If you're not a lover of novels or a writing aficionado, English classes might not seem like a particularly fun way to spend your time. Even if you have no plans to write a novel or read literature, though, the skills you learn in English classes will serve you in virtually every career, as well as in your everyday life. Consequently, most schools require students to take introductory-level English classes regardless of their major.
Basic reading comprehension is critical for everything from understanding advertisements to reading emails from friends and colleagues. Improving your comprehension skills can also make reading more fun and less frustrating. As your reading comprehension increases, so will your vocabulary, and a strong vocabulary can help you clearly express yourself. It may also make you a more attractive job candidate and give you the skills you need to persuade people to your opinions.
Strong writing skills can give you a competitive advantage in almost every area of life. From writing an email to a job recruiter to drafting clear memos for your boss, written expression is a key element of everyday life. In most English classes, you'll learn how to express yourself succinctly and clearly. You'll also master the basics of proper sentence and paragraph structure and learn how to spot common writing errors.
In some English classes, students must write research or critical-thinking papers about books or literary concepts. And in English classes that focus on rhetoric and writing, you may have to develop logical arguments and research to back them up. The ability to use the Internet to get information, to look things up in books and at the library, and to synthesize research into clear ideas can serve you well in most careers. It also helps you develop the skills necessary to research information relevant to your life. You might, for example, find yourself researching the best remedies for a cold, and the research skills you learn in English can help you do so.
The novels students read in English classes provide important information about the history and evolution of a culture. You may read about people with completely different lives from your own. This fosters cultural awareness and can help you develop an interest in disciplines such as history and sociology. It can also help you develop empathy and an appreciation for different lifestyles, two skills that can improve your communication, make it easier to understand other people and boost your social skills.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.