Here at Berlin Cosmopolitan School, we believe that studying English can open doors to new worlds. The English curriculum aims to develop and strengthen our students´ critical thinking skills and strives to cultivate their imagination.
In Grades 7-10, pupils study a range of literature including fiction such as Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, poetry, plays including Shakespeare, and a range of non-fiction texts. Discussion and drama play an integral part of lessons when studying fiction texts, and students can often be found dramatizing a particular scene from a play, or engaging in role play activities in order to really identify with a character’s feelings and motivations. There is also a focus on media literacy where students are required to analyse short films and look at the power of advertising.
Writing skills are also taught throughout the middle school years with a focus on English grammar and writing for different purposes and audiences. Students are taught how to compose argumentative and persuasive papers, engaging and interesting stories and analytical essays. As many of our students are non-native English speakers, there is also a focus on informal weekly vocabulary and spelling tests. In addition, the English department offers extra-curricular activities, for example a play writing competition where students can write and film their own plays in English. We also have plans to run a book club!
In Grades 11 and 12, students have the opportunity to study both language and literature in greater depth. Critical analysis of poetry, drama and fiction is complemented by the study of how language shapes meaning in our day-to-day lives. Why is some language shocking to certain audiences but not to others? How does the language of advertising perpetuate or break down stereotypes? Drawing on a very broad range of text types – from blog posts to broadsheets – students become familiar with stylistic conventions and how they may be subverted. They learn to detect media bias, analyse political rhetoric, and deconstruct visual texts.
Depending on their course of study, students may also explore the various schools of literary criticism, or the possibilities that arise from experimenting with narrative techniques. As well as providing many opportunities for playful and creative thinking, the courses place great emphasis on the development of academic writing skills, which will stand students in good stead for their future studies.