Literature in English: 5 Ways to Get Started

Literature in English: 5 Ways to Get Started

How To Get Started with LITERATURE IN ENGLISH for Form Three - Form Four Course

LITERATURE IN ENGLISH is one of the optional subjects taught in ‘O’ Level Secondary Schools. But just as there is pronounced foundation built by subjects like Book Keeping, Commerce, and others, so it is Literature in English. For example, when students study Commerce in ‘O’ level, we expect them to get the knowledge that will be helpful in their further or future studies or even careers. Also Literature in English has a foundation to build. When students study Literature in English, we expect them to them to build the competent foundation in both Linguistics and Literature.

5 Ways on How to get started with LITERATURE IN ENGLISH – with pictures

1.    Clearing the Doubts. Most students think English Language and Literature in English are the same. But this is not true. They just say so because in English language there is a part known Reading Programme which includes reading and analyzing literary works. As for Literature in English, there is no learning of Grammar, it is only Literature although the students can improve their grammar as they read and analyse more books.
The following illustration can be useful when a teacher is trying to help the Form Two students differentiate between the two subjects; English and Literature in English. This will clear his/her doubts and misconceptions that these are the same subjects.

2 Plan. Teachers who teach Literature has their teaching plans that are different from those in English language. The illustration below demonstrates how a teacher teaching Literature in English can plan to help him/her to cover the contents of the subject. For the teachers who have the experience of teaching Reading Programme or Literary works in Form Three and Form Four will quickly have the clues on the contents and simplicity of the subject when it is well planned. And to put it clear, teachers who teach Literary books in Form Three and Form Four will find it that ‘the only difference between these two subjects is in texts – of course, Literature in English has different allocate texts, that is novels, short stories, plays and poems are different from those in English language. Just keep close to this ‘Sharing Campaign’, in other posts, we will discuss more about these texts. But remember, you decide to get them by online or tell the respective school departments to buy some for you!

Explanation in brief:
(1)   Introduction/Theory of literature. It deals with the short introduction on the subject itself. Here a teacher can gives brief explanation on Why Literature (not Functions of Literature), What is the Theory of Literature, and How Literature in English is independent subject. NB: The terms Introduction to Literature and Theory of Literature are sometimes used interchangeably to mean all the contents taught before the analysis of books.
(2)   Definitions of literature. Literature has a lot of definitions from various sources. The students have to know some of them.
(3)   Nature and history of literature. The brief history on the nature and origin of literature. How literature came into being.
(4)   Language and literature. How language and literature are considered two sides of the same coin? And importance of language in literature.
(5)   Functions of literature. Functions of literature in the society. These are common because they are found in Introduction/Theory of literature in English language.
(6)   Types of literature. These are types of literature which should be well explained to the students.
(7)   Elements of literature. These also are important because they prepare the students to the full analysis of books.
(8)   Genres of literature. These give students the clear picture of what is going to read and analysed as they start reading and analyzing literary works.
(9)   Analysis of literary works. This is the long and sometimes complex section of the subject. It involves the intensive and extensive reading and analyzing of literary works from various literary genres.

3Well-elaborate types of literature. Students should know the types of literature among other element of literature. When types of literature are well elaborated to the students it becomes easy for them to get along with the subject well. When you look back at the illustration in (2) above, you will see there a lot of aspects to cover, but here I am walking you through wide view of the subject plans.  So, it is important for a teacher to emphasize more on this aspect as well because it is one of the core parts when teaching Literature in English.
     4. Elements of literature.  Two elements of literature, Form and Content, should be well explained to the students among other element of literature. This sets the students to the smooth entrance into the art of analyzing literary works. With these two elements, there are separate and well covered aspects. In literature we have elements of any literary work, and these are what serve the purpose of analyzing the literary texts. All literary texts are read and analyzed by using these criteria or elements.

     5.    Genres of literature. These are the genres the students are expected to deal with them throughout the course. In these genres students get to see real kinds of books they have been talking about.
Finally, this illustration shows how genres of literature can be grouped. Here in this illustration, examples of genres or texts have been taken randomly from selected texts in English language, Literature in English, English Language 2.

There are various advantages of studying literature to both teachers and students:
To the teachers:
(1)   It supplements further knowledge on teaching literature in English language.
(2)   It enriches teacher by discovering vocabulary items through books.
(3)   It makes teacher knowledgeable of many aspects of life because literary books act like mentors.
(4)   It can improve teacher’s career like being a creative writer apart from his/her teaching job.
(5)   It gives him/her a lot of wisdom/knowledge.
To students:
(1)   It helps students to increase their knowledge of reading and analyzing books apart from the books in English language subject.
(2)   It makes them creative because it thoroughly deals with literature and creative writing. So the students can have even the courage to participate in various writing competitions.
(3)   It helps students to be busy by building the reading habit, the habit that is now like a ‘national disease’.
(4)   It helps the students become better students when they opt for English language in their ‘A’ level studies as well as the universities.
(5)   This is subject is also the very foundation where various national writers can come from.

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NOTE: LITERATURE IN ENGLISH is the subject that lacks a lot of resources right now. The above explanation is based on my own researches, reading various books, and experiences. The best thing is that, most of my findings on this subject have been working very well with me and my students do well as well when it comes to national exams. So, I personally recommend to teach this subject in our Secondary Schools regarding its importance to both teachers and students.

Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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