Integrating literature and cooperative learning with non-English majors : a Taiwanese study


The value of using literature in the language classroom has attracted a renewed interest and attention in the ELT community in the last few decades. Major justifications for using literature with language learners include valuable authentic and motivating material, language and cultural enrichment, as well as personal growth and involvement. However, in Taiwanese higher education, literature is often kept off the majority of university English courses and reserved only for advanced literary courses for English majors. Non-English majors are seldom provided with opportunities to learn the target language through literary texts because literature is often considered too difficult or impractical for them. To help these EFL students tap the power and potential of literature in English language learning, this study brings together literature and cooperative pedagogy to design a literature-focused cooperative learning (LFCL) project, in which students work in cooperative groups, inside or outside the classroom, to complete a variety of cooperative language learning tasks appropriate to each stage of the reading of a literary work of fiction. This project was applied to my ten-month, two-semester actual teaching of three groups of non-English majors to explore the effects of such integration holistically in terms of student experiences and perceptions, motivation, learning processes and outcomes.