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Using Homer’s Odyssey as a culturally familiar literary text to teach English as a foreign language in a Cypriot secondary school

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Upcoming Events
Monday 13 May 2024, 1:00-2:30pm (lunch from 12.30)
Coach House, School of Education, 5-9 Hillary Place

Dr Elina Stylianou, School of Education, University of Leeds
Coach House, School of Education - Monday 13th May 2024 1:00-2:30pm (lunch from 12.30)

There has been an increasing interest among TESOL teachers in the use of literary text as a resource in language learning (Lazar, 1993; Paran, 2008; Chalikendy, 2015). Existing research highlights that it enhances students’ language skills and educational potential (e.g. Viana and Zyngier, 2020; Sirico, 2021). This case study explores students’ engagement with Homer’s Odyssey as a culturally familiar literary text in their learning of English as a foreign language, in a Cypriot secondary school context. As a teacher-researcher, I designed and delivered an intervention of nine sessions to three classes of twenty Year 2 students. Reader-response theory (Rosenblatt, 1970; 1978; 1982) was used as a framework to explore students’ reactions to the literary text.

This study provides a new context, secondary school setting; most of the previous empirical studies have been undertaken in university settings and have focused on reading comprehension (e.g. Gürkan, 2012; Kukus, 2021). The present study also focuses on students’ voices, through exploring their perceptions and their responses to the literary text. The findings revealed students’ positive engagement, through their active involvement in the sessions and their enjoyment of the classes. They also revealed that the Cypriot students were able to demonstrate their higher order thinking skills. Students’ emotional engagement with the text made them enrich their vocabulary and engage in writing and speaking tasks.

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