreeable in the world”, and finally, “everybody hoped that he would never come there again”. The film presents this rather complicated course through Darcy’s cold facial expression and the dialogue between Elizabeth and Charlotte. Obviously, this is far from enough to describe the proud and disagreeable Darcy. In contrast, the subtle change in people’s inner world toward Darcy could be revealed vividly and clearly in the novel. This difference between film and novel actually gives the audiences and readers different experiences.

 

The integration of popular culture into the classroom is not the only debate in using film as a tool as the question of adaptation is also important. When a book or a play becomes a film, what is left out? What is changed? How does this change the experience? It is important to make the students realize this change over. For instance, Silas Marner (1861) is a very complex and dense text, according to Bousted and Ozturk (2004), so many of the students expressed difficulty in the reading. Some found it to be very slow paced while others were put off by the enormous amount of detail Eliot placed in the pages. Later, following the film viewing, the students could easily relate themselves to the narration in the text.  These perceived differences highlighted the importance of the use of contrasting examples of narrative to illustrate the particularities of each.

However, the using of films in literature teaching does not mean merely play the film for the students in the classroom. Actually, the teacher need to design some activities based on the films and the novel, so as to create the environment in which the students could interact effectively with each other. Also, the students’ language proficiency and their specific needs should be taken into account. Before screening the film adaptation, a questionnaire can be handed over to the students. If students have a list of characters, a few main plot points, and some questions to address about the film, they will be less likely to drift off or let their attention wander while viewing.

 

It can be designed as follows:

 

·        What are the major differences between the novel and the screenplay?

·        What role does music play in the film?

·        Who do you think is the protagonist of the novel?

·        How is narration in the text different from point of view in the film?

·        Identify the genre of the Film?

·        Were you able to relate to the visual cues in the film?

 

Teachers can plan to give activities based on screening film adaptations in the classroom.

 

A sample activity is given below:

 

Name of the Activity : Watch & Discuss

Activity time: 30 minutes.

Objective: Understanding the importance of Visual communication over Verbal communication                                     

                 through discussion, speaking, motivation and collaborative learning.

 

Students can be asked to,

 

• Analyze works of fiction and drama for plot structure, setting, characterization, theme, and 

   narrative point of view, sitting in groups.

 

• Critically analyze film through careful examination of adaptations of literary texts, focusing  

   on character development, dramatic structure and performance.

 

•  Learn and utilize the terminology of film analysis, shared with literary discussion   (character,  

   plot, theme, setting) and those specific to cinema (lighting, dialogue, special effects, etc.).

 

•  Demonstrate an understanding of the possibilities and problems involved in the transposition of literature to film, applying terminology and critical skills acquired during the semester to analyze a cinematic adaptation of a text not discussed in class.

 

Films provide rich opportunities to explore the similarities and differences between visual and written language. Students may examine the effects of visual language cues: composition, colour and light, shadow and contrast, camera angles and distance, pace and rhythm, and the association of images and sounds. They learn to identify point of view by following the eye of the camera. 

            LIMITATIONS:

Of course along with these ideal usages for film as a tool, teachers sometimes manage to find some very inappropriate and ineffective usages of film in the classroom. Teachers use film as a bribe or a reward to the students if they perform well on a test or on a big assignment. Some teachers use film as a silencing device intended to distract the students while they catch up on grading papers, lesson plans, or their own personal reading. Some teachers simply insert the video into the device and let the television do all the teaching, rather than preparing the students for the viewing with a scaffolding device and then following up with a discussion period.

Though the introduction of film in the classroom eventually proved to be a huge hit for both teachers and students, there are some practical difficulties in implementing it. Teachers should discuss the movie with students before, during, and after airing. They will want some pre-discussion in order to connect the movie explicitly to course content and to prepare students for certain themes or plot points. Discussing the film with students before they have completed viewing it allows them to voice any concerns about the film. And, obviously, teachers will want to have some wrap-up discussion about the film.

Sometimes, showing the entire film during a class period or multiple class periods may be impossible. If the school library owns the film, teachers should put the movie on reserve for students to watch on their own time, freeing up class time to discuss assigned portions of the film or to do a class activity related to the film.

Teachers should not violate copyright. Even if a teacher owns a copy of a film, making a digital copy of that film, putting it on a school-owner computer server, and then linking to the film copy through a course-management system shell runs the risk of violating copyright. Teachers should make sure that they understand copyright laws regarding the use of film in the classroom in both the online and face-to-face formats.

Don’t view the film as a one-shot assignment in the course. As students may be impacted more by what they have viewed in the film than by anything else in the course, refer to instances from the movie (when relevant) periodically throughout the semester. Not only does referencing the film emphasize to students that the film was more than just a “fun” assignment, but it also reinforces the movie’s connection to course content. Teachers could also ask students if they see course concepts present in additional movies or other media after the film assignment.

CONCLUSION:

 

Films, ultimately, are narratives, but students may not see popular movies as anything other than simple entertainment. However, by teaching students to “read” and compare movies, literature teachers can show students that their favorite movies have some of the same literary qualities as the books they read. And by drawing this comparison between book and film, students will grow in their appreciation of both media. Film can be an interesting way for teachers to connect sometimes theoretical or abstract course concepts to a world outside the classroom. However, teachers need to do some advance work and take into consideration some possible pitfalls in order to ensure that a film viewing is a productive learning experience for students.

 

REFERENCES

Bousted, M., & Ozturk, A. (2004). "It came alive outside my head" developing literacies through                                             comparison: The reading of classic text and moving image. Literacy, 38(1), 52-57.

Bue, M. (1984).. Turning Mirrors Into Windows: Teaching the Best Short Films. Media and   

        Methods, 21(4), 8-13.

 

Crick, R. A., & Mitchell, D. (1995). Using movie reviews to develop research and critical        

        thinking skills. English Journal, 84(7), 86-88.

        

Johnson, T. (1971) Using Film in the Classroom. National Council of Teachers of English. Las                                                                                       

        Vegas.

 

TEACHING ENGLISH LITERATURE THROUGH INTERNET RESOURCES

Rajkumar Pachigalla

Associate Professor – Soft Skills & Business Communication

-

ABSTRACT

This paper attempts to discuss how internet can be manipulated to teach English literature. The internet is one of the most modern resources for the teacher to employ in teaching literature. We must admit the fact that English literature, over the last decade has lost its glitter while the language of English has gained momentum, thanks to the global business trends that have caused this transition especially in Asian countries. The English literature was treated as one of the most superior subjects at colleges and universities in India; but today there are very few takers for the same. There are very few that are interested to specialize in English literature. Now the problem is how to pass this wealth of literary knowledge to this hi-tech generation. The literature teacher today must take to modern innovative tools of teaching for effective imparting of knowledge. Internet can be the best resource to promote reading of English literature to this ultra modern generation that passes not a day without browsing the internet.

Teachers’ exposure to the Internet

Use of internet for teaching literature implies changes in teaching methodology from the traditional text based teaching/learning to text-plus-multimedia methodology. The Internet is very useful for teaching literature. Teachers can use it for gathering information for their classes, including teaching plans and materials for classroom use. But to do this all teachers must possess the skill of operating a computer system and browsing the internet for useful materials. In Indian context, not many language teachers are exposed to this technology. Hence, some schools, colleges and universities provide training on the basics of computer and internet while some still stick to the traditional methods of teaching. It is time we restructured our approaches to teaching English literature. Unless a teacher of English literature gets exposed to the technological advancements in teaching, he/she wouldn’t be able to discover the treasure trove of information on the subject. 

There are a wide variety of ways that the Internet can be used in the classroom. There are many learning materials on the World Wide Web, and students can use them to learn literature. They can read novels in English using the World Wide Web. Students and teachers can post their opinions on the World Wide Web. They can subscribe to student lists to exchange ideas with other students around the world. Free and inexpensive Internet resources can now allow teachers to more easily use children’s and young adult literature.

