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Role-Play in Teaching Literature

By thinhthanhqn Jul 06, 2011 798 Words
This thesis studies Role-play as an approach in enhancing advanced learners’ comprehension of English and American short stories. Primarily set in Literature classes of Foreign Language Faculty of UTE the research employs both experiential and experimental methods. The first chapter of the thesis presents some factors that may affect the study, specifies the problems and aims of the study, and briefly describes the methodology. 1.1Background of the Study

Literature is a very versatile subject and is generally considered one of the most difficult subjects to teach and to study. Studying native literature in native language is not easy at all; it can not be compared with studying foreign literature in foreign language. Studying American and British literature is an extremely difficult task which face many Vietnamese students. Understanding literary language requires more efforts than doing with spoken language. Therefore, literature subject is often in the list of the most unfavourite subjects. When being asked about their idea toward the subject at the beginning of the course, the students did not conceal their negative attitude toward literature subject. They assumed that studying literature was very boring; they gradually lost the sense of pleasure and enjoyment that went with the study of literature. Their explanation was rooted from the high school time when they studied Vietnamese literature with fear or scare; likewise, English literature at university is not an exception. To address this phenomenon, the problems in studying and teaching English literature may be listed as follows.

The first problem is students’ lack of clear goal and objectives. Undoubtedly, if a student does not know the aims of studying literature, he or she will probably not get the pleasure or satisfaction in literature. Numerous students claim that literature is useless in their daily life, and that they cannot use literary language in both daily and working communications. However, literature obviously plays an inevitable role which is claimed by Maxim Gorky, the famous Russian writer: The aim of literature is to help man to understand himself, to strengthen the trust in himself, and to develop in him the striving toward truth; it is to fight meanness in people, to learn how to find the good in them, to awake in their souls shame, anger, courage; to do all in order that man should become nobly strong. Therefore, the teacher’s duty is to present the clear and practical objectives at the beginning of the course and the learning aims in each lesson.

The second problem may be blamed on the dissymmetry between the difficult language in literary works, especially of old English and students’ low level of English. Unique literary words, transcendent ideas, or unusual writing styles are some noticeable hindrances to students’ understanding and interest in prose or poetry. Choosing a masterpiece novel to teach is not a matter but making the learners master its content, meaning and especially stylistic devices is a quite different story. Due to the study timetable constraint students cannot be required to read the whole novel and analyze it in less than a week. Consequently, a short story should be used instead of a novel.

Last but not least, the most important cause to the students’ boredom is the teaching method. A pensive class atmosphere and passive and sleepy students are all blamed on two continuous hours or more of listening to the lecturing in non-native language. Students sit passively trying to struggle against sleepiness in order to take note every word transmitted to their ears. They do not trigger their mind at all; they accept all opinions about the characters, themes, and so on presented by the teacher as if they were undeniable facts. As a result, students do not participate in the process of understanding and evaluating characters’ psychology and then refer the work to their real situations.

All of the above problems can be solved only when the literature teaching approach is changed in a positive way. This means that students will be involved in the lesson, searching a way to understand the meaning of the story by themselves. The teacher plays the role of a facilitator who guides students to a thorough and correct comprehension. With this discipline in mind, the teacher can activate students by applying Role-play approach. Role-play approach in which students are assigned certain roles to act can enhance students’ comprehension of literature texts as well as their interest in studying literature. However the good points of Role-play approach in teaching literature needs to be verified by a research. The findings of the research will help literature teachers to decide to what extent or whether Role-play approach should be applied. Moreover, the findings will be the answers to the problems above and bring pleasure to English literature classes.

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