By Sergio Garro Barboza - Student of English Teaching and Translation
According to Seuss, (1979) quoted in Shaw & Shea (2006, para.1), “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.” This quote and metaphor mean and show us the importance of literature and reading. Even though that is important, students in Costa Rica find literature as something mandatory in their schools. It is necessary to change how learners use the literature in their learning process. On the other hand, it is necessary to understand new generation demands new methods in the teaching process, so literature has to be a part of the new techniques and approaches to be taught. For this reason, an integrated approach is a good way that teachers can use in their classrooms because it uses different new techniques, has several advantages for students, and has a clear role for teachers and students in the class.
The first aspect to take into consideration is that in an integrated approach, teachers can combine different techniques or methods from different approaches. This strategy makes students learn about literature more interesting through different projects, ways to analyze literary works, etc. For example, according to Yimwilai (2015), this approach is considered a multidisciplinary approach. It uses the most important technical devices, methods, and techniques from other approaches. Some approaches that the integrated approach consider are the cultural, personal growth model, and language model. The objective is to provide the essential aspects to incentivize students' participation in class, critical thinking, and creativity or imagination to understand literary works.
Another essential factor that is important to students know is the advantage they can take from literature. The integrated approach makes students develop different soft and hard skills. According to Divsar & Tahriri (2009), students learn the main concepts of the target language. For example, vocabulary, grammar, lexical, discourse categories, and history or cultural characteristics in where the literary works were written. Then, students can develop abilities to recognize different linguistic features, literal and figurative language, or feel sensations for the literary works. It means some students are attracted to the writers' feelings and emotions of their literary works. That makes students develop the habit of reading helping them in their future with the development of other skills. However, those advantages are related to the way teachers teach different literary works using the integrated approach.
To make this approach successful, the teacher and student's role in the integrated method is important, according to Yimwilai (2015), teachers need to teach different and interesting literary works in order to catch students' attention. For example, they can use technology through collaborative learning, different projects, web analysis, or videos online. It means that the student's role has to be participative always paying attention and doing the assignments. However, as a counter-argument Ikonne (2016), highlights this approach is too general and a bad idea to use in class. He mentions teachers do not have to use techniques or methods that do not suppose a challenge in literature for students, for example, deep analysis and critical thinking. He considers students have to develop these skills and, in the integrated approach, students do not develop them. Despite Ikonne's argument, I consider this approach have multiple options that teachers can use or adapt from the approach according to the course and students' necessities.
To conclude, it is essential to change how literature is taught and how students perceive it. The integrated approach is a good option to begin this necessary updating. This approach allows using, from different approaches, the tools needed to make students participate. For example, developing critical thinking, interest in literature, culture, have personal growth, and understand some linguistic contents. On the other hand, teachers can teach using technological tools to catch students' interest. For instance, they can use different types of assignments or ways to teach literary works.
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Divsar, H. & Tahriri, A. (2009). Investigating the Effectiveness of an Integrated Approach to Teaching Literature in an EFL Context. Journal of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, 13(2), 105-116. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234608683_Investigating_the_Effectiveness_of_an_Integrated_Approach_to_Teaching_Literature_in_an_EFL_Context
Ikonne, U. (2016). The Teaching of Literature: Approaches and Methods. International Journal of Education and Evaluation, 2(5). https://iiardpub.org/get/IJEE/VOL.%202%20NO.%205%202016/THE%20TEACHING%20OF%20LITERATURE.pdf
Shaw, A., & Shea, S. (2006). The more you read, the more you know. Paediatrics & Child Health, 11(9), 566. https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/11.9.566
Yimwilai, S. (2015). An Integrated Approach to Teaching Literature in an EFL Classroom. Canadian Center of Science and Education. 8(2), 14-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/elt.v8n2p14