Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 12














Related with topic 16
Pre-while-post reading and listening
Reading activities (Hymes)

During the late nineteen seventies and the eighties, the influence of the communicative
and of the learner-centred approaches extended a tendency to put an emphasis on oral
language, giving written language, especially in primary education, much less
importance. The dominant theories about foreiY1 language teaching supported the use
of authentic materials and real language as far as possible. Literature might have
contributed to provide this language input, had its language not been considered too
difficult to be appropriate for students at this learning stage. Consequently, there was a
distancing effect from literature in foreign language teaching. Interest in it is recovering
nowadays, and a good example of this phenomenon is the increase of titles and the
amount of literature books published for FLT.
In this theme, after studying different reasons for including literary texts in the lesson
planning, we are going to see how to select an adequate text for primary pupils, taking
into consideration aspects such as the epochs and literature genres in which a specific
text might be included. We will also pay attention to the students' characteristics and to
the teacher's goals connected with the use of literature in the FLC.
Finally, in the last point we will consider different important aspects of using a literary
text during a lesson.


Why are literary texts suitable for being used in primary education? It is important to
speak about these reasons because depending on which ones are taken into
consideration, one kind of literary text or another should be chosen. We can classify
them into 2 groups, according to their focus:
- Reasons focusing on the students
- Reasons focusing on teaching methodological aspects

Let's start with the reasons focusing on the students:

- In Primary Education, our pupils are at the stage of operatory intelligence according to
Jean Piaget, which implies an eminence of inductive thinking. In other words, it is
easier from them to acquire the FL by being in contact with it than trying to learn a set
of rules. Literature con provide this contact through real text.
- Another reason for including literature texts in our classroom is the receptiveness of
students at this age. They easily identificate themselves with the characters and the
situations that appear in the stories.
- Finally and from a different point of view, in the literary texts we can find a wide
range of moral values and ethical aspects. Literature speaks of fundamental human
aspects, and provides eternal information. Moreover, the acquisition of the habit of
reading is an indicator of the autonomy reflected as one of the 8 basic competences
developed under the proposal of the European Union the 18th of December of 2006.
Let's move onto the reasons focusing on teaching methodological aspects:
- Our students should be exposed to a wide range of text-types and styles, and to a
language input with different difficulty, always within the grasp of their understanding.
When they are in situations in which they have to speak English, they will have to make
use of different linguistic styles and communicative objectives. And we can find this
variety in literary texts, among other sources. And literature has the added value Of its
richness and quality.
- Another reason has to do with of the key questions regarding the nature of the
language input our students will receive. David Nunan (Nunan, 1991) defines authentic
materials as 'those which have been produced for purposes other than language
teaching'. Literature fulfils the conditions that this author establishes for authenticity. It
might be said that literary language is at a much higher level than the students in
primary education can understand, and it is so for most kind of texts, but not for all of
them, as we are going to see in point 2. And apart from this, we can always find brief
fragments that can serve our teaching objectives, written with a vocabulary mostly
known by our students, so that they can understand the gist of the text; or maybe the
teaching objective is that pupils practise sensitising. Additionally, there is the question
of abridging the original texts, but we might consider this as a last option, with some

advantages that have to do with our students' motivation to read (as they will be able to
understand a text extracted from an abridged version, which will motivate them), and
with the possibility it offers to present a language input where certain linguistic aspects
appear repeatedly (eg a book with only certain verbal tenses), if a structuralist pattern is
to be followed. Nevertheless, we can find texts that our students can understand in
literary works too, and that is the subject of this paragraph.
- According to techniques connected with motivational aspects, as we saw in theme 8, is
enhanced through the practice of anticipating what is going to be read as these predictions help
to recall vocabulary and structures that might appear afterwards, and provide a stimulus to

keep reading. It has to do both with motivational (as we can see in theme 25) and
linguistic aspects. Literary texts help reading comprehension through the possibility of
easily foreseeing the situations coming next. Because of its own nature, literature
provides enough motivating elements, and clues, to allow the reader to infer different
possibilities for the progression of a scene.
- The mere activity of extensive reading supposes a linguistic enrichment, as the students will
learn some vocabulary and will become familiarised with new structures.
- Literary texts contribute to the students' cultural education, they introduce them to

