Literature Circles in EFL

Literature Circles in EFL are teacher accompanied classroom discussion groups among English as a foreign language learners, who regularly get together in class to speak about and share their ideas, and comment on others' interpretations about the previously determined section of a graded reader in English, using their ‘role-sheets’ and ‘student journals’ in collaboration with each other.

Most English language learners often say that reading, which is a vital element of language learning, is boring and difficult. This problematic situation might be the result of not practicing EFL reading in the right way. So, is there an effective way of using literature in the EFL classroom? The issue, this article intends to investigate is, what language interactions and classroom discourse are taking place in 'Literature Circles' and how this might affect the language development of foreign language learners? The suggested idea is that, as a balanced element of the school curriculum, literature circles can provide an exciting way to promote student engagement in extensive reading by means of cooperative learning and collaborative work and offer the potential to promote reading for enjoyment. The main focus of the analysis has been the student-to-student interactions and classroom discourse taking place during literature circles discussions. The main concern was over how different variables affect the language development of English learners. The results show that, during the process of this research, the students were highly motivated for reading and in that way improved their interactional skills in English. They experienced a different atmosphere of practicing language. They had similar tasks as they had before but this time for a more realistic purpose and in a more authentic environment.

Nowadays, nearly all EFL coursebooks compete to include the most up-to-date and interesting texts for the target age group, while on the other hand the fiction literature has a treasure of themes which, relate more to our everyday lives. All this goes against what most English language learners and many English teachers as well believe: poems, short stories, and plays do not have a major role in classrooms aimed at developing communicative competence in English, and literary texts are only for advanced learners. In reality, most students often think that the study of English literature is boring and difficult. This problematic situation might be the result of not teaching literature in the right way. Most English learners think that studying literature is definitely not the right way to develop either language skills or interest into literature.

Today, most of the foreign language teachers, are in search of specific learning approaches that have strong student centered components like cooperative and collaborative learning. In this article, the term ‘literature circles’ in the EFL classroom refers to; small groups of students reading the same piece of literature to accomplish different tasks like preparing questions, reporting challenging vocabulary, finding cultural items, determining the well written parts or making connections with the contemporary society. The members of the groups later come together in the classroom to have a discussion under the supervision of their English teacher on the piece of literature they covered.

Being greatly influenced by the effect of these literature circles on L1 classes, a research was conducted at a high school in Sofia, Bulgaria to find out more about how teachers can increase the student interaction and adapt literature circles into EFL classes to increase foreign language competence. The main question arising from the problem at this stage was: Is there an effective way to use literature in the EFL classroom? The research also focused on how much the student interaction in an EFL class could be encouraged through literature circles.

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