New English Class Prepares Students for the “Real World”

For the first time, the English department is offering the class Real World English to seniors, which has been three years in the making.

According to the course proposal that English teacher Sarah Buttiens created, this class is “designed to support students interested in entering the workforce immediately after high school or interested in growing their English skills as they pertain to real world usage.” 

Senior Kaley Gilland explains the kind of students who should take the class: “I would recommend students that don’t want to go to college to take this class. I have learned things that are helpful in customer service and personal situations, which is great for someone going straight into the workforce.”

Buttiens, who also teaches the class, created and proposed the curriculum. The school has offered consumer math for many years, which teaches math skills used in the real world. Buttiens recognized that there was a gap in the curriculum in the English department when it came to the English equivalent.

Buttiens looked for inspiration for this class and curriculum in other schools like West Bend in Mallard, Iowa; Olathe North in Olathe, Kansas; and multiple schools in Louisiana.

The course includes the following units: media literacy, technical writing, e-mail and speaking etiquette, and reading for information. Additionally, students learn and improve upon various soft skills pertinent to career readiness, such as interviewing techniques and handwriting.

English teacher Ed Smith describes the goal of the course as “To position students to succeed in the reading, writing, speaking, and listening environments adults find themselves in after graduating high school.”

Students like the class because of the unconventional units and activities that are different from the other English classes. “It is different from a regular English class. It helps with getting a job in the real world,” said senior Justin Walls. 

The activities completed in the class are different from other English classes. For example, there is no reading for theme, analysis, or interpretation. Rather contracts, social media, and terms of employment are read to equip students for the workforce. 

Smith describes their latest unit of enrichment: “We are currently learning to spot logical fallacies in everything from political speeches to advertisements, which is an essential skill for navigating the real world in the twenty-first century.”

Regarding the creation of the class, Buttiens originally thought of it during the end of the 2018-19 school year. She then created the proposal during the following school year and wrote the curriculum this past summer. 

There are about 18 students in Buttiens’ class and 16 students in Smith’s. They both have expressed satisfaction with these numbers and believe that the class will continue to run in future years. “I’m happy there’s two sections. Everybody’s where I think they need to be,” said Buttiens.