AP English Language
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
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.
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: