Literature is the study of the world of imagination where anything is possible and anything can be assumed. Ideas, feelings and experiences expressed through language are known as literature. Therefore, teaching English means teaching language and teaching literature.

Aims of Teaching Literature

  1. to make them aware of the concepts of literature.
  2. to develop the ability to appreciate the beauty of literary works.
  3. to guide them to creativity by reading eminent English writers.
  4. to link them with different cultural background.
  5. to develop in them an aesthetic sense and help them acquire the ability to use language.

Objectives of Teaching Literature

  1. to be aware of the various forms of literature.
  2. to gain accuracy and fluency of language.
  3. to use knowledge in new or real-life situations.
  4. to analyse the thoughts and feelings expressed in the literary form.
  5. to develop the faculty of imagination.
  6. to develop critical and analytical ability and appreciate the literary text.

Difficulties in Teaching Literature

  1. Cultural gap
    The wide gap in the cultures of east and west may sometimes make it difficult for students to enjoy English literature.
  2. Age level
    Our children will not be having the experience of a child of the same age group whose L1 is English.
  3. Curriculum
    The choice of components for the curriculum -stories, poems, plays, etc. are sometimes not appropriate to the mental growth and interests of the students.
  4. The attitude of the teacher
    Teacher’s interest in literature can effectively and positively be transmitted to the students and vice-versa.
  5. Lack of interest in reading
    Parents and teachers should provide children with reading materials appropriate to their interest and age.
  6. Social and psychological factors
    Several social factors will negatively affect the liking for literature -shyness, poverty, hostility to the language, ill health, etc. are a few.
  7. Lack of children’s literature
    Abridged versions of famous works especially fiction, adventure stories, biographies, inventions and plays should be made available in a graded series.

Literature is treated as a tool for communcation, sharing language and culture. Broadly literature is classified into prose, poetry and drama.

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Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature for 14 years now. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges coming under this directorate and is now posted at the Department of English, H.H. The Maharaja’s Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of the lecture notes that she prepared by referring various sources, for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.