Teaching American Literature in English
In American literature, our teaching methods and awareness of language are deeply connected to our research and theorizing. How we research, conceptualize and write about American Literature necessarily informs how and why and what we teach, which is always deeply connected to language study. In this panel, the presenters will present productive, creative teaching methods for enhancing the concurrent study of literature and language.
The use of questions as a central pillar of the classroom will be discussed in this presentation as a way of motivating students to think more broadly and read more deeply. Questions are a powerful way to focus attention on literary works and get students to use English more actively. By using questions at the center of their studies, students can learn how to think on their own, and develop their own autonomy with literary texts even when their English level is low. In this presentation, examples of questions and methods for conducting question-asking and question-answering activities will be discussed.
Ways of using short stories to make learners interested will be presented by focusing on good stories that make students absorbed, e.g. "Three Hours between Planes" by Fitzgerald and "Long Walk to Forever" by Vonnegut. Students become absorbed when stories make them think about life or love as if they were real experiences. When that happens, the hurdle of English is lowered. These stories have short films, which further stimulates learners' imaginations, and gives more opportunities to improve their language abilities. Overall, learners will have a chance not only to acquire target language but also to think about their life.
There are two types of approach to literary texts: first, reading people and the society in texts as if they were real people and a real society; and second, reading people and the society in texts as a product of human artistic creation. Roughly speaking, they can read texts from their own nose or read with theories. However, the latter way stays inside the confines of a narrow community aiming to analyze the text, thus alienating readers who would rather follow the first approach. World Literature as an approach is requiring the two to shake hands. Of course, many students have insufficient academic ability in English to read literature. One answer to finding a positive way of reading literature and engaging in communicative language teaching is to set up a “culminant task.” The culminant task engages students strongly with a motivating and meaningful focus on both language and literature.