Enhancing student schematic knowledge of culture through literature circles in a foreign language classroom

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Improving student understanding of a foreign language culture is anything but a peripheral issue in the teaching of a foreign language. This pilot study reports on a second year required English course in a university in Japan that took a Literature Circles approach, where students were asked to read short stories out of class and then discuss these stories in class. Although students reported that they did not gain any special insights into the target language culture presented, they did report that reading fiction as source material for classroom activity helps with the acquisition of a vocabulary set that is more closely associated with lifestyle and culture. The results suggest that further study is warranted. Procedures of this pilot study are described and interpreted in the context of the English education system in Japan.

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