Motivational Strategies in Teaching Literature Essay


Teaching literature is not an easy task, for no subject can be more bewildering to students than literature which remains inaccessible for many of them. The reasons are numerous: cultural strangeness of literary texts, the students’ low linguistic competencies, and the like. EFL students’ passivity to read and their inability to actively respond to literary texts is a serious issue. Faced with these challenges together, teachers are more than ever before required to critically revise their teaching practices, their pedagogical architecture and strategies so as to meet the requirements of the new educational exigencies.

This study aimed to highlight the most effective strategies for teaching the literature Component. It outlines my experiences in teaching the novels of the major nineteenth-century authors to second-year students at the Department. My course… aims to encourage students to think creatively and independently, to appreciate not only the stimulation, but also the enjoyment derived from the study of literature. It combines traditional literature teaching with innovative methods and multimedia resources, including an electronic critical edition of.

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It is a venture that has enabled both the students and myself to benefit from the virtues of multimedia and ‘research-led teaching’ in its broadest sense (Brew 2001, McGuinness n.d.).

Motivation in second language acquisition:

Motivation is a major factor concerning acquiring a second language. For the past decades some researchers looked at motivation from different points of view. These scholars’ points of view affected the concept of motivation and how it is evaluated. This paper discusses the concept of motivation in socio-educational period. The researchers believe that motivation is a very important concept in L2 learning. Psychological theories have focused on various aspects of motivation during the past Decades. “Another important topic is the teachers` manner of teaching. Most students consider that literature lectures are teacher -centred and the only student activity is note taking.” (approaches to teaching lit in EFL classroom). The last question that I we would like to discuss is the teachers` reaction to students`

interpretation of texts. Most of them are disappointed by the teachers` rejection of their own interpretation and argue that tenure exams don`t test just their knowledge of literature criticisms but their ability to work with literary texts. ibid


1 The traditional approach

It is conceived that because of the special features of academic content of literature and also because of the traditional methods of teaching literature, the role of the teacher in literature course is basically that of instructor and transmitter. Regarding this view, the teaching of literature in our universities has become mainly lecture-based with teacher-centred approach. As a consequence, the student becomes a parrot-like capable of simply repeating and “vomiting” what has been presented in class. Mililani (2003:2) states that (p.35)

Reader-response approach

With respect to the language-based approach, the teacher should not consider the learners as passive recipients, but active participants in extracting meaning from text and then responding to the underlying messages. Each reader will contribute to the final outcome depending on their expectations and previous experience. The teacher’s role thus will be that of a mediator to help learners interact with the text.

Creative Techniques of Teaching Literature

1. Pre-teaching project / presentation of the historical/political aspects: Before beginning to teach the general topics related to the history of English literature or the texts focusing on some regions, it is interesting to give students a small project regarding the introduction and background of the country to which the text is related. (p 123). It is always valuable to train students to prepare small project/presentation of the historical background of country related to the study. It helps them to know and understand the historical details that influence the country and its literature. It will provide students essential background which is particularly reflected in lexical items used in the literary text. This kind of teaching technique can make students feel the text rather familiar. (ibid)

It is promising to advise students to make a small project on the political background of the country. This helps them to understand the political movements as well as their effects on society reflected in literature.

Author’s introduction:

Students can be motivated to present a brief biographical sketch of the author in the class. It is remarkable to collect all the detailed information of the author and his literary works. This makes students aware of the literary world of authors. Some students can be asked to write one paragraph on each work of the author. Such information can be compiled. It helps them to know the background of the author and his writing. (ibid)

Films / Dramas:

Many films and dramas are produced on many novels and stories. These films or dramas can be showed to students after or before teaching the novel or drama. It is very appealing to invite students to compare the film with the text. According to Margan (2009) “The days of teaching literature based on the literary text a lone are coming to an end” (2009:105). This helps them to use their comparative skills of language. It is an effective way to inculcate among the learners very useful skills and strategies to acquire the language in context.

Scope of creativity:

It is a great activity to rouse students to write a poem on the novel, story on a poem or picture, draw a picture on a poem, and write a poem on a picture. We can organize competitions for such activities. It will be a nice opportunity for students to enhance their abilities to learn language by using their creative faculty.

Post-teaching activity/Practice:

Teachers can ask the students to imagine different ends to the drama, story or novel. It is interesting to listen to various possibilities to end the work. Students can brainstorm a lot and bring out their creative talents. It ignites their heart, mind, and love for literature. They become competent to express themselves. It is true as Chris Morgan, et al., mention, “competence in a skill is acquired by practice. The principal challenge for the teachers is to provide maximum opportunities for practice with individual feedback upon developing expertise” (141). Teachers have to make students competent.

Exercises for reading beyond the lines and finding out human values:

It is easy to ask students to find out human values in the novels, stories, dramas and poetry. It affirms the value and significance of literature. Students note the universal values in literature. It inculcates in them the need to believe in equality of human beings. It is necessary to teach students of literature to learn some human values and principles of life from the pieces of literature. Teachers have to encourage them to learn the values and follow them in practical life. They can be inspired for patriotism, humanism, kindness, loyalty, truth, peace, love, social reforms etc. They must read literature beyond the lines. It helps to increase the maturity level of students. It also refines their sensitivity and enables them to be sympathetic as well as empathetic. They will be trained to become concerned and considerate.

