English Language and Composition

This is a college-level course to prepare students for the Advanced Placement Language and Composition exam by engaging in critical reading, writing, and discussion. The stated purpose of the course (from the College Board) is to "emphasize the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication." To accomplish this goal, students learn to read texts closely to determine the author's purpose and means of conveying his or her message.

In addition to various passages and articles, students engage in analysis of images to better understand the processes of communication, persuasion and argument. The goal is to develop skills in analyzing, explaining, and arguing through the analysis of texts from various time periods and genres and through writing formal and informal responses to them in a varietyof modes.

Students will also complete quizzes, timed essays, and practice tests to help prepare for the AP® exam throughout the course.It is highly recommended that teachers and students alike register with AP® Central to gain access to previously published tests as additional practice.

Course Planner

  • UNIT I: Introduction to Rhetoric - Students begin looking through the text and learning what it takes to closely read a text, examining the different parts of the rhetorical triangle, and looking at the rhetorical situation, as well as the occasion and context of a piece of writing and the way all these concepts affect a piece of writing. Students examine various modes of writing such as narrative and cause and effect, and appeals to ethos, logos, and pathos. Students also master a variety of rhetorical terms, such as repetition, chiasmus, antithesis, hyperbole, and irony.
  • UNIT II: Rhetorical Analysis - Rhetorical analysis is usually the first essay on the AP® English and Language Composition exam. Students have to read a passage quickly, annotate and understand it, and then write an essay that asks them to identify rhetorical strategies and what effect those strategies have on the message of the piece. Best practices for tackling the test are also examined.
  • UNIT III: The Descriptive Essay and Cry, the Beloved Country - Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton - This part of the course takes a detour into historical fiction. Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton's seminal novel about South Africa and apartheid, is a study in style, compassion, and voice. It is set in a time and place that adds weight to a students understanding of that county's problem and just how the policies of apartheid and the consequences of running and living in a police state affected not only South Africans themselves, but also the rest of the world. Students are guided through a detailed analysis of the text.
  • UNIT IV: Introduction to Argument - The second essay that AP® English Language and Composition students are asked to write is the argument essay. Students are usually given a prompt or a quote about an issue and asked to agree, disagree, qualify, or discuss. Here, students transition from persuading to deliberately arguing, focusing their work on argumentation through a variety of modes: satire, persuasion, audience, and argument refutations.
  • UNIT V: Satirical Writing and Argumentation - Through studying the role of the writer's voice to persuade, engage, and argue, students work to use language deliberately to create the effect that they want their readers to experience. It's important to understand the basic rules of argument and how to link evidence to reasoning, as well as to develop skills and strategies will support students in the composition of good argument essays.
  • UNIT VI: Rhetoric and Language - This unit turns back to rhetoric and explores the various rhetorical appeals that will help students to understand both the rhetorical essay as well as argument. Students will examine the effectiveness of humor, pay close attention to visual literacy, and develop more strategies to increase coherence in essays.
  • UNIT VII: The Synthesis Essay - The third essay that AP® English Language and Composition students are asked to write for the exam is a synthesis essay. This essay combines argument with sources. In this essay the students use a prompt, an assignment, and between seven and eight sources that the College Board provides to develop their own argument. The essay should include both direct and indirect quotes that are consistently documented. The citation does not have to follow MLA documentation standards and can simply be documented as (Source A), (Source D), etc.
  • UNIT VIII: Julius CaesarJulius Caesar by William Shakespeare - Students read Julius Caesar, examining the rhetoric of key soliloquies, as well as strategies for studying famous speeches and sermons. This helps students become more comfortable with dated language and also helps them to practice both rhetorical analysis and argumentation skills.
  • UNI IX: Letters, Speeches, and Paired Texts - Examining speeches and letters allows students to see just how the audience affects the way a writer frames his or her message and how the audience will control the type of language he or she will use. In the past, there have been compare/contrast essay prompts on the rhetorical analysis test, and so it is a good idea to look at some paired texts to help students prepare.
  • UNIT X: Exam Prep - Test preparation is critical in this Advanced Placement course. This unit begins with foundational information about how to prepare for the multiple choice test, which is followed by a short quiz to ensure that students have understood the information. The unit then moves into practice tests: three multiple choice tests, three rhetorical analysis prompts with exemplar essays, three argument prompts with exemplar essays, and three synthesis prompts with exemplar essays. The recommendation is that all of these tests should be timed.

Course Details
The focus of this course is to prepare students for the AP® Exam, and enable them to complete the kind of writing that the Exam requires. Thus, the central focus is the forty-minute timed test and strategies that will help students to be successful. Students will work on analysis by answering short answer questions. Their responses should be well developed, correctly spelled, and complete.

Students will also become accustomed to the basic structure of the College Board's 9 Point Rubric, as it will be used for scoring all essays in this course.

Due to the complex nature of this course, and the multi-faceted approach to the AP® Exam preparation, most lessons will likely take longer than one traditional class period. Plan for two to three traditional class periods, in order to allow students ample time to complete their work. Each lesson contains specific notes regarding work time, for teacher reference.

Essay Expectations
When you are asked to write an essay, a description of the topic/assignment and a length requirement will be included. Note that the minimum length requirement assumes FULL pages. For instance, a two to three page paper should fill at least two full pages. You should write using the MLA page set up guidelines, headings, and font suggestions (typically Times New Roman 12).

Most of the readings are taken from the text The Language of Compositionby Renee H. Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Dissin Aufses. Any other texts are included in the test for the convenience of the students and teachers.Below is a list of resources that are not included in this course and must be acquired separately.

ISBN: 978-0743262170  
Title: Cry, the Beloved Country
Author: Alan Paton

ISBN: 978-0-312-67650-6
Title: The Language of Composition
Author: Renee H. Shea et al.

State: National
Grade Level: 9, 10, 11, 12
Category: Advanced Placement
Course Length: Year