Faculty of Arts
Department of English
and American Studies
Teaching English Language
and Literature for Secondary Schools
Cat in the Rain:
The suitability of an authentic literary work for the intermediate English classroom
Master’s Diploma Thesis
Supervisor: James Edward Thomas, M.A.
I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.
I would like to thank my supervisor, James Thomas, for his guidance and support during my research. Table of Contents
Chapter One: Texts in the classroom
Chapter Two: Authenticity of classroom texts
The benefits of studying authentic texts
Authenticity and content
Authenticity and ideology
Authenticity and motivation
Chapter Three: Literature in ELT
Challenges of literary text
Benefits of using literary texts
Chapter Four: Reading and deriving meaning from text
Chapter Five: Cat in the Rain – analysis and implications
31 Top-down perspective
Meaning and schemata
Text structure and organization
Density of information
Cat in the Rain is a very short story by Ernest Hemingway (an American author, journalist and the 1954 Nobel Prize winner in literature), which was first published in 1925 as a part of the short story collection In Our Time. Hemingway became famous within his own life time (1899–1961), particularly being known for his simple style of writing and careful structuring; thus like most of his novels, his short stories are very easy to read. Cat in the Rain is an apparently simple story about an American couple spending a holiday in Italy, however, as Taylor (1981) puts it, “behind the very realistic surface there is a wealth of symbolism and possible meanings for the readers to supply for themselves” (p. 62). In the pages that follow it will be argued that this simplicity of style generating multiple interpretations in the mind of the reader is what makes Cat in the Rain particularly suitable for the EFL classroom. The thesis focuses attention on the intermediate level of proficiency of English learners; it attempts to defend the view that Cat in the Rain is a text with lexical and structural difficulty that will challenge intermediate students without overwhelming them, and that it is an effective vehicle for the achievement of certain language and content goals at this level of proficiency. In order to support the hypothesis that Cat in the Rain is suitable for an intermediate student of English, the text is discussed from different points of view. The thesis touches upon linguistic, as well as methodological issues, and the overall approach applied is a whole-to-part orientation; it begins with the text as a meaningful whole and then tries to understand the various features that enable the text to function. Chapter One begins by laying out the theoretical background concerning texts and their role in the classroom. Chapter Two deals with the complex issue of authenticity of classroom texts. Chapter Three describes the benefits and challenges of literary tests in ELT. The aim of Chapter Four is to outline some of the processes that take place during reading, as well as the ways of getting meaning from texts. Chapter Five analyses the readability of Cat in the Rain – both from the bottom-up and top-down perspectives – and looks at possible ways of exploiting the text in the intermediate English classroom. Before any discussion can begin, it is necessary to clarify...
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