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AP English Language 

                          The Course      

The AP English Language and Composition course is designed to help students become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of periods, disciplines, and rhetorical contexts and to become skilled writers who can compose for a variety of purposes. By their writing and reading in this course, students should become aware of the interactions among a writer's purposes, audience expectations, and subjects, as well as the way generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effective writing.

The college composition course that the AP Language and Composition course is intended to parallel is one of the most varied in the curriculum. The college course often allows students to write in a variety of forms - narrative, exploratory, expository, argumentative - and on a variety of subjects from personal experiences to public policies, from imaginative literature to popular culture. But the main objective in most first-year writing courses is to enable students to write effectively and confidently in all their college courses and in their professional and personal lives. Therefore, most composition courses emphasize the expository, analytical, and argumentative writing that forms the basis of academic and professional communication, as well as the personal and reflective writing that fosters the ability to write in any context. As in the college course, the purpose of the AP Language and Composition course is to enable students to read complex texts with understanding and to write prose that is rich enough and complex enough for mature readers.

College writing programs recognize that skill in writing follows from students' awareness of their own composing processes: the way they explore ideas, reconsider strategies, and revise their work. This process is the essence of the first-year writing course, and should be emphasized in the AP Language and Composition course. For example, students can write essays that proceed through several stages or drafts, with revision aided by teacher and peers. Although these extended, revised essays cannot be part of the AP examination, the writing experience may help students' performance on the exam itself.

Organizing an AP English Language and Composition Course
An AP course in Language and Composition may be organized in a variety of ways. It might be organized thematically around a group of ideas or issues, using a variety of works and examining rhetorical strategies and stylistic choices. Another possibility is to organize a course around sequences of assignments devoted to writing in particular forms (argumentative, narrative, expository), or to group readings and writing assignments by form, theme, or voice, asking students to identify writers' strategies and then practice them. Still another alternative is to use genre as an organizing principle. The study of language itself -- differences between oral and written discourse, formal and informal language, historical changes in speech and writing -- is often a useful strategy.

Whatever form the course takes, students should write in informal as well as formal contexts to gain authority and to learn to take risks in writing. Imitation exercises, journal keeping, collaborative writing, and in-class responses are all good ways of helping students become increasingly aware of themselves as writers and of the techniques employed by other writers. Students should also read a wide variety of prose styles from many disciplines and historical periods to gain an understanding of the connections between interpretive skill in reading and writing.

Stylistic Development
The AP Language and Composition course assumes that students already understand and use standard English grammar. The intense concentration on language use in this course should enhance their ability to use grammatical conventions both appropriately and with sophistication as well as to develop stylistic maturity in their prose. Stylistic development is nurtured by emphasizing the following:
bulleta balance of generalization and specific illustrative detail;
bulleta wide-ranging vocabulary used appropriately and effectively;
bulleta variety of sentence structures, including appropriate use of subordination and coordination;
bulleta logical organization, enhanced by specific techniques to increase coherence, such as repetition, transitions, and emphasis; and
bulletan effective use of rhetoric, including controlling tone, establishing and maintaining voice, and achieving appropriate emphasis through diction and sentence structure.

When students read, they should become aware of how stylistic effects are achieved by writers' linguistic choices. Since imaginative literature often highlights such stylistic decisions, fiction and poetry clearly have a place in the AP Language and Composition course. The main purpose for including such literature is to help students understand rhetorical and linguistic choices, rather than to study literary conventions.


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