Sandra McKay pointed out that the key to success in using literature in the ESL classroom rests in the literary works that are selected. Discuss.

A key to successfully using literature in the ESL classroom rests in using pieces that use common language.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This question is an open-ended question, and you may certainly disagree with Sandra McKay; however, she does make a good point. A key to successfully using literature in an English as a secondary language classroom does rest in the literary works selected. With that said, the statement itself is using a logical fallacy because the statement could be true in any type of class. A key to using literature in any class rests in the selection of the works.

One thing that a teacher should always consider when selecting a piece is vocabulary. It's likely that most literary works are going to contain vocabulary that is new to the reader, but a teacher needs to minimize that as much as possible. A text that is loaded with foreign vocabulary is a confusing text to read, and that problem is compounded when the student is an ESL student. He or she already struggles with the language, and building confidence is critical. You want the student to gain confidence and fluency, so pick a piece that fits their current vocabulary level.

Format is also important when selecting pieces for ESL students. Prose should be prioritized over poetry. While poems tends to be short and look accessible, they are often filled with difficult vocabulary. Poems also tend to ignore standard grammar rules of punctuation and even word order. The goal of using the literature is to help the student better use and communicate in the language, and prose does a better job of mimicking spoken language.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial