In this research paper, the aim is to investigate the attitudes of the Libyan EFL learners towards literature in general, and short stories in particular for developing reading comprehension skills. Also, It discusses the advantages of the use of short-stories in ELT classrooms and the implications of this use of short-stories for the Libyan EFL teachers and learners.
Advantages and implication
The use of short stories in ELF classrooms for developing language skills has many advantages and implications. Pathan classifies these advantages under different categories such as: linguistic, socio-cultural, personal and emotional. Short-stories are filled with many linguistic advantages such as simplicity of sentence structures and vocabulary used in context and make learning of foreign language skills easy and simple. Also, they help to improve EFL learners’ vocabulary and motivate them to learn the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Second, the use of short-stories has many socio-cultural benefits as well. Short stories can also be the best method of inculcating cultural and moral values in which stories have been the best method of transmitting principles, values, and common sense for centuries. Third, the stories from the Holy Quran and other Islamic stories will not only make the learning process easy but will renew their cultural and moral values as well. Thus, stories will help them in developing their moral character. Fourth, the use of short-stories has emotional benefits also for English learners. Stories provide language learners a picture of people, through the characters, while they are suffering and struggling which prepare young learners to cope with their own conflicts in life.
Studies and results
Before applying short stories as a method of teaching English:
To investigate the learners’ attitude, Pathan made a questionnaires for third semester EFL students doing their B.A. in English.
They were asked if they like reading comprehension skill, and the answers were 30% liked it and 70% disliked it.
The next question was about teaching material that used by their teachers in reading comprehension class. Their answers were: newspaper articles - informative passages from internet - various reports with tables and diagrams - different essays - information passages from magazines.
Then, they were asked about their perception towards short stories, and the result was as follows:
- 78% of the participants liked reading stories in Arabic.
- 20% of the participants liked reading stories in English.
- 4% of the participants did not answer.
After applying short stories as a method of teaching English:
First question was about their attitudes towards reading comprehension skill after they taught by using short stories, and this is the result:
- 94% of the participants likes reading comprehension skill.
- 6% of the participants dislikes reading comprehension skill.
This result proves that short stories play a very important role in arousing love and liking for reading comprehension skills among learners who disliked this important skill.
The second question was about the benefit they experienced in reading comprehension class after they taught by short stories. Their answers were positive and varies.
The participants were further asked about the types of stories and the writers they preferred. They replied that they wanted their teachers to use all types of stories such as personal, social, religious, moral, historical etc. as they enjoyed the mixture rather than using just one type of the stories. Half of the participants preferred the stories only by English writers as they believed that through the stories by native speakers of English they would learn ‘real’ English, whereas others preferred stories written by any writer in English around the globe.
The discussion of the data, about the perceptions of the Libyan EFL learners towards the use of short-stories for developing reading comprehension skill, offers the following results:
- The Libyan EFL learners develop liking for reading comprehension skill with the use of short-stories in the classroom.
- They experienced and enjoy various linguistic, personal and emotional benefits with the use of short-stories which significantly contributed in their learning and mastering of English as a foreign language.
- They prefer the use of short-stories in their classroom from their course teachers for developing reading comprehension skill.
- They prefer various types of short-stories, written by both English writers and any other writer in English around the world, to be taught in their reading comprehension skill class.
- They believe that short-stories not only make their learning English, in general, and reading comprehension in particular, a fun but also contribute in developing them into a complete person’.
Positive Aspects of this Article
The use of short-stories in ELT classroom for developing language skills has many advantages and implications. Pathan (2013) classifies various benefits of the use of short-stories in EFL classroom under different categories such as: linguistic, socio-cultural, personal and emotional and discusses them in detail focusing on their possible implications for EFL teachers and learners. In addition, Wright (2003) argues that 'in using stories in language teaching, we are using something much bigger and more important than language teaching itself'.
In this paper, the researcher mentions the importance of religious and moral stories. Pathan (2013) explains that these stories can be highly effective for this purpose with the Arab EFL learners. The Arab EFL learners’ familiarity, with these stories, will not only make their learning of English easy but will rejuvenate their cultural and moral values as well. In fact, this type of stories may fight some of bad habits, immoral deeds and immodest behaviors. One of the important things that I have noticed is that the researcher talks about how short-stories can be beneficial to improve the four skills.