The English language can be seen as a lingua franca of contemporary times. Its spread and
use in the globalized world has affected most levels of society and it can be argued that, in
current times, English is synonymous with communication. This need for communication
has shaped the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) syllabus, which is evident in the
Swedish national steering documents for the educational system. For the upper secondary
school these documents show an emphasis on communication, on cultural understanding,
and also on the use of literature within the EFL classroom.
The need to possess communicative abilities and cultural understanding, in connection
with the use of literature, has sparked an interest to investigate if and how literature itself
can be used as a tool to develop and improve EFL students’ communicative skills and
This literature review thesis analyzes five international research articles from different
geographical parts of the Globe. The findings are categorized, compared, synthesized, and
finally discussed in order to answer the research questions asked, and also compared with
the English subject syllabus for the Swedish upper secondary school.
The findings indicate that the analyzed articles share a consensus, to a varied degree,
regarding the positive aspects of literature use in the EFL setting. The arguments are that
communicative skills and cultural understanding are intertwined - enabling each other to
exist, develop, and improve. One cannot exist fully without the other, and literature is a
good tool to use to develop and improve these abilities. Literature can help develop all
skills needed to acquire and produce both written and spoken English, and it also enables
cultural understanding and a broadening of the mind. Where the articles differ somewhat is
in the ideas of why literature is a good tool, how to implement literature in the classrooms,
and what some of the negative aspects might be.
The thesis also brings the lack of Swedish studies within EFL to the readers’ attention,
as well as the need to do more research focusing on the students’ perspectives towards
literature use in the EFL setting.
Literature, communicative abilities, communicative skills, cultural understanding, EFL.