characters of different-social status, with values different from their own, who possibly
have feelings different from theirs. These texts provide an excellent resource for directly
contemplating cultural aspects that may be different from those of the students, and that
are difficult to deal with in a systematic way (eg eating habits, the house, daily routines,
values, etc.).
- Finally, it is well worth mentioning how, within the lesson planning, literary text can
be easily adapted to different used as a complement to other materials. Teachers can
plan as many activities around a text as they consider adequate for the text can have
different extensions; in this way, working with a literary text can last as long as the
teacher wishes, depending on their aims. The fact is that this kind Of activity can be
easily included among others in which different materials are used, such as, for
example, the textbook.


We know that literature refers to written materials characterised by excellence of style
and expression or by Dell Hymes of general or enduring interest. But it is widely
accepted that literature includes the oral tradition of a country in the shape of limericks,
nursery rhymes or riddles, something that can be applied in or lessons due to their short
length or linguistic simplicity. Let's start with limericks, funny five stanzas whose origin
can be found in a custom that took place at festive meetings where each guest had to
recite or sing what was called "nonsense verse" which was followed by a chant with le
line "Will you come up to Limerick?" We can see here and example , useful to practice
the difference between /i:/ and /i/ for example, maybe at 6th of PE, because of its
There once was a man from Darjeeling
Who travelled from London to Earling
When it said on the door
"Please, don't spit on the floor"
He carefully spat on the ceiling
Let's continue with nursery rhymes, short traditional verses or songs for children as the
well-known "There was an old woman who swallowed a fly" unsed in the Top Class 4
or as "Two little monkeys"
Two little monkeys fighting in bed.
One fell out and hurt his head.
The other called the doctor
And the doctor said:
Thats what you get for fighting in bed.

This may be useful for treating the past of some verbs.

Finally it is more debatable whether riddles constitute a literary genre, but what is
undeniable is their utility for FLT , as they are very short and simple, and incorporate a
challenge for students. Also riddle are very motivating activities, and motivation is
something reflected in the article 1G of the LOE.
You eat me for breakfast
But first crack my shell
If I'm fresh I'm tasty
If not, what a smell!! (Answer: The egg)


It would be a mistake to downplay the importance of what is usually considered as
literary works those with the form of a novel, a poem or a tale. Tales have the advantage
of their brevity. We can use traditional ones such as Perrault's (Little Red Riding Hood,
Puss in Boots) Andersen ( The little Mermaid) Grim brothers or Oscar Wild's ( "The
happy Prince" Or "The selfish giant") . And we can use moderns tales such as Roald
Dahl's for example ( Revolting Rhymes, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the
chocolate factory, Matilda...) that have the characteristic of dealing with today's topics:
showing an exciting cultural variety and are written with an agile and attractive style.
Traditional tales, have the advantage that many of them are already known by our
pupils, so they can understand more easily what they are reading or listening, they can
make use of the transference from the first language (reflected in the article 9 of the
Decree 111/2007). On the other hand, modern tales are more deeply connected with
children's interests and characteristics today. J. Brewster (1992, The Primary English
Teacher's Guide) finds very appropriate to use stories with animals as main characters
(Beatrix Potter, The tale of Peter Rabbit) or common people (as in Postman Pat, also on
TV) or with main characters that are familiar elements of our civilisation (Thomas, the
Tank Engine) He also recommends tales where the stories take place in a typical English
settings ( A.A Milne's Winnie the Pooh 1926)
Among all the important literatures in the world, the English one is, perhaps, the only
one that is really complete, as it is the only that embraces all the epochs since the

