Learning from the margins: Teaching language, culture and communication through world literature in the EFL classroom

Sandhya Rao Mehta*, Rahma Al-Mahrooqi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


While the debate on using literature in the language classroom continues unabated, the discussion of exactly what kind of literature would best reflect the changing requirements of EFL students around the world in the twenty-first century remains largely unexplored. This paper, while re-visiting the route that literature has historically taken in the language classroom, suggests that the various purposes of learning English as a foreign language are best achieved not only by the English literary canon as it has been established, but also through a careful selection of international works which represent multiple human experiences. If the primary purpose of learning English is to be able to communicate in an increasingly intercultural context in a language which is constantly expanding and evolving, literary texts from across the world will be able to successfully give the learner at a tertiary level access to diverse cultural experiences and equip them to discuss a variety of global concerns, thus enhancing their critical thinking abilities as well as associated skills in intercultural communication. Using the learning models of Carter and Long (1991) and the works of Shridhar (1982) and Matsuda (2003) on the selection of appropriate texts, this paper suggests, using a specific example, that, while literature remains a significant component of language teaching, a more focused approach to texts which are more relevant to EFL learners' linguistic, communicative and intercultural skills is urgently required.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBridging the Gap between Education and Employment: English Language Instruction in EFL Contexts
PublisherPeter Lang AG
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9783035108422, 9783034316811
Publication statusPublished - Dec 18 2015


  • EFL
  • Intercultural communication
  • Language teaching
  • Literature in EFL
  • World Literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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