Utilization of Modern Electrical Equipment and Instruments

In literature class multimedia can be used to facilitate teaching and learning. Students can watch a film or video concerned with the text which is being learned or has been learned to experience what the text conveys in the visual way. Many researchers have agreed that this is a nice way to visualize the printed text and it can present what the text says in the visual way and students can see it on the screen instead of the rigid and stiff words only. This way can avoid the monotony caused by constant reading of the text and students can also discover or understand the hidden meaning in the literary material with the help of the pictures and actions. They can experience literature intuitively, visually and acoustically. Students can also be told to create a series of “slides” about the major scenes described or narrated in the text. (characteristics and strategies of lit teaching).

Step-by-Step Principle and Sequencing Tasks

In formulating the tasks, teachers need to think about how to best sequence tasks so

that each task prepares students for subsequent tasks “first things first.” Teaching

must be operated step by step. Do remember the saying “more haste, less speed.”

Rome was not built in a day. Literature learning takes time and it should be taken in a long run. Teachers cannot do it for “instant success and quick profit.” Take a long view and make a long-time plan. In thinking about sequencing tasks, teachers need to consider the possible difficulties and problems students tend to encounter and find corresponding solutions to pave the way for them so that each student can progress smoothly from task to task and enjoy getting involved in class activities and they will have the confidence to follow the class. Ibid

Suiting Teaching to Students of Different Abilities

Teachers should take their students’ situations into consideration and find different

ways for different students just as the famous Chinese saying in education “teach

students according to their aptitude”. It well exemplifies this principle. As is known to most educators, every student has his individuality, which is another aspect for teachers to pay attention to. Teachers need to swift their methods to meet different demands of students, which is meant to preserve learners’ zeal upon ceaseless their pursuit and avoid their abandoning it half way. “Motivation is the crucial force which determines whether a learner embarks on a task at all, how much energy he devotes to it, and how long he preserves.” (Little wood 53) In reality, many learners are likely to give up literature learning for some reason, mostly the reason that their interest has waned and died out, so it is a vital link for the teachers to try to keep their students’ curiosity about literature exploration. “Interest is the best teacher”. Interest is the power for people to start their tasks and successively produce new power to help them follow through.

Proper Evaluation and Assessment

Since literature is a curriculum, evaluation and assessment are an unavoidable link in the process of teaching. Setting an academic and scientific evaluation and assessment system is also a key factor in literature teaching as in other subjects. It is suggested that evaluation of learners’ literary competence should contain two forms, oral and written, and two sections, objective and subjective. As for the oral form, learners are supposed to articulate their personal responses to the text and answer some random questions raised by teachers; as for the written form, it has many ways. Learners can be asked to write a term paper on a free topic relevant to the text.


Discussion is a most effective way in language-centered literature classes where students can be easily motivated and involved in the class activity. In discussion students can be stimulated to find insights into literature themes and deeper meanings conveyed in the works. Students will be trained in sensitivity to literature analysis and appreciation as well as criticism if the discussion goes a certain length. Another possible way is a debate on proper topics and to do it well, teachers need to read the text well enough and form their own opinions about the messages in the text and select proper topics which are available to learners and may motivate them to think and express their opinions. Ibid

3. Literature Group Discussion: Literature Circles/Collaborative learning

Whatever is called, literature circles, literature collaborative learning, or conversations surrounding texts, literature group discussion encourages participation of students, and engage them in interactive learning situation. It is a method in which the teacher and a group of students consider a topic, issue, or problem and exchange information, experiences, ideas, opinions, reactions, and conclusions with one another. The discussions can be about characters, setting, plot, and/or about other literary elements (Daniels, 2006; Schlick-Noe, 2004). Other researchers (Allington, 2001; Keene & Zimmerman, 2007) suggest that discussion should include other literary elements such as textual meaning, personal connections, character motives, and other open-ended topics. The teacher has to break the class into smaller groups in a way that enable more students to participate and saysomething about the text. Students read a selected text or a chapter from a novel in a specific time assigned by the teacher, and try to take notes while reading. After reading, students share their findings with other members of their group. The role of the teacher is to initiate questions and give further information and interpretation from time to time. He should act as a facilitator rather than a controller of the learning process.

More Strategies:

1. Relate the topics to society/ students’ life

2. Relate topic to reality

3. Give examples from life.

4. Application to personal and social problems


If the teachers of English literature do not find out creative methods of teaching literature and employ them in their teaching, the classroom teaching can become the elongated monologues. Hence, it is essential to teach literature with the help of new methods. With these methods it is possible to involve all the students in the learning activities. It gives them an opportunity for interdisciplinary study also. It will help them to undertake research in other disciplines or it will encourage them for comparative study. These techniques are motivating and challenging. (ibid).


Dr. Mrs. Anisa G. Mujawar. Creative Techniques of Teaching Literature

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