Middle Ages and all the genres including novels, tales and poetry especially written
from young and very young learners.
Let us make an overview on British Children's Literature grouping the works by
- 15th century: W. Caxton translations of French fables were very popular
- 16th century: Chapbooks (popular ballads, stories...) illustrated with pictures,
constitute a good source for texts for the FLC
- 17th century: In this century religious and didactic books predominated in England.
Literature as fun or entertainment was considered as sin. A classical of this period is A
book of boys and girls, written by John Bunyan in 1688.
- The 18th and 19th centuries provide a very good examples to be used in the FLC
including some non-English speaking authors (such as Jules Verne) In the 18th century,
thanks to the influence of the ideas of philosophers such as John Locke or J.J. Rousseau,
children started to be considered as individual with their own characteristics, different
from adults, deserving specific attention and treatment. In the 19th century, the romantic
spirit also determined the writing of many books appropriate for their use in the FLC
(such as Little Women Louisa May Alcott, 1868).
We can present a list of basic classical literature which does not intend to be exhaustive
but constitutes a good sample of the tales and stories which we can use at the classroom
always after and adaptation.
1- Fenimore Cooper's "The last of the Mohicans" (1826)
2- Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" ( 1851)
3- Robert Louis Stevenson "Treasure Island" (1883) "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1886) "
Kidnapped" (1886)
4- Charles Dickens "A tale of two cities" (1859) "Oliver Twist" (1839) "David
Copperfield" (1850) " A Christmas Carol" ( 1843)
5- Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", "The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer" (1876) "Huckleberry Finn"(1885).

6- Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Books (1894-1895) Kim (1901)

7- Jonathan Suift's Gulliver's Travels (1726)
8- Haggard's King Salomon's Mines (1885)
9- Daniel Defoe's The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe"
10- Edgar Allan Poe: "The fall of the Horse of Usher" (1891) "Tales of the Grotesques
and Arabesques (1840) "The Muerders in the Rue Morgue" (1841)
11 Arthur Connan Doyle series of Sherlock Holmes
12- Oscar Wilde's "The pictures of Dorian Grey"(1891) "The Canterville's Ghost"
13 Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1820)
14- Lewis Carrol's "Alice's adventures in Wonderland" (1856) "Alice through the
looking glass" (1871)
In order to end this point we must comment that the 20th century made possible an
immense audience of young people thanks to the increase of the acquisitioned power of
the middles classes together with the universal extension of education. This is the
century of the outburst of children's literature raging from Pamela Travers' Mary
Popping or J.M Barrie's Peter Pan (1906) to the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, Lewis'
cycle around the World of Narnia, HG Well's The War of the Words or Virginia Woolf's
Mrs Dalloway.
Nowadays in the 21st century, J.K Rowling's Harry Potter constitutes a good sample of
the literature that is backed up by a big publishing industry
There are different ways of classifying literary texts to use them in the classroom as we
can see in the Primary English Teacher's Guide (1992) by Brewster. We can do it

according to their literary genre, their authenticity or their level of difficulty for the
students. First, we are going to focus on the question of authenticity. We have already
commented this concept introduced by Nunan, in point one, but we must comment too
that other authors such as Jeremy Harmer, considered as authentic all those material
accepted by students to achieve their linguistic or communicative aims. According to
this point of view, we can also use in the classroom graded, adapted, texts to make our
students practice. Sometimes, there can exist problems with authentic texts because of
their high level of complexity regarding vocabulary or structures. However, this does
not mean that we should only and always adapt the texts because the difficulty should
lay on the task more than on the specific language, preventing students from becoming
disappointed for no understanding every single word or sentence. In the end, it is the
teacher who has to decide if authentic, original, texts are more appropriate than adapted
ones to their teaching objectives.
Regarding the genre of the tales or the kind or discourse it must also be chosen
according to our preferences and teaching style and to the characteristics of our
students: age, level, interest, level of moral and cognitive development...We must
remember that, when using texts, as with any others, the language must appear
contextualised and backed up by pictures, photographies, flashcards, miming...
Let us see what characteristics the chosen texts should have:
1- Appropriated to their age, interests and personal goals. Short, simple and with
illustrations and create positive attitudes towards English.
2- The text selected must have an appropriate linguistics level according to vocabulary
and syntax.
3- The cultural background of the text (values, social conventions, geographical and
historical features...) affects the students comprehension. Sometimes it will be necessary
that the students know the relevant cultural background in advance. The knowledge of
the cultural background of the English speaking countries in one of the general
objectives (7) specified in the Decree 108/2014 of the VG

