It has been 9 years since the literature in English component was first introduced by the Ministry of Education and to be included in English subject syllabus for Secondary school. In parallel to the Ministry vision in producing excellent students who can compete globally in the future, Literature in English for both Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary Schools aim to inclusively facilitate secondary students to improve and strengthen their proficiency in the English Language. Through the literature in English component also, it allows the students to learn many things from many perspectives by studying other cultures and world views.
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However, the most important thing is that literature in English gives the students more opportunities to be more appreciative towards the esthetics of the English language and towards literature masterpieces as well. Besides, the learning of literature will help to impart values beneficial to students’ personal growth, development and character.
However, throughout the 9 years of implementation of the Literature component in secondary school, numerous studies have been done and have revealed some facts regarding students’ interest towards the literature in English component in the secondary schools. Most of Malaysian students give negative responses to the learning of literature in English in classroom especially at the early periods when it was first introduced. In fact, most of the researches have done some researches on how to enhance the learning of literature in English among the students due to the fact that Malaysian students’ have lack of interest in learning literature in English.
There are varieties of factors that contribute to students’ interest in Literature. However this research will look deeply into the three main causes that affecting students’ interest in learning literature in English and on how strong the causes really affects the students. The three factors are the student’s exposure towards English language and the level of proficiency in English, the content of the literature component itself, and the activities done in the classroom during the literature lesson. In fact, these three main factors are always being discussed as the major reasons that influence students’ interest in learning literature in English.
The language spoken at home might influence the students’ interest towards the learning of literature in English differently. Students are coming from different family background that has different experience of communicating in English at home. If the parents are good in mastering English language and always communicate with the children in the language, it might encourage the students to read the literature in English texts because they are already quite familiar with the language. However, if the students have lack of exposure towards English language, it might demotivate them to read the literature in English texts since they are hardly understand the texts. Thus, the interest towards the learning of literature in English might be affected.
Another main challenge for the students to learn literature in English is caused by the selection of texts itself. Students might have lack of interest in Literature because of the text (short story, poem and novel) are boring and inappropriate for them. If the students are unfamiliar with the plot and the settings of the story, they will have difficulty to understand it and lead to the lack of interest to learn it. Besides that, another major problem for the students in learning literature in English is when the students encounter language difficulties that does not match their language ability. Some texts might contain words or language that beyond the students language ability “Even teachers cannot agree on the type of texts that should be taught although they generally agree that the texts should promote intellectual development, independent thinking, are interesting to adolescents and meet certain cultural and aesthetic standards” (Agee, 1998). Thus, the selection of the texts should be analysed and studied again whether they are appealing to the students’ interest or not. Table 1.1 shows the items or the texts that learned by lower secondary school students in Malaysia.
Teachers’ creativity in teaching Literature is also one of the most important features to capture students’ interest. Since literature is still considered new to Malaysian education system, the main problem for both teachers and students is to have various interesting activities to be applied in the classroom to teach literature. Most of the activities in literature classroom focus on the comprehension to the text by reading the text and answering the comprehension questions provided by the teachers and from the work books. In the discussion forum as stated in the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (MELTA) web, www.melta.org.com, teachers are advised to provide the students with various creative activities in classroom to teach literature and to generate students’ interest in learning literature. Thus, teachers’ role is to search for new ideas, practicality and do experiments in literature through the reading from activities book or through the internet. Creative activities are used to enhance students’ understanding of literary texts and to attract their attention and interest in reading and learning literature. Creative approaches like role play and dramatization or even games are created to improve the dull traditional method of teaching literature, which only focus on close reading and explanation of literary texts. Students’ interests need to be captured before they can fully appreciate the beauty of the literature. (MELTA forum).
The literature in English component has been implemented as part of KBSM English syllabus for about 9 years since it was first introduced in year 2001. However, through my experience and observations show that the students have a lack of interest towards the learning of literature and they fail to appreciate or understand of what literature is. Thus, it is vital to understand the factors that influence the students’ interest to learn literature in English in order for all to solve the problem.
Since English is considered as the second language in Malaysia. Thus, the students’ level of proficiency in the language is varying to each other. Some students are given much exposure to the target language at home and some are even never utter any English word at home. However, interest is a subjective issue to be measured because it does not mean that if the students are good in English language that they are interested to learn literature in English more than the students who are not very proficient in English language. The reason is the students who have low proficiency in English might have the passion in literature in English in order to improve their English proficiency or just because they have the passionate in reading. Thus, it is still unclear whether the students’ level of proficiency in English and the exposure towards the language affect the students’ interest in learning literature in English.
However, at the same time one of the underlying issues in the implementation of the literature in English component is that most of the students feel that the literature texts offered in the English language Syllabus are inappropriate, unchallenging and even boring. In fact, the topic of literature text has been discussed and debated since it was first introduced until the present time. The main issue is to revise the use of the current texts and it has been supported by the students, parents and teachers. Some of the people think that the texts are beyond the students’ level of proficiency to understand it and the themes discussed are also very dull.
On the other hand, some argue that the texts cover a wide range of works dealing with different themes and appropriate for the students to learn. As stated in MELTA forum website, one of the members in the forum who is only known as “tpriya_1717” wrote that the important aspect that should be given greater emphasis would be the effectiveness of teachers in utilizing the texts in the teaching and learning process in classrooms. From her opinion, it gives a picture that the teachers should be more creative to involve students with lots of interesting and enjoyable activities to boost the students’ interest while learning literature in the classroom. Unfortunately, since our education system tends to be more to exam-oriented, most of the teachers teach literature with the purpose to pass the students in the examination and neglecting the main reason of learning literature which is to understand and appreciate literature.
Thus this research aims to find the answer whether all the factors mentioned above influence the students’ interest in learning literature in English positively or negatively. Furthermore, the research also will investigate which factor is having greatest influence to the students’ interest to learn literature in English.
The purposes of this research are to:
1) Investigate the influence of students’ level of proficiency in English language towards their interest in the learning of literature in English.
2) Examine whether the contents of the literature component in Malaysian curriculum for lower secondary students are appropriate and suitable for the students and whether the contents are able to generate the students’ interest to learn literature in English.
3) Study students’ preferences of activities applied in the classroom by the teachers during the literature lesson.
