Literature as Media for Developing Language Competence and Building Social Awareness

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Literature as Media for Developing Language Competence and Building Social Awareness By Fatchul Mu’in
Faculty of Teacher Training and Education
Lambung Mangkurat University Banjarmasin
E-mail: muin_sihyar@yahoo.com

Literature is a kind of the artwork which uses a language as a medium. If it said that literature is a language in one side, learning literature is, at the same time, learning a language in the other side. English literature is literature written in English language. In this relation, learning English literature is, at the same time, learning English language. If literature talks about human life, by using literary works we can learn and build our social awareness, and at almost the same time we can contribute to nation character building. In this paper, the writer offers the mechanism of how the literary works can be used to develop language competence (in listening, speaking, reading and writing) and the advantages of learning the literary works in relation to the social awareness building or nation character building.

Key words: literature, language, language competence, social awareness, and character building

Introduction

In the English language learning and teaching, there are four language skills to be developed: listening, speaking, reading and writing. In this paper, why and how a language teacher should use literary texts in the language classroom, what sort of literature language teachers should use with language learners, literature and the teaching of language skills, and benefits of different genres of literature to language teaching will be taken into account. Thus, the place of literature as a tool rather than an end in teaching English as a second or foreign language will be unearthed.

The material of literature is something very general, such as ‘human life’. This implies that literature can deal with every human activity, or human experience. Some of these activities are peculiar, some are more widespread, and some are universal. Therefore, we should expect that literature is “the record of human experience”. As the record of human experience, literature may record may some aspects of human culture, expecially, of morality.

Based on the illustration above, literature can be used as medium to improve language skill and at the same it can be used to build human character. Learning literature is learning a language and at the same time the learners are made to be aware of morality.

The Use of Literature in Language Teaching

The use of literature as a technique for teaching both basic language skills (i.e. reading, writing, listening and speaking) and language areas (i.e. vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation) is very popular within the field of foreign language learning and teaching nowadays. Moreover, in translation courses, many language teachers make their students translate literary texts like drama, poetry and short stories into the other language. Since translation gives students the chance to practice the lexical, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic and stylistic knowledge they have acquired in other courses, translation both as an application area covering four basic skills and as the fifth skill is emphasized in language teaching. In the following section, why language teachers use literary texts in the foreign language classroom and main criteria for selecting suitable literary texts in foreign language classes are stressed so as to make the reader familiar with the underlying reasons and criteria for language teachers’ using and selecting literary texts.

Literature is interesting and stimulating. It will allow a reader to imagine worlds they are not familiar with. This is done through the use of descriptive language. In order to understand, the reader will create their vision of what the writer is saying. In this sense, the reader becomes a performer or an actor in a communicative event as they read. Using literature versus a communicative textbook...
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