Vol. 2. No. 1 A-2 March 1996
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Towards an ESOL Literature

Michael Newman
Dept. of Educational Theory and Practice
The Ohio State University

Merce Pujol
Hostos Community College, City University of New York


This article explores the contradiction between communi- cative theory and practice in beginning and intermediate ESOL materials and compares this situation with that prevailing in early L1 literacy instruction. The basal textbooks that dom- inate much early-stage ESOL instruction are constructed to train students in specific language features and functions rather than communicate directly with them. Many first lan- guage elementary school teachers, on the other hand, primarily use children's literature in reading instruction. Children's literature consists of authentic texts designed to give chil- dren pleasure rather than teach them specific skills. These books, unlike ESOL basals, thus lend themselves to the learning-by-doing approach favored by emergent theories in both literacy and language learning. We propose that ESOL teachers create and use materials that are primarily designed to appeal to adult and adolescent ESOL students, much as chil- dren's literature does for children. This new ESOL literature will be particularly helpful to ESOL students who are less well-versed in academic literacy.

Keywords: ESL, ESOL, materials, literature, communicative theory

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