How to Teach Analytical English and Literature Online to Home Schoolers

What Is Analytical English?

When the author refers to analytical English, she means that teachers can do more than teach rudimentary grammar and speaking. Reading with literary analysis can be employed at any stage/level to improve speaking skills. Analytical-English teachers explore literary elements including plot, setting, conflict, crisis, characterization, rising action, symbolism, foreshadowing, theme, tone, subplots, resolution, and more. These concepts are intertwined with grammatical analysis. Their students embark on a journey that entails investigating the mystery that makes a story great. Conducting such an analysis stimulates the mind to help pupils learn to think analytically in a way that might be applied to other domains, including science, social studies, and more. Students formulate their questions and participate in the construction of the curriculum, along with their teachers. It is of most importance that students ask questions along with their teachers and that analysis apply to real life as well as dreams.

Incorporating Literature and Great Books

Although grammar has always been taught in British and American schools, other European schools (i.e. Italian) focus more on the grammatical structure of English rather than on literary analysis. Native English speakers often point out that content and meaning are more important than grammatical structure. Great writers and speakers learn to write and speak well by reading and examining many great books and articles. Even authentic materials such as newspapers, popular books, and magazines stimulate practical analysis in the classroom, be it online or in a brick-and-mortar school. Utilizing literary analysis enables pupils to become familiar with collocations, idioms, and the natural rhythm of the language, precisely why the author believes teachers should utilize the online format to stress the importance of literary and communicative analysis. One might start with an ‘essential question’ that sparks classroom enquiry as follows: How does the portrayal of women in Shakespeare’s plays reflect on the role of women throughout the ages?

Although the Shakespearean example is appropriate for upper-intermediate and high-level learners, this topic can be simplified for lower-level classes. If one teaches English-language-learners, the materials should be more accessible and at a lower level. The teacher might utilize pages from a fashion magazine or simple articles about fashion and then follow the reading with a question about the importance of fashion in our lives today. For example, one might ask: How important is it to be fashionable at a first meeting? What is ‘your’ favourite fashion? Which colours are trending today? Keep in mind that when teaching very young learners, literature about the family, friends, and pets is not only age-appropriate but also fun and developmental, so it is okay to be very basic.

General Structure with Visuals and Props

Teachers might wish to start with PowerPoint presentations or slides to lead the group’s conversation. Although it takes time to create visual presentations, it is well worth it because visuals can activate visual learners’ knowledge. Such PowerPoints enable the discussion to follow a specific outlined path and ease discussion. Using visual presentations provides a window into the natural outdoors or other multicultural environments. Likewise, teachers may ask students to produce and share their visuals for the class since this is much more creative than asking students merely to receive information. The process of creating digital presentations for classmates stimulates everyone to become active communicators in a world in which digital communication is indispensable. Furthermore, the time those students spend researching for such presentations stimulates their minds.

Props are another three-dimensional form of visual presentations. Such props include items in the room. Many teachers enjoy using whiteboards on which they draw. Likewise, they implement the use of a digital whiteboard. Everything in the room is a potential prop. Standard props include stuffed-animal toys, bottles of water, dolls, small statues, flags, phones, puppets, plastic-toy-food, purses, phones, and drawings on paper. The author enjoys utilizing artificial-intelligence devices as props. She poses questions to Alexa, Cortana, and Hey-Google during the lesson. Students thoroughly enjoy hearing some responses that come from these bots. In order to be very creative, students are asked to share objects that relate to the literature that they are exploring. For example, young learners could share a precious necklace that relates to O’Henry’s short story ‘The Necklace’.

Letting Students Make Presentations

Presenting a recorded show or live theater for an online class gives students of all ages a sense of accomplishment. Moreover, the research that goes into the project builds scholars’ self-confidence. Teachers can find recordings of old radio shows from the 1900s to share in class or as homework in order to get a better understanding of the history of recorded radio shows. Homework that requires students to hear recorded discussions will help them develop linguistic proficiency. Advanced learners benefit from hearing the history of various types of English including Received Pronunciation, Posh Language, the Mid-Atlantic Accent, as well as any other language registers that one might find. Special consideration of the teen-language register, the business-language register, and other ways of speaking will be valuable.

Naturally, some students will be more receptive than others to oral presentations in groups. In order to deal with those who are not enthusiastic about an assignment, teachers could provide a challenging, alternative assignment. Alternatives might include creating puzzles for the class, designing diagrams, singing songs, or merely writing poems. Adults should give input as to how a specific project will meet their needs with regards to their careers. Children will learn about their preferences and might be encouraged to share their feelings about them.