The research questions for the research to find out are as below.
1) How does the students’ level of proficiency in English language influence students’ interest to read the literature in English texts?
2) What are the students’ perceptions towards the current literature in English component texts?
3) Which types of activities in the classroom are more interesting to the students in the learning of literature in English?
1) Factor: One that actively contributes to an accomplishment, result, or process.
Context of study: The factors are the causes or the reasons that contribute to the influence in students’ interest in learning Literature in English. It can be considered as the agents that are responsible towards the development of students’ interest in learning Literature in English. In this study, the factors are divided into three main divisions which are the students’ family background, the selection of texts in literature in English component, and the activities during the literature in English lessons.
2) Interest: A state of curiosity or concern about or attention to something
Context of study: Interest is the emotional reactions and behavioural tendencies towards the learning of literature in English. In this study, the students’ interest is categorized into two categories which the students who react positively towards literature in English and students who react negatively towards the literature in English. However, interest is the behaviour that can be changed or developed by certain strong influences, either it turns out to be positive or negative.
3) Learning: Knowledge or skill gained through schooling or study.
Context of study: Learning is a process of study to gain the knowledge. The learning of literature in English mostly happens at school especially during the literature lesson for English subjects. As literature in English component is a part of English syllabus in Malaysian education curriculum, the students need to learn it. Thus, in this study, the learning of literature in English is referring to the formal learning of the subject in Malaysian secondary school.
4) Literature in English: written material specifically in English language such as poetry, novels, essays, etc., especially works of imagination characterized by excellence of style and expression and by themes of general or enduring interest.
Context of study: Literature in English component is a part of the English syllabus in Malaysian secondary schools. It is divided into three genres which are short stories, poems, and novels.
The scope of the research involved the participation of 40 students in Form 3 with different level of proficiency from SM La Salle Tanjung Aru Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Form 3 students would have finished covering all the literature contents for lower secondary school. The data was collected and analyzed based on the questionnaires which were distributed to the respondents concerned.
There were a number of limitations when the research was being conducted. The limitations of this study are:
A. Time constraints :
1) Students might not have sufficient time to fill the survey form thus resulting in unanswered items and/or inaccurate answers.
B. Small size of sample:
1) The sample selection was based on one school. It is only valid for the students from the school and the subjects may not represent all lower secondary school students in Malaysia.
Over the years since the implementation and the development of literature in English component as part of Malaysian curriculum, many issues has been discussed regarding on the problems faced by the students that affect their interest in learning literature in English. This study will find the most reasonable and rational answers on the factors affecting students’ interest to learn literature in English.
This study also will prove whether students’ level of proficiency in English really has a very strong influence to the students’ interest in learning literature. Besides, this study will help the curriculum designers to always improve the contents of literature component for lower secondary school in the future. This study also can be used as a reference for teachers to investigate students’ preferences for activities in classroom during literature lesson and apply them in the class to capture the students’ attention during the lesson.
This Study will also provide and enable other or future researchers who would like to conduct the same research with sufficient and useful information based on the topic. The methodology in this research such as the questionnaire can ease the future research by adapting them or perhaps amend them to suit their study.
This chapter presents review of the general situation and the development of literature in English in Malaysia’s education system. However, the main discussions are focused on the three main factors that have the greatest influence towards the students’ interest in learning literature in English. The three main factors are the family background of the students, the selection of text or the contents for Literature components, and the preferred activities by the students during the literature lesson. This review will also provide some insights into the relationship between English language proficiency that might influence students’ interest in learning Literature in English. Apart from that, reviews on other possible factors will also be discussed as the argument of this chapter. These reviews are to give a better understanding on how these factors can really influence and affects the students’ interest in learning literature in English.
Historically, the development of the teaching of literature in English in Malaysia can be considered as inconsistent. The teaching and learning of literature in English in the Malaysian English Second Language (ESL) context has evolved from being a core part of the English language curriculum to a point of near extinction only to re-emerge in the 21st century in a far stronger form (Subramaniam, 2003). In addition, he stated that the downturn in the teaching and learning of literature as a subject is crucially marked by the change in the medium of instruction in schools from English to Malay.
According to Carter and Long (1991: cited in Fauziah Ahmad 2007), the importance of literature was only fully realized sometime in the mid 1980s where extensive debates and discussions took place. Since then, the situation for learning and teaching has changed radically and literature is presently being reconsidered within the language teaching profession. Fauziah (2007) believes that the changes of attitude toward the importance of literature have also affected the Malaysian national curriculum. As she stated in the introduction of her research, “Literature in English was first introduced to Form Four students in 1992. Subsequently, this has led to the re-introduction of literature into language classrooms in the year 2000, and is now an integrated element of the English language component.”
The wind of change in the teaching and learning of literature in Malaysia is also supported by Talif (2005), in his book entitled “Teaching Literature in ESL:The Malaysian Context”, a book which discusses briefly on the development of literature in English in Malaysian schools. The study shows that Literature in English was first introduced by the Malaysian Education Ministry by implementing the Class Reader Programme (CRP) in 1990 at the Form 1 level in all secondary schools. Basically, the CRP programme was designed to motivate students to read the class readers at home as well as to prepare the students for the Literature in English Programme (LEP) at the upper secondary students. The LEP was offered as an elective subject for study at the upper secondary school level (Form 4-5) which was implemented in 1992.
To date, the Malaysian Ministry of Education (KPM) implemented the literature in English component as a part of English syllabus in March, 2000. It started with only for Form 1 and Form 4 students in year 2000, followed by Form 2 and Form 5 in year 2001, and to all Form 3 in every school in year 2002. The component has been examined in SPM exam in year 2001 and in PMR exam in year 2002, (Ministry of Education Malaysia).
To summarize the history and the development of literature in English in Malaysian curriculum, the following review may conclude all.
“In Malaysia, three different reading programmes have been introduced over the last three decades. The English Language Reading Programme (ELRP) was implemented in 1983, the Class Reader Programme (CRP) in 1993 (Malachi Edwin, 1993) and the incorporation of the literature in English component into the English Language syllabus in 1999 (Subramaniam, 2003). To date, the literature in English component in the English Language paper is considered to be the most successful reading programme because the texts that are being taught and read in the classroom are a tested component in the public examinations (Vethamani, 2004a; 2004b).” (Too W.K, 2009, page 41)
From the reviews above, it can be concluded that the journey towards the inclusion of literature in language courses has been going through many stages of change. Thus, the implementation can be considered as unstable and the improvements by the ministry are needed from time to time.
