Skip to content ↓

October 2023 - Year 25 - Issue 5

ISSN 1755-9715

Way to Advancement in EFL Through Literature and Polish

Marija Liudvika Drazdauskiene-Rutkauskaite is a teacher of EFL and literature, with special interest in style and uses of English. She has written on the phatic use and uses of English and Lithuanian, style and culture in language and EFL teaching. Current professional interests are style and the potential meaning of language. She enjoys working with MA students at the Wszechnica Polska, Academy of Applied Sciences in Warsaw. Email:


This paper focuses on advancement in EFL past the intermediate or B2 level. This is a problem case of mastering a language to advance in it. It is a problem because the students can communicate at this level, (survival 3 level, ironically), and write almost acceptably and so they function without difficulty and, in complacency, make no effort to learn more. Making effort is essential in such circumstances because there is no urgent need to change anything.
The problem is two-sided: the stagnation of the students’ mind and missing awareness of a higher achievement. The task is to alert the students to limitations in their knowledge and to inspire them to seek a higher level, which is hard to perceive in their complacency. A stimulus in this paper are drawbacks in the students’ English at B2 / B2+ level. Students so advanced yet struggle not so much for a lack of knowledge or insufficient instruction but because of satisfaction with their survival level 3 English, which results in inaccuracies and imperfect grammar and word choice in their use of English, primarily in writing. For example:
(1) (A student’s summary of a book in review) 10 people who found themselves in the house were accused of the death of someone but were not punished because the law did not reach them.
(2) (Asked to correct a student’s unacceptable reproduction, the students correcting the language had to say what questions they put to themselves before and after correcting the task text.) When I was reading the text I should ask myself is the text written in logical way, is the structure of sentences are correct at grammar, is the words are not misspelled etc.
(3) (On reading a popular sketch questioning why people feel busy all the time, the students had to answer the question, whether they liked the point of view and the author’s idea.) I like the point of view stated in the text. Moreover, I agree with the statements, that we are under constant social pressure that we must do anything perfect in any field we work at, however, we have to remember to keep in mind that we it is impossible to do it.
Students at this level, which is often the first term of their MA programme, answer formal questions on grammar and composition, yet may fail in the meaning of the words and word
choice. So, it is not instruction that is at fault. These students can correct their mistakes in writing if asked to do it in a few days after completing their paper. So, it is obvious that they can self-correct but that they simply do not edit their papers. They rather drop them off without giving them a thought and without taking the time and making effort to edit and polish them. In the situation as it is, students write messily the same way they had done in a previous year. This is problematic.
Task 1, then, is to alert the students to their errors and to the appeal and acceptability of correct writing of a dedicated author. Though the focus is on writing consolidation of their skills and improvement would also show in their better organized speech. Task 2, then, is to inspire them to aspire to improvement. This is not asking for an absolute novelty. Steps have been taken by engaged university teachers to help the students of this level to advance.
In an attempt to help B2 students to advance and overcome their inaccuracies, short writing was practiced accompanied by speed marking by the teacher and self-editing by the students after their papers had been marked on submission. The results have not been overwhelming. Short speed writing, speed feedback and assessment resulted only in an agreement between the student and the teacher on the spot but had no real effect. Students’ languid existence continued as before. Self-editing was somewhat effective. Feedback on written papers corrected by the teacher done in detail and consecutively was most effective but an improvement still required time and effort to master the skills. So, their writing remained fixed in the old grooves in most cases. Academic hours dedicated to the analysis of literature as proposed in this paper further is a productive way to improvement.
Known attempts to resolve the problem and relevant resources.
This state of things with B2 learners has been known in teaching. A webinar, “Mind the gap”, supporting students beyond intermediate, from Oxford University Press, given by Robin Walker (2014), defined and explained the situation, this problem and appreciated the difficulty in overcoming the drawbacks. The students were said to have only limited grammar and vocabulary choices and show little or no advancement in speaking and writing. Advice was given on how to support them in spoken and written English, that is, in grammar instruction, in the use of vocabulary and in psychological conditions. Robin Walker highlighted an elaboration of grammar patterns while creating a grammar bank, differentiation in the use of modals, learning word parts and collocations, going in depth in vocabulary knowledge and focusing on its use.
One other observation in grammar matters has come from George Yule (2009), who noticed that students spend more time performing in their particular versions of the English language than thinking about or discussing the structure of English as a language. I wholly accept this observation as a problem point in my case. Yet even in in this case, the teachers’ language awareness and the students’ language awareness can be different, methodology should not be explicitly discussed with the students and the teacher’s mastery of knowledge and psychological context should lead the way.
Another webinar from Oxford University Press, on 14 August 2018, given by Stuart Webb discussed “Enabling students to become autonomous learners of vocabulary”. The task set by this speaker echoed well the teaching of Robin Walker in 2014. Stuart Webb began by saying that native speakers’ vocabulary resource is 20,000-30,000 words families, while students learn 2-3,000 words after years of instruction. So, the task at an advanced stage is to help students learn more and reach over the 3,000 words limit. Referring to Nation and Webb (2017), he suggested six strategies which may be useful in learning vocabulary at an advanced level. They are:
1) finding ways to encounter L2 outside the classroom,
2) finding ways to use L2 outside the classroom,
3) learning word parts,
4) guessing from context,
5) using dictionary effectively.
6) using flashcards (for young learners perhaps).
I can confirm that these strategies are effective, especially (1, 2, 4, 5). Yet an expected advancement is possible only if all the skills are attended to in practice. Apart from differences in speech and writing, formal and informal vocabulary and grammar, familiarity with spoken English is essential in advancing in the understanding of EFL. But correct and disciplined writing significantly organizes speech. Even correct and disciplined pronunciation has a favourable effect on the grammar and collocation. That is why it is important to mind all the four skills in teaching at whichever level.
There is one more condition to solving the problem of this paper, which has to be minded. It is the difference between teaching and learning. My grateful reference in this case is Professor Maley’s papers “Towards an aesthetics in ELT” (Maley, 2009, 2010). A poet and academic, Mr Maley has outlined the difference between teaching and learning in a summary and explained it:
  • Teaching is a public act. Learning is a private act.
  • Teaching is observable. Learning is unobservable.
  • Teaching is an activity. Learning is a process.
  • Teaching is intermittent. Learning is continuous. (Maley, 2009)
These statements are obvious and convincing. They make it convenient to highlight key points essential for the present paper. Teaching is wholly rational, planned, includes foreseen results and is manageable in terms of time. Learning is never wholly rational, rarely planned, has no foreseen results and always takes a longer time than teaching. This means that teaching should allow fluctuations and deviations from the planned course, in which there should be major and minor assumptions and perceptions, major and minor items of substance (content) to be learnt and major and minor imperfections in learning to be admitted. As an experienced teacher knows, concrete and elementary guidelines dominate in these circumstances at the initial stages of learning, while they are all open-ended, less defined and unfinished in learning at an advanced stage, which is the focus in this paper. That is why learning at an advanced stage requires a broader outline and perspective and allows of more interpretation and discussion than definition and limitation, which feature at the basis of elementary teaching.
Having defined differences between teaching and learning, Professor Maley suggested ways of how to do it in the circumstances when teaching is public, planned and observable while learning is private, unpredictable and unobservable (Maley, 2010). As the title of this paper suggests, the way proposed in teaching is overcoming the limitations of the planning-teaching-testing nexus, usual now, through an aesthetic appeal, that is, through the use of arts in teaching. An aesthetic approach suggested is said to encompass five main aspects:
1) its possible content (the matter),
2) the procedures (including the methods),
3) the psychological feel,
4) atmosphere (the manner) and
5) possible results (the outcomes).

