Using Autobiographical Literature in Language Teaching: Benefits and Drawbacks
A recent, complete re-designing of core, English Language classes at the Language Center of the University of Cyprus, saw a shift from a somewhat technical focus in teaching language to a more literary, free-thinking academic writing, one that requires students to produce responses, write down thoughts, express feelings in writing, and elaborate on complex ideas. Short stories, new readings, excerpts by famous authors are now more frequently used and students are asked to produce writing pieces such as fantastic stories, autobiographical texts and response pieces. As an instructor of language with a background in literature, I have started using the techniques, approaches and methods I have learnt while majoring in postcolonial literature as well as all issues associated with it, in order to assist my students reach a satisfactory level of academic writing. This presentation is the culmination of a semester’s worth of using autobiographical texts such as Hanif Kureishi’s My Ear at His Heart (2005) and Imbi Paju’s Memories Denied (2006) to teach students how to deal, understand and write about issues such as (post)memory, storytelling, trauma and its transfer from generation to generation. I hope to accurately present the positive effects of that as well as the challenges associated with it, given the students almost complete lack of understanding and discussing literature. I hope that the presentation will spark a discussion, through which I can provide as well as receive valuable feedback for amending my approach in the future.