The lack of interest in learning literature in English among Malaysian students is one of the prevailing issues focused on by various authorities and researcher. It is such an alarming issue because the students’ attitude towards literature is closely related in determining the success and failure in learning literature. There are three main factors that are always being associated with the lack of interest in learning literature in English among the Malaysian students. The figure 1 shows the main focus of the researcher in the study of factors affecting the Malaysian lower secondary students’ interest in the learning of literature in English.
Figure 1 Factors affecting students’ interest in learning literature in English
In order to support the statement above, the researcher decide to make Davis’s model of research (1992: cited in Siti Norliana, 2008) as a reference to compare and support statement of the problem on the factors that affecting students’ attitude towards studying literature. For the purpose of this study, the researcher opts to consider attitude (Davis’s model of reaseacrh, 1992) as interest towards studying literature. The positive attitude may bring the meaning of highly interested and negative attitude would be the lower interest. According to Davis (1992), the Figure 2 shows the potential factors that have significant relationship with students’ attitudes towards literature in a foreign language.
Learning literature in English is quite a challenge for Malaysian students because the English is considered as the second or the third language in our nation. In order for the students to learn literature in English, the first thing that they have to master is the language itself because that is the only way to associate with literature in English better. Thus, the level of proficiency in English would affect the students’ interest in learning literature in English. If the student is good in English, the possibility to have higher interest towards literature in English is very high. Meanwhile, lower proficiency levels in English may lead to frustration and less motivation among students to learn literature in English.
Students usually are coming from different family background. Thus students may have different experience or exposure towards the learning of literature. There are students who are very good in term of proficiency in English language because they practice the language at home with their parents in daily communication. However, there are also students who never use or speak in any other language including English as a spoken language at home but only speak in their mother tongue language at home. This situation can be seen by comparing between the students from urban area and students who live in rural area. According to Jamali and Hasliza (2002), Malaysian students especially those who live in rural areas do not see the need to use of English in their life, and it caused them to have lower motivation to learn English. The exposure towards English language and literature in English that they received are very little compared to urban students. In fact, “there are a growing number of children whose first language is English and who may be termed native speakers since their parents have chosen to use only English in the home instead of their ethnic languages.”- Murugesan (2003). Thus, the students’ level of proficiency in English language may vary to each other. The more the students have been exposed to the English language, the more interest they gain to learn and read the literature in English.
There are always bad and negative feedbacks that have been received from the students and the teachers regarding on the literature text in Malaysian school. Sidhu (2003), as cited in Too (2006), found that most students showed little interest in reading prescribed texts. The result of Sidhu’s research revealed that 60% of the students viewed the texts in Literature in English as boring and failed to arouse their interest to read.
Various comments and feedbacks also can be retrieved from the discussion forum in MELTA website mostly participated by the teachers and the students. Some of them think that the texts for English literature components are boring and need to be reviewed.
Retrieved Online November 18, 2009 from: https://www.melta.org.my/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=1098&forum=5&vie wmode=flat&start=20
There are three different genres that the students have to learn and read for the literature in English component. They are short story, poem and novel. Students have different perception and interest towards each genre.
According to Siti Norliana (2008) research, the students showed higher interest in reading the short stories item compared to poems and novels. The students prefer short stories because they are not lengthy and less time consuming to read if compared to Novels. Most of the students described novels as lengthy and very confusing in term of plot and characters. It should not be a surprise that the students prefer short stories more than novel because as cited in Wei-Keong Too (2006, Page 43), both Reed (1992) and Chances (1999) analyses conclude that the books that young adult choose are character driven and the plot is fast.
In Dr. Sharifah’s (2002) study, the analysis result showed that the students’ positive responses towards short stories and novels are higher than the poems. According to the result, students are less interested in reading poems because of the use of literary language with underlying meaning. Thus, it is very hard for the students to understand the texts.
When the students find the poems very difficult in terms of language, they will automatically refuse to read it and show lower interest towards any text in the same genre. For instance, the poem like “Life’s Brief Candle” is very hard for the students to understand since they are not familiar with the literary language used in the poem and could not get the underlying meaning of the poem. In Huzaina’s (2006) research result, students found ‘Life’s Brief Candle’ the most difficult because they could not associate the candle much with their life.
If the students could associate the texts with their own experience and surroundings, they will understand the meaning of the texts easier and become more interested to read more from other authors.
Teachers’ creativity in teaching Literature is also one of the most important features to capture students’ interest. Teachers play the important role to instill interest in learning literature in English among the students. As for that, teachers need extra initiatives and creativities to instill students’ interest towards the subject by providing the students with the interesting activities. Creative activities are used to enhance students’ understanding of literary texts and to attract their attention and interest in reading and learning literature.
The activities during the literature in English lesson are important to make the students take part in the lesson. However, many teachers lack creative ideas to provide the students with interesting activities when teaching literature in the classroom. Unfortunately, many teachers apply activities which are more teacher-centered in orientation during literature lesson. Teacher-ecentered activities are activities that are more controlled by the teachers all the time, such as spoon-feeding the students with all the information and thorough explanations and translations. Thus, the students’ role is only taking notes from the teachers and memorise them for the sake of passing the exam. As mentioned by Sharifah Nadia (2007) in her research, since our education system is exam-oriented, most of the teachers teach literature with the purpose to pass the students in the examination and neglecting the main reason of learning literature which is to understand and appreciate literature. As a result, the activities are stereotype because the teachers only focus on how to make the students pass in the exam.
An experienced and excellent teacher would use student-centered activities that involve students’ participation during the literature lesson. In this kind of activities, the students get involved and participate in the lesson instead of listening only to the teacher’s explanation. The students will be able to experience and understand the meaning of literature during the learning process. There are many enjoyable activities that the teachers can apply in the classroom especially during literature in English lesson such as dramas, role plays, group discussion, games, and multimedia presentations. These activities allow the students to express themselves through literature and capture their interest to learn literature in English.