Professor Maley (2010) suggests that the matter would mean different types of artistic input, such as:

1) visual images in the form of genuine art,
2) music of all kinds, not simply the use of pop-songs.
3) a wide range of non-referential imaginative texts,
4) moving images in the form of film, DVD and video,
5) Student-made inputs.
In this approach, methods would include:
1) project work,
2) ensemble work,
3) autonomous engagement,
4) multi-dimensional activities,
5) problem-solving,
6) playfulness,
7) sharing and psychological encouragement.

The manner, in its turn, would mean:

1) atmosphere and flow,
2) openness, experiment and risk,
3) choice, and
4) mutual trust and support. (Maley, 2010)
Making a reference to Henry G. Widdowson, Professor Maley distinguished between objectives and aims to outline the outcomes. What is meant by objectives is ‘the pedagogic intentions of a particular course of study to be achieved within the period of that course and in principle measurable by some assessment device at the end of the course.” What is meant by aims is “the purposes to which learning will be put after the end of the course.” Objectives, then, are short-term achievements, while aims will be longer-term and hardly measurable.
Professor Maley assumed four main types of outcomes. Material and pedagogical outcomes come first and are related to objectives. Material outcomes relate to exercises, guided writing, essays and task products. They can also include visual products, individual and group websites, student journals, portfolios, student-made reference materials and performances. Pedagogical outcomes relate to the evidence of learning, that is, test/examinations results, marks of continuous assessment, the ability to “tackle longer and more demanding reading texts” and other results. Such pedagogical outcomes as fluency in conferencing and extensive reading, the ability to manage their own learning, evidence of greater reflection and awareness of their own learning, indications of greater ability to talk about language and their learning as well as to give and receive criticism and feedback are more difficult to evaluate but are valuable as outcomes.

Educational outcomes would be evident in the learners’ awareness of other people and cultural difference,incriticalthinkingandquestioning,inproblemsolvingandindevelopinggreaterindividualindependence.Psycho-socialoutcomesaremoreabstractastheyinvolveadevelopmentofincreasedself-esteem,motivation,self-awarenessandconfidence,theabilitytocooperatewithotherswithoutlossofindividuality,thebuildingofgroupsolidarity,growthofresponsibility,thebuildingofpositiveattitudestowardlearningandacriticalappreciationoftheplaceofthetargetlanguagewithintheglobalcommunityoflanguages.Botheducationalandpsycho-socialoutcomesrelatetoqualitiesthatstudentsarelikelytoappreciatelongafterthecourseofstudyisover.Theseoutcomesdevelopespeciallywellinengagementwithliterature.Althoughtheseoutcomesaredifficulttomeasure,thereisnoreasontodoubttheirvalue.

