Promoting literary proficiency in mixed-ability classes
Maria Eisenmann, Saturday 9.30-10.00

We all know that we live in a pluralistic postmodern society of diverging personal and cultural values and consequently we also have a very colourful and a more and more heterogeneous student population. In a competence-oriented foreign language classroom students today have to deal with literature very early. They read and interpret the texts on more or less the same level even though their receptive skills can be very different. Learning generally and learning about literature is a very individual and also subjective process. The contexts of learning not only depend on political and ideological agendas, cultural environments and school ethos, but also on emotional, physical and social differences of the learners. There are students who learn best by working alone and those who are most successful working in pairs or groups. Further, the learning profiles of young adolescents often change rapidly as they develop. There simply is no single learning template for an average class. If students differ in readiness, interest, and learning profiles, and if a teacher attempts to address every single student and to foster continual growth, a one-size-fits-all model of instruction makes little sense. Rather, differentiated instruction in teaching literature seems a better solution for meeting the academic diversity. But how can we tackle this problem? How can teachers deal with mixed-intelligence, mixed-ability classes? How can teachers promote the relationship between motivation and individual differentiation among learner groups in teaching literature in the foreign language classroom? This contribution will focus on the challenge not only to accept heterogeneity but to find a positive approach and a productive exposure to dealing with literature in heterogeneous learner groups.

Maria Eisenmann has been a Substitute Professor in the Department of the English Language and Literature, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg since October 2008. She studied the subjects English and German at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne/England and at the University of Würzburg, where she completed her M.A. degree and state examination. After working as a teacher in school and as a lecturer at the University of Würzburg, she taught at the University of Education in Freiburg from 2006 to 2008. Her main research interests are in the field of literature, media literacy, intercultural learning including individual differences.