Why English courses are mandatory
By Lauren Paulsen, Senior Columnist
Have you ever wondered why they make students take English courses as part of their degree? If it’s your native tongue, then what’s the point, right? But have you ever actually thought about what the real reasons are?
To begin with, English is a complicated language. Where most languages may have irregularities, they usually have a main set of rules that can be followed. English is a combination of several other, older languages, so it just seems to be irregularities all over the place. That’s why they made you take English courses in high school, but why do we need to take them in post-secondary?
Let’s look at the course academic writing, also known as ENGL 1130. This is a useful course to learn how to properly write essays for the academic world. So, you can take this class and you will learn how to write well for your other classes, earning better marks on those essay assignments. But after you are finished school, you won’t need to write essays anymore, so this will be a skill you won’t need for real life, right? Wrong.
Academic writing does actually serve you in real life. When you are finished getting your degree, you will be looking for a career where you can put that degree to good use. Essays are a way that you can practice your ability to explain things. They allow you to better communicate your answers to questions. When faced with two nearly identical résumés, an employer will often choose the person who wrote a better cover letter.
So writing can be useful to you outside of post-secondary, but what use is analyzing literature? According to Brenna Gray, an English professor at Douglas College, the reason behind taking a literature class is because it will “…teach you to read attentively, to pay attention to details, and to think critically about the texts in front of you.”
In a literature course you may be analyzing literature and thinking about how the story is told, but learning to think in this way will help you outside of the classroom as well. Being able to think critically and pay attention to details allows you to have a better understanding of the world around you.
So there really is a reason that you are required to take an English course for your degree. These English courses help you develop critical skills for the outside world. The point isn’t to teach you how to speak English or to learn proper grammar—rather, it is to teach you skills to better express yourself, and to look at the world around you more closely. An English course may seem boring, or like a lot of work, but that work really does pay off in the long run, and will give you skills that you can use for the rest of your life.