English as second-language students' strategies when reading and writing about literary texts: Some ethical considerations

  • Khulekani Amegius Gazu University of Zululand
Keywords: Plot navigation, lexical impoverishment, global text landscape


This study aimed to establish a substantive theoretical explanation from the ground to account for the experiences of some English as a Second Language (ESL) students when they read and subsequently write about literary texts. The target group of this grounded theory study comprised 34 university students enrolled for a degree in education majoring in English language and literature studies. Data were collected using the following procedures: unstructured interviews, structured interviews, focus group interviews and elicited document material. The data were analysed using the constant comparison method so that emerging codes, categories and subsequent themes were constantly saturated by collecting new data from the field. The findings established that some ESL students rely heavily on internet summaries and analyses of set works to mitigate the length of a literary text and the complexity of the language used – a practice that has both positive and negative ramifications. The positive ramifications include the provision of an entry point to a literary text; promotion of active reading by guiding the reading process; facilitation of the reading of long texts, like novels; and charting the landscape of a text. Negatively, the practice promotes a passive reading process, and it may replace the literary text. Reliance on the internet exposes students to the academically unethical practices of plagiarism and patch writing. Conversely, these practices are manifestations of language development among ESL students which can be exploited by lecturers as platforms where students appraise internet analyses of literary texts to render students’ interpretive strategies ethical.

Author Biography

Khulekani Amegius Gazu, University of Zululand
Khulekani Gazu is a lecturer in the University of Zululand where he lectures English in the Department of Arts and Languages Education in the Faculty of Education. His research foci include English literature in education and second language learning. His fields of interest lie in empirical literary studies, language teaching and discourse analysis.