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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Effect of literature-based instruction on ESL acquisition rates James, Kedrick P. A.

Abstract

In light of research on bilingual education, this thesis examines English as a second language instructional methodologies that prevail in private, international ESL schools with an adult clientele. Notably, the current state of the international ESL industry does not reflect key advances in thinking about ESL teaching and learning. For example, the present emphasis on standardized testing as a gatekeeper of social, academic, and economic advancement has persuaded many private international ESL schools to adopt a grammar-based, communicative model of instruction in the understanding that such an approach is most efficacious in preparing students for success on exams. This study, however, suggests that a variety of factors contribute to student success in these settings, not the least of which is cultural immersion, which enhances reciprocal learning processes and contextualizes learner input. Literature is posited as furthering this process through textual immersion. Employing methods that promote textual immersion and creative response to literature encourages instructors and students to set aside the biased notion that there is a correct standard of English usage, and to explore, instead, the interactive possibilities inherent in meaning-making and cultural expression. In this study, it is hypothesized that integration of literature into ESL pedagogy increases basic grammatical knowledge and enhances cultural sensitivities. An experimental design was used to compare the results of a literature-enhanced, contentrich curriculum with a standardized, grammar-focused curriculum (Soars and Soars, 2003). With an alpha level of .05, findings suggest the null hypothesis for significant variation in acquisition rates dependent on curriculum, according to standardized test scores (Harrison and Kerr, 1996).

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