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Background of The Study

In 2000, literature becomes a part of the English syllabus when the Literature in English component was implemented in school. The Ministry of Education hopes that students personal development and self-enrichment will enhances through literature (Ministry of Education, 2000). In teaching and learning literature, there are a lot of things should be taken into consideration. For teachers to conduct the lesson efficiently and the lesson to be successful, knowing the students perspective is important. Students here are the secondary school students who are at the stage as young adult learners. It will help the teachers to use the appropriate approach or method of teaching so that the learners may appreciate the literary component better. Not only teachers need to know the students perspective, we also need to monitor their achievement.

Perspective means the ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance. For Literature in English Language syllabus, both learners and teachers have different perspectives. For students, the criteria that need to take into consideration are the learners level of proficiency, interest, motivation, environment, self-development and many more. More positive perspectives towards Literature may lead the students to better understanding and appreciation of the literary component, thus it may contribute to better achievement. This paper will discuss the literature component in English language syllabus in Malaysian school. It will focus on the students perception towards the literature component and achievement. Besides that, this study wants to investigate the relationship between students perception of English literature and achievement in English.


Problem Statement

Students in Malaysia who learn literature in secondary schools are between the ages of thirteen to eighteen years old. Students in Malaysia have varying levels of proficiency in English. Some students excel in English, while others face difficulty in their efforts to master the language. Even before the literature component was introduced, the lack of proficiency among students in Malaysia was already a worrying issue to the Ministry of Education (Abdullah Nawi & Andrew Lim). In this period of time, the students are going through the phase of becoming adult. In this phase, they are facing with many challenges such as moral, motivation, social, maturity and many more. Other than that, many students especially in the rural areas are facing difficulties in learning literature due to the language and cultural barrier (Hill, 1986). Due to their inability to comprehend the texts, they are not able to proceed to more cognitively challenging activities. They become passive listeners as they expect teachers to be the active provider of input during the learning process. Thus, it leads the students to have negative perceptions towards English literature component.

The different background of the author with the students raises the issues of understanding the culture between two. Understanding culture is made even more difficult as the values which shape and influence characters and their point of views are not explicitly portrayed in literary texts. Students encountered comprehension difficulties because of the differences in the cultural backgrounds (Jayakaran, 1993 p.18).


Research Objectives

The objectives of this research are to examine the students perspectives of English literature component in ESL classroom and their achievement. This study also interested to look further on the students perceptions literature component in terms of cultural diversity and language competent. This is to prove that through this research, students may improve their achievement when they have better or positive perspectives towards English literature component.

The specific objectives of this research are to: 1. examine the students level of perceptions towards literature component in terms of cultural diversity. 2. examine the students level of perceptions towards literature component in terms of language competent. 3. investigate the relationship between students perceptions of English literature and achievement in English.


Research Questions

The study is to answer the following research questions: 1. What is the students level of perceptions towards literature component in terms of cultural diversity? 2. What is the students level of perceptions towards literature component in terms of language competent?

3. What is the significant relationship between students perceptions of English literature and achievement in English?


Significance of The Study

There are a lot of benefits that can be found in this research. Even though some people might find it not important, but it will definitely give a great impact on students. This study is to help the students to be aware of what they should expect about the perceptions in learning literature in terms of cultural diversity and language competent. In the Malaysian context, the learning of literature in English has an important role especially in a multiracial class that has linguistic, cultural and social differences. Literary texts are chosen because it provides cultural, linguistic and educational values (Sage, 1987). It is hoped that apart from improving students mastery of the language, they will also be more culturally and socially adept. By understanding these factors, it would help to prepare the students in learning literature hence; it may contribute to better achievement in studies for the students. The aims of teaching literature are to develop students self-enrichment and enhance the level of English proficiency. Therefore, this study will investigate the relationship between students perception of English literature and also the students achievement in English with their perception.


Limitation of The Study

The limitation of this study is focusing on the urban area ESL classroom students which include all students level of proficiency; advanced, average and low. The range age for the students is the upper secondary school students; 16-17 years old. The students studies English subject; who is compulsory in all government schools and some of the students are taking Literature subject as an additional subject. In this research, all of the students are in the same school, taking the English subject in their studies and learn literature components which include the same topic or title, stories, poems, and others.


Definition of Terms

The following terms are defined in relation to their use in this study.

1. ESL students: refers to students in upper form of secondary school. These students learn English as a second language. They in the process of acquiring English and they have their own first languages; Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin or Tamil.

2. English Literature syllabus: Literature is a body of written or oral work to stimulate the imagination and confront the reader with unique vision of life. It is a creative, universal form of expression that addresses the emotional, spiritual, or intellectual concern of humanity. Literature can be experienced privately and it is often thought of as a written form of expression, but there are many strong oral traditions in both aboriginal and modern societies (Rabiah Yunus, 2004). In Malaysia, literature in the English language syllabus was finalized and implemented in the year 2000 beginning with Form One and Four.

3. Students Perceptions: Campbell (1967) defines perception is closely related about something that is being observed and what is said about it. It is a process where one will form an impression about someone or something. It is formed from close observation that will be stored as added information which in turn will be evaluated based on its suitability.

4. Cultural diversity: representation in one social system, of people with distinctly different group affiliations of cultural significance (Moon, 1997). It is essentially about differing values, beliefs, norms and traditions that exist among members of group (Schauber, 2001).

5. Language competence: Chomsky (1965) define linguistic theory is a primarily concerned with an ideal speaker-listener, in a completely homogenerous speech community, who knows its language perfectly and is unaffected by such grammatically irrelevant conditions as memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors (random or characteristics) in applying his knowledge of the language in actual performance.

6. Students Achievement: the average of students scores on standardized examinations according to their Summative Assessment Test.