Since the student-centered activities are more enjoyable and link to the students’ interest, the students are more interested to learn more about literature in English in the classroom. In Siti Norliana’s (2008) study, the students show more positive response towards activities that allow them to participate in the lesson actively. Table 2.1 shows the result of students’ acceptance towards activities used in literature in English lesson by the teacher in the classroom.
From the result, it shows that the students prefer the activities that can encourage them to participate in the lesson and allow them to think more critically rather than listening to teacher’s talk. In addition to the research, based on the interviews by Siti Norliana (2008), found that half of the students described that the activities employed by the teachers are dull and inadequate. This situation is supported by Dr. Sharifah (2002), she concluded that the teachers’ knowledge, expertise, and creativity is not yet developed. Thus, it results that teachers can not make variation in the activities during literature in English lesson and fails to capture students’ interest.
As a result, it is important to know the students’ preferences of activities during the literature in English lesson in order to match suitable activities with their interest so that they can learn it meaningfully.
This research aims to investigate the factors affecting students’ interest in learning literature in English among lower secondary students. The design used in this research is quantitative research design to find the answer on how the students’ background and the level of proficiency in English, the selection of texts in literature component in English, and the activities applied in the classroom during literature lesson can affecting the students’ interest towards the learning of literature. The research subjects, research instruments and method of data analysis are discussed below.
This study uses the quantitative research design. In according to the research design, this research is to find causes of things that have already occurred by analyzing the students’ responses to the questions.
In this research, the students’ background of language spoken at home and the exam result for PMR trial are being compared based on the saying students who are given much exposed to the target language show the positive attitude to literary study. The students’ preferences towards the selected texts for the literature in English component are investigated based on their choices and opinions for the texts. Lists of activities are provided in the questionnaire in order to identify which activities are preferred by the students to have during the literature in English lesson. Bes
The school identified for this research was SM La Salle Tanjung Aru, one of the very well known premier schools in Kota Kinabalu Sabah. It was a single session boy school.
The selected sample for this study was 40 students from Form 3 Vega and Form 3 Rigel. It was quite a difficult sample as the classes were not taught by the researcher. However, the problem was not a big issue for the researcher since the researcher manages to distribute the questionnaire to the students. Form 3 Vega and Form 3 Rigel respectively ranked as the first and the second class in form 3. Although the classes can be considered advanced, the students ranged from beginner to intermediate to advanced levels particularly in English subject.
Data for this study were collected mainly through questionnaires distributed to the students by the researcher.
The questionnaire was distributed to find out about the students’ background and level of proficiency in English language, students’ perception towards the current text used for literature lesson, and the students’ preferences for activities in classroom during the literature lesson.
The questionnaire is divided into four sections: Section A, Section B, and Section C. The questions are mostly in form of multiple-choice questions with few open ended questions. Each section for A, B, C and D are respectively to investigate the students’ background and level of proficiency in English language, students’ general perception towards the literature in English component, the students’ opinion towards the current texts for literature in English especially texts for lower secondary students, and the activities that the students prefer most to have in literature lesson. The sample of questionnaire is attached in the appendix.
The questionnaire was designed based on Quantitative Research approach to obtain the desired form of data. The questionnaire was organized into three sections:
1) Section A consists of few items primarily for questioning students’ demographic characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity and the languages spoken at home and grade scored in English in PMR trial .
2) Section B consists of 7 questions questioning about students’ general perception towards the implementation of literature in English component in the English syllabus.
3) Section C consists of 7 questions regarding on students’ opinions on the selected poems, short stories, and novels that they have learnt throughout the three years of learning literature in English component started when they were in Form 1 until they entered Form 3.
4) Section D consist of 12 questions and it is divided into 2 sub-sections questions that asking for the students’ preferences of common activities during literature in English lesson and inquiring the students’ opinion towards the teacher’s approaches in class when teaching literature in English.
In order to analyse the students’ responses to the questionnaires, this research used the manual counting for all the answers. It is based on the frequency count and percentage for all choice. The data is presented in table forms for a clearer explanation and description. The result for open ended questions also is counted generally and analysed holistically.
This chapter discusses and explains about the research subjects, research instruments and method of data analysis that have been used in this research.
This chapter will mainly present the specific findings and the overall analysis of the data that had been collected through the questionnaires instrument. The data will be presented in the form of table and chart to make the comparison of the results clearer and significant. In the first part, the findings will provide information on respondents’ demographic profile and how it influences the students’ interest in learning Literature in English. Next, the findings will look onto the students’ responds towards the contents of Literature in English component and their preferences on the activities and the teachers’ approaches during the Literature in English class.
This section will provide the information on the descriptive item such as age, gender, race, language spoken at home, and their level of proficiency in English based on their recent exam result in English subject.
Based on the Table 4.1.1 above, the entire sample was male students due to the fact that the study was done in SM La Salle, Tanjung Aru which is an all-boys school. The students were from the form 3 class aged around 15 years old. The ethnic composition shows that the main ethic group in Sabah which is the Kadazan formed the majority of representation with 19 students.
This was followed by the Malays with 8 students while the Chinese and the Indians respectively represented by 4 students and 1 student. Meanwhile others minor ethnic such as Brunei, Bidayuh, Kedayan, Bajau, Murut, and Arab formed by 6 students whereby each student represents each six different ethnic. This scenario is common whereby the Kadazan would be the majority of the group since the school is situated in Kota Kinabalu where mostly the Kadazan live. Besides, the school is a missionary school and mostly the Kadazan will enter the school.
In Table 4.1.1, there are three groups of students that receive different rate of exposure towards English language at home. In order to study it, the researcher asked a question in the questionnaire regarding the language that the students usually use to speak at home. It is important to determine the students’ first and second language at home and how they are exposed to the English language from their parents. The result shows that 10 students were having English as their first language at home and the second language would be their own mother tongue. Meanwhile, the number of students who have their mother tongue as the first language and English as their second language are 16 students. Lastly, 14 students do not speak English at all at their home and depend much on the mother tongue language to communicate with their parents and family members.
From Table 4.1.1, the researcher categorized the sample into three groups based on the language that they use at home in speaking. The three groups are as follow:
1) Group 1 = Students with English as L1, and Mother Tongue as L2.
