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First of all, why study literature? Pupils might ask this question as they are still the young learners in upper primary. The motive of this research is to investigate Year Four pupils' perception in learning the contemporary literature in English classroom. It outlines the background of the research, statement of the problem, purpose of the research, significance of the research and the definitions of the terms in it.
1.2 BACKGROUND OF THE RESEARCH
Contemporary Literature (CL) is now a part of the KBSR syllabus in English subject. It can also be defined as children's literature which the material created for and widely read, viewed and heard by children, that has an imaginative element. The contemporary literature can be divided into five main categories. They are fiction, non-fiction, folktales, biography and poems. They are delivered through two channels; the incorporation of literary materials in school textbooks and the Contemporary Literature Programme. The present English syllabus for the upper primary level is produced by the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC). The research by the CDC shows that children learn better on their own, actively and in-depth about something via contemporary literature.
"It aims to help pupils to build and improve their proficiency through reading simple fiction; to provide an early beginning and a continuum for the literature component introduced in secondary school; also to create an enjoyable learning environment; and also as a follow-up programme to the structured reading programme for Year 1 and 2 pupils." (CDC, 2005)
Based on Malaysian education syllabus, the purpose of learning contemporary literature is to encourage pupils to inculcate the reading habits among pupils as well as developing an understanding of other societies, cultures, values and traditions that will help them in their emotional and spiritual growth. The Literature in English programme in the Integrated Curriculum for Primary School (KBSR) represents yet another avenue to further develop in pupils a deeper level of understanding, and an awareness and sensitivity to human values and issues.
Why need literature in ESL classroom? There are several reasons to take literary texts into the classroom. Literary texts are unlimited resource of authentic (Collie and Slater, 1987), unmodified language for learners to be exposed to. This exposure to literary language, along with the negotiation of meanings of the texts aid learners to expand their language awareness, develop their language competence and become acquainted with the culture of the English speaking countries. Lastly, the personal growth is what the reader is trying to help to build confidence in relationships with people and institutions around them (Carter & Long, 1991). Furthermore, these benefits are not limited to the linguistic and cognitive domains, but expanded to the education of the individual as a whole person.
Contemporary Literature can be divided into several genres like poetry, short stories, dramas and novels. The Year Four pupils were being introduced to one genre only. It is the short stories. Based on the contemporary literature component of the CDC syllabus (2005), the pupils will be provided with three books to read which is to be read in a year. The books are "Tales and Tails" by Hyacinth Gaudart, "The Little Blue Boy" by Fatou Keita and "Tidy Your Room,Tanya!" by Pamela Rushby. However, the focus of the researcher is on "Tales and Tails" by Hyacinth Gaudart as the book consists of seven short stories in it and which the teachers have taught the students.
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The primary motive of this research is to find out what the Year Four pupils wanted to say about learning contemporary literature in English classroom. Sekolah Kebangsaan Sementa is a rural area with double session primary school. Most of the pupils are from middle family background with different cultures, traditions, customs and beliefs and are not exposed to the 'real world of literature'. Therefore, they have to learn more details and aspects with the guidance of a well experienced English literate teacher.
In early education, the pupils learn English through memorization and drilling. When comes to learning Contemporary Literature, the students cannot apply the same method but instead have to read and understand the content of the story. If not they might be lost, as they could not relate to their life. Each story from the "Tales and Tails" the contemporary literature book, has its own specialty and the pupils should interpret accurately and should not go beyond the boundaries. To overcome certain reasons of lack of interest, the teachers must play the roles in the teaching learning process. In relation to classroom procedure in the teaching of literature, various roles of the teacher need to be highlighted. The teacher needs to use his/her discretion to decide which role would be the most effective for the lesson that he/she has prepared. A teacher should be an instructor or educator who should use very interesting teaching methods that may attract pupils to learn contemporary literature. For instance, the teachers can ask the class to perform role-play in relation to the short stories. By doing this, the pupils may understand the story better and they can practice their four language skills; reading, writing, listening and speaking.
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH
The main aim of this research is to analyze pupils' perception in learning contemporary literature in Year Four syllabus in primary school.
1.4.1 Research Objectives
To investigate whether the contemporary literature promote the ability in using the four language skills.
To find out whether learning contemporary literature helps pupils' to enhance their command on the L2 language.
To find out whether pupils learn new vocabulary from the story that they read.
To find out whether learning contemporary literature encourages pupils to read more English materials.
1.4.2 Research Questions
What are the pupils' reactions towards learning contemporary literature in English language classroom?
Do the Year Four pupils understand the story and learn new vocabulary in the short stories?
Does the enforcement through learning short stories develop pupils' ability to use the vocabulary confidently?
Will the learning short story helps the pupils to enhance vocabulary in daily usage in and outside classroom?
1.4.3 Research Hypothesis
Learning contemporary literature will help the pupils' improvement in attitude and aptitude towards the value and culture in oneself.
The feedback system in learning contemporary literature process will prove to be an effective mode to enhance pupils reading ability.
The pupils might try to get familiar choosing more simple English reading material to motivate their interest in reading.
The contemporary literature teaching teachers might find some solutions in teaching literature in more effective way.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESEARCH
The research will be carried out in order to let the pupils know the reasons why they should study contemporary literature in school. It is hoped that the pupils' perception and point of view which will be gathered from this survey will provide teachers with some insights into teaching contemporary literature in English in classrooms. Through these insights, the teachers are expected to improve themselves in their teaching methods by taking into consideration towards the students need and interest. This will encourage better understanding of learning contemporary literature.
1.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH
There are some limitations that the researcher found when doing this research:
The researcher faced constraint of time. The time to complete this research is limited. The time constrains happens because the researcher need longer time to conduct the interviews and observations.
The environment and background are other limitations in this research. This is because the research will be carried out in a rural school and the pupils are weak in English. Most of the pupils consist of majority Malays and minority of Indian and Chinese pupils.
The researcher could not develop a good social relationship with the pupils and teachers in determining their perception to complete given task due to time constraint because the researcher was rushing due to many school activities.
1.7 DEFINATION OF TERMS
There are a few terms that will be used frequently even though these terms may appear generally to the readers. The researcher will only refer to them based on how they are defined in this particular study.
Contemporary literature (CL)
Children's literature which the material created for and widely read, viewed and heard by children, that has an imaginative element.
Literature in English (LIE)
Literary works written in English or translated in English.
The way you regard something and you belief about what it is like or the way you notice things with your senses or the natural ability to understand or notice something quickly.
Knowledge gained through reading and study.
A brief which can be told or read at one sitting, it shall be short and it is a chain of events that is coherence.
A plan that states the exactly what pupils at a school or college should learn in a particular subject.
Score (0-100) taken during summative test.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE TERM PAPER
This research is carried out to investigate the pupils' perception in learning contemporary literature in Year Four syllabus in primary school at Sekolah Kebangsaan Sementa.