Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 3 March 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Teaching of English Literature and Empowerment of Indian Students

M. Poonkodi, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.


In this paper, I would like to identify and propose a different focus in teaching English literature to semi-and non-urban Indian students, who study in government-run schools and colleges.

English is taught as a second language in most of the government-run schools and colleges in rural and semi-urban areas, with less than desirable enthusiasm among the students to learn and appreciate English literature. The desire to learn and master English for a better career in these days of globalization is manifest in urban schools and colleges. But students. attitude towards learning of English in rural and semi-urban areas has not changed much. They experience a fear psychosis and feel being alienated in their English classes.

Confusing Declarations: Dichotomy between the Pronouncements of Politicians and the Demands in the Job Market

There is a dichotomy between the pronouncements of politicians who preach in favor of Indian languages and almost decry the learning and use of English on the one hand, and the growing value added to the mastery of English in the job market. This dichotomy has existed for generations in modern India. It will not go away easily. Meanwhile, first generation learners as well as students from rural and semi-urban areas need more motivation to study and acquire some mastery of English.

Drawback Is Inherent

In the System Here one of the serious drawbacks is not with the students but with the system that lacks a suitable methodology for the teaching of literature. I assume that judicious use of literature helps learn a language better, in a balanced manner.

Currently, the English teacher utilizes her teaching session to stage her mono act enthusiastically while students remain passive observers scarcely participating in it and carelessly attempting to take notes in between the cramped space of the prescribed text. The literature class should pave the way for significant interaction between the teacher and the students. However, currently the literature class is transformed into a discipline in itself, with emphasis more on content and on the analysis of the literary pieces encountered in the class.

How do we change this situation and exploit literature as an entertaining and empowering tool to master the language? I propose that empowering students in ways detailed below will help remedy this condition.

Prose and Poetry: Classrooms Should Become Places for Interactive Learning

Almost always, teaching of English literature continues in Indian class rooms through the genre of prose and poetry.

Literature is an important window letting one to a have a view of the world and realizing the expression of culture by means of sharing individual or collective life experiences. Since literature is formed through the language, it is also the agent for interaction during teaching sessions demanding student.s active participation.

Unfortunately, most of the literary classes in semi- and rural India become oppressive for the students because of the inadequate methods of teaching followed by the English teachers. For example, if a teacher teaches a poem in English and takes the students line by line through it in a theoretical manner, without letting the students to exercise their imagination and interpret the metaphors, themes or imagery in their own ways, literature turns out to be an agent that assimilates them to teacher.s mindset. The teacher stands before them as an autocratic personality with no interest to let the students participate in learning. Class room, then, is no more a place of interaction but a place wherein monologue is authoritatively delivered.

Role of Indigenous Sentiments

When teachers teach the students ignoring their indigenous sentiments, another great damage is done to them. Students feel isolated and far removed from their culture. Terry Dean observes, ¡°the further a child.s culture is from the culture of the school, the less chance for success. Class room environments that do not value the home culture of the students lead to decreased motivation and poor academic performance¡±. Even while teaching English literature, Indian students should be taught and must be allowed to learn from their own cultural perspectives and worldviews for their empowerment.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders A SLP'S GUIDE | Teaching of English Literature and Empowerment of Indian Students | Translating Irony in the Quranic Texts – A Contrastive Study of Yousif Ali and Pickthall English Translations | “Why” And “How” of Literature in Language Classroom | An Evaluation of the Communicative Approach and Audio-Lingual Method in Teaching Grammar in a Private High School in Turkey | Command or Curse? Women’s Position - A Look at Genesis 3 : 16 in the Light of Abuse | Learning Sanskrit: A Personal Experience | Plural in Tamil and Telugu - A Comparison | Incorporating Translated Malay Short Stories into Teaching English Language Skills | Getting Exposure to Input in Multimedia Language Laboratory - A Pleasurable Learning Experience | Representation of a Minority Community in a Malaysian Tamil Daily | The Internal Landscape and the Existential Agony of Women in Anjana Appachana’s Novel LISTENING NOW, A Doctoral Dissertation | HOME PAGE of March 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

M. Poonkodi M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.
Department of English
School of Science and Humanities
Karunya University
Coimbatore- 641114, Tamilnadu

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