Literature As A Motivating Factor For Teaching English Language In Secondary Schools

Project and Seminar Material for English Education

Literature As A Motivating Factor For Teaching English Language In Secondary Schools


Abstract


This study focused on literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools, Akwa-ibom State as case study. The study is was specifically focused on examining the role of literature in teaching English language in secondary schools; determining the literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools and investigating the factors affecting literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools.

The study adopted the survey research design and randomly enrolled participants in the study. A total of 100 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent are staff and students of selected secondary schools in Uyo LGA.


Table of Content


  • Title Page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of Content
  • List of Tables
  • Abstract

Chapter One:

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Research Hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significance of the Study
  • 1.7 Scope of the Study
  • 1.8 Limitation of the Study
  • 1.9 Definition of Terms
  • 1.10 Organisations of the Study

Chapter Two:

Review of Literature

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population of the Study
  • 3.3 Sample Size Determination
  • 3.4 Sample Size Selection Technique and Procedure
  • 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
  • 3.6 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.7 Method of Data Analysis
  • 3.8 Validity of the Study
  • 3.9 Reliability of the Study
  • 3.10 Ethical Consideration

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Data Presentation
  • 4.2 Analysis of Data
  • 4.3 Answering Research Questions
  • 4.4 Test of Hypotheses

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • References
  • APPENDIX
  • QUESTIONNAIRE

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

The significant role of English Language in the linguistic, educational, socio-economic and cultural settings of Nigeria is not in doubt. In the field of education in particular, English Language plays a dominant role. As the language for education and by extension the target language, the success or failure of formal education, to a large extent, depends on the level of competence of learners in English Language in schools and colleges. Unfortunately, in contemporary time, “available evidence in the way our students use English in our schools and colleges shows that their English Language competence and English Language awareness leave much to be desired” (Onukaogu, 2002, p. 300). For instance, it is common knowledge that a good number of secondary school leavers and tertiary institution graduates hardly express themselves fluently in both spoken and written English, and this anomaly has been found to be partly responsible for the poor academic performance threatening all levels of education in Nigeria.

As to what is typically responsible for the poor performance in English language among students, myriad of reasons have been advanced by scholars. For instance, Ubahakwe (1988) identifies a couple of factors which among other things include the educational setting, the educational system, teachers’ status and motivation, the examination pattern, the learning environment, teacher preparation and language philosophy. Ayodele (1988) states that the causes of the abysmal performance in English Language must be traced to the classroom because “the formal classroom practices provide by far the greatest avenue for the learning of the language”. Babatunde (2002, p. 130) identifies the classroom factors to include: “teachers’ low level of competence in the language skills, especially reading; unduly large classroom; too many periods per week; lack of incentive; and learners’ unserious attitude” among others. Another classroom factor threatening effective acquisition of English Language is the method of teaching Literature which separates it from English Language. By this method,Literature classroom is different from that of English Language. Consequently, the resources of Literature, which have the potentialities of enhancing effective language learning, are denied the learners. This practice, no doubt, could be said to have inhibited effective teaching and learning of Literature and English Language in our schools and colleges. No wonder a good number of Nigerian secondary school students hardly express themselves sufficiently in English even after they had offered Literature and had a good grade in it. In the light of the foregoing, the thrust of this paper is to establish the fact that there is a symbiotic relationship between literature and language; and further demonstrate how Literature could be integrated with English Language teaching and learning in an ESL setting for effective result.

Teaching and learning Literature-in-English is one of the ways one can attain proficiency in the use of English language because literary works especially those written in English make good use of language in different ways to get their meaning across. Williams (1990) asserts that the learner of English as a second language (L2) if exposed to Literature will internalize and consciously adopt the rhythm of natural speech, economy and richness of diction, rhetorical and organizational device from drama, poetry and prose. In Nigerian secondary schools, available evidence shows that students’ use of the English language leaves much to be desired (Abe, 1991: Onukaogu, 2002: Fatimayin, 2004). Students can no longer converse fluently in English and cannot write good essays. In addition, classroom observations and Ogunnaike’s 2002 findings show that Literature is not properly taught by teachers in most cases and that most schools do not have enough English language teachers resulting in haphazard teaching and learning. Secondary school education is the education children receive after primary education and before the tertiary stage. One of the goals of secondary education as contained in the National Policy on Education (NPE, 2008, 28: h) is to raise ‘a generation of people who can think for themselves, respect the views and feelings of others, respect the dignity of labour, and…’ This is one of the things Literature-in-English can develop in students. Literature-in-English is like a kaleidoscope where one can pick up different kinds of useful ideas and teachings for one’s needs.

