Literature as a Model for Writing. There are three main kinds of writing that can be based on literature as a model: Controlled Writing: Controlled model-based exercises which are used mostly in beginning-level writing typically require rewriting passages in arbitrary ways to practice specific grammatical structures.
For instance, students can be reporters doing a live newscast, or they can rewrite a third person passage into first person from a character’s point of view Guided Writing: This activity corresponds to intermediate-level ESL / EFL. Students respond to a series of questions or complete sentences which, when put together, retell or sum up the model. In some cases, students complete the exercise after they receive the first few sentences or the topic sentence of a summary, paraphrase, or description. Guided writing exercises, especially at the literal level, enable students to comprehend the work. Model approach and scenario approach are very beneficial in this respect.
Reproducing the Model:This activity comprises techniques like paraphrase, summary, and adaptation. These techniques are very beneficial ESL / EFL writing exercises. In paraphrasing, students are required to use their own words to rephrase the things that they see in print or hear aloud. Since paraphrase coincides with the students’ trying to make sense of the poem, it is a strikingly useful tool with poetry. Summary work goes well with realistic short stories and plays, where events normally follow a chronological order and have concrete elements like plot, setting, and character to guide student writing. Adaptation requires rewriting prose fiction into dialog or, reversely, rewriting a play or a scene into narrative. This activity enables students to be aware of the variations between written and spoken English.
Using drama in a language classroom is a good resource for language teaching. It is through the use of drama that learners become familiar with grammatical structures in contexts and also learn about how to use the language to express, control and inform. The use of drama raises the students’ awareness towards the target language and culture. In this context, the use of drama as a tool rather than an end gains importance in teaching a foreign language. Yet, there is one obvious danger: cultural imposition should be severely avoided since it results in the loss of language ego and native language identity in many cases.
To put it differently, language learning should be culture-free but entirely not culture-biased. For this reason, the new language and the context of the drama should fuse into a language learning process with high interest, relevance and enjoyment. Learners should make use of drama to promote their comprehension of life experiences, reflect on particular circumstances and make sense of their extra linguistic world in a deeper way. The educational benefits of drama, according to (Lenore 1993), are as follows:
exposing the learners to the target culture as well as the social problems a society may be undergoing,
increasing creativity, originality, sensitivity, fluency, flexibility, emotional stability, cooperation, and examination of moral attitudes, while developing communication skills and appreciation of literature,
helping learners improve their level of competence with respect to their receptive and productive skills,
providing a solid basis for the learners to bridge the gap between their receptive and productive skills,
offering students the space and time to develop new ideas and insights in a range of contexts,
enabling students to develop new understandings and forms of knowing not accessible in other more traditional ways of learning.
In other words, the use of drama seems to be an effective technique in today’s communication-based, student-centered foreign language teaching. Since it is an authentic material, it helps students to promote their comprehension of the verbal / nonverbal aspects of the target language they are trying to master. Particularly, teachers, who wish to make language learning more colorful, motivating and interesting, can make use of drama in their language classes. Since drama is the reenactments of social events, students improve their personality and code of behavior. Thus, they can achieve more meaningful and realistic teaching from which students can benefit to a great extent.
Needless to say, literature-based dramatic activities are valuable for ESL / EFL. They facilitate and accelerate development of the oral skills since they motivate students to achieve a clearer comprehension of a work’s plot and a deeper comprehension and awareness of its characters. Though drama in the classroom can assume many forms, there are three main types, which are dramatization, role-playing, improvisation. Dramatization requires classroom performance of scripted materials.
Students can make up their own scripts for short stories or sections of novels, adapting them as closely as possible to the real text. Based on the story, they must guess what the characters would say and how they would say it. Scripts written by students are also probable with plays.
Poems comprising one or more personae may also be scripted by students. Students should attentively read assigned sections of dialog in advance and be able to answer questions about characters and plot.
They should indicate vocabulary, idioms, or dialog they don’t understand and words they cannot pronounce. Students next rehearse the scene with their partners. Although they don’t memorize it, they learn it well enough to make eye contact and say their lines with meaning and feeling [18;143].
Moreover, they discuss semiotic aspects of staging the scene (i.e. facial expressions, gestures, and the physical aspects). At last, the dramatization is presented before the class.
Improvisation and Role-Playing
Both improvisation and role-playing may be developed around the characters, plot, and themes of a literary work. Improvisation is a more systematic activity, i.e., a dramatization without a script. There is an identifiable plot with a beginning, middle, and end in improvisation. However, in role playing, students picture characters from the work being read and join in a speaking activity other than a dramatization, such as an interview or panel discussion.
Making each student responsible for facts and ideas to be contributed and discussed, group activities stimulates total participation. All students are involved and the participation is multidirectional. When teaching English through literature, some of the group activities used in language classroom are general class discussion, small-group work, panel discussions, and debates. All of these group activities both develop the speaking abilities of the students and give importance to pronunciation practice. Teachers indicate pronunciation errors of the students during the act of such activities so as to correct such errors.
Literature is authentic material. It is good to expose learners to this source of unmodified language in the classroom because they skills they acquire in dealing with difficult or unknown language can be used outside the class. Literature encourages interaction. Literary texts are often rich is multiple layers of meaning, and can be effectively mined for discussions and sharing feelings or opinions.Choosing books relevant to the real-life experiences, emotions, or dreams of the learner is of great importance. Language difficulty has to be considered as well. If the language of the literary work is simple, this may facilitate the comprehensibility of the literary text but is not in itself the most crucial criterion. Interest, appeal, and relevance are also prominent.