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When we talk about studying English, we could be talking about anything from discourse analysis to learning to contribute in class discussions; from decoding Chaucer to acting out scenes from Shakespeare; from looking at the use of metaphors in poetry from different cultures to writing poems ourselves!
Leeds is a city with a reputation for arts and culture, which makes it an excellent base if you’re wishing to develop your skills and understanding of English language and literature.
English studies encompasses an incredible range of disciplines. Of course, studying English involves developing your speaking, reading and writing skills, but it’s also about so much more than that! By studying English you’ll develop the critical thinking skills that allow you to understand and analyse texts and speech in all areas of life. You’ll explore new perspectives and experience different cultures, societies and contexts from the comfort of the classroom (or armchair). You’ll gain an understanding of how language developed, how and why we communicate with one another, and then you’ll explain what you have learned coherently to others through presentations and essays! In brief, the term ‘English studies’ covers a broad range of areas of study.
Succeeding in English studies is also incredibly beneficial to your wider education. Throughout our education we’re required to write essays, and often these become longer as we advance! English studies encourages you to structure your thoughts and arguments coherently and develop stamina for writing longer essays and eventually dissertations.
Thanks to all these translatable skills, graduates in English (or a related subject like creative writing, journalism, linguistics or discourse analysis) have a wealth of career opportunities to choose from upon graduating. A summer internship at the Yorkshire Evening Post may lead to a career in journalism, involvement in the university poetry club might turn you into a spoken word artist, and a creative writing graduate may well end up as the next internationally renowned author or poet laureate (like the University of Leeds’ Simon Armitage). But that’s not all, English graduates can be found working in publishing (whether as editors or proof-readers), in one of Leeds’ many digital marketing agencies, teaching, research, or even law!
With so many rewards in store for those studying English, it should come as no surprise that many students seek additional tuition to support their learning in English Language and Literature at school.
Developments in technology are affecting the way we interact with language and literature from pre-school age all the way through to adulthood, which makes studying English literature and language more important than ever! It also makes it more difficult…
Consider how many toddlers have access to iPads compared to a decade ago. Rather than looking a books and learning to recognise basic words, many young children are watching videos and playing games on tablets and smartphones even before they enter into education.
As we grow older our connection with technology only becomes stronger, as we are increasingly communicating using short messages, images and emojis on our phones rather than sending page-long letters as our grandparents did. When it comes to reading material, social media encourages us to read short-form texts rather than long articles and stories that explore a theme or perspective. As a result, we there is less scope for us to think critically and deeply about what we have read. The English classroom provides us with a space to develop these skills.
Don’t throw out your laptop just yet - technology is not all doom and gloom. Not only are there plenty of apps and websites designed for developing and sharing your love of language and literature (such as Goodreads), but we can also access tuition online on our phones and laptops; for example, online courses or online tutors via websites like Superprof.
And finally, new developments in technology have triggered developments in the way we use language and communicate – what better topic to explore in your end of term English language essay?
Of the many things that come to mind when you think of Leeds, the Queen’s English is not one of them! Home to the Yorkshire accent and its fair share of internationally renowned authors, Leeds has a growing cultural scene that makes it a vibrant location for immersing yourself in English and the Arts.
You could do as little as opening a copy of Strix Magazine of poetry and short fiction to engage with the creative writing scene in Leeds, but there are a many venues where you can get even more involved in if you wish, with ample opportunities to develop your skills and confidence.
Venues such as Hyde Park Book Club host Strix Magazine events where you can share your love of creative writing with other wordly types. If you’re hoping to read, hear and discuss the written word, you’ll probably feel at home at the Outlaw Yacht Clubs’ book clubs, poetry readings and Q&A evenings. If you fancy hearing local writers and spoken word artists in slightly grander setting, the Carriageworks Theatre provides that and even more with the annual Norther Short Story Festival.
But if you’re after a really really grand setting, what better backdrop than the Leeds Central Library? It offers all that we’ve come to expect from city libraries (beautiful architecture, free computer and internet access and – of course – books galore), as well as book clubs, reading groups, kids clubs, poetry workshops and book launches.
It’d be hard not to meet like-minded literature and language enthusiasts in a city like Leeds! This is in part thanks to the four universities based in the city, all offering engaging and stimulating courses in English at university level.
The University of Leeds’ School of English has more than earned its prestige, offering a huge breadth of modules to study, interesting and varied research opportunities, and the possibility to get involved with events at the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. Not only that, but you’ll be learning from experts in the field (upcoming Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, to name but one).
If you’re interested in producing your own works of art – whether poetry or prose, contemporary or traditional in form, the Leeds Arts University is an excellent place to develop your style and the university’s Creative Writing course offers the support and space you need to grow as an author.
You might also consider Leeds Beckett or Trinity universities, where you’ll have the opportunity to develop your professional writing alongside your English linguistics of literature studies.
But to obtain a place in a university for English studies, a good level of English at A level (or equivalent) is key and an English GCSE is essential!
Maybe you want to improve your grades in English to help you get into university. Maybe you’re interested in developing your understanding of a certain area of study for the sheer enjoyment of learning. Either way, there are plenty of ways for you can go about gaining extra support in English studies.
Joining a book club or a reading group, such as those run through Leeds Central Library, is an excellent way to develop your critical thinking when it comes to literature. Reading groups often meet once a month to discuss a book (decided the month previously) that everyone has read. You’ll be encouraged to think about certain themes and ideas in the text and given space to voice your opinions if you wish to. Book clubs are great places to meet new people and discover new authors and genres that you’d have never thought to read, they’re also usually free! However, most book clubs only meet once a month, which may not be enough for those wishing to immerse themselves in their studies.
If you feel that your learning style is better suited to a more structured classroom setting, you might thrive in an evening class in one of Leeds’ colleges and adult learning centres. You can find evening classes in a whole range of subjects, creative writing is a popular choice, but you might choose to study poetry, literature, or journalism instead! Evening classes often run weekly, and you’ll be learning alongside your classmates to a pre-determined syllabus.
However, one of the most effective and efficient ways to improve in English is to work on an individual basis with a private tutor. Not only can you set the pace and the frequency of your lessons, but your tutor will be able to focus lessons on developing your strengths whilst targeting your weaknesses. Whether you want support for essay-writing, grammar and spelling, vocabulary, or comprehension, you and your tutor can work together to determine the structure of your classes.
Leeds has no shortage of English tutors, so the challenge is less to do with actually finding a tutor, and more about deciding which tutor to learn with! That’s where Superprof comes in.
Unlike newspapers ads, gumtree listings and poster in your local community centre, Superprof makes it easy for you to compare tutors based on price, experience, location, specialism, teaching style, or other learner’s recommendations (among many other parameters), as each tutor’s profile displays the same information in the same format. Many of Superprof’s tutors offer you a trial ‘taster’ lesson so that you can see whether your learning and teach styles are compatible.
So really, what are you waiting for? Get scribing!