Language experts advocate for literature as gateway to foreign language

The Department of French Language at Birzeit University and the Cultural Cooperation Section at the French Consulate held on April 11, 2017 a lecture on the role of literature in foreign language education. The lecture was presented by professor of French as a Foreign Language and French Literature at Birzeit University Susanna Frings, and professor of French as a Foreign Language at the University of Lausanne at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Marie-Dominique Marcant. 

Assistant to the Dean Basma Omari said that literature plays an essential role in introducing students to the essence and secrets of language by helping them to better understand and analyze social contexts.

Frings started her speech by introducing the importance of reading, a cultural activity that has dwindled in recent years, especially in the Arab countries. She indicated that the latest study by Al Jazeera found that the average Arab only reads a quarter page in an entire year.

"Literary reading plays a crucial role in our lives," Frings said. "The aim of teaching literature is to introduce students to different cultures and enable them to learn from the experiences of others, and to be motivated by the heroes and personalities within novels and literary texts."

Marcant said professors should teach their students analytical reading to improve their creativity and critical thinking. She added that the reader and the writer are in an interactive relationship where they exchange roles constantly inside the literary text.

"The writer becomes a reader when he/she re-reads the text he/she wrote, while the reader becomes a writer when s/he analyzes the text based on his or her personal experience."