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There’s no questioning that studying English literature or language helps you to build essential skills for your academic studies and beyond. In the English classroom you not only learn to read and write but to think critically about texts; to consider other contexts, perspectives and ideologies; and to consider themes and implied meaning behind texts and utterances. These skills can be transferred to many different domains of your personal and professional life.
The thing is, that’s a lot to juggle within the umbrella term of ‘English’, so it should hardly come as a surprise that many students seek additional support to help them develop these skills and master the fundamentals of English literature and language.
If you’re based in Glasgow, you can also make the most of the vibrant literary scene across the city.
Here’s what you need to know…
You could almost say that you study English from the moment you’re born! At a few months old most babies are beginning to recognise pace and intonation changes when they hear people talking, but it’s not until we attend nursery and then school that our formal English education starts to kick in.
In primary school English is roughly broken down into four areas of study, these are:
Although these remain areas of focus through primary school, each area evolves as we progress. A good grade in English Speaking in infant school might mean that a student is asking relevant question and contributing in class, whereas an older student would be graded on their ability to argue or reason coherently with others. Early readers will be learning to recognise word patterns, whereas older students are expected to read actively (that is, to analyse and criticise a piece of work).
As we move into secondary school, we break down our studies even further into literature and language. In literature classes students develop their critical thinking skills and their understanding of other contexts and perspectives. They learn about different societies, eras and political environments that effect how we read a text, as well as how to express their opinions and ideas about a text by building a coherent argument.
Language focuses on the science behind language as well as how we use it. Students will find themselves looking for implied meanings behind utterances and will learn to write for different purposes and audiences.
Studying English helps students to build a multitude of skills (critical thinking, verbal reasoning, essay stamina) that can be applied to all walks of life – academic, professional or social. As a result, students who do well in English can find themselves excelling in a variety of careers, from teaching English in the UK or abroad to editing and publish books, writing blog posts and articles, journalism, archiving and even law! When you study English the world becomes your oyster.
If you happen to be pursuing your literature and language studies in Glasgow, you’re in good company.
A former European Capital of Culture with a rich literary history, Glasgow has a reputation for a strong counterculture in its literature. Surrealist, dystopian depictions of the city in Alasdair Gray’s Lanark spring to mind, or Mcllvanney’s portrayals of Glasgow as the backdrop the Laidlaw series and the new genre of Tartan Noir. And who could forget James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late (1994), written entirely in the Glaswegian dialect – or Glasgow Patter as it’s known.
Glasgow is also known for its vibrant poetry and spoken word scene – the city even has its own poet laureate. Currently a role fulfilled by Jim Carruth, the prestigious post has been graced by widely renowned poets like Edwin Morgan and Liz Lochhead.
All this has paved the way for an incredibly active literary community in Glasgow, and there always seems to be something going on where you can meet like-minded literature and language enthusiasts. From local to internationally renowned authors speaking at events in the Aye Aye book festival or the Mitchel Library, to low-key monthly spoken word evenings at The Poetry Club and The Rio Café. And if you want to network with other creatives, writers and poets, you’ll find what you’re looking for at the Weegie Wednesdays monthly networking group or the St Mungo’s Mirror Ball network for poets and poetry lovers.
With so many literature buffs around it’s hardly surprising that Glasgow is home to an eclectic mix of bookshops too – from the general to the incredibly niche. Second-hand bookshops for finding bargains for your studies (like Voltaire and Rousseau on Otago Lane) complement Aye Aye Books’ contemporary selection, and Tell It Slant Poetry Bookshop has been known to pop up every now and again.
Glasgow has one of the largest student populations in the UK during term-time, so it follows that it has a wealth of excellent universities too.
Each institution has its own specialism. If you aspire to study English literature or linguistics, comparative literature, Scottish literature, or even creative writing and theatre studies, we can’t think of a better place than the University of Glasgow’s School of Critical Studies. The department was established over 150 years ago, becoming and internationally recognised centre for the subject. Nowadays it iss home to a vibrant community of teachers, researchers and students, as well as a wealth of learning resources – from medieval manuscripts to a creative writing centre.
If it’s a career in journalism or professional writing that interests you, the Glasgow Caledonian University offers courses and resources that would help you develop the skills you need – from producing creative, honest and high-quality writing, to using media to create magazines and newspapers and learning core journalistic values.
In these Glaswegian universities you can also study joint honours, adding another string to your bow by studying another subject alongside your English literature or journalism course.
All this talk of university certainly whets the appetite for getting stuck into your English studies, but it’s important to have an excellent understanding of the fundamentals of the subject to truly get the most out of a course. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can seek support in Glasgow to help you study!
Thanks to Glasgow’s lively contemporary and alternative literature culture, there are plenty of accessible groups where you can develop and gain confidence in creative writing in the city.
These clubs come in all forms. The Glasgow Women’s Library – an organisation celebrating the lives and achievements of women – runs a creative writing support group where writers can meet, share their work and hone their skills in an informal, encouraging atmosphere. Venues such as Tron Theatre Creative offer more structured workshops where you can gain a fresh insight to inject into your writing style, and many universities offer creative writing classes on-campus and online where you can learn techniques and skills to help you develop as a writer.
When it comes to critical thinking and analysis there are a whole host of book clubs in Glasgow where you can meet other readers and develop your ability to analyse and discuss texts. Ranging from the Glasgow Women’s Library book club to the GURGLL (Glasgow University’s Reading Group for Lengthy Literature) who read one hefty text per year – there really is something for everyone!
For the most effective and personalised support in their English studies, many students turn to private tutors.
The benefits of learning on a one-to-one basis with a private tutor are multifold and - unlike in community events and group lessons - you can choose the frequency, pace and subject of your lesson to suit your needs. Not everyone learns in the same way, so private tutored sessions are ideal if you want to ensure that you learn as effectively as possibly in a way that works for you.
Plus, without a whole class or group to keep an eye, on your tutor can focus all their attention on your learning, identifying your strengths and weaknesses and considering your aspirations to tailor each class to you.
There are multiple avenues that you can explore to find an English tutor in Glasgow: contacting college and university teachers, looking in newspapers, on gumtree, on community notice boards. In fact, with such a vibrant literary scene and an abundance of tutors, you should have no trouble finding someone! However, with so many options it can be difficult to decide which tutor is best for you.
That’s where Superprof comes in. Superprof pages and profiles were designed to make it easier for you to identify what each tutor offers and whether they’re right for you.
Each profiles has the same format and each tutor displays the same details, so you can easily compare locations, prices, lesson formats, specialisms, experience, reviews and recommendations for a whole range of tutors. All you need to do is decide what your priorities are.
Many Superprof tutors offer a first lesson for free – a taster lesson if you will – so that you can try out their lessons before committing.