Literature is a term most commonly used to refer to words of the creative imagination including poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction. It is the body of written works of a language or period of culture. Literature is the mirror of life. Our life and how all the subjects are related to our life is the subject matter or elements of literature. So we can get the touch of our life through Literature (wiki.answers.com). The Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary (2010) describes it as pieces of writing valued as works of arts especially novels, plays and poems.

Wikipedia defines Literature as the art of written work which can in some cases refer mainly to published sources. It is commonly classified as having two major forms- fiction and non-fiction and three major techniques- poetry, drama and prose. A poem is a composition written in verse. It makes use of the aesthetic qualities of language to suggest differential meanings and to evoke emotive responses. Wikipedia states that poems rely heavily on imagery and metaphor. They may have a rhythmic structure based on patterns of stress or patterns of different syllable length. They may not utilize rhyme. According to Wikipedia, poetry pre-dates other forms of Literature.

Drama/play comprises mainly dialogue between characters and usually aims at dramatic performance rather than reading. Drama is poetry in action. The novel is story written in prose style to be read and enjoyed. Oral literature refers to oral traditions which include different types of epic, poetry, folktales. Some refer to it as orature. All these make up the genres of literature. Above all, Literature is completely open to interpretation. It is the reader’s imagination that brings the story or text to life. Literature therefore affects its readers by triggering their imaginations.

In a related vein, Jegede in Nwodo (2007) asserts that Literature provides more than a resource for developing literacy skills. It provides an opportunity for emerging readers to exercise their skills, strategies and interests. For independent readers, it provides pleasure which should be a reason to learn to read.

For Ryan and Ryan (n.d.), Literature foregrounds language and uses it in an artistic way. They further assert that Literature is as Literature does. They therefore conclude that ‘Literature reflects the society, human condition, ideology and also changes ideology while making us think about them. It allows us enjoy language and beauty and is the creation of another world seen through reading literature’. p.2

Eagleton (1996) also opines that Literature transforms and intensifies ordinary language while Onukaogu (2002) classifies Literature as written texts in categories – fiction, fact, content area text and newsreel. Fiction, according to him is needed to enhance the imaginative ability and creativity of students as they relate with various texts. Fact is the informational text carefully written to inform non-experts. Content Area Text is used in respect of subjects such as Geography, Biology and Mathematics, while Newsreel is designed to entertain and pass on current news items to the reader. Onukaogu is emphatic that all the four types or genres are needed in order to make the English Language curriculum result and goal oriented.

Fakeye (2012) citing Moody defines all genre of Literature as works of imagination or works that give the individual the capacity for invention. On the place of Literature in the educational system, Moody in Fakeye says: “Literature offers a vast reservoir of human experience and of judgment, a development of imagination and an entry into human situations which otherwise might fall outside our ken”. p.40

The study of Literature offers lots of benefits to learners. These include economic empowerment, pleasure, language acquisition, acculturation, dissemination of information. Literature allows students get acquainted with the nuances of English language i.e. it exposes them to varieties of usage. As a student reads, he/she unconsciously learns and uses the language (Nwodo, 2011). Arguing further, Nwodo states that since the study of Literature-in-English exposes learners to varieties of usage, there is the need to expose the Nigerian learner to its study. She reiterates that even science oriented learners should study Literature-in-English to be able to express themselves well as science is written in language. Nwodo concluded by stating that the deprivation of the study of Literature-in-English is the missing link in the Nigerian education system. In a related manner, Williams (1990) observes that the teaching of Literature has the practical value of enabling the student to learn about the L2 as well as use it.

Furthermore, Literature develops the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. For example, students’ meta-cognition can be enhanced through Literature-in-English. It can be used to develop one’s capacity for discrimination, judgment and decision. Buttressing this, Onukaogu (2002) affirms that many of our students are not reflective, critical, strategic and purposeful in their reading. Literature, he states can be used to remedy the situation. One way we can use Literature to enhance students’ meta-cognition Onukaogu explains is by teaching them to use it in making connections with the contents of their school curriculum and with other experiences they encounter in life.

