Studying English Literature at Upper Secondary Schools in Sweden : An empirical study of goals applied to the teaching of English literature

University essay from Högskolan Dalarna/Engelska

Abstract: To use literature in English as a foreign language (EFL) or English as a second language (ESL) classroom is something which, for many decades was regarded as too difficult or not relevant in many countries, Sweden being one of them. In the past few decades the view of literature as a means for education in Sweden has changed. Research shows that texts are useful to enhance critical thinking skills and to help foster democratic citizens, which is something the Swedish curriculum for upper secondary school advocates for. This study sought to examine what goals teachers apply to the teaching of literature and also how these goals were realized in the classroom and, reasons to why it what not realized if that was the case. The study was conducted using an online questionnaire, Google Forms, which was sent out to an upper secondary school in Sweden and posted on a Facebook page devoted to English teachers at upper secondary schools in Sweden. The results of the study showed that most of the goals stated in this study were realized to some extent in the EFL classrooms, but there were also discrepancies between teachers views on what is important to teach and what the curriculum states should be taught. An example of this was that some teachers did not teach the goal of text analysis, it was not found to be ‘interesting’ or ‘relevant’. However, the curriculum for English at upper secondary schools in Sweden, does not advocate that teachers should teach text analysis specifically. On the other hand, the curriculum does advocate that students should meet different forms of text. This study, therefore, also discusses possible ambiguities within the curriculum of English at upper secondary school.

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