From Theory to Practice: Reading EAP Literature Using Critical Theory

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Neil Addison, Tokyo Woman’s Christian University

Teachers of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classes in Japanese universities often use authentic English literature to develop students’ reading skills, but the cultural contexts found in such literature can, if left unpacked, create comprehension problems, unsettling even proficient language learners. For Japanese students to attain a broader comprehension of authentic literary texts, acquiring a deeper knowledge of the cultural discourses that underpin English literature is important. I taught mediated literary critical theory to a group of sophomore EAP literature students at a university in Tokyo and in this paper I illustrate how I used simplified Marxist criticism to scaffold students’ learning by emphasizing and recycling key vocabulary as well as using Internet resources. I also describe how students applied critical theory reading skills to a short story, and I finish with a summary of student reactions to the course.