Teaching literature in the 21st century

If we agree that nowadays teaching means guiding, helping, coaching… what can we do to help students get to know, enjoy and produce “works of art of written works” (i.e. “literature” according to Wikipedia). First of all, we are very lucky because never before have books been so abundant nor opportunities so plentiful for making books accessible to everybody (rembember Gutemberg project, e.g..) and not to be overlooked as a possible aid in motivating reading is the extraordinary supply of audivisual materials related to literature: films, videos, recordings… handy for everyone through different sources (e.g. you tube). There are also many resources  for students to create their own audiovisual productions related to literary texts: using  images (flickr, picassa…), making videos with  moviemaker, photostory, creating image presentations with slide or powerpoint presentations with  slideshare… Even  creating and publishing their comics with Pixton… Their journeys, real or imaginary may be traced upon with Tagzania or Google earth.

All of us will agree students should be taught some techinques of literary criticism. In fiction, elements such as the plot, theme, characterization and style will be explored and when studying poetry, students will learn to identify figurative speech, rhythm, devices used to appeal the reader…. Our proposal is that students will learn all these things by being involved in a process of discovery. Here we propose a number of possible ideas many of you are already putting into practice:

 To create literary circles where students simply have to select a/ some paragraphs they have really enjoyed and talk about them with the rest of the group.

 Rewrite or adapt a text into a drama to be performed later.

 To keep a reading journal (a blog, e.g.) where students write what they think about the text and insert pictures, songs, etc. to express their own views and feelings.

 To create a photostory or a moviemaker video with images from the web and their own recordings of the best moments in the text, inserting their own words and/or music.

There are plenty of websites where we can find lots of ideas and resources. Just a few samples:

 And to finish, I’d like to quote Charles Kingsley: “ Except a living man there is nothing more wonderful than a book! a message to us from… human souls we never saw… And yet these arouse us, terrify us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers”  How didyou like it?

Mª Luz Quiñonero

B06 Berritzeguneko Aholkularia



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