Research findings and classroom practice

Appreciating so complete an outline of an aesthetic conception in the teaching of language and literature, I wholly accept the foundations of this conception and can put forward evidence of the process and results of an implementation of a similar approach with university undergraduates (Drazdauskiene. 1986). It is wholly based on the use of imaginative literature in the programme of EFL and literature at university. I have never used music in the classroom, although I encouraged using songs in learning. Today, when students are relaxed beyond effort making and when distractions are many, music may reduce
academic rigour with young adults while taking the time. A teacher might do better while keeping to law and order and to some old-time academic dignity, which my students appreciate.
Speaking of the use of imaginative literature with university undergraduates, some ready results might be discussed. Teaching through literature is effective because of the appeal and intrigue of imaginative literature which has an intrinsically built-in power to involve. When time was no problem, having twelve hours of language practice a week with one group of students, for instance, a successful combination of Home Reading, Discussion classes, Analytical Reading and Written practice gave excellent results in a few successful years with five groups of university undergraduates in the University of Vilnius in the late 1970s. Imaginative literature featured in Home Reading and Analytical Reading classes when interpretative discussion led the group in Home Reading and when close reading and interpretation was central in Analytical Reading classes (Drazdauskiene, 2016, 98-122).
With extensive and close reading focusing the students, these classes were significantly different, nevertheless. The former enhanced the students’ skills in perception and fluency, while the latter developed their language knowledge to a high degree, demanded analytical thinking and logical generalisations, which wholly developed the students’ aesthetic senses and intellectual abilities in addition to language and literature knowledge. The opinion of group teachers and that of the Board of the examiners was unanimous in a few successful years: university graduates impressed the listening academics as very good professionals in English and literature, as well educated and intelligent young people who could keep company to their professors in discussions if an opportunity offered itself.
Bypassing a deeper analysis of the courses taught, it was also a unanimous opinion that it was imaginative literature that opened so great opportunities to learn to those university graduates and that developed their language skills, their knowledge of literature, its appreciation and their intellect. It must be noted that Analytical Reading classes were very demanding, and the preparatory work was so immense that the students used to joke about themselves as being “excessively in over-analysis”. The results, however, justified the means and students of those classes acknowledge their teachers’ merit to this day at accidental meetings.
The dedication and involvement of advanced students is the decisive lever in success when teaching with literature. Imaginative literature itself is an involving medium. Full-time students’ involvement is natural and rarely lacking in the humanities, in language and literature departments. Classroom hours do not become tedious when working with literature, either. The teacher’s participation through sharing his impressions and knowledge is a very favourable factor, which involves and creates positive psychological conditions in the classroom.
I can put forward a method less known and less practiced as a positive direction in teaching with literature, which is simpler than analytical reading and no less productive. This was an improved variant of Home Reading, and it was called Reading with embedded analysis (Drazdauskiene, 2022). The practice was based on ordinary extensive reading, the pace of which was reading about fifty pages of a work chosen by the teacher in a week at home, and focusing on approximately one page of the same text also chosen by the teacher for close analysis in the classroom. The focus this page demanded was close reading, that is, re-reading of the text read earlier in the week and going deeper into the content and expression of the
text, into its language and literary artistry. This was usually done through question and answer and the use of interpretation and generalization. I can exemplify this practice in a very brief summary while focusing on an excerpt from Chapter I of the novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. It is the episode in which the painter, Basil Hallward, accidentally introduces Dorian Gray to Lord Henry while appreciating the portrait he had painted and opening up somewhat about himself:
It is better not to be different from one’s fellows. The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. /…/ They neither bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive it from alien hands. Your rank and wealth, Harry, my brains, such as they are my art, whatever it may be worth, Dorian Gray’s good looks we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.”
“Dorian Gray? Is that his name?” asked Lord Henry, walking across the studio towards Basil Hallward.
“Yes, that is his name. I didn’t intend to tell it to you.”
“But why not?’
“Oh, I can’t explain. When I like people immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvelous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. When I leave town now I never tell my people where I am going. If I did, I should lose all my pleasure. It is a silly habit, I daresay, but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance into one’s life. I suppose you think me awfully foolish about it?”
“Not at all,” answered Lord Henry, “not at all, my dear Basil. You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing. When we meet we do meet occasionally, when we dine out together, or go down to the Duke’s we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very good at it much better, in fact, than I am. She never gets confused over the dates, and I always do. But when she does find me out, she makes no row at all. I sometimes wish she would; but she merely laughs at me.”
“I hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry,” said Basil Hallward, strolling towards the door that led in to the garden. “I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose.”
“Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know,” cried Lord Henry, laughing; and the two young men went out into the garden together, and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall laurel bush. The sunlight slipped over the polished leaves. In the grass, white daisies were tremulous.
After a pause, Lord Henry pulled out his watch. “I am afraid I must be going, Basil,” he murmured, “and before I go, I insist on your answering a question I put to you some time ago.”
“What is that?” said the painter, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground.
“You know quite well.”
“I do not, Harry.”
“Well, I will tell you what it is. I want you to explain to me why you won’t exhibit Dorian Gray’s picture. I want the real reason.”
“I told you the real reason.”
“No, you did not. You said it was because there was too much of yourself in it. Now, that is childish.”
“Harry,” said Basil Hallward, looking him straight in the face, “every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul.”
Lord Henry laughed. “And what is that?” he asked.
(Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1963, pp. 22-24)
An analysis through model questions and expected answers can be exemplified:
1. What happens in this scene from Chapter I of the novel? Not much. Two men are talking of themselves and of an absent third one.
2 What does the reader learn from this scene? - Of three men: the two speakers and the sitter.
3 Of whom does the reader learn more? - Of the two speakers. The reader learns that…
4 Is this a motivated representation in literary art at its opening? What is achieved? The two speakers are introduced through their conversational exchanges and the absent one is obscured. An introduction of the characters is the function of this exposition.
5 Why is the third man obscured? Obviously, for intrigue and to give some weight to Basil Howard’s fascination with the absent sitter.
