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English/Language Arts

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 Reading  Writing  Literary Themes
 Reading Strategies
 Spelling  Literary Elements
 Literacy & Content Literacy
 Grammar  Literary Terms
English Language Learners
 Transitional Phrases
 Shakespearean Terms
Reading Methods
Reading Activities

"Language is not only a means of communication; it is a
primary instrument of thought, a defining feature of culture,
and an unmistakable mark of personal identity."
                                                                                 Standards for the English Language Arts

Thinking defines the essence of what it is to be human. All living things have the innate capability for simple receptive and expressive responses; however, humans have the capacity to turn sensual experience into thought. Thinking is a complex process that requires language in order to develop and refine understanding and ideas within the mind. It follows then that language is essential to human thinking.

The development of symbolic language  to complement thought advanced the human species (Driscoll, 2005; Greenspan & Shanker, 2004). We need to dialogue within our minds in order to understand what we perceive and how we will react to it. When a child is born, he or she is exposed to a variety of sensations and experiences. From these sensual experiences, he or she naturally listens and learns to speak (Shaywitz, 2003). Humanity went beyond this simple receptive and expressive stage though. People began to develop written symbols to share their thoughts with others. In tandem with reading and writing, people also developed visual representations for others to view. As a result of this development, people go beyond the fundamental listening and speaking component of human language. They can richly communicate the essence of who they are and what they strive to be through the separate or combined symbolic languages of listening, speaking, writing, reading, viewing, and visually representing their thoughts (Lease, 2002).

Therefore, the advancement of the human species is predicated upon the advancement of language through all generations. This is why the study of English language arts is integral to our human culture. Language allows people to understand themselves by introducing common experiences and new ideas. Language also allows people to socially bond in order to enrich and strengthen cognitive resources. Thus, language is a tool for the development of an individual to pursue a happy, productive life and provides the capacity to contribute to the advancement of civilization (Stengel, 2010).

Our understanding of the world around us as well as our inner selves is built by what we experience through our five senses. The noises we hear, the images we see, the textures we feel, the odors we smell, and the objects we taste attach to our memories, often with words accompanied by these sensations. Thus, we listen in order to connect spoken words to meaning. Then we use these words to take control of our thoughts to dialogue within ourselves for understanding and then communicate our thoughts outside of ourselves to other people. We then take this listening and speaking correspondence a step further when we use oral symbolic language and turn it into written symbolic language. The written symbols of our spoken language are then decoded (read) by others to convey our thoughts to them.

The listening and speaking correspondence can also be taken a tandem step further in a different or simultaneous path. We use visual representation to present information through stand alone images or in connection to spoken or written words.  We can then view these visual images to understand thoughts conveyed by others which may or may not be connected with spoken or written words. For instance, we use the facial expressions, gestures, and postures of our bodies to provide a visual representation of what we want to communicate to others who are viewing us. We can also develop or view a variety of media, possibly partnered with written or spoken words, to communicate our thoughts through such mediums as paintings, graphic representations, posters, computer interfaces, mobile device displays, PowerPoint presentations, and 3-D models.

Therefore, the power of language to feed and cultivate our thought processes and allow us to share our thoughts with others to maintain and advance the human condition is a compelling reason to either study or teach English language arts. Studying English language arts helps us develop the love of learning that allows us to continually pursue knowledge for the sake of deeper understanding of ourselves and others. Both individuals and our society benefit. Advancement of thought drives our individual expression, enrichment, culture, and democracy. Language acts as a tool to inform citizens and challenge individuals and groups of people to pursue their goals and interests. For example, character analysis in literature allows us to experience the mistakes and successes of others. It allows us to compare our own thought processes with how others in literature react and understand their experiences. As a result, we develop and strengthen our own thinking and how we  act and react to our human experience.

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (2010) combined to identify six language arts standards. These standards are in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and visually representing. With the advent of more and more sophisticated media and deeper understanding of communication, viewing and visual representing were added to the more traditional listening, speaking, reading, and writing language arts. The most important mission English language arts educators have is to introduce to students how the power of language can provide to them the capability to expand their inner understanding in order for them to contribute to the whole of humanity. This power of language is what allows us to expand on primitive thought and what makes us so powerful as a species.

Jeri Stickney Phillips       



Driscoll, M. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.

Gagne, R. M. (1985). Principles of instructional design.





Greenspan, S. I., & Shanker, S. G. (2004). The first idea: How symbols, language, and intelligence evolved from our primate ancestors to modern humans. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.



Lease, J. R. (2002). My philosophy of teaching the English language arts. Retrieved December 25, 2010, from


National Council of Teachers of English and International Reading Association. (2009) NCTE/IRA standards for the English language arts. International Reading Association. Retrieved December 25, 2010 from

Roe, B. D. & Ross, E. P. Integrating language arts through literature and thematic units. Allen and Bacon. Retrieved December 25, 2010 from







Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia. New York: Vintage Books.





Stengel, A. (2010). Northeast Independent School District Northeast ISD English language arts philosophy. Retrieved December 25, 2010, from


National Council of Teachers of English
And International Reading Association
Language Arts Strands




Understanding spoken language


Communicating ideas through oral language


Understanding written language


Communicating through written language


Understanding visual images and connecting them to accompanying spoken or written words

 Visually Representing

Presenting information through images, either alone or along with spoken or written words


National Council of Teachers of English
and International Reading Association
Language Arts Standards

  1. Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.
  7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
  10. Students whose first language is not English make use of their first language to develop competency in the English language arts and to develop understanding of content across the curriculum.
  11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

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