Integrating the African-American Novel into University EFL Curricula: A Case for “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and “Beloved”

TitleIntegrating the African-American Novel into University EFL Curricula: A Case for “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and “Beloved”
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2014
Date Published2014
Conference NameFLTAL 2014
Publication Languageeng
AuthorsKovačević, E, Akbarov, A
PublisherIBU Publications
Place PublishedInternational Burch University

Bloom's taxonomy of learning domains and its characteristic array of action verbs which specifically define learning outcomes are a key reference European universities use to evaluate the overlap of what is aimed for, actually taught, and finally assessed. Although the taxonomy presents the framework for writing instructional objectives through three dimensions - the cognitive learning domain (knowing facts and processes), the affective learning domain (valuing attitudes and beliefs), and the psychomotor learning domain (manifesting physical skills) - academic program catalogues and course syllabi seem most concerned with the cognitive and psychomotor domains, leaving the design of the affective dimension to individual instructors. Thus, this essay explores the potential of an advanced EFL course for integrating all three dimensions. If authentic, meaningful, real communication facilitates the process of foreign language acquisition, the instructional forms in an advanced EFL course - such as class discussions, presentations, research papers and essays - will not be rendered banal language-to-go activities, but have real-life applicability and eventually affective education capacity. This essay presents a rationale that helps a language instructor recognize the African-American novel as a foreign language instructional medium that stimulates both language mastery and personal growth due to its uniquely intertwining of historical and fictional elements which creates endless opportunities for the meaningful use of the target language. The implications of Communicative Language Teaching, Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory, Jarvis's Experiential Learning Theory, Reader-Response Literary Criticism, and several articles written on the genre of the novel suggest ways for designing instructional activities that ask for critical- or self-reflection upon personally held views while simultaneously providing opportunities for increased language proficiency. This essay examines Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) and Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987) as examples demonstrating why and how the African-American novel could be used in such instructional design.