What is English teaching?

Views of English

Harold Rosen:

the teacher of English, whose syllabus – it is often said – is quite simply life itself

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch:

Can you not give them also in their short years at school, something to sustain their souls in the long Valley of Humiliation?

Aspects of English

National Curriculum

Current National Curriculum KS3

"All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised."

Three areas: spoken language, reading and writing

10 Essentials must be covered
R: whole books: fiction and non-fiction
R: short stories, poems and plays, two Shakespeare plays, "seminal" world literature
R: at least two authors in depth each year
R: studying setting, plot and characterisation
RW: vocabulary
RW: audience, purpose, context
RW: grammatical terms
RW: poetic conventions and terminology
W: writing for pleasure and information
S: using spoken language

Pupils should:

"Pupils should be expected to read whole books"
"should be taught to write formal and academic essays as well as writing imaginatively"
"should be taught to write for a variety of purposes and audiences across a range of contexts"
"should be taught to control their speaking and writing consciously"
"should understand and use age-appropriate vocabulary, including linguistic and literary terminology"
"It is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching."

Attainment Targets


  1. Develop an appreciation and love of reading, and read increasingly challenging material independently.

    • read a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, including in particular whole books, short stories, poems and plays
    • both pre-1914 and contemporary
    • two Shakespeare plays
    • "seminal" world literature
  2. Understand increasingly challenging texts

    • learning new vocabulary
    • making inferences and refering to evidence in the texr
    • knowing purpose, audience and context
    • checking understanding
  3. Read critically:

    • knowing how language presents meaning
    • recognising poetic conventions
    • studying setting, plot and characterisation
    • performance of dramas and staging
    • critical comparisons across texts
    • studying a range of authors - at least two authors in depth each year


  1. write accurately, fluently, effectively and at length for pleasure and information
    • writing for wide range of purposes and audiences:
      • expository and narrative essays
      • stories, scripts, poetry and other imaginative writing
      • notes and polished scripts for talks and presentations
      • arguments and letters
    • summarising and organising material
    • applying knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and text structure
    • enhance impact of writing through drawing on knowledge of literary and rhetorical devices
  2. plan, draft, edit and proof-read

Grammar and Vocabulary

  • studying the effectiveness and impact of the grammatical features of the texts
  • drawing on new vocabulary and grammatical constructions and use them consciously for particular effects
  • know differences between spoken and written language
  • using standard English

Spoken English

  • use standard English in a range of formal and informal contexts, including classroom discussion
  • giving short speeches and presentations, expressing ideas and keeping to the point
  • participating in formal debates and structured discussions, summarising and/or building on what has been said
  • improvising, rehearsing and performing play scripts and poetry (role, intonation, tone, volume, mood, silence, stillness and action).

Role of Literature in English

Literature is the central humanising experience of the curriculum and critical discrimination a morally educative activity.


Also see