Literature in Language Classroom

Literature in Language Classroom


Literature in language classroom gives different ideas and views to improve language skills. By studying Literature students get ideology of language, different critical views, structure and style of developing language skills and method of interaction between students and teachers. Literature can incorporate students to know about unknown, to look for pleasure, to share their views with others, to build up creativity in their own, to communicate with teacher eagerly and to be prudent in their own sense. As it is based on classroom short story is more useful than any other literary genres, because we face some problems in novel, drama and poetry in developing language skills for time maintaining, overcrowded classes, the length of novel, long time to grasp, difficulties to understand and getting not pleasure etc. Although literature was ignored previous time for improving language skills, but it is now using greatly only for short stories in language classroom. According to Langer (1997) Literature can open horizons of possibility, allowing students to question, to interpret, to connect and explore. P-602-614. Short stories are also more beneficial than informational materials in stimulating the acquisitional process as they provide authentic contexts for processing new language. Literary texts develop foreign language Learners in sight into the country and the people whose language is being learnt. (Collie and Slater, 1991). In another sense, using short stories in language improvement has the advantage of supplying cultural information about the target language. Specially short story enables students to understand and accept their cultures, societies, ideologies, philosophy which are different from their own. It also inspires personality and individual development (Carter and Long,1991, P.2-4) I have selected “Shooting an Elephant” by George Or well and “The Night The Ghost Got In” by James Thurber for proving the importance of short stories in improving language skills. These stories are easier to comprehend with in class hours and they also increase the curiosity in mind.

Short stories and Language Development Skills

Short story is narrative, that can be read at one sitting of from one-half to two hours and that is limited to a specific unique or single effect (Abrams, 1970, P-158).  It is short and aims at giving a single effect, there is usually one plot, a few characters. There is no detailed description of setting. It is comprehensive and easy for students. I believe that short stories provide appropriate content for presentable teaching-learning activities, because the short story containing a picture of life, artistic density and aesthetic appeal, is a source of immense pleasure. Hamid (2000) This pleasure can motivate learners to read, to listen, to understand, the inherent insights and share their experiences of reading the story with fellow Learners and teachers (P-112).

Firstly short story is practical as their length is long enough to cover entirely in one or two class sessions. Secondly, short stories are complicated for students to work with on their own. Thirdly, short stories have a variety of choices. Finally, short stories can be used at all classes.

Selecting Short Stories

Arthur (1968) argued that literature is the vehicle for learning language skills (P-14) It means that literature should be approached not only for its surrender value but also for its own sake. The softness of the short stories is essential for the students. Hill (1994) points out three basic criteria for selecting the short stories (P-15)

(a)    The needs and abilities of students.

(b)    The linguistic and stylistic level of the text.

(c)    The amount of back ground, information required for a true appreciation of the material

I have selected “Shooting an Elephant” and “The Night The Ghost Got In” for proving my issues. Firstly, short stories attract students for its pleasure. Secondly, curiosity to know about different cultures and relations with the known Bengali stories. Thirdly, they are fairly short, simple and comprehensive. Finally, activities of students in class is essential. Spack (1985) Suggests the aspect of interest to be considered, it is important for the teacher to choose stories that would interest students that he likes to read (P-202)

Focusing on Reading

For improving reading skill the teacher can provide the background of the short story, talk about author and related things. In class, students can practice four reading strategies such as skimming, scanning, predicting and inferring. Teacher can make the students read aloud the short story, at the same time he can share his views with students regarding the topic.

“The Night The Ghost Got In” as a literary text is more readable than any other literary genres. Students also can share their views with each other and this develops their reading skill. The story “shooting an Elephant” gives to learners the information about new terms like colonialism and imperialism. By reading this story learners also can know about the tyranny of British to Burmese, attitude of Burmese to British. Another Short Story “ The Night the Ghost Got In” helps learners to know information about fun of complicated modern life and delightful fearness. It creates curiosity of learners to know the end of story.

Focusing on writing

Short stories can be useful source for improving writing skill. By using short story as model, students can improve writing and become closely similar to the original work or clearly imitates its content. The idea of short story such as “Shooting an Elephant” exhibits original thinking of writing like interpretation and analysis, these are easier for improving writing.

Oster (1989) affirms that literature facilitates students to write more creatively (P-85). Students can be asked for writing dialogues between the characters, paraphrasing the paragraph, summarizing the short story, and writing theme in one sentence. To do these my selected stories are essential for its characters, discussions and writing style.


The purpose of English language improving skills is to help students to communicate fluently in the target language. Students can convey their thoughts through capacity of critical thinking and using language authentically. Teachers should provide an exclusive method of language use. To do these he/she should focus on short stories. The selection of short stories should be done in reference to the course objective. The improvement of language skill is varied from classroom to classroom and learner to learner. It is proved that short stories can be used to supply four skills in language learning. Short stories really help students to expand their linguistic and cognitive skills, cultural knowledge and sensitivity. Finally, the short stories may serve for some other language skills such as advancement vocabulary.

References in APA style

Abrams, M.H. (1970) A Glossary of Literary Term, Newyork Rinehart.

Arthur. B. (1968) Reading Literature and Learning a Second Language: Work Papers in English as Second Language, Los Angles, University of California,  P-14.

Collie, J and Slater, S. (1991) Literature in Language Classroom (5th ed), Glasgow, CambridgeUniversity press.

Carter, R. and Long, M.N (1991) Teaching Literature, Harlow, Longman.

Hamid, M. O. (2000, June) Short stories in the EFL Class: Rationales and Implications, the Dhaka University studies, P-112.

Hill, J. (1994) “Using Literature in Language Teaching” London, Macmillan, (P-15)

Langer, J. (1997) Literary Acquisition through Literature, Journal of Adolescent and Adult study, 40, 602-614.

Oster, J. (1989) “Seeing with Different Eyes: Another view of Literature in the ESL Class” TESOL Quarterly, 23, 85-103.

Spack, R. (1985) “Literature Reading Writing and ESL Bridging the Gaps” TESOL Quarterly, 19, 202.

References in MLA style

Abrams, Meyer Howard A Glossary of literary Terms. Newyork Rinehart. 1970.

Arthur, B. “Reading Literature and Learning a Second Language: Work paper in English as Second Language” Los Angles, University of California P, 1968.

Collie. J and Slater, S. Literature in Language Classroom, (5th ed) Glasgow, Cambridge U, Press, 1991

Carter. R. and Long, M. Teaching Literature : Harlow, longman, 1991.

Hamid, Obaidul. short stories in EFL class : Rationales and Implications,Dhaka, the D.U Studies, June, 2000.

Hill, Jennifer. Using Literature in Language Teaching,London, Macmillan, 1994, 15.

Langer, J. Literary Acquisition through Literature Journal of Adolescent and Adult study P 1997.

Oster, J. Seeing with Different Eyes: Another view of Literature in the ESL Class, TESOL Quarterly (1989), 23, 85-103.

Spack, R. Literature Reading Writing and ESL Bridging the Gaps, TESOL Quarterly, (1985),19, 202.

Literature in Language Classroom