6 Even if the vocabulary in the opening paragraph here causes no problems to a group of students, it is worth while focusing on the meaning of alien hands. This is not a wholly usual collocation. It might be asked what it means exactly. The adjective ‘alien’ means strange and frightening, different from what you are used to, disapprovingly, and not usual or acceptable, also disapprovingly. The first of the senses, ‘strange and frightening’, is closest to the point in the context. Knowing that the synonym of ‘alien’ in this sense is ‘hostile’, this guess appears acceptable and motivated. Still, it might be helpful to remember the usual collocations with the adjective ‘alien’: an alien environment; the world can become alien and dangerous; alien beings, etc.
7 Of whom and what does the reader learn from this opening paragraph? It is of the painter, Basil Hallward. As these are the opening lines in this paragraph, the painter sounds candid on no clue. He just predicts some evil. This is not a manly attitude. Lord Henry is more reserved.
A prediction so candid, verging on religious beliefs is likely to come from a woman or from a weak man.
8 What does the reader learn of the speakers? Basil is a young and sensitive painter, who is critical of Lord Henry’s ideas. Lord Henry may be Basil’s senior, but both are “young man” in the author’s word; it is Lord Henry’s reserved attitude that obscures his age. Scanty details tell the reader that Lord Henry is an aristocrat of a high state.
9 What is the source of this knowledge and impression of the characters? The two men’s conversational exchanges.
10 What exactly is the meaning of the painter’s I didn’t intend to tell it to you.” The painter had no plan or purpose to disclose the name of the fascinating absent man, that it just slipped off his tongue. This slip of the tongue might have been overlooked by the author, but it opens a way for the author to have the painter venture into another confession of himself which is his attachment to his acquaintances down to concealing their names. Although names should not be banded about in polite conversation, this is men’s talk and an opportunity for the author to disclose the painter’s character further.
11 Is the verb surrendering a part of them significant and what does it exactly mean? The verb ‘surrender’ means to admit defeat and to give up sth/sb when you are forced to. This is a formal verb and not commonly used in routine. It implies that the painter was a very sensitive person and he felt conscience-stricken, so as to feel guilty at his slip of the tongue.
12 What does this second opening of the painter about himself mean to the reader? It confirms the earlier implication that the painter was very sensitive and that he was a weak man who would open up about himself on no clue.
13 How well is the reader familiar with a parenthetic word, daresay? This verb means that something is likely, and is a fill-in word in conversation. It is a British word and not a word of the very latest time. Parenthetic words, such as: I must say, I say, you may think, perhaps, probably, for sure and others, are shorter and more frequent in contemporary conversation. They are also less formal.
14 How formal is this say by the painter Basil? A very pointed verb intends, and the formal surrender would not make this talk formal but there are other components which make it so.
15 What are other features of formality in this section of the conversation? Only occasional contracted verb forms. Most are full forms of the auxiliaries.
16 What does the syntax of this section of the conversation tell the reader? All the statements are short and of standard structures. The grammar and vocabulary choice imply that the men talking are of a high social status and not very close friends. The grammar of the men’s conversation also suggests the context of situation of an earlier century.
17 What is missing in the syntax of this section of the conversation compared to modern conversation? Unfinished sentences, sentence fragments, clauses functioning as separate units, crowded sentences and similar inaccuracies.
18 How can the language of Oscar Wilde’s conversation be assessed? The language of Oscar Wilde’s conversation is standard, correct and precise. It is slower in tempo than the language
of modern conversation. Overall, this section of conversation shows that Oscar Wilde’s conversation is more formal than modern conversation.
19 Focusing on two following paragraphs of the conversation, what striking features do you find in them? If students find the statement. I hate the way you talk… significant, they are right. This is an emphatic exaggeration or overstatement, but it is typical of spoken English.
20 Would you quote anything from the first section of conversation that would be a likely overstatement? There are several overstated fragments in the first section of the conversation: I like people immensely; to love secrecy; the commonest thing is delightful if…; a great deal of romance; awfully foolish, the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. These are even more common positive conversational overstatements here and some of them are quite modern.
21 What is striking in the syntax of the three following sections of the conversation? It is deliberate syntax based on contrasting or antithetic statements: some of these statements are quite simple, almost routine, for instance: She never gets confused over dates and I always do. I sometimes wish she would, but she merely laughs at me. But further, antithetic statements become quite intentionally artistic or true antithesis: You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know.
22 Can the students define what antithesis is? Antithesis is a rhetorical or literary device in which an opposition or contrast of ideas is expressed” (COD, 2011, 58). The students might notice and mind this device, which is a favourite device of Oscar Wilde to show off in his intentional wit and it will recur in the novel.
23 How do conversation and descriptions balance in the quoted excerpt of the novel? The students would be encouraged to appreciate the description of a scene in the garden in the middle of the excerpt and to note that descriptions are only one or two in the opening of this novel and very brief but expressive. What do the students like most in the descriptions?
24 How significant is the painter Basil’s confession in the final paragraph in this excerpt from the novel? Does it reveal anything new about the painter? Not much. It confirms the previously noticed candid disposition of the painter.
25 Can the reader expect any growth of the significance of the paragraphs discussed here?
The students’ guess may be positive. Indeed, the students must be advised to remember the painter’s confession about the execution of the portrait. A reader may wonder at the end of the novel how the transformation of the portrait took place, and this knowledge of the painter’s confession initially may help him. More than that, even if the reader read and remembered Oscar Wilde’s dictum in the preface to this novel, which is All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril”, he may want to interpret the denouement of the novel further. The reader would definitely need to remember the initial confession of the artist in his own interpretation.
26 Do the students find this exposition accomplished and appreciates it? What are the merits and drawbacks of this exposition in the novel?
27 Does the exposition imply anything about further relations among the characters? What kind of relations may these be?
This way the students find out who and how is introduced in the exposition and what verbal means are used to introduce the characters, to create the atmosphere and intrigue. They also learn a few words well, familiarise themselves with a few rarer words such as intend, surrender, ensconce, and also identify a few literary devices. They hear a tentative forecast for the denouement with an encouragement to notice details when reading. But the questions given are only a sketch. The questions may differ with stronger or weaker emphasis on the language and the content and on the artistic devices. This depends on the atmosphere in the group and on the students’ and teacher’s disposition. The answers suggested are merely a guess from experience. They may differ and always include more words than used above, personal comments and impressions, which is appreciated. Young adults at the level B2/B2+ respond very favourably to literature in analysis and this should be exploited by the teacher in all ways imaginable.


