Taking a literature circles approach to teach Academic English

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Literature circles (LC), an activity framework for classroom discussion, has been adapted for EFL classes to help students engage more deeply with reading texts. In this approach, students read texts outside of class, and discuss the texts in class, using a specified discussion framework. Originally developed for L1 classes as a tool for teaching literature, LC has been adapted for EFL classes, not only to help develop reading skills, but also to help students develop their discussion skills. However, to date, many adaptations of LC have relied on graded fiction as source material, which is not always appropriate for tertiary education. Feeling pressure to match course content with the labour market needs of our contemporary global society, English departments are increasingly being asked to include more academic content in their classes. This requires that non-fiction be used as source material. This preliminary study examines student perceptions of an LC class using non-fiction as source material. The subjects of this short, qualitative, pilot study were engineering students at a university in Japan. Procedures of the class and the issues that emerged are discussed.

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