Literature can also be used to develop the other two domains. It can be used to express feelings, emotions and empathy thereby touching on the affective domain. It can also make use of the psychomotor when readers take active part in dramatizing or acting out parts of what they have read (Anthony, 2011: Fakeye, 2012).

Saruq (2007) asserts that Literature has a dual role as it teaches and entertains through the experiences readers derive from the pieces of writing they read. She explains that in whatever form or genre the author decides to relay his/her message, the main point is that of teaching a moral lesson, and entertaining an audience. In addition, studying Literature introduces and exposes students to different cultures – theirs, others in their environment and those from other continents. This helps to widen their horizons and broadens their worldview. It also makes them understand and tolerate others.

Nuta (2011) stressing the importance of Literature asserts that it is a means of gaining culture and enriching our knowledge in different areas of activity. It gives one the possibility to speak about science or politics even if one does not work in that domain, it affords one the chance to identify with characters read about thus enabling the reader gain clues to solving problems and/or how to react in certain circumstances. She concludes that Literature is the perfect means to enrich one’s culture, have a repertoire of vocabulary, be able to participate in discussions in different fields and be considered an erudite person. In a related vein, Nwodo (2011) asserts that Literature deals with every aspect of life and exposes the reader to innumerable experiences which can help him/her wade through the difficulties inherent in human existence.

Fafunwa in Idowu (2006) asserts that Literature provides opportunity for interaction, thinking, generation of ideas, sharing of views/opinions in a more unrestricted atmosphere. Onukaogu (2002) also states that Literature can be used to promote self esteem. He explains that when students read, they can identify themselves with heroes, inventors, great leaders, etc., and see themselves as having the potentials to contribute to societal development.
Furthermore, Cullinan (1993:1) states that when Literature is used to connect all the subjects in the school curriculum, it helps children to ‘learn language, learn through language and learn about language.’ Lapp and Flood (1993:73) also assert that curriculum experts are unaware that ‘the use of Literature as a complement to science textbooks can help students develop both the skills and motivation to pursue scientific inquiry with enthusiasm and success. This is succinctly put by Cohn and Wendt’s (1993:57) equation – ‘Mathematics + Literature = Success’.

Finally, Smith (n.d.) submits that an enjoyment and appreciation of literature gives students the ability to develop this into an interest in books and reading. This will help cultivate a reading habit. In all, through Literature, ‘the learner achieves a good liberal education, cultural assimilation or acculturation, language development and competence, conflict resolution, development of desired and desirable attributes’ (Labo-Popoola, 2010:52).

In schools in Nigeria, Literature-in-English and English language are merged as one at the Junior Secondary School (JSS) level. The National Curriculum for English language fused the two subjects and is known as English Studies. This poses a bit of problem. First, teachers are faced with the problem of finding a balance in the time to allocate for each segment. At the Senior Secondary School (SSS) level, Literature-in-English is a separate subject with its own three periods per week allocation and is restricted only to Arts students. To ensure that no science student offers literature-in-English, Geography is made an option for them and is taken when literature-in-English is taken by Arts students.

Speaking in a related vein, Nwodo (2011) questions the labeling of classes as art and science. She contends that such a classification denies science classes the opportunity of studying literature-in-English which affects their language proficiency in such a way that they lack vocabulary to express themselves. In addition, she said such students are denied the opportunity of reading science fiction which could widen their scope and knowledge.

In the Nigerian education system, Literature-in-English ought to be handled with proper, time tested methods backed with adequate provision of texts. Its teaching should not be done anyhow. Vincent (1979) condemns the handling of the subject by teachers who he feels do not have a proper conception of Literature resulting in poor and ineffective teaching. Again, Ogunnaike (2002) submits that Literature teaching is one of the ways the Nigerian child could be discouraged from social vices like indiscipline, inefficiency, ethnicity, nepotism and corruption plaguing the nation. He contends that classroom experiences in the last millennium have shown that literature has been shoddily handled by most Literature teachers at the secondary school level. The reasons according to him are that, in some cases, there were no teachers to handle the subject while in others; little or no attention was paid to its importance.

In addition, both the teacher and the student complained of too many books to be read by them resulting in poor performances on both sides. p.334. Furthermore, Ogden (1997) is of the opinion that Literature contributes to students’ development. It is therefore in the writer’s opinion, a subject all students should study especially at the secondary school level. In spite of these, studies have shown clearly that literature enhances and facilitates lifelong learning skills and strategies in the sciences and in other spheres. All these put together are reasons Nigerian secondary school students should study Literature-in-English.