2) Group 2 = Students with Mother Tongue as L1, and English as L2.
3) Group 3 = Students with Mother Tongue as the only language and with no English.
The following Figure 4.2.1 shows the students’ grade for English subject according to the three different groups that have different rate of exposure towards English language at home. The grades were based on the trial PMR exam.
From Figure 4.1.1, it shows that the students who have English as their first language (L1) spoken at home scored very well in their English subject exam with 9 out of 10 students get “A”, and the remaining 1 student gets “B” grade. For the students who have English as their second language (L2) at home also scored good results with 7 out of 16 students get “A” in English subject, and the remaining 9 students manage to get “B” in the exam. However, for the third group of students that do not speak English at home is very hard to score an “A” for English subject. From the chart, only 1 student manages to get “A” out of 14 students in that group. Another 12 students gets “B” and 1 student even get “C” in the exam. For the overall analysis, it shows that the students who either speak English as the first or the second language home score very well in their English subject. However, the students who speak English as their first language (L1) at home almost all get “A” because they really acquire the language very well. Meanwhile, the number of students who get “A” for the second group is fewer than the number of students who get “B” but still they can be considered good in English because they still practice the language at home but with limited of usage. Lastly, the students who do not speak English at home are hardly getting “A” in their exam and can be considered average in the English language based on the result.
In this section, the questions will reveal the data on how students perceived Literature in English generally. The questions asked the students general perception on the Literature in English component. For question 1 and 2, the researcher still divide the result or the answer based on the three groups of students to indicate how the level of proficiency in English influence students’ interest in learning Literature in English. The rest findings will be gathered as a whole without differentiating the students into any group.
Question 1: “How much do you enjoy reading any book in English?”
For question 1 (refer to Figure 188.8.131.52), majority of the students from each group really enjoy reading books in English. However, it is quite surprising that not all of the students from Group 1 really enjoy reading English books very much with and with only little difference with number of students who enjoy reading English books a bit. 6 out of 10 students really enjoy reading English book very much and the other 4 students only enjoy it a bit. The students from Group 2 show high interest towards reading English books with 11 out of 16 students. For Group 3, 9 out of 14 students enjoy reading English books very much, meanwhile 4 students enjoy it a bit and 1 student does not enjoy it at all. The student who does not enjoy reading English book is the student that gets “C” in his English subject exam. As an overall analysis, 26 out of 40 students enjoy reading English books very much, meanwhile 13 students enjoy reading English a bit, and only 1 student who does not enjoy reading English book at all.
Question 2: “Do you like to learn the Literature in English component?”
For question 2 (refer to Figure 184.108.40.206), it shows that all 3 groups mostly answered “Yes, sometimes” regarding on their interest in learning Literature in English with 7 out of 10 students from Group 1, 8 out of 16 students from Group 2, and 8 out of 14 students from Group 3.
Question 3: “Do you think that the literature in English components is appropriate to be taught in the class and should be included in the English syllabus?”
For question 3 (refer to Figure 220.127.116.11), it explains that many of the students really think that Literature in English components is appropriate to be taught in class. 37 out of 40 students agree on that the literature in English component is appropriate to be taught in the class and should be included in the English syllabus. Meanwhile, 3 out of 40 students do not agree on this.
Question 4: “Are the components in the Literature in English components clear and easy to follow?”
For question 4 (refer to Figure 18.104.22.168), the students says that short story and novel components are clear and easy to follow with 35 out of 40 students for each components agree on it. However, 5 students feel that both short story and novel component is not easy. For poem component, the result is quite different from the other two previous components whereby only 24 out of 40 students say that poem component is clear and easy to follow. The other 16 students seem have trouble in poem component.
Question 5: “Do you think that the Literature in English examination questions is easy?”
For question 5 (refer to Figure 22.214.171.124), in all 40 students, 25 students think that the literature in English examination questions are easy. Meanwhile, 15 students think that the examination questions for literature in English component are difficult.
Question 6: “How much time do you spend to study literature in English in a day?”
For question 6 (refer to Figure 126.96.36.199), majority of the students only spend less than 1 hour to study literature in English in a day wit 31 out of 40 students. 6 students study literature in English around 1 to 2 hours, and only 3 students spend 2 more than 2 hours to study literature in English in a day.
Question 7: “Do you think that by studying literature in English helps you to improve your English language proficiency?”
For question 7 (refer to Figure 188.8.131.52), out of 40 students, 27 students believe that by studying literature in English help them improve their English proficiency a lot. 11 students say it helps them to improve on the language a bit and 2 of the students think that it does not help to improve their English proficiency at all.
In this section, there are 7 questions for the students to answer. The students were asked to give opinion on the selected poems, short stories, and novels that they have learnt throughout the three years of learning literature in English component started when they were in Form 1 until they entered Form 3.
Question 1: “Which components do you prefer most?”
For question 1 (refer to Figure 184.108.40.206), half of the students prefer to learn short story most with 20 out of 40 students. Meanwhile, the lowest choice is poem component with only 6 out of 40 students prefer the component and for Novel component, 14 students prefer to learn it most.
Question 2: “Which component do you think is the most difficult?”
For question 2 (refer to Figure 220.127.116.11), more than half of the students think that the poem component is the most difficult part in the literature in English component. 24 out of 40 students agree on it. Meanwhile, 9 students say that Novel component is the most difficult component and only 7 students choose the short story component as the most difficult part.
Question 3: “Which one is your most favourite and least favourite short story? Please state reason?”
For question 3 (refer to Figure 18.104.22.168), the short story that the students like very much is “How Dalat Got Its Name” with 20 out of 40 students choose it. Most of them choose it because “How Dalat Got Its Name” has a lot of conflicts and most importantly it has some actions in the story. It is followed by “The Pencil” with 13 students favour it with reasons such as the students the story is short and simple, reminds them about their childhood or students’ life that they can relate to themselves. Meanwhile, the other 7 students love to read “Of Bunga Telur and Bally Shoe” just because it is a funny story. From the result also, it is not surprising if the least favourite short story is “Of Bunga Telur and Bally Shoe” with 19 out of 40 students answer for it. Meanwhile, 12 students choose “The Pencil” and 9 students choose “How Dalat Got Its Name” for the least favourite short story. Most of the students point out the reason that the stories are boring and that is why they do not like it especially for “Of Bunga Telur and Bally Shoe”. The students say that the story has nothing to do with them and lots of calculation that make them so confuse with the story.
