rows of bookshelves filled with books in a Parisian bookstore

Why Every U of T Student Should Take An English Class At Least Once

Here’s why I think every U of T student should take an English class at least once.

I know what you're thinking. I'm a business/psych/law major –– what use would it make to take an English course? Well, as an English major, I've gotten a lot of value from the courses that I've taken.

Here's a list of 3 things that being an English major and taking literatures courses has given me:

Taking English Classes Has Honed My Writing Skills

Writing skills are essential for nearly any career path. From writing emails to creating long written reports, it's crucial to learn how to write. Taking an English class is definitely a doable workload, which includes weekly reading and a few essays (all of which are graded and returned with tips and suggestions that have helped hone my skills as a written communicator).

Writing skills aren't just crucial for someone like me who aspires to work in journalism, or a field that focuses on writing. I've also made friends in my classes who study non-literature related topics, who've found English courses inspiring and helpful for honing writing and critical thinking skills.

It's Given Me A New Outlook On Life

rows of bookshelves filled to the brim with young adult novels

Speaking of critical thinking, English has helped me develop an extremely analytical way of looking at the world. When you have to dissect the minute details of a text and compare it to the bigger picture, you learn how to engage deeply with words.

While I used to read fiction for pure escapism and thrill, I've begun to thoroughly enjoy searching for literary elements like themes, symbols and metaphors which make the reading experience much richer. Instead of passively reading Much Ado About Nothing to kill time, I've begun to ask: What does Shakespeare really mean? What are the literary devices being used to tell this story?

It's amazing how English literature classes will get you to start re-evaluating your entire reading experience and encourage you to explore the written word in a deeper, more analytical and critical way.

I've Gotten To Expand My Reading List And Become Familiar With Classic And Modern Fiction

A book titled "THe Black Girl's Manifesto For Change - Taking Up Space"

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen? Check. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong? Check. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell? Check. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott. Fitzgerald? Check. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde? Check.

These are just a few of the required readings for the English classes I've taken throughout the years. Delving into classic and modern fiction has been exhilarating and has (at times) both stifled and reinvigorated my love for reading.

I will always be someone who prefers postmodernist and contemporary literature. That said, there are ample benefits of reading a wide range of works and expanding your knowledge of various literary masterpieces.

The key to critical thinking and skillful writing lies in English literature. I think it's really difficult to develop empathy without being able to place yourself in someone else's shoes. And, thankfully, literature helps us do just that.

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