During high school, the focus is generally on intensive courses, such as science and math, while most students typically overlook English coursework.
However, for those who wish to pursue a career in English and choose an English concentration, high school is where you can build a strong base.
Throughout high school, students are expected to fulfill specific requirements for their English classes. While some are meant to prepare them for college majors, others are intended to hone their creative writing and communication skills.
How to know if you should be an English major before college? Read on further to see what you should keep in mind during your high school English journey.
Freshman year is when students take a variety of introductory courses for all relevant subjects. As for English, they will likely take a Language Arts class, which is broad-based in nature.
The aim is to introduce students to essential reading and writing skills that will come in handy for future studies in English. This course will take students through a variety of essays and explore different genres. They will be looking at tones, characters, plots, and other vital facets of literature.
Freshmen English is offered as a survey course to introduce students to the required reading and writing standards to prepare them for the best English programs in the US
Furthermore, newcomers are introduced to the concept of researching topics using different sources and then citing these sources to support their arguments.
They are expected to familiarize themselves with grammar rules – such as parallel structure – and use them when writing. They are also introduced to different genres of essay writing, including argumentative, informational, and explanatory essays.
Students get to learn academic vocabulary that is a notch above what they used during primary school. They are encouraged to speak and listen in class-based discussions, such as debates and presentations, to bolster their speaking skills.
The literature chosen for freshmen English incorporates multiple genres, such as poetry, prose, essays, and novels. Students are expected to analyze the literature and identify any literary elements that the author has used throughout the piece.
Through literature analysis, students are introduced to the practice of close reading, which will aid them in other subjects and research work throughout high school, as well as the best colleges, English majors, and postgraduate degree programs.
Sophomore Language Arts is an advanced class where you're expected to build on the skills you learned the previous year. The coursework involves a more detailed study of writing techniques, where students delve into outlining and structuring their pieces.
Students will also get better at analyzing texts which will expand to include new literary genres and analyzing themes, imagery, and symbolism within the text.
Sophomore English classes build upon the foundation outlined in freshman year, specifically for the major principles of writing in different genres of literature.
Students hone their formal writing skills as they are introduced to the rigors of the writing process, such as preparing drafts, revising, editing, and publishing; typical practices in careers with English majors
Also, students must present their works orally to polish their speaking skills and learn more about research techniques to write better.
Furthermore, the literature is generally based on specific themes, such as conflict, nature, or coming of age stories.
In some high schools, the literature chosen for the sophomore English class might be associated with another subject, such as science or history, drawing upon literature from the global context related to what students are studying in other courses.
The idea is to improve analytical skills — via the course, students learn to conduct an in-depth analysis of a given text. Then they create an association between the provided information and the actual context. In turn, they become better readers as well writers.
Lastly, sophomore English students are made to expand their vocabularies in line with advanced coursework.
American high schools dedicate a year of English coursework towards American literature; usually, junior year. Additionally, the coursework draws upon previous study material from freshman and sophomore years.
When it comes to writing, you will be expected to research and incorporate sources outside your curriculum and use various contexts to explore the provided literature, such as the period, the social norms of that time, the cultural and historical context, etc.
The junior year of English studies is centered around American history and civics. Naturally, the literature chosen for English study is also relevant and intertwined with the junior year social studies coursework.
Additionally, students can be expected to complete a research paper, either for their English course or a related course, drawing upon the rules of writing and research they learned in prior classes. These research endeavors broaden the range of career opportunities with an English degree.
Students will continue to focus on written expressions for different genres and purposes, such as preparing for their college essays, while also following rigorous standards in grammar and syntax.
In the junior year, students delve deeper into speaking and listening to conversations while analyzing different rhetorical styles and devices used in colloquial, everyday English. In addition, they continue analyzing multiple literary texts in various genres to evaluate the style and purpose of the author.
Senior year English marks the end of high school English study and ties together the entire learning experience for English students before they move on to college.
This year is generally quite flexible compared to the previous years of English as students can pick a genre they prefer, such as British literature, or take it as a multi-genre survey course. Some schools also allow students to take up a senior project to showcase their skills.
