Linguistic exploration of modern poetry in an ESL classroom : for the teacher : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University

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Massey University
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At a time of wide-ranging debate about the teaching of English Literature and English Language, particularly in the broader contexts of educational principles and policies, the force and authority of Professor Widdowson's advocacy of approaching literature as discourse has appealed to me. This approach to literature teaching is interested in the ways the elements of the language system are used to create meanings and effects. And it has important pedagogical links, especially at advanced levels. By showing how language works in literary works, we can draw students' attention to the language use as such, as well as to its communicative functions. Such drawing of attention can be useful as an alternative learning strategy while the analytic skills acquired can indirectly lead to greater language skills. I am convinced of these pedagogical advantages and maintain that this linguistic-based approach could well be adopted, especially in ESL situations like those in Singapore. In other words, the central proposition of this thesis follows the same line of argument as my extended essay for BA Hons (39.499). That is, with the pedagogical implications, the reasons for the study of poetry using a stylistic approach, the criteria governing my selection of texts, and the key linguistic concepts as set up in my 39.499, this thesis is designed to complement the essay and to further substantiate my claims for the place of poetry in the Singapore ESL classrooms (specifically at the college/pre-university level). However, I should point out that references to syntax and related formal features of language do presuppose at least some general acquaintance with the kind of linguistic concepts introduced and discussed in my 39.499. I do not, however, discount the possibility of this thesis being used as samples of lesson plans in their own right, and hope that each chapter is sufficiently self-contained to allow this. [From Introduction]
English language, Foreign speakers, Study and teaching, Handbooks, manuals, etc, Linguistic analysis (Linguistics), Poetry