Young adults are usually active in discussions of literature read and re-read. Analysis of so short a paragraph with potential problem words highlighted and some phrases repeated for learning get the students deeper into the text. If the text is not too easy, students get fresh insights into the English language and literature. The process of analysis in the classroom switch on little lights in the text as it were, and the students can re-live the pleasure of a breakthrough in reading. This is great experience which invigorates them in further analysis and discussion. What is rewarding in the students’ responses is their involvement, spontaneous reaction and speaking unprepared. This mobilises their efforts for new and original expression which is wholly their own. There can be no better stimulus for practicing English as a foreign language with immersion. Literature, then, becomes a live and fresh resource of words and knowledge, which never bores and which the students never tire of using.
This is an appreciated circumstance, and it should be exploited further. When the students are involved and vie for speaking up, they should be given a chance and time to do so. This is the stage where polish begins to take place. As literature involves young students for its intrigue and delicate senses of meaning, here is the place for an attempt to find a relevant expression of personal impressions. The students, then, start practicing without prescription and exercising precision and selection in their minds. When they are eager to express their personal emotions about literature, there can be no better exercise to try to speak and polish one’s speech at the same time. If this process recurs and continues for the time of a term, the foreign language of advanced learners can be polished, especially so when student speakers cherish their thoughts and what they want to put in words. This is a self-disciplining process in speech which polishes the language together with the intellect. Experience shows that this is an appreciated practice and that its results may be obvious. University students so educated always show as cultured and disciplined speakers and participants in whatever engagement they happed to function on graduation. And this means one of the aims of an aesthetic approach in EFL achieved.
This kind of analysis may focus the student readers some 5-6 times through the novel and can be done in two classes of 90 minutes at a time. Such analysis helps improve the knowledge of the language and literary knowledge too. As this sketch has shown, the method of analysis is a planned consecutive interpretation under the teacher’s guidance. My experience with university undergraduates has shown that the method of analysis in Reading with embedded analsis should not be too modern or special (cf.: Drazdauskiene. 1976; Simpson, 1997; Carter, Simpson, 2002), not to tax the students unnecessarily and not to diminish the pleasure and delight of literature. When the method is simpler, the students get involved in the analysis with pleasure while exploring all the resources of delight. This is most important as it develops not only analytical skills and analytical thinking but is also a source of pleasure and gives good results in the classroom. It is also satisfying psychologically and fits into the time of a lesson. Learning, then, becomes acceptable physically and aesthetically and the students can learn more in a lesson than planned. If this happens, the aesthetic approach to teaching with advanced learners is wholly justified. That is to say, with the objectives fulfilled, the aims of this way of teaching would be achieved with added value.
Methodologically, there can be added value in a broader application of this kind of reading. Reading with embedded analysis can also be done individually on the basis of any foreign language and a well-chosen literary text. Modern poems are useful in an individual practice of Reading with embedded analysis when a fragment or one stanza serves for a deeper analysis after a poem had been read as a whole. It may be further applied outside of major literary works and outside the classroom. In present-day contexts, when foreign languages are learnt informally outside the classroom, this method may be extended to the shortest texts that learners may happen to read as advertisements or promotional praise on the walls, announcements in the streets or slogans in schools and universities. The shortest texts, which are as long as a quote of one sentence or a fragment of a text, can be read in and out, memorised and multiplied, thus extending the context and the language matter in the mind, thus learning words and grammar without academic rigour. Language learning and polish in Reading with embedded analysis is essentially a contextualized learning of a foreign language and its full result can be achieved at university. Context and literature permit a variety of ways and means to do it.
It is difficult to assess precisely how imaginative literature teaches, educates and polishes and how the depth of knowledge is created in effect, but it is known that this happens the way it happens in music and in some other arts. Learning happens because the appeal through delicate senses of meaning is pleasant, while learning words in the continuity and variety of their senses and in context is not difficult, interesting and productive. Reading, extensively and in depth, polishes through the delicacy of meanings, the discipline of grammar and the overall aesthetic design.


