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(c) Alexander Sokol, Riga, 2000, contacts@thinking-approach.org

Preliminary Points
How to Choose a Text
Functions of Tasks
Types of Tasks

Texts Samples
Tasks to the Texts
Students’ Works

Students' Responses



A lot of teachers think that teaching something besides the language is not their business. Moreover, they often keep to the opinion that extending the curriculum will make a negative impact on the quality of language teaching. However, both opinions are an illusion. “Whether we are aware of it or not, students will always learn more in their language classes than just language”. (Littlejohn 1998, p. 10) Our choice as language teachers is either to make this learning guided or random. As to the quality of teaching, creativity oriented curriculum1 will always offer students the role of producers not consumers. This actually means better teaching as we make a step from a reproductive towards productive teaching thus raising the language awareness among our students.

Language itself is a means. The best learning of the language takes place when students feel the need for that means. That is why it is much easier and faster to learn the language in the country where it is spoken. Here we can make the first conclusion – tasks for language development should not necessarily be language oriented. In other words, the focus of tasks for students can be everything – what is important that they use the language as a means for performing the task. In the context of the suggested approach it leads us to the idea that most of the tasks to texts can be thinking oriented while language is used as a means for performing the task. This should not, however, sound frightening to the teacher. Language (or sooner speech as in the context of ELT we are more concerned with teaching various kinds of speech rather than the language) as well as thinking is a process subject, thus such terms as the object and means are relative and they can easily swap places. Literary texts are those large chunks of language which provide us with a wide choice of resources we may want to focus on.

Encouraging students to use large chunks of language, and assisting with the success of this, can considerable enhance motivation and hence longer-term progress.

There is a lot more evidence to support arguments which favour a classroom approach to language which goes well beyond the traditional word and sentence level approach and which supports the non-linear nature of second language acquisition.
(Hunt 1999. P.19)

There is one more advantage to the suggested approach. Introduction of literary texts to the classroom gives students a chance to get acquainted with various literary sources in the concentrated form. Later on students can choose which of the writers they would like to read themselves.

Moreover, literature itself can occasionally become the focus of teaching. The Net Technology allows a teacher to focus on virtually any point, and they should not miss this opportunity if this point appears relevant in the particular teaching context2.

Another useful feature of literature, which may require some time to grasp though, is its being a source of ‘pickled experience’ young people so much need and are eager to obtain3.


1 ‘Futures curriculum’ will always be creativity oriented as being able to deal with new problems is becoming a more-and-more pertinent skill. OTSM-TRIZ itself as the basis for such curriculum was developed as a tool for solving NEW problems.

2 There are some key concepts in any field a teacher cannot merely ignore. For instance, the author-narrator difference in literary texts most secondary school students are usually not aware of. Moreover, this question will anyway arise itself (thus providing an excellent context to introduce the notion) as soon as the text with a strong first person narrative is given to students. (See, for example, J D Salinger’s or Richard Bach’s texts in the appendices)

3 “The book does not reproduce me, it re-defines me, pushes at my boundaries, shatters the palings that guard my heart. Strong texts work along the borders of our minds and alter what already exists.” (Jeanette Winterson, Writer, Reader, Words)




(ñ) 1997-2000 OTSM-TRIZ Technologies Center


21 Nov 2000