Message Boards and Texting

Most online platforms have an area where people can write their thoughts and questions. As the class progresses, one adds new words and concepts to create a general outline. The message board is a functional area where students who enjoy writing can add their queries and feedback while others who like to ask questions aloud can ask them openly. The message board for texting appeals to students who love writing and to those who are too timid to speak out. Texting permits pupils to contribute without interrupting someone else in the class. Some digital platforms even have a function that permits students to raise digital hands and show agreement with a happy face. When the class is over, contributors can continue to communicate with one another after class or leave questions for the teacher. Texting the class can be done throughout the week at any time of day, although it is also essential that the instructor monitor the messages to confirm that they are respectful, thoughtful, and appropriate.

Videos and Documents

Sharing videos and books online is easy enough. Teachers share videos with students by sharing their screens during class time. Skype has a link that one can click so that everyone sees the videos concurrently. Alternatively, instructors might assign the videos to be seen before class or afterwards as homework. The internet provides countless audiovisual options that one can use if he or she does not create homemade videos. Teachers must make good choices when choosing audiovisuals that are fitting for the audience, especially when dealing with children. Teachers need to be judicious when selecting tutorials that provide extra practice outside of class. Likewise, they can choose from countless free PDF books (primarily classic books) that are available in online libraries. One can easily share them on a message board where students can download them. Otherwise, teachers might provide links to online libraries where students do valuable research that will benefit them in the future.

Drawing and Design

It is worthwhile to let students express themselves through drawing and design, sharing concepts by creating drawings on digital drawing pads or tablets. These designs are considered more useful in some fields than in others. They can be particularly useful in an analytical English class that inspires students to illustrate portions of stories or characters. Perhaps students can guess what their classmates try to illustrate. Art critiques encourage non-native speakers to improve their interpretive skills. Additionally, such homemade digital drawings might be the topics of guessing games, students drawing a person, place, thing, or idea, so their classmates can ask questions to guess what they have tried to represent.

Games

Depending on the classroom audience, games help everyone get to know each other and bond as a group. Even if the instructor is not teaching in a brick-and-mortar classroom, he or she can still utilize fun online games. In larger groups, it is advisable to assign students to teams. Teamwork can be done during class time or outside of the digital class. Classmates might research a writer, a book, or a historical period to be described so other teams can guess what they describe. The guess-the-job game is quite popular. The fill-in-the-blank game requires students to write a word while the other group has to guess the missing letters. Students give clues to their classmates to help them deduce the answers. Players might create crossword puzzles related to literature for the class, or the teacher generates acrostics. Not only should games be about guessing words, but they might be competitions requiring the class to solve a problem. Likewise, students might fashion new games.

Big Idea Versus Structure: Communicative English Teaching

The Communicative English Teaching Method (CLT) proves compelling because it engages students in the type of conversation that is related to ordinary situations that they encounter in their daily lives. Every scene in a book is fresh material for discussion related to existence. The teacher’s job is to ask important questions that stimulate such conversations. The success of this activity depends on the teacher’s ability to formulate queries while guiding the class down a unique path. Although communicative English teaching is geared toward ESL students, it is directly related to analytical-literature-teaching that explores the terminology of literature. Communicative teaching serves as the introduction, while advanced analysis of literature is the outcome applied to all endeavors. Ultimately, the big idea trumps simple structure.

CLT has distant roots in Sophocles’ dialectic method, which entails having a dialogue between two or more individuals who ask and answer enquiries to extract new ideas. Exploratory questions elicit an enhanced understanding of any theme. For example, teachers probe for inferences, consequences, viewpoints, and motives. In the early 1960s, Noam Chomsky pointed out in ‘Syntactic Structures’ that the structure of language itself was not enough to explain the creativity and function of language. Subsequently, British teachers wanted to do more than teach grammatical form; they needed to teach practical function through guided communication.

The central idea of communicative teaching is to get students to communicate much information to express themselves fully, even if they make some errors. Students need to communicate about authentic subjects that are significant to their lives. In the online format, it is possible to do this while engaging in amusing dialogues associated with books and practical life. After having considered these interconnections between literary analysis and CLT, the author of this article maintains it is possible to interconnect pleasant literature with natural communication related to real lives in an online context. These exercises include and are not limited to roleplay, task-completion, jigsaw, and opinion-sharing, all easily accomplished online.

Teaching Online to Improve the Future

Teaching analytical literature challenges people to think about various settings, cultures, and situations. Science fiction opens students’ minds so that they can conceive what the future will be. Romance fiction enables students to observe human relationships. When students share their own narrative choices or write their own stories, this provides them with a foundation for a wide variety of English communication, comprising specific jargon related to medicine, law, business, and a wide selection of fields. An excellent online lesson plan can be manipulated to meet the necessities of learners from a variety of backgrounds with an assortment of learning styles. Learning to interconnect with classmates and work together online empowers everyone to support each other as a cohesive community in a globalized world. Teachers, like other employees, utilize smartworking while serving as examples for their students who will also benefit as future smartworkers in the field of analytical English as well as other professions.

Laura Gail Sweeney, Ed.D., has been teaching school for 25 years. Her non-fiction and fiction books can be found on Amazon. She is a member of Romance Writers of America.

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