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Enabling Students to Interpret Literary Texts Independently by
Enhancing Their Vocabulary
S. Jayalakshmi, M.A., M.Phil.
Difficulties in Retrieving Meaning
Interpretation means trying to decipher the idea which is part of a given word or phrase, sentence or a larger chunk such as a paragraph. Interpretation is enabled primarily by an identification of the written matter, that is, knowledge of the script, and later recognition of words and phrases, leading on to an understanding of simple and complex syntax. Since every language has unpredictable contextual meanings, one finds it difficult to decode or make sense of the given piece of literature, if it happens to be in a language which is not one's native. This not only happens to beginners but even experienced audience of literature stumbles upon the multiplicity of meanings while reading literature.
English Literature as Part of English Curriculum in Indian Schools
Ever since English language teaching was introduced in India after the Minutes of Macaulay during the late 1830s, English literature has been used to teach the English language to Indians. It was believed that appreciation of literature is an integral part of language learning. This was not against the prevailing Indian traditional education as well wherein study of literature was a stepping stone for the mastery of the relevant Indian language. Thus, in India, literature has for a long time been one of the most influential genres in teaching language.
Reasons for Using Literature to Teach Language
There may be different reasons for using literature to teach a language. Younger people are easily attracted by and can benefit from stories, for instance, in the sense that stories are not only interesting but they also induce spontaneous reading or listening on the part of the audience. In the case of the adult or mature readers, they can reflect upon stories or any piece of literature, for instance, and analyze their content within a historical context and/or a psychological framework.
Be it poetry or prose or fiction, literature often makes a lasting impression on its readers due to the vibrant imagery and the closeness of familiarity developed through the characters and events. Thus, literature often has the ability to evoke feelings and emotions, which no other subject can achieve.
English Teaching Scenario in India
Analyzing the English teaching scenario in India, almost all the schools and colleges have prescribed English texts with texts written by native English authors. It has always been taken for granted that the language-teaching class is to be converted into literature-learing class. As rightly pointed by Mehrotra (1995), "…interestingly, when a work of literature is used to teach language, the language class often turns into literature class and sometimes a general knowledge class, leaving language to take care of itself."
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Linguistic Purism and Language Planning in a Multilingual Context | The Problems of Teaching/Learning Tenses | Language and Literature: An Exposition - Papers Presented in Karunya University International Seminar | Similes in Meghduta - The Absolute Craftsmanship in Language | Culture of the Tamil Society as Portrayed in Ponniyin Selvan | Deconstructing Human Society: An Appreciation of Amitav Ghosh's Sea Of Poppies | Enabling Students to Interpret Literary Texts Independently by
Enhancing their Vocabulary | Coping with the Problems of Mixed Ability Students | Displaced Diasporic Identities - A Case Study of Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz | English Language Teaching in Developing Countries Error Analysis and Remedial Teaching Methods - An Overview | Diaspora Literature - A Hybrid or a Hybridized Product? | Anita Desai's Journey To Ithaca - A Manifestation of Vedantic Knowledge | A Study on the Physiological, Psychological and Spiritual Perspectives of Different Selves in a Self with Special Reference to Yann Martel's SELF | Conveniences and Complexities of Computer-Aided Language Learning | The Danger Lurking Within: The African American Woman in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye | Practices and Paradigms of Using Multimedia and Language Laboratory for Teaching Communication Skills to Technical Students | English: A Blessing in Disguise - A Study of Chinua Achebe's Technique of Hybridization | Language Teaching - The Present Day Challenges | Is Literature a Viable Medium for ESL Acquisition? | The Lord of The Rings : Galadriel, The Light Of Middle-Earth | Teaching Reading - A Challenge in Itself | The Silent Way | Translator as Reader: Phenomenology and Text Reception - An Investigation of Indulekha | The Dysfunctional Women in Mary Gordon'sThe Other Side | Utopia and Dystopia, Conflict Between Two Extremes - An Appraisal of Anita Desai's Cry, The Peacock | Reading 'god' Backwards | The Comic Vision in the Stories and Sketches of R.K.Narayan | My Responses to The English Teacher | 'Fall from Grace into Grief': Putting into Perspective the Outrages of Terrorism in Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown | Style and Language in M. G. Vassanji's The Assassin's Song | Affirmation of Life in Lloyd C. Douglas' Magnificent Obsession | Effectiveness of Group Investigation Model and Simulation Model in Teaching English | A Mathematical Treatment of Feministic Literature for the Prediction of Social Trends | Multiple Intelligences and Second Language Learning | Amitav Ghosh's The Circle Of Reason - A Study of Diaspora | The Role of Multimedia in Teaching Writing in English | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF JANUARY 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of January 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR
S. Jayalakshmi, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Candidate
Department of English and Foreign Languages
Coimbatore 641 046
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