Language Arts and Literature Philosophy
Fostering language development is a pedagogical absolute. As language is the foundation of all learning, language acquisition is not limited to one domain or area of instruction. Therefore, at the American School of Yaoundé, we believe that all teachers are language teachers. Through language our students develop cognitively, socially, and emotionally; academic success, critical thinking skills, and empathy are enhanced as students become more proficient and better able to express themselves and relate to others.
ASOY offers a rich and diverse program of literature and language study. Students learn to build critical thinking strategies by constructing meaning and interacting with all genres of fiction and nonfiction texts. The study of literature provides an opportunity for students to develop a basic understanding of other cultures, thereby promoting global awareness and citizenship. Language Arts classes engage students in a variety of expository and creative writing tasks, which connect literature to real life experiences and promote clarity of expression. By studying the conventions of written language, effective oral communication, and research techniques, students are better prepared for the next stage in life.
Language Arts and Literature Belief Statement
- We believe students learn subjects in English Language and Literature best when they
- Have meaningful opportunities to speak, read, write, and listen.
- Write regularly for varied audiences and purposes.
- Read in a variety of styles and genres.
- Apply critical and creative thinking skills – textually, personally, and globally – to what is read and written.
- Make connections between content matter, different disciplines, and personal experiences.
- Participate in a dynamic environment that nurtures confidence, respect, and cooperation.
- Develop criteria for, and produce, quality work.
- Take responsibility for their learning and feel a sense of ownership.
- Reflect and engage in the evaluation process.
Program Objectives and Goals
The goal of the Language Arts and Literature Diploma Program at the American School of Yaounde is to assist each student in the development of his or her ability in the following areas:
- Use language as a vehicle for thought, creativity, reflection, learning, self-expression, analysis and social interaction.
- Develop the skills involved in listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and presenting in a variety of contexts.
- Develop critical, creative, and personal approaches to studying and analyzing literary and non-literary texts.
- Engage with texts from different historical periods and a variety of cultures that will serve as a foundation for continued reading and learning.
- Analyze aspects of personal, host, and other cultures through literary and non-literary texts.
- Explore language through a variety of media and modes.
Language and Literature Course Descriptions
Grade 6: Transitions
This course teaches students how to write several types of texts, with a particular focus on: Expository, Narrative, and Informative as a precursor to Persuasive styles of writing. There is an emphasis on organization, tone, and of course, grammar. Students will be exposed to a variety of fiction, non-fiction and poetry throughout the school year. Students will learn techniques to improve their reading comprehension and strengthen critical thinking skills. English grammar will be taught both in context and isolation as the need requires. Write for a variety of purposes with a constant focus on clarity of expression. Organize sentences and paragraphs purposefully and fluently. Build vocabulary using contextual clues, study the use of analogies and idioms. Deliver oral presentations with poise and confidence. Practice giving and accepting constructive criticism through peer editing and self-evaluation. Connect themes from the readings to their personal experiences. Texts include Katherine Applegate’s Home of the Brave, selected texts from Rodman Philbrick like Freak the Mighty, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, and The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer.
Grade 7: Identity and Expression
This course exposes students to a variety of literary genres to include the short story, novel, and drama, in addition to poetry and non-literary texts. The four essential skills of language (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) are enhanced through detailed study of texts, creative and analytical writing, class discussions, presentations, research, and viewing activities. Students will develop critical thinking skills and literary analysis through detailed study of texts. Creativity will be fostered by encouraging students to write in a variety of genres, and an appreciation of literature will be instilled through free reading, book talks, presentations, and student recordings. Students will engage with texts from different historical periods and a variety of cultures. Students will explore language through a variety of media and modes, with the underlying objective of developing a lifelong interest in reading. Texts include Lois Lowry’s The Giver, John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, short stories by Ray Bradbury, and a survey of poetry. Thematic Units include Science Fact to Science Fiction, Crossing Boundaries (Human Migration), Poetry: The Language of the Soul, and Drama.
Grade 8: Facing Life’s Challenges
This course introduces students to more sophisticated readings and the use of literature as social commentary. Students will be expected to: analyze an author’s purpose; explain the use of archetypes, propaganda and satire; discuss the importance of figurative language, tone, and didactic elements; as well as evaluate non-literary texts. Student writing will be evaluated for use of analysis, organization, producing text and using language (grammar, syntax). Readings include: I am Malala (autobiography); classic horror stories by Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, and W.W. Jacobs; Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men; George Orwell’s Animal Farm; and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Emphasis will be placed on analysis of text, researching and presenting, as well as expository writing. Creative writing (skits, dialogues, character sketches, alternative endings) will be related to literary works studied in class. Thematic units include: The Hero’s Journey, Class Tales of Mystery and Suspense, Justice and Injustice, and Comedy.
Grade 9: Celebrating Diverse Cultures
The fourth year of MYP Language and Literature provides students with an overview of various genres, tourpose and audience of texts and how these affect a text’s structure and content. Specific themes to be addressed include poverty, immigration, and assimilation. While studying language and mass communication, students will look at bias in the media and persuasive methods in advertising. The longer texts read during the third and fourth domains of the course tentatively include Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, while the shorter texts include a variety of poems, short stories, essays, and political speeches. Assessments for the IB include three essays written in the classroom, of which students select one and submit it to the IB, oral assessments recorded and submitted to the IB, and IB examinations that involve essays written under timed exam conditions.
Grade 10: Global Perspectives
Essentially this is a World Literature course in which students are exposed to classic pieces of literature from international perspectives. This Pre-IB course is designed to introduce students to theories, skills, literary terms, and vocabulary needed to integrate successfully into the International Baccalaureate Diploma program. Students will study short stories, essays, fairytales, drama, the graphic novel, junior fiction, and classics of the 20th Century literary canon. Poetry and non-literary texts will supplement readings. Students will be challenged to write comparative literature essays, film reviews, character sketches, short stories, fictional letters and journal entries, as well as create representative works of art, photo essays, and presentations. Texts include: Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Satrapi’s Persepolis, Jiang’s Red Scarf Girl, etc