Enhancing Literary Competence Through Critical Oriented Reading Strategies

Atefeh Mozafari, Hamed Barjesteh


This study investigates the impact of critical oriented reading strategies on Iranian EFL male and female students’ literary competence (LC). In so doing, 109 homogenized male and female college students of English Literature were screened out of 160 participants due to administering Oxford Placement Test (OPT) among them. The selected participants were randomly assigned into critical (experimental) and non-critical (control) group. They were subsequently divided into male and female groups. All groups were given a novel, Jane Eyre, to read. Then the subjects were given the same pre-post test in the form of LC questionnaire aimed to determine their level of LC before and after the intervention. During the intervention, participants in the critical group were taught and encouraged to use critical reading strategies (CRSs). However, the non-critical group was taught the conventional method of reading. The results indicated a significant difference between learners’ LC before and after the intervention. However the LC difference was not statistically significant in term of gender. This study provides more evidence for the importance of CRSs that apparently empower students to know, explain, analyze and answer the questions that arise in a text which leads eventually to a progress in LC of the learners.



Critical Reading Strategies, EFL Learners, Literary Competence, Reading Comprehension, Gender

Full Text:



Abednia, A. (2015). Practicing critical literacy in second language reading. International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, (6)2, 77-94.

Aghagolzadeh, F., & Tajabadi, F. (2012). A debate on literature as a teaching material in FLT. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, (3)1, 205-210.

Akin, F., Koray, O., & Tavukcu, K. (2015). How effective is critical reading in the understanding of scientific texts. Procedia – Social and Behavioral, 174, 2444- 2451.

Aksan, N., & Kisac, B. (2009). A descriptive study: reading comprehension and cognitive awareness skills. Procedia-Social and Behvioral Science, (1)1, 834-837.doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2009.01.149

Alden, K. C., Lindquist, J. M., & Lubkeman, C. A. (2003). Using literature to increase reading motivation. Chicago, IL: Saint Xavier University and Sky light Professional Development Field-Based Master’s Program.

Alexander, J. E., & Filler, R. C. (1976). Attitudes and reading. Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association.

Alptekin, C. (2006). Cultural familiarity in inferential and literal comprehension in L2 reading. System, 34(4). 494-508. doi:10.1016/j.system.2006.05.003

Amer, A. A. (2012). Using literature in reading English as Second/Foreign Language. Tanta, Tanta University Egypt.

Barjesteh, H. Nasrololahi, A., Esmaili, M. R. (2016). Incorporating Principles of CP in an ESP writing classroom: Exploring writing Quality and Learners' Attitudes. Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods, 6(7)17-23.

Bedel, O. (2011). Literature circles in EFL. The 46th Annual International IATEFL Conference, 1-13.

Bosely, L. (2008). I don’t teach reading: Critical reading instruction in composition course. Literacy Research and Instruction, 47, 280-308.

Bronte, C. (1847). Jane Eyre. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brumfit, C. J. (1986). Literature and language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brumfit, C. J. (2001). Individual freedom in language teaching: Helping learners to develop a dialect of their own. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brumfit, C. J., & Carter, R. A. (2000). Literature and language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University press.

Burbules, N. C., & Berk, R. (1999). Critical thinking and critical pedagogy: Relations, differences, and limits. Critical Theories in Education.

Burns, P. C., Roe, B. D., & Ross, E. P. (1999). Teaching reading in today’s elementary schools. USA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Bury, Liz. (2013, October 8). Reading literary fiction improves empathy, study finds. The Guardian. Retrieved from www.theguardian.com.

Carter, R., & Long, M. (1990). Testing literature in EFL classes: Tradition and innovation. ELT Journal, 44(3), 215-221.

Carter, R., & Long, M. (1991). Teaching literature. New York: Longman.

Coenen, L. (1992). Literary competence: Usefull concept for literary education or new ‘Catch-All Term’?. Spiegel, 10(2), 55-78.

Culler, J. (1975). Structuralist poetics: Structuralism, linguistics, and the study literature. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Danaye Tous, M., Tahriri, A., & Haghighi, S. (2015). The effect of instructing critical thinking Through debate on male and female EFL learners’ reading comprehension. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 15(4), 21-40.

Day, R. R., & Bamford, J. (1998). Extensive reading in the second language classroom. Cambridge University Press.

Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Boston: D.C. Heath and Company.

Dey, S. (2009). A study of literacy competence achieved by students in a text based learning environment. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of Teaching and Learning (ICTL).

Dienstag, J. F. (2006). Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ebrahimi, N. A., & Rahimi, A. (2013). Towards a more efficient EFL reading comprehension classroom environment: The role of content and critical reading. Apples – Journal of Applied Language Studies, 7(2), 1-15.

Erkaya, O. R. (2005). Benefits of using short stories in the EFL context. Asian EFL Journal, 8. 1-13.

Fahim, M., Barjesteh, H., & Vaseghi, R. (2012). Effects of critical thinking strategy training male/female EFL learners’ reading comprehension. English Language Teaching, 5(10), 140-145.