Though Internet has been used by teachers for nearly forty years, one has to realize that multimedia and Internet are merely tools and as such they cannot replace the teacher; they cannot interact with the teacher/learner and by themselves they cannot add to the process of teaching/learning experience. The conventional system uses the (text) book as the basic material evolving gradual improvement and addition of structures and contents. This does not offer much scope for student participation and involvement and results in the same dull lectures repeated year after year without any addition or improvement, whereas in teaching/learning with multimedia, the printed text takes the back seat allowing the audio/video materials to play a major role. Multimedia instruction encourages need based changing of the content structure and allows self-paced and interactive exposition a realistic and distinct possibility. Multimedia data-base uses whatever comes handy with a rich variety of audio visual content enriching the subject by making it an experience alive and immediate. In this connection it is important to realize that a change in the mind set of teachers and authorities is a must where they will be willing to experiment with multimedia methodology of teaching with a view to making the process of teaching/learning a pleasant experience for the stake holders. They must also have a critical ability to analyze and decide what is best for our students in a given environment.

With Computer Aided Language (CAL) Laboratories becoming a part of the Language learning environment, it would be better for the teachers/learners to familiarize themselves with certain common terms used so that teaching / learning of English language and literature will become easier:

Hypertext is a text providing a network of links to other texts ‘outside, beyond and above itself’, making possible a dynamic organization of information through links and connections. It involves multi-sequential and multi-linear writing.

Blog is a process of posting views and opinions where all can access them

E-Book being the shortened form for Electronic Book is a conventional book available in the digital media.

E-Mail is mail sent/received using electronic media and Internet.

Power Point Presentation is a presentation technique to attract the audio-visual attention of the audience.

Teachers and learners should be aware and capable of using Internet, E-mail and connected facilities.

 

Internet as an active source of learning for students

Internet uses combinations of text, graphics, sound, video and animation controlled, coordinated, and delivered on the computer screen. Internet  encourages inter-activity involving the user to get actively engaged in the presentation of information but not to remain a passive observer. It allows the learner to grasp the content and concepts much easier than a book. Learner becomes active because all senses are involved in it. It is both entertaining and educative. Hence a student involves completely in the learning. It affords communication of information in a more effective way and it becomes an efficient, useful and result oriented medium for delivering instruction. The learner uses shorter learning time and retains information effortlessly.

Hence it is obvious that flexible, easy-to-adopt methods of delivery be devised by the teachers making use of internet an experience of enthusiastic involvement for the learners. The learners develop a liking for learning through internet since there is an active participation and involvement for them. It is a fact that “the teaching presentation, topics and texts have been well received by students”, states Lloyd Davis in “Teaching Literature through Flexible Learning”. In course of time even the slow learners give up their hesitation and naturally join with the mainstream.

E-approach to teaching Literature

‘The new technologies make the materials vivid, easy to access and fun to use’ - H.Gardner

Literature can be taught through e-material available on the internet, provided both the teacher and the learner are well acquainted with using the computer and surfing the internet. Huge amount of information relating to literature and the back ground in which a book is written is made accessible to the users by several portals. Many contemporary authors and publishing companies post their books on internet for the use by net savvy people. In fact, some companies offer their eBooks for free while some charge a nominal amount for downloading and online reading. Some e- links which design innovative lesson plans that are immensely useful to teachers and students of English literature are given below.   

www.edsitement.neh.gov - Literature and Language Arts:  offers a treasure trove for teachers, students, and parents searching for high-quality material on the Internet. All websites linked to EDSITEment have been reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in the classroom.

·        http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/arts_lit.html : Most lessons are designed as video companions, but many do not require that you watch the video to complete the lessons.

http://www.score.k12.ca.us: The Schools of California Online Resources for Educators (SCORE) project is a great resource for teachers and students alike, though unfortunately its funding was cut in 2008. SCORE: Language Arts provides reviews of language arts web sites, lesson plans, teaching guides. Some of these SCORE sites are dated so you should check for broken links.

http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units: Yale-New Haven Teacher's Institute: Curriculum Units The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute is an educational partnership between Yale University and the New Haven Public Schools designed to strengthen teaching and learning in local schools and, by example, in schools across the country. Each participating teacher prepares a curriculum unit and provides examples of ways in which teachers have drawn material from Institute seminars for use in their own school courses. Some units are dated, so check links.

Some units of interest:

 

http://www.techlearning.com/story/showArticle.jhtml; Creating Poetry Videos Students make poetry come alive by creating a poetry video creates enjoyment and an interest in poetry.

http://www.folger.edu/education/teaching.htm: The Folger Shakespeare Library Folger's provides great lesson plans, primary sources, and other resources for teaching Shakespeare.

http://www.techlearning.com/db_area/archives/WCE/archives/hinman2.html: Creating a Web Site with Resources for Teaching Shakespeare's Julius Caesar "On a Shakespeare message board, teachers discussed the difficulty of helping today's high school students understand and enjoy Julius Caesar.

http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/profdev063.shtml: Education World: Revisiting Walden Pond in 2003 Educator Kathleen Modenbach reflects on a list-making activity that helped her students grasp Thoreau's sacrifices and appreciate his writing. Included are cross-curricular activities to extend the lessons of Walden Pond.

Many of Shakespeare’s plays are available in Videos and in shortened versions on the internet. Use of such multimedia aids before commencing the teaching of a play and periodical replays of the relevant scenes from the play will make the classes more interesting and lively. The teachers can also try to find visual aids on plays like The Glass Menagerie, Winslowe Boy, Death of a Salesman, All My Sons and possibly many more. Films such as Troy, Helen of Troy, Hercules, Hercules Unchained and audio/video recordings of one act plays present the possibility of understanding the text in a totally new dimension. Films based on Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra are more informative and bring the characters live before the students by their specialized visual and sound effects. Some of the greatest novels such as A Farewell To Arms, The Old Man and The Sea, War and Peace and many more like The French Lieutenant’s Woman shown as films will have a greater impact than many hours of lectures. All these videos can be downloaded from the internet.

Conclusion

Using the Internet for literature teaching is gaining momentum and there are few books and papers on the subject, though there are many resources on the Internet. We need to explore ways to find materials on the Internet and experiment with using them to improve our teaching of literature. These articles give some information about using the Internet. Some people think the internet is a brilliant resource, some think it is more trouble than it is worth. However, the advantages of using the internet for teaching English literature and English language outweigh the disadvantages.

References

Using the Internet for Teaching English  - Kenji Kitao : Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan (internet)

‘Using Internet-Based Children's Literature to Teach EFL’ - Larry J. Mikulecky
Mikuleck(at)Indiana.edu (internet)

Davis, Lloyd, “Teaching Literature through Flexible Learning.” Flexible Delivery Initiatives, Teaching & Learning at the University of Queensland. (Internet)

‘Application of Web Resources for English Language & Literature Teaching’ - Dr.R.Gandhi Subramanian (Internet)

www.edtechteacher.org

www.tewt.org/lessonplansites.html

www.edsitement.neh.gov

www.score.k12.ca.us

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TEACHING LITERATURE AND LANGUAGE THROUGH POPULAR CULTURE.

 

 

Raj Sree M. S.

Research Scholar

                                             Institute of English                                          .

University of Kerala

Email: rajsreems@yahoo.in                                    

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

 

“A creation is actually a re-creation, a rearrangement of existing materials

in a new, different, original, novel way.” — Steve Ditko (Schumer, 59)

 

It is high time to theorize what is popular as the number of texts produced and circulated in the title of popular culture are of great magnitude than that is circulated in the title of ‘high culture’. And there are a whole lot of things to explore in popular culture. Kant draws a binary between high culture and the popular. According to him high culture which provides true pleasure is sublime and beautiful while popular culture or mass culture which provides immediate, physical pleasure is only charming or agreeable. Nevertheless the consumption of popular culture is going on around us every now and then in form of films, television programs, reality shows, video games, magazines, chick lit, comics, pop music, rap, hip hop and in hundreds of other forms. And this in turn inaugurated new vistas in teaching English language and literature. Teachers are being besieged with demands for improving their medium of instruction and teaching literature.

