Is English Class Really All That Important?

Many students across Canada often question themselves in their final years of high school when it comes down to English class. I know for a fact that my friends would be first to complain about completion of university prerequisites because depending on the program that you wish to get accepted into, schools can become very picky quickly. To put it simply for you all, a grade 12 English credit is not going to determine whether you are properly fit and ready for university. I strongly believe that it should not be a prerequisite for science and math based programs, although, those looking to go into something like Sociology/Anthropology/Psychology should definitely need to take English class into count during their final year of high school.


Western University campus grounds.

Lets look at an example… Western University in London Ontario is a school that has no secrets when it comes to its admissions every year. Here, in this PDF file we can see that every single program at this particular university is asking for the completion of an ENG4U credit in order to be accepted.  I really don’t see the point, especially for programs such as Engineering or Medical Sciences, where the least of your worries would be focused on grammar and punctuation per say.  If the student has passed his/her literacy testing in grade 11 of high school I don’t see why they would need to be hassled with another year of education of the English language.

This brings me to my next point; literacy testing.

Every ministry of education throughout the nation has their own rules and regulations related to literacy testing of their students. In Ontario, secondary school students complete this government assessment in grade 10 and it ultimately determines whether they can graduate or not. In my opinion, if you can show that you are fully capable of passing the literacy test that the government standardized, you are fully capable of conversing and writing in the language proving that there is no need to complete a grade 12 English course. I don’t see why students looking to get accepted into electrical engineering for example would need to go through another year of reading poetry and learning how to write in a creative manner when their future will consist of algorithms, equations and problem solving. It just doesn’t add up.


Ontario Literacy Test Booklet Cover

Maybe a common ground or a settlement to the whole situation could be the incorporation of multiple types of literacy testing. In order to bypass this mandatory English credit in grade 12, students would have to go through a more complicated process related to literacy assessment. Once they show that they can pass this elaborate test, then they are cleared to avoid English class in their final year of high school. On the flip side, students looking at social sciences, or music as a pathway in university do not have the option of bypassing a mandatory English grade 12 credit. Since their program is heavily influenced by writing and research reports they should need to have developed great literacy skills in high school. There is always a common ground available to every solution of any problem.

2011-06-15-Graph-Board_Province 5 Year Highlights OSSLT Fully Participating March 2011 (FTE) Results

Local community in Ontario literacy test results depicted in orange compared to the province’s overall results in blue.

The stats even depict that Ontario’s province in particular is consistently showing that over 80% of students are always successful in their literacy testing, meaning that the remaining are most likely those who are not possessing marks high enough to make it into university programs in the first place. This just supports my point even further in saying that there is absolutely no need for universities to be so strict in demanding that all applicants have a grade 12 English credit completed when it has already been proven that they are completely literate and fluent in the English language. The government has a very specific and standardized rubric and it is constantly revised through the years to make sure that students are being properly assessed with the evolution of the English language. When time comes and the students are in their university lectures it is completely up to them whether they will comprehend the language used by the professor and whether they will go that one further step, look up and research unknown terms. The have proved their basic knowledge with the literacy testing and therefore should be considered fit for further schooling.

It’s just a massive shame that students who have no interest whatsoever in domains that involve the creativity associated to the English language have to watch their marks suffer in high school and create added pressure when applying to the program they want in university. I have a close friend that unfortunately didn’t get accepted into medical sciences at his university of choice because his overall average was not high enough. This was directly accoladed to the fact that his grade 12 English mark was incredibly low. He never had an edge for that course and of course in his final year when it really mattered most, he was not able to get a good enough mark despite huge efforts. All of his other science and math courses were within the threshold but the gap was far too big due to English that he did not get accepted. I want to see the suffering end, everybody should have the choice of taking grade 12 English in high school and it should definitely not be mandatory for those looking into programs that don’t involve the creative ideas of literature.


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