One of the major problems of teaching Literature according to Ogunnaike (2002) is poor planning, poor pedagogy and poor presentation in the classroom. This, he affirms has affected students’ attitude towards the subject resulting in poor performance. In a related vein, Nwodo (2011) asserts that despite the fact that the study of Literature-in-English offers learners the opportunity to be proficient in English, there is no dynamic and functional Literature policy on ground. She argues that a well-planned Literature curriculum will enhance candidates’ performance and raise the standard of education in the country.

Another problem is that of method. Despite the fact that there are specific methods of teaching Literature-in-English, most teachers teach it anyhow. For example, Ogunnaike (2002), submits that teachers use whatever method is available at their disposal and that most often, teachers use the ‘take-your-book-and-read’ approach. An approach that is wrong for teaching/learning of Literature-in-English. This corroborates Labo-Popoola’s (2010) assertion that the way a teacher handles the Literature class goes a long way in giving the students the right attitude towards the subject.

In addition, teacher’s attitude and competence are also problem areas in the teaching and learning of Literature-in-English. According to Labo-Popoola, the attitude of the teacher as well as his competence in handling the texts will determine his output in class. For example, the teacher should relate the class activities to real life situations and the class should be made lively, interesting and attractive. In relating class activities to real life situation and making it lively and interesting, the message in texts can be related to events in the students’ lives. For example, the message in the ‘Lord of the Flies’ about the evil of inherent in human beings has lessons that are relevant to the present situation in the country where militancy, destruction of lives and properties and terrorism are daily occurrences. Also, the poem – ‘An African Thunderstorm’ can be used to showcase the fury, intensity and fun which are common to the pace, progress and excitement of a rainstorm in the students cultural milieu. In addition, students can be made to draw and act the scenes and write their own experiences of a storm similar to the one read.
Another problem is the choice of texts. Some students find Literature difficult because of the choice of texts.

Literary texts should be chosen to be such that can capture students’ interests as well as be relevant to their background and culture. Added to this is the fact that Literature teaching in Nigeria is mostly teacher-centred instead of being child-centred, interactive and contextualised. Most teachers merely aim at getting the students to learn the facts and be able to recall for examination purposes. Other problems include lack of recommended texts. Most students cannot afford to buy these texts and the few who do so may be unable to read them. Coupled to this is the time allotted to the subject. Only three periods per week is deemed fit for this very important subject. This may not be enough for an in-depth teaching and learning. Added to the above, is the poor reading culture, home and school environment and peer influence – all of which are factors that can negatively influence students’ interests in the subject.

Furthermore, frequent changes in the school syllabus and the fact that there are too many books to be purchased, makes students take up other subjects to the detriment of Literature-in-English. This is because WEAC and NECO have different set of books which students must buy and read, in addition is the dearth of qualified English language/ Literature-in-English teachers. This is compounded by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) gadgets which have made students lose interest in reading because at the click of a button, they can access information needed. Above all, it is believed that students no longer want to study the humanities (Literature-in-English is one) because they want to be seen as science students, even when they are not performing well in the sciences.

Finally, the lack of interest by students, poverty and a dearth of books or high cost of books, ill equipped libraries or total absence of libraries in schools, homes and classrooms are some of the problems facing the teaching and learning of Literature-in-English in Nigerian secondary schools.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Classroom observation and interaction with students showed that compared to other subjects, many students no longer offer Literature even when they need it for career purposes (Fakeye, 2011). Studies by Abe (1991), Yusuf (1995), Onukaogu (2002), have shown that secondary school students are deficient readers because they lack critical thinking skills which hinder them from being strategic and purposeful in reading. That is, they cannot interpret what is read, cannot recall, internalize and apply resulting in continued mass failure in public examinations. One would therefore expect students to offer Literature-in-English which can help them get the needed skills and strategies for effective learning. It is however baffling that students’ enrolment in this subject is on a gradual decline as only a handful of students offer it. Teaching and learning of Literature-in-English in schools should be a priority if we are to retain and uphold human dignity, respect for others and also understand culture and tradition.Literature classroom is different from that of English Language. Consequently, the resources of Literature, which have the potentialities of enhancing effective language learning, are denied the learners. This practice, no doubt, could be said to have inhibited effective teaching and learning of Literature and English Language in our schools and colleges. No wonder a good number of Nigerian secondary school students hardly express themselves sufficiently in English even after they had offered Literature and had a good grade in it. In the light of the foregoing, the thrust of this paper is to establish the fact that there is a symbiotic relationship between literature and language; and further demonstrate how Literature could be integrated with English Language teaching and learning in an ESL setting for effective result.