Question 4: “Which one is your most favourite and least favourite poem? Please state reason?”
For question 4 (refer to Figure 22.214.171.124), the students favour “The Dead Crow” the most with 16 out of 40 students choose it. The students state the reason for liking the poem such as it is a very simple poem and easy to understand, and it talks about environment issues which allow the students to relate to the present situation. It is followed by “Life’s Brief Candle” with 14 students favour it and the students choose it because the words are beautiful and it really meaningful to relate to their teenage life. Meanwhile, the other 9 students choose “The Lake Isle of Innisfree as their favourite poem because it tells about freedom. On the other hand, the result seems to be parallel when it comes to the least favourite poem, since few students choose “The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ as their favourite, 20 out of 40 students say the poem is their least favourite poem. The reasons are because of the difficult language/words to understand, and it is quite lengthy compared to other two poems. Meanwhile 12 students pick “Life;s Brief Candle” , and 7 students opt “The Dead Crow” as their least favourite poem.
Question 5: “What novels have you learnt in class and do you like reading the novels?”
The novels that the students have learnt are “Robinson Crusoe” which they learnt it during form 2, and “Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde” as the novel in form 3.
For question 5 (refer to Figure 126.96.36.199), half of the students like reading “Robinson Crusoe” only with 23 out of 40 students. 10 students like both novels, “Robinson Crusoe” and “Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde” and 4 students dislike both novels. Only 2 students out of 40 love reading “”Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde” but not “Robinson Crusoe”. The reasons for most of the students prefer “Robinson Crusoe” because the story tells about the adventure of the survivor and it contains lots of actions.
Question 6: “What is you major difficulty in learning Literature in English?”
For question 6 (refer to Figure 188.8.131.52), identifying the themes/values, and the difficult words/language seems to be the most prominent problem fro the students in learning literature in English. 13 out of 40 students say the major difficulty in learning literature in English is to identify the themes/values. It is followed by the problem with the words/language with 11 students think it is too hard. Meanwhile, 9 students have the difficulty to understand the meaning of symbols in literature, and 7 students have trouble to understand the plot.
Question 7: “Which literature in English do you prefer to learn?”
For question 4 (refer to Figure 184.108.40.206), 28 out of 40 students prefer to study the literature in English which is written by the foreign author. Meanwhile, 12 students feel comfortable to have the local author works to learn literature in English.
In this section, there are 2 sub-sections questions for the students to answer. Section 1 has 7 questions that ask the students preferences of common activities during literature in English lesson. Section 2 has 5 questions that inquire the students’ opinion towards the teacher’s approaches in class when teaching literature in English.
(Section 1) Question 1: “Identifying events based on given pictures.”
For question 1 (refer to Figure 220.127.116.11), 28 out of 40 students like the activity which require them to identify events in the poems/short stories/novel based on the pictures given by the teachers. On the other hand, 12 students dislike such activity.
(Section 1) Question 2: “Paraphrasing each line of the poem.”
For question 2 (refer to Figure 18.104.22.168), the activity of paraphrasing each line of the poem is not quite preferable to all students. Even though half of the students with 22 out of 40 students like the activity, the other 18 students dislike the activity and the number is not quite very far to each other.
(Section 1) Question 3: “Writing summary out of the poem, short story, novel.”
For question 3 (refer to Figure 22.214.171.124), the result for writing summary out of poem, short story and novel activity is similar with the previous activity. 22 out of 40 students like the activity and 18 out of 40 students dislike the activity to be carried on during the literature in English lesson.
(Section 1) Question 4: “Answering comprehension questions.”
For question 4 (refer to Figure 126.96.36.199), activity like answering comprehension questions provided by the teachers is very enjoyed by the students. 30 out of 40 students like the activity. Meanwhile, the other 10 students dislike the activity.
(Section 1) Question 5: “Drawing mind map.”
For question 5 (refer to Figure 188.8.131.52), half of the students really like the drawing mind map activity during the literature in English lesson with 22 out of 40 students like it. However, almost half of the students also dislike drawing mind map for literature in English lesson with 18 out of 40 students dislike the activity.
(Section 1) Question 6: “Group discussion.”
For question 7 (refer to Figure 184.108.40.206), 28 out o 40 students really like the group discussion activity during literature in English lesson. Meanwhile, 12 students dislike the activity.
(Section 1) Question 7: “Role play activity or drama presentation.”
For question 7 (refer to Figure 220.127.116.11), it is clear that most of the students really like the role play activity or drama presentation in which 31 out of 40 students truly like it. There are only 8 students who dislike participating in such activity.
(Section 2) Question 8: “Do you like when teacher explains everything about the stories/poems/novels for you before you read them?”
For question 8 (refer to Figure 18.104.22.168), it shows that 29 out of 40 students like it very much when teacher explains everything about the stories/poems/novels for them even before they read them. However, 11 students feel that the teacher should let them finish their reading first before the teacher wants to explain everything about the short stories/poems/novels.
(Section 2) Question 9: “Do you like when teacher writes/prepare notes for you on whiteboard so that you just need to copy it down?”
For question 9 (refer to Figure 22.214.171.124), it shows that majority of the students prefer the teacher writes/prepares notes for them on whiteboard so that they just need to copy down them. 34 out of 40 students really like it when the teacher does that. Meanwhile, 6 students dislike copying down all the notes on the whiteboard provided fully by the teacher and prefer the teacher to ask the whole class to discuss the topic.
(Section 2) Question 10: “Do you like when teacher asks you to share your opinion about the stories, poems and novel with the whole class?”
For question 10 (refer to Figure 126.96.36.199), it shows that 30 out of 40 students like when the teacher asks them to present their opinion about the stories, poems, and novel with the whole class so that they can share it. However, 10 students resist in doing it and prefer to listen only to the teacher or friends.
(Section 2) Question 11: “Do you like when teacher shows you some related pictures/videos when she/he explains to you about the stories, poems and novel with you?”