4- Finally independently of the characteristics in the text, the teacher's aims, and the use
they are going to make of the text, it is necessary to determine the convenience of using
a specific one.
A common place discussion topic in this field is how to use the story books in the FLC
as they always constitute a change in the normal pace of the lesson. We can follow the
scheme from pre- to post -reading in order to use the text as the nexus to connect all the
elements (drills, compositions, surveys, interviews...), the excuse to do several different
things. Moreover, written texts are not the only way to introduce literature into the FLC.
We can also work through listening. However, and on the other hand, the teacher has the
human touch. If it's the teacher who tells the story alive (as I do) the students can take
part asking when they do not understand something or want to make any questions
about the plot or the characteristics for example. In any case, the main objective of
using literary texts in the FLC can always be to awaken the students' interest in
literature and reading, in general, and to develop their reading habits.
Understanding a story in English is hard work for our pupils, so the first thing we have
to pay attention to is how to help our pupils understand the story.
1. We must provide a context for the story and introduce the main characters.
2. Provide visual support: drawings on the blackboard, cut-out figures, flash cards,...
3. Explain the context, keywords and ideas in the mother tongue, if necessary.
4. Identify your linguistic objectives.
5. Relate the story or associated activities to work in other subject areas if possible.
6. Decide how long you will spend on the story.
7. Decide in which order to introduce or revise the language necessary for understanding the
8. Decide when and how you will read the story.
9. If necessary, modify the story to make it more accessible to your pupils.
10. Find out if there are any rhymes or songs to reinforce the language introduce.
11. Decide follow-up activities to provide opportunities for pupils to use the language in
different contexts.

Once we have decided on the previous questions we can begin to plan a story-based

Planning story-based lessons.

There are many ways to plan a lesson. However, a predominantly oral lesson normally
follows quite a fixed plan with small variations. We may have for example:

Warm-up and review: informal chat to maintain rapport with our pupils.
We remind our pupils of what we did during the last lesson.
Presentation: both of the aims of the lessons and subsequently of the new
Practice: controlled stage.
Production: communicative stage.
Final rounding-up.


ABRAMS, M. H., ed.: (1993). The Norton anthology of English literature. London: W.
W. Norton. CURRENT-GARCFA, E. and P. WALTON, R.: (1 982). American short
stories. 4th ed. London: Scott, Foresman and Company
Dahl, Roald: Revolting Rhymes (Spanish version: Cuentos en verso para nios
Dakin, J. (1968): songs and Rhymes for the Teaching ofEng1ish. Hong Kong:
Longman. D.C.B. Madrid: M.E.C. 1989.
Dwyer, Anne (2003): 'I'm hungry', in English Teaching professional, 26. January 2003.
Ellis, G. & Brewster, J. (1991): Hand book for Primary Teachers. London: Penguin.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Enc. Brit. Inc. 1990.
Gower, R., Phillips, D. & Walters, S. (1995): Teaching Pracnce Handbook. London:
Grellq F. ( 198 | ): Developing Reading Skills. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Harmer, Jeremy ( 1991 ): The Practice of English Language Teaching. London:
- ( 1998): How to Teach English. London: Longman.
Hedge, T. (1987): Using Readers in Language Teaching. London: Macmillan.
Hill, J. (1986): Using Literature in Language Teaching. London: Macmillan.

Khatib, Vicky (2002): 'Poetry for all', in English Teaching professional, 24. July 2002.
Kramsch, C. ( 1994): Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Krashen, Stephen (1984): The Input Hypothesis. London: Longman.
Lamb, Charles & Lamb, Mary (1998): Cuentos de Shakespeare. Barcelona: GrijaIvoMondadori.
Lawday, Cathy ( 1998): Top Class 4. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lazar, G. (1999): A Window on Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McRae, J. (1994): Literature with a small London: Macmillan.
Nunan, D. ( 1991 ): Language Teaching Methodology. Hertfordshire: Prentice Hall.
Nuttall, Christine ( 1996): Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language. Oxford:
Savater, Fernando (2002): La infancia recuperada. Madrid: Taurus.
SAMPSON, G.: (1970). The Concise Cambridge History of Engllish Literature. 3rd
ed., rev. and enl. by R. C. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
VV.AA. (1990): The Cambridge Guide to English Literature. Cambridge: C.U.P.
Williams, E. (1984): Reading in the Language Classroom. London: Macmillan.
Williams, Melanie (2002): 'Ready for readers?', in English Teaching professional, 25.
October 2002.