9 Teaching English for real life
Reader-response theory and the Bildung tradition
This chapter provides a new perspective and context for understanding the value of using authentic second-language literature in the English classroom, via reader-response engagement with the given text, to meet not only the stated curriculum goals for the subject of English but to place English firmly as a Bildung-subject. In providing such perspective and context, this chapter addresses the idea of achieving the exemplary experience through authentic text selection and reader-response methodology, with an aim toward enhancing the ability of second-language literature instruction to impart a sense of Bildung upon learners through the creation and maintenance of a viable interpretative community. By attaining a more expansive understanding of classroom methodology, through Klafki’s ideas on the role of the teacher in creating good classroom experiences, one can more readily see the application of reader-response theory, in connection to authentic texts (including digital sources), as not so much a loss of classroom control as a redirection of the teacher’s ability to effectively plan and execute English lessons that will prepare learners for real life beyond the classroom.
The subject of English has become the de facto repository for non-linear, humanities-based thinking in a national education model and economic reality which privileges progressive, data driven, and quantifiable knowledge production. Rather than address how or why this change to a knowledge based economy occurred, however, the idea of school English is couched in the comfortable rhetoric of the teaching and learning English as a way of engaging «the outside world,» a kind of selective verbal and narrative ecotourism. To belabor the anthropology metaphor, in Norway we eat our words cooked, but learning a second language lets us find out what they taste like raw, and English offers the most variety, for it is here that the quest for an «authentic» flavor is most likely to be successful. And yet, the subject of English is under pressure: while no one would claim that English is less important than before in today’s information economy, the subject faces external pressure from the hard science academic model, and the realities of international professional communication, to make the subject of English obsolete as a culture-bearing exploration of the innermost Me, but rather to privilege quantifiable content over non-quantifiable form. The issue of text selection as a way into authenticity in English language learning is therefore of particular interest in Norway, where English is treated more as a second language than as a foreign language, giving teachers genuine power to make informed choices about how to proceed.
In the Norwegian national curriculum, it is not explicitly mentioned whether adapted or authentic texts are preferable, but left for the individual teacher to decide, from the very outset creating an opposition between form and content. LK06 to a certain degree prioritizes authentic texts, and the word «authentic» is sprinkled throughout the subject curriculum for foreign languages (læreplan for fremmedspråk) with regularity. Krashen’s (1987) conception of the pupil’s «affective filter» has been influential here, as when language learning becomes fun through the incorporation of engaging and motivational authentic materials, rather than stressful, the pupil’s resistance to learning is lowered. This worldwide trend produces real results, not at least because it motivates our pupils more toward self-discovery rather than a strictly rote or teacher-centric competency. The 2013 publication Literature for the English Classroom: Theory into Practice, now widely adopted as a standard text in English didactics for Norwegian teacher-training programs, notes that the use of authentic texts provides «rich, varied, useful, and realistic language input,» and that «classroom engagement with authentic texts can offer a brief but effective experience of immersion language learning» (Birketveit and Williams, 2013). The curriculum and those teacher-trainers supporting it lean toward a more formalist educational theory, which leans less toward pre-defined content goals and more toward increasing a student’s capacity for self-realization and discovery.
It is clear, however, that not all teachers or policy makers have gotten the message. The benefits and pedagogical precedent for a push toward the authentic in English language teaching are clear, but there has nonetheless been a certain amount of resistance, which can easily be interpreted as insecurity in surplus content knowledge: how do teachers make informed judgments about the suitability and applicability of authentic texts for their classrooms, when they themselves have not been taught how – or why – to be critical? English as a foreign language, at least as it has been taught in Norway, still relies almost exclusively on textbooks which consist of grammar and exercises combined with short readings such as poems, excerpts from longer stories, and short non-fiction readings (Drew et al., 2013), i.e. the content being prioritized over form (p. 30). The dearth of extensive reading in «authentic» texts, whether in analog or digital form, diminishes the ability of language to impart authentic culture or an aesthetic reading experience, and in addition places undue influence on the manufacturers and publishers of textbooks. A micromanaged textbook experience, however excellently the book, ebook, or computer-based activity is curated or edited, places a wedge of artificiality between the teacher and the pupil. Lessons become less about growth – of skills, of appreciation, of literacy – and more about completion, which is quantifiable. This discussion has been taking place for some time in Norway, with Hasselgren et al. (2012) observing that «coursebooks can frustrate learners through the use of extracts, denying access to closure and failing to fulfill narrative desire» (p. 10).
