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It is widely recognized that literature has an essential association with life. Due to the ability

of literature to hone creativity in language and imagination, its inclusion is essential in any

system of education that promotes the importance of discovery as a vital feature of the learning

process (O’ Sullivan, 1991). The teaching of literature has recently been resurrected as a vital

component of English language teaching. Over the past few decades, there has been much

discussion on the value of attempting to teach any kind of literature, whether it be the classics or

any imaginative work written in English, as part of an English language syllabus. Literature has

been an essential and popular component of language courses in the Malaysian English Second

Language (ESL) context. Even so, the journey towards the inclusion of literature in language

courses has been an evolving one, ensuing in many stages of change.

In the Malaysian English Second Language (ESL) context, literature has been and continues

to be a popular component of language courses. Even so, its introduction in the Malaysian ESL

context has steered much debate, specifically in relation to its significance as part of the English

language syllabus in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions in Malaysia.

Literature was officially included in the Malaysian ELT syllabus in the year 2000

(Ganakumaran, Shahizah & Koo, 2003). This inclusion denotes the acknowledgement of the

Ministry of Education, Malaysia, on the role and importance of literature in Malaysian ELT. The

addition of literature in Malaysian ELT is to benefit students in three areas, namely language

development, cultural enrichment and personal growth. In Malaysian ELT, literature is featured

not only in primary and secondary English language education, but in tertiary English language

education as well. The inclusion of literature in the English language curriculum of Malaysian

secondary schools provides the platform for the growth of literature in Malaysian ELT.


i. What did you do to overcome the problems?

ii. What did the teacher do to overcome the problems?

1. Lack of Learner Motivation

Students skip class, and when they do show up it's likely due to fear of failure more than

anything else. They may lack any semblance of attention during class, chatting with classmates,

doodling in their note books or, (gasp!) in their textbooks. What experienced English or other

foreign language teaching professional hasn't faced the problem of reluctant, unmotivated

learners? One key to increasing motivation is to use activities matched to the personalities,

learning styles and characteristics of the learners as often as practically possible. Linguistic

difficulty has been one of the main arguments against literature.

If literature begins to be taught and examined at lower secondary levels in these ways, it

will foster enjoyment of the text alongside a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the

language. Students will then be ready to explore some of the literary features of the poems and

stories, having become fully involved with the writers and characters in the process of language

consolidation and imaginative recreation. Still, to assess or to examine literature in a

communicative or interactive way demands teaching strategies that also integrate language and

literature, allowing activities which require language, which involve students in experiencing

language, playing with language, analysing language, responding to language and enjoying

language. These elements can only be achieved if the student is allowed to engage a process of


However intrinsically interesting the ideas presented by the teacher, they will only appear

interesting to the students if they are allowed to discover them for themselves. This is

especially true when what is taught is reading, which is always a process of discovery, a

creation of meaning by the reader in collaboration with the author. If this creative

dimension is removed, if we are told the meaning of what we read before we read it, then

we are left with the hollow formality of scanning the words on the page, with no

incentive to piece them together, to treat them as communication.

(Jennings: 1989)

Therefore, it is essential that when literature is brought into the language classroom, it

needs a clearly-defined aim, which is an axiom in language teaching for ESL/EFL learners. Only

then can literature be successfully integrated into the language teaching. In this case, in order for

teacher to motivate students to actually fall in love with literature is to capture the student’s

interest by connecting the literature to the children's own lives. One of the biggest difficulties in

teaching English literature to kids is showing them how the stories are pertinent to their world.

Ask them if they see any traits in the heroes that they themselves share, or have them compare

some part of the story to things they may have seen or done in their own lives. Besides, I

consider putting on a play based on the literature you are reading. It can be as simple or as

elaborate as you like and your resources allow. By role-playing the characters in the story, your

students can develop a greater affinity for them and further understand how the literature

connects to their own lives.

2. Insufficient Time, Resources and Materials

It is all very well to point out the advantages of teaching literature but the key to success

in using literature in the ESL classroom depends primarily on the works selected. A text which is

extremely difficult in linguistic or cultural levels will reap few benefits. Several solutions have

been suggested in regard to the problems of linguistic or other difficulties: simplification,

extracts or simple texts. Simplification is not generally favoured because of its reduction process.

The original book is shortened in characters, situations and events, the vocabulary is

restricted and the structures are controlled. Extracts are advantageous because they remove the

burden of intensive lengthy reading. However, they are artificially isolated for teaching purposes

and do not necessarily cultivate interest in reading in the ESL/EFL learner.