1.3 Objective of the Study

This study aimed at investigating literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools.

Specifically, the study aims to

  1. Examine the role of literature in teaching English language in secondary schools
  2. Determine the literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools
  3. Investigate the factors affecting literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the reasons for the decline in the number of secondary school students studying Literature-in-English?
  2. Can the study of Literature-in-English benefit students in all spheres of the curriculum?
  3. Can the provision of required texts enhance students’ interest in studying the subject?
  4. Is the enrolment of students for Literature-in-English on the decline compared with other subjects?
  5. Can teacher’s method of teaching and competence enhance students’ interest in the subject?

1.5 Hypothesis

  • Ho: Literature is not a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools
  • Hi: Literature is a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study will highlights and bring proper solution on the problem of teaching and learning of literature in English in senior secondary schools so that adequate and appropriate corrective measures could be taken through the empirical findings by those who will make use of this project. Basically, this will guide teachers of literature in English to very good foundation towards the improvement of students attitude toward literature in English and the educated persons shall be able to handle literature in English and breaking through its complexity completely. Parents will all know the proper part to play in the children career choice.


1.7 Scope of the Study

This study is based solely on literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State to test the hypothesis through the use of primary data like questionnaire to collate data. Secondary data will be used to authenticate related academic works.


1.8 Limitation of the Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study.


1.9 Definition of Terms

These definitions as used in this project work:

Academic Performance:

Students achievement

Literature:

Writings on a particular subject

Genres:

Particular style or kind especially of works of art or literature grouped according to their form or subject matter

Militate:

Having influence to prevent something from working out well.

Primary Data:

Information got from interview and questionnaires

Secondary Data:

Information got from textbooks, seminar papers, journals etc

Questionnaire:

Written or printed list of questions to be answered by students, teachers etc

Hypotheses:

Question that will guide the whole process in this study.

Empirical:

Facts based on observation orexperiment not on theory.


1.10 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.

  1. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  2. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations:

5.1 Introduction

This chapter summarizes the findings on literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools, Akwa-ibom State as case study. The chapter consists of summary of the study, conclusions, and recommendations.


5.2 Summary of the Study

In this study, our focus was on literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools, Akwa-ibom State as case study. The study is was specifically focused on examining the role of literature in teaching English language in secondary schools; determining the literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools and investigating the factors affecting literature as a motivating factor for teaching English language in secondary schools.

The study adopted the survey research design and randomly enrolled participants in the study. A total of 100 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent are staff and students of selected secondary schools in Uyo LGA.


5.3 Conclusions

With respect to the analysis and the findings of this study, the following conclusions emerged;

In this paper, we have strived to establish the fact that there is a symbiotic relationship between Literature and language. It is our opinion that if this relationship is well harnessed in the teaching and learning of Literature and English Language at the secondary school level, it would go a long way in addressing lack of proficiency in English on the part of Nigerian students at all levels of education and by extension minimize high rate of failure in English Language in public examinations. It is also expected that a high level of proficiency in English Language on the part of Nigerian students would be the needed panacea to the intractable problem of poor academic performance currently threatening the education industry. Therefore, the government, the curriculum designers, the school as well as the teachers of Literature and English Language should work hand in glove to ensure that this suggested innovation in the teaching of Literature and English Language in our schools and colleges is effectively implemented.


5.4 Recommendation

Based on the responses obtained, the researcher proffers the following recommendations:

  1. The teachers may be trained to know and employ the different concepts of learning in teaching different subjects in the class room.
  2. Teacher Training institutions may organize workshops to train the teachers to use the reinforcement technique appropriately for improving teaching learning process in the classroom.
  3. The curriculum at Elementary and lower secondary level should be formulated on behaviouristic approach where as at upper secondary and higher level the humanistic approach may prove more productive.
  4. The role of the teacher should be facilitator, organizer, motivator and coordinator in the learning process instead of being an authoritative agent in the classroom.
  5. Policy makers at national levels may take steps for the provision of basic needs to the students for bringing success to the teaching learning process in the classroom

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