Big Ideas in Literacy
What Is English Studies?
How familiar are most people with the idea of English studies? English studies refers to different categories of study within the discipline, such as written or printed text, oral language, and linguistic context, as they relate to a wide variety of purposes and audiences. Many universities in the United States and around the world call their English departments “English studies.” Illinois State University is one example. There, undergraduate majors in English studies are required to take courses in literary and cultural studies, rhetoric and composition, and linguistics. They are also encouraged to explore technical, professional, and creative writing and publishing practices and careers. Durham University—with the third-oldest Department of English Studies in England—requires its undergraduate English studies majors to take literature courses specializing in drama, poetry, and the novel; courses in the classical and biblical background of English literature; and courses in English language and history. Students are also required to take courses in critical approaches to studying literature. There are also a number of academic journals, such as the International Journal of English Studies, that explore English language and linguistics, applied English linguistics, literature in English, and the culture of the English-speaking countries.
This unit looks at several important topics that influence our understanding of how to teach reading and writing in English: motivation, text complexity, language study, standards, assessment, multiliteracies, explicit instruction and gradual release, the inquiry cycle, and student collaboration.
Reflect: Write for two minutes about what you feel are the issues fundamental to the teaching and learning of English studies.