Abstract

Literature is a wordy representation of culture and culture is an embodiment of habits, customs, social behavior, knowledge and assumptions associated with a group of people. These days there is a shift from Using Literature in the language classroom to using culture in the language classroom. Hall focuses on the development of literature studies based on classics tradition to its present day shift into cultural studies. (Hall 2005 p.34). So if we go according to mathematical terminology Literature representation mean cultural representation. According to Kramsch “Culture is membership in a discourse community that shares a common social space and history, and a common system of standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating and action. The term culture will be used in the sense of whatever a person must have in order to function and live in a society” (Kramsch 1998 p.127).Thus literature/culture provides a framework regarding social theories of second language acquisition and its relevance with language skills. This includes also socio-cultural factors in the language teaching/learning materials.

Socio-Cultural Factors:

Wardhagh says “The important question about considering socio-cultural factors in our language teaching/learning is whether we should include socio-cultural factors in the teaching process?” (Wardhagh, R. 1992). If the answer is “yes”, the next question is, how much socio-cultural information should be given to learners and what kind of techniques should be used?
While planning teaching material and methodology a teacher has to be very clear about the limitations of socio-linguistic information which should be passed to the readers. As a teacher one should also consider whether the target literature/culture be taken into account during classroom teaching or not? While considering these questions, learners’ needs, characteristics and aims should be taken into consideration. For example, in my country, the learners come with different cultural backgrounds. Therefore, it is very hard for them to develop the lingual concepts regarding the foreign (English) material given to them. Thus it is imperative to understand that comprehension cannot take place on only one ground i.e. psychological and cognitively oriented approaches to second language acquisition. We have to admit that cognitive aspects are in fact socio-cultural practices. Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research is primarily based on secondary evidence-externalized language activity-followed by the use of Language in a social situation (vocalization, graphical representations of language, and responses to particular stimuli in controlled setting environment). The point is that language is utilized for some purposes so now the attention is drawn from `cognitive issues’ to the importance of social and cultural factors for SLA. A diverse group of scholars are engaged in this area but they mostly used the terms which are linked with cognitive approaches.
Social practice theory, only recently applied to the problems of SLA most notably by Hall and Van Lier (1995) attempt to capture the interplay between macro social structures and moment-to-moment practices. In this regard socio-cultural theory approach looks at a learner as a social being, an individual and that a language as socially constructed rather than internally intrinsic only. In contrast to practice theory, socio-cultural theory as it is applied in psychology, education and SLA focuses primarily on human development and learning. It emphasizes that learning is a social process mediated by culture and takes place in a social context. It could be said that success in language skills depends on teachers helping students, talking to them about cultural borders and engaging them in some form of collateral learning. It is a known fact that language does not exist apart from culture. Should one include the cultural content in language learning/teaching material? A very vital question and has been subject to discussion among professionals and teachers for many years. As teachers we have to decide how this aspect could be utilized? No doubt cultural and literature representation in language classroom enhances the learner’s motivation and probably learner feels more enthusiastic towards language leaning. As McKay said “One main use is that it can foster learner motivation and conceptual development” (McKay, S.L. 2000 : 7-11). Changes in linguistics and learning theory suggest that culture can be used as an important element in language classrooms. As we all know, knowing a language goes beyond the knowledge of grammatical rules, vocabulary items and pronunciation of these items. “Successful Reading comprehension requires language users to know that culture underline language in order to get the meaning across” (Tseng, Y. 2000: 11-20). Also Tseng suggests that culture and its knowledge effects changes in individual perception and is valid for expanding an individual’s perspective of the world. According to Stuart and Nocon.

“Learning about the lived culture of actual target language speakers a well as about one’s own culture requires tools that assist language learners in negotiating meaning and understanding the communicative and cultural texts in which linguistic codes are used.” (Stuart and Nocon1996: 431-499)

Use of English Literature with reference to English as a Second language in Pakistan:

In Pakistani Context, the critical evaluation of the materials, text books and syllabus available for the teaching of English at School, College and University levels. It is clear that most of them are imported or books of English writers which are meant to be used for students whose native language is English e.g Shakespearian tragedies, Dickens novels etc and other literary texts. They are written in the background of English culture. The lack of local/native materials for academic purposes and for the teaching of Functional English has made the teaching and learning of English in Pakistan a bit suspicious. It is generally believed by a group of people that the influence of English culture through their text books is an attempt to prompt English Culture and it is a deliberate attempt to alienate the native students from their own culture. This is a strong reason that learning and teaching of English language is still strongly opposed in some parts of the Pakistan .As Mansoor said “As a result, despite highly positive attitudes and high motivational intensity to learn-teach English by learners and teachers the position and status of English in our educational set-up remains controversial” (Mansoor 1993 p.56).

