English Department Philosophy
The English Department believes that literature has the power to enrich our students’ lives. We believe that when students experience a wide variety of literature in classrooms with teachers who communicate their passion for the craft of writing, and when students develop the life-long habit of reading for pleasure, that they come to better understand themselves and the world. We believe that when students are given the tools to read closely, think critically and respond authentically that they develop an appreciation for the beauty and power of language and imagination.
Consequently, we aim to encourage wide and discerning reading, precise and expressive writing, as well as sensitive listening, fluent speech and independent study.
Programme of Study
The purpose of Grade 6 English is to further develop and refine reading and writing skills learned in primary school. Through interaction with and construction of literature of all types, students learn to engage with and interpret what they read and write. Making the reading/writing connection is the primary focus in this course. Higher level thinking skills such as inferencing, drawing conclusions, and interpreting images/symbols are taught throughout the year.
In Grade 7 English, students learn the skills to communicate an informed appreciation for literature. The Six Traits of Writing are taught and practiced, with an emphasis on Voice. By the end of the year, every student’s written and oral work should effectively convey lively personal engagement with literature and awareness of the language, content, structure, meaning and significance of works studied.
Grade 8 English seeks to further develop students’ critical thinking, writing and reading skills. Teaching and learning activities are inquiry-based to help students become increasingly more independent as they experience, reflect on and analyze a range of literary and non-literary texts. The key concept in Grade 8 is that a literate person draws on a range of strategies to understand a “text” – be it a novel, poem, newspaper article, film or advertisement. Students learn strategies, such as close reading, shifting perspective and making connections through their participation in small group, individual and class investigation of a variety of media and genres.
Grades 9 & 10
Both grades study in detail a unit on each of the major literary genres: the novel, drama and poetry. Preparation for SAT tests is continuous through both grades as is practice in a variety of writing styles, including creative, persuasive and arguing a case. Individuals in both grades regularly give oral presentations to their fellow students. Often these will follow independent research.
For the academic year 2008-2009 Grade 9 will study To Kill a Mockingbird and the research project will be on the background of this novel. The drama is Romeo and Juliet which will also encompass work on other media such as film.
Grade 10 will study Lord of the Flies and the Greek classical play Antigone. The research project is on a language-based topic chosen by the individual student. Presentations have included the history of English, teen talk, loan words and TV catch-phrases in general English.
IB A2 Higher & Standard Levels
Over 2 years students follow either 4 options at HL or 3 options at SL.
At present the course consists of:
1. 2 Literature Options – 6 works are studied in detail, including novels, plays and collections of poetry.
2. A Language and Culture Option in which texts on language issues are studied. Topics include bilingualism, the history of English, language policy, language exclusivity and gender issues in English.
3. Global Issues. In this option, texts are studied on topics such as mass tourism, global warming, the food crisis and immigration.
IB A1 Higher & Standard Levels
The focus in the first year of the IB DP is on critical thinking. Fundamental skills, such as literary analysis, will be modeled and practiced through activities such as close reading and text annotation. As well, the course stresses the importance of creativity and personal response to the study of literature. The first semester is devoted to Part 1 of the IB syllabus (World Literature) and students will have solid, respectable drafts of their comparative World Literature paper (as well as Paper 2 if they are taking Higher Level) by the end of their Grade 11 year. In the second semester, students study four novels, culminating in the individual oral presentation.
In the second year of the IB Diploma, students taking English A1 intensify their study of literature. Literary analysis, with an emphasis on the commentary – both oral and written, and genre study are the foci this year.