Teaching language through literature: George Orwell’s ‘Shooting an Elephant’ in the EFL classroom

Molla Azizur Rahman


This article intends to show how an English language teaching material can be developed using a literary text. It is a qualitative study, and I have used the content analysis method. Here the first and the second paragraphs of the essay, “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell, are explored for bringing out potential linguistic features to be taught to undergraduate level students who learn English as a foreign language (hereafter, EFL). All the four basic skills of English language are emphasized in this teaching material. Different items like comprehension questions, guessing the meaning from the context, identification of phrases and identification of ironic expressions are set to develop and test students’ comprehension level. Items, like breaking up long sentences into smaller ones, changing sentences, rewriting sentences and writing paragraphs, are designed to develop the writing skill of the students. Similarly, items for developing listening and speaking skills of the learners are also retained in this material. It is shown that an essay can also be a potential source for developing language teaching material only if the selection is properly made. Further studies may test the effectiveness of the material for teaching both basic language skills and language areas.


literature and language teaching; EFL; essay; basic language skills

Full Text:



Ananda, R., Gani, S. A., & Sahardin, R. (2014). A study of error analysis from students’ sentences in writing. Studies in English Language and Education, 1(2), 81-95.

Clausson, N. (2011). Clarity, George Orwell, and the pedagogy of prose style; or, how not to teach “Shooting an Elephant”. Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, 11(2), 301-323.

Collie, J., & Slater, S. (1987). Literature in the language classroom: A research book of ideas and activities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crystal, D. (2003). A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics (5th ed.). Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishing.

Elo, S., & Kyngas, H. (2008). The qualitative content analysis process. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 62(1), 107-115.

Erkaya, O. R. (2005). Benefits of using short stories in the EFL contexts. Asian EFL Journal, 8, 38-49.

Farida, N. (2000). Use of literature in EFL classrooms. The Dhaka University Studies: Journal of the Faculty of Arts, 57(1), 47-61.

Finch, A. (2003). Using poems to teach English. English Language Teaching, 15(2), 29-45.

Gass, S. M. (2013). Second language acquisition: An introductory course (4th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Hadaway, N. L., Vardell, S. M., & Young, T. A. (2002). Poetry for language development of English language learners. The Dragon Lode, 20(2), 68-76.

Hanifa, R. (2018). Factors generating anxiety when learning EFL speaking skills. Studies in English Language and Education, 5(2), 230-239.

Hişmanoğlu, M. (2005). Teaching English through literature. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 1(1), 53-66.

Hoque, M. A. (2010). The influence of the local varieties on the sound patterns of English: A case study of Bangladeshi tertiary students. IIUC Studies, 7, 197-220.

Hornby, A. S. (2015). Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary of current English (9th ed.). New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.

Ihejirika, R. C. (2014). Literature and English language teaching and learning: A symbiotic relationship. English Language Teaching, 7(3), 85-90.

Kırkgöz, Y. (2008). Using poetry as a model for creative poetry writing. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 4(2), 94-106.

Lazar, G. (1993). Literature and language teaching: A guide for teachers and trainers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McIntosh, C. (Ed.). (2015). Cambridge advanced learner’s dictionary (4th ed.). New Delhi, India: Cambridge University Press.

Meyers, J. (2005). Somerset Maugham: A life. New York: Vintage.

Ompusunggu, R. M. (2018). The effectiveness of short story use on students’ speaking skill development at SMPN 160 Jakarta. Journal of English Teaching (JET), 4(3), 195-204.

Orwell, G. (2009). Shooting an elephant and other essays. New York, NY: Penguin Classics.

Panavelil, A. (2011). Teaching poetry in an EFL/ESL class: An integrative and communicative approach. ELT Voices - India, 1(3), 11-20.

Pardede, P. (2011). Using short stories to teach language skills. Journal of English Teaching (JET), 1(1), 14-27.

Pourkalhor, O., & Kohan, N. (2013). Teaching reading comprehension through short stories in advance classes. Asian Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 2(2), 52-60.

Rahman, M. A., & Sharif, K. H. (2018). Robert Frost’s “Home Burial”: A material for undergraduate level EFL class. The Journal of EFL Education and Research (JEFLER), 3(3), 1-9.

Ray, M. K. (Ed.). (2004). Studies in ELT, linguistics and applied linguistics. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors.

Roy, H. S., & Mahmud, R. (2014). Syllabus, curriculum and material design: An introduction. Sylhet: Chaitanya.

Sevy, J. (2016). Teaching a large multi-level class using different strategies and activities to motivate English language learning. Studies in English Language and Education, 3(2), 91-99.

Shahidullah, M. (2008). Writing effective paragraphs. Dhaka: Albatross Publications.

Ur, P. (2012). A course in English language teaching. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.

Wallwork, A. (2016). English for writing research papers (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Springer.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.24815/jts.v%25vi%25i.13055


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Print ISSN: 2355-2794, Online ISSN: 2461-0275

Creative Commons License

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