Language is a gift from God that sets humans apart from the rest of the creation. The language arts (i.e. reading/literature, writing, and listening/speaking/viewing) are not only the entrée to all other school subjects, but also the vehicles for developing close and ongoing relationships with others and God (Tindell, 2001-02). Therefore, developing proficiency in the language arts is one of the most critical processes in the life of the Christian school. Its importance cannot be overstated. It is our responsibility as Christian educators to teach our students to read with comprehension and discernment, to listen with understanding and compassion, to speak with conviction and effect, and to write with clarity and persuasion (O’Malley 1999).
This course reinforces skills from previous grades, and begins some new skills. In Literature, students learn Greek and Latin root words to help them understand what they read and how to connect what they read to the world around them more explicitly. Writing assignments focus more on students’ ability to explain themselves clearly and persuade others convincingly, and students take more charge over the writing process themselves. In research, students learn advanced search techniques to find information, use critical thinking skills to judge which sources are appropriate, and apply summarizing skills to truly understand what they have read. Speaking and listening skills become more complex, requiring them to take notes from oral instruction and use presentation software in their speeches. When viewing media, students learn to evaluate what they see from a Biblical worldview.
In this course, students continue to reinforce skills from previous grades, and add several new skills. They read, analyze, summarize, and evaluate non-fiction texts extensively, allowing them to learn more independently in other subject areas. Students’ expository writing skills become well-honed writing the five-paragraph essay. They continue to learn how to research effectively, especially how to use primary sources. Their group skills become more adult-like, for example, learning how to engage in discussions without interrupting.
This courses focuses on students’ skill to be convincing writers of persuasive essays. Their research skills now allow them to formulate a thesis statement, research independently and ethically, and produce a quality product that demonstrates their learning. They become effective listeners, polished presenters, and mature members of group discussions. They learn how to think critically and Biblically about the message and techniques of media.
The course allows a close reading of genres of Western literature. These readings serve as models of good writing and as subjects for students’ own writing exercises. Students review grammar and enhance vocabulary as they read and write. They learn how to craft a strong thesis, write an essay to support it, and, in the process, study sentence and paragraph structure. Students practice revising and editing quality paragraphs in consultation with their teacher. They learn to use the resources available in the library and apply these skills as they write a short research paper. Oral activities include literature discussion and a speech to inform.