When it comes to justifying Literature topics for the classroom setting, the first aspect to bear in mind is “suitability”. Yes, Literature can be a powerful resource to improve our students’ language skills, especially reading and writing but the key lies on how to choose your materials. Any method of approach towards using Literature in the classroom must take into account the choice of materials. A learner-centred approach pays attention to the way language is used as learners proceed through a text. It seems to be obvious that the starting point should be a type of material that hooks your audience, something not that easy when you start planning your strategy.
I wolud like to tell you today about my experience with the use of authentic reading materials in class. I picked a character familiar to my students of 1st year of ESO: Geronimo Stilton. It might seem naive but gave me the chance to approach my audience as Geronimo had been part of most of my students’ childhood. The story in particular “Geronimo and the Gold Medal Mistery” allowed me to deal with the text in a cooperative way, discussing the different sections of Geronimo’s adventure in Greece in small groups of work. The content of the story is powerfully cross-curricular, as the setting and the plot refer to ancient Greece and the origins of the Olympic Games. After comprehensive reading in small groups, each of them worked out a description of the chapter together with the comment of aspects related to ancient and modern Greece as well as interesting aspects of the Olympic games through history. As we all proceeded through the different sections, loads of vocabulary items are clarified so as to get a comprehensive view that will be presented later on.
The final result was highly satisfying. Stilton is not Dicken’s Oliver Twist but if it is part of students’ childhood, it is sure to hook your audience.