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Having a good level in English is brings huge benefits to all areas of your personal and professional life, whether you’re pursuing a career in writing or not! With its vibrant culture and radical literary history, residents of Manchester are in no shortage of inspiration for their English studies.
But studying English isn’t always simple and it can feel like you’re juggling a lot of different disciplines. From studying Shakespeare and Chaucer to decoding contemporary poetry; from analysing complex sentence structures to transcribing Northern dialects – there are a lot of different areas of study within the umbrella term ‘English’. It’s not uncommon to look for a little extra support in your studies! Luckily, if you’re based in Manchester, there are a lot of different options available to you! Here’s what you need to know.
In primary school, areas of study in English are split broadly into speaking, writing, reading and grammar, vocabulary and punctuation.
Speaking focuses on students’ participation in class discussions, their ability to ask relevant questions and explain themselves coherently. Reading focuses on pronouncing written words and on demonstrating an understanding of the text by summarising it and discussing what they like and don’t like about it. Writing focuses on spelling as well as composing – that is, communicating ideas coherently on paper. Good knowledge of grammar, vocabulary and punctuation makes all this possible!
In secondary school things get a little more complicated as we divide our studies between English language and English literature. English language looks at English in an almost scientific way, studying how we use language, the meaning behind what we say and how language has developed. English literature focuses on critical thinking and students are encouraged to analyse poetry and prose by a range of authors – pulling out themes and key points and justifying their opinions with a coherent argument.
Before we even get to A level or university there are already a lot of aspects of English studies to get your head round. It’s no surprise that many students seek additional tuition to help them prepare for their English exams!
First and foremost, studying English is hugely beneficial to your academic English studies. But it can be incredibly helpful for other areas of your professional and personal development too, regardless of whether you’re pursuing a career in the written word!
By reading texts and fiction you are building a more diverse world-view, expanding your horizons through the written word. But studying English is about more than just reading texts. English studies encourage you to read actively – that is, to think critically about what you have read, heard or seen. You’ll learn to analyse information and come to understand that there is often more to a text or utterance than meets the eye. This is not just an essential skill in all areas of academic study but is helpful when navigating social or political situations.
By expanding your vocabulary and developing your speaking skills through studying English, you develop your ability to communicate your ideas and opinions to others in a way that they can understand. English studies teach you to consider context and to adjust your discourse according to your audience, a vital skill whether you are writing an application, giving a presentation at work or even socialising!
Finally, for those looking to pursue a career in writing – be it journalism, novel writing, publishing or editing (maybe at one of Manchester’s universities or at the BBC offices at Salford), a good understanding of all areas of study in English is absolutely essential! And where better to study English than as culturally rich a city as Manchester?
Whether you’re interested in literature, journalism, linguistics or performance arts, Manchester has a huge amount to offer English students.
Throughout history, Manchester has played a role in producing literature ranging from the quaint to the downright radical. Francis Hodgson Burnett’s childhood in the in the former industrial town inspired her to write timeless pastoral children’s stories like The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. On the other end of the spectrum, Marx and Engles famously met in Chetham’s library and their experiences in the city inspired some of their later works (including Engles’ The Condition of the Working Class). Renowned Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell sits alongside the lesser known Anthony Burgess – author of the black comedy A Clockwork Orange – in authors harbouring a lifelong connection with Manchester.
Mancunians have had a strong voice in poetry and spoken word too. Former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy spent around 20 years of her life in Manchester, whereas punk poet John Cooper Clarke (AKA the bard of Salford) made no secret of his Salford roots!
Those wishing to study English in Manchester might find themselves drawn to internationally celebrated libraries such as Chetham’s Library or John Ryland’s Library – which currently houses the oldest known copy of the New Testament. But don’t forget smaller collections like the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and the Portico Library and Gallery - well worth a visit too!
In addition to a rich literary history, Manchester offers a wealth of opportunity for those wishing to become involved in the world of journalism. On top of an enviable collection of independent magazines, Salford Quays is home to the BBC North where budding journalists can gain experience in the field.
Manchester has one of the largest student populations in the UK spread across four universities – so you’ll have plenty of choice when looking for a place to study English in Manchester.
Your choice of university for studying English depends on your aspirations. For those wishing to study a BA in English Literature, American literature, or a join honours subject, the University of Manchester offers an extensive range of modules within the English Literature course, enabling you to explore a range of periods within the English literary canon.
For those looking to express their creativity through pen and ink, where better than the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University? At this university, you’ll be learning with published writers from a range of backgrounds and developing as a writer yourself.
On the other side of Manchester, the University of Salford’s Schools of Media and Arts provides excellent training for aspiring journalists, just a stone’s throw from the BBC North headquarters.
These courses provide excellent tuition, but a high standard in English is essential if you want to secure yourself a place. Luckily there are many ways that residents of Manchester can build upon their skills in English.
If you are in a school, college or university in Manchester, chances are you’ll have access to English support within your institution. This might be a formal sessions with a tutor or teacher, a student-run peer support scheme, or a club or society where like-minded students can meet and discuss. You might even start or join a study group or find an older student to tutor you.
But outside of formal education there are lots of ways you can build upon your English skills too.
Book clubs provide an excellent open space for discussing books and literature with others. Often meeting on a monthly basis, participants choose a book to read for the upcoming month and discuss it at their next meeting. These sessions are excellent for developing your active reading, critical thinking and verbal reasoning, encouraging you to form and articulate your ideas and opinions to contribute to group discussion.
If you’re hoping to build upon your creative writing skills and gain confidence in sharing your work, participating in one of Manchester’s many spoken word events would be an excellent place to start. These events are hosted across the city on weekly and monthly basis (dependent on the event) in venues ranging from libraries to bars!
If it’s written English that you’re worried about, you might consider joining an evening class in one of Manchester’s colleges and become part of a class of students improving their essay writing skills under the supervision of a teacher.
However one of the most efficient ways of progressing in English studies is to work with a private tutor. Whether you want someone to read your essays and give feedback, help you to tell the difference between a pronoun and an adjective, or illuminate the language of Chaucer, private tuition lets you focus on the areas that you need to and at your own pace.
There are many ways to go about finding a private tutor: newspaper listings, word of mouth and community notice boards, to name a few.
Superprof helps you to streamline your search by listing all available tutors on the same page. You can search through the tutors according to your priorities, whether price, location, travel distance, lesson format, experience or specialist fields. Each tutor writes a profile detailing what they offer, and all this is backed up by reviews from other learners to give you a good all-round idea of what to expect. Finally, tutors frequently offer a free taster lesson to give you an idea of what to expect from your classes. It’s easy to compare services, making it even easier to find the right tutor for your learning needs!
What are you waiting for? The written word awaits!