“What’s the point of this?”: How many times has this question been heard in high school English classes! While it’s true that reading a 500-year-old text (yes, we’re looking at you, Shakespeare!) can provide a window into the historical period, the author, and the language, it’s also true that good literature from any era allows you to explore new ideas and learn about yourself and the human condition. Texts of all sorts offer an opportunity for you to flex your critical thinking muscles—something critically important in the modern world. Virtual High School’s new ENG2D course aims to make the study of English meaningful and relevant through investigating, exploring, and building connections.

Unit 1 explores the world of poetry, but rather than ascribing meaning to poetry, you will begin the unit by developing your own definition of the genre. A broad range of poems will expose you to modern poetry building skills in analysis, reflection, and creative writing. The second half of the unit investigates spoken word poetry and studies the performance techniques of spoken word artists. By watching these experts, you will enhance your own presentation skills and complete the unit by writing and performing your own spoken word poem.

Veering away from the standard short story unit in the typical English course, ENG2D explores the world of humour in unit 2. Whether your taste in humour runs toward satire, physical comedy, or absurdism, this unit considers what makes something funny and investigates how humour is developed. The unit’s anthology contains a variety of humour texts—both fiction and non-fiction—with assignments that will have you both analysing the texts and developing creative responses. Finally, you will try your hand at tickling your reader’s funny bone by writing your own humorous text.

Here is a sample of a video from the ENG2D course. Read the full course description here.

Next, the relevance of English class is tackled head on in unit 3: The Relevance of Shakespeare. Why are William Shakespeare’s plays still performed, read, and studied centuries after they were written? Considering this question, the unit focuses on the vast variety of topics explored in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which, surprisingly, continue to be relevant to everyone’s experience in the twenty-first century. You will read and reflect on the play not only as a written text but also as a script: a text that is meant to be performed. Assignments in this unit are both creative and analytical, with the essay writing process being explored in a sequential way to ensure that you have the planning and writing skills you will need to move forward in your studies and in your broader life.

Finally, with the continued emphasis on the relevance of English, you will read the classic novella, Animal Farm. While George Orwell’s work is usually read as a text that presents a satirical and critical view of totalitarianism, ENG2D combines a discussion of the writer’s ideas with the study of media, exploring methods of persuasion, manipulation, and control. While a story about a group of farm animals that overthrow the farmer may seem irrelevant to the life of today’s typical Grade 10 student, when considered in light of social media, current political events, and even the social life of a high school student, you will quickly see the significance of Animal Farm.

The “point” of all English courses is to develop a student’s ability to think critically, to write clearly, to comprehend fully, and to speak effectively. ENG2D strives to do just that by encouraging you to engage with the course’s content and texts in ways that draw connections and derive meanings that apply to your own life and experience. In Hamlet, Shakespeare famously wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” and ENG2D encourages you to think about texts in new and refreshing ways, critically consider ideas, and gain skills that apply to other aspects of your life so that by the end of ENG2D the question “What’s the point of this?” will no longer be relevant.

You might also like:

Run4Kids is Back!