9.1.2 Research questions
One sees two primary questions arising from the conflict at hand, which this article will endeavor to address:
In the learning and teaching of English as a second language, what is the basis of an exemplary experience?
How can teachers, working under heavy societal pressure to produce quantifiable, content-driven results, come to terms with the non-engineered experience of promoting the desire to be lifelong readers in English, while competing with the intensity and dynamism of the video games students are increasingly accustomed to?
To begin to address these questions, questions of a nature that will arise, in various degrees of sophistication, at every level of humanistic instruction, the teacher cannot possibly rely on the lesson plan, on the textbook, on an appeal to a higher authority, but has to, extempore, draw on a vast store of accumulated knowledge from half a dozen different disciplines and two-and-a-half thousand years of intellectual history, and synthesize it into a coherent, modern, relevant, and readily comprehensible answer, which, whether it be a brief sentence or an extended oration, should provoke further thought, discussion, disagreement. Indeed, the humanities do not work as much through teaching as provocation, the very impetus of Bildung. And so, if we want to address the meaningful application of form versus content in English instruction, we must look to our pedagogical past in order to establish how and where methodology and practice intersect today, and what the future of English instruction could hold.
In his seminal «Didactic Analysis as the Core of Instruction» (1958, translated into English in 1963), Wolfgang Klafki establishes what he later develops into his didactic relational model, a model that is still widely used in Norwegian educational training. Speaking from the point of view of the educator coming to a lesson, he sees the combination of good preparation and sound methodology as instrumental for the successful transfer of information from the teacher to his or her pupils. He defines preparation as «the design of one of several opportunities for children to make fruitful encounters with certain contents of education (Bildungsinhalte).» The role of the teacher in this exchange is to work within the guidelines handed to him or her, and use any given framework as the basis of his or her preparation and methodology: «… the framework is, in the main, delineated by the curriculum of syllabus. This is no less applicable if the latter has assumed the desirable form of a set of guidelines which do not explicitly set out the individual items of subject-matter but give basic issues or thematic areas, mostly with supporting examples, leaving the selection of suitable details up to the school or the teacher» (Klafki, 1958).
In «Didactic Analysis», Klafki was not as concerned with instructional content, although he later refined his ideas to address the importance of content, asking the question in 1996 «with what content and circumstances must young people interact to arrive at a state of self-determination and a rational way of life, in humaneness, in mutual recognition, in freedom, happiness, and self-fulfillment?» (Klafki, 1996). In «Didactic Analysis,» however, Klafki’s approach to content, specifically in the context of literary studies and languages, was decidedly less refined. He broaches the subject, in his famous five elements of didactic analysis, under the category of «special cases»: «What are the special cases, phenomena, situations, experiments, persons, elements of aesthetic experience, and so forth, in terms of which the structure of the content in question can become interesting, stimulating, approachable, conceivable, or vivid for children of the stage of development of this class?» (Klafki, 1958).
In addition, Klafki’s analysis provides a clear statement on literature and language: «Modern theories of language instruction justifiably demand ‘practice with a purpose’ appropriate both to the subject and to the child» (Klafki, 1958). To me, this seems like a clarion call for teachers to employ preparation and methodology that treat the young language learner and her experience with respect, and although he never uses the term «reader-response» in his essay, it is clear that, in order to achieve what he sees as the goals of instruction in languages and literature, a reader-response methodology is imminently desirable. The selection principles of the elementary (das Elementare), the fundamental (das Fundamentale), and the exemplary (das Exemplarische) to determine what is worth teaching, and that this «categorical Bildung was meant to steer the selection of educational content in the school curriculum» (Horlacher 2016, p. 105), formed the basis of Klafki’s evolution into the content of a lesson as a subjective force. By the time a teacher is ready to use literature as an L2 teaching tool, enough basic grammar and vocabulary have been transmitted to allow some kind of exchange between text and reader, and we are now interested in shaping and contextualizing the pupil’s experience and insights through formal engagement with the given text. This process, in order to remain useful and productive, cannot be purely objective. Within the context of reader-response approaches, once a text is chosen for analysis, the teacher is allowed a certain amount of objectivity and distance from the course contents, giving pupils increased opportunities for independent determination of the value of the text at hand, without denying students the opportunity to seek approval or support from their teacher, whose role becomes to give students the formal tools they need for appropriate and meaningful reflection on the subject at hand. At this point, whether the text for discussion is print or computer-based is immaterial.