This article attempts to view two different narratives, which are part and parcel of popular culture, as tools to teach language and literature. Literature can also be taught through popular culture as post modernism decentralizes canonical literature and foregrounds the importance of mass culture or popular culture.

The first part of this article proposes comics as a tool to make the learner understand the language with all its subtleties and nuances from the perspective of psycholinguistics. The second part is a discourse on Harry Potter narratives which helps children to learn various moral stages which are central in character analysis in literature.

 

PART I

 

“If people failed to understand comics, it was because they defined what comics could be too narrowly… The world of comics is a huge and varied one. Our definition must encompass all these types” (McCloud 2004, 2-4). Comics can be used to teach English language not only to primary school students but also undergraduate students. The instructional use of comics is widely accepted these days. It serves as a new tool or medium to teach the nuances of English language. Moreover, comics appeal to large numbers of children and enhance the reading habit of reluctant readers. I advocate the use of comics to aid language pedagogy and learning.

Different comics were found to be useful for teaching:

1.      vocabulary and expressions;

2.      grammar;

3.      conversation and composition;

4.      culture; also pronunciation, intonation and listening comprehension

There are various types of comics. The selection of which is to be made based on the learners age. There are five major publishers of comic books in the U.S. Archie Comic Publications which publishes humorous comic books about Archie and his teenage friends. D.C. Comics, Inc. specializes in ad venture, mystery, romance, western and war comics. D.C. Comics is known for its superheroes and super heroines, like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Harvey Publications specializes in humor. Casper the Friendly Ghost and Sad Sack are two of the company's major titles. Marvel Comics Group distributes adventure, mystery, romance, cowboy and war titles. This company specializes in superheroes such as Spiderman, Captain America and the Hulk. Western Publishing Company publishes Gold Key Comics, which feature funny animal characters such as Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Mighty Mouse and Woody Woodpecker. From this wide range of popular comics, those with animal characters appeal to primary school students and while that of superheroes appeal to adolescents. Comics dealing with animal stories, adventure, science, history, geography, biography, and literary classics are all welcomed.

Several writers have described the benefits of using comics in the class room. Burton (1961), Murphy (1961), Haugaard (1973) and Alongi (1974) have associated the motivational value of comic books. Each writer agreed that comic books turned children on to reading, and that comic books had much to offer as a source of recreational reading.

Psycholinguistic theory must give an account of what information language conveys. It aims to understand the mechanisms of language use. It aims to understand the mechanisms of language use. Psycholinguistics focuses on understanding language. And comic books offer an excellent ground to understand language. Several sub process like word recognition, parsing, semantic interpretation, model construction and pragmatic interpretation involve in understanding language. Comics have the scope to engage the learner with these processes of understanding language.

Comics are about, in a rather general sense, how the world is, was, will be or might be. It describes fictional worlds whose representations can be created by analogy with those of the real world. They contain people, things, and events and thus providing an ideal setting for dialogues which can be read by students. They contain a variety of useful and lively words and expressions which the learners can absorb easily. Comic books such as Lucky Luke, Tintin and Asterix present a variety of vocabulary and expressions that can be studied more systematically than in the simpler strips. Certain scenes in the comics that visually and dramatically reinforced the use of moods and tenses are very useful in teaching grammar. However, in the comics the pictures do not replace the need for words. There are both pictures and words. The printed and visual contexts mutually explain each other, thus supplying the language trainer with a ready made tool for emphasizing elements of language that he chooses to present.

 Language learners can assume the role of various characters and read the dialogues aloud. This provides a suitable ground for the language teacher to explain the meaning of new words and can teach appropriateness of the use of words and phrases. Using comics or graphic novels in the classroom contextualizes the featured language in ways that aid English language learners in learning how to use the language. As Krashen (1989) pointed out, the visual narrative that accompanies the text in comic books “can provide clues that shed light on the meaning of an unfamiliar word or grammatical structure” (402).

Making the learner read comics will help him to derive meanings from visual as well as sound patterns. Use of comics as read-alouds in class rooms us advisable. In word recognition, comics provide both perceptual as well as contextual information. Much communication is in the form of commands, questions, requests, promises, and so on. All of these elements are abundant in comics. Several graphic novels with substantive content are accessible to English language learners and thus can enable them to engage in critical discussions in ways that are not always possible with only written texts, due to their scaffolding of textual meanings through their rich visual modes of representation. Because meaning making has become increasingly multimodal, our definition of literacy needs to encompass not only the textual, but also the visual, the spatial, and the aural. And thus paves way for the use of graphic novel in teaching English language.

English language learners often face formidable barriers in a written text without any accompanying visual context. In the context of teaching comic books, researcher Patricia Duff observed that “students noted that the colorful pictures, contextualized vocabulary and interesting content provided a compelling hook into reading” (qtd in Norton & Vanderheyden, 217). Moreover, the novelty of reading a graphic novel in the classroom, its unique modality of visual puns and metaphors, and its compelling narrative all combined to increase the students’ level of reading engagement.

Using comics in the classroom can help explain how language works both for and against people and enable students to acquire an appreciation for critical literacy. These multimodal texts can be used for both fostering students’ critical literacies and addressing the needs of the many English language learners present in today’s classroom.

 

Part II

 

            This part of the article deals with another popular narrative, the Harry Potter Series in order to trigger class room discussions.

Moral development refers to the process through which a person progresses from an egocentric, individual to a socially responsive and responsible person. The larger frame work of Kohlberg’s theory can be used to describe the main characters in the Harry Potter series in terms of their predominant stage of moral development.

Kohlberg’s first stage of moral reasoning which can be described as heteronomous morality or punishment and obedience orientation is exemplified by Dobby in Rowling’s second and fourth books. Whenever Harry breaks a rule, Dobby reprimands himself by engaging in self-injurious behaviour. For Dobby, the rationale for his behaviour is clear; any misdeed should result in physical punishment. There is no reference to internal, psychological motivations or intentions.  According to Kohlberg stage one, justice involves punishing the bad guys in terms of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.

Draco Malfoy, Harry’s archenemy, best characterizes a stage two reasoned displaying an individualistic, instrumental purpose orientation. For Malfoy, what is right is that which will satisfy his personal, concrete needs. This is illustrated in his continued focus on the accumulation of house points for their own sake with little regard for moral cooperation and human relationships.

Moving beyond this focus on individualistic, egocentric concerns at stage two is the movement to stage three reasoning, the interpersonal cooperation orientation. Ron, Harry’s trusted and loyal friend is illustrative of this stage. Ron will do anything for Harry in order to preserve their close friendship. For instance, Ron will risk expulsion from school to appease Harry by joining him on his unauthorized adventures. These actions exemplify lucidly the characteristics of the trusted, loyal associate who have typical stage three qualities.

Kohlberg’s stage four of moral reasoning which can be described as the law and order orientation is aptly portrayed by Hermione. Moving beyond an emphasis on maintaining an interpersonal relationship, Hermione is characterized by a stage four because of her emphasis on maintaining the functioning and existence of the system as a whole with its rules and regulations. She detests any violation of school rules because such acts fail to maintain the system in which they are a part. Her belief that rules cannot be disobeyed because they will result in chaos typical of stage four reasoning. Hermione continuously attempts to maintain the social order by abiding by school rules and becomes very upset when Harry and Ron continue to break them.

Stage five moves to the highest and most mature stage of moral reasoning which is of social contract/intrinsic rights orientation. We can place Harry Potter in this stage because of his focus on fair dealings and social and individual rights. For example, Harry will defy all school laws and risk his own life in order to sustain order and peace over chaos. Specifically, in the second book, HarryPotter and the Chamber of Secrets, dark evil was threatening to take the school over from the head schoolmaster Professor Dumbledore. Harry, however, restored order in the school. Harry’s belief that rules can be broken in order to meet the needs of his fellow classmates typifies stage five functioning.

