English Learners’ Literary Competence Development through Critical Thinking Tasks in a Colombian EFL Classroom

Luis Fernando Gómez-Rodríguez


Literary competence is still a poor research subject in many EFL (English as a Foreign Language) settings. Therefore, this qualitative case study analyzed how a group of Colombian English learners developed literary competence in the foreign language for the first time in their lives with the support of Numrich’s (2001) Sequence of Critical Thinking Tasks. Data related to English learners’ literary competence development were collected through learners’ transcripts of their oral responses to literature, artifacts (written papers/worksheets), and the teacher-researcher’s field notes. Data were analyzed through grounded approach and content analysis. Although reading and discussing authentic versions of literary texts in the foreign language was challenging for these Colombian English learners, findings revealed that they were able to foster literary competence when they did critical thinking tasks, namely Identifying assumptions about literary content based on the titles of texts, interpreting implicit meanings to discover conflicts and themes, inferring meaning conveyed in images and symbols, and evaluating literary content through inquiring further and analyzing literary language. The research novelty is that EFL Colombian education, as well as other EFL settings worldwide, can foster English learners’ communicative competence and literary competence gradually and more purposely through the Sequence of Critical Thinking Tasks model, encouraging the construction of meaning and at a critical stand through original versions of literary texts.


Literary Competence, English Learners, Critical Thinking Tasks, Authentic Literary Texts, EFL Education.

Full Text:



Afifuddin, M. (2017). Engaging literary competence through critical literacy in an ESL setting. Advances in Social Sciences, Education and Humanities Research, 82, 131-134.

Amer, A. (2003). Teaching EFL/ESL literature. The Reading Matrix, 3(2), 238-245.

Bassey, M. (2000). Case study research in educational settings. Philadelphia: Open University.

Beaumont, J. (2010). A sequence of critical thinking tasks. TESOL Journal. 1(4), 427-488. doi: org/10.5054/tj.2010.234763

Brumfit, C. & Carter, R. (1986). Literature and language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Burke, S. J. and Brumfit, C. J. (1986). Is literature language? Or is language literature? In C. Brumfit and R. Carter (eds.), Literature and language teaching, (pp. 171-176). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Burwitz-Melzer, E. (2001). Teaching intercultural communicative competence through literature. En M. Byram, A. Nichols & D. Stevens (Eds.), Developing intercultural competence in practice (pp. 29-43). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Byrnes, H. & Kord, S. (2001). Developing Literacy and Literary Competence: Challenges for Foreign Language Departments. SLA and the literature classroom: Fostering dialogues. Issues in Language Program Direction: A Series of Annual Volumes; see FL 027 849, 35-72.

Carter, (2007). Literature and language teaching 1986-2006: A Review. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 13(1): 3-13. Doi: org/10.1111/j.1473-4192.2007.00130.x

Carter, R. and Long, M. (1991). Teaching literature. London: Longman.

Charmaz, K. (2012). The power and potential of grounded theory. Medical Sociology [Online]. 6(3), 1-15. Available at: http://www.medicalsociologyonline.org/resources/Vol6Iss3/MSo-600x_The-Power-and-Potential-Gronded Theory_Charmaz.pdf

Clapsadle, Carter L. (2014). Poetic research in the second language classroom (Unpublished master’s thesis). St. Cloud State University, Cloud, MN.

Culler, J. (2000). Literary theory: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dawson, C. (2002). Practical research methods: A user-friendly guide to mastering research techniques and projects. Oxford: Howtobooks.

Freeman, L. (1998). Doing teacher-research: From inquiry to understanding. Boston: Heinleand Heinle.

Ghosn, I. (2002). Four good reasons to use literature in primary school ELT. ELT Journal, 56(2), 172-179. Doi: org/10.1093/elt/56.2.172

Hemingway, E. (1925). Cat in the Rain. In Harpes, D, Mochi. S, & Liberto, A. (eds.). Exploring literature; Tools and Englishes (2002) (pp. 3-6). Bologna: Poseidonia.

Hughes, L. (1926). The Negro Speaks of Rivers. In J. Paul Hunter (ed.). The Norton introduction to poetry (pp. 388). New York: Norton & Company.

Khatib, M. (2011). A new approach to teaching English poetry to EFL students. Journal of language teaching and

research, 2(1), 164-169. Retrieved from: http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/63889542/new-approach-teaching-english-poetry-efl-students

Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and culture in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lazar, G. (1993). Literature and language teaching: A guide for teachers and trainers. Cambridge: University Press.

Maley, A. & Duff, A. (1989). The Inward Ear. Cambridge: CUP.

McCullers, C. (1951). A Tree A Rock A Cloud. In The Ballad of the sad café and other stories. New York: Bantam Books (Bantam edition, 1971), 143-152.

McKay, S. (2001). Literature as content for ESL/EFL. In: Murcia, M. (Ed.), Teaching English as a second/foreign language (pp. 319-331). Boston, Ma: Heinle & Heinle.

McKay, S. (1982). Literature in the ESL classroom. Tesol Quarterly, 16(4), 529-539. doi: 10.27/3586470

McRae, J. (1991). Literature with a small ´l´. London: McMillan Publishers.

Neranjani, E. S. (2011). Enhancing Literary Competence through Activity Based Literature Learning. Master’s Thesis, University of Colomo. Unpublished.

Numrich, C. (2010). Raise the issues: An integrated approach to critical thinking. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Numrich, C. (2006). Face the issues: Intermediate listening and critical thinking skills (3rd ed.). London: Pearson Higher Education.

Paran, A. (2006). The stories of literature and language teaching. In: Paran, A. (Ed.), Literature in language teaching and learning. 11-26. Washington: Case Studies in Tesol Practice Series.

Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Purves, A. C. (1992). Testing literature. In: Langer, J. A. (ed.), Literature instruction: A focus on student response, (pp. 19-34). Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Rosenblatt, L. M. (2002). La literatura como exploración. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Sandburg, C. (1916). Happiness. In McMichael, G. (ed.). Concise Anthology of American Literature (pp. 1534). New York: McMillan Publishing Company.

Saunders, M, Lewis, P, & Thornhill, A. (2013). Research methods for business students, 6th edition, New York: Pearson Custom Publishing.

Savignon, S. (2001). Communicative language teaching for the twenty first century. In: Murcia, M. (Ed.), Teaching English as a second/foreign language (pp. 12-28). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

Spiro, J. (1991). Assessing literature: Four papers. In: Brumfit, C. (ed.). Assessment in literature teaching (pp. 16-83). Basingstoke: McMillan Publisher.

Qiping, Y. & Shubo, C. (2002). Teaching English literature in china: Importance, problems and counter-measures. World Englishes, 21(2), 317-324. doi: 10.1111/1467-971X.00251

Sell, J. (2005). Why teach literature in the foreign language classroom. Encuentro: Journal of Research and Innovation in the Language Classroom, 15, 86-93.

Van, T.T.M. (2009). The relevance of literary analysis to teaching literature in the EFL classroom. English Teaching Forum, 3, 2-9.

Zafeiriadou, N. (2001). On literature in the EFL classroom. Developing teachers.com: A website for the developing language teacher. Retrieved from http://www.alsaha.co.il/vb/showthread.php?t=10073.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.7p.90


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.