For question 11 (refer to Figure 188.8.131.52), it clearly explains that majority of the students fancy very much to watch some related pictures/videos shown by the teacher when she/he explains to them about the short stories/poems/novel. 37 out of 40 students say yes to meanwhile only 3 of the students dislike that kind of teaching and learning style.
(Section 2) Question 12: “Do you like when teacher relates the story with you?”
For question 12 (refer to Figure 184.108.40.206), it proves that most of the students like the teacher to relate the story with their life when teaching literature in English lesson. 32 out of 40 students prefer of it and only 8 students who do not really comfortable of it and dislike it.
This chapter has analysed the data that had been gathered through the questionnaire instrument. The data has been analysed using the manual counting which is based on the frequency count for all the answers given by the students. All the questions in the questionnaire were designed parallel with the research questions in order to get the answer for the research questions.
This research focuses on the potential factors that influence the students’ interest in the learning of literature in English in the classroom specifically for the lower secondary students. The samples of the research were the Form 3 students from SM La Salle Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu. The reason behind the selection of Form 3 students was because they have learnt all the literature texts offered in the literature in English component subject.
The analysis of the data was based on the questionnaires that had been distributed to the students in order to prove whether the factors really influence the students’ interest in learning literature in English and to know how far or how serious they are in influencing the students. Moreover, the questions in the questionnaires were manually counted which is based on the frequency count in order to get the findings.
In this chapter, the researcher will discuss the findings that were presented in the previous chapter. Overall, the discussion and elaboration of the findings in this chapter will cover the three following aspects:
1) The relation of level of proficiency in English language and the interest towards the learning of literature in English.
2) Students’ perception on the selection and the contents of the literature in English component.
3) Students’ preferences for activities and teachers’ approaches in the classroom during the literature in English lessons.
In this section, the researcher will provide the discussion of the findings collected from the questionnaire. The summary will be based on the research questions that had been stated in the first chapter.
Based on the data from the questionnaire, overall the students’ level of proficiency is between good and intermediate. However, their level of proficiency is still varying to each other because they receive different level of exposure towards the English language. The researcher divides the students into three different groups based on their language spoken at home. The first group of students which is the students who speak English as their first language (L1) at home and scored very good result in English paper during exam shows positive response towards the reading in English. However, even though the students shows positive response towards the learning of literature in English, most of them like it for sometimes and not as always. The second group of students which their second language at the home is the English language also scored good result in English subject. However, similar to the first group, even though the students like to read any English book very much, more of them like to learn literature in English for sometimes. Lastly, the students from the third group which does not speak English language at home and only using Malay to communicate at home have the average result in English subject. Thus, their reactions towards English reading were mostly positive except for 1 student who has lower proficiency in English language. Similar to the first and second group, most of the students in the third group only like literature in English for sometimes.
From the findings, the researcher concludes that even though the students are good in English, it does not mean that they really enjoy reading English book and learning literature in English in every time. However, one student proves that the level of proficiency in the language may influence their interest in reading English book and learning literature in English. The student does not have much exposure towards English language at home and the exam result also was not so good even though he passed the exam with a “C” grade.
However, the findings were quite questionable because most of the students really enjoy reading English book and really like learning literature in English. The researcher concludes that because of the students’ location which is at the town and they are greatly exposed to English language. Even though for the students who do not speak English at home but they might listen or practice English through the electronic media such as Television, Radio, and Computer. The students also in the urban areas practice the English language among their friends. Moreover, the school itself really emphasizes on the students’ excellence in English language. Thus, their excellence in English language might encourage them to read English book and they do not have much trouble in learning literature in English since they are familiar with the language.
The only thing that might be the reason why the students does not like to the learn literature in English is caused by their own lazy attitude or the texts the literature in English components did not suit their interest. Thus, in the next section, it will discuss on the students perception of literature in English components and on how they perceive the selection of the texts.
Referring to the findings from the questionnaire in the Section B, students were asked generally about their perception towards literature in English component. Even though previously the result has shown that most of the students like literature in English for sometimes only, the finding shows that the students did not decline or reject the component as they sometimes feel that literature is an interesting subject. In fact, it is possible to instill the interest in each student as most of them even though sometimes feel interested to learn literature in English, think that literature in English is appropriate to be taught in class.
In term of the contents in the literature components, the finding shows that students are more interested in short stories rather than poetry and novels, probably because the short stories provided are easier to understand compared to other components. Students might encounter more problems in understanding poetry. Since poetry applies most of the literary devices in each of the poem, students may find it difficult to make sense of each phrases and sentences. Some of the words in the poem cannot be looked up in the dictionary. Another inference that can be made from this statistic is the students might not be imaginative enough to get the message of a poem. However from the finding also it is found that there are several students who state that they like poetry although it is the most challenging component. Therefore, we can interpret that there are students who appreciate the value of poetry even if it is hard.
Surprisingly, the number of students who think that poetry is very difficult to follow is almost similar to the number of the students who feel that the literatures in English examination questions are difficult. The result of this is clearly because the students having difficulties in understanding the poetry. On the other hand, majority of the students only spend about an hour to study the literature in English. It is undeniable that students have other subject to read and learn, but this data shows how interested students are in Literature in English. This also answered why the students have difficulties in answering exam questions because if they spend very little time to study the literature in English texts, it will eventually affect their performance in examination. Only very few of them are determined to study two hours for literature and most probably because they are a little bit weak in this component or they have the great passion in learning the literature in English.
For the selection of text, the short story of “How Dalat Got Its Name” is the most favourite short story for most of the students. The reason they chose the short story because it contains a lot of actions in the story and deals with bloods and war. The finding really make sense since all the students are male students and boys always love story that full with actions and fighting. Meanwhile, the least favourite is the story “Of Bunga Telur and Bally Shoes”. The reason is most of the students are quite unfamiliar with the situations. They just could not understand the story and relate themselves to the story. The finding also makes sense because majority of the students are from the Kadazan group and they did not practice and familiar with Malay wedding ceremony and culture. For the poetry component, most the students favour the poem “The Dead Crow” and “Life’s Brief Candle”. The students stated that “The Dead Crow” is easy to understand and the words are quite clear and direct. It also discusses about pollution whereby the students can relate it to the present environment. Meanwhile, for “Life’s Brief Candle”, the students like it because they find that the poem is beautiful which talk about life and they can relate their life to the poem. However, most of the students did not like the poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”. The students have big troubles to understand many complex or unfamiliar words in the poem and it bores them. Meanwhile, for the novel component, most of the students like to read the novels especially the “Robinson Crusoe”. The students love it because the story tells the adventure of Robinson and it contains lots of actions. The students really like the story which is full with actions and conflicts. It can be concluded that male students prefer to read the story that contains fighting scene and adventurous.