Harry Potter stories could be used as a vehicle to promote moral development in pre-adolescent children because many of the characters in these stories exhibit stages of moral reasoning to which this age group can relate. It has been posited that children in their pre-adolescent years typically reason at stages two and three. Many examples of moral dilemmas that may be developmentally appropriate for pre-adolescents are found throughout the Harry Potter series. For example, Ron faces many dilemmas during his adventures with Harry, one of which occurs in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The teachers, as a precautionary measure against dark evil, order all students to remain in their dorms unless they are in class. Harry Potter, however, desperately needs to go and talk to his friend Hagrid, who lives in a small cottage away from the school. Though Ron tries to dissuade Harry at first, in the end he follows Harry. This dilemma could be used as an entry point into a moral discussion about what would be a more morally sophisticated decision-abiding by the rules or appeasing a friend.

Thus both comics and Harry Potter narratives emerge as tools useful in classroom teaching.

Works Cited

 

Krashen, S. “Language teaching technology: A low-tech view”. In J.E. Alatis (Ed.),

Georgetown University Rround table on Languages andLlinguistics, Washington,

DC: Georgetown University Press. 1989, 393-407

McCloud, Scott. 1994. Understanding Comics New York: Harper Collins.

Norton, B., & Vanderheyden, K. “Comic book culture and second language learners”. In

B. Norton & K. Toohey (Eds.), Critical pedagogies and language learning. New

York: Cambridge University Press. 2004, 201-222.

Schumer, Arlen. The Silver Age of Comic Book Art. Portand, Oregon: Collectors Press.

2003.

 

 

CULTURE AND LITERATURE IN ENGLISH EDUCATION

N.M. Shalika Banu and

Dr.Padmasani Kannan

Dr.M.G.R. University

Chennai.

 

 

CULTURE AND LITERATURE IN ENGLISH EDUCATION

Culture is defined as the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, realization, motions of time, roles, special relations, concepts of the universe, material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving. Culture is communication and communication is culture. Culture is the way of life of a group of people. Its broadest sense is the cultivated behavior. Culture is a mirror of the society. To understand the poet’s or the author’s interpretation, culture is very important as it reflects that time that people’s historical background, language, tradition, caste, creed, gender bias, individuality, racism, feminism, class, sexual suppression, gender relations and their emancipation on women’s pessimism, women’s attitude towards her family, her indispensable role in her family etc. It is absolute clear that while learning English he or she should turn back the pages of literature which gives historical background, the landmarks of the prose poem or grammar. In poems, the elements of literature like simile, metaphor, personification, rhyme scheme etc holds hands with the author as it makes the readers to easily understand and enjoy what actually they wanted to say.

 For example John Donnes’s poem “The Extasie”

Where like a pillow on a bed

A pregnant banke swelled upto rest”

 

Here John Donne compares that his bed and a pillow with a raised bank.Thus through the use of suitable imagery the indoor and outdoor world are interwined and human interest is imparted to the pastoral setting by the presence of lovers, This shows that Nature was appreciated by the people.

-------

 

Literature  shows the Image of Man. It  is a mirror of society’s cultural behavior etc., Amongst many things, literature offers the chance to peep into someone’s else life .It is the voyeuristic aspect of reading which has led,in recent years at least, to the increase in the realm of world literature. For example, if one happens to read Shakespeare’s dramas like “Macbeth”, “King Lear”, “Hamlet” etc., h e or she would understand the jealously, friendship, father-son love, father-daughter love etc.

 

Looking back to tradition-bound British Culture American Culture is quite modern.It gained a long have “American Culture and Continuity”.Due to the emergence of Hollywood film making and also due to the 2nd World War a large number American girls stationed in UK. Before then, it was thought that American English and British English evolved and absorbed words and brought them to their respective countries by immigrants and their colonies.

 

Due to Hollywood films, American culture and speech patterns have recently become on children’s television programmes in the UK. However, difference is seen between these two types of English.

Some of the words are listed here.

UK English                   American English

Apartment                    Flat

Bar                               Pub

Candy                          Sweets

 

The – ‘our’ in the common wealth is replaced with just – or in the USA.

Neighbour                    Neighbor

Colour                          Color

 

‘-re’ in the common wealth is replaced with ‘er’ in the USA.

 

Metre                           Meter

Theatre                         Theater

 

The impact of culture in the case of American women writers draws the attention of the readers. Despite the modernity in English, the cultural impact of Britishers  was with Americans especially it was a male dominant society for a long time .This was clearly expressed in the writings of Virginia Woolf, Margarat Atwood etc.,

 

Virginia woolf’s fiction is studied for its insight into her personal life experience, war, class, and modern British society. Her best known non-fiction works “A Room of One’s Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938), examine the difficulties of the female writers, the intellectuals and predicts the problems of the future women which they would face in society and education as the men hold disproportionate legal and economic power. Most of them were published posthumously. This shows her position in the English male dominant society. She ended herself by putting stones on her overcoat and got drowned in the river.

 

Many of the women writer got out of the class, race, economic problems and was able to survive to atleast 50’s. but Sylvia Plath’s early attempted death was really tragedic. Her poem posthumously published made everyone to admire her.

 

The American culture which was prevalent in the 18th Century can be seen through her writings the literature available made to turn back the status of Slyvia

 

The literature available made to turn back the status of Sylvia Plath from 1930 to 1960’s from the literary sources. She was the one to start about confessionalism. So, she was pessimist more times. Sylvia Plath's father Otto Plath died when she was seven years old. She was passionate  towards her father. When he died she couldn't tolerate his . When she got married with Ted Hughes the same love what she has imparted to her father was transformed to her husband. Thus she led a happy life, but it lasted only for a short period. Sylvia Plath's distrusted love made her a pessimist.   Sadism, Destructiveness (even masochism) characterize this kind of masculine Protest. Her poetry reflects 'A Seductive Nihilism' (Raichur, Page No.12) of contemporary culture which is a barrier to the discovery of one's full humanness-. Her Sado-Masochism (Ibid 12) is reflected in the Nihilism of her poetry and also in her choice of suicide as an influence by the contemporary culture. (which feeds and nourishes such destructive and self destructive fantancies) She was responsible for the dejection. Her suffering generally is equalized to Oedipus Complex.

 

The Oedipus Complex

 

Expatiating on the above remarks, Sandra Gilbert summarises Freud’s concept of the ‘female’ Oedipus complex.

 

According to Freud, the Oedipus complex means for the girl an attachment to the father which parallels
the boy’s attachment to his mother but for the girl her attachment to the father is a “positive” phenomenon.                                                          

 

                                                        (Raichura, Pg.13)

 

The Applicant" of Sylvia Plath is explicitly a portrait of marriage in con-temporary Western_culture. However, the "courtship" and "wedding" in this poem represent not only male/female relations but human relations in general.Job seeking is the central metaphor in “THE APPLICANT” that brings a close connection between the capitalist,economic patriarchial family structures and the general depersonalization of human relations.As a result,the interaction between men and women is not of human relations but of a barter.The woman is the commodity of the barter-man.

 

People are described as crippled and as dismembered pieces of bodies.In the first stanza of "The Applicant." the imagery of dehumanization is focused. Moreover, the pieces described here are not even flesh, but "a glass eye, false teeth or a crutch, / A brace or a hook, / Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch." We are already so involved in a sterile and machine-dominated culture that we are likely to be a part of artifact and sterile . One is reminded not only of the imagery of other Plath poems; but also of the controlling metaphor of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo 's Nest, written at about the same time as "The Applicant",in 1962.

 

In stanza two of "The Applicant," Plath describes the emptiness which characterizes the applicant and which is a variant on the roboticized activity of Kesey's Adjusted Man. Are there "stitches to show something's missing?" she asks. The applicant's hand is empty, so she provides "a hand"

 

To fill it and willing

To bring teacups and roll away headaches

And do whatever you tell it

Will you marry it?

 

Throughout the poem, people are talked about as parts and surfaces. The suit introduced in stanza three is at least as alive as the hollow man and mechanical doll woman of the poem. In fact, the suit, an artifact, has more substance and certainly more durability than the person to whom it is offered "in marriage." Ultimately, it is the suit which gives shape to the applicant where before he was shapeless, a junk heap of fragmented parts.

