English 4 & 5

In English 4 and 5 students write analytical, evaluative, and argumentative essays; they also study examples of good writing.  We have found that careful and thoughtful reading helps students learn to communicate their own ideas and experiences more effectively.  

The "better writing" our students aim for is characterized by:

  • a clear thesis that controls the entire essay
  • adequate development of ideas, whether through logical explanations and arguments or through specific details and examples
  • a clear organization that suits the topic and the audience
  • coherent paragraphs, appropriately connected and built from well-constructed sentences
  • sentences that employ the conventions of Standard Written English in grammar, spelling and punctuation, and use appropriate diction
  • evidence that the writer has tried to make his or her work both informative and interesting

Instructors often use a workshop method, in which students read their own essays (in draft form or in finished versions) to small groups within the class. This procedure teaches students to be critical of their own and other writers' work and encourages revision.

Class discussions of the readings focus on style and structure as well as on the writers' ideas and arguments.  Students may be asked to use these readings in various ways as bases for their own writing.  For example, they may relate a writer's ideas or experiences to their own ideas or experiences; they may analyze and evaluate the arguments in the reading and the arguments that were raised in class discussion; they may write similar essays.

In English 4 (Composition), students read examples of good writing and write and rewrite 4 to 5 essays, using analysis, evaluation, explanation and argument.  The course emphasizes learning to articulate and support a clear thesis, as well as to use writing as a tool for intellectual discovery and growth.  Students will write a minimum of 7500 words.

English 5 (Argument and Research) continues to develop the more complex critical thinking skills that students need to analyze texts and to elaborate arguments. In addition, the course gives students practice in exploring ideas through research and in supporting a thesis by consulting, synthesizing and properly citing sources.  Students write and rewrite two or more papers.  Both essays ask students to evaluate and synthesize evidence.  At least one essay will be a research essay of at least 2500 words that presents an extended argument and incorporates at least 3 peer-reviewed sources, as well as other appropriate research material.  Students will write a minimum of 6000 words.