日本人英語学習者による文学作品の読みに文体論の知見が与える影響 : O. Henry 作 After Twenty Years を題材に用いた質的・量的研究
Effects of Knowledge of Stylistic Features on Japanese EFL Learners’ Reading of a Literary Work: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study with O. Henry’s After Twenty Years as a Material
Since communication has gradually become the central focus of English education in Japan, literary works have been disappearing from English textbooks (Erikawa, 2004). This is due to the perception that reading literary works is not an effective means for enhancing learners’ communication skills, even though there have been no thorough investigations on the effectiveness of using literary works in English-learning classes (Takahashi, 2008). Despite this situation, literary works are still used in some English classes at the university level. Some of those classes encourage learners to understand the main events or the main theme of the works (Yoshimura, 2013; Eto, 2013; Sugimura, 2015), or to focus on the words that appear in the works (Itakura, 2012). Feedback from learners in these classes suggests that these classes were positively appreciated, and that they contributed to making learners enjoy reading literary works. However, not many of these empirical studies examined learners’ reactions while reading literary works. The objective of this study is therefore to examine the effects of reading English literary works, especially with a focus on language use and learners’ reactions to the text.
In order to achieve this goal, the following experiment was conducted. The participants were 27 Japanese second-year university students majoring in English education. They were asked to follow the following procedure, consisting of three processes: 1) Read O. Henry’s After Twenty Years individually, in original English. Underline words or phrases that attract their interest in terms of expressions and contents, and comment on the reasons. Show their impressions towards the text on the provided scales. 2) In class, learn about the uses of four stylistic features (namely speech, metaphor, parallelism, and text) and their potential effects in literary works. 3) Re-read After Twenty Years, and follow the same steps as the first process in this procedure. The participants’ comments both before and after acquiring the knowledge on stylistic features, as well as their impressions on After Twenty Years, were analysed.
Participants’ comments on After Twenty Years were categorised as follows: comments that expressed learners’ impressions, those that focused on literal meaning of the words or phrases, those that focused on language use and the function of words, and those that interpreted those uses or functions. In the comments collected during the third process, impressionistic comments and literal comments decreased, while interpretive comments increased. The provided scale consisted of nine sets of adjectives with opposite meanings, such as “Interesting/Boring.” Each item had scores ranging from 1 to 6, 1 being the most negative. On this scale, participants were asked to mark to what extent their impressions matched those scores. In the third process, the increase on the scores of both ‘Recommendable’ and ‘Attractive’ were statistically significant.
This study demonstrates that after learning about stylistic features, the participants’ major focus while reading literary works shifted from understanding the literal meanings to interpreting the effects of their uses. Furthermore, the participants came to regard the work as more attractive and recommendable.