A brief word on the origins of reader-response theory will illustrate its parallel timeline of Klafki’s bildungstheory. Before the 20th century, the study of literature in English focused heavily on biographical and historical studies, working «around» the text rather than «through» it. It used to be really important, for example, to consider the author’s biography in relation to the text, in order to really understand what he or she meant by writing it. A theoretical approach beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, and which came to be known as New Criticism in the 1940s, revolutionized the way literature is taught by putting the emphasis back onto the literature itself, which was, at the time, a «new» approach to literature. New Criticism isolates the text from its historical background, and gives it an intrinsic value based on relationships within the text, especially repetition, images and symbols, and ironies. New Critics expect that there is an objective way to read a text, and by closely examining «the words on the page» one can find its meaning.
New Criticism turned literary criticism, and by extension its classroom application, from an art into a science; New Criticism has its own rules, jargon, and scientific method, and whenever we discuss the «theme» or «symbols» or «irony» contained in a given text, at any reading level, we can thank the New Critics for giving us this common, and dare I say scientific, vocabulary. New Criticism democratized the study of literature, which used to be reserved for those with the wherewithal to produce first-hand studies of an author’s biography or historical circumstance. Now, anyone who can learn the methods and terminology can learn to analyze and interpret a text. Yet the idea of there being an «objective» way of establishing «meaning» in literature requires a somewhat mechanical approach that does not allow for expressions of how one really reads; it assumes a sort of ideal reader, and if you figure that the New Critics, however democratic in spirit, were a very culturally homogenous group, then one can see how that «ideal» reader is not, and cannot be, one-size-fits-all.
While the validity of such a New Critical reading was challenged as early as 1929 by I.A. Richards, in 1938 Louise Rosenblatt, a young literature scholar at the outset of the New Critical approach, began to formalize her objections to what she saw as a false objectivity that did not allow for one’s personal background to influence one’s reading of a text. Just because one can learn to be an objective and distant reader doesn’t mean that this is a desirable approach to literature; it leads to the misunderstanding that literature, especially poetry, is a code meant to be cracked rather than an art requiring interpretation. By the 1960s and 1970s, many readers were coming to the conclusion that formalist readings of a given text excluded one point of view in exchange for another, without any kind of consideration as to whether this «objective» style of reading was indeed objective.
Reader-response criticism arose from this natural inclination to impose oneself as a reader into the evaluation of a given text. It takes as a given that New Criticism, while relevant in as much as it gives readers a common vocabulary, does not address the fact that each reader has a unique set of experiences. Reader-response criticism builds upon New Criticism, but rather than ignoring the individual reader of a text, it acknowledges that every reader has a unique relationship to the given text, and therefore has a different interpretation of it. Each reader brings something different to the text, and therefore takes something different away from it. That «something different» includes one’s education, life experience, gender, age, and the circumstance at the moment of reading; there exists a «dynamic tension between the work of art and the personality of the reader,» which Rosenblatt refers to as «transactional» after Dewey and Bentley (Rosenblatt, 1978 p. 16). The nature of this transaction is that the reader shares in the creation of the «meaning» of the text, inasmuch as it is possible for a text to have one. As the amount of individual readings of a text increases, an «interpretative community» is built, in which everyone reading and responding to the text together is a member. Later reader-response critics such as Normand Holland, Stanley Fish, Walter Benn Michaels, and (especially) David Bleich, expand the reader-response concept by approaching it from various inter-disciplinary angles such as phenomenology and psychoanalysis, and the result of their work is that reader-response theory is now widely established as a significant development in the study of literature (Thompkins, 1980).
While both Klafki’s categorical bildungstheory and reader-response theory have each their place in current pedagogical practice, no real efforts have been made to show their parallels, and ideally, intersection, as they relate to the increased incorporation of reader-response theory into English language classroom preparation and text selection. The timeline of reader-response literary theory, and its trickle-down into classroom practice, lines up with Klafki’s evolving conception of education from preparation and methodology into the privileging of form over content. The ability of the pupil to have a meaningful aesthetic experience with literature, on her own response level, depends on the teacher’s critical sensitivity and ability to choose texts and plan lessons that are appropriate and relevant to the pupils’ lives.
