Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Creative Approaches in Foreign Language Teaching: Selected Papers from the 1992 Central States Conference, eds. William N. Hatfield, Mary Carr, and Michael Oates (Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company), pp. 32-49.


Copyright © 1992 Central States Conference on the Teacing of Foreign Languages


The proficiency emphasis in the teaching of foreign languages has brought with it a realistic and real-world application of language. The goal of a proficiency-oriented classroom is to talk in the language and not about the language. The curriculum, therefore, is no longer driven solely by grammar, but rather by communicative functions. Students are prepared to communicate on a variety of topics and learn to negotiate meaning in contexts "motivated by real communicative needs" (Littlewood 1985, p. 70). The learner becomes an active participant in the language-learning process and becomes a skill-user, not merely a skill-getter (Rivers 1972). Language teaching theorists and experts (Birckbichler and Muyskens 1980; Carrell 1984; Kramsch 1983; Swaffar 1984; Swaffar et al. 1991) have underscored classroom interactions based on functional settings. As a result of this focus, the role of reading has been stressed, "particularly the reading of literature in language acquisition" (Rankin 1990, p. 24). In light of these developments, the role of literature in the foreign language classroom has been reevaluated.