Novels can be a wonderful form of entertainment, they offer us a means to escape, can help us learn and understand different perspectives, and much more.
I love to read and always have, it’s my time to be quiet and focussed. But then once I have finished a book, I also enjoy sharing responses to them with my friends and family and even students and colleagues.
Books and novels clearly have their place in English. But how often is the focus on the enjoyment of it? I would suggest reading books you enjoy rather than feeling like you ‘should’ or ‘need to’ read certain ones. There are times when you might want to challenge yourself to read a classic, but it shouldn’t feel like a chore. Sometimes reading books in English at school can soon turn to a process of learning quotes, over analysing key scenes and just preparing for exams; this takes away all enjoyment out of it.
At LAMP English focusses on English language qualifications rather than literature.
This leaves the discussion and exploration of novels and other imaginative texts to be enjoyed rather than working within an exam framework. We still have lessons where a poem, an extract from a novel or even a Shakespearean scene might be explored and enjoyed, but the pressure is off.
Multimedia can also have its place in English. Film and TV series still offer narrative plots, characterisation, and other literary techniques, they are therefore still valid texts to study. However, there is often judgement over novels being ‘better’ or how a film ‘spoils’ the book. I recently went to see an adaptation of the novel Hamnet on stage. There was no better or worse in that situation, both the play and novel were brilliant in their own way.
All media is valid, when a person experiences a film, TV series, novel or play, they will still be using English skills to analyse its worth: the plot, characters, setting, pace, was it enjoyable? If a person feels strongly about the film, TV series or play, they are then more likely to discuss it with people and then again use their English skills to give opinions and have discussions.
A discussion I have been having recently with students is about different texts that have been adapted from novels or comics. Are they helpful? Are they worth watching? What do we gain from watching them? Some students have written their ideas into Blog entries, so look out for those.
And think about your preference – what do you enjoy? Books, films, TV series? Or a mixture of them all?
Ella is the English teacher at LAMP. The picture above is from her classroom.