Grades 5–7 are a critical period for developing children’s sense of «ownership» of literature, and for expanding their appreciation for reading in a second language. Donalson and Nielsen (2006) establish seven stages of literary appreciation, from birth (yes, birth) to adulthood (11). While pupils at the primary school level are learning to decode grammatical structures and basic texts, and are increasing their attention span and vocabulary, a major shift comes towards late elementary, in which they begin to «lose themselves» in literature. At this stage, they seek fantasy stories, series novels, and «anything one can disappear into» (11). For kids of this age with access to the Internet and/or computer games, the movement toward MMORPG and other fantasy-based games such as World of Warcraft, Civilisation, or The Sims over games of skill or chance corresponds. The explosive development from decoding to disappearance, which Donalson and Nielsen note as a first-language (L1) phenomenon, ought to be encouraged here in order to encourage readers to appreciate texts on an aesthetic level as early as possible, not at least because they are experiencing this sense of disappearance every time they turn on their computers or Playstations. There has been, however, a greater emphasis, at least in English as a second-language (L2) reading instruction in Norway, put on efferent reading than on the aesthetic, a choice that might be necessary, but perhaps delays possibilities for pupils who are ready to make the stage jump in their literary appreciation. We can work within the curriculum goals, and build upon a pupil’s understanding of, for example, genre conventions such as plot, archetype, and symbolism, meaning that even if the reading is incomplete, such as that presented in a textbook or reader, then the pupil’s awareness of genre can fulfill any outstanding frustrations; he or she will know what happens, or know what is going to happen (and, in the context of games, what to do next) and feel satisfied. This awareness of form without a specific relationship to its content, however, derives from having had positive experience with complete texts, and the teacher’s willingness to explore and guide pupils to an awareness of these conventions.
To teach a complete authentic text with respect to genre convention also deviates somewhat from the ever-popular push in English literature teaching practice, particularly as pupils age out of the grades 5–7 «sweet spot,» to «teach the controversy,» that is, to choose texts that deal with difficult topics such as, for example, abuse, poverty, racism, or cultural taboo, and rather than engage the words on the page head-on, work around the text and discuss the topics at large. Examples here include teachers who teach «about» The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, or cleaned-up versions of it without any language that is now considered offensive, rather than engaging the authentic text as it is, ugliness and all. A digital equivalent would be the enduring popularity, for example, of using the «classic» computer game The Oregon Trail, which treats the ravaging of Native American populations and deaths of entire families by dysentery as plot points to be avoided through skill and luck rather than illustrating what really happened, to add color to a lesson in American history. If the teacher in question cannot, or chooses not to, deal with the words on the page as they are, she is better off using a text that she feels comfortable teaching. There are many modern books specifically written for younger readers (which Huckleberry Finn was not) that deal with the same controversial themes in a relatable and still authentic way, that are infinitely more classroom-friendly and will ultimately achieve better aesthetic responses than talking «around» the literature at hand.
And yet, even well-meaning teachers often choose «authentic» texts that cannot generate good responses from their target group because they lie too far outside the target group’s frame of reference, and thus require too much input and contextualization from the teacher. This lack of sound methodology, of content without form, accounts for the enduring popularity of age-inappropriate but socially acceptable texts for English L2 environments such as those by, for example, Steinbeck or Dreiser for high school students. While these texts fit very neatly into the Norwegian model of using literature as a way into dealing with social injustice, they do little to improve students’ aesthetic appreciation of English-language literature or their response to it. Yes, these may be bildungsroman, but for whom, and why are we pressing them onto generations without questioning whether another text might offer more value to the interpretative community at large?
Donelson and Nilsen also note that at the late elementary stage, children «make friends» with and begin to seek advice from librarians, as opposed to their peers, which comes later (p. 11). At this stage of reading discovery, the «didactic triangle» of teacher-text-student has not been expanded or broken by peer influence. With the understanding that, in a school with limited resources, a teacher, being a trusted adult who appears to enjoy books enough to make them his or her livelihood, might stand in for a librarian here, it is clear that pupils come to this trusted adult to get advice about the reading experiences they seek. L2 teachers, who are obliged by the curriculum to focus heavily on grammar and communicative skills, often do not have the necessary background to make qualitative assessments about L2 children’s literature. Using a carefully curated, widely-voted list such as, for example, Newbery, ALA, or The Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Prize as a basis for contemporary and authentic L2 book recommendations takes pressure off teachers to find books their pupils can «lose themselves» in, which in turn creates a positive cycle of quality experiences for pupils. If the methodology is orchestrated properly, and readers are given the space to «lose themselves» in literature, and to simply enjoy the aesthetic value of the texts they choose, the outcome will be that they «find themselves» in literature in later stages.