Finch, A. (2012). Bringing classroom-based assessment into the EFL classroom. Applied Research in English. Rep. of Korea Kyungpook National University.

Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, attitude, intention, and behavior: An introduction to theory and research. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Freire, P. (1972). Cultural action for freedom. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Gajdusek, L. (1988). Toward wider use of literature in ESL: Why and how. TESOL Quarterly, 22(2), 227-257.doi:10.2307/3586935

Ghahremani-Ghajar, S., & Mirhosseini, S. A. (2005). English class or speaking about everything class: Dialogue journal writing as a critical EFL literacy practice in an Iranian high school. Language, Cultural and Curriculum. 18(3), 286299.

Ghosn, I. K. (2002). Four good reasons to use literature in primary school ELT. ELT Journal, 56(2), 172-179.

Halpern, D. F. (1996). Thinking critically about critical thinking: An exercise book to accompany thought and knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking. Mahvah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associate, Inc. Publishers.

Halpern, D. F. (1998). Teaching critical thinking for transfer across domains: Disposition, skills, structure, training and meta cognitive monitoring. American psychologists, 53, 449-455.

Harris, A. J., & Sipy, E. R. (1990). How to increase reading ability. New York: Longman.

Hill, J. (1989). Using literature in Language teaching. London: Modern English Publications.

Icmez, S. (2009). Motivation and critical reading in EFL classroom: A case of ELT preparatory students. Journal of Theory and Practice in Education, 5(2), 123-147. Retrieved from http.//eku.Comu.edu.tr/index.

Isenberg, N. (1990). Literary competence: The EFL reader and the role of the teacher. ELT Journal, 44(3), 181-190.

Izadinia, M., & Abednia, A. (2010). Dynamics of an EFL reading course with a critical literacy orientation. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 6(2), 51-67.

Johnson, E. B. (2002). Contextual teaching and learning: What it is and why its her to say. Thousands Oaks, CA: Crowin Press.

Juhana, J. (2012). Psychological factors that hinder students from speaking in English class (A case study in a senior high school in South Tangerang, Banten,Indonesia). Journal of Education and Practice. 3(12), 100 -110.

Kavcar, C., Oguzkan, F., & Sever, S. (1994). Turkce ogretimi: Turkce ve sinif ogretmenler i icin. Ankara: Engin Yayincilik.

Kennedy, M., Fisher, M. B., & Ennis, R. H. (1991). Critical thinking: Literature review and needed research. In L. Idol & B. F. Jones (Eds.), Educational Values and Cognitive Instruction: Implications for Reform (pp. 11-40). Hillsdale,NJ: Erlbaum.

Khatib, M., & Nasrollahi, A. (2012). Enhancing reading comprehension through short stories in iranian EFL learners. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2(2), 240-246.

Khabiri, M., & Pakzad, M. (2012). The effect of teaching critical reading strategies on EFL learners’ vocabulary retention. The Journal of Teaching Language Skills (JTLS). 4(1), 73-106.

Khatib, M., Ranjbar, S., & Fathi, J. (2012a). The role of literature in EFL classroom from an EIL perspective. Journal of Academia and Applied Studies, 2(2), 12- 21.

Khatib, M., Rezaei, S., & Derakhshan, A. (2011). Literature in EFL/ESL classroom. English Language Teaching (Canadian Center of Science and Education), 4(1), 201-208.

King, P. M., Wood, P. K. & Mines, R. A. (1990). Critical thinking among college and graduate Students. The Review of Higher Education, 13(2), 167-186.

Kodama, Keita. (2012). The role of literature in the EFL/ESL classroom revisited: Using literature in communicative language teaching. Aichi Prefectural University Graduate School of International Cultural Studies Journal, 13, 31-56.

Koupaee Dar, Z., Rahimi, A., & Shams, M. (2010). Teaching reading with a critical attitude: Using critical discourse analysis (CDA) to raise EFL university students’ criticallanguage awareness. International Journal of Criminology and Sociology Theory, 3(2), 457-476.

Kurland, D. (2000). Critical reading VS. critical thinking. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from http:// www.criticalreading.com/criticalreadingthinkingtoo.htm.

Lao, C. Y., & Krashen, S. (2000). The impact of popular literature study on literacy development in EFL: More evidence for the power of reading. System, 28(2), 261-270.

Lazar, G. (1993). Literature and language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lewis, A., & Smith, D. (1993). Defining higher order thinking. Theory into Practice, 32(3), 131-137.

Littlewood, W. T. (2006). Foreign and second language learning. Cambridge University Press.

Mahboobi, M., & Kaur, S. (2011). A survey of iranian EFL university students’motivation and interest in intensive reading. Iranian EFL Journal. 7(6), 30-46.

Maley, A. (1989). Down from the pedestal: Literature as resource. In C. J. Brumfit, R. A. Carter & R. Walker (Eds.) Literature and the learner: Methodological approaches. (pp. 1-9). Modern English Publications and The British Councel.

Maley, A., & Duff, A. (1991). Literature. Oxford: Oxford University press.

Mangal, S. K. (2005). Advanced educational psychology. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall.

