The Effect of Literary Text on the Pragmatic Competence and Fluency of ESL Learners
Literature has an inherent authenticity as an input for language teaching. Literary texts carry with them sociolinguistic and pragmatic knowledge which is pivotal for language learners to have their communicative competence increased. This study investigates the effect of the text of poetry on the pragmatic competence and fluency of ESL students. This is an experimental study consisting of a control group (CG) and an experimental group (EG). The respondents of the study are students of the 3rd semester, Education Faculty, University of Malakand, Pakistan. Before the commencement of the experiment, a speaking-type pretest was administered to students of both groups. Afterward, the control group was taught through traditional teaching materials whereas the experimental group was treated with poetry as teaching materials. At the end of the six-week-long experiment, a posttest like the pretest was again conducted. Moreover, a semi-structured interview was also conducted after the experiment. The scores of the students of both the groups on pretest and posttest were analyzed through statistical tests. The results of the tests indicated that the students of the experimental group performed significantly better than that of the control group in fluency whereas there was no significant difference in the mean scores of both the groups regarding pragmatic competence. However, the students of the experimental group registered significant improvement in pragmatic competence on posttest in intragroup comparison. The thematic analysis of the interview showed that the learners of the CG were reluctant to express themselves freely. They did not take interest in the group activities and did not actively participate in the presentation activity. On the contrary, the learners of EG were provided with a free-of-fear speaking environment due to the ambiguity and the subjective nature of poetry. Moreover, the text of the poetry was motivating and led to lengthy and intimate interaction among the students of the experimental group thereby improving their fluency. The study recommends that literary texts may be utilized in ESL classrooms.