Classical imaginative literature creates the reader’s polish through its overall aesthetic accomplishment. Modern imaginative literature may not be as productive in polish, but even chaotic works of literature may instill a desire for accomplishment in the students owing to its negative senses. What is really decisive in polish is the literary work chosen plus the personality of the teacher. It matters how the teacher speaks and behaves, how accurate he is in his choice of words and insights. His measured expression in periphrases and interpretation, his ability to notice and highlight the delicate points and nuances in the work, his bond with individual student speakers and his subtlety in supplementing observations of the students are no less important. This is psychologically favourable and emotionally pleasing. Polish cannot be executed by a deliberate exercise or order. It is created by the alignment with, and execution of actual verbal expression initiated by a literary work. Polish is a result of harmonious work in the classroom skillfully conducted and encouraged by a cultured teacher. Learning a foreign language outside the classroom in present-day circumstances is not likely to be as productive in polish but advancement in foreign language learning is certainly possible even in so humble circumstances.
The statements and observations in this paper have been based on ample material and considerable experience. The aesthetic approach adopted from Professor Maley’s conception of an aesthetics in ELT has given the experience described an impetus and a name. The methods as described here may be changed and elaborated. Professor Widdowson’s (1979, 1992) approach to literature and methods can be used for elaboration. While imaginative literature is an infinite resource, the suggested direction in teaching English as a foreign language is not likely to deteriorate in a short time.


