Macquarie University
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Literature in second-language education: a cognitive-affective approach to the use of literary narrative in an intermediate Russian language classroom

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posted on 2022-11-07, 22:59 authored by Sofya YunusovaSofya Yunusova

This thesis analyses the methodology behind using literary narrative at Intermediate levels of Russian second-language (L2) instruction. It is generally well-accepted that students at this stage of language acquisition, and especially Intermediate lows, are ill-prepared for interacting with literature. Russian second-language (RSL) learners at this instructional level are indeed rarely exposed to literary texts. If present in learning curricula, the latter are usually simplified and are used as opportunities to train learners’ basic language skills. Yet, there are now strong reasons to believe that by exposing Intermediate learners, including Intermediate lows, to the original language of literary prose it is possible to achieve significant didactic benefits on the linguistic, cultural and motivational levels. It is thus crucial to understand how to support these learners’ interactions with literary narrative and capitalise on the multilayered pedagogical potential of this type of classroom reading. To this end, I first build on past research in reading comprehension, cognitive psychology and literary studies to determine the mechanisms underlying L2 reading comprehension and L2 literary reading. I show how cognitive models of reading comprehension on the one hand, and cognitive and affective approaches to literary reading on the other hand, can provide useful heuristics for using literary texts in L2 classrooms. I then describe the suggested pedagogical approach and illustrate it on sample texts coming from 21st century Russian literary narrative. I finally document an empirical study which used the developed teaching materials in real-life language classrooms and discuss the yielded results. This investigation showed that participants were both able to achieve adequate reading comprehension and engage with target texts in a literary way. It also revealed a series of additional learning gains. I conclude that by implementing the tenets of the proposed teaching approach in Intermediate language classrooms, language instructors may efficiently support their learners’ interaction with literary prose. Additionally, I suggest that an early introduction of authentic literary narrative may constitute a means to consolidate RSL curricula, while encouraging retention in Russian language programs, especially in non-Russian-speaking countries.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter One. Literature in Russian Second-Language Education -- Chapter Two. Reading in the Second Language -- Chapter Three. Components of Second-Language Reading -- Chapter Four. Defining Literature and Literary Reading -- Chapter Five. Reading Literature in the Second Language -- Chapter Six. Literary Narrative in an Intermediate Russian Language-Literature Classroom: Suggested Pedagogical Approach -- Chapter Seven. Sample Teaching Materials -- Chapter Eight. Exploratory Empirical Study -- Conclusion -- References -- Appendices


A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of International Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Marika Kalyuga


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399 pages