 

I notice you are stark naked.

How about this suit

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.

Will you marry it?

It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof

Against fire and bombs through the proof.

Believe me, they'll bury you in it.

 

The man in the poem is finally-defined by the black suit he puts .The definition of the woman shows her to be even more alienated and dehumanized. While the man is a junk heap of miscellaneous parts given shape by a suit of clothes, the woman is a wind-up toy a puppet of that black suit. She doesn't even exist unless the black suit needs and wills her to.

 

Will you marry it?

It is guaranteed

 

To thumb shut your eyes at the end

And dissolve of sorrow.

We make new stock from the salt.

 

The woman in the poem is referred to as "it." Like the man, she has no individuality, but where his suit gives him form, standing for the role he plays in a bureaucratic society, for the work he does, the only thing that gives the woman form is the institution of marriage. She does not exist before it and dissolves back into nothingness after it. In "The Applicant" there is at least an implication that something exists underneath the man's black suit; that however fragmented he is, he at least marries the suit and he at least has a choice. In contrast, the woman is the role she plays; she does not exist apart from it. "Naked as paper to start," Plath writes,

 

But in twenty-five years she'll be silver,

In fifty,  gold.

A living doll, everywhere you look.

It can sew, it can cook. ,

It can talk, talk,  talk.

 

The man, the type of a standard issue corporation junior executive, is also alienated. He has freedom of choice only in comparison to the much more limited situation of the woman. That is to say, he has the relative freedom of choice in direct proportion to his role as recognized worker in the economic structure of his society. This should not imply, however, that this man is in any kind of satisfying and meaningful relation to his work. The emphasis in “The Applicant” upon the man's surface – his black suit together with the opening question of the poem. ("First, are you our sort of  person?") suggests  at even his relationship to his work is not going to be in any sense direct or satisfying. It will be filtered first through the suit of clothes, then through the glass eye and rubber crotch before it can reach the real human being, assuming there is anything left of him.

 

The woman in the poem is seen as an appendage; she works, but she works in a realm outside socially recognized labor. She works for the man in the black suit. She is seen as making contact with the world only through the medium of the man, 'who is already twice removed. This buffering effect is exacerbated by the fact that the man is probably not engaged in work that would allow him to feel a relationship to the product of his labor. He is probably a bureaucrat of some kind, and therefore his relationship is to pieces of paper, successive and fragmented paradigms of the product (whatever it is, chamberpots or wooden tables) rather than to the product itself. And of course, the more buffered the man is, the more buffered the woman is, for in a sense her real relation-ship to the world of labor is that of consumer rather than producer. Therefore, her only relationship to socially accept-able production – as opposed to consumption – is through the man. The culture impact of the male dominant American society is clearly visible in her “Applicant”.

 

The poem “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath is told from the point of view of a mirror hanging up on a wall. This mirror has, over time, been privy to the tears of a woman over who she sees in it, desperate grasps at moonlit lies, and the endless speculations of a pink with speckles wall. “Mirror” is a poem that probes into the corners of human nature, beauty, life, and death, reflecting back their truths to readers as good mirrors do. In this poem, readers can see the truth about themselves reflected among the words as though the poem itself is a mirror, too.

 

 

The Collected Poems1961

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.

Whatever I see I swallow immediately

Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.

I am not cruel, only truthful –

The eye of a little god, four-cornered.

Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.

It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long

I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.

Faces and darkness separate us over and over.Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,

Searching my reaches for what she really is.

Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.

I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.

She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.

I am important to her. She comes and goes.

Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Just as the poem reflects truths to readers, so the mirror in it reflects truths to the woman it sees every day. It is objective about everything it observes in the woman, for it can have no biases simply owing to the nature of its stature. The description the mirror gives of itself in the first few lines is that “I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions./Whatever I see I swallow immediately/Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike./I am not cruel, only truthful-/The eye of the little god, four cornered.” It is giving, true to its nature, a frank description of itself—nonjudgmental and unprejudiced of its admirers. Mirrors never have and never will pass any judgment on their gazers. They leave that for the gazers themselves to do, and they always do just that, as is human nature. The mirror prides itself on that same clear-cut honesty of the faces it regurgitates back for judgment. It is almost arrogant about it, refusing to falter in its own perfection for a moment, even as “she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon” which cast false shadows upon her face. It continues to reflect the woman honestly, even though she cannot see it, so that when she learns of the lies and turns back, there she is in all her self-perceived imperfection. Not one person, the woman of the poem included, has ever been judged by a mirror, but rather through it. It is because of it that the woman can see her outer self, so also because of it, she sometimes forgets her inner self. She forgets the pink behind the speckles on the wall of her face, seeing only that the speckles are marring the beauty of it. The mirror, however, does not see the destruction the woman sees, for she is the only one of the two who has the desire to judge. She was the only true master of herself, but she ended up caving in under her preconceived notions of society’s view of her. She became a slave to the mirror and her interpretations its truths.

 

One of these truths is age. No one has yet achieved immortality, and so death is still a formidable foe. Mirrors reflect the coming of this rival in the rivulets and creases found in a face of age, and many people obsess over this manifestation. In the poem, according to the mirror, “I am important to her. She comes and goes./Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness./In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman/Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.” The woman in the poem “has drowned a young girl” in her obsessions, aging her into “an old woman . . . like a terrible fish.” With each day, the manifestation becomes more pronounced because “Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.” She wasted away in front of that mirror so that now, death “Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.” She hates the mirror’s honesty on the matter, but cannot turn away. She is unable to resist knowing that death is creeping ever closer every day. She lives her life, it seems, around that knowledge, convinced that she should not be as she is. She is, as the poem says, “Searching . . . for what she really is.” She is unaware that all around her, death is marking others down for capture with the lines of age. All she knows is that she has gone from “pink, with speckles” into a world of darkness that she disapproves of seeing in the mirror. She does not seem to under stand that in fact, no one will be left unaffected. “The eye of the little god” will seek out everyone from all four corners of the globe. In the end, her obsession kills her, the “terrible fish” having finally made it to the surface.

 

The woman in the poem lives and dies within it, mirroring any and all readers’ lives in that. The poem offers up a universal reflection of a person for readers to judge themselves. After all, it is a mirror and that is what mirrors do.

 

The poem finally portrays like in a mirror all its sides are sealed, the emotions, love, rage and anger and the status of a great poet is also sealed.

 

The literature made to turn the pages of culture and vindicate our notions about  the changes in English literature. Without literature the culture, its changes  and history of it might have been a question mark

 

Bibliography

 

Primary sources

 

“Sorting, sequencing and dating the drafts of Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out”. Dulletin of Research in the Humnities 82, 3(Autum 1979): 271 – 93.

 

Rama Brothers India Pvt. Ltd, Suresh Rajchura

“The Self in the World: The Social Context of Sylvia Plath’s Late Poems,” in Women’s Studies,Vol.7,Nos.1-2,1980,pp.171-83

“The Monster in Plath’s ‘Mirror’,“ in Papers on Language and Literature,Vol.108,No.5,October,1993,pp.159-69

 

Sources:

 

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071228042507Aafcabi.html

http://us2uk.tripod.com/

 

 

SOWING THE SEEDS OF CULTURAL VALUES AMONG THE INDIAN STUDENTS OF HIGHER STUDIES; WITH THE SPECIAL REFERENCE TO ANANDA COOMARASWAMY'S 'ESSAYS IN NATIONAL IDEALISM'

 

Patel Vokrambhai and Naranbhai

 

ABSTRACT

 

‘Culture is a unique identity of a man’ that we all know. But the bitter fact can not be denied completely that we half know or do not know our own culture. We are strange in our own land. School or college is the best platform for any student for being oriented with the cultural values of his own country who is a responsible civilian of tomorrow. A civilian of any nation must know his own culture to comprehend and practice the norms, ethics, principles, cultural values and everything of his culture that provide to him his incredible identity and self esteem. Commaraswamy in all most all his books has very sincerely and strongly made efforts to arouse the feeling of Cultural Nationalism in the mind of his reader, may it be a student reading for the purpose of passing his  examination or a common reader, reading for the purpose of his joy. The present course content is perhaps able to produce best engineers, doctors, lawers, IIT’s and technocrats but the same has badly failed to create best Indians or let’s say best humans. They doubt their culture. They want to be Americanized or Anglicized and they feel a great shame sometimes to be called Indianised. Mighty queer!  The Americans or the English never strongly desire that much to be indianised.Lessons from the Anglo-Indian literature containing source of cultural values can be the best help to generate and nurture in them true values of their own incredible Indian culture that is a strong necessity along with their certification.

