Reading in the English classroom : A comparative study of attitudes to literature in vocational and academic programs in the first year of upper secondary school in Sweden
Being able to read and write different kinds of texts in English is more important than ever, and previous research has shown that the latter of those two skills benefits from the former. The importance of reading is stressed in the curriculum for upper secondary education. The purpose of this study is to investigate the use of English literature at upper secondary school. Similarities and differences in attitudes towards literature among students in vocational and academic programs in the first year will be looked into. I wish to get an idea of how students experience literary studies in their English education. Further, I want to investigate the students’ own ideas on how to best make literary studies interesting and a good tool for learning. The results show that the academic program students read more often in their spare time, and also that they enjoy reading to a higher degree than the vocational program students. When it comes to practicing reading literature in English lessons in school, both groups think that they do this seldom and a slight majority of both groups are satisfied with this. However, nearly half of the academic program students and nearly a quarter of the vocational program students would like to read more in school. Moreover, it seems that academic program students see more advantages in literary studies for acquiring a second language, whereas the vocational program students do not know if literary studies are a good way of learning English or gaining knowledge of the English culture. Previous research has shown that students are not likely to find a task, such as reading literature, worth doing if they are not motivated in ways that make them understand the advantages that the task will provide. My conclusion is therefore that it is important that teachers strive to motivate their students in such a way. Further, it is important that teachers consider that even though students do not read a great deal in their spare time, they might still want to do so in school.
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