Marshall, L. A., & Rowland, F. (1998). A guide to learning independently. Buckingham: Open University Press.

McKay, S. (1982). Literature in the ESL classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 16(4), 529-536.

McNamara, D. S. (Ed.). (2007). Reading comprehension strategies: Theory, interventions, and technologies. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Mihandoost, Z. (2011). A meta-analysis review: Reading attitude in students with learning disability. Journal of Basic and Applied Scientific research, 1(8), 910-915.

Missori, L. (2007). Applying critical thinking to reading, Longview Community College. Retrieved June 20, 2010, Retrieved from http//www.ss.Critical thinking.html

Mozafari, A., & Barjesteh, H. (2016). Utilizing Reflective Journal to Raise Critical Language Awareness: A Critical Literacy Practice in a Reading Classroom. Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods, 6(6)109-118.

Neranjani, E. S., (2011). Enhancing Literary Competence through Activity Based Literature Learning. University of Colomo.

Noaman, N. N. (2013). Literature and language skill. AL-USTATH, Baghdad university, 204(2), 123-134.

Otensoy, A. U. (2011). The effects of the social studies cource, organized for critical reading on students’ critical thinking skills. (Unpublished Phd thesis). Gazi University Institute of Educational Sciences, Ankara, Turkey.

Paesani, K. (2005). Literary texts and grammar instruction: Revisiting the inductive presentation. Foreign Language Annuas, 38(1), 15-24.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2006). The miniature guide to critical thinking concepts and tools. Dillon Beach CA: The Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Paul, R. W. (1992). Critical thinking: What, Why, and How? New Directions for Community Colleges, 1992(77), 3-24.

Rahimi, S. (2014). The use of literature in EFL classes. Journal of Academic and Applied Studies, 4(6), 1-12.

Rashtchi, M., & Aghajanzadeh, M. (2008). Comparative critical reading strategy and writing achievement of Iranian EFL learners. The Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(2), 117- 130.

Salvin, R. E. (2006). Educational psychology: Theory and practice. New York: Pearson.

Schmidt, S.J. (1982). Foundation for the empirical study of literature: The components of abasic theory (R. de Beaugrande, Trans.). Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag.

Shakibaei, G. & Keivan, S. (2014). The correlation analysis between speaking and listening, reading and writing, and reading and speaking mean band IELTS scores achieved by 2011 from the top 41 countries(academic). Iranian EFL Journal, 10 (1), 338-348.

Shokrpour, N., Sadeghi, A., & Seddigh, F. (2013). The effect of summary writing as a critical Reading strategy on reading comprehension of Iranian EFL learners. Journal of Studies In Education, 3(2), 127-138. doi: 10.5296/jse.v3i2.2644.2013.05.01

Shrestha, P. N. (2008). Using stories with young learners. In M. Krzanowski (Eds.), Current development in English for academic, specific and occupational purposes. UK: Grant Publishing.

Smith, M. C. (1990). A longitudinal investigation of reading attitude development from childhood adulthood. Journal of Educational Research, 83, 215-219.

Snow, C. E. (2002). Reading for understanding: Toward a research and development program in Reading comprehension. California: RAND.

Talebinejad, M. R., & Matou, Z. (2012). Teacher-student interaction in EFL reading comprehension contexts at university level: A critical thinking perspective. SAGE Open. Retrieved from http://sgo.sagepub.com.

Torres, C. A. (1999). Critical theory and political sociology of education: Arguments. Critical theory in educational discourse. New York: Routledge.

Towell, J. H. (2000). Motivating students through music and literature. The Reading Teacher, 53(4), 284-289.

Veeravagu, J., Muthusamy, C., Marimuthu, R., & Subrayan, A. (2010). Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to gauge students’ reading comprehension performance. Canadian Social Science,6(3), 205-212.

Waters, A. (2000). Thinking and language learning. ETL Journal, 60(4), 237-319.

Widdowson, H. G. (1975). Stylistics and the teaching of literature (Applied linguistics and language study ). Abingdon. Routledge.

Wigfield, A., & Guthrie, J. T. (1997). Relations of children’s motivation for reading to the amount and breadth of their reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(3), 420-432.

Wiland, S. M., (2009). How to develop literary competence in the English classroom. The Norwegian National Centre for Foreign Languages in Education (The Foreign Language Centre).Retrieved from www.fremmedspraksenteret.no/nor/fremmedspraksenteret/engelsk.

Witte, T., Janssen, T., & Rijlaarsdam, G. (2006). Literary competence and the literature curriculum. University of Groningen, The Netherlands and University of Amesterdam, Netherlands.

Woolfolk, H. A., & Murphy, P. K. (2001). Teaching educational psychology to the implicit mind. In R. Sternberg & B. Troff (Eds.), Understanding and teaching the mind. (pp.145-185). Mahwah, NJ.

Yamashita, J. (2013). Effects of extensive reading on reading attitudes in a foreign language. Reading in a Foreign Language, 25(2), 248-263.

Yudkin, B. (2006). Critical reading: Making sense of research papers in life sciences and medicine. London: Routledge.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.5n.7p.168


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.