AP English Language and Composition Goals

(from College Board Course Description):

Stylistic Development

is nurtured by emphasizing the following:
• a wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively;
• a variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination;
• logical organization, enhanced by specific techniques to increase coherence, such as repetition, transitions and emphasis;
• a balance of generalization and specific illustrative detail; and
• an effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, and achieving appropriate emphasis through diction and sentence structure.
When students read, they should become aware of how stylistic effects are achieved by writers’ linguistic choices. Since imaginative literature often highlights such stylistic decisions, fiction and poetry clearly can have a place in the AP English Language and Composition course. The main purpose of including such literature is to aid students in understanding rhetorical and linguistic choices, rather than to study literary conventions.

Upon completing the AP English Language and Composition course,

then, students should be able toanalyze and interpret samples of good writing identifying and explaining an author’s use of rhetorical strategies and techniques;
apply effective strategies and techniques in their own writing
create and sustain arguments based on readings, research and/or personal experience;
write for a variety of purposes
produce expository, analytical and argumentative compositions that introduce a complex central idea and develop it with appropriate evidence drawn from primary and/or secondary sources, cogent explanations and clear transitions;
demonstrate understanding and mastery of standard written English as well as stylistic maturity in their own writings;
demonstrate understanding of the conventions of citing primary and secondary sources;
move effectively through the stages of the writing process with careful attention to inquiry and research, drafting, revising, editing and review;
write thoughtfully about their own process of composition
revise a work to make it suitable for a different audience
analyze image as textand

evaluate and incorporate reference documents into researched papers

Florida State Standards: Language Arts

Florida State Standards: Language Arts, 9 -10
Florida State Standards: Language Arts, 11- 12

Middle Years Programme Group 1: Language A Criteria

International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme Handbook 2011-12
Group 1: Languages A
Language A is either a student’s mother tongue or one in which he/she has near-native proficiency. It is an academically rigorous study of both language and literature which aims to equip students with linguistic, analytical and communicative skills.

Main Objectives

The study of MYP Language A is to encourage and enable students to:

• use language as a vehicle for thought, creativity, reflection, learning, self-expression and social interaction

• develop critical, creative and personal approaches to studying and analyzing literary and non-literary works

• develop a lifelong interest in reading widely and apply language skills in a variety of real-life contexts


The major skills developed through Language A are centered around the three core assessment areas of content, organization and style, and language mechanics. Therefore, students are taught and practice the following:

Criterion A: Content (receptive and productive)

• understand and analyze the language, content, structure, meaning and significance of both familiar and previously unseen oral, written and visual texts

• analyze the effects of the author’s choices using Language A terminology

• compose pieces that apply appropriate literary and/or non-literary features to serve the context and intention

• compare and contrast works and connect themes across and within genres

Criterion B: Organization

• create work that employs organizational structures and language-specific conventions throughout a variety of text types

• organize ideas and arguments in a sustained, coherent and logical manner

• employ appropriate critical apparatus

Criterion C: Style and Language Mechanics

• use language to narrate, describe, analyze, explain, argue, persuade, inform, entertain and express feelings

• use language accurately with appropriate and varied register, vocabulary and idiom

• use correct grammar and syntax

• use appropriate and varied sentence structure

• use correct spelling (alphabetic languages) or writing (character languages)


In order to meet these MYP Language A objectives, teachers will concentrate on each of the macro-skills of Language A: listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and presenting. Students will also engage with texts from different times, places, cultures, geographical regions, historical periods and perspectives.

Oral Communication

Oral communication encompasses all aspects of listening and speaking: skills that are essential for language development. Debates, role plays, discussions, Socratic seminars, oral essays, lectures, speeches, interviews, simulations, poetry recitals, and dramatic as well as oral interpretations of literature are all examples of tasks students engage with to develop their oral communication skills both as speakers and listeners.

Written Communication

Written communication encompasses all aspects of reading and writing. The process of reading is interactive and involves the reader’s purpose for reading, the reader’s prior knowledge and experience, as well as the author’s techniques and effects. Writing allows us to develop, organize and communicate thoughts, ideas and information. Fiction and non-fiction in a variety of genres, for example, novels, short stories, biographies, autobiographies, diaries, letters, pastiches, parodies, cartoons, graphic novels, poetry, song lyrics, drama, screenplays, advertisements, blogs, emails, websites, appeals, brochures, leaflets, editorials, interviews, magazine articles, manifestos, reports, instructions and guidelines, are all examples of text types students engage with to develop their written communication skills both as readers and writers.

