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Home » » How can one teach the four skills through literature?

Literature and language appear to be two sides of a coin. If people want to learn a language, literature of that language can be instrumental in learning. Though literature generally reflects the culture, traditions, and lifestyles of people of a particular geographical region, it holds the language and its diverse use. Literature can be used to teach all the four skills of the target language. 


Reading is a very important receptive skill that learners need to develop while learning a language. Understanding tone, voice, purpose, and main ideas or arguments of the text are important to develop reading skills. A selected literary piece from the target language can help learners develop vocabulary, critical thinking and other reading skills. 


By using literature for teaching language, teachers can help learners develop writing skills. By analyzing fiction and nonfiction texts, learners can identify formal and informal language use, and learn how to make good sentences. For example, a teacher can use a scene of a drama in the class to help students wrote a drama for the semester-end program. Before asking students to write a drama, teachers need to make sure that students read a drama in groups and watch the game drama in youtube or other websites. 


Like reading and writing, listening can be enhanced if teachers use literary recorded conversation. Most often, teachers ask . students to watch movies or video in the target language. There are many movies that are based on literature. Teachers can ask students to watch a movie or some video clips, and students can take tests on their listening. Listening to songs to improve listening skills is another area to be used. By practising ta listen to songs, students can learn some pronunciation, vocabulary, and note taking skills. All these skills will eventually add to their growth of listening skills. 


Speaking in a language does not mean to memorize some formulaic speech, and use them in everyday life. Developing speaking skills in a language requires continuous efforts in using the language in communication. Fluency is more important than accuracy in terms of communication. If literature is used in helping students develop speaking skills, learners might be motivated to share their opinions on the organization and themes presented in the text. Students can talk about agreements and disagreements of the points that the authors have explained in the selected literary piece. 

Literature and language are inseparable. They seem to complement each other. In old times when teachers used Grammar Translation Method, literature was the target and means of teaching and learning a language. However, with the emergence of CLT and other communicative language teaching approaches, literature seems to have lost its interest in teaching a language. With a clear focus on developing language skills, literature can be used based on students’ needs and language status.


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