e-ISSN 2231-8542
ISSN 1511-3701

Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 22 (3) Sep. 2014 / JSSH-0573-2012


Developing Students' Creative Response to Literary Texts in the ESL Classroom

Adzura Elier Ahmad and Li Sheau Juin

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 22, Issue 3, September 2014

Keywords: Project based learning, teaching writing, facultative teaching and learning, performance learning, fun with literature teaching approach

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The emergence of the literature component as a compulsory tested component of the Malaysian ESL syllabus for secondary schools is one of the most significant developments in ESL learning in recent years. One of the general aims of incorporating literature in an ESL classroom is to enhance students' proficiency and enjoyment of the English language through literature. One of the biggest challenges in the ESL classroom is making learning meaningful, and project-based learning is but one of many ways to achieve this goal. The main focus of the Literature component in the Malaysian English curriculum is to fulfil academic requirements, but this does not preclude students' enjoyment of the texts or the experience of engaging with literary texts. Literary texts are wonderful materials that can be explored and exploited in the ESL classroom, for instance, for the development of writing skills. This study is based on the precepts of Project-Based Learning, which hinges on Constructivist ideals looking towards long-term student centred, activity-based learning framed by sequential acquisition of discrete skills through holistic and realistic learning. This study will be exploring the acquisition of skills and language as part of holistic learning through the staging of a play. The most pertinent findings are that PBL as it is applied here allowed the students to focus on the impending stage production as both an outcome and a motivation to acquire skills. It found that as the curriculum requirements of reading, writing, listening and speaking were no longer abstract personal choices but rather skills the students were acquiring in the pursuit of completing the project, the students significantly improved in their commitment to acquiring and in the practice of language skills and holistic values such as self-confidence, team work and perseverance. The findings were most eloquently supported in the students' own words in their journals as they tracked their progress and setbacks from the beginning of the year until the end of the project and the release of the results of their final exams. As writing is a difficult skill to master, this study supports both the concept of language acquisition in practice as well as fulfilling the school-based assessment skill building requirement in a cohesive construct that provides focus and reward for the students as well as breaks the monotony of conventional classroom teaching. At the very least, it offers teachers some of the possible strategies or activities using literary texts used in schools to develop English communication in the four areas, with special focus on writing skills. It also examines the students' learning process in producing pieces of writing in response to reading a literary text, their response to performing as a post-writing activity, and the implications of using drama and plays as a post-writing activity. The ready-made year-end school performance for teachers provided in this paper is also a bonus.

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

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