Literature as a Medium to Foster Critical Thinking: A Case Study of an Iranian EFL Classroom

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 University of Kurdistan

2 University of Tehran

Abstract

As far as teaching English as a foreign language is concerned, the role of literature as a medium to enhance language learning or to promote other cognitive and affective variables has been quite contentious. Over the last three decades, however, some practitioners and second language scholars have resurrected literature as an effective vehicle to teach the second or foreign language. As an attempt to shed more light on the use of literature in English Language Teaching (ELT), the present study investigated the role of literature as a medium to foster critical thinking among English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students. In so doing, a sample of 39 intermediate Iranian EFL students who were the students of two intact classes were recruited. They were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. The experimental group (n=18) were required to read unabridged, authentic short stories written by literary figures whereas control group students were provided with abridged and simplified texts and short stories. A validated scale of critical thinking was administered as the pre-test and the post-test before and after the treatment. The results of a one way ANCOVA revealed that the experimental group outperformed the control group on the post-test of critical thinking, suggesting that use of literary texts has been effective in enhancing the level of critical thinking among Iranian EFL students. The findings of the study have pedagogical implications for ELT theorizers and practitioners.

Keywords