 

 

 

 PAPER

 

SOWING THE SEEDS OF CULTURAL VALUES AMONG THE INDIAN STUDENTS OF HIGHER STUDIES; WITH THE SPECIAL REFERENCE TO ANANDA COOMARASWAMY'S 'ESSAYS IN NATIONAL IDEALISM'

 

I would begin my paper with two very different texts taken from a technical book and a literary book respectively.

 

Topic: Optical Fiber

                      ‘An optical fiber consists of an inner glass core surrounded by a cladding also of glass but having a lower refractive index. Transmission of digital signals is in the form of intensity modulated light signal which is trapped in the core. Light is launched into the fiber code using a light source and is detected at the other end using a photo detector.’ (Gupta P C, ‘Data Communication and Computer Networking’, Page 47, Prentice –Hall of India Pvt.Ltd New Delhi)

 

Topic: Preface to National Idealism’

                    ‘Indians, we all are, and therefore our only possible perfection consists in the development of the Indian nature we have inherited from our forefathers. Centuries of real development of civilization, of noble fidelity to all the highest ideals men can worship, have fixed for ever the national character of India; and if we be not true to that character, if we be not genuine Indians, we can never be perfect men, full and strong men able to do a true man’s part for God and motherland. Our forefathers are our best models and patents; they alone can show us what our common Indian nature can and ought to be…..Look to your forefathers, read of them, speak of them…..’ (Coomaraswamy Ananda, ‘Essays in National Idealism’, Page-7, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt.Ltd. New Delhi)

Did you notice any difference between these two texts?

If we talk about the importance of  teaching  cultural or national values to the students of higher education, isn’t  it seem essential to teach such and other extract containing National values along with the regular course content?

 

Introduction:

                        Herbert Spenser says “Education has for its objective the formation of character.” and character is a very strong bond of cultural and national values that make one very responsible civilian of a country. A question would arise now, how can cultural values be generated in a man. The answer is ‘through education’. In the super modern world of today, almost all children are sent to schools and colleges to be so called ‘educated’. Almost all of us pass through this single window system. So education system can play the crucial role for the formation of one’s character, full of cultural and national values, very important for him through out his life. But the poor tragedy is that in spite of all the possible attempts, the goal of building strong character can not be even partly achieved. The reason behind it is that the course content taught in the class rooms is not that level designed to sow in them true cultural values of life. They just cram out Newton’s laws of gravitation, print them out in the answer books, get passed and certified, and call themselves educated. The topic of optical fiber can give them information regarding the working of light signals but the same, keeps them away from the ethnicity of their country. Lessons from the Anglo-Indian literature containing source of cultural values can be the best help to generate and nurture in them true values of their own incredible Indian culture that is a strong necessity along with their certification.

 

Ananda Coomaraswamy’s view of Indian Education;

 

In his book Essays in National Idealism in chapter no-9 entitled ‘Education in India’ Coomaraswamy offers a powerful critique of English education in India and holds that more than anything else, English education has struck crushing blows at the roots of Indian National Revolution. It has proved to be devastating by ignoring or despising the very idea of national culture. The most despising effect of this education is that, it destroys in the great majority upon whom it is inflicted, all capacity for the appreciation of Indian culture so much so that the pupil of India knows nothing about his religion, language, culture, philosophy or music. An average Indian has become a stranger in his own land. By creating a class of Indians whose taste, opinion, moral and intellect are English, the hidden motive of the British was not only to destroy all the vernacular language and the indigenous educational system alone but the very character, culture and value system by decoding the minds of the Indian Educated Babus which would consequently bind Indian confident in themselves. Coomaraswamy expressed his deeply felt anguish over the destruction of Indian culture and ideal by English education in India. He points out that education should be for progress and not for a changing or altering the structure of any society. An ordinary graduate is indeed a stranger in his own land.  Lord Macaulay believed that a single shelf of a good European library was worth all the literature of India, Arabia and Persia.  England suddenly with the great idea of ‘Civilizing Indian’, conceived that the way to do this was to make Indians like Englishmen. Under the wrong notion of Indian to be uncivilized, uncultured and uneducated, they wanted the Indians to be civilized, cultured and educated in English though the real intention was to create a group of English educated people who could function as a bridge between the mass of the Indians and the class of the English in India. This damaged the entire Indian education system.

One of the most celebrated arguments of Coomaraswamy on the disasters of English education is that a single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a nondescript and superficial being deprived of all roots—a sort of intellectual pariah, who does not belong to the East or the West, the past or the future. The greatest danger for India is the loss of her spiritual integrity. Of all Indian problems the education is the most difficult and the most tragic. He is of the firm opinion that “merely to inform is not to educate.” To educate is to sow the seeds of values of the particular culture. You can not educate by ignoring the ideals of the taught and setting up an ideal which they do not heartily acknowledged. The net result is that Indian culture is practically ignored in modern education. He quotes Sir George Birdwood, “Our education has destroyed their love of their own literature, the quickening soul of people and their delight in their own arts and worst of all their repose in their own traditional and national religion. The most crushing indictment of this Education is that it destroys all capacity for the appreciation of Indian culture. Speak to an ordinary graduate on the ideals of the Mahabharata he will hasten to display his knowledge of Shakespeare; talk to him of Indian art–it is news to him that such a thing exists; ask him to translate a letter written in his own mother tongue–he does not know it. It puts the student in a paradox: on the one hand the student is cut off from his roots. He would never be able to fully acquire the culture of his country and/or view point of the Imperialist.

Coomaraswamy thought about all this somewhere a century before but whatever he thought is hundred percent true to the present world of today. Our mind set is completely changed. Values are kept aside in the blind rush of physical pleasure. In this world the values are devalued. Without development of morality, there is no development of mankind. He strived for an ideal sort of national education to be implemented by purely Indian schools and colleges, wherein, along with other subjects the study of Indian Art based on the deepest philosophy of life, should be made compulsory. The students of India, along with the other subjects should learn about the Indian Art, Culture and civilization. If not, they would become strangers in their own land. They would be cut off and rooted out from the deeply set culture of India.

The Present Scenario.

