Developing intercultural communicative competence through literary works in the English as a foreign language classroom

Prof. Mark Sawyer, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan, ID LLCE2018-352;     Abstract: Although the use of literary works in EFL (English as a foreign language) has steadily declined, due to challenges of difficulty, length, and associations with outdated methods, this paper suggests a new approach that overcomes these challenges. Based on the latest thinking for developing intercultural communicative competence in EFL, the central principle is that, properly mediated, interaction with a literary text can overcome classroom limitations and provide comparable benefits to interacting personally with cultural “others,” but without the real-time pressures and the real-world consequences of face-to-face intercultural communication. Thus, traditional literary analysis is eschewed, in favor of an “aesthetic approach,” in which the readers, mediated in two stages by teacher-made tasks, find pleasure and personal significance in their interaction with characters of different places and times. Through freely constructing interpretations, then reflecting critically, they learn to “decenter” their own cultural perspectives and open up to new ways of seeing. Examples from an actual secondary EFL course in Japan will be included, as will suggestions for promising literary works.

Keywords: English, culture, literature, education, intercultural communicative competence