Visual Communication

Visual communication encompasses all aspects of viewing and presenting. Viewing and presenting means interpreting or constructing visuals and multimedia in a variety of situations and for a range of purposes and audiences. They allow students to understand the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs.

AP English Literature and Composition Goals and Objectives

From the AP English Literature and Composition Teacher's Guide, College Board, 2007:

Are there core subject-area practices and skills every student must master? The AP English Literature and Composition Exam assumes that, while there are core skills (attentive reading and analytical writing), here need be no core curriculum. Although the richness of writing in English, over time and across cultures, allows an infinite number of selections and combinations in the choice of works for your class, it is useful to refer to the past for approaches to literature that have been considered crucial. The following is a brief survey, using Shakespeare as an example, of how critical approaches evolve and shift over time.

  • For much of the nineteenth century, the teaching of literature, when it happened at all, occurred within the study of rhetoric. (Declamation of Shakespeare)

  • The “new nationalisms” in Europe and the Americas and advances in linguistic study led to a view of literature as the expression of peoples and cultures. (Shakespeare the national poet)

  • In a related development, historical and antiquarian in its impulse, scholarship focused on authors’ sources and influences. (Shakespeare the chronicler)

  • A sense of literature as a unique authorial expression was accompanied by a validation of critical “taste” and a Deweyan valuation of personal response. (Cult of the Bard)

  • The seemingly more objective “new” criticism was reinforced by demands for measurable educational results in the postwar period. (Ironic tensions in the sonnets)

  • In reaction to textual isolationism, texts were placed into greater literary or symbolic patterns. (Shakespeare the mythologizer)

  • This line was extended by “theory” with texts viewed in a (sometimes inverted) relationship to other linguistic, psychological, social, and historical systems. (Rereading Shakespeare)

  • A recent stage turns the lens onto literary study itself. (Why Shakespeare? Whose Shakespeare?)

Just as the language itself has acquired enormous tensile strength over time, literature teaching today is enriched by this over layering of questions and approaches. Close, attentive, and appreciative reading is at the base of all we do, expressed through discussion and debate, performance, and especially through critical writing. But “close” does not mean “myopic.” The reintroduction of rhetoric into the classroom prompts us to relate texts to their intended audiences, then and now, and to consider concretely how the text makes its mark. As a new audience, our reader reactions are both valid and open for investigation. We are invited to similarly speculate on the biographical, historical, and social elements that bring authors into being and give texts their distinctive shapes. The study of works from many cultures and countries raises questions about the place of literature in forming identity and community, and exposes students to the multiplicity of English usage. Students should be encouraged to place their readings into an active nexus of interrelationship. And last, we need to raise in the classroom the most important literary question of all: How is literature a part of our lives?

Course Description Essentials

Knowing a Few Works Well

The AP English Literature and Composition Course Description, available for download free of charge through AP Central, stipulates that students in a strong AP English Literature and Composition curriculum should read “works from several genres and periods—from the sixteenth century to the twentieth century—but, more importantly, they should get to know a few works well.” In the words of the Course Description, “reading in AP courses should be both wide and deep.”

About AP English Literature and Composition

The importance of getting to know a few works well cannot be overstated. Galloping through a novel a week, reading 10 plays in a quarter, or reading one poem by each of 25 poets serves students considerably less well than inviting them to immerse themselves in a few novels, plays, or poets, and then, with the critical insights and tools they have gained, turn to other works and authors. Getting the right balance can be tricky, however, especially for teachers just beginning to teach AP courses. [...] while different AP English Literature and Composition courses might have different emphases or themes, a yearlong AP English course should normally include poetry, prose, and drama and should range from the sixteenth century to the present.

The AP English Literature Development Committee

The committee comprises six members from throughout the nation: three representing high schools and three representing colleges or universities, a balance that is crucial to maintaining both the integrity of the course and its teachability. If you were a fly on the wall during one of the committee meetings, you would hear intense, intellectually rigorous discussions on pedagogy and on what should be the appropriate literary focus—in a time when we admire and value the works of the past even as we recognize the importance and pleasures of expanding the canon. Committee decisions and up-to-date information on course changes are posted on the AP English Literature course pages on AP Central.


