Enhancing student schematic knowledge of culture through literature circles in a foreign language classroom

Alastair Graham-Marr, Tokyo University of Science, Japan



Improving student understanding of a foreign language culture is anything but a peripheral issue in the teaching of a foreign language. This study reports on a second year required English course in a university in Japan that took a Literature Circles approach, where students were asked to read short stories out of class and then discuss these stories in class. Although students reported that they did not gain any special insights into the target language culture presented, they did report that reading fiction as source material for classroom activity helps with the acquisition of a vocabulary set that is more closely associated with lifestyle and culture. Procedures of the class and the issues that emerged are described and interpreted in the context of the English education system in Japan.

Keywords: literature circles, vocabulary acquisition, intercultural communication, Japan