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ID 31380
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title alternative
Literature in English Textbooks for Upper Secondary School : An Analysis of Texts and Questions
creator
NDC
Education
abstract
The Course of Study for Upper Secondary School: Foreign Languages implemented in 2003 prescribes four types (from Type A to Type D) of "Language Activities" for reading English, and the third one (Type C) is "To read stories etc. and talk or write about one's own impressions." The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) attaches "The Teaching Guide" (Kaisetsu) to The Course of Study, and for Type C the guide reads: "We read to get information or grasp writers' intentions. We also read to enjoy the act of reading itself. This is especially the case with literary works such as poems, stories, and plays." The phrase "literary works" is here. The Course of Study is usually revised every ten years, and the one to be implemented in 2013 does not refer to "literary works" even in its teaching guide. The fact that the phrase has been deleted altogether symbolises the present position of literature at the secondary school level.

In the past literary works accounted for a large part of Japan's secondary school textbooks. (See Ozasa, Toshiaki, and Haruo Erikawa, eds. The Historical Study of the English Language Textbooks. Tokyo: Jiyusha, 2004.) In recent years, however, literature has been driven into the periphery. This is mainly because the emphasis in Japan's English language education has been shifted towards the utterances of daily communication. The Course of Study prescribing that "communicative activities should be conducted in concrete language-use situations," it is no wonder that literature is rarely used in the classroom.

Despite the recent unpopularity of literature as a teaching material, there are some (not many) cases in which literary works are used in the textbooks authorised by MEXT. Among the lessons related to literature, I have chosen two on Harry Potter and examined them in terms of both texts and questions attached to them. Whether Harry Potter can be regarded as literature might be controversial. At least it is a "fantasy," which can be categorised as a literary form. Bearing Japanese secondary school students as target learners in mind, I have decided to consider Harry Potter literature. (If we exclude Harry Potter popular especially among young Japanese people, literature might vanish from textbooks altogether.)

The two lessons examined are from two different textbooks, both of which were authorised in 2003. One is in New Stage published by Ikedashoten, and its text, summarising Chapter 6 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, describes how Harry leaves for Hogwarts from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, King's Cross Station. The other lesson is in Planet Blue published by Obunsha, and its text consists of the writer's answers to two questions: "When did the idea of Harry Potter first enter your head?"; "Can you describe the process of creating the stories?" In both lessons the texts are followed by some questions for students to answer. The questions can be classified into just two types: (1) questions requiring literal comprehension of the texts; (2) questions requiring general impression of the texts.

Based on the above examination, I would like to make two suggestions: (1) it is important to read literature itself as well as to know about stories or biographical episodes; (2) questions following the texts should be more varied, requiring students to "read between the lines" or to be more involved with the texts. To exemplify these suggestions, I have chosen a passage from the original of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and added to it some questions which I assume will lead students to "literary reading" of the text beyond its "literal reading."
journal title
Hiroshima studies in English language and literature
volume
Volume 55
start page
45
end page
58
date of issued
2011-03-30
publisher
広島大学英文学会
issn
0288-2876
ncid
SelfDOI
language
jpn
nii type
Departmental Bulletin Paper
HU type
Departmental Bulletin Papers
DCMI type
text
format
application/pdf
text version
publisher
department
Graduate School of Letters
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