The goal of the AP English Literature and Composition course is to encourage students to read, write, and discuss works critically and with energy and imagination. As they become familiar with the different literary approaches, students can develop and mold their own styles that reflect personal values and preferences. If students’ knowledge and love of literature grows, you can leave them thinking, feeling, and inspired to read more.

Key Concepts and Skills

By the end of the AP English Literature and Composition course, students should be able to approach a poem, a prose work, and a play and—proceeding beyond visceral and emotional reactions—respond to it analytically and critically, both orally and in writing. These well-developed responses will, at their best, use literary terms and key concepts to illuminate insights rather than simply to show students’ familiarity with them.

Form Follows Function

The Course Description does not enumerate a list of terms that students should know. Instead, it emphasizes that students should “read deliberately and thoroughly, taking time to understand a work’s complexity, to absorb its richness of meaning, and to analyze how that meaning is embodied in literary form.” In other words, students should understand that form follows function, that how authors write is inextricably linked to what they are writing about. Here is where students’ familiarity with literary terminology can open the texts and help them to describe, analyze, and interpret what they are confronting.

Style Analysis

As a starting point in their examination of any work of prose or poetry, students should be able to identify speaker, audience, situation, and setting. The following are questions with which you might begin a class discussion.
  • In whose voice are we hearing the words?
  • To whom is the speaker speaking?
  • Where (in time, place, social context, class) is the speaker as he or she is speaking?

As students identify or begin to identify those elements, they can begin to examine the style of the

piece. For example:

  • What is the level of diction?
  • Does the author depend upon particular details to achieve his or her effect?
  • On what allusions might the piece depend?
  • What kind of syntax does the author use?
  • Does the syntax vary? If so, what is the effect of that variety?
  • What is the effect of any repetition in the piece?
  • And, perhaps most difficult for students, what is the author’s attitude toward what he or she is writing about? In other words, what is the tone of the piece?

Recognizing Literary Terms

Of course students must learn, if they have not already in previous courses, the meanings of literary terms. If teachers use them naturally in discussion, so will students, and, instead of being a “museum of terms” that students might visit only on the occasion of a quiz, the literary vocabulary will function to expand students’ analytical ability. Once students learn, for example, the concepts of paradox or archetype, or once they understand that enjambment generally does not occur by accident but serves a purpose in poetry, their analyses inevitably deepen.
[...] Certainly students should become familiar with the uses of irony (dramatic, verbal, in situations), hyperbole, and understatement.
Recognizing allusions requires knowledge about mythology and the Bible as well as about history and culture.
How can students discuss poetry without an understanding of meter and scansion, imagery, and the various poetic forms?
Knowing what a foil is helps to illuminate discussions of fiction and drama, while being able to recognize stream of consciousness or a soliloquy raises interesting questions about how authors represent the interior lives of their characters.


Developing vocabulary is as important as learning literary terms. Although it may be difficult to find the time for formal vocabulary study, holding students accountable for the meanings of words in the works they are reading is crucial. In reading poetry, especially, students often find themselves struggling because they have neglected to look up the meanings of words that they don’t know. One technique that works well for poetry is to stipulate that students must look up any word they don’t know, then allow them to use their notes and definitions during a pop quiz. One or two unannounced assessments makes clear to students how important something as basic as knowing the meaning of words is to interpretation.

Knowing Narrative Voice

Students should certainly become familiar with point of view, which some contemporary critics expand to include the subject position of both writer and reader. The notion of subject position is an interesting one for students since, to their delight, they discover that they, like characters, have a subject position that stems from characteristics such as their gender, class, age, religion. When they think, then, about a narrative point of view, they begin to realize not only what might inform a “first person” point of view but that even an “objective” or “omniscient” narrator carries some sort of authorial baggage—and that, of course, inevitably leads to a discussion of the social and cultural contexts from which a work springs.

Although teachers of AP English Literature in the twenty-first century continue to demand that students read texts closely and carefully, they rarely prescribe students’ learning about an author’s or work’s background. Today, cultural criticism coexists with and complements the formalism of textual analysis that characterized literary studies in previous generations.

Critical Reading and Analytical Writing

Reading, understanding, interpreting, and writing should coexist in the AP English Literature and Composition course. The ability to construct mature arguments and analyses using a variety of sentences is at the heart of what students should be able to do when they finish the course. Such ability does not simply follow naturally after a rich discussion.