Original Research

Multiple voices: Learners reflect on literature

Jessamy Kromhout, Eileen Scheckle
Reading & Writing | Vol 12, No 1 | a304 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v12i1.304 | © 2021 Jessamy Kromhout, Eileen M. Scheckle | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 December 2020 | Published: 26 August 2021

About the author(s)

Jessamy Kromhout, Collegiate Girls’ High School, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Eileen Scheckle, Faculty of Education, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


Background: Much of the research in literacy focuses on what learners fail to do, especially in the early grades, but it is equally important to research successful readers. In particular learners’ experiences with literature contribute to our understanding of the possibilities literary texts offer. This article focused on learners’ responses to Advanced Programme (AP) English, which was an optional subject offered at an ex-Model C school, to understand how the learners had taken up these literary texts.

Objectives: This study explored how matric learners spoke about the literature they had studied, in their AP English, in an informal group meeting.

Methods: A qualitative case study was used to explore learners’ responses to literature. A final focus group meeting at the end of their matric year provides the data for this article. The transcriptions were coded using repeated patterns for themes to explore the stances taken in relation to the literature whether efferent or aesthetic.

Results: The data showed how learners had incorporated fragments from the literature into their own utterances so that their language use echoed the literature. In addition to an efferent exam focus, the literature and AP English practices were used in both Art and Home Language English examinations.

Conclusions: Learners need opportunities to talk about the multiple voices of literature in their lives. This kind of talk offers a different perspective on how literature can enrich, disrupt and extend learners’ thinking about literature and themselves. This research offers a counterpoint to examination results and contributes to building a nation of readers.


Advanced Programme English; literature; Bakhtin; dialogue; efferent and aesthetic responses; The Waste Land; multiple voices


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