Charles Dickens’s "A Christmas Carol in Prose" as the basis of an instructional unit

Seminar Paper, 2005

11 Pages, Grade: 1,7



1. Literary didactics

2. A Christmas Carol – Why such a ‘hackneyed’ story?

3. Possibilities of using Dickens in the classroom

4. Elements of the instructional unit
4.1. Preparation
4.2. Introduction to the novel
4.3. The first of the three ghosts
4.4. The second of the three ghosts
4.5. The last of the ghosts and the end of the Carol
4.6. Adaptations of the text
4.7. Leading over to Christmas in general

5. A model syllabus

6. References

1. Literary didactics

In the context of foreign language teaching, literature can fulfil different essential purposes and therefore qualify as a means to be used in the classroom. Furthering empathy and experiencing different perspectives, it can foster the pupils’ understanding of foreign cultures (‘intercultural model’). Secondly, it can serve as a working basis for language activities such as writing a possible ending for a short story, letters exchanged between the story’s characters, monologues or dreams of a single character, or re-writing the text in a different literary genre, for example creating a scenario based on a narrative (‘language model’). Finally, literary texts broaden the mind, sharpen one’s power of judgement and favour an increase of sensitivity for own and other people’s emotions (‘self-knowledge model’). Positive experiences with literature may establish a life-long reading culture (cf. WESKAMP 2001; 188, 193).

While the traditional use of literature at schools usually relies on interpretation and the existence of a ‘correct’ way of interpreting the text, more recent theories like the aesthetics of reception focus on the dynamic interaction between the text and its readers, aiming at a type of aesthetic reading like stated by BREDELLA & DELANOY (1996: 18; quoted after WESKAMP 2001):

Aesthetic reading directs our attention to the interaction between text and reader and encourages us to explore how the text affects us. This implies that aesthetic reading includes a reflective element and is characterized by the dialectic between involvement and detachment.

The teacher’s role would then be less that of directing the learners’ work rather than being available to them as a source of information, to group, summarize and secure their findings. The learners’ possibilities to interact in the dialogue on the other hand divide into engaging (talking about personal emotions), describing (description of important parts of the text), conceiving (deducing qualities from the characters’ actions), explaining (finding the motivations for the characters’ actions), connecting (finding parallels to own experiences or other works of literature), interpreting (talking about the text’s intention), and judging (rating characters and story) (cf. WESKAMP 2001; 191seq.).

When concentrating on the text and the interaction between the text and its readers, several possibilities arise how to gain use of this type of literary didactics. Yet first there is to decide upon a text on which to work.

2. A Christmas Carol – Why such a ‘hackneyed’ story?

Charles Dickens’s novel of the miser Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by the three ghosts of Christmas and turning over to a new leaf is probably one of the best-known English novels; it is alluded to in many other pieces of literature, in films and even comics. This, banal as it may be, is already the first reason for choosing A Christmas Carol as a topic, since all the gags and allusions elsewhere would not be understood without some knowledge of Dickens’s novel. Reading experiences also play an important role when it comes to motivation: other classic novels by Dickens like Oliver Twist, Great Expectations or David Copperfield, or their film adaptations may serve as a motivation for reading A Christmas Carol, or vice versa. Finally, apart from conveying a moral message, Dickens’s story also portraits the Victorian age of Britain and its nuisances as vivid as only few other novels, which stays in mind far better than only hearing a report.


Excerpt out of 11 pages


Charles Dickens’s "A Christmas Carol in Prose" as the basis of an instructional unit
College  (Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik)
Literaturvermittlung im Englischunterricht
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
401 KB
contains a model syllabus
Charles, Dickens’s, Christmas, Carol, Literaturvermittlung, Englischunterricht, Weihnachten, Classic Literature
Quote paper
Volker Lorenz (Author), 2005, Charles Dickens’s "A Christmas Carol in Prose" as the basis of an instructional unit, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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