Integrating Language and Literature: A Text World Theory Approach


In UK schools, there remains a compartmentalisation of English into ‘language’ and ‘literature’, evident in the ways that the subject is taught and examined and in the degrees to which teachers perceive themselves as being either a ‘language’ or a ‘literature’ teacher. In this paper, we suggest that an approach informed by cognitive linguistics and cognitive stylistics offers a wealth of affordances to the teacher who wishes to integrate aspects of linguistic and literary studies into their teaching. We argue that, in particular, the cognitive discourse grammar Text World Theory provides an accessible and usable set of pedagogical principles, and present two case studies of collaborative research with teachers in which they drew upon Text World Theory as a model for thinking about grammar teaching, literature teaching, lesson design, classroom talk and their own identity as a teacher of English. The data suggests that this approach may have positive benefits for students engaging in high-level linguistic analysis and the developing of responses to literature, and for teachers thinking about lesson and activity design.

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