The assignments and linguistic challenges are different at various levels of English instruction, but all English courses develop similar critical reading and writing skills. Learning how to brainstorm, research and write for a specific audience and purpose can enable students to exercise and appreciate their literary and language skills. From composition to literature courses, English classes provide the building blocks for successful communication in a student's school years and work life.
Practicing the Writing Process
Students may ultimately care about what grade they'll receive on an argumentative or literary essay, but learning the writing process can help them organize, plan and revise a final product they can be proud of. Learning brainstorming techniques, formulating a thesis statement and outline, and practicing strategies for revision should all be objectives of the writing process. Practicing peer review skills by critiquing a classmate's paper can be a practical tool for developing a student's revision abilities. Students can learn how to personalize their process by learning what revision and prewriting tools best fit their writing style and how to use these techniques in current and future English classes.
Understanding Rhetorical Situations
Understanding rhetoric gives students the tools of effective communication for writing and persuasion. It can help them analyze and create their own works and shape their written interactions with specific audiences. Students in English classes aim to analyze the rhetorical strategies of different texts and apply them to their own work as they create persuasive and argumentative essays of their own. They explore the use of elements such as style, tone and word choice and how different levels of formality and relationships between the reader and writer can affect the choices a writer makes.
Reading Like a Writer
Students in English courses should move past the building blocks of comprehending what an author is saying by practicing the skills of analytical reading. They'll practice examining the structure of a story or essay to determine how the structure affects the piece and analyze how the selection of specific words and descriptions influence a piece's meaning and determine its overall theme or argument. When making these conclusions, they should aim to incorporate specific textual evidence to back up their assertions. Ultimately, students should be able to incorporate what they've learned from reading assignments into their own work, modeling the techniques and styles of different writers.
Finding outside references through research should be an objective for students who are learning to incorporate sources into their essays and projects. Practicing responsible use of Internet sources, including critically evaluating their credibility and potential bias, helps students locate and integrate online research sources. Students should also be familiar with the difference between primary and secondary sources and be able to identify which are required for different types of assignments. Using their critical reading skills, students will practice summarizing and annotating their references, as well as paraphrasing and including direct quotations in their writing. Because plagiarism is a continued challenge in English classes, students should learn how proper citation of sources can prevent academic dishonesty.
- Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Department of English Goals and Objectives
- Common Core State Standards Initiative: Reading and Literature -- Grades 11 and 12
- Lehman College: English Department Learning Goals and Objectives
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: The Writing Process
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.