Indian has been free for more than sixty years but our mindset is still colonized. The universities of India have been offering the conventional subjects and  producing best professors, engineers, doctors, lawyers, IIT’s and technocrats but the same have been  badly failing  to create best Indians or let’s say best humans. They do not not know their culture. In the blind rush of modernization or westernization, they can only think of making money in Dollars and pounds. They can not even think of contributing to the development of their motherland India. They sleep in the lap of mother India but they dream to work for aunty America. They can be the best professionals but they fail to be the best son, best brother, best husband, and best father or let’s say best Indians. They have forgotten or are trying to under estimate the cultural values of their motherland. The graduates of the recent India do not find any interest in casting their vote to proper person. And some of the youth are found blind followers of some political parties. They think that being a member of any political party; they can do the best service to their country. They put their wisdom at the dirty feet of the selfish and opportunist politicians who kick them away when they are useless. Some other are found crazy after the latest ‘Gazini’ style filmy hero. They collect and discuss a lot about the latest information of their favorite film hero but they do not even take a little pain to know about the real Heros of our country, due to whose deadly attempts and sacrifices, we can breathe in, the air of independence.  The recent generation likes to watch ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’, perhaps not because there is Gandhian philosophy shown in it, but there practiced a whole set of comedy in it otherwise ‘Gandhi my Father’ would have received equal popularity. They have very little concern for the glorious past of India. They find sometimes pleasure in playing pranks of the patriotism or the nationalism of the freedom fighters and the martyrs. The modern generation of India has forgotten the real path of ideal nationalism. The youth no more seem responsible for their motherland. They are busy attending disco-theque, night clubs, western music parties and hookah bars. Under the false name of friendship they, practice some anti social sex-scandals. The very problem of abortion among the teenagers has become very common talk of every town. They are busy in practicing all the behavior that entitles them Hi-Fi or super modern. And they feel very honoured in practicing all this. In the blind rush of all, some of the youth who are from middle class, having very good character ,sometimes tempted to follow the psuso-modernity or they fear to be greatly insulted and sometimes neglected by the so called modern society. In spite of all the possible attempts by the government and the authority, smoking, drinking, and intoxication of drugs are becoming common fashion of the youths of this incredible India. The new generation seems more short tempered and wants no interference of any of the elders. So we can not expect any respect for elders from this ultra modern generation. Not only the modern boys but also girls are also away from it. They have changed their likings and tastes. They wear the clothes which are far away from the Indian culture.  They who have great  responsibility of the country to gift another Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Shivaji ,Subhas, Vivekananda, or Gandhi to mother India  is no more Kaushlya,Yashoda or Jijabai.In the blind rush of modernity they seems to have forgotten their very important role as a responsible mother. They are sometimes found Drug edicted, chain smokers and what not! To maintain their figure, to look more slim and modern, they have completely changed their food habits and other habits. This, in future, can possibly cause a great trouble when they become mothers. Why is all this happening? We can not deny the fact that the words of Coomaraswamy are being proved right. To some extent, it is because of the fact that the youth of recent India are kept away from the cultural and national values.Coomaraswamy wants the people of India to become ideal Indians first and then anything else, to be able to understand the true value of Indian Art, culture and morality, and it is the duty of Indian schools and colleges or the education system of India to teach the students of India to be Indian not only in blood and colour but also in taste and intellect. We are of course Indian in blood and colour but in our taste, and intellect, it would not be excessive to say that we are no more Indians.

All this is not because of that the youth are not interested in true national values but because the same are not made aware of it. They are directionless. They do not know what they are doing? They are not properly guided.  If they are made aware of it all, they have every potential come out with the best national values. This is very nicely shown in the film ‘Rang de Basanti’. The present generation is living in the society of great dilemma. The corrupt politicians, irresponsible traders and businessmen, dishonest speakers, selfish sadhus, those who have kept the moral values aside while practicing their ‘gorakh dhandha’or black business. So an average Indian has lost the faith from the cultural values. He thinks that it is not in his hand to change the whole country. He has no power to change the country. Such poor and mean thinking leads him into a great pessimism that he is good for nothing for this country.

 What can be the solution?

                                              In these circumstances, the educational institutes can be the best possible help for sowing the seeds of cultural values in the minds and hearts of the students from the very starting of primary education to the last year of their formal education. They should be well convinced that the human values like honesty, pity, justice, nobility, equality, generosity, forgiveness, loyalty, respect for the existence of living beings, self-discipline, leadership, dutifulness, regularity, morality, truth, non violence, hard work, love, care, kindness etc. are very very essential along with being modern or hi-fi civilian of the globe in general and India in particular.

Even some possible solutions can be,

1.      The ultimate  solution is that the new generation must be taught the true cultural values through the lessons from selected  Anglo-Indian literature like that of Coomaraswamy’s Essays in National Idealism’.

2.      The course content should be designed in such a way that it would furnish the students with all the ethnic values.

3.      The teachers and the authority should establish the best examples of value system that the student can not loose faith.

4.      The cultural values should not be taught only theoretically in the classroom but it should have practical importance also.

5.      They should be motivated to watch such films and other T.V programmes that keep burning in them, the true spirit of ideal patriotism and nationalism.

6.      They can be motivated to read the books, magazines, articles, written on the lives of the great sons of mother India.

7.      Their deeds, having national values should be appreciated in public.

8.      In schools and colleges N.C.C, N.S.S and other cultural activities should be given necessary importance.

9.      The working day of all the higher studies should start with some selected prayers followed by National anthem.

10.  In some technical institutes, where if  it is not possible to teach the cultural and national values along with their course content, seminars, expert lectures, debates, elocutions, extempores,essay competitions , if possible then conferences etc.can be arranged to keep the technical students in touch with the national or cultural values.

References:

1.      Coomaraswamy Ananda, ‘Essays in National Idealism’. (1stedition)Delhi: Munsiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1981.

2.      Priyadarshni Sujata, ‘Role of Culture in ELT’, ‘The Journal of ELT’, March –April 2009.

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The documentary photo in support of the arguments in this paper

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Selection of Teaching Material for Undergraduate Students in Engineering Stream

 

Dr.. Tanushree Choudhary

Sr Lecturer

Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, University of Delhi

 

ABSTRACT

 

This article discusses the possible options vis-a-vis the present syllabus of English for students of engineering stream in University of Delhi. The study is based on data collected from first semester engineering students of Delhi University to find out their feedback on the course of English being taught presently. It was found that 

(a)   a change was needed

(b)   a change in the direction of new and recent material was expected and

(c)    Communication skills were rated high.

A review of the syllabus presently in the course has been done. Also a new syllabus, catering to the needs of the students has also been conceived.

 

Introduction

 

This article deals with the syllabus of a course named as Humanities and Liberal Studies. In actuality it consists of essays, stories, plays in English and exercises in English grammar. Though this course has not been updated for some time now, there is a lot of scope for including topics which will be relevant to students of engineering in the present times.

 

The purpose of having named the course so means it will allow the intellect of engineering students to go beyond the usual, normal or conventional perception and thinking. It in fact means to liberate the mind and intellect from the clasps of stereotyped human thinking. To me it means the perfect union of intellect with arts and arts with technology. An engineer navigating through such a course should be able to explore the unknown or the abstract and bring it to others in a medium (English) to benefit the society at large. The role of the teacher of languages, in this case English, is to enable, support and guide would-be engineers to a better level of proficiency. Whatever the nomenclature and the content, the English language still needs to be studied as a discipline and more seriously as a tool of self reliance and expression.

 

Background

 

Though the of Technology Policy Statement,1983, S&T Policy Statement,  2003 and later National Policy on Education, Government of India, 1986 envisaged the use of technology for betterment of the society, in reality all these failed to relate the student to real concerns of the society in which he/she lived. It has been found that disciplines offering engineering courses do not prepare the students for an education which sensitizes them to issues like poverty or social discrimination or child labour which plagues their society. There is thus a need to “educate” the aspiring students of technology in a broader sense, bearing in mind the image of an engineer who is incomplete without humanities and social sciences. In this way the engineers would be able to deal with and understand people and society effectively.  At stake is the fine tuning of the would-be engineers to such issues in a medium which is understood and is used to apply their learning to a milieu in and around them.

According to G E Mapstone 1978, the importance of humanities to technical subjects is lost because of the failure of a proper communication system. Had English been recognized as a worthy subject, this failure in underestimating the relation between humanities and engineering disciplines would not have taken place. The language English is important because it becomes an engineering tool for an engineer- a tool with which he communicates with his fellow men and colleagues. This ability to communicate will lead him towards other subjects and other worlds of knowledge. Huckin and Olson 1983, in a survey to determine the most needed subjects for engineers, held that communication skills were the most sought after skill.

                                             

 

Studies on curriculum development for engineering studies have also shown that adding social science subjects into engineering syllabus will promote both oral and written communication skills. It should be incorporated throughout the engineering programme. Limited communication skills may impede professional growth. Therefore, communication skills programmes in engineering colleges should be revamped to suit the requirements of the evolving curriculum and the world of work outside college. Introduction of technical writing in engineering courses was also held as important for engineers.

