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WHY WE NEED ENGLISH?
Language is our primary source of communication. It's the method through which we share our ideas and thoughts with others. Some people even say that language is what separates us from animals and makes us human. English is essential to the field of education. In many countries, children are taught and encouraged to learn English as a second language. Even in countries where it is not an official language, such as the Netherlands or Sweden, we will find many syllabi in science and engineering are written in English. Because it is the dominant language in the sciences, most of the research and studies you find in any given scientific field will be written in it as well. At the university level, students in many countries study almost all their subjects in English in order to make the material more accessible to international students.
The Importance of Literature
In today’s fact-obsessed culture, the importance of literature on teaching and the classroom is sometimes questioned. Why bother having kids read stories, spend their time with books about things and events that aren’t even real? Why not just teach them what they need to know and send them on their way? Literature instills life long learning in a student's life. They learn cultural values, they expand their horizons, they build vocabulary, they improve writing skills, and they build critical thinking strategies.
Everyone has a tendency to get so caught up in their own lives that they forget what’s going on in the world around them. And children and teens are particularly prone to this. It’s a goal of education to expose them to ideas from other cultures, to teach them about the histories and peoples of other times and places. Literature is an ideal way to do this. Huckleberry Finn, for example, puts students into the mind of a boy living in the south in the 1800s, letting them experience his life firsthand. Through this experience they learn what it was like to live in that time period, how the people talked and thought and acted.
Having a large and wide-ranging vocabulary is essential for a number of reasons. It helps with both writing and reading abilities, of course, but it also allows for more complex discourse. The larger your vocabulary is, the more in depth and thoughtful discussions you can have on important topics and issues, both in and outside of the classroom. When people speak they tend to use a fairly limited vocabulary, so the best way to become exposed to new words is to read.
Writing skills can be taught, to some extent. But the number one way to become a better writer is to read often. When you read you are being immersed in language, in the way it sounds and feels when put together in the right ways. Students who are encouraged to read have a more intimate knowledge of the ways in which language works, and so have an advantage when it comes time for them to write. This effect can even be made transparent by encouraging students to try writing in a particular book or author's style.
Educators often use literature to promote critical thinking, by teaching students how to analyze what they read, understand others’ opinions about the text, and formulate their own views. You can learn to think criticallyabout the events and characters in a novel, the themes it presents, the author’s purpose in writing it, and the ways it fits into a certain time period. You can also analyze its impact on society and the ways it compares and contrasts with other texts. Few activities give students’ critical abilities such a workout as the close reading of a work of literature.