What Are the Most Important Skills in 12th Grade English?

Note-taking is an important skill for understanding and prioritizing information.
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Twelfth-grade English courses prepare students for the world that lies beyond high school. Through the evaluation and composition of literature, students further develop their comprehension and communication skills. Critical reading, analysis, essay writing and note-taking all serve to help students in college as well as in their professional jobs.

1 Literary Analysis

Through close reading techniques and textual analysis, 12th-grade students should possess the skills to be strong and independent readers. They will learn to identify and evaluate themes and literary devices as well as to garner multiple interpretations from a single text. In their English courses, students will read and analyze different literary genres: novels, short stories, poetry, plays, mythology, essays and biographies. Twelfth-graders should be able to understand the unique aspects of each of these genres. For example, in the case of poetry, students should be familiar with imagery, figurative language, tone, symbolism, metaphors and similes. Additionally, students should be able to articulate -- verbally and through writing -- the relationship of literature to the real world. For example, students can learn how to correlate themes in Shirley Jackson's story "The Lottery" to the real world by drawing connections to negative or harmful traditions practiced in the world today.

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2 Note-Taking

A critical skill for 12th-grade English students is proper note-taking. Students should be capable of annotating any text as well as identifying main ideas and pertinent information. Students' academic note-taking abilities should be strong enough to enrich their understanding of a piece of literature, prepare them for upcoming writing assignments and exams, and organize and prioritize the most crucial aspects of the course. Their ability to record, organize, summarize and evaluate information is a skill that will help them both in college and in the professional world.

3 Essay Writing

A senior-level high school English course should prepare students not only to compose strong high school essays, but also to successfully produce college-level writing. Students should be able to plan and outline a text before writing it. They should be capable of discerning between, and composing, expository, analytical and argumentative essays. They should also be able to peer edit one another's papers and incorporate feedback to improve their own work. Finally, a crucial writing skill for 12th-grade English students is conducting research for an essay, evaluating the researched material and properly incorporating and citing that research.

4 College Preparedness

One of the key skills a 12th grade English instructor should impart to students is college preparedness. Even before students leave for college, they must be able to successfully write essays for their college applications. While in an institution of higher learning, students should be able to utilize their English reading and writing skills to read and write across different academic fields including sociology, political science, English and history. A 12th grade English course should arm students with the skills to be confident, lifelong learners and communicators beyond the high school level.

Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.