 

Purposes

(1)   Access to the world outside India: Countries other than India are moving fast in terms of academics. In order to be able to reach out to such advancements engineering students have to have a grasp of the language English. In the same way students of India can have an audience outside India if, and only if, they have a command of the subject in a certain language.

(2)   Use of the proper register: As compared to English, the regional languages of India are far behind in terms of vocabulary and terms of engineering. There is thus a greater need to enhance the language skills of English.

(3)   As they get into jobs the need for a good performer depends to a large extent, good communication skills. Good communication skills with a high level of competence in the English language is a much sought after attribute.

(4)   International communities reach out to India because of India’s capability to communicate in English language.

(5)   Potential employer is satisfied if he finds the prospective employee well acquainted with a language which is globally accepted.

(6)   The potential employee is able to articulate well his thoughts and ideas through his work only because of a proper hold on the language.

(7)   Good communication skills enable the students to look forward to jobs with better prospects.

 

Existing Syllabus

 

 In all there are only ten(10) chapters to be done from prescribed text namely ‘Essays, Short Stories and One Act Plays’. The chapters prescribed are a few essays- 5 in all, short stories- 3 in all and plays-2 in all. While some essays in the course deal with the theme of in/equality in society hinting at discrimination or subjugation prevalent in the society, it allows the student to also get a fair idea of socialism, communism and fascism. One of the essays on Nehru is a portrayal of Nehru as a true leader and the builder of the nation. There are discussions on the working of a government, democracy, the voters and leaders and the media. One gets a fair idea of the responsibilities of a voter and a non-voter, bureaucracy, the rule of law and the rule of men, the making of the constitution and the opposition. Going through these essays a student does a little retrospection- if this what the course implies. The essays become boring and tend to remain in textbooks only as a means to an end- to pass the exams. One of the essays paints the students in a bad light- in fact it raises a lot of debate on the role of students today. But it does paint the students in a sordid vein. Only one of the essays is enjoyable- the one that is narrative and talks of a group of people typified as bores. G B Shaw’s notion of freedom does not go down very well with the students- it is termed as far too stretched, tiring, whimsical and torturous approach to the concept of socialism. If the inclusion of such essays envisioned a heated debate, it has failed to do so. The plays and the stories were a welcome change.

 

There was also a grammar part named as English language practice which included exercises in English grammar- word formation, correction of sentences, use of idioms, dialogue/speech writing and technical description of objects and appliances.

Study

A survey was made to ascertain the views of students desiring changes in the existing syllabus. The survey was undertaken at Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (NSIT), University of Delhi. This course- Humanities- is a common course for all branches of engineering. The feedback was collected from 200 students of Information Technology and Electronics and Communications Engineering. The sample consisted of 66 respondents, selected randomly from 200 feedback forms, who were in the first semester. The respondents were given a questionnaire to answer in the class.  Among the questions that were asked were regarding the course- its depth and coverage by the instructor, about answer scripts and their grading and the question “In what way/s can the course be changed?” on which the study is based. This survey has taken account of a part of the feedback form, namely the question on how the course can be improved upon.

.

Table 1 gives a detailed account of changes that respondents looked forward to. While 54 out of 66 wanted a change, 5 out of 66 wanted no change and 7 out of 66 did not answer the question.

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1: Percentages of students wanting change/no change

 

Sl No

Kind of Changes

Number of Students

%

1

written/spoken/recent/change w/o  suggestion

54

81.81818

2

no change

5

7.575758

3

no answer

7

10.60606

 

total

66

 

 

It was found that 81.8% wanted a change in the syllabus and also suggested the kind of change- more written exercises or grammar, spoken exercises and inclusion of recent topics. 10% did not answer the question while 7.5% wanted to continue with the same course. A pie diagram in Fig 1 shows the same.

 

 

 

 Fig1: Percentages of students wanting change/no change.

 

Next the category-wise distribution of changes expected by the students was worked out. The categories of changes (written/grammar, spoken and recent topics) and the number of students wanting such changes were calculated.

 

Table 2: Category –wise distribution of changes

 

Sl no

Category-wise change

Number of students

Percentages

1

written or grammar

6

9.09

2

spoken skills

14

21.21

3

recent or scientific topics

29

43.93

4

change without suggestion

5

7.57

5

no change

5

7.57

6

no answer

7

10.60

 

total

66

 

 

 

From the above table the following can be concluded:

(1)       the number of students wanting changes in the form of introduction of new/recent/scientific topics was the highest at 43.93%.

(2)       Next came the students who wanted changes with introduction of more spoken skills (21%).

 

Thus it can be inferred that the students wanted more recent works to be incorporated the most. The following table (Table 3) prepared by leaving out students not wanting changes or not having answered (sl nos 5 & 6) makes the picture clearer:

 

 

Table 3: Percentage breakup of students in terms of categories

                                                  

Sl no

Category-wise Change

Number of Students

Percentages

1

written or grammar

6

11.11

2

spoken skills

14

25.92

3

recent or scientific topics

29

53.70

4

change without suggestion

5

9.25

 

Total

54

 


The findings show that:

(1)   The highest number of students (53.70%) wanted changes by way of introducing topics which were recent – scientific or otherwise.

(2)   The second highest percentage (25.92%) wanted their spoken skills to be improved.

(3)   11.11% students wanted more grammar or written tasks to be included in the course.

 

 

To further the notion of importance of communicative skills to them the students were asked to answer, what according to them was the most effective factor in teaching. The responses given were in terms of the following: communicative skills, ability to connect or friendliness of the instructor, knowledge of the subject and strictness.

 

 

Table 4: Factors Responsible for Effective Teaching

 

factors

numbers

%

1

communicative skill

20

30.30

2

friendliness

12

18.18

3

strictness

3

4.54

4

knowledge

18

27.27

5

no response

13

19.69

 

Total

66

 


 

 

Fig 2: Factors Responsible for Effective Teaching

 

 

 

The following can be deduced:

(4)   Communicative ability(sl no.1) is the highest rated ability responsible for effective teaching standing at 30.30%

(5)   By adding communicative skill and knowledge (sl nos.1 and 4), the % rises to 57.57%.

(6)   By adding 1,4 and 2(friendliness) the % rises to 75.57%

 

 

 

Envisioned Syllabus

 

Keeping in mind the suggestions of students, the new syllabus should aim at improving proficiency levels of spoken and written English, particularly clarity of thought and expression. The students should be exposed to select pieces of writing in English to acquaint them to different genres of writing, including language practice with emphasis on nuances of meaning and hone spoken skills by means of presentations, group discussions and debates. The main topics should be

(a)    Language practice: redoing basics of English language and grammar; writing practice of SOPs, CVs, summaries; preparation of brochures, notes, manuals, the concept of Standard English and English as a global language.

 

(b)   Literature: contemporary expository writing stimulating and thought provoking and debatable, sense the meaning conveyed with interplay of style, attitude, sensibility; tasks in unseen comprehension. (India:2020 or Ignited Minds by A P J Abdul Kalam)

 

(c)    Spoken proficiency: presentations, group discussions and recitations to boost the self confidence of speakers and overcome the hurdles in spoken English leading to communicative competence.

 

                                                                                                             

Conclusion

The existing syllabus needs to be revised. More topics on recent writing, scientific and otherwise should be included. Also communicative competence is the need of the hour. Based on students’ feedback more emphasis should be put on improving spoken skills which are very important to them.

 

References

Huckin, N. Thomas and Leslie A. Olson, 1983. English for Science and Technology: A Handbook for Nonnative Speakers. Singapore: McGraw-Hill.

Mapstone, GE. 1978. Humanities Subjects in Engineering Courses. Conference on Engineering Education : Sydney, N S W.

Sing, Damayanti. Ed. 1990. Identifying English Language Needs for Technical Education, Survey 2. Kanpur: Language Studies Unit, Curriculum Development Cell, IIT.

 

Venkatraman, G., & Prema, P. (2007). English language skills for engineering students:

A needs survey. ESP World, 3 (16)

 

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