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What is English Language?

English educators are deeply interested in educational theory and research; however, as English educators, they are equally engaged with the discipline of English studies, particularly as it translates to K-16 settings. The subject of English consists of that area of the curriculum responsible for preparing students, at any age, in the effective production and reception of the range of possible textual representations of human experience—in short, to become sophisticated writers and readers, broadly conceived. The ultimate goal of all literacy learning and experience is to foster an understanding of self and others through engagements in the wider world mediated by language. English educators understand that to meet this goal, they must conceive of English studies as encompassing a wide range of intellectual content, a wide variety of communicative genres and literacy practices, pluralistic and inclusive approaches to literacy use and instruction, and diverse ideological perspectives. English educators value this intellectual diversity, and they strive to introduce pre- and in-service teachers to the complexity and richness of the field.

Associated Core Values:

  • English educators promote the understanding among pre- and in-service teachers that language is used for multiple purposes within multiple meaning-making and communicative contexts.
  • English educators model and strive to foster in K-16 students the mastery of personal, civic, and cultural literacies. Personal literacy includes engagement with reading, writing, and popular media that will bring students personal satisfaction, foster a sense of connection with themselves and those around them, and promote lifelong learning; civic literacyinvolves working with ideas and information that students will need to be mature, productive, and responsible citizens, and cultural literacy involves familiarity with stories, plays, poems, speeches, essays, and similar texts that will help students identify with their culture and empathetically understand the cultures of others.
  • English educators encourage pre- and in-service teachers to connect K-16 students’ personal and intellectual needs to specific literacy and language practices through the appropriate selection of instructional materials and assignments.
  • English educators promote and facilitate ways of teaching literacy that rely on the latest research in communication and language use. Committed to the fact that literacy involves active meaning making on the part of all participants, English educators encourage pre- and in-service teachers to foster language competence in a variety of genres, contexts and situations as they are continuously mediated by a plurality of social, cultural, and ideological factors.
  • English educators are committed to promoting and facilitating the effective teaching of reading, viewing, and authoring of various types and genres of texts by and about individuals of both genders and representing diverse groups in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, and class.
  • English educators strive to provide access for pre- and in-service teachers to the intellectual traditions and debates that inform English and education.
  • English educators resolve to teach pre- and in-service teachers how to recognize the creative and critical literacy achievement of students of all backgrounds and abilities and to foster within them a sense of agency and critical engagement with the world, while also being able to identify, diagnose and address K-16 students’ difficulties with literacy learning.
  • English educators recognize the value of communication technologies for pedagogical and research purposes, including emerging digital media and various other technologies that facilitate and enable the use of multiple forms and genres of literate communication. They assist pre- and in-service teachers in effectively integrating these technologies in their classrooms.
  • English educators recognize and seek to convey to pre- and in-service teachers that English studies is a contested subject that encompasses multiple fields of inquiry and ideological perspectives.
  • English as a subject encompasses culture and cultural literacy; therefore, English educators encourage the teaching of classic literary texts when appropriate, in addition to other valued literary genres, including young adult literature; creative nonfiction; contemporary popular fiction; web-based texts and media productions; film; written, spoken or scripted texts, and the variety of aural and visual media configurations constantly being invented.