Why High School English Class Matters

Who cares about a play written five centuries ago? Why do you need to learn how to write a technical essay if you plan on starting your business after high school? Why waste time reviewing linguistic and literary concepts if you’re pursuing an engineering degree after grade 12?

These questions seem reasonable on paper. And it’s natural to question the relevancy of your studies, especially if you have clear ambitions that don’t seem to gel with your studies. But these questions overlook the fundamentally human and technically necessary impacts of a high school English education.

Why does your high school ENG4U English course matter? Let’s review the facts.

English Class Hones/ Essential Critical Thinking and Media Literacy Skills

In an age of so-called “fake news” (and actual fake news), media literacy and critical thinking have never been more important. Think of how often a modern person confronts biases, slanted information, cherry-picked talking points and conspiracies. Inoculating yourself against harmful thinking starts in the English classroom, where you learn to separate good arguments and presentations from fallacies and inaccuracies.

Literature Makes Us More Empathetic and Understanding

Research shows that actively reading and engaging with fiction can boost empathy and understanding. Fiction exposes you to varying viewpoints, cultural practices, ways of life and personal stories. By absorbing and accepting these diverse facets of the human experience, you gain a deeper respect for people. This will serve you well in your personal life and professional life when confronted with the complexities and considerations of living around others.

Good Writing Will Get You Far in Life – Professionally and Personally

English hones your writing skills. And while those five-paragraph structures and rigid grammatical rules might seem dated, they are still widely practiced in virtually every career. From tradespeople to entrepreneurs, doctors to dog walkers, everyone needs to know how to communicate effectively – whether in a sales pitch, a client-facing email or a patient form. English is the only high school course that will equip you with the tools to write well.

English Is a Mandatory Prerequisite for Most Post-Secondary Programs

Here’s a technical, practical consideration for why English courses matter: Because universities and colleges say they matter. Nearly all post-secondary programs require incoming prospects to have completed high school English (often with a minimum grade indicating language proficiency.

Even staunchly STEM programs need to see your English credits. And that’s because, as mentioned in the above section, every field of study and profession requires a baseline proficiency in communicating. English class is where you learn to convey your thoughts logically, strategically, carefully and thoughtfully; there’s no replacement for it.

To summarize, it’s natural for students to question whether they need high school English – especially those students who feel a stronger kinship to the sciences. Still, English class can make you a more empathetic, critical, communicative and competitive person in your personal, professional and academic lives.


Scroll to top