Carter, Ronald, Paul Simpson, (2002) Language, Discourse and Literature. An Introductory Reader in Discourse Stylistics. Routledge.
COD, (2011) The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Twelfth Edition. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Drazdauskiene, Marija L., (1976) On Linguistic Analysis of the Semantic Structure of Literary Text. Literatūra XVIII(3). Vilnius: Mokslas, 1976, 71-75.
Drazdauskiene, Marija L., (1986) A venerable tradition of teaching with fiction. In: The EFL Gazette, No. 74, London, February 1986, p.4.
Drazdauskiene, Marija L., (2016) Language and Usage: Potentialities and Problems. Warszawa: Wszechnica Polska.
Drazdauskiene, Marija L., (2022) Reading with embedded analysis. MS.
Maley, Alan, (2009) Towards an Aesthetics of ELT. In: Folio, 13/2 December 2009.
Maley, Alan, (2010) Towards an Aesthetics of ELT (Part 2). In: Folio, 14/1 September 2010.
Simpson, Paul, (1997) Language Through Literature. An Introduction. London and New York: Routledge.
Walker, Robin, (2014) Mind the gap. Supporting students beyond intermediate. An OUP webinar, 8th April 2014.
Webb, Stuart, (2018) Enabling students to become autonomous learners of vocabulary. An OUP webinar, 14th August 2018.
Widdowson, Henry G., (1979) Stylistics and the Teaching of Literature. London: Longman.
Widdowson, Henry G., (1992) Practical Stylistics. An Approach to Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Yule, George, (2009) Reintroducing Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Please check the Pilgrims f2f courses at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Pilgrims online courses at Pilgrims website.

Tagged  Various Articles 
  • Way to Advancement in EFL Through Literature and Polish
    Marija Liudvika Drazdauskiene, Poland and Lithuania