From the finding also, the data shows that the students have many difficulties in learning literature in English. Many of them think that identifying the themes/values is the hardest part. This might be because our education tends to be exam-oriented. So, some of them treat literature as something factual which they tend to memorize the plot, characters, themes and values, thus, they have problem in memorizing those aspects whereby the students should understand the texts to make them learn better. Many students also find the difficulty in learning literature in English is because they have the difficulty in understanding the language/words which is too hard and complex, especially in terms of vocabulary. The usage of symbolism aspect in poetry also contributes to the pessimistic vision about literature in English.
It is vital for the teachers to identify the students’ preferences of activities during literature in English lesson because it might help to increase the students’ interest to learn it. According to the analysis of questionnaire, the activities that the students favour and need most during the literature in English lesson are the activities that challenge their mind and they can involve actively such as identifying events based on given pictures, answering comprehension questions, group discussion, and role play activity or drama presentation. It shows that the students demand for the activities that they can involve themselves directly to the texts and prefer some visuals in explaining and understanding the texts. The activities also give the students more opportunities to share ideas and opinions among themselves and it attracts them very much. Many of the students did not like the traditional activity such as writing summary, paraphrasing each line of poem, and drawing mind map.
From the findings, it also discloses that the students dislike when the teacher prepare or provide them with the notes all the time. The students insist to be more independent in learning by giving them more opportunities to share the ideas and opinions with their friends without depending too much on the teacher’s explanations and elaborations for every text. The students feel very uneasy if the teacher explains the stories to them without them finish reading the texts. In addition, the students really hope that the teacher could provide them with some audio visual teaching aid such as videos or pictures to make the learning environment more fun and interactive. Lastly, the students would appreciate the teacher more if the teacher can relates the stories to their life when giving explanations in order for the students to understand and memorize the lesson better.
Some of the limitations in this research were the small size of the sample and the gender of all the students is male. Thus, the research only studies from the perception of the male students towards literature in English. The data or finding might be varied if there are samples which come from female group to represent the female students’ view on the learning of literature in English. The interest of both groups towards the learning of literature in English might be different to each other.
Other than that, most of the students were in the good and intermediate level of proficiency in English. They live in the urban areas and they have much exposure towards English language. The researcher have problem to compare between the students who have good proficiency in English and the students who have low proficiency in English language. If there are varieties of students as the sample, the finding would be strong enough to answer the research questions on how does the students’ level of proficiency in English language influence students’ interest to read the literature in English texts.
This piece of research manages to expose the reality of the students’ interest in Literature in English component. The responses are diverse but it enables the teachers or the Ministry of Education to see the trend of students’ concern towards the component and its syllabus. Besides, this research can be used as one of the references for researches to identify on the problems faced by the students in learning literature in English and as a reference for them on how to enhance the learning of literature in the ESL classroom.
Overall the implementation of literature in English as part of English subject is a very positive change that the government had done in order to improve the Malaysian students’ proficiency in English language and to instill moral values in them. However, there are still more room for the program needs to be developed in order to achieve the mission and to improve the students’ skills and performance in their study. From the discussions, there are some recommendations that can be considered on to improve the teaching and learning of literature in English in order to increase the students’ interest in the lesson. Below are the recommendations for certain improvements in several areas.
1) Even though the students do not have much trouble to understand English language but their interests in reading literature in English are not encouraging. The teacher and the parents should motivate the students to read more literature works in English identifying the potential in the good students. The government should ensure that the books in all libraries in schools especially in rural schools are relevant and up-to-date to appeal with the students’ interest. If the students find the books that attract their interest, it will eventually instill the interest in the students to improve their reading habit. Thus, the students will not have problems to read all the texts for literature in English component as they have developed their reading skills and interests. At the same time, the teacher also should assist the students with lower proficiency in English to explain the texts and when they are dealing with the difficult words and constantly motivate them to read the texts.
2) The selection of texts for literature in English components generally is appealing and suitable to the students’ interest. However, there are some of the texts that should be revised by the Ministry of Education especially for the poetry component. Most of the students feel that the poetry component is the most difficult part to understand. Thus, the Ministry should look at the suitability of the text whether the students could comprehend the texts well before deciding to include the texts in the selection. In fact, the students are more interested to read texts that are familiar to their knowledge and situations that they can relate themselves to the texts to understand them better. Variation in selecting the texts also should be considered by the Ministry by including some of foreign literature works because the students will be able to learn and appreciate other cultures, and broaden their vocabulary usage in English. However still the texts must be suitable to the level of the students.
3) Students actually demand for a more anticipating activity, not only to boost their language proficiency and their interest to learn the literature in English. Based on the students responds, it is obvious that there is a very tight relationship between activities handle in class and the students’ interest. Students have their own preferences and they expect teacher to implement them in order to attract their interest or at least maintain it in literature in English lessons. Students opt for challenging activities, not merely on text reading and studying the component. Thus as a teacher, putting a drama play, role play and oral presentation among the activities during the literature in English lesson are appealing to the students’ interest in learning Literature. Activities which challenge the students’ creativity, entailing cooperative learning and student centered learning are very meaningful to grab and sustain students’ interest in learning literature in English.
As a conclusion, the students encountered two major difficulties that hindrance their interest in learning literature in English. The first reason is the insufficient capability of the literature teaching skills that failed to appeal to students’ interest. The second reason is the language/words difficulties that the students come across in learning literature. Thus, there is an urgent need to revamp both elements in order to increase students towards literature components. In addition, it is also vital to change the students’ perception towards the learning of literature in English by providing the best materials, methods and techniques for the teacher to teach the students effectively in the future and to increase the students’ interest towards it. It is such a waste for the government, the policy makers, and the curriculum designer to introduce the literature in English component in the syllabus if the aim of literature in English could not be achieved.
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