Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Articles

AP English Language and Composition

The AP English Language and Composition course is designed to help students become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts and to become skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Both their writing and their reading should make students aware of the interactions among a writer's purposes, audience expectations, and subjects as well as the way generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing.

Goals
The goals of an AP English Language and Composition course are diverse because the college composition course is one of the most varied in the curriculum. The college course provides students with opportunities to write about a variety of subjects and to demonstrate an awareness of audience and purpose. But the overarching objective in most first-year writing courses is to enable students to write effectively and confidently in their college courses across the curriculum and in their professional and personal lives. Therefore, most composition courses emphasize the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication, as well as the personal and reflective writing that fosters the ability to write in any context. In addition, most composition courses teach students that the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing they must do in college is based on reading texts from various disciplines and periods as well as personal experience and observation. Composition courses, therefore, teach students to read primary and secondary sources carefully, to synthesize materials from these texts in their own compositions, and to cite sources using conventions recommended by professional organizations such as the Modern Language Association (MLA), the University of Chicago Press (The Chicago Manual of Style), and the American Psychological Association (APA).

As in the college course, the purpose of the AP English Language and Composition course is to enable students to read complex texts with understanding and to write prose of sufficient richness and complexity to communicate effectively with mature readers. An AP English Language and Composition course should help students move beyond such programmatic responses as the five-paragraph essay that provides an introduction with a thesis and three reasons, body paragraphs on each reason, and a conclusion that restates the thesis. Although such formulaic approaches may provide minimal organization, they often encourage unnecessary repetition and fail to engage the reader. Students should be encouraged to place their emphasis on content, purpose, and audience and to allow this focus to guide the organization of their writing.

College writing programs recognize that skill in writing proceeds from students' awareness of their own composing processes: the way they explore ideas, reconsider strategies, and revise their work. This experience of the process of composing is the essence of the first-year writing course, and the AP English Language and Composition course should emphasize this process, asking students to write essays that proceed through several stages or drafts, with revision aided by teacher and peers. Although these extended, revised essays cannot be part of the AP Exam, the experience of writing them will help make students more self-aware and flexible writers and thus may help their performance on the exam itself.

As well as engaging in varied writing tasks, students become acquainted with a wide variety of prose styles from many disciplines and historical periods, and gain understanding of the connections between writing and interpretive skill in reading. Concurrently, to reflect the increasing importance of graphics and visual images in texts published in print and electronic media, students are asked to analyze how such images both relate to written texts and serve as alternative forms of texts themselves.

In addition, the informed use of research materials and the ability to synthesize varied sources (to evaluate, use, and cite sources) are integral parts of this course. Students move past assignments that allow for the uncritical citation of sources and, instead, take up projects that call on them to evaluate the legitimacy and purpose of sources used.

One way to help students synthesize and evaluate their sources is the researched argument paper. Researched argument papers remind students that they must sort through disparate interpretations to analyze, reflect upon, and write about a topic. When students are asked to bring the experience and opinions of others into their essays in this way, they enter into conversations with other writers and thinkers. The results of such conversations are essays that use citations for substance rather than show, for dialogue rather than diatribe.