The English curriculum is structured to encourage learning about language as a tool for expression and understanding. Our aim is to make our students independent thinkers. We provide an environment that promotes both analytical and creative-thinking skills. Throughout the curriculum, our approach is both challenging and encouraging. A strong emphasis on writing skills reinforces the students’ exploration of ideas and the ability to draw logical conclusions. Reading lists are diverse and provide a strong foundation of knowledge based on the classics in the English language and in world literature.

English 1: Introduction to Literature

Our standard freshman course places heavy emphasis on the mechanics of writing, with a concentration on developing a strong thesis. A distinction is made between summary and analysis so our students can write papers that are more thoughtful while honing their grammar skills and gaining better control of language. Literary genres are introduced — primarily verse, prose fiction, and drama. The reading list includes Homer’s The Odyssey, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

English Grammar and Composition

Freshmen who we feel need extra help in developing their writing skills take this additional English course, which concentrates on the basics of writing and grammar. Sentence construction, paragraph format, and essay writing are emphasized more thoroughly than in English I. Students in this course are given extra help in completing their English I assignments. This course will help students with weaker English skills succeed in all of their classes at Santa Catalina.

English 2: British Literature

English 2 provides a survey of some of the most important and engaging works in the tradition of English literature, including works of fiction, drama, autobiography, and poetry. The class introduces students to specific authors, their texts, and the historical and cultural contexts in which the texts were produced. The course seeks to develop skills in reading, performance, critical thinking, composition, and written and oral interpretation of literature. All sophomores participate in the annual Shakespeare Festival, in which they perform a substantial section of a Shakespeare play for the entire Upper School.

English 2 Honors

English 2 Honors provides a survey of some of the most important and engaging works in the tradition of English literature. Including works of fiction, drama, autobiography, and poetry, the class introduces students to specific authors and their texts, and also to the historical and cultural contexts in which these texts were produced. The course seeks to develop students' skills in reading, performance, critical thinking, composition, and written and oral interpretation of literature—as well as, via its "seminar" format, to provide leadership opportunities in these areas. Some attention is devoted, also, to building students' vocabularies and to the further development of written "voice" in creative, analytical, and expository writing.

English 3: American Literature

This survey course introduces students to the voices, values, themes, and styles of American literature. The format focuses on historic criticism and so demands that students deliberately create ongoing links between American history and literature, between historic events and literary content. Students read and think critically and make connections between a writer’s values, themes, and style and the era in which he or she lives or lived. Classic and contemporary American essays, novels, plays, and poems introduce students to a range of rhetorical styles. Texts are analyzed for their structure and style, including tone, voice, and emphasis.

AP English Literature and Composition

In this course, students read works of American literature such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence, and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Students are further trained in skills necessary for the AP exam: multiple-choice questions about given passages, style analysis of prose, and explication of poetry. AP students are trained to write essays and answer questions about passages they might be seeing for the first time.

English 4: World Literature

This senior-level course exposes students to classic works of literature from around the world. The curriculum varies as much in place of origin and time period as possible while concentrating on works of literary merit. Readings include Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters, and many shorter works.

English 4: Contemporary Literature and College Writing

The Contemporary Literature and College Writing course provides instruction in literary analysis and composition. Through exposure to a range of classic and contemporary thinkers—with a focus on writers from the Modern Age—students craft expository, analytical, narrative, and argumentative writing with an eye to becoming more discerning in their understanding of structure and organization, evidence, style (including tone, voice, and emphasis), and authorial intent, both in their own and others’ work. Emphasis remains on close reading and persuasive writing, especially the fostering of analysis and evidence-based argumentation, including thesis and proof, claims and counterclaims, the merits of opposing viewpoints, audience, synthesis of diverse sources, and style and rhetoric, with the intent of helping students become more deliberate in the choices they make in their own writing. The overall goals of the course are for students to become better readers, critical thinkers, and more capable, resourceful writers who craft original analysis and construct purposeful essays as they prepare for college-level reading and writing.

AP English Language and Composition

This course explores composition techniques students are expected to know in college. Students are given extensive training in writing a synthesis essay, in which they incorporate given sources into their work; a persuasive essay, in which they take a stand on a controversial issue; and a rhetorical analysis, in which they analyze the rhetorical techniques of a given passage. Students also practice answering multiple-choice questions about passages drawn from a number of fields and time periods.