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Review of  Literature in Language Education


Reviewer: Ingrid Mosquera Gende
Book Title: Literature in Language Education
Book Author: Geoff Hall
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Ling & Literature
Book Announcement: 17.68

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Review:
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 14:50:43 +0100
From Ingrid Mosquera Gende <ingrid@udc.es>
Subject: Re: review Geoff Hall

AUTHOR: Hall, Geoff
TITLE: Literature in Language Education
SERIES: Research and Practice in Applied Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Palgrave Macmillan
YEAR: 2005

Ingrid Mosquera Gende, Department of English Philology, Facultad de
Filología, University of A Coruña

INTRODUCTION

This book constitutes a critical review of research into literature in
language education, of interest to teachers of English and of modern
foreign languages as well as to students and researches, either with
or without experience. This book includes sections concerning the
language of literature, the reading of literature, the usefulness of
literature in language education, intercultural development through
literature, and so on. There are suggestions for those who wish to
engage in projects or research in this area. The primary focus is on
the language of literature, the reading of literature, literature as
culture, and literature in education.

SYNOPSIS

The book comprises the following divisions:
General Editor's Preface;
Acknowledgements;
Introduction: Literature as Discourse;
Part 1 Language, Literature and Education;
Part 2 Exploring Research in Language, Literature and Education;
Part 3 Researching Literature in Language Education;
Part 4 Resources;
Glossary;
References;
Name Index;
Subject Index.

In about one page, series editors Christopher N. Candlin and David R.
Hall, from Macquarie University, Sydney, explain the purpose of the
international book series ''Research and Practice in Applied
Linguistics'', to which the present book belongs. A collection designed
for students and researchers in Applied Linguistics, TESOL or
Language Education among other related fields of study. In this
Editor's Preface the style of the writing is also described as
being ''user-friendly'' (p. x), easy to read, and the main points and
concepts are stressed, with illustrations, etc. The common structure of
the books has to do with identifying key researchable areas and
provide examples, details, research tools, resources, and so on. At
the same time these books provide several sections designed for
further study, which are mentioned by the editors, but, since we are
going to describe these later on, there is no need to enumerate them
at this point. Candlin and Hall wonder about the way in which research
can be useful to practical matters, a core subject in the series, trying
to demonstrate that a good professional practice should be based on
good research and the other way around, good research should take
into account practice(p. xi). This Preface is quite attractive, the
audience this book is aimed for is presented, as well as the objectives
of the series' editors; therefore a student, a teacher, a researcher or
even an ''outsider'' could be very interested in reading it, due to the
explanations about its style, content, aims, etc.

Acknowledgements are worthy of mention since these continue the
same line introduced in the Preface: emphasis on its readable style
and on the figures of researchers and students as the centre of
interest which were never forgotten as potential audience of the book
while writing it.

The introduction begins with two quite radical quotes from Colin
MacCabe ''Literature is dead. Long live writing'' (p.1) and from
Derrida ''There is nothing outside the text'' (p. 1); these two quotes
could be a very good beginning for a potential class. Only two other
chapters begin with quotes, chapters 7 and 8, both in part
3, ''Researching Literature in Language Education''. However, in that
same sense, it is fundamental to notice that all the chapters are full of
questions, and many chapters even begin with one:
Chapter 1 ''Literary Language and Ordinary Language'': ''Does
literature have a language of its own, perhaps rather unrepresentative
of, or rather different from, ordinary language (e.g. old-fashioned,
obscure, pretentious, generally 'difficult')?'' (p. 9);
Chapter 2 ''Literature in Education'': ''This chapter addresses the
following questions: What is the place of literature in education? What
is claimed to be learned from reading, studying, discussing and writing
about literature in educational contexts? How has literary reading
been assessed? How do literature and language relate to culture?'' (p.
39);
Chapter 3 ''Reading Literature'': ''What are the dominant theories and
models for the reading of literature? What gaps or problems exist for
our knowledge, especially with regard to second or foreign language
readers of literature? What empirical research is necessary? More
specifically, How does reading literature differ from other types of
reading? What makes 'a good' or 'poor' reader of literature? And what
is known about reading literature in a second language?'' (p. 83);
Chapter 4 ''Language in Literature. Stylistics, including Corpus
Linguistics - Readability Studies'': ''What do we know of the language
of literary texts and what impact has this knowledge had on the uses
of literature in education?'' (p. 129).

Any of those questions would also constitute a good beginning for a
class. I believe that, from these questions and from the quotes, the
main points in the book are already mentioned. The questions are a
perfect way of introducing each of these chapters, letting the audience
know what they are going to find in each of them. And, from the point
of view of a potential reader, if I should recommend the reading of a
specific part of the book, so that that potential reader would find it
interesting enough to keep on reading it, I would recommend him or
her to read the beginning of the chapters, without a doubt, as well as
to have a look at the general structure of the book, the Contents'
section, where we can already find the rest of opportunities that the
book offers to any kind of reader, either a expertise one or a mere
curios person.

After the introductory chapter, there follow the four parts of the book,
which contain the individual chapters. Part 1 comprises chapters 1 to
3 and each chapter is subdivided into numbered sections. In all these
three chapters the last section is devoted to conclusions, this being a
very important decision, and a right one from my point of view, due to
their being the opening chapters of the book and therefore
intensifying their need of being clear and concise.

Part 2, ''Exploring Research in Language, Literature and Education'',
includes chapters 4 to 6, together with its own introduction, which
points out the most important aspects of the previous chapters at the
same time introducing more questions to solve in the part being
introduced.) Part 3 also has its own introduction, along with chapters 7
and 8. Part 4, ''Resources'', is built around chapter 9 alone, ''A Guide
to Resources for Research in LLE''.

The main content is followed by a glossary, references, name index
and a subject index, all very complete and clearly helpful to users of
the book. I think these are important matters to include in a book
which is devoted to education.

EVALUATION

The most significant thing about this book is its accessibility, which
suggests that the author has the same attribute. When I was reading
8.2, ''Some possible projects for literature in LLE'', I felt sure that if I
had a project in literature I could e-mail him and he would give me kind
advice. The chapters are full of charts with fundamental aspects such
as important quotes, concepts, data or similar points, all designed to
leave everything as clear and accessible as possible to reach as wide
an audience as possible.

My main personal opinions were made clear earlier in this review.
Geoff Hall effectively presents his ideas and proposals with the
minimum degree of complication needed for the varied potential
audience and with a great capacity for attracting and awakening
curiosity in the reader by means of an engaging style as well as by
means of quotations and questions. If the reader does not know the
answer to those questions, he/she will find them very well explained
and answered in the book with clear language supported and
defended by the author. However, as in any book of research worthy
of the name, many new questions arise, and Hall invites teachers,
scholars, students and amateurs in general to think about them from a
critical perspective.
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER


Ingrid Mosquera Gende teaches at the University of A Coruña, Spain.
Her Ph.D. is in English Philology; her Doctoral Thesis is about Edwin
Muir: "Early Poetry of a Late Poet: Analysis of First Poems". She has
undertaken several research visits to Canada, Germany or Scotland,
among others, supervised by specialists such as Professor Cairns
Craig and Robert Crawford. She is a researcher of projects related to
Translation Studies, Literature and Education. She has written many
publications and contributions about Translation, Scottish Literature,
as well as other fields of study, including Education, Irish Literature,
and Spanish Literature. She also teaches courses of education via the
internet in collaboration with The University of Islas Baleares, Spain,
and is a reviewer and translator for various universities.


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