Stylistic Approach in Language Learning Experience

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Stylistic Approach in Language Learning Experience

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To learn a new language is like merging into a new culture and history. Literature plays a key role in the language learning experience of the learners. It is utterly significant to allow language learners to reflect on their pre-conceived thoughts, unlearn generalization of any nation or culture and learn a language with historical background by eliminating biases. Therefore, stylistic approach in ESL classrooms is a productive approach where it allows students to enable their analytical capability. The aim of this critical analysis paper is designed for the ESL students of upper intermediate level of English. The main focus of this paper is to analyze one literary piece through stylistic approach for the ESL students. The purpose of this analysis is to pursue the personal growth model as the teaching methodology. This synthesis draws upon on one literary primary source and other secondary sources including books, journal articles and online ESL blogs. One of the main objectives of this paper is to guide learners through the stylistic approach rather than using traditional teacher-centered teaching methodology. Stylistic approach can provide opportunity to develop critical analysis ability and produce quality language learning experience for the ESL students.

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Literature and language are rigorously entwined. Literature is a tool to understand language in different cultural and classroom contexts. Therefore, it aids in language development of the learners. While facilitating a discussion of a certain literary text in a classroom, the learners are given the opportunity to practice the language, especially when they are involved in producing opinions and share their perspectives in verbal and written forms. This, as a result, amplifies the language learning prociency of the learners. In addition, as discussed in the "Features of Input of Second Language Acquisition" published in the Journal of Language Teaching and Research that "literature also helps in the learning of a language, as some texts may have been adapted from real life conversations and situations". "It is apparent that Southeast Asian language classrooms tend to be more teacher-centered than student-centered. This could pose a problem, as the learning potential of the learners may not be maximized in a teacher-centered setting. Learner-centered practices stress higher-order thinking skills such as synthesizing, analyzing, and evaluating. Teachers who adopt these practices also train them to become more independent, creative, and active in learning, which may be mutually beneficial as teachers learn useful information to enhance their teaching while learning from their students. It can be observed that a lot of teachers in Southeast Asia prefer not to use the learner-centered approach. Renandya et al. (2014) studied 212 English teachers in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines and discovered that they are still moving toward learner-centered practices in the classroom. Moreover, results of the study showed that assessment practices in the aforementioned countries are traditional or exam-based."

Stylistics is the study of the use of language in literature according to Geoffrey Leech (1969). Later in Stylistics 2, Abdulqadir (2012) elaborates this by explaining it as a study of a literary discourse from a linguistic perspective and terms it as an interdisciplinary subject. "In stylistics, one may focus on the syntactic, phonological, lexical, semantic, and graphological elements of style". The above mentioned discussions regarding the relationship between language and literature are important to consider in text analysis because they project the extent of perception expressed in a literary resource or piece. They are significant to the stylistic analysis of the text or other modes as they deliver to the reader or reciever a much more objective path to understand the resource, which may benefit as it contributes to the subjective analysis of the reader. The subjective analysis concerns "the inferential and evaluative levels of questioning such as asking the author’s purpose or the moral lesson of the story" (Gonzales & Flores, 2016). As a result, the stylistic approach may help the readers read and think critically. Not only does it allow them to read inferentially and beyond and evaluatively to appprehend the text, it also encourages them to look at the text itself as their own. This is the stylistic approach, which is that the investigation of the resources of a language code is often place into use within the production of actual messages. "In the stylistic approach, literature is considered a communicative discourse." The goal of this approach is to “decode meaning and structural features of literary texts by identifying linguistic patterns in the text”. It is also with this approach that the author’s choice of words and their functions are emphasized, along with the structure, deviation from norms, foregrounding, parallelism, grammatical patterns, and how they bring meaning to the text.

The stylistic approach brings various advantages to the ESL classrooms, notably in literature classes. Therefore, many educators prefer to use this approach. Apart from encouraging learners to think critically, another explanation in adopting the stylistic approach in classroom instruction would be its effectiveness in teaching literary resources like poetry. It was demonstrated in Inyang’s (2009) study that ESL learners exposed to the stylistics technique performed significantly higher in tests than learners who were instructed using the formalist approach. In Inyang’s study the assessment instrument used is the Poetry in English Achievement Test (PEAT), which aims to determine “the achievement and retention ability of students in poetry” In another study titled "Teaching of poetry to Saudi ESL learners: Stylistics approach" by Ahmad (2014), aside from the significant and positive variations between the groups instructed using the formalist and stylistic approach in terms of their performance, both teachers and learners in several Saudi Arabian universities found the stylistic approach an effective and enjoyable medium that to “enrich and energize the learning environment of an ESL classroom". Furthermore, Fakeye and Temitayo (2013) suggested that the stylistic approach can be utilized in teaching by numerous ideas in poetry upon discovering the significant positive effects of the approach on 138 ESL learners in six secondary colleges in Africa. It is recommended that the stylistic approach could also be effective in teaching literature in Asian ESL (e.g., the Philippines and Singapore) within the views of teacher and learners. Although the stylistic approach appears to be highly effective than formalism in teaching literature, particularly poetry, it must not be a replacement for the formalist approach of teaching literature. Instead, it should be used as a supplement to the traditional approach. However, lecturers may choose to use the stylistic approach without the traditional methodology, because it has been done before. Therewith in mind, it is evident that stylistic-based activities can improve the standard of poetry learning and teaching within the literature learning classroom.

Stylisticians were grounded for many years on the concept that literature is formed out of language and claimed that their academic activity is also helpful for struggling ESL learners. In Asian EFL countries like China, the stylistic approach appears to be the trend in pedagogy analysis. Even though there is literature demonstrating that the stylistic approach truly impedes language learning and several other critics claim that literary reading has no direct role in acquisition. In "Pedagogical stylistics in multiple foreign language and second language contexts: A synthesis of empirical research", a study by Fogal (2015) argued and showed: (1) stylistics could also be a tool for improving L2 performance, (2) stylistics contributes to language awareness, and (3) stylistics may be a tool for building academic skills on the far side L2 acquisition. Furthermore, Devardhi and Nelson (2013) advocated the stylistic approach as a method to “develop language proficiency and highlight metalinguistic reflection” through “conscious attention to details and linguistic features” in their study "Stylistic analysis based on Formalism: Metalinguistic reflection of Whitman’s One’s Self I Sing". Shi and Wang (2013) highly consider this and state that the stylistic approach would possibly provide quality skills of the way to use the language; however, they note that enriching their knowledge of stylistics could be a requirement. They additionally acknowledged that the stylistic approach highlights the path for effective English learning. The researchers also believe that the approach is practical as it makes use of the text and focuses on analysis through communicative discourse, which also develops their communicative abilities. By allowing learners to express their opinions and ideas, and to give their own interpretations of texts based on textual evidence in the classroom, the teacher can guide and indirectly, or directly, teach language skills. In terms of pronunciation, the stylistic approach is effective since one component of the approach is the phonological aspect. To bring an end to this section, it can be concluded that the stylistic approach does have positive implications for ESL language classroom just as in the ESL literature classroom.

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