Chapter 9. Literature and the role of background knowledge for EFL learners

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This chapter considers how English versions of Japanese poems can be incorporated into a Japanese EFL classroom by examining how learners’ familiarity with the subject of a given text may promote language learning. For this study, a poem and a haiku about the bombing of Hiroshima were used. To further explore the benefits of using haiku, students were required to creatively translate some other haiku from Japanese into English and compose their own original haiku in English. The qualitative analysis of their responses, creative works, and feedback suggests that knowledge of Japanese language and history promoted their reading and interpretation of English versions of Japanese poems. Furthermore, the pedagogical stylistic approach employed enhanced their English language and literature skills.


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