Enhancing linguistic competence through a formalist stylistics approach

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Polytechnic of Namibia, Departments of Language and Communication


The major purpose of this research was to find out the pedagogic relevance of formalist stylistics practices in teaching Ethiopian poetry in English in a tertiary context. Ethiopian poems chosen for this research were: Be’alu Girma’s “Crows” and Solomon Deresa’s “Shifting Gears”. The poems were taught with the objective of developing the linguistic competence of EFL students. The research was carried out on the basis of an experimental research design. A total of 190 students (63.3%) were selected from the population of 300 students in various programss of the Department of English and Other Languages at Adama University through a systematic random sampling procedure. These students were again randomly grouped into experimental groups (95) and control groups (95) randomly. The students in the experimental group studied the poems through five stylistics methods which included FS. Active learning methods were also integrated so that the students could vigorously dominate the learning and teaching process. However, the students in the comparison group studied the same poems with a traditional teaching method. Pre-prepared notes and lectures on themes, techniques and figures of speech were focused. The teacher (the researcher himself) often dominated the teaching and learning process. Each group was given five similar pre and five post-tests designed specifically for this research purpose. A summary of the total mean gain score showed an interesting result. It was found that the t-value of the formalist stylistics post-test was 12.992. On the other hand, the p-value of the test was .000 with 188 degree of freedom and at a significance level of 0.05. Because the p-value of .000 was less than 0.05 at two-tailed test for 188 degree of freedom, the null hypothesis was rejected. The students in the experimental group performed better and developed their linguistic competence due to the treatment compared to the students in the comparison group. Therefore, there is a significant link between the formalist stylistics teaching method and the improvement of the linguistic competence of EFL learners.


* Associate Professor/Deputy Director, Department of Communication, FHS, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Windhoek, Namibia


Formalist stylistics (FS), Linguistic competence (LC), Active learning method, ELT, EFL, Ethiopian poetry in English and communicative language teaching (CLT)


Woldemariam, H. Z. (2015). Enhancing linguistic competence through a formalist stylistics approach. Nawa Journal of Language and Communication. 9(2), 113-141.