English as a Second Language (ESL) students’ experiences with literary texts at Tertiary Education Level
South African tertiary education institutions generally treat literary studies as the core syllabus of English studies. This marginalises some students for whom English is a second language. This study attempted to establish a substantive theoretical explanation for the experiences of English as a Second Language (ESL) students when they engage with literary texts. The participants were thirty-four final-year Education students majoring in English at a rural-based comprehensive university. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews, structured interviews, elicited documents and focus group interviews. Data were analysed through coding, memo writing, and the constant comparative method during open, axial and selective coding phases. Key findings suggest that lexical impoverishment and text length result in students losing plot navigation. Genres
yield differentiated experiences; for, example, in poetry students grapple with conflicting interpretations, plays are enjoyed for their brevity and dialogic nature. The portrayal of familiar cultural milieu facilitates the reading experience.
Keywords: Lexical impoverishment, Plot navigation, Authority of interpretation, Barren exposition, Rich exposition