By the last year of high school English, students are expected to adequately analyze different styles of literature, regardless of genres, to prepare them for a wide range of job opportunities with an English degree.
Senior year students should be able to write formally and informally as well as speak individually and as part of a group. They should be able to communicate effectively on any topic as part of their college career.
Once you've studied American literature, you will move onto world literature, which features English literature from Anglophone countries worldwide. It is usually introduced to students in their senior year of high school.
The coursework transcends works of fiction to include more pieces of nonfiction and poetry, which are more complex in nature.
As writers, students will be expected to analyze the content and familiarize themselves with various literary devices. They may also be expected to write research papers that involve more complexities and engage in different projects to help them develop problem-solving and multi-tasking skills.
Honors And AP Classes
Most high schools tend to offer Honors and Advanced Placement options for the English courses we mentioned above. These advanced courses go into depth about the literary choices authors make and how it reflects through their writing.
Honors classes are generally offered in freshman and sophomore years, while AP classes are offered during junior and senior years. The AP courses for English that are typically offered include AP English Language and Composition and AP English Literature and Composition.
Students have the liberty to choose an Advanced Placement English Language and Composition course in place of a general English course in junior year.
The AP Language course requires students to read diverse texts and identify the literary and rhetorical devices and styles while piecing together information from multiple texts to frame their arguments.
AP Literature and Composition might be offered to students as an elective in the senior year. The coursework expects students to analyze the core elements of any literature, including its themes, style, and structure, along with other details, such as the use of symbolism, imagery, and figurative language.
Students can opt for various elective English classes in high school, focused on particular genres like fiction or classical literature or geared towards a specific writer's works, such as William Shakespeare. Most high schools tend to offer at least one or two English electives.
In addition, many schools offer separate creative writing classes, which amalgamate reading and writing and go into more depth than general English classes.
Reading and writing skills are essential for building a solid foundation in English. The former can help you develop comprehension skills and gain an understanding of varied subjects.
While the latter, i.e., writing, can help improve your communication skills, express yourself better, and understand writers' perspectives better.
When it comes to writing, you have the space to explore many elective options. Seek out English electives that cater to your interests, whether it be world literature or creative writing.
English classes are more than just reading clubs where students interpret old, dusty novels. These classes train students how to communicate effectively and efficiently and express themselves adequately on any topic.
High school English courses are categorized into reading and writing-intensive classes, along with other electives in related fields, such as public speaking, creative writing, and journalism, which help students sharpen their communication skills
Writing is a core facet of any language studies program in high school. These courses, which are stylized as composition courses, teach students how to organize their thoughts coherently and express through the written word.
Writing courses can range from remedial classes and foundational courses to advanced placement courses. Students are taught to build their vocabularies, work on their grammar and syntax, and present engaging, concise, and convincing arguments through their writing.
Many composition courses mix their writing coursework with literature analysis to provide students a more contextual and varied learning experience that takes different genres and literary techniques into account.
Literature study comprises the second edifice of any language arts course at high school. Students must read particular works of literature approved by the curriculum and analyze them for elements like themes, tones, narrative structure, and character growth.
Analyzing literature entails honing critical reading skills and encourages students to find context and nuance within the works related to the time period they're set in the part of the world they're set in and the piece's genre.
They are also expected to back their interpretations with evidence from the text, such as contrasting the cultural nuances and tropes between classic novels and contemporary literature/
Along with Basic English courses, high schools also offer electives in creative writing. High school electives for creative writing distribute their curriculum between studying fiction and nonfiction, with some generous doses of other genres, like poetry and even scriptwriting for plays.
However, the focus of these courses isn't solely on writing. Creative writing classes also focus heavily on reading to teach a working understanding of each genre and literary style to help students recreate them.
Some creative writing courses might also feature professional journalism works for students who wish to veer off in that direction of writing.
Public speaking is a particular skill that is often overlooked in language classes. Reading and writing take all the attention, and no attention is given to speaking. However, public speaking elective courses do just that for students who wish to polish their spoken English.
These speech classes are similar to writing courses which teach students how to develop and frame arguments for specific occasions and argue their case effectively till the end.
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