Teaching English poetry to Saudi students: an exploratory study for applying a Systemic Functional Linguistic based pedagogy for improving the reading, analysis and interpretation of poems in the English language

2016-11-07T15:18:04Z (GMT) by Haifa S. Almufayrij
This study formulated and applied a Systemic Functional Linguistic (SFL) based pedagogy which is culturally appropriate for Saudi students in King Saud University for improving the reading, analysis and interpretation of poetry in English. Ian Haneur affirms the necessity of the implementation of cultural knowledge for the reading of poetry; he states that cultural knowledge is “important in that it provides a basis through which understanding is achieved.”(2001: 4).This approach is concerned with linguistic applications which aim to improve analytical powers, in particular, the Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) (Halliday, 2004; Thompson, 2004). This pedagogy gives Saudi students a tool for reading poetic texts in English and critically analyzes them independently. An attempt which has not been approached much due to concerns of Arab educators about the values of English and American literature and its effects upon readers and a concern over the confrontation of the various moral, social, religious, national, political, historical, and even geographical contexts in the foreign texts (G.Rababah, 1983;M. Obeidat, 1996; Zughoul, 1987; and Asfour andDahiyat, 1983). Furthermore, in this dissertation, I also attempted to address the impact that social, cultural, religious and linguistic differences have on the students' reading and interpretation of poems in English by exploring the perceptions of Saudi students regarding these issues. In my case study, a preliminary questionnaire with closed and open ended questions, class practice answers, post teaching interviews and observation notes were examined using selective coding to interpret the collected data. Analysis of student perceptions in relation to the social, cultural, religious and linguistic differences and the influence they had on their reading of poetry in English revealed meaningful high percentages of agreement which prove that Saudi students were facing problems in all these areas. The analysis of the application of SFL based pedagogy for the Saudi students provided significant evidence that SFL was a useful theory of language which played a purposeful role in showing the architecture of the English language and provided the students with a decoding tool for interpretation.