A new solution I can do to overcome this problem is to use simple texts. There is a vast

corpus of simple texts available within the body of literature in English. The emergence of a

large body of creative writing in English by its non-native users demands that we develop critical

perspectives for understanding, evaluating and appreciating such literature. This body comes

mainly from former British colonies such as countries in the Indian subcontinent, in East and

West Africa and in the Caribbean. The works of these non-native writers (Achebe, Ngugi,

Soyinka, R.K.Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand, Kamala Das) reveal the intermediary degrees between

the indigenous and metropolitan cultures – both from black and white sectors, and the variety of

ways in which the author translates social conflicts into literary expression. What makes them

unique is the way in which the English language has been extended, modified and elaborated to

serve the purposes of revealing local, national individual sensibilities. These literatures also

manifest a cultural context that an ESL/EFL learner can identify with. The organization of the

family unit, traditional practices and daily life touch upon aspects of real life seen through the

eyes of the individual writer. The simplicity in R.K.Narayan’s works is considered as a positive

aspect of their literary merit. Some of his works (for example, Swami and Friends: 1935) employ

simple language for a lively story that is apt for the ESL classroom.

The notion of literature as a difficult and highly academic subject is also reflected in the

techniques of assessment. Assessment is still based on critical essays, which impel teachers to

focus on understanding the text and inevitably leads to testing for recollection and literal

comprehension. However, incorporating literature into the language classroom calls for more

emphasis on the development of language skills, enjoyment and creativity. If these elements are

the main focus, then it is possible to depart from any literature examination based wholly on


3. Over-Crowded English Classes

Overcrowded in English classrooms have increased the possibilities for at-risk students, as

well as others, to lose interest in school and do poorly on tests. This proposal identifies four

specific problems regarding overcrowding. These are students not getting individual attention,

low reading scores, frustration and stress felt by the teachers, and the inability of students to

concentrate or stay on task while in class.

The problem identified was that teachers are unable to give individual attention to the

students. Teacher's aides are not always available and sometimes students have to share

textbooks or materials on Literature. It can take the entire class time for students to find seats,

make sure everyone has a textbook and material provided to look at and then explain the next

lesson. This leaves no time for individual attention to explain the topic he or she have learnt or

answer questions.

When I'm faced with over-sized groups I immediately implement strategies using choral,

small group and pair work to help in lessening the load on both me and my large group of

learners. I also separate out a few of the more "advanced" learners to help me with group work

elements. It doesn't solve all the problems, but it's a good start.


It is seen that all over the world, the study of English literature is included in educational

system even in non-native English-speaking countries such as India. It would be better to

examine first, why English literature is studied and being taught even in their non-native

identities. However, it is imperative to make the literature learning experience meaningful and

relevant to them. The use of appropriate literary texts and the incorporation of technology in the

literature classroom are few ways in which literature can be made more appealing to technical


Therefore, it is important for educators, administrators and policy makers to take heed of

the perceived needs of the technical learners as they are important stakeholders who contribute

towards the success or failure of the literature courses. It is hoped that the findings of this study

will give educators, administrators and policy makers an insight into improving the management

and delivery of tertiary level English language programme which infuse literature in the English

language programme for technical learners. The reason for the need and purpose of study of

English literature may possible in its increasing reputation as the literature of world language.

With this, the native English Literature is considered essential and important as part of the

learning process of the English language. It might be learned and studied for its literary aspects,

to know and enjoy, English in original native expressions and to be acquainted with the works of

great literary masters.

Indeed, English literature has always been looked upon with high regards for its variety

of subjects, style, reflection of life and magnitude. Mostly the aesthetic beauty and the utility of

language proficiency is the main reason behind the inclusion of literature in language study.


1. National Higher Education Action Plan 2007-2010. Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.

Retrieved October 23rd 2007, from http://www.mohe.gov.my/webkpt_v2/transformasi.php?


2. Hill,J. (1986) Using Literature in Language Teaching. London: McMillan.

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http://www.melta.org.my, assessed on 25 January 2005.

4. Sidhu, G.K. (2003). Literature in the language classroom: Seeing through the eyes of

learners. In Vethamani, M.E. & Subramaniam, G. (Eds.), Teaching of literature in ESL/EFL

contexts. Petaling Jaya: Sasbadi MELTA ELT Series.

5. Sivapalan, S. (2006). Multicultural perspectives through young adult literature. In Too, W.K.

(Ed.), Engaging young adults through young adult literature. Petaling Jaya: Sasbadi MELTA

ELT Series.

6. Subramaniam, G., Hamdan, S.I. & Koo, Y.L. (2003). Pedagogical implications of the

incorporation of the literature component in the Malaysian ESL syllabus. In Vethamani, M.E.

& Subramaniam, G. (Eds.), Teaching of literature in ESL/EFL contexts. Petaling Jaya:

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Pergamon Press.

8. Trilling, L. (1962) Beyond Culture. Oxford: OUP.

9. Moody, H.L.B. (1971) The teaching of literature. London: Longman.

10. Brumfit, C.J. (1985) Language and Literature Teaching. Oxford: Pergamon Press.