Have you ever thought of taking the advantage of the fascinating impact of reading literature as a means in teaching of a foreign language? Literature Circles (Reading Circles), at this very point, present us briefly the literary group discussions that help students develop language skills, especially that of comprehension skills.

Literature circles are the dynamic discussion groups which are formed to go into the reading materials by diverse responsibilities. Literature circles can be regarded as exponents of Vygotsky’s “zone of proximal development” and Rosenblatt’s “reader-response theory” with their views respect to collaborative learning. Literature circles provide student-centered classrooms. The ultimate purpose of the activity is to turn reading into fun for the students so that reading can become a part of their lives which can be reached only if the students enjoy what they are doing. The circles encourage extensive and intensive readings.

Literature Circle Roles:

In each discussion group there are five or six students. The students in the groups are given diverse roles and responsibilities with respect to a chosen text. The roles and accordingly the responsibilities are rotated in different discussion sessions so that each student can appreciate a reading material according to the requirements of their roles. These roles are: (1) Discussion Leader, (2) Summarizer, (3) Word master, (4) Cultural connector, (5) Passage person. The discussions are lead by the discussion leader on a predictable schedule. It is better if the students choose the reading material.

These roles require appreciating the same reading material according to the role’s responsibilities. For instance; the Passage Person finds the most important passages in the reading material and the reasons why these passages are important whereas the Cultural Connector’s responsibility is to find the connections between the world of the story and the real world. All the students in the groups are asked to contribute to the discussion activities by sharing their views according to their roles.

Anxiety-Free Classrooms:

It is difficult to keep students active in the classes after fifteen or twenty minutes of a traditional lesson. Most of the students lose their energies and become passive learners in the classes. Literature circles on the other hand keep them active in the lesson, which is of great importance. The students argue their views and the reasons why they think so. The students generate their own discussion points which help them develop speaking skills. The teacher has a facilitating role in these circles. That is; s/he checks the groups and leads the way if necessary. The students become the center of the discussions. All the views are welcome in these groups because there are no certain rights or wrongs in the activity. Therefore the students would have the opportunity to express themselves without the fear of anxiety.

Overall, Literature Circles provide a new way of teaching a language. The student-let discussions will have important roles in the students’ internalizing the knowledge. The students will directly be subjected to the comprehensible input. Literature circles will encourage students to participate and the students learn more when they discuss their views.  


Burns, B. Changing the classroom climate with literature circles. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. (1998)

Daniels, H. Literature circles: voice and choice in the student centered classroom. York, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers. (1994)

Ediger, Marlow. Literacy and Literature Circles. U.S. Department of Education. (2002)

Rosenblatt, L. M. Literature as exploration (5th Ed.). New York, NY: MLA of America. (1995)

Vygotsky, L. S. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (1978)

>> Click here for other writings.