At present the materials used for teaching English in Pakistan brings great difficulty for our English teachers and learners. They have great problems relating to the foreign contexts. The course designers or teachers did not make any effort to make the curriculum and materials interesting and non-judgmental. Thus the English language teachers must be familiar with the features of both the languages i-e native language and target language. They must be familiar with the different theories of Second language acquisition and learning. By applying these theories they can make their teaching and learning experience of English language wonderful.

“Research produced in this century has evolved a theory that a native culture is as much interference for SLL learners as for native language learners. Likewise, it has been seen that just as similarities and differences have been found to be useful in language studies so too cultural similarities, once identified and understood, can be used to advantage. For second language teachers, knowledge of the commonalities between two languages or of the universal features of language appears to be useful for understanding the total language process. We can recognize not only different world-views and different ways of expressing reality but can also recognize through both language and culture some universal qualities that bind us all together in one world” (Mansoor 1993 p.74)

Thus the Inclusion of local culture in the curriculum, methodology, and teaching materials of TESL would make learning easier and more meaningful for Pakistani students. The most obvious influence of language and culture on thought is that of vocabulary.

Second Language Learning and Second Culture Learning in Pakistan:

While discussing Pakistani context and considering the connection between second language learning (SLL) and second culture learning (SCL), the phenomena of acculturation arises. “Acculturation is the exchange of cultural features that results when groups come into continuous firsthand contact; the original cultural patterns of either or both groups may be altered, but the groups remain distinct” (Kottak 2007 p.4)
That is why, it is very important to consider several types of second language learning contexts because each type involves different degrees of acculturation. SLL in a foreign culture clearly involves the deepest form of acculturation. SLL in the native culture varies in the sternness of acculturation experienced by the learner, depending on the country, the socio-political status of the language and the motivation, desires and needs of the learners. Krachu said” learning English in India does not involve taking on a new culture, since one is acquiring Indian English in Indian school” (Kachru 1983 p.21).

I think that the same is true of Pakistan where English enjoys a high status and plays a key role in the educational, official and business set-up. It is therefore very importance that students be taught Pakistani English that reflects their own culture as well as provides local contexts for using the language. So, literature is not something consisting of facts to be learned, but a helpful tool to make learners feel the need to speak and use the target language. In selecting language teaching material, English teachers have a lot of choices in terms of authentic material but it is surprising that many Pakistani teachers rely on uninteresting textbooks based on literature that focus student’s attention on grammatical structures and obsolete vocabulary. Also the activities chosen are based on teacher-talk and student-listen routines. These practices are unlikely to lead students to develop a genuine interest in comprehending the text. My experience of teaching shows that our students lack motivation to learn a language and need variety of excitement while learning. It’s the duty of our English language teachers to help the students notice that learning a language is not just learning its grammatical rules, vocabulary items and so on. And it is evident that cultural content material will foster learner motivation. McKay, like many other experts, believes that there should be a variety of culture in the materials. If the role of literature in ELT classroom is just to create learner interest towards content and thus towards language, that is highly desirable. But overuse of it is not appropriate. In other words, home and target culture should be integrated. It is also helpful in developing schemata, which is very important for the improvement of language skills.


Conclusion:

Language through literature is a debatable subject among academicians and scholars for long time. The idea of language through literature raises a few eyebrows in Pakistan and other parts of the globe as well. Many Schools, colleges and universities in Pakistan and around the world offer great number of literature courses at School, College, Undergraduate and Post Graduate level. Teachers who teach these courses usually use the traditional method of lecturing on topics like theme, characterization, diction, symbolism, summary, plot, motifs etc etc .They don’t give any emphasis on the stylistic/linguistic aspect of the literary texts. Of course, students must be taught literature and it must be taught by creating an awareness of linguistic possibilities and sensibility. So in this way, the idea of literature through language becomes relevant.

Teaching and learning language through literature demands dynamic involvement of both the teacher and the taught in bringing the literary text to life. George Eliot calls it AESTHETIC TEACHING, “I think aesthetic teaching is the highest of all teaching because it deals with life in its highest complexity” (George Eliot 1967 p.9).The medium is language and the context and form of a literary work arouse interest in the meaningful use of that medium and this is the ides of George Eliot’s “aesthetic teaching”. But in this technique, the role of the teacher is very crucial and important. His role is to support the students’ efforts to establish intensive relationship with literary texts without interfering too much in their act of creating meaning. According to Jakobson:
“A linguist deaf to the poetic function of language and a literary scholar indifferent to linguistic problems and not conversant with linguistic methods, are equally flagrant anachronism” (Roman Jakobson 1960 p.377)
The time has come to realize that the ultimate objective of teaching and learning language through literature is the study of words, idioms and syntax at the highest level of thought and imagination. It is not language through activities that is to be emphasized, but language through literature. The focus should be on the exercises depicting, how words and sentences are made and molded in order to communicate what the writer wants to say?

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