The best literature for language learning environments is that which generates a high level of response from readers. If we (as teachers) imagine reading as a transaction between the text and the reader, we want the reader to contribute more to the exchange than the teacher, who is here merely a guide. Ultimately, a text, no matter how rich in content, is only as meaningful as its reader wants it to be. Generating and encouraging good responses from literature, by which is meant at a minimum the ability to connect what one reads to one’s own experience, is at the heart of what the language teacher should work for: «the mind as it meets the book … is the center of a curriculum in literature» (Purves, Rogers og Soter, 1990, p. 15). Perhaps this is what Wagenschein meant when he referred to the exemplary in education, moments «in which a person is completely gripped, body and soul, by a fundamental experience. Such a formative experience stimulates true education» (Wagenschein, 1956).
As teachers we have the power to choose texts and follow-through that will be formative, but the form, for younger readers, frequently takes the shape of its container, the reader herself. From this perspective, projects like «90 Second Newbery,» which young-adult author Jamie Kennedy initiated in 2014, in which groups of students write, direct, and produce short films based on their interpretation of quality authentic literature, present a future avenue for exemplary language learning at this critical juncture of grades 5–7, and certainly later as well. Any projects or activities that can give greater focus to the aesthetic will enable pupils to more readily express themselves creatively, and «90 Second Newbery» would not leave the efferent experience behind, either, because so much of the project work would depend on pupils’ ability to communicate efficiently and effectively. The teacher’s single most significant role here (as there is already a workable curriculum for this project widely available online) would be to choose the right text for interpretation, and the Newbery Medal winners list provides a flying start. Digital work of this kind, which would remain firmly footed in the reading experience but extend the responses to film, exceeds the goals of the Norwegian Curriculum Competence Goals for English after year 7 (LK06 ENG1–03), which asks that pupils can read children’s and young adult literature in English, form their own reactions to what they have read, and express themselves in creative ways inspired by several types of English-language literature (udir.no). I think Klafki himself would nod sagely in approval of this kind of classroom experience, but it will take some small convincing and education for teachers and policy-makers to make this kind of leap and trust the text – and their pupils – to rise to the challenge.
Another challenge we face when attempting the exemplary experience is the conflict that arises as a result of the endless push and enthusiasm toward «instructional technology» as a means unto itself, a movement which «does not hold» because it is «partly contra-pedagogical» (Buck, 2017). The reinforcement of curriculum goals through gamification ought to match the depth of the learning material, but the need to shoehorn instructional technology into literature lessons privileges rote memorization over aesthetic appreciation or exploration. This is perhaps done with good intentions: for example, the increasingly-popular gamification of reading comprehension as Making Learning Awesome! on Kahoot. This attempt to retain the interest of young learners by turning a literary text into readily quantifiable material requires, however, that significant class time be devoted to setting up teams, writing literal (rather than inferential) quiz questions, and working with Kahoot itself, when learners should be discovering and figuring out together why the literary text matters in the context of their own experience, and not just how quickly one can find or spit out a given fact in the target language or technology. With respect to Klafki here, we have to choose appropriately, and gage our methodology accordingly. If we require «practice with a purpose,» what is the purpose of introducing these gamified experiences except to confuse and frustrate the learner when inferential reading skills are inevitably expected?
Perhaps one of the reasons that English language learning at school can be frustrating is that the coursebooks – and the instructional technology we choose to reinforce their content – have not caught up with the most authentic of texts, the video game, in which the narrative is endlessly dynamic, depending on the thought process of the player herself, can be shared instantly and worldwide, and the playing language is likely English. Purushotma et al. (2009) offers some context here: «twenty years ago, virtually all video games had a prescribed path which all players travelled along through the arc of the game … today, the top selling games are thought of as open-ended playgrounds where players pick and choose activities they want to play: one player in The Sims 2 may try to build the grandest house in the neighborhood, while another might focus on narrating a story about their character» (p. 23). The games themselves «provide a site for social, cultural and intellectual networking mediated by language» (Duff, 2014, p. 27). The interactivity and dynamic nature of the video game, which can only be seen as positives from the point of view of the language teacher, are lacking from the traditional textbook or reader, and even from the gamified reading comprehension experience. Narrative-based video games are authentic texts, which, like their printed ancestors, also depend on the creation of an interpretative community for context and meaning. Gameplay in contemporary narrative universes requires and rewards sophisticated awareness of genre convention, setting and plot, character development, and thematic connection, all of which are curriculum requirements for English. Most of all, it requires an expanded sense of community involvement, which reinforces the purpose of mastering a second language in the first place. Teachers would do well to include this kind of open-ended narrative play in their lessons, even where the short-term results of quizzing are missing, as a relevant and meaningful way of dealing with the need for instructional technology without trivializing their true learning content.
