A Master of Arts thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Sadaf Khalil Ahmad entitled, "The Use of Culturally-Familiar Literature in the EFL Classroom," May 2013. Thesis advisor is Dr. Khawlah Ahmed. Available are both hard and soft copies of the thesis.
Insights from Cultural Studies and related fields significantly influence the discipline of language learning and teaching recently. Literature shares an intrinsic relationship with language and culture and therefore can serve as a teaching/learning resource for both language and culture. Literature was highly valued in language teaching during the flourishing days of the Grammar Translation Method, driven out of the language classroom with the advent of Communicative Language Teaching, but it is now gradually finding its way back to the language classroom with the increasing significance of intercultural awareness in second and foreign language teaching. However, the diversified nature of English literature today due to the unprecedented spread of the language raises the question whether the focus should remain on American and British literature in foreign language classrooms. Cultural Schema Theory anticipates that cultural-familiarity facilitates the reader's comprehension of literature. This study seeks to learn about the views of EFL instructors at post-secondary level in UAE on the significance of literature in language teaching and the use of culturally-familiar literature in EFL classrooms. In addition, it aims to find out whether reading culturally-familiar literature positively impacts the reading comprehension of EFL students compared to culturally less-familiar literature. A questionnaire is used to learn about the instructors' views and an exploratory study involving 76 EFL students is designed to test whether cultural-familiarity has any effect on reading comprehension. Quantitative and qualitative measures are employed to discuss the findings of the study. Analysis of the research data reveals that instructors acknowledge the significance of literature in teaching the target language and are in favor of using culturally-familiar literature in EFL classrooms. The results of the comprehension tests confirm that cultural-familiarity positively impacts reading comprehension of EFL students.