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What is English Education?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2016
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The definition of English education depends on the perspective of those defining it. Some of the things this term can mean include: English classes taught in American k-12 schools, or literacy and English classes taught in UK primary and secondary schools. It can also refer to linguistic, creative writing, or literature courses that lead to a degree at the college level, and English as a second language instruction, which is available in many countries.

In the United States, a basic K-12 education features yearly courses in English. In primary school, these include instruction on learning to read and write, and then they diverge, taking on more difficult subjects that include mechanics and grammar. By the time students are ready for seventh or eighth grade they’ve learned a variety of subjects in what is termed an English education, and have studied things like literature, reading comprehension, and creative writing. The upper grades continue to work on reading comprehension, mechanics, interpretation, and writing.

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There are similarities between the UK and United States in English education. Primary grade students in the UK often study what is called literacy, as opposed to English education. It should be noted that an education at a school in England is by definition an English education. When this term is specifically applied to learning to read and write in English, it is split into the primary literacy classes and the secondary English classes. Most secondary students in England will study English until they’re about 16.

In college in both countries, English typically means the study of literature and it may include the study of linguistics and creative writing. Technically, the study of English literature is the study of works produced by those who were resident to England or were born there. In American colleges some people work on an English degree and spend most of their time specifically studying American writers, but this is not referred to as an American literature degree.

English education can also describe learning how to speak English if one speaks a foreign language. In places where English is the predominant language, these may be English as a second language courses for students in traditional settings, at colleges, or in adult education settings. There are also some countries that mandate students learn English as a second language. In Japan, for example, secondary students must take two to three years of English classes to develop fluency in the language. Unless courses are specifically taught in English, study of Japanese literature or other topics would not be considered part of an English education.

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