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How To Effectively Teach Literature In English In Secondary Schools

English literature is quite different from other subjects and due to this, it needs to be treated differently. Because literature is mainly meant to discover the interpretations of different texts, the style of writing and the intention. This means the techniques employed in conducting their lessons need to be quite different from those employed in teaching other subjects.

10 Tips on How to Effectively Teach Literature in English in High Schools

The following techniques are employed.

Depending on the systems of different schools, schools either avail pamphlets, send electronic copies of notes to students or dictate notes out to the students.

To be competent in English literature, students have to be tasked to make their own notes, amid the coverage and in depth discussion of the works under scrutiny.

Preferably, these notes need to be read through and the students have to be corrected in case they have rookie notes. This will have a significant effect on their essays which helps a great deal when they’re attempting their examinations.

 2. Discussion groups.

This one technique runs across all subjects. This one turns students into their own teachers.

Did you know that some students learn concepts when they’re explained by their peers? Therefore, you need to form discussion groups within them, so they can munch these topics together.

And besides, the students need to know that literature is less solitary subject, especially if one needs to have better understanding. When reading as a group, the students will neither slumber nor get bored with what they’re reading.

 3. Presentations.

Students’ presentation can take two formats. One, either the students study individually and present their results. Or, they discuss as a group, and one of them does the presentation before the class.

This is an effective method as it promotes interaction of all students, meaning they can all criticize what their peer is presenting, since they’re all attentive and unbiased.

Also, it’s easier for you as a teacher to guide their thinking, in that you can easily correct, add or subtract anything from their work.

 4. Debates.

Well, you simply need to come up with a motion, then organize your class into proposers and opposer’s. If you have the necessary numbers and resources, debates are very effective.

Most teachers don’t like debates its time consuming and also demanding to organize. However, with some good teacher motivation, debates can become handy when it comes to teaching literature.

The kind of debate I’m suggesting is far simpler and more effective. It’s just as simple as telling your students that they’re free to pick whoever they can comfortably work with, of course under your class supervision.

This calls for them to be attentive because they enjoy challenging their own kind. Also, this kind of debating enables quick coverage since a number of questions are discussed and debated in a shorter time, usually in one sitting.

 5. Tests.

Whether it’s every week, every month or every after a lesson, your students need to be tested. Actually, they need to be left with research questions every after a single lesson.

The kind of tests I’m talking about should task students to relate the text with their contemporary society, their school and the entire system. Such tests encourage students to critically think and to go through the text over and over again. Isn’t that ideal? Well, it’s worth the try.

6. Effectively Teach Literature In English In Secondary Schools by letting students Watching movies

I’m not asking you to pay for Netflix and let your students binge-watch "Money Heist". They don’t need that. A good number of the novels and plays on the syllabus have their own movies already made. Books like;

  • Romeo and Juliet.
  • Oliver Twist.
  • Things Fall Apart.
  • Animal Farm. Etcetera…

Letting them watch the movie is a great way to give them full insight on what they’re dealing with. And trust me, the movie has fewer words and might not cover all that’s in the book, but it aids their imagination. It guides them on how the setting appears to be, what the characters look like, how they speak, etcetera.

Do you want them to appreciate the book better, buy the CD. Preferably after reading the book for the first time, it gives them full understanding of it.

7. Theatre attendance.

Now, the best way to actually go about the plays is to take your students to the theater. For all the plays on the syllabus, actors are paid to put it out on stage. Actually, these events are organized and different schools organize for their students to attend.

Books like Romeo and Juliet, School for Scandal, The Imaginary invalid, etcetera have already been acted out a couple of times.

Once you hear of such shows being organized, you have to urge your students to pay, or make the payments compulsory in the first place. Let them go with their texts, so they can easily flip them open as the play is going on.

This way, they shall fully appreciate the book and get to understand more that they couldn’t visualize while reading on their own.

 8. Letting them act.

This is a more active than passive way of learning, especially the drama texts. Yes, assign different characters to different students. Get them the attires, organize a performance and have them act it out.

Benefits of letting them act the play by themselves:

  • They get to enjoy the text even more since this is a more fun way of learning.

  • Learning the words, so it’s easier for them to quote the text perfectly.
  • They perfectly understand the tones of different characters, the styles of writing employed, and the playwright’s intention.

 9. Creative writing.

Encouraging students to write articles, skits and poetry, is a good way of teaching them to appreciate stylistic devices in literature. Inaddition, it will help them further understand narration and imagery, and also master English language actively.

Actually, it is said that students who write poetry are the ones that understand it much better. This is because writing makes students get more interested in reading. They do this for the sake of learning and imitating other authors, and gradually developing their own style of writing.

This also helps them widen their vocabulary even more, so they can write more impressive essays thus acing their final examinations.

Therefore, you should consider encouraging your students to engage more in creative writing so that they can move their inner genius into action. Let them grab the pen and paper now.

 10. Widening their vocabulary.

Our last tip on how to effectively teach Literature in English in Secondary Schools is through widening your students’ vocabulary.

When students get to learn new words, similes, idioms and other figures of speech, they get to understand and appreciate language further. This gives them the upper hand when it comes to reading and analyzing texts.

There are many ways of widening students’ vocabulary. For instance, tasking students to create their own thesauruses, and giving them the words they should start with. Or simply encouraging the students to have, each a copy of the dictionary.


It’s important for you as the teacher to accept and appreciate the oddities of Literature as a subject in itself. This way you can get the students to do the same even better. The bottom line is, you should get the students to understand and learn literature in a more active way. This is the most effective way to boost their interest in the subject.


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