As a private tutor and mentor to young people, I am always looking for ingenious ways to truly connect with students to make teaching and learning as enjoyable as possible. My passion for the humanities and English literature/language has always driven me to seek different ways of true appreciation. Below I’ve listed three of my favourite ways to experience English Literature and Language in action, each different vice stimulates at least one of your five key senses which activates different parts of your brain to allow a more holistic understanding of the text.
Watch: This is perhaps one of the most enjoyable ways to gain a deeper understanding of a piece of literature. Cinematic performances have developed greatly over the years due to the advancement of special effects as well as quality of actors, this allows the audience to understand elements of texts better. Of course I would always ensure that one had read the book before watching the film, as length affects the overall content of the film meaning that not all that is in the book will be able to logistically fit into the film. However there are numerous film adaptations of books that really bring to life some of the most brilliant books we have grown up with and study. The Harry Potter series and The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo are great examples, as well as other more classical adaptations like Wuthering Heights, To Kill A Mockingbird and Gone With the Wind.
Watching literature in action is certainly not limited to the cinema, for different kinds of literature warrant a different kind of viewing experience. Plays for example are best viewed in theatre, like Shakespearian works are most fittingly experienced at the Globe Theatre to help students appreciate how the audience received the play centuries ago. Plays also have the additional advantage of being almost exact replica’s of the text they are reconstructing, allowing those viewing to simply see words come to life through dialogue and costume. The same goes for musicals!
Listen: I often have trouble sleeping and find that listening to something soothing helps me drift off. Being the bookworm that I am, naturally I choose to listen to my favourite books read out by some calming voices like that of David Attenborough or Steven Fry. These can be easily accessed through a quick Google search and can often be downloaded as a podcast. Such accessibility allows you to listen to your favourite books on the tube, in the bath, driving or just whenever suits! This may not be helpful to everyone, as I always say that one size certainly doesn’t fit all – though it can be useful to hear literature in a different voice as it allows you to analyse the language used in greater depth. It can also be used as a supplement when following the audio by having the text in front of you to annotate, almost in a lecture-like fashion!
Feel: This is a slightly more expensive means of experiencing literature and language, but if you find yourself looking for a holiday or a short break, it is a useful option to visit the location where authors grew up or wrote a certain text. This exposes you to the various influences the writer may have experienced and thus reacted to in their writing. I find this is especially valuable in poetry, as poems can often be vague and almost appear as though they are lacking substance to the naked eye. It is only through careful in-depth analysis that one can truly interpret different poems to conclude their meaning and value. Therefore it is a great opportunity to be able to feel the environment and conditions the writer had worked in to properly be in their shoes. My best friends and I took a winter break to the Lake District where we visited Wordsworth Museum and the cottage the poet produced some of his most famous poems in. It was hugely insightful and seemed crystal clear as to why he included many scenic quotes in his poetry considering the exquisitely serene location he wrote in. This not only brings language to life but also transports you to the authors pen and table, whilst enjoying a short break or day out!
Of course nothing will exceed the importance of properly reading a book, however these mechanisms certainly enhance the understanding of texts and can help everyone appreciate the multifaceted themes within every great masterpiece in literature!
This blog was first published in The Huffington Post on 06/02/17 by Farida Ahmed. If you’d like to book Farida please contact us.