Literature and English Language Teaching and Learning: A Symbiotic Relationship

Richard C. Ihejirika


A close look at literature and language shows that the two are closely related. This close relationship is obvious because from all indications, literature presupposes language. It is inconceivable to discuss literature without reference to language. But going by the traditional practice at the secondary school level in Nigerian context, there are indications that Literature and English Language are treated as two separate school subjects. At the senior secondary school level, the subjects are taught in different classroom settings by teachers that are either designated Literature teachers or English teachers. By this dichotomy, the Literature teachers, to a large extent, pre-occupy their teaching period with the teaching of the stories, the contents and the socio-cultural, economic and religious implications of the prescribed literary texts without placing much emphasis on the language components of the texts. In the end, some students have been found to have done very well in the Literature exams but perform poorly in English Language. Against this background, this paper posited that the relationship between literature and language is symbiotic. It was, therefore, suggested that the relationship should be explored and exploited in order to enhance effective teaching and learning of Literature and English Language at the secondary school level so that the learners would possess high level of proficiency in the use of English Language, which would ultimately contribute immensely in addressing the seeming poor academic performance at the secondary and tertiary levels of education in Nigeria. Some suggestions for effective teaching and learning of Literature and English Language were made.

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Copyright (c) 2014 Richard C. Ihejirika

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English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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