Perhaps the easiest and yet greatest way teachers can encourage positive reading experiences for children is to incorporate, not just directly but indirectly, elements of reader-response critical theory into their lesson plans and activities, whether analog or digital. To engage pupils using reader-response strategies is a modern and approachable way into Klafki’s idealized «special case» of the classroom in which it is the structure of the classroom content which renders the material interesting, stimulating, vivid, and tellingly, conceivable. Simply put, reader-response theory, as a reaction to New Critical or historical readings, empowers readers to engage a text by using their own experiences as a basis of comparison: celebrating the differences between the individual experience of the reader and the experience of the text ultimately allows readers to «create» the text for themselves. Reader-response literary theory posits that there exists a «dynamic tension between the work of art and the personality of the reader,» which Rosenblatt refers to as «transactional» after Dewey and Bentley (Rosenblatt, 1978, p. 16). The nature of this transaction is that the reader shares in the creation of the «meaning» of the text, inasmuch as it is possible for a text to have one. As the amount of individual readings of a text increases, an «interpretative community» is built, in which everyone reading and responding to the text together is a member. If the literature teacher can harness the explosive power of a reader-response environment, and structure lessons which engage pupils to respond to texts on their level and in a democratic and meaning-forming way, then his or her job has just become a lot easier.
This chapter has attempted to clarify, in the learning and teaching of English as a second language, what is the basis of the exemplary experience. Klafki’s vision of good planning and sound methodology as the basis of the ideal learning environment has great implications for the second-language environment, especially the way that English as a second language is taught in Norway. Taking into account the various ways in which the authentic literature can be employed to provide quality learning experiences, and the idea that teachers and decision-makers have free choice of which authentic texts are suitable for their pupils, teachers should plan lessons and use methodology that encourage active response and engagement with the given text. If English is to strengthen its position as a critical school subject in the years to come, with the comprehension and production of English being an increasingly essential life skill, it is vital for teachers to cast their literature teaching methodology as an intersection of Wolfgang Klafki’s categorical educational theory and Louise Rosenblatt’s reader-response engagement, with a positive outlook toward the authentic text, in order to engage and captivate learners and motivate them toward learning more.
In addition, this chapter has also attempted to establish how teachers can reconcile the conflict between the need for quantifiable, content-driven results with the promotion of lifelong enjoyment of English, particularly given the juxtaposition of the artificial and inauthentic school text with the compelling and authentic video games that young learners increasingly choose outside of class. There is a certain amount of resistance or hesitance among L2 teachers of English to veer away from the use of grammar books and/or graded supplementary literature for fear of missing curriculum goals or losing classroom control. Over time, this attitude could cause students to lose interest in what they come to view as a rote or meaningless application of facts rather than an exploration of the power of self-expression and connection to the outside world. Text selection is but one piece of a puzzle that also includes having a sound theoretical approach to the given text, and structuring lessons which use this approach effectively to generate response and conception. By reaching back to and engaging Klafki’s ideas about methodology and structure in their lesson plans and strategies for the second-language literature classroom, but with respect to modern approaches to reader-response and classroom democracy, teachers contribute to the learning process in multiple ways, including setting a personal example of the value of interpretative communities. Instructional technology should be employed with respect to the learning content, and without overt reduction of the learning content to the referential level. With these considerations in mind, the structure of the lessons itself supplements, and in fact becomes part of, the way authentic literature in the classroom eventually leads pupils to having the skills and confidence to generate independent aesthetic responses to English-language literature.
Numerous avenues for further research present themselves; there is much work to be done. Empirical study of the types and amounts of authentic text used at various grade and ability levels, through examining teachers’ lesson plans, would help gauge and contextualize to what extent the movement from primary textbooks and readers to secondary authentic texts is happening and to what effect. In addition, the collection and analysis of data about teachers’ resistance to using authentic texts and/or reader-response methodology as a basis for English instruction, through surveys, interviews, and classroom observation would help gauge and contextualize how teacher-trainers could best help working and future teachers become more prepared for organizing and maintaining an interpretative community through effective classroom methodology. The rich relationship between immersive video game narratives and literary narratives also presents numerous avenues for further exploration of the development of exemplary English classroom experiences.